Merck KGaA and the Albert-Ludwigs-University of Freiburg announced the commencement of a project to develop and manufacture new battery materials. Fundamentally new conducting salts for lithium-ion batteries to power hybrid and electric vehicles are to be developed in the Merck Battery Materials Lab, which is jointly run and operated by Merck and the University of Freiburg.
Professor Dr. Ingo Krossing and his team in Freiburg, Germany, are performing the synthesis of the new conducting salts on a laboratory scale. Merck will optimize the electrolytes, conduct extensive application tests in specially equipped battery laboratories at the company, and produce the materials on an industrial scale.
The electrolyte represents the transport media in which the lithium ions migrate between the electrodes of the lithium-ion battery during charging and discharging. Conducting salts are a key component of the electrolyte. This is the part of the battery which Merck is especially interested in. The aim of the cooperation is to fundamentally optimize the energy density, lifetime and safety of batteries used in hybrid and electric vehicles.
“This will not be possible without new materials and formulations. At Merck, we are focusing on developing new and improved electrolyte components“, says Dr. Klaus Bofinger, who heads the Advanced Technologies unit at Merck.
“Our work is concentrated on the synthesis of new conducting salts“, adds Prof. Dr. Krossing. “Our challenge is to optimize the counterion of the lithium ion so that it can better withstand various boundary conditions, e.g. high voltages, extreme heat or cold without disintegrating or becoming restricted with respect to mobility.“
Merck concept laboratories
With its concept laboratories, Merck has been pursuing a new approach since 2006 aimed at building strong alliances with external and internal partners and an international research and technology network.
These concept laboratories are an important element of the Advanced Technologies (AT) unit of the Chemicals business sector. The aim of this unit is to develop innovative materials and product through to market launch.
The concept labs are located at hot-spots of academic research around the world and focus on strategic growth areas within the chemical industry. The systematic use of in-house expertise and the core competences of Merck create the preconditions for generating new technologies and innovative products for the Merck Chemicals business. At the same time, external knowledge as well as in-licensing, cooperation and promotion possibilities are utilized. Merck concept labs are located in Darmstadt, Heidelberg, Atsugi (Japan) and Cambridge (Massachusetts).