The U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory and LG Chem, Ltd., announced Jan. 6 that they have reached a licensing agreement to make and use Argonne’s patented cathode material technology in lithium–ion battery cells.
The technology is in the battery cell that is powering General Motors Co.’s Chevrolet Volt, the first mass–produced, plug–in hybrid electric vehicle. The Volt has an EPA estimated range of 35 miles on a full charge.
The Argonne–developed technology offers the longest–lasting energy available in the smallest, lightest package: a 50 percent to 100 percent increase in energy storage capacity over conventional cathode material. Further, its unique lithium– and manganese–rich mixed–metal oxide combination extends the operating time between charges, increases the calendar life and improves the inherent safety of lithium–ion cells.
“We believe that Argonne’s patented cathode material technology that helps increase the capacity of lithium–ion battery cells and LG Chem’s safety–enhanced SRS® (separator) technology are the keys to producing high–performance and safe batteries for the GM Volt,” said Youngjoon Shin, research fellow in Battery R&D at LG Chem.
“The licensing agreement with LG Chem concretely illustrates the key role that DOE national laboratories like Argonne play in the manufacturing supply chain in the United States,” said Eric Isaacs, Argonne director and president of UChicago Argonne, LLC, a wholly owned laboratory management subsidiary of the University of Chicago. “The development of this cathode material is the result of research performed by a multidisciplinary team of world–class scientists based at Argonne.”
“It is especially gratifying to know that the commercialization of this Argonne–cathode is helping the development of an emerging U.S. battery manufacturing industry, as well as the creation of new American jobs,” said Jeff Chamberlain, who heads Argonne’s Energy Storage Initiative.
LG Chem Michigan, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of LG Chem, will manufacture lithium–ion polymer battery cells for the Chevy Volt at a Recovery Act–funded $303 million production facility under construction in Holland, Mich. The plant will employ more than 400 people.
“Department of Energy innovations are playing a critical role in advancing America’s electric vehicle industry,” said U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “The commercialization of this cutting–edge battery technology once again highlights the importance of our national laboratories in advancing our clean energy goals and supporting U.S. manufacturing.”
Argonne has developed and patented a sizable suite of lithium–ion battery technologies with funding from DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Funding for the earlier stages of research and development of this technology was provided by DOE’s Office of Science.
“Talented scientists at Argonne have long been a source for industry–leading innovations in the area of automotive research,” said Rep. Judy Biggert, (R–Ill.), a senior member of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee and longtime champion of federal research efforts. “With support for basic science research from the DOE’s Office of Science and Congress, the work going on right here in our community promises to transform our transportation industry and keep the U.S. economically competitive for years to come. This agreement will help speed those innovations out of the laboratory and into the marketplace, where they can create jobs, benefit consumers and help reduce our dependence on foreign energy.”
“This licensing agreement underscores the importance of scientific research conducted at the DOE’s national laboratories, research that makes possible discoveries that benefit the American economy,” said University of Chicago President Robert Zimmer.