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Degussa Expands Production for Lithium-ion Electrodes Targeted at Hybrid Applications

Degussa AG, a global leader in the field of specialty chemicals, is starting additional electrode production for large-volume lithium-ion batteries at the Li-Tech GmbH (SK Group) site in Kamenz/Dresden.

The Kamenz facility complements Degussa’s production capacities in China through the joint venture Degussa-ENAX (Anqiu) Power Lion Co. Ltd., Anqiu. (Earlier post.) The German site will target large-volume energy storage applications—such as batteries for hybrid vehicles.

By expanding our electrode production to Germany we are moving closer towards our goal of establishing Degussa as a system supplier for lithium-ion battery components.

—Dr. Alfred Oberholz, Member of the Management Board of Degussa AG

Li-ion anode and cathode production will come on stream by the fourth quarter of 2006, with sales in the double-digit million euros being targeted even in this early phase.

SEPARION separators, as well as SEM micrographs of the nonwoven carrier material (right) and surface of the separator (left).

Currently, Degussa offers a ceramic membrane separator (SEPARION, sketch at right), which consists of a flexible substrate, normally a non-woven polymer, coated with a porous ceramic layer. The pore size can be selectively set by an appropriate choice of ceramic coating material.

According to Degussa, the ceramic properties of the separator make it more temperature-stable than conventional polymer separators used in lithium-ion polymer batteries, and therefore contribute towards preventing short circuits in the battery.

If a first-generation large-volume lithium ion battery is overcharged, the heat build up can melt a polyolefin based separator leading to thermal runaway generating temperatures in excess of 800° Celsius. The ceramic SEPARION separator, however, delivers inherent thermal and chemical stability to the system, according to Degussa.

In October 2005, Degussa launched a marketing campaign it calls “Lithium Ion Factor2” to introduce its lithium-ion technology for automotive applications.

Degussa expects the lithium-ion market to grow to around US$4 billion by 2015.

In other lithium-ion news, Sandia National Laboratory in the US issued a press release noting its work, funded by some $1.5 million per year from the FreedomCAR program, to improve the safety, lengthen the lifetime, and reduce costs of lithium-ion batteries.

Noting that lithium-ion batteries have four times the energy density of lead-acid batteries and two to three times the energy density of nickel-cadmium and nickel-metal hydride batteries, Dan Doughty, manager of Sandia’ss Advanced Power Sources Research and Development Department, also observed that the technology has the potential to be one of the lowest-cost battery systems.

In a separate development, Altairnano announced the successful completion of a testing program for lithium ion battery cells containing Altairnano’s nano-structured lithium titanate electrode materials. The company says it will begin manufacturing its first battery cells by the end of January.


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