The joint venture of OCI and POSCO Future M completed the construction of a plant to produce high-softening-point pitch,
a core material for anode materials of rechargeable batteries.
- Joint venture P&O Chemical completed the construction of its high-softening-point pitch plant with an annual capacity of 15,000 tons in Gongju, Chungcheongnam-do on November 13.
- High-softening-point pitch is essential in enhancing battery charging and discharging efficiency and boosting battery life.
- This first domestic production of the material, which had been entirely imported, is expected to stabilize supply and promote technological independence.
- OCI continues to focus on key materials for semiconductors and rechargeable batteries
P&O Chemical, a joint venture of OCI Holdings (President Jin Sug Suh) and POSCO Future M (President Kim Jun-hyung) held a ceremony to celebrate the completion of a plant for high-softening-point pitch in Gongju-si, Chungcheongnam-do on November 13, and announced Korea’s first mass production.
The ceremony was attended by OCI President Yoo Shin Kim, POSCO Future M President Kim Jun-hyung, P&O Chemical President Jong Kook Kim, business executives, and regional representatives including Gongju-si Mayor Choe Won-cheol.
The high-softening-point pitch plant was built in an area of 32,500 square meters in the Tancheon Industrial Complex, Gongju-si, Chungcheongnam-do with an investment of KRW 96.3 billion. With annual production capacity of 15,000 tons, the plant will mass produce the core material used for the anodes of batteries for the first time in Korea.
Pitch is carbon material produced by refining coal or petroleum, and the raw material of high-softening-point pitch used for anode materials is a petroleum substance. One of the characteristics of high-softening-point pitch is that it begins to soften at a higher temperature than ordinary pitches.
High-softening-point pitch is a key material for battery anode materials and has a significant impact on the quality of batteries. It is largely used as a material for coating the surface of an anode, and plays an essential role in enhancing the charging and discharging efficiency of batteries and extending battery life.
Because the domestic market for anode materials was not large, all high-softening-point pitch was imported from China and Germany. However, with the steady growth of the EV battery market, demand for high-softening-point pitch is rising rapidly. With the new plant, P&O Chemical is expected to make significant contribution to the technological independence of rechargeable battery materials by realizing the localized production of high-softening-point pitch, a core material for anode materials.
The domestic production of high-softening-point pitch would not have been possible without OCI’s solid technology that has been accumulated for decades. OCI, a major subsidiary of OCI Holdings, was the first company in the world to succeed in the commercialization of liquid pitch in 1996. OCI is Korea’s only company to produce pitch, with an annual capacity of 520,000 tons. OCI also developed high-softening-point pitch with its proprietary technology in its efforts to broaden its product portfolio from liquid pitch based on steel byproducts to high-softening-point pitch derived from petroleum substances and to expand its profit base.
Meanwhile, based on its robust technology, OCI has diversified its business portfolio to include high value-added core materials for semiconductors and rechargeable batteries. Last June, OCI signed an MOU with Tokuyama Corporation of Japan to establish a joint venture to produce semiconductor-grade polysilicon with an annual capacity of 11,000 tons, and in July signed a long-term contract with Nexeon to supply special materials for the anode materials of rechargeable batteries for five years from 2025.
P&O Chemical is a joint venture established in July 2020 by OCI Holdings and POSCO Future M with the aim to strengthen competitiveness in high valued-added materials. The joint venture is currently owned by OCI Holdings (49%) and POSCO Future M (51%), respectively. OCI Holdings plans to transfer its stake in P&O Chemical to OCI through investment in kind to maximize synergy.
Prior to this high-softening-point pitch plant, P&O Chemical built a plant to produce high-purity hydrogen peroxide, a key material used in semiconductor fabrication, with an annual capacity of 50,000 tons in Gwangyang, Jeollanam-do in October 2022. P&O Chemical envisions continuously enhancing its competitive edge based on OCI’s superior technology and business expertise combined with the competitive raw materials of POSCO Future M.
OCI President Yoo Shin Kim said at the ceremony, “With the successful mass production of high-softening-point pitch following high-purity hydrogen peroxide, P&O Chemical has taken a step forward as a key enterprise in high-tech materials in Korea. With OCI’s technology and stable product quality and active cooperation with POSCO Future M, we will grow P&O Chemical as one of the leading suppliers of core materials in the world.”