Solvay Specialty Polymers, a global producer of plastics, has launched a sustainability programme called LIFE+ GLEE to limit the use of harmful solvents in lithium-ion battery manufacturing processes.
The substance Solvay is targeting for elimination is N-Methyl-2-pyrrolidone (NMP) which has been classified as a substance of very high concern under the European Chemicals Agency REACH classification. This means it has carcinogenic, mutagenic, or toxic effects for reproduction properties. Current manufacturing processes use the organic solvent because cathode materials are sensitive to water.
Solvay is aiming to replace the harmful substance with water by using a cathode protector that stops the cathode from having contact with water during the manufacturing process. Solvay claims the process will reduce manufacturing costs and is building a pilot plant to produce the material at its R&D facility in Bollate, Italy.
The pilot plant is expected to produce the cathode material under industrial conditions in sufficient quantities for evaluation by battery makers and research organisations. The aim is to show that batteries with the cathode protection technology will have increased capacity retention and longer life under high stress conditions than conventional lithium-ion batteries.
LIFE + GLEE is supported by the European Commission and receiving funding from the LIFE financial instrument of the European Community.