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Apple Faces Shortage of iPod Batteries

A representative from Apple recently called Kureha Corp.’s offices in the U.S faced with the problem of tight supplies of lithium-ion batteries used in its popular iPods. According to the WSJ, they were able to trace the issue to its Japanese chemicals maker Kureha.
Kureha, which has a 70% share of the global market for a crucial polymer used in lithium-ion batteries, had to shut its factory in Iwaki after the March 11th disaster. Its chief executive said Japan’s natural disaster would accelerate the company’s plans to move more production overseas.
Kureha’s polymer, which is made from a resin known as polyvinylidene fluoride, is used as a binder in lithium-ion batteries. The Iwaki factory has been closed since the quake hit, and the company does not know when it will be up and running again. The Iwaki factory came out of the quake in ok shape but Onahama Port nearby is severely damaged and crucial supplies such as vinyl chloride and salt aren’t reaching the factory.
Since this polymer is found in other devices than the iPod, it will be a problem in many other mobile devices that use lithium polymer batteries.
Kureha currently has factories in the U.S., China and Vietnam, though none produce PVDF. The company said it can’t yet quantify the financial impact of the plant closure. Mr. Iwasaki said Kureha’s insurance doesn’t cover the company’s lost revenue because of the closure. For some products, Kureha has about two months’ worth of inventory, though these supplies are quickly diminishing
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