New LifePO4 battery made from non-toxic materials
May 5th, 2009
This is Dean MacNeil, a professor at the Université de Montréal’sDepartment of Chemistry and new NSERC-Phostech Lithium IndustrialResearch Chair in Energy Storage and Conversion, at wheel ofbattery-powered car with Süd-Chemie team. Credit: Université deMontréal
Thousands of small electric scooters, bicycles and wheelchairsthroughout Europeand Asiaare powered by LifePO4 -- a material used in advanced lithium-ionbatteries developed by Université de Montréalresearchers.
"It's a revolutionary battery because it is made from non-toxicmaterials abundant in the Earth's crust. Plus, it's notexpensive,'" says Michel Gauthier, an invited professor at theUniversité de Montréal Department of Chemistry and co-founder ofPhostech Lithium, the company that makes the battery material."This battery could eventually make the electric car veryprofitable."
The theory will soon be tested, since the 100 percent electricMicrocar that's set to debut in Europe this year will be and powered by the LifePO4 battery.
Phostech Lithium's production plant in St. Bruno, Quebec, produces the black LifePO4 powder, which is shipped across theworld in tightly sealed barrels.
"The theoretical principle behind the battery was patented bya University of Texas professor in 1995. However, without the work of local chemists suchas Nathalie Ravet, we couldn't have developed it," says PhostechLithium engineer Denis Geoffroy.
Süd-Chemie, a leading specialty chemistry company based inGermany, first invested in Phostech Lithium in 2005. Now, just four yearslater, Süd-Chemie's total Canadian investments have reached $13million and it stands as the 100% owner of Phostech Lithium.Phostech's St. Bruno plant began to produce LiFePO4 in 2006 with 20 employees and a 400 metric-ton capacity. Since then,Phostech has nearly doubled its staff.
"It is a battery that is much more stable and much safer," saysDean MacNeil, a professor at the Université de Montréal'sDepartment of Chemistry and new NSERC-Phostech Lithium IndustrialResearch Chair in Energy Storage and Conversion. "In addition, itrecharges much faster than previous batteries."
The NSERC Research Chair, funded in part by Phostech Lithium, willhelp investigate ways to improve the LifePO4 battery.
For Gauthier, Phostech Lithium is the product of academia and thebusiness world coming together. "Even if we knew that lithium, ironand phosphate were theoretically promising materials, we had tomake them efficient. We had to find the right voltage and maintainthe right charging and discharging properties. This is where theuniversity played a major role."
Source: University of Montreal