Süd-Chemie, a global chemical company, will invest C$35 million (US$30 million) in 2007 and 2008 in one of its Canadian affiliates to increase lithium iron phosphate production capacity for use in new generations of lithium-ion batteries to 1,500 metric tons per year.
Phostech Lithium Inc., Boucherville/Canada, an affiliate of Süd-Chemie, is already investing C$6 million to expand its production capacity from 300 metric tons per year of lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) to 900 metric tons per year.
In 2007 and 2008, the additional C$35 million in investment will increase capacity to 1,500 metric tons per year.
In the 1990s, researchers at the University of Texas proposed using lithium iron phosphate as cathode material in lithium-iron batteries. Lithium iron phosphate was non-toxic and cheaper than conventional cobalt cathodes. Unfortunately, it turned out to have low conductivity.
In 2002, Yet-Ming Chiang and his colleagues at MIT showed that doping lithium iron phosphate with positive ions of another metal could drastically boost the material’s conductivity. Chiang is a co-founder of A123Systems, which licensed the technology from MIT for further development and commercialization.
The University of Texas licensed its original lithium-iron phosphate technology to Hydro-Québec, which developed it from 1997 to 2001. Phostech Lithium has been granted an exclusive license from University of Texas and Hydro-Québec for the production and sale of LiFePO4 for lithium-ion batteries.
Favored markets are power tools, electric bicycles and scooters as well as electric and hybrid cars. For example, electric bicycles and wheelchairs with lithium-ion batteries sold in South East Asia, Europe and in the US contain Phostech Lithium’s product.
Süd-Chemie AG, an independent company active in the field of Specialty Chemistry, is the major shareholder since 2005 of Phostech Lithium, founded in 2001 by a group of Québec scientists. Société Générale de Financement (SGF) is the third shareholder.
(A hat-tip to youplau!)
“Electronically conductive phospho-olivines as lithium storage electrodes”; Sung-Yoon Chung, Jason T. Bloking, Yet-Ming Chiang; Nature Materials 1, 123 - 128 (01 Oct 2002)