Electric vehicle (EV) sales continue to grow globally as more consumers seek sustainable transportation. For example, the North American market continues to have a strong 2023, with sales increasing by 78 percent this year. This tremendous growth is thanks in part to the many advancements that have been made in battery technologies. These technological developments have significantly impacted the three critical factors driving the adoption of electric vehicles: range, charging times, and cost.

The range of EVs has previously been a significant concern for consumers, and the advancements in battery technologies have helped to address this issue. Today, electric vehicles can travel farther on a single charge than ever, making them a more viable option for long-distance travel. Charging times have also been significantly reduced, thanks to the improvements in battery technologies. With faster charging times, electric vehicle owners no longer worry about being stranded on the road for hours while their vehicle charges.

The cost of EVs has also been a significant barrier, but the advancements in battery technologies have helped reduce production costs. The 2022 Inflation Reduction Act offered a substantial tax credit to lower the cost of purchasing a new or used electric vehicle (EV) – battery-electric and plug-in hybrid models – including cars, pick-up trucks, SUVs, and vans. This cost reduction makes electric vehicles more affordable for consumers, and further reductions should be forthcoming.

To support the growing e-mobility market and meet the increasing demands of consumers, BASF is committed to advancing the materials that power today’s EVs and developing next-generation technology to meet the anticipated needs of the global battery market. By doing so, the company can help ensure electric vehicles remain viable and attractive to consumers worldwide. With a diverse portfolio and a solid commitment to research and development, the company is making lithium-ion batteries more reliable, robust, and affordable.

BASF is looking to establish a more significant presence in the battery materials market to better serve its customers in North America. The company’s experience in Asia and Europe will help it invest in the region’s customer relationships, know-how development, and production capacities. BASF focuses on developing cathode active materials for lithium-ion batteries and components for next-generation batteries like all-solid-state batteries. Unlike conventional lithium-ion batteries that contain a liquid electrolyte, which conducts the lithium ions between the anode and cathode, in a solid-state battery, this function is performed by an inorganic lithium-ion-conducting solid, resulting in higher thermal stability. This feature makes solid-state batteries a preferred choice for car manufacturers, as they can be used at elevated temperatures.

BASF develops innovative materials and technologies for current and next-generation batteries, as well as future battery systems for customers. The Dispersions, Resins and Additives team has started to explore surface coatings solutions for electric vehicles and particularly battery manufacturing. Louis Angeles, Global Additives Industry Marketing Manager, said changes are happening daily in the battery manufacturing process. Angeles said that BASF has a comprehensive range of additives, such as dispersants and wetting agents that can be utilized during the production process of the battery; additive usage is of great importance, as they facilitate processing and improve battery properties. The good dispersion of particles is crucial for the performance of Li-ion batteries, and BASF’s advanced dispersants present better electrochemical stability and enable viscosity reduction of slurries based on Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP), Nickel Manganese Cobalt (NMC), or Nickel Cobalt Aluminum (NCA) technologies; BASF wetting and dispersing agents reduce the dosage of conductive materials and improve battery density for an improved anode and cathode manufacture.

Besides the cathode, BASF is also working on developing high-energy lithium-metal anodes, such as Licerion®, in collaboration with Sion Power, a Tucson-based battery technology company. BASF’s cathode active materials are well-suited to meet the evolving requirements of batteries in automotive drivetrains. Furthermore, BASF works closely with Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and cell manufacturers on innovative and tailor-made NCM products for automotive applications.

When looking at e-mobility batteries, the materials that encase the cells are equally important. Encasements consist of various layers focused on fire resistance, impact resistance, and abrasion protection.

The bio-based polyol Sovermol® can formulate a low Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) or solvent-free coating system and an alternative coating for BPA-containing epoxy systems in specific applications. Sovermol can be used for 100 percent solids, polyurethane coatings and adhesives that are part of the battery pack. Sovermol is also highly effective as a conductivity aid. 

There has also been positive feedback on using Acronal® PRO 770 NA, a water-based intumescent coating for these systems. This acrylic dispersion product can be used as a direct-to-metal (DTM) coating to reduce application time and reduce formulation complexity by eliminating the need for corrosion inhibitors and active pigments. Per Kyle Flack, Technical Team Leader, these products have the right characteristics to protect the battery packs and the underbody of vehicles. “We are looking at our existing portfolio based on Sovermol and Acronal PRO 770 NA as well as the dispersing and wetting agents that can be used in the battery cell manufacturing process,” Flack said.

Angeles said the additives team wants to identify additional opportunities with battery cell manufacturers in the cathode, separator, and anode. He added that while the company focuses on lithium batteries, NCM technology is a significant and growing business segment.

“There is a lot of room to explore the additives portfolio in these applications,” Angeles said. The company also offers products from its solvent-borne portfolio that provide metal protection. For instance, Bob Ober, Commercial Marketing Manager, said Joncryl® xDTM-B combined with the right isocyanate can produce a high-performing, high-corrosion resistant, and flexible impact-resistant coating. Basonat® polyisocyanates would be complementary to these systems in addition to the use of broad additive technologies available such as dispersing agents, defoamers, rheology modifiers, wetting agents, and surface modifiers. “Depending on the specific need, combining our Joncryl polyol products with Basonat isocyanates can provide OEMs with the right combination of abrasion and corrosion resistance for the protection of the EV battery pack,” Ober said.

According to Natalie Nicewicz, Market Segment Manager, in addition, the Licity® anode binder series has distinct properties to increase lithium-ion battery performance. Licity binders are waterborne, carboxylated styrene-butadiene copolymers with a very low VOC content. They have excellent processability and superior coating behavior and exhibit outstanding mechanics in springback, 90-degree peel and bending tests. The Licity portfolio of binders can be customized to customers’ specific requirements, given the rapid development of technology in the Electric Vehicle battery market.

As the battery materials market space evolves rapidly, BASF is developing innovative solutions for customers’ needs today and tomorrow. The Dispersions, Resins and Additives team is committed to creating the technologies needed in 2030 and beyond, ensuring its customers stay ahead of the curve.

Contact BASF to learn more about e-mobility, coatings, and battery material solutions.
Licerion® registered trademark of Sion Power

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