Materials technology group Umicore has acquired a set of product and process patents covering high-end Li-ion active cathode materials from FMC Corporation. This patented technology increases the performance and safety for Li-ion batteries using lithium cobalt oxide (LCO) and mixed metal lithium oxides (NMC) as cathode material.
The patent family covers a unique way of stabilizing the cathode material at the molecular structure level that avoids degradation of battery performance even under severe operating conditions such as high temperatures, high charge and discharge rates and high numbers of cycles, as well as at higher voltages.
Both parties say that they believe this transaction will result in faster penetration of the patented technology in the li-ion battery market, both for portable electronics cells and the emerging automotive segment for li-ion batteries.
Ultimately the patented technology will lead to lower system cost (in $/kWh) for Li-ion batteries for small and large-formats.
FMC Lithium developed its own cathode technology and participated directly in the market from 1995-2004; in 2004, it began cathode technology out-licensing. Over the years, it had developed a significant body of cathode IP, especially in the area of layered lithium metal oxides with dopants.
The patented compositions allow not only high rate capability (high power) at the beginning, but also the maintenance of the high rate/power capability after long cycles by suppressing the impedance build-up on the cathode surface. The approach can be applied to the whole family of the layered lithium metal oxides LiMO2(where M= one or combination of Co, Ni and Mn).
Relevant issued US patents include: 6,277,521; 6,582,852; 6,794,085; 6,361,756; 6,589,499; 6,620,400; 7,074,382; and 6,878,490. Tianjin B& M Science and Technology Joint-Stock Co., Ltd has supplied the materials in China (exclusively), and on non-exclusive basis in Korea and Japan under license with FMC.
We take over the existing licensing agreement with Tianjin B&M Science and Technology Joint-Stock Co (PRC) and will actively market this technology based on our IP portfolio.—Kurt Vandeputte, Business Line Manager, Umicore Rechargeable Battery Materials
FMC’s Play in Li-ion Battery Market and Progress Report on Stabilized Lithium Metal Powder (SLMP) (2010, 27th International Battery Conference)