LFP battery specialist IBU-Tec is increasingly working on sodium-ion batteries

LFP battery specialist IBU-Tec
LFP battery specialist IBU-Tec

IBU-Tec Advanced Materials has so far made a name for itself primarily with its LFP battery material. In spring 2023 and November 2022, the company announced orders for the development and production of LFP cathode material for electric vehicles. A few months ago, the Weimar company followed up with a new cathode active material called IBUvolt NMO, where NMO stands for sodium manganese oxide.

The new NMO product is intended to form the basis for new types of sodium-ion batteries and is primarily designed for use in smaller electric vehicles, e.g. for inner-city traffic, as well as in stationary energy storage devices. The company now reports that the development and start of production of the cathode active material have already been successfully completed. Now the “further scaling of the production of sodium manganese layer oxide beyond the 100 kg scale” is on the agenda, as IBU-Tec reports. And: “In the next step (…) IBU-tec checks the cycle stability of the cathode in full cells and optimizes it further.” The Weimar-based company is bundling its activities in this field in a research project.

In another research project, IBU-Tec is also developing a cathode active material based on sodium iron phosphate (NEP) together with industrial partners (including Jungheinrich AG and UniverCell Holding GmbH). The aim of the project, which runs until 2026, is to produce active material on a 20 to 50 kilogram scale, which will later be processed into electrodes and installed in battery modules. “The new sodium-ion battery systems (NIB systems) are intended to replace the lead-acid batteries established on the market in the long term and be used, for example, in electric industrial trucks,” writes the company. If the project is successfully completed, commercialization will be pursued. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research is funding the project with around 2 million euros.

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“We are very proud to be working with strong partners on innovative next-generation batteries,” says Jörg Leinenbach, CEO of IBU-Tec. “Sodium batteries are a future technology and can be used in a wide range of applications – they are also cheaper and better for the environment than other batteries. We therefore see good, additional growth opportunities for IBU-tec in sodium-ion batteries.”

IBU-tec stated in November that it had been pushing forward the development and optimization of sodium cathode active material since 2021. According to its own information, the company has succeeded in developing a two-stage process that can be applied to systems for LFP cathode material and is intended to enable significantly more energy-efficient production compared to previously known production methods.

NMO consists predominantly of materials that are commonly found in the environment. Sodium is the sixth most common element on earth and can be obtained from sea salt or salt domes, among other things. Manganese is the third most common metal after iron and titanium. Sodium-ion batteries could therefore be manufactured significantly cheaper and more environmentally friendly than lithium-ion batteries. The new battery type is also considered very safe. Disadvantages include lower energy density and higher weight compared to lithium-ion batteries.

Leinenbach comments on the progress with the new product as follows: “IBU-tec is already the technology leader in Europe for LFP cathode material. With the sodium-ion battery, the next generation of innovative batteries is already in the starting blocks – and IBU-tec is once again one of the pioneers and drivers of innovation. This means we are positioning ourselves even more broadly in the battery sector and positioning ourselves in another growth market.”

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As reported, IBU-Tec Advanced Materials AG only founded IBUvolt Battery Materials GmbH in mid-March to take into account the increasing importance of the battery material business.

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