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GM, LG Chem licensing Argonne Lab’s layered-layered composite cathode material for Li-ion batteries; substantial increase in energy capacity and safety

General Motors Co. and the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) have reached a non-exclusive worldwide licensing agreement to use Argonne’s patented composite cathode material for advanced lithium-ion batteries. Argonne also licensed the cathode technology to LG Chem for use in battery cells. The GM license is specific to GM vehicles; the LG license allows the battery maker to sell to other OEMs as well and provide cells for GM.

Argonne’s patented xLi2MnO3·(1-x)LiMO2 (M= Mn, Ni, Co) “layered-layered” structures (earlier post) integrate an electrochemically inactive Li2MnO3 component with an electrochemically active LiMO2 component to provide improved structural and electrochemical stability at high potentials. The unique combination of lithium- and manganese-rich mixed-metal oxides in this stable materials-design approach extends the operating time between charges and increase the calendar life of batteries; improves the inherent safety of lithium-ion cells; and allows charging at higher cell voltages, which leads to a substantially higher energy storage capacity compared to current materials. The cathode material enables a 50—100% increase in gravimetric energy storage capacity over conventional cathode material, according to Argonne.

The Argonne license will allow GM to continue to work on next-generation battery systems to reduce cost and improve performance. We still have work to do, and development and validation that remains to be done.

The roadmap to more capable batteries requires improvements in [cathodes, anodes and electrolytes]. We need developments in all three. This is the most capable cathode that we have seen out there from a lot of different corners. That is why we think it is critical that we get working with it now to get it on the road. It will take us some years. We want to get it on the road for the next generation of battery packs.

—Jon Lauckner, President, GM Ventures

The cathode material licensed to GM is part of a large, diverse suite of Li-ion battery inventions and patents developed at Argonne with DOE funding. The agency also provided funding for early science research that helped develop this technology. Argonne has licensed its composite cathode technology to other companies including BASF and Toda Kyogo (earlier post).

LG Chem Michigan, Inc. (LGCMI), a wholly owned subsidiary of LG Chem, will manufacture Li-ion polymer battery cells for the Chevy Volt at a Recovery Act-funded $303-million production facility under construction in Holland, Mich.

Resources

  • Cathodes (ANL presentation by Dr. Michael Thackeray at 2010 Annual Merit Review DOE Vehicle Technologies Program)

Comments

HarveyD

All technologies developed by Argonne Lab's should be licensed out. The price may be different depending if it is to a national USA or foreign firm. Local firms should get the licenses at cost or with equivalent royalties and others at 2x or 3x.

kelly

"The cathode material enables a 50—100% increase in gravimetric energy storage capacity over conventional cathode material, according to Argonne."

Different battery chemistries seem to have anode, cathode, electrolyte.. bottlenecks.

Will this cathode material increase Volt(Leaf?) electric range 50-100%?

Engineer-Poet

No. That would require the same performace improvement in the anode, electrolyte, casing....

HarveyD

Of course, other essential components have to be improved too. Many people are trying to increase anodes and electrolytes performances.

Laptop lithium batteries improved at 10% to 12% per year and EV batteries should do better because a lot more research is being done. Price will drop at about the same rate or a bit more. By 2020, we should see EV batteries at over 500 Wh/kg for about $200/Kwh if R & D keeps up and the legal patents war is not to detrimental.

Even today, if the three best elements were used in the same battery, performance would be close to 400 Wh/Kg. Wholesale price is already down to about $375/Kwh.

The future is very bright for higher performance EV batteries at lower cost.

clett

Martin Eberhardt says that Tesla are already buying their lithium-ion batteries for $200 per kWh.

If that's true, it can't be too long before we get 10 kWh PHEVs for only a $2,000 increment over a hybrid.

SJC

Cost versus price is different, but they should come down the price curve as well.

kelly

"Martin Eberhardt says that Tesla are already buying their lithium-ion batteries for $200 per kWh." - I thought this was by 2020.

In any case, what mass production processes allow connecting/monitoring thousands of batteries reliably and economically?

Engineer-Poet

Machinery already does precise robot spot-welding of car bodies, and has for years. Do you think that the same technology cannot do precise spot-welding of cells into battery modules? What keeps it from hooking the battery management units into the modules too?

Nothing.

kelly

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-01-07/news/ct-met-argonne-battery-20110107_1_cathode-material-battery-technology-argonne-national-laboratory

"Argonne's technology """will dramatically decrease the battery weight for the same 'use time' or allow you to increase 'use time' of your technology by 50 to 100 percent with the same weight of battery,""" Minteer said."

Check the Gov Motors/Gov licensing fine print for Chevron options.

kelly

Engineer-Poet, do you think a robot arm positions each Tesla cell, squeezes between six thousand adjacent 18650 cells, makes sets of connection/monitoring/control welds PER cell/monitor/control electronics, then floods all these (10s?) of thousands of uninsulated welds with coolant for temperature control, waterproofs it all and yells, "multi-year battery warranty!"?

HarveyD

If a robot can operate a human eye with greater precision than a human doctor, it could also assemble battery parts and modules as good or better than humans. Another advantage, robots would do it 24/7 without coffee/smoke/meals/rest/sick/vacations breaks or strikes.

That may be the road that USA should take to compete with countries with larger-cheaper work forces. Japan and South Korea are going ahead at a faster pace.

SJC

IMO automation was the way to keep manufacturing jobs in the U.S. since the mid 70s. Inflation made the cost of money too high, so companies went to low wage countries to manufacture.

One thing leads to another in the causality loop and we should see that. It is occurring right now, but most just see what is happening and can not understand the cause and effect results forming as we speak.

kelly

'..a robot did it' doesn't sufficiently explain, "..what mass production processes allow connecting/monitoring thousands of batteries reliably and economically?"

Engineer-Poet
do you think a robot arm positions each Tesla cell, squeezes between six thousand adjacent 18650 cells....
I know no such thing is done. Among other details, the only reason the Tesla Roadster needs 6000+ cells is because it's using 18650's. 18650's were used because they were the cheapest and most reliable cells available when the system was designed. Things are moving to prismatic cells of much higher capacity, and robotic pick-and-place with connections welded using machine vision is a no-brainer when you're building a hundred thousand packs a year.
"..what mass production processes allow connecting/monitoring thousands of batteries reliably and economically?"
Robotic welders have long produced stronger and more consistent welds than human workers, and the number of cells (and thus connections) per vehicle is going to drop steeply with bigger cells. If the Tesla Roadster had 200 AH cells available, it would only need ~200 welded connections in the battery pack.
kelly

Just at the cell level, Passive Temperature Coefficient and Current Interrupt Device would require series and parallel connections. The thousands of 18650's are used BECAUSE mass-produced billions are ~cheap. There's also Tesla brick and sheet level connections. http://webarchive.teslamotors.com/display_data/TeslaRoadsterBatterySystem

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/7667432.html (with dozens of referent patents) is hard to follow, but there's WAY more going on than end-to-end welds.

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