The University of Texas at Austin has announced an agreement with Canada-based Hydro-Quebec for lithium-ion material technology invented and patented by Dr. John Goodenough, a world-renowned scientist at the university.
The agreement brings a significant upfront payment to the university and will provide future royalties and additional payments. Under the agreement, the financial terms cannot be disclosed.
Goodenough’s research resulted in much lighter, longer lasting lithium ion batteries. It also provided improved safety for consumers and an environmentally friendly solution for transportation and storage applications.
LiFeP0 is an innovative and powerful cathode material useful in rechargeable batteries. Uses for the technology include cell phones, laptops, mp3 players, power tools, hybrid automobiles, small electric vehicles and stationary energy storage in ‘smart grid’ applications.
The University of Texas at Austin and Hydro-Quebec have worked together since 1996 to develop and commercialize these materials. The long-standing relationship established a successful basis to take the technology from the laboratory to commercial product, enabling commercial production worldwide for LiFePO.
“This agreement is indicative of the value of university research and will accelerate the commercialization of a key technology with a wide range of applications in the energy sector,” said Juan M. Sanchez, the university’s vice president for research. “We are pleased that a company with the stature of Hydro-Quebec is committed to the advancement of UT inventions. The agreement is also an acknowledgment to the importance of Dr. Goodenough’s research.”
Goodenough, the Virginia H. Cockrell Centennial Chair in Engineering in the Cockrell School of Engineering, identified and developed the cathode materials for lithium-ion rechargeable batteries that are found in devices and products around the world.
“This has been an amazing opportunity to collaborate with Hydro-Quebec and the university’s commercialization partners,” Goodenough said. “We knew it was a promising technology, but the market was not ready for it in 1996 when we started on this endeavor. It was in the lab, and today it is a commercial product.”
Goodenough has received many honors for his work, including the 2009 Enrico Fermi Award presented on behalf of the White House, and the 2001 Japan Prize, the country’s equivalent to the Nobel Prize. Goodenough is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the L’Academie des Sciences de L’Institute de France and a fellow of the Royal Society, the United Kingdom’s 350-year-old national academy of science.
Hydro-Quebec recently entered into an alliance that will aid the distribution of the university’s technology to address the market demand with high quality products. The alliance has established licenses worldwide with material producers, enabling materials to become readily available for use in battery manufacturing, and for products to be available for worldwide distribution.
Initial sublicense agreements to produce and sell lithium iron products have been concluded with Sumitomo Osaka Cement Co. Ltd. and Mitsui Engineering and Shipbuilding Co. Ltd., both based in Japan, and Tatung Fine Chemicals Co. and Advanced Lithium Electrochemistry (Cayman) Co. Ltd. (ALEEES), based in Taiwan.
Hydro-Quebec is a government-owned public utility that generates, transmits and distributes electricity using mainly renewable energy sources, in particular, hydroelectricity.
Composed of 60 hydroelectric and one nuclear generating station, Hydro-Quebec is the largest electricity generator in Canada and the world’s largest hydroelectric generator. The utility, which has more than 23,000 employees, also conducts research in energy-related fields, focusing on energy efficiency.
The broad-based market penetration of these high quality battery materials is a result of the growing demand from the global battery and automotive industries for reliable and efficient sources of energy.