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Altair Nanotechnologies Partners with Amperex Technology to Accelerate Commercialization of Next-Generation Lithium-Titanate Batteries

Li-ion battery manufacturer Altair Nanotechnologies Inc. (Altairnano) has entered a joint development agreement (JDA) with Amperex Technology Ltd. (ATL) to accelerate the commercialization of next-generation high-performance lithium-titanate battery cells. China-based ATL currently produces Lithium-ion polymer batteries under a license agreement with Valence Technology.

Under terms of the agreement, Altairnano and ATL will provide respective technical resources to focus on the engineering, design and testing of the next generation of rechargeable cells.

The principal lithium-ion advance that Altairnano has made is in the optimization of nano-structured lithium titanate spinel oxide (Li4Ti5O12, LTO) electrode materials that replace the graphite electrode materials found in anodes of current Li-ion batteries. So far these have been combined with cathodes from conventional lithium-ion batteries.

The Altairnano systems feature rapid recharging and discharging. With the Altairnano anode, no Solid Electrolyte Interphase (SEI) barrier is formed around the electrode, making it easier for lithium ions to reach the surface of the electrode. With the nano-structured component, there’s more surface area available to the ions&mash;up to 100 times more surface area than with conventional, graphite electrodes, according to the company.

The nanomaterials facilitate access to the active sites—the small size of the materials reduces the distance from the surface to the sites—all of which helps accelerate recharging and discharging.

The joint development agreement is an integral component of Altairnano’s product roadmap and accelerated commercialization strategy for the company's advanced energy storage solutions. This initiative seeks to improve cell performance by increasing cell energy and power density.

The cells are the core technology supporting Altairnano’s energy storage and battery systems designed for electrical grid stability, renewable energy integration, and transportation applications.

Initial availability of these cells and advanced energy storage systems and batteries featuring the company’s next generation of advanced lithium-titanate cells is anticipated by the end of 2009.

We’re excited to partner with a recognized world leader in advanced cell design and manufacturing. Strategic alignment with ATL strengthens Altairnano’s position to meet growing global market demands for utility-scale energy storage systems and for EV, HEV, and PHEV battery applications.

—Dr. Terry Copeland, President and CEO, Altairnano

Comments

MG

Long overdue, this type of cooperation with a proven cell manufacturer (if this is the one). Obviously Altairnano lacked some critical expertize to commercialize their very promissing technology.
Perhaps it is very difficult for a small company to excell in both, materials technology and cell design.
A123 was able to get investors' attention somehow, that might have been the key difference behind the fortunes of the two companies in the last 2-3 years.

ai_vin

@MG

Yeah that could be it, OTOH if you're a cynic (like me) you could say Altairnano is joining with the *China-based* ATL to access a pool of cheap labour and everything Dr. Terry Copeland said is just corporate doublespeak.

SJC

Venture capitalists decided who lives and who does not. You do not know these people, but they decide the fate of the country every day. They use a small amount of public employee pension funds to back whatever is in favor at the time. If we are ever to truly "recover", this must change.

Reel$$

While this may help Altair in the short term - long term they will need to build manufacturing facilities in the West. As the recession collapses more overseas markets and the lure of cheap labor competes with Obama's New-WPA programs - domestic energy production is the key to financial success.

FYI, VC uses private capital. Public pension funds (e.g. teachers) are administered by managers with the sole intent to grow the value of those funds - and not through high risk VC startups. The fact that these managers may be crooked or crime related - has nothing to do with high-tech startups.

Justin VP

Demonizing Venture Capital is just silly. They take investor money and make high-risk bets based on the soundness of a technology and the quality of the startups management team. Without VC, how would good ideas make it off the ground?

They have the potential to make a lot of money, which gives them the ability to invest in 10 firms that will fail for every one that will succeed. Without the ability to fail, a new technology will never get off the ground.

If the government wants to fund certain initiatives, they can, and then it's a nice 1-2 punch in combination with VCs. Both have a role to play, but VC does a much better job of evaluating promising technology that politicians who are primarily bringing home the bacon and secondarily looking for good technology to support.

The other option is to just let huge businesses do all the innovation. The banking mess shows how well that can work.

Andrey Levin

Justin:

There is couple of problems with Altair. First, on my memory, they have no less than 5 strategic co-operation agreements, like with ABAT (Chinese battery company), Phoenix (BEV SUV), pharmaceutical company, marine engine manufacturing company, major utility company, US Navy, to name a few. Nothing went to fruition.

Second, their patent portfolio is quite weak, and numerous much bigger companies are happily developing Li Titanate batteries without licensing of technology from Altair.

I wish them luck, but so far their greatest achievement is to periodically part gullible investors from their money. In that task they are professionals.

SJC

Justin,

No one is "demonizing" venture capital, it is just insufficient, IMO. We depend almost totally on it as a source of funding for new companies. That is foolish and is a major impedance to progress in this country.

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