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Sud-Chemie Invests 60 Million Euro in Series Production of Lithium Iron Phosphate for Electric Vehicle Drives

July 13, 2010 by Jeff Shepard

Süd-Chemie AG, a specialty chemical company based in Munich, Germany, is investing approximately €60 million in the production of lithium iron phosphate (LFP), a high performance energy storage material used in batteries for electric vehicle drives and other applications. On the new site of its wholly-owned Canadian subsidiary, Phostech Lithium Inc. in Quebec, the German group is constructing the first industrial production plant for LFP using a new, proprietary production process based-on wet chemistry. By using this process, high grade LFP can be produced in both stable and consistent quality.

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. As a result of the high demand, Süd-Chemie is considerably expanding its production capacity for LFP based on its new wet chemistry production process a technology by which Süd-Chemie can already currently manufacture up to 300 tons of LFP per year at its site in Moosburg, Germany.

With its new technology of wet chemistry synthesis, Süd-Chemie can manufacture LFP in a hitherto unique quality and with superior product characteristics. Süd-Chemie states that its LFP can thus contribute to a new generation of powerful, safe, reliable, and durable lithium ion batteries achieving a breakthrough in electric vehicle drives. The company states that, compared with other cathode materials for lithium ion batteries, the LIFE Power®-brand LFP is characterized not only by high energy density but also by a superior safety of the material, particularly long service life, favorable manufacturing cost profile and excellent cycle stability, i.e. stable and reliable charge and discharge characteristics even in long-term use.

Besides electric vehicle drives, the LFP has great potential in high-performance storage batteries, e.g. for stabilizing peak supply or for storing photovoltaic electricity. In addition, LFP manufactured by Süd-Chemie is already successfully used in power tools, starter batteries for passenger vehicles, and electric scooters in Europa, Asia, and North America. Süd-Chemie Group states that it has an excellent global IP position for the manufacture and use of lithium iron phosphate in batteries as well as a strong patent position for its proprietary wet chemistry based production process for LFP.

Dr. Günter von Au, chairman of the Managing Board of Süd-Chemie AG, said: "This investment is of central strategic importance to Süd-Chemie. Our LFP will establish itself as a storage material for large high-performance batteries, thus enabling electromobility to achieve an overall breakthrough in the automotive industry. This is particularly due to the high performance as well as the superior safety and the long-life cycle as well as the stable charging characteristics facilitated by our LFP."