Global chemicals group BASF
SE has formally established a lithium-ion
(Li-ion) cathode materials joint venture (JV) with
Japan’s Toda Kyogo Corp.,
which will operate under the name BASF Toda Battery Materials
The JV was established with 66% equity from BASF Japan Ltd
and 34% from Toda Kyogo, and will research and develop a broad
range of cathode materials, including nickel cobalt aluminium
oxide (NCA), lithium manganese oxide (LMO) and nickel cobalt
manganese (NCM) in Japan.
"BASF brings global strength in cathode active materials to
this new venture, together with a 150-year history of
innovation," Kenneth Lane, president of BASF’s
catalysts division, said.
Shigeru Takaragi, Today Kyogo’s president,
added that the new JV would be able to "respond in a flexible
and timely manner to the globally expanding cathode market for
Samsung SDI has acquired the battery
pack division of Magna International, an
automotive supplier based in Ontario, Canada. The electronics
giant has been working on Li-ion battery cell technology with
BMW since 2009, producing the BMW i8 and i3.
Samsung says it expects this acquisition to "enhance Samsung
SDI’s capabilities in batteries for electric
vehicles by combining the company’s established
leadership in battery cells and modules with
Magna’s expertise in battery packs."
Back in December, Samsung’s investment arm,
Samsung Ventures, led a $17m investment round in Seeo
aimed at producing superior EV batteries.
Japan’s Asahi Kasei
Corp. has agreed to acquire Polypore
International’s energy storage
business for $2.2bn.
Both companies produce Li-ion battery separators used in
electronic gadgets and automobiles, but Asahi Kasei President
Toshio Asano believes that the type produced by US-based
Polypore - known as dry process separators - will become the
auto sector's preferred option because of its typically
Asahi Kasei will acquire all outstanding shares of Polypore
for $60.50/share, a 14% premium to their $52.95/share close on
Friday and representing a total value of around $3.2bn.
As an integrated step in this transaction, immediately prior
to Asahi Kasei’s acquisition of Polypore, the 3M
Co. will acquire the assets of Polypore’s
Separations Media segment for approximately $1bn and Asahi
Kasei will receive the cash proceeds from the asset sale.
Polypore's separation media business, which makes
microporous membranes and filtration modules will be merged
with 3M's purification business.
In exploration news, TSX-listed Western
Lithium has produced 99.8% pure lithium carbonate
in its first trial run while commissioning its demonstration
plant in Germany.
Initial results released by the company indicate that
lithium extraction and brine concentration are in line with the
design parameters established in the company’s NI
43-101 report filed on 9 May 2014.
Permitting and engineering work is planned to accelerate in
2015 based on current discussions with several strategic
partners, the company said.
In addition, lithium hydroxide studies have been advanced to
finalise the design of Western Lithium’s lithium
hydroxide circuit for production. The company expects to test
its lithium hydroxide circuit in pilot tests in 2015.
Western Lithium processed 78 tonnes of material, using
oxidised ores from its Nevada, US-based property, through a
calcination plant in Weimar, Germany, at a rate of 10.9
The concentrate was then further treated at its leaching and
crystallisation facility in Sondershausen, Germany, at a rate
of 4.5 tpd. At peak production, the facility should produce 20
tpa high-purity lithium carbonate (LCE) under continuous
The company expects to produce several tonnes lithium
products in 2015 during several campaigns to verify equipment
selection and to provide production run samples for potential
Lithium extraction recovery was measured at 85-90% with
tailings containing 200-300 parts per million (ppm) lithium.
The operating plant will continue to be optimised prior to the
run of the next production campaign, which will include the
production of potassium sulphate and sodium
The company plans to granulate, calcine and process
approximately 227.8 tonnes of additional lithium feed (a mix of
lithium clay, anhydrite and dolomite).
Also listed in Toronto, Nemaska Lithium
Inc. has announced that the Quebec
Review Committee in Canada will hold its public hearings on
Nemaska's Whabouchi project in Quebec from 30 March to 1 April
The hearings will give residents of the area near Whabouchi
an opportunity to voice their views on the project's impact to
the local environment. The consultation is the final step
before a recommendation is made to the Minister of Sustainable
Development, Environment and The Fight Against Climate Change
to issue the general certificate of authorisation required to
build and operate the Whabouchi mine.
The company has also recently received a Canadian dollar
(C$) ($10.36m*) technology commercialisation grant for its
phase one lithium hydroxide plant from the state-funded
institute Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC).
Researchers from Singapore’s
Institute of Bioengineering and
Nanotechnology and Quebec’s
IREQ (Hydro-Quebec’s research
institute) have synthesised silicate-based
nanoboxes that could more than double the energy capacity of
Li-ion batteries as compared to conventional phosphate-based
cathodes, according to Nanowerk News. This
breakthrough could hold the key to longer-lasting rechargeable
batteries for electric vehicles (EVs) and mobile devices.
The five-year research collaboration between IBN and
Hydro-Quebec was established in 2011. The researchers plan to
enhance further their new cathode materials to create
high-capacity Li-ion batteries for commercialisation.
The US Department of Energy’s Pacific
Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in Richland,
Washington, has found a new electrolyte that preserves the
lifespan of lithium batteries, according to a report in the
Nature Communications journal. The electrolyte eliminates
hazardous dendrites while keeping the batteries at 98.4% of
initial energy even after 1,000 charges.
The PNNL reports that a majority of batteries today with
lithium anodes use a current density of 1 milliamps per square
centimetre or less and fail after fewer than 300 cycles.
Researchers of the study – led by physicist
Ji-Guang, built on the success of other research utilising
electrolytes with high salt concentrations by adding a lithium
bis(fluorosulfonyl) imide salt to dimethoxyethane, a
The research team built a circular test cell, which used the
new electrolyte and a lithium anode, and found that the anode
developed a thin layer of lithium nodules instead of growing
dendrites that can short circuit or limit the ability of the
"Our new electrolyte helps lithium batteries be more than
99% efficient and enables them to carry more than ten times
more electric current per area than previous
technologies," Zhang said
"This new discovery could kick-start the development of
powerful and practical next-generation rechargeable batteries
such as lithium-sulfur, lithium-air and lithium-metal
batteries," he added.
German car maker Audi this week
launched its EV the Audi Prologue Avant. At present, the
vehicle is a concept, and not yet in production. It will run a
3 litre TDI diesel engine and an electric motor supported by a
14.1 kWh Li-ion battery. Total output is projected at 455
horsepower and 750 Newton metres (Nm) of torque, corresponding
to an average fuel consumption of 1.6 litres/100km, or around
The Indian government is planning a
subsidy of Indian rupee INR 32,00 ($513) on every lithium
battery kit to promote greater usage of electric bikes and cut
down vehicular pollution, according to a report in the
Indian business Hero Electric is in talks with the Delhi
government and the Delhi Metro Rail Corp. (DMRC) to station 20
e-bikes at every metro station. Coimbatore-based Ampere
Vehicles has tied up with Domino’s Pizza in Delhi
to provide 50 lithium battery fitted e-bikes for delivery to
map consumer interest.
The National Electric Mobility Mission Plan provided for a
subsidy of INR 22,000 ($355) for a lithium battery pack, but
this was withdrawn in 2012, leading to a steep fall in the
sales of electric two-wheelers.
*Conversions made February 2015