Speciality chemicals supplier Albemarle has made an undisclosed investment in microwave plasma technology company 6K – and the US-based firms have agreed to jointly develop novel lithium battery materials. The investment in 6K is being made through Volta Energy Technologies – a venture capital firm that is an existing financial investor in 6K. Meanwhile, Albemarle has signed a joint development agreement with 6K to explore the use of 6K’s patented ‘UniMelt’ sustainable production platform. Cathode production Albemarle Lithium CTO, Dr Glen Merfeld, said UniMelt "opens new reaction pathways for lithium material innovation”. "6K technology creates the opportunity for modular manufacturing allowing for a smaller footprint, faster construction, and new models for localisation,” Merfeld said. According to Albemarle, converting a conventional 16 GWh battery cathode production plant to the UniMelt process would reduce CO2 emissions by 70%. CEO of 6K, Dr Aaron Bent, said: "The agreement with Albemarle highlights the commitment of both organisations to drive battery material performance enhancements while introducing more sustainable production methods.” EV demand Albemarle said last year it planned to boost domestic support for North America’s growing electric vehicles market. The company is preparing to double production at its lithium facility in Nevada by 2025. Albemarle is also investing in a process to streamline production of lithium hydroxide from brine resources through a US Department of Energy-sponsored research project with the Argonne National Laboratory. Related articles in our archive: EV manufacturing supply chain 'powering investments in Georgia' Albemarle doubling Nevada lithium production in supply boost for EV market
Quantum computer company IonQ is teaming up with Hyundai Motor to improve the "performance, cost and safety” of next-generation lithium batteries. US-based IonQ said they would "create the largest battery chemistry model yet to be run on a quantum computer – simulating the structure and energy of lithium oxide”. Quantum-powered chemistry simulation is expected to significantly enhance the quality of next-generation lithium batteries by making improvements to the devices’ charge and discharge cycles, as well as their durability, capacity and safety, IonQ said. 'Opportunities' Hyundai Motor Group’s EVP and head of the materials research and engineering centre, TaeWon Lim, said: "This creative collaboration with IonQ is expected to provide innovation in the development of basic materials in virtual space for various parts of the future mobility.” "We’re excited to step into the upcoming quantum era and take advantage of the opportunities that await with more effective battery power.” IonQ’s quantum computers have previously been used to simulate water molecules, one of the first demonstrations of the potential for quantum computing to tackle quantum chemistry applications. Roadmap CEO and president of IonQ, Peter Chapman, said: "Battery efficiency is one of the most promising emerging areas where quantum computing can make a difference.” Last year, Hyundai joined the Consortium for Battery Innovation through the car group's North American design, technology and engineering arm, the Hyundai America Technical Center (HATCI). HATCI’s membership followed the launch of CBI’s technical roadmap, aimed at ramping up research efforts to deliver next-generation advanced lead batteries. Related articles in our archive Hyundai joins Consortium for Battery Innovation in 'giant step forward' for lead battery industry Lithion Recycling signs batteries processing deal with Hyundai Canada
South Korea’s SK Innovation (SKI) has announced a partnership with the US Georgia Institute of Technology to speed-up R&D; for next-generation all-solid-state ‘dream batteries’. SKI said it will work with a research team led in the US by Georgia Tech’s Professor Lee Seung-woo, to advance work on a solid electrolyte developed by Prof Lee that "boosts ionic conductivity 100 times”. "Realising a solid electrolyte that simultaneously ensures ionic conductivity and safety, while functioning at room temperature, has been regarded as the most demanding challenge – and Prof Lee’s solid electrolyte is evaluated as a ground-breaking achievement,” SKI said. According to SKI, developing the technology could increase the driving range of an average electronic vehicle on a single charge from around 500 km to 800 km. 'Remarkable research' Lee Seong-jun, head of SKI’s Institute of Environmental Science and Technology, said: "In collaboration with Professor Lee’s research team, which has achieved a remarkable research result, we will advance the era of all-solid-state-batteries – also called ‘dream batteries’ – to build up our technological competitiveness, while contributing to greater convenience for humanity.” The collaboration agreement with Georgia Tech follows SKI’s $30m (£22m) investment pledge for US solid-state battery developer, Solid Power, in a bid to jointly produce batteries. SKI said the intention was to develop all-solid-state batteries "with an energy density of at least 930Wh/L”, which the company said was about 33% higher than that of existing lithium-ion batteries. SKI is also working with Li-ion battery pioneer, Prof John Goodenough, on a research initiative to develop next-generation batteries. Related articles in our archive SK Innovation invests in Solid Power to jointly produce solid-state batteries BMW, Ford and Volta Energy Technologies in solid-state investment boost for Solid Power
US-based battery separator group Entek International has become the latest member of the global lead battery research organisation, the Consortium for Battery Innovation (CBI). Entek’s VP of global sales, Clint Beutelschies, said: "CBI and Entek share a common goal of advancing material science and promoting innovation in lead battery technology for the continued success and prosperity of our industry.” "CBI’s research focus ties in well with our own efforts for increased battery performance in automotive, industrial and renewable energy storage, and we are excited to participate in this group.” Entek, which has its headquarters in Oregon, produces separators for all three primary separator technologies – polyethylene, absorbent glass mat and lithium – for the global energy storage industry. The group also has production facilities in the UK, Indonesia, Japan and China. IATF certification World Battery News reported last month that Entek had become the only polyethylene lead‐acid battery separator company in the world to be certified to the International Automotive Task Force (IATF) 16949 standard. The certification came after Entek completed its acquisition of a majority stake in the lead battery separator business of Tokyo-based Nippon Sheet Glass. The CBI is working with technology leaders across the battery industry. Earlier this year, the CBI launched a new roadmap to boost advanced lead battery design and manufacturing worldwide. Related articles in our archive Entek International welcomes IATF certification 'first' for PE lead battery separator CBI launches technical roadmap for next-gen advanced lead batteries
Solid-state lithium-ion battery developer ION Storage Systems (ION) has confirmed an evaluation agreement towards commercial application of its technology with Lockheed Martin. The year-long, paid evaluation deal, calls for a detailed assessment of ION’s tech for use in applications across Lockheed’s businesses. Lockheed’s senior programme manager Steven Shepard, who oversees the group’s, power and propulsion research portfolio, said: "We believe that the benefits of ION’s solid state battery technology are critical to unlocking our products’ future potential.” The agreement expands on a four-year relationship between that companies that started during ION’s incubation at the US University of Maryland.   Grid storage    ION, a spin-off company from the Maryland Energy Innovation Institute, has previously received funding from organisations including Lockheed and the US Department of Energy. ION said it is developing batteries that are safer, lighter and enable form factors with tighter packing density that enhance system performance. Key applications for the company include grid storage and electric vehicle batteries. The non-flammable technology offers safe operation, greater abuse tolerance, and both volume and weight reduction, ION said.   Last August, ION was awarded a $487,310 (£368,000) contract from the United States Advanced Battery Consortium, a subsidiary of the United States Council for Automotive Research, for a "beyond lithium-ion technology assessment programme”.   Related articles in our archive SK Innovation invests in Solid Power to jointly produce solid-state batteries Lockheed Martin lines up 'key early customers' for GridStar Flow battery
The venture capital arm of Belgium-based battery materials firm, Solvay, has joined investors in a $16m (£12m) funding round for US lithium-metal batteries developer Sepion Technologies. California-based Sepion said the oversubscribed Series A round, led by Fine Structure Ventures and other climate tech investors, will speed-up the company’s commercialisation of Li-metal batteries for long-range and low-cost electric vehicles. Sepion will use the investment boost to scale up polymer synthesis, roll-to-roll membrane coating, and battery cell fabrication and testing capabilities to "drive maturation” of its product – and deliver outstanding sample orders from Tier 1 cell and EV manufacturers. Solvay’s own expertise in Li-ion electrolyte additives is "complementary” to Sepion’s core technology, Solvay Ventures said. 'Ground-breaking' Nicolas Cudré-Mauroux, Solvay’s chief technology officer, said: "In addition to being a ground-breaking solution, Sepion’s technology can be readily adopted as it leverages the current Li-ion manufacturing infrastructure and liquid electrolytes.” Sepion CEO and co-founder, Pete Frischmann, said the company had a "differentiated approach to replacing graphite anodes with lithium metal”. "Our core innovations, centred on soft membrane materials and liquid electrolytes, are designed for manufacturing, enabling incumbent lithium-ion cell manufacturers to repurpose existing infrastructure to deliver a step change in battery performance with minimal switching costs,” Frischmann said. Sepion was founded in 2015 from research conducted at the Molecular Foundry of the US Lawrence Berkeley National Lab – and spun out with the support of the Lab’s 'Cyclotron Road' energy technology incubator division, now part of the Activate organisation.   Related articles in our archive: SES unveils 'world's largest' Li-metal battery and builds gigafactory in Shanghai Renault joins Solvay, Veolia in EV batteries recycling project