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Johnson Controls-Saft and Maxwell Technologies to Collaborate in Development of Electrodes for Li-Ion Batteries for HEVs

Battery maker Johnson Controls-Saft Advanced Power Solutions (JCS) and ultracapacitor maker Maxwell Technologies, Inc. have entered a collaboration in which Maxwell will produce lithium-ion battery electrodes for hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) for testing and evaluation by Johnson Controls-Saft.

The electrodes for Li-Ion battery applications will incorporate Maxwell’s proprietary dry process originally developed to produce carbon powder-based ultracapacitor electrode material. The collaboration will demonstrate optimized performance while reducing energy consumption, solvent recovery and capital investment.

Our goal is to develop break-through technology on electrode manufacturing to reduce the cost and environmental impact of advanced automotive batteries for hybrid vehicles. Maxwell has developed a unique manufacturing process that we can leverage through our global leadership in the development and manufacture of lithium-ion automotive batteries.

—Mary Ann Wright, VP and GM of Johnson Controls’ hybrid business

Through their collaboration, the two companies will evaluate the integration of Maxwell’s proprietary electrode process into the mass production of lithium-ion batteries for hybrid vehicles.

Conventionally, Li-ion battery electrodes are manufactured using a coating process in which the active material is mixed with a solvent to form a slurry which is then rolled onto a web of foil substrate.

The resulting web of electrode material is run through a long linear drying oven, and the baked-out solvent has to be recovered. The coating equipment is capital intensive, the linear dryers require a lot of space, the ovens consume a lot of energy, and the solvent represents an undesirable element, environmentally.

By contrast, Maxwell’s proprietary dry electrode fabrication process does not use solvent (therefore no solvent recovery), consumes much less energy (no drying), requires a fraction of the initial capital outlay and floor space, and produces more consistent film of any desired thickness which is then laminated to the foil substrate.

The process has been validated through production of millions of ultracapacitor cells, and Maxwell is currently selling UC electrode material to two Asian ultracapacitor manufacturers, and has announced another Li-ion battery electrode collaboration with Lishen Battery, China’s largest producer of Li-ion batteries.

—Mike Sund, Maxwell VP Communications and Investor Relations

This is solely a manufacturing deal, according to Maxwell, and is not related to the separate effort the company has on exploring the development of a hybrid ultracapacitor lithium-ion battery storage system.

At SAE 2008 World Congress tomorrow, John Miller, Maxwell’s Vice President, Advanced Transportation Applications, will present a paper that investigates the minimum requirements of both the ultracapacitor and the DC-DC converter needed to build a business proposition for the active parallel combination of ultracapacitor and lithium-ion technology.

Johnson Controls-Saft is a joint venture that brought together Johnson Controls—the world’s leading supplier of automotive batteries and a company deeply experienced in integrated automotive systems solutions&mash;with Saft, an advanced energy storage solutions provider with extensive Li-ion battery expertise. JCS Li-ion solutions will be used by Daimler in its Mercedes-Benz S400 BlueHYBRID sedan (earlier post) and by China’s SAIC (earlier post). JCS is also one of the contenders to provide the battery pack for the plug-in hybrid version of the Saturn Vue Two-Mode (earlier post).



Very interesting development. One could say that now that these lithium batteries has been made safe for automotive use the only remaining obstacle to mass deployment is cost per kWh. And this could be more about better process technology than further product development of the lithium battery. I could imagine that even MAXTOR is surprised to find that something they developed for ultra-capasitators ends up being a blockbuster product for the manufacturing of lithium batteries.



Harvey D

They could joint their efforts still further and produce hybrid supercap-lithum battery packs + the electronic control system for PHEVs and BEVs + city delivery vehicles and buses, garbage trucks, taxis etc.

The combo supercaps-Lithium batteries has great potential for city electrified vehicles, with very frequent stop and start, if it can be made light, small and cheap enough.


^My thoughts exactly.

It seems that, with this manufacturing technique, manufacturers will be much more inclined to scale up their operations.

I wonder if this technology can be modified to use AltairNano's lithium titanate chemistry?


There is a phrase in the business world "first to be second". While some companies hurry to get the latest out there, other companies move along at a reasonable pace. It is the tortoise and the rabbit story. You may be first to market, but an early mover can be taken over by a superior product at a better cost at a later date.

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