DuPont Takes Aim at Battery Technology Market

Building facility to mass produce material that can improve electric car battery life by 20%.

DuPont Co. is expanding the production of its newly-developed polymer-based separators, which will be used to improve the power and life of hybrid and electric car lithium-ion batteries.

DuPont will be building a $20 million facility in Chesterfield County, Va., and will have the capacity to supply 20% of the automotive industrys current demand by the time it opens next year.

This launch and our investment in a new production facility are important steps in our strategy to expand DuPonts role in energy storage, said Thomas G. Powell, president DuPont Protection Technologies, in a statement.

Energain separators, as theyre called, keep a batterys positive and negative electrodes from touching while allowing lithium ions to pass. The separators are made from spun nanofibers, and can boost power by between 15% to 30% and increase battery life as much as 20%, compared with materials currently on the market, according to DuPont.

Until now, DuPont manufactured smaller batches of the separator material in Wilmington and Seoul for testing purposes by battery producers and automakers.

DuPonts effort to gain entry into the lithium-ion battery market isnt by accident. It has the potential to a highly lucrative venture, as the battery market is expected to be worth $7 billion by 2015.

Today, the three largest producers of lithium separators are Polypore, Asahi Kasei and TonenGeneral, who account for 90% of the market. DuPont believes its taken a critical step to breaking that stranglehold.

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