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BASF to acquire Merck’s Li-ion battery electrolytes business

BASF will acquire the electrolytes business for high-performance batteries from chemical and pharmaceutical company Merck. The companies have agreed not to disclose financial details of the transaction.

The acquisition comprises the technologies and products for enhancing battery performance that Merck has developed, patented and brought to market, including the complete line of finished LiPF6-based and LiFAP-based electrolytes which are marketed under the Selectilyte brand. Merck has more than 10 years experience in the production of electrolytes for Li-ion batteries and supercapacitors. Also included in the transaction is a variety of additives for electrolytes used to produce lithium-ion batteries (LIBs). The transaction also covers Merck’s research portfolio with respect to novel electrolytes and additives.

This acquisition enhances the expertise we offer to automotive and battery manufacturers around the world. We emphasize again our goal of positioning BASF as a solution-oriented partner to battery manufacturers in this dynamic market. The electrolyte portfolio developed by Merck and their established market channels will provide additional impetus to our efforts to develop into a reliable supplier of electrolyte formulations offering innovative and customized solutions for battery manufacturers.

—Dr. Andreas Kreimeyer, Member of the Board of Executive Directors and BASF’s Research Executive Director

In May 2011, BASF formed a global electrolytes team to develop and sell high-quality electrolyte formulations for Li-ion battery manufacturers. (Earlier post.) This team, initially formed in the Intermediates division of BASF, will be integrated into the new “Battery Materials” business unit within BASF’s Catalysts division in the course of 2012.

BASF is one of only two licensed suppliers of the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory-patented NCM cathode materials, which employ a unique combination of lithium and manganese-rich mixed metal oxides. (Earlier post.) The license covers the broadest scope of NCM chemistry, which can be used in today’s lithium-ion batteries. This includes lithium stabilization (molar ratio of lithium to other metals greater than 1) of known NCM materials, such as 111, 424, and 523.

These cathode materials—NCM-111, NCM-424 and NCM-523—allow higher energy density, improved safety due to higher temperature stability, and increased efficiency by enabling more discharge/charge cycles for batteries. Due to a very high degree of purity and excellent product characteristics, these materials are also well suited for evolving requirements of batteries in automotive drivetrains, BASF notes.

BASF said in 2011 that it intends to invest a three-digit million euro sum in researching, developing and producing advanced battery materials over the next five years. As well as developing materials for lithium-ion batteries, BASF is also researching future battery concepts such as lithium-sulfur or lithium-air. In January, BASF invested $50 million to acquire an equity ownership position in privately held Sion Power, the leading developer of rechargeable lithium-sulfur (Li-S) batteries. (Earlier post.)

Comments

kelly

These BASF people are buying advanced battery tech the way Monsanto buys food seed companies.

EVs are in trouble if this is another GM/NiMH/Chevron type betrayal.

Engineer-Poet

BASF isn't in the oil biz, so their goal is likely to make money on product.

SJC

I would like to see 3M, Dupont, Dow, BASF and others in the battery business. We need some heavy hitters with staying power to make it happen. The huge manufacturing required to supply one million cars per year with battery packs is staggering.

HarveyD

I agree with SJC and E-P. To compete with very large, lower labor cost, Asian battery producers, USA/EU producers will have to combine (with half a dozen multi-producer JVs or so) into larger research and mass production units.

BASF is currently taking the lead but others should follow shortly to supply a fast growing market.

The post-lithium era will also represent a challenge and competition is required to get development alive and price down.

Mannstein

Is "Big Oil" going to be replaced by "Big Lithium" in the not to distant future?

Would be ironic to say the least.

Engineer-Poet

"Big Zinc" will be sniffing on Big Lithium's trail soon if it isn't already; zinc-air has plenty of potential, and has already run buses.

There's not much potential for monopolies here, and electricity is about the ultimate fungible good.

HarveyD

Batteries made with IBM's lithium-air cells could give future BEVs 500+ miles range between charges. Many other technologies or variances of current technologies will surprise many with improved performances and lower price during the next 10+ years or so.

kelly

Engineer-Poet, BASF is deep into oil, plastics, and even Cooperation with Monsanto: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BASF

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