Battered by battery news

A lot of chemical investments going on for next generation alternative energy storage (specifically lithium ion), which could accelerate the use of plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles in the near future.

Just this week, BASF announced its plans to build North America’s largest cathode material production plant in Ohio as soon as it gets a grant under the Department of Energy’s Electric Drive Vehicle Battery and Component Manufacturing Initiative (part of Obama’s Recovery Act).

DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory and BASF signed a global licensing deal to mass produce and market Argonne’s patented composite cathode materials to lithium-ion batteries manufacturers.

Last month, BASF also started its new membrane electrode assembly (MEA) unit in New Jersey. MEA is a major component of fuel cell.

High-tech battery manufacturer Saft is also seeking a DOE grant to build a new high-volume lithium-ion cells and integrate batteries manufacturing plant in Jacksonville, Florida, for military vehicles, aviation, smart grid support, broadband backup power and other emerging applications. Saft proposed plant will cost up to $200 million and the company is expecting (or hoping) to get at least $100 million from the DOE, which will be announced in July.

Dow Chemicaland its (potential) joint venture partners are hoping they too can geta piece (or two) of the DOE grant pie with their planned $600 million,800,000 square foot superior lithium ion polymer battery (SLPB)facility for the hybrid and electric vehicle markets.

The joint venture is expected to produce enough batteries to supply60,000 hybrid or electric vehicles per year. Construction of theproposed Michigan facility is expected to begin by late September, withproduction slated to begin in mid-2011.

This week, ExxonMobil Chemical said it has developed two new gradesof V series co-extruded battery separator films that will help makelithium-ion batteries safer than ever before for hybrid and electricvehicles, power tools and electronic devices including laptop computers.

The company said it is building another manufacturing facility inGumi, Korea, to accommodate additional demand. The new manufacturingplant will be completed in 2010.

In Tokyo, Hitachi Ltd.said last month that it has developed a lithium-ion battery having theworld’s highest power density of 4,500W/kg, 1.7 times the output of thecompany’s mass-produced, automotive lithium-ion batteries.

Sampling of the new battery by domestic and overseas carmanufacturers will start in the fall. The fourth-generation lithium-ionbattery is said to be even smaller and lighter than the thirdgeneration, which has power density of 3,000 W/kg.

Hitachi’s third generation lithium ion will go into mass-productionnext year. (I wonder how long it will take for them to mass producetheir 4th gen products?? This is like buying a newly released Iphonewhen a newer generation has already been developed…)

A recent report from consulting firm Frost & Sullivansaid that the traditional secondary battery market was worth $30billion globally last year, while alternative energy storage solutionsoccupied less than 1% of this share.

“While most industries arestalling major projects and investments, the alternative energy storageindustry is embarking on a busy expansion spree.”

Frost & Sullivan estimates the electric and hybridvehicle market to reach $2 billion by 2014, and the lithium-ion batterymarket to grow right along with it.

Leave a Reply