Advanced Membranes Systems to open a manufacturing plant in North Carolina

The ability for America to better meet its growing demand for lithium ion batteries in everything from electric vehicles to wireless devices, while carving out a technology niche in the internationally-dominated battery separator market, was disclosed at the 2010 Power Sources Conference. Advanced Membranes Systems (AMS) has announced plans to open a battery separator manufacturing plant that will offer enabling technology for a Lithium Ion Battery (LIB) market that could double in five years.

AMS has entered into a joint venture agreement with Biax Laboratories to open a 25,000 square foot manufacturing plant in Rutherfordton, North Carolina. The new venture, called UltraLith LLC, plans to ship products to battery manufacturers in August.

The facility will represent the first new battery separator manufacturing company in the USA in decades. It will also be the world’s only plant to offer battery separator technology that meets all of the lithium battery capability targets in planned Electric Vehicles (EDV) applications.

The separator is a key component for lithium ion batteries performance, safety and cost. The separator market for applications such as laptops and wireless devices is close to $1 billion, and growing at a rate of about 7% per year. For Electric vehicles, battery performance and safety levels are much higher and the separator plays a more important role in meeting those requirements.

Further, the separator market for lectric cars alone is expected to accelerate to hundreds of millions of dollars within five years. Government entities, such as the Department of Energy and the U.S. military have stated a desire to use U.S. energy manufacturers. However, leadership in LIB separators has tended to come from overseas, particularly in Asia.

“While U.S. separator manufacturers are trying to extend the capabilities of their existing separator products, more recent patents, particularly from Asia, have given those companies a technology lead in lithium batteries, and a head start in EDVs,” commented Abbas Samii, President and Chief Scientist for AMS. “We believe our new UltraLith patents give us the technology advantage and that our new production facility will allow us to be the type of resource that U.S. government sponsors are seeking,” he added.

For Electric Drive Vehicles, the newly patented UltraLith-HP is a non-shutdown polyolefin separator engineered for high power, high density lithium batteries (LIBs). Compared to other separators, UltraLith-HP offers better performance, improved safety, lower costs, the ability to work in any lithium chemistry and it can run on the same equipment that battery manufacturers use now. UltraLith-SD, a shutdown separator, offers performance and adaptability advantages for consumer applications.

Advanced Membrane Systems has been involved in research and development of separator and materials technology for green energy designs since 2000. With multiple patents awarded and pending, AMS is a leader in the creation of intellectual property for lithium and alkaline applications. With the demand for electric car separator material expected to rapidly exceed several hundred million square meters in five years, coupled with lithium separator material for consumer applications seeing double digit growth in China, AMS intends to deliver volume quantities of leading separator products for LIB manufacturers worldwide.