The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory and LG Chem, Ltd., Korea’s largest chemical and rechargeable battery maker, announced yesterday they have reached a licensing agreement to make and use Argonne's patented cathode material technology in lithium-ion battery cells. The technology is used in the battery cell that powers General Motor’s Chevrolet Volt.

LG Chem Michigan, Inc. (LGCMI), a wholly owned subsidiary of LG Chem, will manufacture Li-ion polymer battery cells for the Chevy Volt at a Recovery Act-funded $303 million production facility under construction in Holland, MI. The plant will employ more than 400 people.

"The licensing agreement with LG Chem concretely illustrates the key role that DOE national laboratories like Argonne play in the manufacturing supply chain in the United States," said Eric Isaacs, Argonne director and president of UChicago Argonne, LLC, a wholly owned laboratory management subsidiary of the University of Chicago. "The development of this cathode material is the result of research performed by a multidisciplinary team of world-class scientists based at Argonne."

The Argonne-developed technology offers the longest-lasting energy available in the smallest, lightest package: a 50–100 % increase in energy storage capacity over conventional cathode material, Argonne noted. Its lithium- and manganese-rich mixed-metal oxide combination was also developed to extend the operating time between charges, increasing the useful life and improving the inherent safety of lithium-ion cells.

“We believe that Argonne’s patented cathode material technology that helps increase the capacity of lithium-ion battery cells and LG Chem’s safety-enhanced SR (separator) technology are the keys to producing high-performance and safe batteries for the GM Volt,” said Youngjoon Shin, Ph.D., Research Fellow, Battery R&D, LG Chem.