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Arkema and Hydro-Québec set up a joint laboratory for lithium-ion batteries

Arkema, a €7.5-billion (sales) global chemical company and France’s leading chemicals producer, and Hydro-Québec, through its new subsidiary SCE France, are partnering to create a joint laboratory for research and development in the energy storage sector. (Earlier post.)

The laboratory will focus its work on the development of a new generation of materials for the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries, in particular new electrolytes (solvents, lithium salts, etc.) and conduction agents (carbon nanotubes, conductive polymers, etc.).

Currently, Arkema supplies its Kynar polyvinylidene fluoride resins (PVDF) for use in lithium-ion batteries. These polymers can be used as a microporous separator or as a cathode binder. Arkema recently has developed a new binder: Kynar HSV 900. This resin ensures optimal adhesion during the manufacturing of electrodes and limits the quantity of Kynar required, while improving battery performance.

The company is also researching new materials for the electrodes, such as carbon nanotubes. In addition to improving the electrical conductivity of electrodes, these nanomaterials increase the mechanical resistance, which is strongly challenged during each charging/recharging cycle.

It is in line with Arkema’s strategy to offer ultra high performance materials dedicated to the renewable energies and electric vehicle sectors. Our top objective is to speed up the placing on the market of new lithium salts, which have already proven their efficiency in improving the safety and power of Li-Ion batteries.

—Christian Collette, Arkema Research and Development Vice President

Hydro-Québec is Canada’s largest electricity producer and one of the world’s leading hydropower producers; its research institute, IREQ, conducts research and development work in energy-related fields, including energy efficiency and energy storage. Hydro-Québec invests $100 million in research every year.

In February, Hydro-Québec and the Aquitaine Regional Council formed SCE France, the activities of which will focus on research and technology transfer in transportation electrification and energy storage and conservation. SCE France was formed to set up a laboratory dedicated to research and technology transfer in the Aquitaine region to develop lithium-iron-phosphate-based batteries and carry out research on new battery technologies that use advanced materials. (Earlier post.)

IREQ holds more than 800 patent rights and 40 licenses for battery materials used by some of the world’s most successful battery manufacturers and materials suppliers.

As an example of IREQ’s battery research, earlier this year, IREQ researchers and their colleagues at Singapore’s Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) of A*STAR reported synthesizing silicate-based nanoboxes that could more than double the energy capacity of lithium-ion batteries as compared to conventional phosphate-based cathodes. A paper on that work was published in the journal Nano Energy. (Earlier post.)

This new partnership with such a renowned group as Arkema clearly positions us as a leader in the development of highly promising technologies for cutting-edge batteries that will power tomorrow’s electric transport as well as develop energy storage systems.

—Karim Zaghib, Energy Storage and Conversion Director at IREQ and Managing Director of SCE France


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