Dow Energy Materials launches new manganese iron phosphate material for improved battery performance; 10–15% higher energy density
21 November 2012
|Voltage profile of LMFP. Source: DEM. Click to enlarge.|
Dow Energy Materials (DEM), a business unit of The Dow Chemical Company, has introduced a newly developed phosphate-based battery material, Lithium Manganese Iron Phosphate (LMFP), which increases energy density by 10—15% in battery cells over iron phosphate material [LFP]. As a result, this technology can enable energy storage systems to weigh less and require fewer cells, which in turn can lower cost.
The material, which offers the safety and cycle life of iron phosphate chemistries, has an energy density in the 150+ Wh/g range, according to DEM. The new material could initially serve as a “drop-in” upgrade for existing iron phosphate-based materials in cells using existing electrolyte and anode combinations, suggested David Klanecky, senior business director, Dow Energy Materials.
The key value proposition [of the LMFP] is the energy density improvement that cell manufacturers can take advantage of over incumbent LFP material. Especially in Asia-Pacific, there is a lot of [LFP] cell manufacturing capacity. The LMFP can be looked as a drop-in for improvements for current iron phosphate systems today, with not a lot of special processing or new separator. There is an opportunity to take advantage of that in that [phosphate] market today. We continue to work at system approaches with the material—such as a better electrolyte.—David Klanecky
Dow Energy Materials (DEM) is a business unit of The Dow Chemical Company formed in 2010 to focus on the development of advanced battery systems (cathode, anode, electrolyte). DEM is distinct from Dow’s battery manufacturing JV Dow Kokam; DEM will supply materials to any battery manufacturer. In addition to the phosphate cathode materials, DEM is also providing NMC cathode materials. (Earlier post.)
The LMFP material operates with a broader voltage range than conventional iron phosphate materials, Klanecky said, and is targeted for a number of different applications, including electric vehicles, e-bikes, start-stop batteries as well as power tools.
DEM has sampled the LMFP materials with multiple customers, Klanecky said, and is in the process of scaling up production now. Feedback from the cell manufacturers has validated the performance results DEM was seeing in its own lab, he added.
Using the LMFP material now can offer cell manufacturers a bump in performance, and DEM is continuing to work to evolve the capabilities of the material in coordination with its customers (i.e., battery manufacturers). At the same time, DEM also continues to investigate new materials that might offer a step change in capability.
As we look out into our portfolio, one of the key focuses is how can we double the energy density from what there is today. Our strategy is to focus on the combination of anode, cathode and electrolyte—all have to work together. There definitely has to be the breakthrough, the continual development of material to really drive down the cost. Scale is a factor [for cost reduction] but not as big as the general improvement in materials themselves.—David Klanecky
DEM is taking a multi-pronged approach from a chemistry perspective for the next generational step, Klanecky said: more in the metal oxides from a cathode perspective, silicon on the anode side, a number of different electrolyte systems. And while DEM does have some small programs investigating systems beyond Li-ion, “we also believe there is a lot of runway in Li-ion to extract value from the Li-ion chemistry,” Klanecky said.
There is a lot of fundamental work going on in these further-out chemistries, with a basis in the theoretical limits of the chemistry, and what is realistically achievable. There are a lot of materials out there that can come in at a decent scale, but if you look at the cost of manufacturing, it’s just far from being reality.
If we want to scale up, we have to look at what it looks like form the cost of manufacturing standpoint. All those things come into play. The tip of the iceberg is the new technology; there is a lot beneath the water for scale-up. Our strategy remains to continue to develop the best materials out there at the lowest cost and to do everything we can to help on the dollar per kWh. There is a market for phosphate chemistry out there, we believe we can take advantage of that. We can bring material to market to help enable cell manufacturers to be more successful.—David Klanecky
The components that go into an advanced lithium-ion battery represent 30% of the total cell cost, DEM says.
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