In the race to produce more efficient energy sources, manufacturers of lithium ion batteries (LiB) are being put under pressure to improve energy density and power and increase battery life. But, LiBs have been blamed for fires in electric vehicles, airplanes and laptops. That is all about to change. Daikin America has introduced flame retarded, fluorinated electrolytes for use in LiB appli" />

Issue: Apr 2013


Fighting fires with fluorochemicals



Fighting fires with fluorochemicals

by Esther Francis




In the race to produce more efficient energy sources, manufacturers of lithium ion batteries (LiB) are being put under pressure to improve energy density and power and increase battery life. But, LiBs have been blamed for fires in electric vehicles, airplanes and laptops. That is all about to change. Daikin America has introduced flame retarded, fluorinated electrolytes for use in LiB applications.

The wholly owned subsidiary of Daikin Industries, Japan, headquartered in Orangeburg, New York, is one of the largest fluoropolymer suppliers in the world. Its patented fluorochemistry process enables the manufacture of LiBs with a higher energy density, enhanced safety, and a longer lifespan. In August 2012, Daikin completed the construction of an electrolyte manufacturing facility located in Decatur, Alabama. “Our business model is to work closely with each battery manufacturer to establish the optimum electrolyte formulation for their design, and to respond to the emerging needs of the market. In light of the recent concerns about the fire safety of Lithium ion Batteries, we feel we are uniquely positioned to offer functional, flame retarded, fluorinated electrolyte formulations that significantly increase battery safety,” says Gary Stanitis, Business Manager of Performance Products & Chemicals at Daikin America. Daikin America says that its proprietary electrolyte chemistry greatly improves the fire safety for LiBs.

A conventional LiB contains fuel (electrolyte), an oxidizer (active component) and multiple potential ignition sources. Fires in Lithium ion cells are due to the interaction of the fuel with the active component, together with a source of ignition such as a spark, or heat. The most viable safety solution, says the company, is to significantly reduce the flammability of the electrolyte by increasing the fluorochemical content by 20% or more. According to Daikin, separate independent laboratories have shown that this strategy leads to superior cycling behavior compared to conventional hydrocarbon electrolytes. Daikin prides itself on providing best-in-class fluoro-materials to the automotive supply chain globally across a wide range of applications. Daikin’s products and technologies provide superior heat and chemical resistance, weatherability, fuel permeation resistance, lubricant and additive resistance.

The company says that its fluoropolymer products provide long-life and reliable performance in harsh, aggressive automotive environments and applications. The company has production facilities in all major regions and technical service support systems in the US. Clients include OEMs, Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers of components and assemblies in areas such as powertrain sealing. Daikin’s DAI-EL FKM fluoroelastomer and PTFE are used for transmission, driveline, axle, hybrid, differential and wheel seals. Its solutions for fuel systems include DAI-EL, PTFE, ETFE, EFEP, CPT and Dupra FFKM. They are used for fuel tubing, fuel hoses, O-ring seals, check valves, gaskets and fuel tank sender seals. Engine sealing solutions include DAI-EL FKM and PTFE , which are used for radial shaft seals, low friction sealing, head gaskets, multi-layer coated steel gaskets, valve cover seals, cam cover seals, valve stem seals, oil pan seals and air intake manifold gasket seals. The company’s fluorpolymers and DAI-EL FKM are also used for electronic applications such as wire jacketing, cable jacketing and seals. For automotive interiors, Daikin’s Unidyne™ is used for stain resistance, soil resistance, UV protection, finger print/smudge resistance and scratch resistance.

Automotive Industries (AI) asked Dan Kennefick, Market Development Manager at Daikin America to describe the process behind the development of the new electrolyte for LiBs.

Kennefick: Daikin is an electrolyte manufacturer, but our primary expertise is in fluorochemical synthesis and manufacture. Our energy storage chemists have found that the addition of certain fluorochemical compounds can improve the stability of electrolytes at elevated voltages and temperatures. Most of these fluorochemicals are inherently non-flammable, and if we add enough of these additives to the electrolyte, we can create a selfextinguishing or even non-flammable mixture.

AI: How do you see the product changing the Lithium ion battery industry?

Kennefick: In applications where safety is of paramount importance such as transportation, aerospace, and defense, the inclusion of fluorinated electrolytes will revolutionize the way that system integrators look at battery pack and auxiliary system design. Not only will safety be improved but overall system designs will be simplified. This will make LiBs even more attractive as an energy storage option.

AI: What are some of the investments Daikin America has made in the development of the new electrolyte?

Kennefick: Daikin has made a significant investment in equipment, quality control systems, and people. Our ISO certified electrolyte manufacturing facility located in our plant complex in Decatur, Alabama is state-of-the-art and utilizes many of the operational and quality control systems that have made us a premier manufacture of fluoropolymers.

AI: What are some of the initial reactions you have had from automotive OEMs about the new electrolyte?

Kennefick: Our announcement is very recent, so we are just beginning to receive feedback from the OEMs. At the AABC (Advanced Automotive Batteries Conference) held during the week of February 4 we received feedback and interest from a number of automotive and aerospace OEMs.

AI: How much of Daikin America’s focus is on the automotive industry?

Kennefick: The automotive market is one of the key focus areas for Daikin’s current and future growth. As under-the-hood operating temperatures continue to rise, and fluids are introduced that could attack conventional polymers, the use of fluoropolymers will grow. They offer superior heat and chemical resistance, weatherability, fuel permeation resistance, and lubricant and additive resistance. enough of these additives to the electrolyte, we can create a selfextinguishing or even non-flammable mixture.

AI: How do you see the product changing the Lithium ion battery industry?

Kennefick: In applications where safety is of paramount importance such as transportation, aerospace, and defense, the inclusion of fluorinated electrolytes will revolutionize the way that system integrators look at battery pack and auxiliary system design. Not only will safety be improved but overall system designs will be simplified. This will make LiBs even more attractive as an energy storage option.

AI: What are some of the investments Daikin America has made in the development of the new electrolyte?

Kennefick: Daikin has made a significant investment in equipment, quality control systems, and people. Our ISO certified electrolyte manufacturing facility located in our plant complex in Decatur, Alabama is state-of-the-art and utilizes many of the operational and quality control systems that have made us a premier manufacture of fluoropolymers.

AI: What are some of the initial reactions you have had from automotive OEMs about the new electrolyte?

Kennefick: Our announcement is very recent, so we are just beginning to receive feedback from the OEMs. At the AABC (Advanced Automotive Batteries Conference) held during the week of February 4 we received feedback and interest from a number of automotive and aerospace OEMs.

AI: How much of Daikin America’s focus is on the automotive industry?

Kennefick: The automotive market is one of the key focus areas for Daikin’s current and future growth. As under-the-hood operating temperatures continue to rise, and fluids are introduced that could attack conventional polymers, the use of fluoropolymers will grow. They offer superior heat and chemical resistance, weatherability, fuel permeation resistance, and lubricant and additive resistance.

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