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Dreamliner Lithium Ion Batteries Based on Cobalt Not Manganese

Tue, 01/22/2013 - 12:42pm
PD&D Staff

Larry W. Reaugh, Chief Executive Officer of American Manganese, reports that the company has received numerous shareholder queries and calls regarding the type of Lithiated Ion battery utilized by the Boeing Dreamliner 787 which resulted in battery fires and grounding by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Green Car Report states lithium ion batteries are a family of products having very different performance characteristics resulting from incorporating specific alloying metals into the battery chemistry. Lithium plus manganese or/and nickel (or other metals) typically carry less energy per volume than lithium plus cobalt, but are widely viewed as less susceptible to overheating. The battery chemistry utilized by the Dreamliner was Lithium Cobalt Dioxide (LiCoO2); similar to that used in laptop computers and cell phones. American Manganese's product would be Lithium Manganese Dioxide (LiMn2O4), or spinel, similar to rechargeable batteries used in the Chevy Volt. Both of these battery chemistries come under the generic heading "lithium ion batteries".

American Manganese's focus has been to produce high purity electrolytic manganese dioxide or chemical manganese dioxide for the rechargeable lithium manganese battery industry utilizing their patent pending process.

Bloomberg Business Week reports short circuits caused by rogue metal particals in the battery material that may cause shorts once in a very long time.

"While researchers have made significant advances in materials used to improve performance of the lithium ion batteries, often overlooked are the importance of mining processes to produce raw materials which are later refined to battery grade materials," says Norm Chow, P.Eng., president and CEO of Kemetco Research. "A critical issue is that conventional mining processes introduce metallic impurities in raw materials."

The metallic impurities are known to cause internal short circuits resulting in thermal run-away, which by-passes protection circuits implemented for safety. This can lead to explosions and fires in some cases. The tolerances for these impurities are so low that there are no known methods to reliably test their presence, according to Chow.

"In 2012, American Manganese was the only mining company that presented at the Battery 2012 conference in Denver, Colorado and is currently one of the leaders developing mining technology for improved raw materials for lithium ion batteries," he continues. "American Manganese has made significant progress in advancing their hydrometallurgical process to make these critical raw materials by avoiding steps that are known to introduce metallic impurities. Prototype batteries have been produced and R&D will be advancing to the next stage."

Currently, American Manganese is seeking strategic partnerships and research and development grants to further efforts on producing cleaner high purity products to supply the lithium ion battery market.

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