This month we’re partnering with Mewburn Ellis to show a snapshot of recently published patents in July 2021.
Mewburn Ellis is a European IP firm with expertise across all stages of the IP life cycle, advising clients about patents, trademarks and designs, as well as any IP-related disputes and legal and commercial requirements. Callum McGuinn, a partner in their Chemistry team, provides insight into some recent battery patent publications.
📝 Focus on patents
Patents are a crucial part of any IP portfolio, allowing holders to protect their inventions. They can also be sold, licensed for royalties, used as leverage for investment or simply held to deter competitors and maintain a bigger market share.
Inventions can be protected by submitting an international patent application, more commonly known as a PCT application (Patent Co-operation Treaty) after the legal treaty which established international patent applications.
Because the cost of submitting a PCT application is high, we know that an invention described in a PCT application is an important one. We can therefore look at recently-published PCT applications to find important and cutting-edge inventions under development.
Each patent application possesses a code for the technical field of the invention. We searched the code covering lithium accumulator electrodes and shared a flavour of some of the exciting recent developments in this area.
The applications below represent all the PCT applications published within the lithium accumulator electrode area between 17 June 2021 and 8 July 2021. The results of course represent just a snapshot of patent activity in this area and are not intended to reflect the overall behaviour of any entity, or the direction of innovation in this technical field.
Electrode material compositions
WO 2021/123409 (UMICORE)
The inventors here have developed a specific solid electrolyte interphase (SEI) composition which has a certain molar ratio of F to CF3. The inventors claim that such an SEI located between the anode and the electrolyte improves the coulombic efficiency of the battery.
WO 2021/121714 (SAFT)
This application relates to a composition containing lithium iron manganese phosphate (LMFP) and a certain type of polymer. The idea is that the composition provides a cathode with better flexibility, to be more easily wound around a small-diameter tube when manufacturing cylindrical cells.
WO 2021/126565 (ENEVATE CORPORATION)
In this patent application, the use of particular carbon compositions as conductive additives within electrodes is described. The carbon additives include both zero-dimensional and one-dimensional carbon particles.
WO 2021/126536 (ENEVATE CORPORATION)
The invention here is to combine different types of carbon precursor within an electrode, having different pyrolysis temperatures, to improve the robustness of the electrode.
WO 2021/121168 (SVOLT ENERGY TECHNOLOGY COMPANY LIMITED)
Patents and patent applications often define materials using physical or structural parameters measurable using analytical techniques. This application claims a quaternary positive active material that has a certain crystal structure and unit cell features. The material is doped to improve the stability of the material.
WO 2021/129964 (SCHOTT AG)
This application is focused on a particular type of powder that can be used to make solid-state lithium-ion conductors. The powder has a certain carbon content and particle size properties. The inventors aim to reduce the transition resistance of the conductor with their powder.
Unsurprisingly, the development of new structures of electrodes is a common focus of patent applications in this area.
WO 2021/119310 (ALPHA-EN CORPORATION)
This patent application describes a pre-lithiated electrode made by the electrodeposition of lithium onto an electrode. The lithium becomes intercalated into or plated onto the electrode. The idea is to offset the initial loss of lithium capacity which occurs during the first charging cycle.
WO 2021/114436 (NINGDE AMPEREX TECHNOLOGY LIMITED)
The invention described here is a specific arrangement of current collector and multiple negative active material layers to form a negative electrode, which improves the cycling performance and safety of an electrochemical device.
WO 2021/127159 (SION POWER CORPORATION)
This application focuses on developments to a lithium metal electrode. The inventors have coated a lithium metal layer with a certain type of passivating layer. The purpose is to mitigate the effects of undesirable reactions occurring at the lithium electrode.
WO 2021/122069 (VARTA INNOVATION GMBH)
The inventors here present a lithium-metal cell that contains a specific type of anode. The anode has a porous matrix with metallic Li embedded in the pores.
WO 2021/130268 (BLUE SOLUTIONS)
This application describes an invention relevant to Lithium-Metal-Polymer (LMPTM) batteries. The inventors have developed a negative electrode which is a composite of pure metallic lithium, pure metallic sodium or one of their alloys, with a polymer membrane. According to the inventors, the polymer film allows for the manipulation of very thin metal films for the anode.
These patent applications from BMW disclose a cathode that includes a combination of two materials with different degrees of lithiation. One of the materials is an olivine or spinel material, which has a lower initial level of lithiation.
Cell-level and battery-level developments
WO 2021/126566 (ENEVATE CORPORATION)
The expansion of silicon anodes during cycling is a well-known problem in the battery field. In this patent application, the inventors attempt to address this by providing a pressure regulation system to be used in a silicon anode cell (102) within a housing (101). The system regulates the pressure in the cell using spring layers (105) to correct for capacity loss and mechanical failure due to silicon expansion.
WO 2021/129643 (ZHUHAI COSMX BATTERY CO., LTD.)
The invention here is about making a fire-retardant battery. The inventors have created a current collector which has a “sandwich” structure (2), with the “filling” (1) of the sandwich being flame-retardant. Metal layers lie on either side.
New methods for preparing or modifying battery materials help provide greater manufacturing efficiency and higher quality products.
WO 2021/114196 (SHANGHAI JIAOTONG UNIVERSITY)
Lithium-sulfur batteries have been attracting more attention from researchers and this patent application represents one development by a university team in this area. The invention is a process of making a sulfur positive electrode by manufacturing large-area thick film controllable textured photonic crystal which is then formed into a composition with elemental sulfur.
WO 2021/118856 (ENEVATE CORPORATION)
This application presents a new method of forming silicon-containing electrodes by supplying current at varying C-rates to the electrode during the initial lithiation process (“formation”) performed upon the cell at the end of manufacture. The method can reduce SEI formation on the electrode.
WO 2021/115469 (HUAZHONG UNIVERSITY OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY and HUST-WUXI RESEARCH INSTITUTE)
The process in this patent application involves treating a powder within a reaction chamber in such a way as to form multiple concentric oxide films on its surface. The idea is to improve the stability of an electrode and as a result extend the battery lifetime.
WO 2021/123151 (ARKEMA FRANCE and OXIS ENERGY LIMITED)
In this process an alkali metal electrode is treated with an alkaline ion salt and a fluoropolymer to create an SEI, to improve the structural integrity of the electrode during use.
WO 2021/122348 (BATTRION AG)
This patent application explains that the alignment of particles within e.g. negative electrodes facilitates lithium diffusion and can help produce fast-charging batteries. The inventors describe a method of creating oriented particles in a paste by exposing the paste to a force field.
WO 2021/121241 (JIANGSU LITHITECH CO., LTD.)
The particular method described here makes lithium iron manganese phosphate (LMFP). According to the inventors, the new method enables LMFP to be produced with smaller and more uniform particle size.
WO 2021/116664 (DYSON TECHNOLOGY LIMITED)
In this patent application, the applicant discloses a method which aims to reduce the cost and complexity of mass-producing solid-state batteries (SSBs). Their method addresses problems associated with the handling of thin and delicate webs which contain SSB cell stacks.
WO 2021/123732 (DYSON TECHNOLOGY LIMITED)
The inventors behind this patent application have developed a method of treating a negative electrode which contains a “native” SEI surface layer, i.e. an SEI layer which forms unintentionally after fabrication of the electrode. The SEI layer is removed with a grinding wheel (32) to expose the un-passivated surface of the electrode (10) in the bath (34), which is then chemically treated with a reagent (22) to engineer a new SEI layer.
Inventions within the battery field may arise not only from developments within the battery itself, but also from advances in auxiliary products and devices.
WO 2021/123609 (COMMISSARIAT A L'ENERGIE ATOMIQUE ET AUX ENERGIES ALTERNATIVES)
In this patent application, the inventors have developed a bench which is used to mechanically assess batteries by applying a compression force.
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