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The State Council Deploys Ten Major Actions for Energy Conservation and Carbon Reduction: Strictly Control New Negative Electrode Projects

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The State Council has released the Action Plan for Energy Conservation and Carbon Reduction from 2024 to 2025. Energy conservation and carbon reduction are important measures to actively and steadily promote carbon peak and carbon neutrality, comprehensively promote the construction of a beautiful China, and promote comprehensive green transformation of economic and social development. In order to increase the promotion of energy conservation and carbon reduction work, adopt practical and effective measures, and make every effort to achieve the binding targets of energy conservation and carbon reduction in the 14th Five Year Plan, this plan is formulated.

The plan mentions strict admission of new non-ferrous metal projects. New and expanded electrolytic aluminum projects must reach the benchmark level of energy efficiency and A-level environmental performance. The energy efficiency of new and expanded alumina projects must reach the advanced value of mandatory energy consumption quota standards. The energy efficiency of new polycrystalline silicon and lithium battery positive and negative electrode projects must reach the industry's advanced level.

Graphitization process of artificial graphite negative electrode: a key link in negative electrode production, with high energy consumption properties

Graphitization refers to the process of heat treatment of non graphitic carbon above 2000 ℃, mainly due to physical changes that improve and develop the stacking structure of hexagonal carbon atoms in a planar network layer, transforming it into a graphitic carbon with a three-dimensional regular ordered structure of graphite. The purpose of graphitization is to improve the thermal and electrical conductivity of carbon materials, enhance their thermal shock resistance and chemical stability, and provide them with lubrication and wear resistance, eliminating impurities and improving their purity.

Graphitization belongs to the high-energy consumption process and has a high cost proportion. Graphitization is the orderly transformation of thermodynamically unstable carbon atoms from a disordered layer structure to a graphite crystal structure through thermal activation. Therefore, in the process of graphitization, high-temperature heat treatment (HTT) is used to provide energy for atomic rearrangement and structural transformation. This process requires a large amount of energy consumption and belongs to the high-energy production process. According to the cost structure of leading negative electrode manufacturers in 2023, the cost of graphitization accounts for about 40% of the cost of artificial graphite, with the highest cost proportion, which is one of the key factors in reducing production costs. Due to the separation of the graphite chemical process from the front-end and back-end production processes, high equipment investment, and long production time, most manufacturers choose to outsource production. Currently, most manufacturers choose to integrate negative electrode graphitization production in low-priced areas to increase the self supply ratio of graphitization and reduce graphitization costs.

Looking ahead, EVTank predicts that the global shipment of negative electrode materials will exceed 8 million tons by 2030. In the short term, EVTank stated that 2024 will be a year when the production capacity of new graphitization and negative electrode materials in China has been released in the previous two years. The entire industry will face significant overcapacity pressure, and the price of negative electrode materials will still face significant downward pressure. On the other hand, with the construction of a large number of integrated production capacity, third-party independent graphitization processing capacity will face significant operating pressure.

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