The chemistry can be complex but a battery is basically a simple device. Inside, there is a storage medium that captures electricity. Each battery has two poles, an anode and a cathode, which act as the interface between the electricity stored inside and the outside world.
3M has cooked up new cathode technology for lithium-ion batteries in its labs. Made of nickel, cobalt, and manganese (NCG) the new cathode is said to be more efficient than other cathodes. “NCM cathode compositions offer an outstanding balance of power, energy, thermal stability and low cost. NCM cathode materials can be tailored through changes in composition and morphology to meet a wide range of customer requirements from high-energy handheld consumer electronics to high-power electric vehicles,” 3M says.
That’s corporate speak for, “Our new NCG cathodes work real good.” 3M has now licensed that technology to LG Chem for use in its lithium-ion batteries in the US, Korea, Taiwan, Japan, China, and Europe.
Kyunghwa Min, vice president of LG Chem IP Center, said in a press statement, “This license will give our battery customers confidence in LG’s technology and our long-term commitment to the battery industry. The license also opens the door to new opportunities for LG Chem as a supplier of cathode materials to the battery industry.”
LG Chem plans to use the new cathode technology to manufacture an affordable electric car battery with a 200-mile driving range by 2017. The company says the 3M breakthrough could boost energy while reducing cost. LG Chem currently makes lithium-ion batteries based on a manganese spinel chemistry for Chevy, Ford, Hyundai, and Renault.
The company says it could soon begin to offer larger capacity lithium-ion batteries with between 80 kWh and 120 kWh of capacity. Those batteries could give electric cars from 180 to 300 miles of range by US standards. Long-range, affordable electric vehicles have the potential to dramatically change the market for electric cars and make them appealing to a larger audience.