Sulfur crystal from Agrigento, Sicily, Italy

The main obstacle to the mass adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) is often said to be the current range limitations of battery technology. What if the energy density of batteries, and therefore the range of EVs, could be increased by 500 percent? Although we've not heard much about it for some time, a couple recent developments have led us to ponder the possibilities of energy storage with a lithium sulfur (Li-S) battery.

Last week, it was announced that a company often associated with Li-S batteries, Sion Power Corporation, had made a joint development agreement with BASF to accelerate the commercialization of their proprietary battery tech. Sion, who has been working with this chemistry since 2002, not only has their own patents they can exploit but also have a patent license agreement with PolyPlus, another firm with research roots in various battery chemistries. For their part, BASF is known to be working on metal oxides for cathode materials and is part of the HE-Lion effort.

Also involved in research on Li-S batteries are researchers at the University of Waterloo. A team led by Dr. Linda Nazar have developed highly ordered interwoven composites that allow Li-S batteries to approach their theoretical energy density which is about 2600 wH/kg. To put that in perspective, consider that some of the most energy dense battery cells today are in the 200 wH/kg neighborhood. While it still remains best not to count your battery-chickens before they're hatched, it's nice to know that there could be major improvements to energy storage down the road. Check out the Sion Power press release after the break and click here for further explanation of the U of Waterloo work.

[Source: Green Car Congress]


PRESS RELEASE:

BASF and Sion Power Collaborate on New Battery Technology

TUCSON, Ariz. & LUDWIGSHAFEN, Germany--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sion Power Corporation, Tucson, Ariz., USA, and BASF SE, Ludwigshafen, Germany, today announced a Joint Development Agreement (JDA) to accelerate the commercialization of Sion Power's proprietary lithium-sulfur (Li-S) battery technology, e.g., for the electric vehicle (EV) market and other high-energy applications.

The Sion Power / BASF collaboration targets the development of battery materials to improve Li-S battery life and to increase the energy density and thus extend driving range of future EVs beyond what is currently available with alternative rechargeable battery technologies. Li-S technology already offers significant energy density and weight advantages over those existing technologies.

According to Dr. Dennis Mangino, CEO of Sion Power, "We are proud to be partnered with BASF, the world's leading chemical company, as we accelerate the development and introduction of our high energy, light weight, and transformational battery products. BASF's vast expertise in materials development and manufacturing are important to our success."

"We are excited to join Sion Power in advancing Li-S technology," said Dr. Thomas Weber, CEO of BASF Future Business. "It is clear that Sion's technology offers high potential for significantly longer driving ranges over other technologies currently being considered for electric vehicles. We see a clear need for higher energy densities of the storage devices, and we will join forces with Sion to bring this technology to the market using innovative solutions. In combination with the lithium ion battery consortium 'HE-Lion' that we have formed recently, we further strengthen our efforts to advance battery technology."

Improved battery technology is a fundamental requirement for more efficient use of current and renewable energy sources. The recently passed American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provides for $2 billion for the development and manufacture of advanced automotive batteries. All major automotive manufactures are vigorously pursuing the introduction of electric vehicles that are environmentally friendly yet provide the range and comfort consumers expect in an automobile, features that cannot be obtained with any currently available battery technology.

About Sion Power: Privately held Sion Power Corporation is the global leader in the development of a new generation of high-energy, rechargeable lithium sulfur batteries for portable power and electric vehicle markets. Established initially as Moltech Corporation in 1994, Sion Power has more than 100 U.S. and international patents and is headquartered in Tucson, Arizona. Further information is available at www.sionpower.com.

About BASF: BASF is the world's leading chemical company: The Chemical Company. Its portfolio ranges from chemicals, plastics and performance products to agricultural products, fine chemicals as well as oil and gas. As a reliable partner BASF helps its customers in virtually all industries to be more successful. With its high-value products and intelligent solutions, BASF plays an important role in finding answers to global challenges such as climate protection, energy efficiency, nutrition and mobility. BASF has approximately 97,000 employees and posted sales of more than €62 billion in 2008. BASF shares are traded on the stock exchanges in Frankfurt (BAS), London (BFA) and Zurich (AN). Further information on BASF is available on the Internet at www.basf.com.

About BASF Future Business GmbH: BASF Future Business GmbH, a 100 percent subsidiary of BASF SE, was founded in April 2001. It aims to open up business areas with above-average growth rates that lie outside BASF's mainstream activities. The company focuses on chemistry-based new materials, technologies and system solutions. BASF Future Business GmbH commissions research from BASF's R&D units but also cooperates with startup companies, industrial partners, universities and potential customers. Other alternatives include the acquisition of direct stakes, joint ventures with partner companies or provision of venture capital via the subsidiary BASF Venture Capital GmbH. Further information on BASF Future Business is available on the Internet at www.basf-fb.de
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