- Trailblazing development leads to a new generation of lithium-ion batteries; SEPARION® flexible ceramic separator membranes replace plastic membranes for separating anode and cathode
- Market volumes of more than Euro 4 billion for battery materials and in excess of Euro 10 billion for batteries, according to forecasts
- Evonik has commenced serial production for battery components in Marl and Kamenz, Saxony, Germany
- Evonik CEO Dr. Werner Müller: "The breakthrough is indicative of the great creative potential in the Group and strengthens Germany as an industrial location."
Essen. The team comprising Dr. Andreas Gutsch, Dr. Gerhard Hörpel, both from Evonik Industries, and Prof. Dr. Paul Roth from the University of Duisburg-Essen has been nominated for the 2007 German Future Prize, the Federal Presidents Award for Technology and Innovation. With its trailblazing development of a ceramic, yet flexible, separator—which separates the anode and cathode, and which will make lithium-ion batteries more efficient and powerful in future—the Evonik project team headed by Dr. Andreas Gutsch is one of four nominated teams hoping to be awarded the German President’s Prize for Technology and Innovation. The prize will be awarded in Berlin on December 6 by German President Dr. Horst Köhler. “We are very happy to have been nominated. It reflects the revolutionary breakthrough in the field of lithium-ion batteries and, at the same time, is an indication of the outstanding creative potential within the Evonik Group,” said Dr. Werner Müller, CEO of Evonik Industries. “In Kamenz, near Dresden, we are now commencing serial production of battery components,” continues Dr. Müller.
Small lithium-ion batteries are now used in almost all notebooks, cell phones, and camcorders throughout the world. But it has not been possible to use lithium-ion batteries in hybrid and electric cars, or in large stationary applications, because of the lack of reliability on the battery and cell levels. The current plastic separators, which separate the anode and cathode in the battery, lose their stability at temperatures above 140 degrees Celsius (284ºF).
With its SEPARION® separators—the pioneering product from the Group’s lithium-ion technology portfolio—Evonik Industries has now succeeded in making lithium-ion batteries more reliable, more powerful, and longer-lasting. “With this technology we are developing very attractive applications for large mobile and stationary batteries, for which double-digit growth rates are forecast,” says Dr. Andreas Gutsch. “In the coming ten years, the market volume for large-volume lithium-ion batteries will cross the Euro 10 billion threshold and sales of battery materials will exceed Euro 4 billion.” Dr. Gutsch, who is responsible for lithium-ion technology in the Evonik Group, is the spokesman for the three-man project team that has been nominated for the Future Prize. The other members of the team are Dr. Gerhard Hörpel (Evonik) and Prof. Dr. Paul Roth (University of Duisburg-Essen).
“Energy efficiency is a major topic throughout the world. With our technology, we are making a sustainable contribution towards climate protection and resource conservation. This produces new growth opportunities and also attractive margins for Evonik,” explains Evonik Board Member Dr. Klaus Engel. In the future, two main applications will stand out. First, it will be possible to use the next-generation lithium-ion technology in large batteries for hybrid vehicles. The advantages of this combination of internal combustion and electric engines include up to 50 percent less fuel consumption, fewer emissions, and better acceleration.
Second, in the future, large electric lithium-ion energy storage units will make a major contribution towards more efficient market penetration of regenerative energy sources: in particular through electricity grid stabilization and load leveling with grid-connected wind turbines and solar generation systems. For the first time, it will be possible to store energy generated from the wind and sun. With an efficiency level in excess of 95 percent—a value that no other technology comes anywhere close to—stationary storage of electric energy will make regenerative energy readily accessible again. This underscores the usefulness of lithium-ion batteries and, hence, the importance of the corresponding battery components, such as SEPARION, to achieve the goals of the Kyoto Protocol. In Germany, the proportion of renewable energy in electricity generation is set to increase to 25%-30% by 2020. By 2050, at least half of Germany’s primary energy consumption is to be provided by renewable energies.
Because of the high innovative potential and the economic significance of these applications, Evonik has already invested Euro 50 million in developing and marketing the new ceramic separator materials and other battery components, and now also in developing pilot and production plants. In 2005 Evonik also formed a joint venture with Japanese battery manufacturer Enax to speed up the integration of components and to gain a foothold in the booming Chinese market. In Kamenz, near Dresden, the lithium-ion technology is now entering the serial production phase. As a result of the development work and investments in Germany, 100 new jobs have already been created. If forecasts regarding growth in the industry are correct, the number of jobs in Germany will increase by more than tenfold. “SEPARION is a prime example of Germany’s future as an industrial location. Our revolutionary development provides a realistic opportunity to claw back part of the battery expertise from Asia, to strengthen the German automotive industry, and, hence, allow Germany to participate in this growing market,” says Dr. Engel.
SEPARION is based on a basic development in the field of nanomaterials, which was completed in a pioneering cooperation between Evonik, the German Research Foundation (DFG), and seven universities. “The cooperation with Professor Roth and the University of Duisburg-Essen was extremely important,” believes Dr. Gutsch. With an endowed professorship in Münster, Germany, and cooperation agreements with other universities (DFG Research Initiative on Lithium High Performance Batteries), the next step has been taken to strengthen Germany as a research center and, consequently, also as an economic center in this very promising field.
Evonik Industries is the creative industrial group from Germany which operates in three business areas: Chemicals, Energy and Real Estate. Evonik is a global leader in specialty chemicals, an expert in power generation from hard coal and renewable energies, and one of the largest private residential real estate companies in Germany. Our strengths are creativity, specialization, continuous self-renewal, and reliability. Evonik is active in over 100 countries around the world. In its fiscal year 2006 more than 43,000 employees generated sales of about Euro 14.8 billion and an operating profit (EBIT) of over Euro 1.2 billion.
In so far as forecasts or expectations are expressed in this press release or where our statements concern the future, these forecasts, expectations or statements may involve known or unknown risks and uncertainties. Actual results or developments may vary, depending on changes in the operating environment. Neither Evonik Industries AG nor its group companies assume an obligation to update the forecasts, expectations or statements contained in this release.