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Press release

Evonik has Built Comprehensive Know-How in Lithium-Ion Technology

Essen, 2007-11-05
  • BMBF initiative started

  • Breakthrough for new generation of batteries

  • Battery components from a single source

  • Industrial and scientific involvement

Evonik Industries and its Chemicals and Energy Business Areas, along with BASF, Bosch, Volkswagen, and Li-Tec, Evonik’s mid-sized partner in the manufacture of large-scale lithium-ion batteries, are embarking on an R&D initiative with the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) for the development of "lithium-ion batteries for mobilizing regenerative energies of the future and increasing efficiency in the conversion of fossil and regenerative energies.” The initiative is slated to last three years. The BMBF is funding the projects with some €60 million. “ With the BMBF as a strong partner, the topic of lithium-ion batteries is gaining enormous importance again in Germany. The initiative, which will be an equal incentive for research and industry, is covering all stages of the value-added chain of this future-oriented product for the first time,” says Dr. Alfred Oberholz, member of the Evonik Management Board with responsibility for R&D development in the Chemicals Business Area.

Forecasts are impressive: The market for lithium-ion batteries is expected to comprise over €10 billion in the next decade. Analysts predict that by 2015, the young market will see annual growth rates of over 10 percent. The market for lithium-ion battery materials is also expected to grow from its current size of about €1.4 billion to €3.9 billion by the year 2015.

Small lithium-ion batteries are already used in nearly every laptop, mobile phone, and camcorder worldwide. For large-volume power storage, however, they have long fallen short of safety requirements. Solutions to this problem include supplying novel materials and components, such as the SEPARION® battery separator. Separators consist of semi-permeable membranes, currently made of a non-temperature-resistant plastic, which prevent short circuits by separating the anode and the cathode in the battery. Evonik Industries has now developed a ceramic, yet flexible, separator that is significantly more temperature-resistant, and also ensures safer and more reliable lithium-ion batteries in the future. The new technology is also opening up new, highly attractive fields of application. In addition to hybrid and electric cars, lithium-ion batteries are also contributing to more efficient use of regenerative energy sources. Both fields of application promise market volumes past the billion-euro mark.

Evonik team nominated for the German Future Prize
The Evonik team that developed SEPARION® was recently nominated for the German Future Prize 2007. The Prize, which carries a stipend of €250,000, goes to projects that, in addition to their scientific achievement, are also demonstrably marketable innovations that have led to job creation. Federal President Dr. Horst Köhler will present the Prize to this year’s winner on December 6.

Battery components from a single source
Evonik supplies, from a single source, the components required for the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries. In addition to the ceramic separator SEPARION®, this also includes the electrodes that Evonik produces and already markets under the trademark LITARION™. Evonik may not build the actual battery cells, but the performance of those cells is determined by the cathode, anode, separator, and the integration of these components. Here, Evonik has built its own R&D capacities, but also works with partners. A good example is its 50-50 joint venture with ENAX of Japan, which has produced customized electrodes since 2005.

Battery cell production in Kamenz, near Dresden
With its participation in Li-Tec Vermögensverwaltungs GmbH & Co. KG , Evonik is now also mass producing battery components. Evonik currently manufactures the battery component LITARION™ electrodes at the site in Kamenz, near Dresden. In the next phase of the partnership, and at the same site, L-Tec will use these electrodes to produce lithium-ion cells, which will later be processed to batteries. Evonik has created 100 jobs during the research and development of lithium-ion technology alone. If future growth is anywhere near as dynamic as predicted, the company can expect to see additional jobs created within the Group.

Research initiative with the German Research Foundation (DFG)
With regard to advanced development of the technology, Evonik has joined the German Research Foundation (DFG) to support an initiative on the topic of “Functional Materials and Material Analytics for High-Performance Lithium-Ion batteries.” The objective of this initiative, in which several universities and institutes are involved, is basic research on lithium-ion technology. Evonik is participating in the initiative with its own research project.

Professorship in Münster
Evonik has set up a professorship for Applied Material Sciences for Energy Storage and Conversion at the University of Münster. The objective of the professorship is to establish an internationally competitive research program on energy storage in large-volume lithium-ion batteries. Chemetall GmbH and Volkswagen AG are collaborating in the professorship, which will be funded with a total of €2.25 million for a period of five years.

Contact

Alexandra Boy

Press Spokesperson Chemicals

  • About Evonik

    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.

  • Disclaimer

    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.