General Motors Company and the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory announced on Thursday, January 6, 2011, that they have reached a world-wide licensing agreement to use Argonne's patented composite cathode material for an advanced lithium-ion battery.
“The agreement between the DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory and General Motors builds on GM’s commitment to be the leader in the development of vehicle electrification technologies designed to meet the diverse needs of customers around the world,” said Micky Bly, GM executive director – electric systems, hybrids, electric vehicles and batteries. “Engineers and researchers at General Motors are working on next-generation battery systems that will reduce cost while providing improved performance, expanding the practicality and affordability of electric vehicles in the future.”
"The goal of Argonne's battery research is to support the U.S. automobile industry," Jeff Chamberlain, who heads Argonne's Energy Storage Initiative, said. "So we are extremely pleased to see GM study the potential commercialization of Argonne's novel lithium-ion battery cathode material. The transfer of this technology is a powerful example of how basic research and technology development performed at a DOE national laboratory can produce technology that is useful to U.S. citizens. The added benefits of this endeavor are the potential creation of U.S.-based green jobs, lessening U.S. dependence on foreign sources of oil and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions."
The cathode material licensed to GM is part of a large, diverse suite of Li-ion battery inventions and patents developed at Argonne with Department of Energy funding. DOE also provided funding for early science research that helped develop this technology. Use of the cathode material will yield advanced batteries that are high-performing, long-lasting and safe when compared to the existing technology that has dominated the market for nearly two decades.
Argonne's composite cathode material has a unique combination of lithium- and manganese-rich mixed-metal oxides in a materials-design approach that will extend the operating time between charges, increase the calendar life and improve the inherent safety of lithium-ion cells. The enhanced stability of the composite material permits battery systems to charge at higher voltages, which leads to a substantially higher energy storage capacity than currently available materials through both the higher voltage and higher capacity per unit weight of active material. The DOE’s licensing strategy through Argonne provides companies like GM the ability to access the latest lithium-ion battery technology.
"The fact that GM is including Argonne's novel composite cathode material in their commercialization process is a testament to the world-class scientists performing research in this area at Argonne and the long-term vision and commitment by DOE," said Eric Isaacs, Argonne director and president of the UChicago Argonne, LLC, a wholly owned laboratory management subsidiary of the University of Chicago. "The scientists and engineers in Argonne's battery department look forward to continuing this important work for next-generation electric vehicles, as well as for new energy storage technologies for the power grid."
"The creation of this battery technology represents an important return on the American investment in innovative vehicle and battery research,” noted Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “This agreement gives General Motors the ability to use cutting-edge battery technology throughout its supply chain. The licensing of this technology will also spur the renewal of the American battery industry, creating hundreds of new jobs where they are needed most.”