Chemistry’s lithium-ion battery: driving clean energy and energy efficiency

Chemistry innovations enable the sustainable technologies that literally drive clean energy. Lithium-ion and lithium-polymer batteries, for example, employ chemistry to create rechargeable batteries that power our automobiles, as well as military equipment, laptops, mobile phones, MP3 players, and more.

Today, Dow Chemical Company announced the formation of Advanced Electrolyte Technologies (AET) – a joint venture with Japan’s Ube Industries Ltd. –  to manufacture electrolytes for lithium-ion batteries. Electrolytes are the key ingredient in electric cars and other potential storage systems that allow consumers to store “green energy” from otherwise fleeting sources of energy such as wind and solar.

AET plans to open a new 60,000-square-foot factory in Midland, Michigan in 2012. The plant will produce between 5,000 and 10,000 tons of electrolytes per year – satisfying half the estimated global demand. The venture will also create 15 to 25 manufacturing jobs and five research and development jobs.

In a news release, Heinz Haller, executive vice president and chief commercial officer of Dow Chemical, said:

The growing demand for alternative energy production and energy storage systems places technologies such as advanced batteries for electric/hybrid vehicles and power generation at the very center of the global mega-trends.

Forecasters seem to agree, saying the automotive market for lithium ion batteries could become a $35 billion opportunity by 2020, practically doubling the size of the current global battery industry.

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