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(Japanese Site)

  • ITRI Develops Secondary Cell Lithium-Ion Battery
  • January 26, 1998 (TAIPEI) -- Taiwan's Industrial Development Bureau (IDB) under the Ministry of Economic Affairs is promoting the development of secondary cell lithium-ion batteries.

    The Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) was the first to respond to IDB's call, and it is now working on production of the batteries and related materials.

    In the first stage of its project, completed in 1997, ITRI successfully developed Taiwan's first secondary cell lithium-ion battery.

    Production of the battery is to be carried out in cooperation with four local firms, including Pacific Electric Wire & Cable Co. Ltd., Walsin Lihwa Corp. and Adda Corp.

    Annual production capacity has been estimated at 80 million cells, and within seven years the annual production value is expected to hit NT$7 billion.

    Details of the production, such as how much money and technology is to be contributed by each firm, are still being worked out.

    In the second stage of the project, which is set to be completed by the middle of the year 2000, ITRI plans to develop super-thin, high-molecule lithium batteries, as well as materials for their production.

    This stage has already attracted the interest of another four firms: Hua Eng Copper & Iron Industrial Co., Ltd., Pacific Technology Co., Ltd., the Chinese Petroleum Corp. and a newly- established subsidiary of Chung Shing Textile Co., Ltd.

    Lithium batteries, which appeared on the market just two years ago, are already the hottest thing going for powering notebook computers and cellular phones.

    Japan's Sony Corp., Toshiba Corp. and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. are currently the leaders in this field.

    Some Korean and Chinese firms have also indicated plans to enter the market, but to date they have made little progress in this area.

    Following the recent liberalization of Taiwan's telecommunications market, the number of people on the island using cellular phones has expanded rapidly. The IDB estimates that within the near future, the number of cellular phone lines on Taiwan will reach 6 million. This, says an official from the IDB, will greatly boost demand for lithium-ion batteries.

    In addition, Taiwan now produces more than 4 million notebook computers each year, and this figure is on the rise. Yet the island still relies heavily on imports of a number of key components, such as central processing units, TFT-LCDs and lithium batteries.

    The IDB estimates that in 1997, Taiwan's imports of secondary cell batteries (including both nickel and lithium ion) reached NT$5.5 billion (US$164 million).

    (Commercial Times, Taiwan)

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    Updated: Sun Jan 25 00:40:50 1998