PolyPlus, Johnson Controls team up on advanced lithium battery R&D

June 12, 2012 - via Journal Sentinal

Johnson Controls Inc. will partner with advanced lithium battery developer PolyPlus Battery Co. on work to move the California firm’s batteries toward commercialization.

The U.S. Department of Energy on Tuesday announced funding of $8.99 million for PolyPlus, for a project involving partners Johnson Controls and Corning Inc. Berkeley-based PolyPlus will invest $2.92 million in the project.

PolyPlus is developing high-energy lithium-water, lithium-sulfur and lithium-air batteries, and its technology has been recognized with industry awards. Johnson Controls researches advanced batteries at its battery laboratory in Glendale, and manufactures lithium-ion batteries for hybrid vehicles at its factory in Michigan.

PolyPlus was one of 13 companies that received $54 million in funding from the DOE’s innovative manufacturing technologies program.

The program aims to invest in technologies that “create high-quality domestic manufacturing jobs and enhance the competitiveness of U.S. companies in today’s global markets,” the agency said.

“This project will develop a protected lithium electrode, a solid electrolyte and a scaled up manufacturing process for high energy density lithium-air, lithium-water and lithium-sulfur batteries,” the department said in a statement. “This project will scale up the production from a batch mode to a high volume process. Commercial introduction of this manufacturing process could extend the driving range of electric vehicles, in turn saving 100 trillion Btus of energy annually.”

Lithium-air batteries could help electric vehicles achieve 500 miles of driving on a single charge, PolyPlus said. The lithium-water batteries, meanwhile, could be used in portable electronics as well as marine applications such as underwater robots and unmanned, underwater vehicles.

"This DOE award is a major milestone for PolyPlus and enables us to move more rapidly toward commercialization of our lithium metal battery technology, which has shown tremendous promise for applications ranging from unmanned underwater robots to electric vehicles," said Steven J. Visco, PolyPlus chief executive, in a statement.

He termed the funding announcement a “significant event” that will enable the companies to reach mass production more quickly. The company is committing $2.92 million toward this phase of the research, DOE said.

"From start to finish, this technology is made in America, and we are excited about adding new jobs in the United States as we work to complete development and ramp up production of our PLE (protected lithium electrode),” he said.

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