President and Chief Executive Officer
IRPC Public Company Limited (IRPC) is a major producer in petroleum and petrochemical industry. The company is the first fully integrated petrochemical complex in Southeast Asia with supporting infrastructure such as deep seaport, tank farm and power plant. Among various products of IRPC, Acetylene black is one of IRPC products in the petrochemical production process and IRPC aims to utilize it as a raw material for the production of lithium-ion battery and supercapacitor material. IRPC has thus collaborated with Energy Storage Technology Research Team (ESTT) at National Energy Technology Center (ENTEC) and jointly conducted the research and development for the next innovation.
“IRPC has a diversity of products and Acetylene black is one of the products with technological value. This compound is a specialty product which our company continues to develop and seeks business partnership for”, said Mr. Chawalit Tippawanich, President and Chief Executive Officer of IRPC.
“Since battery is one of the global trends, we endeavor to conduct the research and development on Acetylene black by customizing the properties of the compound to meet the market demands. A value chain creation in electric vehicles that requires batteries with high energy density is likely to attract investment. This will help Thailand not be left behind in the value chain of internal combustion vehicles, which is one of the key goals of IRPC.”
For the origin of IRPC collaboration with ENTEC, Mr. Tippawanich said, “It is well known that ENTEC has competent personnel ready to support the government’s policy in public-private partnership to help translating the research findings into products or services required by business sector. In addition, ENTEC offers a wide range of highly sophisticated analytical and synthesis tools. We, therefore, have a strong confidence in the potential of ENTEC.”
Mr. Tippawanich also praised ENTEC and said, “ENTEC’s research team has an expertise. The collaboration with ENTEC has always evolved and produced significant business advances. As such, IRPC can now enter the lithium-ion battery market. This demonstrates that the Acetylene black has the right properties. IRPC named this product Pim-AL and Pim-L in
the honor of Dr. Pimpa Limthongkul The success reflects a great cooperation and partnership between these two organizations.”
“For the quality and the benefit of our research, which is our mainfocus, we’ve progressed for approximately 30-40% and we intend to develop our products with competitive properties or even reach out to the battery market of Tesla (Tesla, Inc.).”
To achieve the target with other 60%, Mr. Tippawanich elaborated, “Using acetylene black as a conductive material would require relatively advanced techniques. We are interested in developing product properties by focusing on the restructuring process. This is considered as a leap from research to manufacturing. Currently, IRPC’s research team has been working on it so that we can use various technologies to improve the production. This will be a huge breakthrough.”
Mr. Tippawanich gave the team a strategic direction in terms of expanding and creating a knowledge for technology transfer. “We want our products to meet the specifications or technical requirements in the market and enter the market as quickly as possible with a qualitative reliability. The team will periodically report on the above key concerns to monitor the progress.”
Mr. Phayom Boonyoung, Executive Vice President of IRPC mentioned the part of technology transfer from ENTEC, “In terms of the time frame for research, when there is a progress, Dr. Limthongkul will share the research find-outs in the meeting. For the technology transfer, our staff were trained at NSTDA, which has been very cooperative. All these processes make our research run smoothly. Once the research results are obtained, we are confident that IRPC can enter the lithium-ion battery business. This research is a starting point for IRPC to penetrate this market.”
Mr. Boonyoung also added, “In the past, the research on lithium-ion batteries in Thailand was quite limited. Dr. Limthongkul became the momentum in making the progress. If there’s any hindrance, she’ll seek the solution immediately. In addition, the facilities at NSTDA are the most complete in the country. This makes it possible to work smoothly at a satisfactory speed.”
Commenting on the collaboration, Mr.Arkhom Paso, an IRPC’s researcher said, “ENTEC research team is generous in sharing the insights which are unknown to us and pointing out important issues in this business applicable to our knowledge extension”
Mr.Natouch Joycharoen, Sale Manager of IRPC, added information in the marketing aspect, “Our products come in two grades, Pim-AL for lead-acid batteries and Pim-L for lithium-ion batteries. These two items earn a progressive success over the time. IRPC is now selling Pim-AL and receives continued orders from our customers.”
For Pim-L, the first order has been placed and the reorder has come in the pipeline. We began to see the direction that the product will be successful in the future. Since the lithium-ion battery market is a special market that the buyers are well versed in technology, we cannot just show the product or technical specifications. Our sell representatives also need to have strong technical knowledge and Dr. Limthongkul works out to educate our sales team.”
Mr. Tippawanich concluded “In bringing the research and development to the commercial production, we need an intellectual property knowledge to make a difference and that intellectual property can be patented. IRPC welcomes more research and development collaborations with institutes, public or private sectors to overcome the great challenges together. This idea aligns with IRPC’s new vision “to shape material and energy solution in harmony with life”