The owners of the rights to key patents on lithium metal phosphate, including lithium iron phosphate (LMP/LFP), and related battery materials, in conjunction with Süd-Chemie AG, Munich, have established a new foundation for broad-based, global marketing of these materials. LMP/LFP is an innovative, powerful, and safe cathode material useful in rechargeable batteries. Rechargeable batteries have literally changed the world. Cell phones, laptop computers, and hybrid and electric vehicles would not exist without this technology. LMP/LFP technology is useful in numerous such applications including electric and hybrid automobile batteries and stationary energy storage in popular “smart grid” applications.
Süd-Chemie, via its subsidiary Phostech Lithium Inc., was previously the exclusive licensed supplier of LMP/LFP. Süd-Chemie has agreed with the three patent owners, Hydro-Québec, Université de Montréal and CNRS, to facilitate the distribution of this technology through the creation of LiFePO4+C Licensing AG, Muttenz/Switzerland which will issue sublicenses to suitable LMP/LFP producers capable to address the market demand with high quality products.
Initial sublicense agreements have been concluded with two Japanese entities, namely Sumitomo Osaka Cement Co. Ltd. and Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding Co. Ltd., as well as two Taiwanese entities, namely Tatung Fine Chemicals Co. and Advanced Lithium Electrochemistry (Cayman) Co., Ltd (ALEEES). The latter has undertaken to build and operate an industrial size manufacturing plant in the province of Québec, Canada. LiFePO4+C Licensing AG plans to issue additional sublicenses for LMP/LFP technology to a limited number of companies.
The LMP/LFP patents comprise three separate groups of patent rights affording extensive worldwide protection for LMP/LFP technology: the Goodenough patents on LMP/LFP material, the carbon coating patents, usable with LMP/LFP material and other materials, and the carbon coating process patents. The basic LMP/LFP material technology was invented and patented by world-renowned scientist and faculty member of the University of Texas in Austin, Dr. John Goodenough. Its potential was first recognized by Dr. Michel Armand of Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Paris/France who further worked with Dr. Nathalie Ravet, Dr. Michel Gauthier and other scientists at Université de Montréal, Montréal/Canada and at Hydro-Québec’s research facility (IREQ), Montreal/Canada in research efforts financially supported by Hydro-Québec, Université de Montréal and CNRS. Dr. Armand was instrumental in setting up an early collaboration between Hydro-Québec and the University of Texas in Austin to explore and develop this technology.
The decision to sublicense this technology lays the foundation for an appropriate response to the rapidly growing demand from the global battery and automotive industries for reliable sources of LMP/LFP by allowing fast and broad-based market penetration of high quality LMP/LFP materials.
In addition to Süd-Chemie and the new sublicensees, Japan's Sony Corporation has a non-exclusive license to manufacture LMP/LFP for use in Sony’s own battery production.
About LFP Technology
Lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4, LFP) is a novel cathode material that, due to its high performance and unsurpassed safety profile, has a great deal of potential for use in nextgeneration lithium ion batteries, used among other things for hybrid and electric drives in the automotive industry and for stationary energy storage, for instance in solar energy. LFP material was discovered at the University of Texas in Austin in 1995 and licensed to Hydro-Québec. When LFP material is coated with a thin layer of carbon, its conductivity is enhanced allowing LFP’s unique performances. Such layer must be thin enough in order to permit lithium to pass through. These inventions were protected through the LFP carbon coating patents and the LFP carbon coating process patents co-owned by Hydro-Québec, Canada, Université de Montréal, Canada and Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), France.
About Dr. John Goodenough
Dr. John Goodenough has received many honors for his work, including the 2001 Japan Prize, Japan’s scientific equivalent to the Nobel Prize. In 2008 the Royal Society of Chemistry renamed its Materials Chemistry Lifetime Award to the John B. Goodenough Award in recognition of Dr. Goodenough’s extensive contribution to the field. More recently, Professor Goodenough was awarded the 2009 Enrico Fermi Award by the President of the United States “[f]or his lasting contributions to materials science and technology, especially the science underlying lithium-ion batteries,” including the development of “olivine cathode materials of which LiFePO4, in particular, has been commercialized for power applications.”
About Dr. Michel Armand
Dr. Michel Armand, Directeur de Recherche at Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) received the following scientific Distinctions and Awards: Bronze and Silver CNRS Medals; Royal Society of Chemistry - Faraday Division Medal Award (1985); Preis fur Umwelttechnologie Saarland Länder (1988); Battery Division Award, The Electrochemical Society, U.S.A. (1988); Pergamon Medal, International Society for Electrochemistry (1995); Volta Award ECS European Section (2000), first recipient and Doctor Honoris Causa from Uppsala University (2006).
Süd-Chemie (sud-chemie.com), a member of the Swiss Group owned by Clariant AG, Muttenz, is a publicly quoted (ISIN: DE0007292005; WKN: 729200) specialty chemicals company headquartered in Munich, Germany and operating on a worldwide scale. The common denominator of all Süd-Chemie products and services is the efficient and sparing use of natural resources to enhance the quality of life for humans and the environment. Products manufactured by the Catalysts Division offer solutions for the chemical, petrochemical and refinery industries, for energy storage and hydrogen production, as well as off-gas purification. Key markets served by its Adsorbents Division include the consumer goods, packaging and foundry industries, as well water treatment. The Süd-Chemie Group generated sales of EUR 1.225 billion in 2010, about 85% of these outside Germany. On 31 December 2010, the Group employed more than 6,400 people in approximately 120 sales and production companies worldwide.
In its battery materials activities, Süd-Chemie focuses primarily on developing and manufacturing lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4, LFP) – a particularly safe and powerful cathode material. On the new site of its Canadian subsidiary, Phostech Lithium Inc. in Candiac/Quebec, Süd-Chemie is currently constructing the world’s first industrial production plant for high quality LFP using a new, proprietary production process. Commercial production for series delivery will start in 2012 to reach a rate of 2,500 tons per year. Such volume, will allow the production of approximately 50,000 all-electric automobiles or, alternatively, up to 500,000 vehicles with hybrid drive per year.
Hydro-Québec (hydro.quebec.com) is a worldwide recognized public utility which generates, transmits and distributes electricity. Its sole shareholder is the Québec government. It uses mainly renewable generating options, in particular hydropower, and supports the development of wind energy through purchases from independent power producers. Through its important research facilities named IREQ it is conducting R&D in energy-related fields, energy efficiency and energy storage. Hydro- Québec earmarks more than $100 million for research each year. It has been conducting research in the battery field for over 30 years which comprises extensive work on advanced materials, particularly molten salts, lithium iron phosphate and nanotitanates. Its contribution is helping to develop safe, high-performance lithium-ion batteries that can be charged more quickly and a greater number of times. The future success of plug-in vehicles largely depends on the battery. Innovation efforts cover both high-power batteries and high-energy batteries.
About Université de Montréal
Université de Montréal (umontreal.ca) is the second largest university in Canada and one of the country’s most cosmopolitan. From its founding in 1878, the university and its affiliated École Polytechnique and HEC Montréal schools have grown to reach a cumulative enrollment of more than 60,000 students, 7,000 of whom come from abroad. As Québec’s largest university and as a leading institution in the French-speaking world, Université de Montréal awards more than 11,000 diplomas every year.
The university, its network of affiliated hospitals, and the affiliated schools bring together 2,500 professors and researchers, organized into over 300 research units that represent all the fundamental disciplines. Recognized for the intensity of its research both in Canada and abroad, Université de Montréal’s annual budget for basic and applied research exceeds $400 million, which enables students to work alongside internationally renowned specialists and participate in exciting breakthroughs.
Research initiatives undertaken by the university’s community involve strong collaboration between specialists from different disciplines. Université de Montréal supports high level interdisciplinary research programs in partnership with other institutions and industry, both at the national and international level.
The work on LFP results from a long term collaboration with Hydro-Québec and CNRS.
The Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS - National Center for Scientific Research) is a government-funded research organization, under the administrative authority of France's Ministry of Research. Founded in 1939 by governmental decree, CNRS (cnrs.fr) has the following missions: to evaluate and carry out all research capable of advancing knowledge and bringing social, cultural, and economic benefits for society ; to contribute to the application and promotion of research results ; to develop scientific information ; to support research training ; to participate in the analysis of the national and international scientific climate and its potential for evolution in order to develop a national policy. As the largest fundamental research organization in Europe, CNRS carried out research in all fields of knowledge, through its seven institutes, including Institute of Chemistry (INC), and three national institutes.
CNRS encourages collaboration between specialists from different disciplines in particular with the university thus opening up new fields of enquiry to meet social and economic needs. CNRS has developed interdisciplinary programs which bring together various CNRS departments as well as other research institutions and industry. Interdisciplinary research is undertaken in the following domains: Life and its social implications, Information, communication and knowledge, Environment, energy and sustainable development, Nanosciences, nanotechnologies, materials and Astroparticles: from particles to the Universe.
CNRS benefits from a worldwide renowned team on LFP through the Laboratoire réactivité et chimie des solides (LRCS - UMR6007).