Japanese firm Mitsui to set up shop in Taiwan


TAIPEI — Mitsui Chemicals Inc., one of Japan’s largest producers of petrochemicals, teamed up Monday with Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) to manufacture high-safety lithium-ion battery materials in Taiwan.

By 2016, Mitsui chemicals will establish a manufacturing base in Taiwan for lithium-ion battery materials using ITRI’s self-terminated oligomers with hyper-branched architecture (STOBA), the world’s only technology to prevent hazardous lithium-ion battery thermal runaway that can lead to explosions and fires, according to ITRI.

The announcement came after ITRI signed an exclusive license agreement on Sept. 16 with Taiwan Mitsui Chemicals Inc., a fully owned subsidiary of Mitsui Chemicals, on the manufacture and distribution of ITRI’s STOBA.

STOBA is a functional polymer with dendritic nano-sized structures that form films when internal temperatures of lithium-ion batteries increase abnormally, thereby preventing migration of lithium-ions and inhibiting further temperature increase to allow safe termination of the batteries, ITRI said.

This technology is already being used in Taiwan in electronic devices such as smartphones and personal mobility vehicles that require high safety standards, the government-funded institute said.

ITRI President Shyu Jyuo min said the licensing of STOBA technology to Mitsui Chemicals is expected to help promote the image of STOBA-inside batteries around the world.

“This will enable the STOBA technology to be used in an international brand name and throughout the supply chain, underpinning the development of the battery industry in Taiwan,” Shyu said at a press conference.

ITRI can now manufacture around 2 metric tons of STOBA per year, which can supply about 20 million 2,000 mAh lithium-ion batteries, according to Pan Jing-pin, a division director at ITRI’s Material and Chemical Research Laboratories.

Shigeru Isayama, managing executive officer at Mitsui Chemicals, said ITRI’s STOBA will bolster his company’s mobility through its characteristic mechanisms and potential to respond to wide market demand for safety.

Although Mitsui Chemicals declined to reveal the details of its manufacturing base in Taiwan, the Japanese company is aiming for STOBA to be used in roughly 10 percent of lithium-ion batteries worldwide by 2020, according to Akio Hirahara, general manager of New Market Development Division at Mitsui Chemicals.