While Dexter Johnson at Nanoclast blog writes about an investigation into why the storage capacity of lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries degrades in his Nov. 26, 2012 posting (Newly Developed Live Nanoscale Imaging Technique Promises Improvement in Li-ion Batteries), Hydro-Québec and Grafoid Inc. have signed a development deal for the next generation of lithium iron phosphate materials to be combined with graphene for next generation rechargeable batteries. From the Nov. 27, 2012 news item on Nanowerk,
The 50-50 collaborative agreement sets out terms with the objective of creating patentable inventions by combining graphene, supplied by Grafoid, with Hydro-Québec’s patented lithium iron phosphate technologies.
Two key, specific commercial target markets – the rechargeable automobile battery sectors and batteries for mobile electronic devices used in smartphones, computing tablets and laptop computers – were identified in the agreement.
Hydro-Québec will study Grafoid’s graphene conductivity, electrochemical performance and its effects in electrode formulations, electrolyte and separator optimizations. Detailed characterizations of Grafoid’s supplied materials will be undertaken at IREQ’s cutting edge facilities using its advanced electron microscopy, spectrographic and other in-house technologies.
Hydro-Québec will also supply lithium iron phosphate materials and its electrochemistry know how which it acquired under license from famed American inventor Dr. John Goodenough.
The Nov. 26, 2012 news release from Focus Graphite, which originated the news item, provides additional detail about the various principles in the deal,
Focus Graphite Inc. is an emerging mid-tier junior mining development company, a technology solutions supplier and a business innovator. Focus is the owner of the Lac Knife graphite deposit located in the Côte-Nord region of northeastern Québec. The Lac Knife project hosts a NI 43-101 compliant Measured and Indicated mineral resource of 4.972 Mt grading 15.7% carbon as crystalline graphite with an additional Inferred mineral resource of 3.000 Mt grading 15.6% crystalline graphite Focus’ goal is to assume an industry leadership position by becoming a low-cost producer of technology-grade graphite. On October 29th, 2012 the Company released the results of a Preliminary Economic Analysis (“PEA”) of the Lac Knife project which demonstrates that the project has robust economics and excellent potential to become a profitable producer of graphite. As a technology-oriented enterprise with a view to building long-term, sustainable shareholder value, Focus Graphite is also investing in the development of graphene applications and patents through Grafoid Inc.
Grafoid, Inc. is a privately held Canadian corporation investing in graphene applications and economically scalable production processes for graphene and graphene derivatives from raw, unprocessed, graphite ore. Focus Graphite Inc., (TSX-V: FMS; OTCQX: FCSMF; FSE: FKC) holds a 40% interest in Grafoid Inc. [emphasis mine]
Hydro-Québec’s research institute, IREQ, is a global leader in the development of advanced materials for battery manufacturing and creates leading edge processes from its state of the art facilities. IREQ holds more than 100 patent rights and has issued over 40 licenses for battery materials to some of the world’s most successful battery manufacturers and materials suppliers. Its areas of expertise include energy storage and IREQ is a lead partner with private sector companies in Québec to build EV and HEV charging stations in support of its technology developments. Its material development contributions are helping to develop safe, high-performance lithium ion batteries that can be charged more quickly and a greater number of times. IREQ promotes open innovation and partners with private firms, universities, government agencies and research centers in Québec and abroad. Its partnerships allow IREQ to develop, industrialize and market technologies resulting from those innovation projects.
Hydro-Québec is Canada’s largest electricity producer among the world’s largest hydroelectric power producers and a public utility that generates, transmits and distributes electricity. Its sole shareholder is the Québec government. It primarily exploits renewable generating options, in particular hydropower, and supports the development of wind energy through purchases from independent power producers. Its research institute, IREQ, conducts R&D in energy efficiency, energy storage and other energy-related fields. Hydro-Québec invests more than $100 million per year in research.
Here’s one last bit I want to highlight from the Focus Graphite news release,
“Commercially, and ultimately, our technology development partnership with Hydro-Québec aims to produce high capacity, LFP-graphene batteries with ultra short charging times and longer recyclable lifetimes,” Mr. Economo said [Gary Economo, President and Chief Executive Officer of both Grafoid Inc. and Focus Graphite].
He said the parties chose to focus their collaboration on LFP-graphene batteries and materials because of their short-term-to-market potential.
In light of Dexter’s very informative posting about Li-ion batteries and the investigation into why the storage capatcity degrades, I find this Hydro-Québec/Grafoid Inc. development provides insight into the relationship between scientific research and business and insight into the risks as the various groups compete to bring products to market or to improve those products such that they come to dominate the market.