Photo of an electric vehicle that is being recharged at a public charging station.

AEROXIDE®: A Boost for E-Mobility in Asia
We go beyond to make mobility more sustainable

Special solutions such as AEROXIDE® make lithium-ion batteries safer and more powerful. This could give electric mobility a further boost. Since the summer of 2023, Evonik has been building its first plant for fumed aluminum oxide in Asia, which is the center of global battery production.

Many everyday technologies are possible only because of powerful energy storage systems. This is especially true of electric mobility, where numerous advancements in battery technologies over the past few decades have made electric cars increasingly competitive with conventional gasoline-powered vehicles. Most electric vehicles are powered by lithium-ion batteries. And although they have dominated the market for many years, their potential in terms of performance, range, and safety during use is far from exhausted.

Evonik is addressing exactly this issue. As an established innovation partner of the battery industry, the company produces various AEROXIDE® brand performance additives for lithium-ion batteries. The metal oxides are composed of fumed aluminum oxide or fumed titanium oxide and have a highly intricate nanostructure. With their properties, they improve key components of lithium-ion batteries and thus help to further increase the competitiveness of electric vehicles.

An Evonik employee leans over a device that coats separator membranes for lithium-ion batteries with AEROXIDE®.

An Evonik employee from Application Technology shows how separator films are coated. Separators coated with AEROXIDE® increase use safety and lengthen the service life of lithium-ion batteries 

AEROXIDE® prevents short circuits and increases capacity

Lithium-ion batteries were launched on the market around 30 years ago. Since then, they have basically consisted of the same elements: a separator between a cathode made of lithium mixed oxide and an anode usually made of graphite, both soaked in a liquid electrolyte solution. In this system, the separator acts as a kind of barrier that electrically isolates the two electrodes from each other. The problem is that the thin separator, which consists of a porous polymer, tends to shrink as soon as heat is generated in the battery cell. This increases the risk of a short circuit, followed in the worst case by thermal runaway of the entire battery.

An ultra-thin coating of AEROXIDE® on the separator prevents the shrinkage process and thus increases use safety and extends the service life of the energy storage units.  AEROXIDE® coatings also protect the high-performance cathodes of lithium-ion batteries from premature degradation. As a result, the energy storage unit’s capacity is maintained over the entire life cycle.

A graphic shows how a lithium-ion battery works. It represents the components of the battery, including the anode, the separator, and the cathode, as well as the processes that take place between them.

First Evonik plant for fumed aluminum oxide in Asia

Evonik serves a growing market with its products for lithium-ion batteries. In a joint study, RWTH Aachen University and the strategy consulting firm Roland Berger calculated that the global battery market will grow by 34 percent annually between 2020 and 2030. Asia, the center of global battery production, will also benefit from this boom. Asia is home to numerous major manufacturers who have been decisively shaping the future of the industry for years.

In order to exploit the potential of this growing market, Evonik laid the foundation stone for its first plant for fumed aluminum oxide in Asia in Yokkaichi, Japan, in spring 2023, focusing on the production of special solutions for lithium-ion battery technologies. The specialty chemicals company is investing an eight-digit euro sum in the project. The Japanese government is supporting the construction with funding. The plant is scheduled to go into operation in 2025.

Short delivery routes to manufacturers of lithium-ion batteries

Evonik has been operating the Yokkaichi site in a joint venture for more than 50 years. The plant started with the production of AEROSIL® brand silicas and gradually expanded its operations to include other products. “We’ve been producing top-level fumed oxides in Yokkaichi for many decades,” says Goro Naito, President of Evonik Japan. “We will also use this expertise for the production of fumed aluminum oxides in the future.” According to Naito, Evonik will supply the major battery manufacturers in China, Korea, and Japan with products from Yokkaichi such as AEROXIDE® more quickly and cost-effectively in the future. “This will give a further boost to electric mobility in Asia,” says Naito.

The employees at the site have numerous tasks to perform before the plant is finished. Shogo Ichinozuka, an engineer in production technology, and his colleague Saefuludin are responsible for the production processes of the new plant, among other things. “In the future, we will also use parts of our existing fumed oxides plant to produce aluminum oxides. Our main focus will be on optimally coordinating the processes,” says Ichinozuka, who sees the expansion of production capacity in Yokkaichi as a great opportunity. “All of us are very proud to be operating the first Evonik plant of its kind in Asia. In this way, from our location we can help to lead mobility into a sustainable future,” he says.

Photos: Evonik Industries AG, Stefan Wildhirt / Evonik Industries AG, Staudinger + Franke / Evonik
Infografics: Pia Bublies