Continental Takes 16% Stake in Li-Ion Company Enax; Partners to Develop Cells for Future HEVs and EVs
|Power and energy densities for different Enax LSB batteries. Click to enlarge. Source: Enax Europe.
International automotive supplier Continental has taken a 16% share in the Japanese lithium-ion battery company Enax, a developer and manufacturer of high-power and high-energy lithium-ion cells.
The two partners have agreed upon an exclusive cooperative venture for the development of lithium-ion cells especially for future hybrid and electric drives in automobiles. Together, the two intend to improve safety, service life and performance of lithium-ion batteries.
Continental is currently one of the suppliers of the 16 kWh Li-ion packs undergoing evaluation for production in the Chevy Volt. The Volt pack from Conti uses Li-ion cells from A123Systems. (Earlier post.)
In line with our evaluation criteria, Enax offers the broadest range of know-how in high-performance Lithium-ion cells, regarding the cell materials as well as cell design.—Continental Executive Board member Dr. Karl-Thomas Neumann
Enax was founded in 1996 by the current President and CEO, Dr. Kazunori Ozaw, the project leader of Sony’s original Li-ion battery work, to develop his Laminated Sheet Battery (LSB). The light-weight, laminate LSB cells use manganese (Mn)-based electrode materials and offer high capacity and high energy density with no memory effect, according to Enax. Enax is working with spinel-type (LiMn2O4, LMO) and lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide (LiNi1/3Mn1/3Co1/3O2, NMC) cathodes. The company has a range of small- and large-format 3.8V cells optimized for high power or high energy.
|DeGussa’s (Evonik’s) Li-ion demonstrator Honda Civic uses Enax batteries.
The LSB cells use the flexible ceramic Separion separator from Degussa AG. (Earlier post.) (As of September 2007, Degussa became the Chemicals Business Area of the new Evonik Industries. Evonik is now ramping up its Li-ion activities in Germany. (Related post.)) Degussa used Enax batteries in its Honda Civic Li-ion demonstrator car. (Earlier post.)
In 2005, Enax set up a joint venture in China with Degussa to develop and manufacture lithium-ion battery electrodes. Both partners will hold a 50% stake. ENAX is both the technology provider and the future research partner for that joint venture. Through the joint venture Degussa acquired a worldwide exclusive license to manufacture the new electrodes for lithium-ion batteries. (Earlier post.)
Enax, which is headquartered in Tokyo and has manufacturing facilities in China and Japan, employs more than 80 people, about half of whom work in research and development. The development center is located in Yonezawa in the northern region of Japan. Enax holds a number of patents relating to the production, cell materials and safety technology of the batteries. Fiscal 2006 sales amounted to US$10.5 million.
With this cooperation, we are pooling our innovative strength and creating the technological basis for high-performance energy storage devices of the next generation.—Jörg Grotendorst, head of Continental’s Hybrid business unit
Grotendorst will in the future be a member of the Board of Directors of Enax.
Continental will launch first-time volume production of a high-performance lithium-ion battery using cells from Johnson Controls Saft for the Mercedes S 400 BlueHYBRID at the end of this year. (Earlier post.)
Enax company profile (Enax Europe, 2005)