BASF acquires Ovonic Battery Company; NiMH leader to be part of BASF Battery Materials business unit (updated with ECD Chapter 11)
|Ovonic has been researching MH-Air as a next-generation energy storage system. Source: Ovonic. Click to enlarge.|
BASF has acquired Ovonic Battery Company (OBC), a wholly owned subsidiary of Energy Conversion Devices Inc. (ECD). ECD sold Ovonic in the run-up to its filing a Chapter 11 bankruptcy plan, which the company announced today.
Based in Rochester Hills, Mich., Ovonic is a leading producer of NiMH (nickel metal hydride) battery technology, including the production of cathode active materials (CAMs) for this battery type. The company also has a battery materials research facility in Troy, Mich.
Ovonic is the inventor of the NiMH technology as it is used today, and has a patent portfolio of 97 US and international patents and patent applications in this field. All major producers of NiMH batteries are currently working under license from Ovonic.
In addition to its foundational work in NiMH, Ovonic is pursuing R&D and production efforts in Li-ion cathode materials, with patents and technologies in Nickel Manganese Cobalt (NMC) and Nickel Cobalt ALuminum (NCA) materials. High-performance NMC cathode materials are currently available. Ovonic has 32 issued US patents for Li-ion cathode technology.
Additionally, OBC is working on Proton-Ion (MH-Air) systems featuring a metal hydride anode and Ovonic alkaline fuel cell cathode. MH-Air systems, the company says, offer a demonstrated specific energy of 200 Wh/kg and represent a more practical approach and earlier pathway to commercialization than Li-Air systems.
As part of BASF, Ovonic will be managed under BASF’s new “Battery Materials” global business unit which was launched on 1 Jan. 2012, to integrate the company’s current and future battery materials-related activities within a single operating unit managed by its Catalysts division, based in Iselin, N.J.
Our acquisition of Ovonic provides BASF with an immediate leadership position in NiMH battery technology, as well as long-established commercial relationships with the world’s major battery manufacturers. In addition, Ovonic’s proven research expertise provides a strong complement to the broad range of battery materials development activities we currently have underway within BASF.—Ralf Meixner, Senior Vice President of BASF Battery Materials
In addition to its current activities in electrolyte formulations and Li-ion cathode materials development, BASF is exploring next-generation battery materials concepts, including lithium-sulfur technologies now in early stage development with partner Sion Power, in which BASF recently invested $50 million to take an equity ownership stake. (Earlier post.)
BASF has states a long-term objective of becoming the leading provider of functional materials and components to serve cell and battery manufacturers worldwide.