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27 November, 2019 - 16:46 By Kate Sweeney

Acquisition puts Johnson Matthey in fast lane of EV development

Johnson Matthey, a global leader in sustainable technologies based in the Cambridge technology cluster, has acquired the full intellectual property rights to a portfolio of silicon alloy based anode materials from Minnesota giant 3M Company.

The acquisition – value undisclosed – is a further step in JM’s long term strategy to apply its scientific expertise to develop a portfolio of future battery solutions for customers working on automotive applications.

Anode materials are one of a number of critical components of a battery cell and current technology is based largely on carbon based materials such as graphite. 

As electric vehicle uptake increases so will demand for higher performance anodes. Customers will look to companies like JM for next generation anodes and the company believes that silicon based materials have strong potential in this space.

Access to this portfolio of IP enables JM to accelerate its understanding of the market and technology for battery anode materials. “This will inform the scale and pace of our R & D investments in this area over the next decade,” a company announcement said.

By applying its science to the challenge of enabling vehicle electrification, JM has already developed eLNO®, a portfolio of ultra high energy density cathode materials. Commercialisation of this technology continues at pace and on track. 

JM’s initial focus has been on cathode materials, which have been the limiting factor in battery performance. Adding technology for next generation battery anodes to its portfolio offers JM a complementary route to further improve battery performance.

It will also provide a better appreciation of the interplay between cathode and anode technologies and enable JM to develop optimised solutions for customers.

Christian Günther, sector chief executive for Battery Materials said: “We are excited to have acquired this IP for silicon alloy based anodes and our scientists will work with 3M over the next year to transfer this technology and knowhow to JM. 

“Adding battery anode technology capability to our portfolio will enhance our understanding and inform our future investment decisions as we continue to apply our science to create the battery technology solutions that will deliver a cleaner, healthier world.”

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