The Little Known Film That Makes Lithium Batteries Possible

Polyolefin membrane separator allows higher power, while reducing potential for runaway thermal buildup.

Published: 31-Dec-2009

The key technology that may pave the way for widespread, safe use of electric vehicles is a little-known polymer film system that separates the anode and the cathode in lithium-ion batteries.

The separator itself does not produce any electrochemical reactions, but it has a major impact on energy density, power density, cycle life and safety of the battery.

Exxon, which commercialized the first rechargeable lithium-ion battery, is one of the technology leaders in development of specialty polyolefin films that perform well as separators. Pat Brant, the chief polymer scientist at ExxonMobil Chemical, headed a global research team that developed a separator system that can withstand more demanding hybrid-vehicle battery conditions - the type that will be encountered when GM launches the Chevy Volt in a few months.


Smith Electric is Valence customer.

Valence began to focus on Europe about two years ago, when it realized that automakers there already were launching electric delivery vans and hybrid buses

Brilliance sedan on display at 2009 Detroit Auto Show.

Besides its F3DM, BYD also showed another plug-in hybrid, the F6DM, and the E6, a seven-seat electric van.

Chevrolet Volt Voltec Propulsion System relies on lithium ion batteries housed in center console 'T'. Photo credit: EV

Auto industry is beginning to make needed advances in battery technology to put a first wave of rechargeable electric cars like the Volt on the road.


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