The University of Texas at Austin Announces Agreement for Rechargeable Battery Patents with Hydro-Quebec

July 13, 2011

AUSTIN, Texas — The University of Texas at Austin has announced an agreement with Canada-based Hydro-Quebec for lithium-ion material technology invented and patented by Dr. John Goodenough, a world-renowned scientist at the university.

The agreement brings a significant upfront payment to the university and will provide future royalties and additional payments. Under the agreement, the financial terms cannot be disclosed.

Goodenough's research resulted in much lighter, longer lasting lithium ion batteries. It also provided improved safety for consumers and an environmentally friendly solution for transportation and storage applications.

LiFeP0₄ is an innovative and powerful cathode material useful in rechargeable batteries. Uses for the technology include cell phones, laptops, mp3 players, power tools, hybrid automobiles, small electric vehicles and stationary energy storage in ‘smart grid’ applications.

The University of Texas at Austin and Hydro-Quebec have worked together since 1996 to develop and commercialize these materials. The long-standing relationship established a successful basis to take the technology from the laboratory to commercial product, enabling commercial production worldwide for LiFePO₄.

“This agreement is indicative of the value of university research and will accelerate the commercialization of a key technology with a wide range of applications in the energy sector,” said Juan M. Sanchez, the university's vice president for research. “We are pleased that a company with the stature of Hydro-Quebec is committed to the advancement of UT inventions. The agreement is also an acknowledgment to the importance of Dr. Goodenough’s research.”

Goodenough, the Virginia H. Cockrell Centennial Chair in Engineering in the Cockrell School of Engineering, identified and developed the cathode materials for lithium-ion rechargeable batteries that are found in devices and products around the world.

“This has been an amazing opportunity to collaborate with Hydro-Quebec and the university's commercialization partners,” Goodenough said. “We knew it was a promising technology, but the market was not ready for it in 1996 when we started on this endeavor. It was in the lab, and today it is a commercial product.”

Goodenough has received many honors for his work, including the 2009 Enrico Fermi Award presented on behalf of the White House, and the 2001 Japan Prize, the country's equivalent to the Nobel Prize. Goodenough is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the L’Academie des Sciences de L’Institute de France and a fellow of the Royal Society, the United Kingdom’s 350-year-old national academy of science.

Hydro-Quebec recently entered into an alliance that will aid the distribution of the university's technology to address the market demand with high quality products. The alliance has established licenses worldwide with material producers, enabling materials to become readily available for use in battery manufacturing, and for products to be available for worldwide distribution.

Initial sublicense agreements to produce and sell lithium iron products have been concluded with Sumitomo Osaka Cement Co. Ltd. and Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding Co. Ltd., both based in Japan, and Tatung Fine Chemicals Co. and Advanced Lithium Electrochemistry (Cayman) Co. Ltd. (ALEEES), based in Taiwan.

Hydro-Quebec is a government-owned public utility that generates, transmits and distributes electricity using mainly renewable energy sources, in particular, hydroelectricity.

Composed of 60 hydroelectric and one nuclear generating station, Hydro-Quebec is the largest electricity generator in Canada and the world’s largest hydroelectric generator. The utility, which has more than 23,000 employees, also conducts research in energy-related fields, focusing on energy efficiency.

The broad-based market penetration of these high quality battery materials is a result of the growing demand from the global battery and automotive industries for reliable and efficient sources of energy.

For more information, contact: Betsy Merrick, Office of Technology Commercialization, The University of Texas at Austin, 512-232-7399.

11 Comments to "The University of Texas at Austin Announces Agreement for Rechargeable Battery Patents with Hydro-Quebec"

1.  RJ said on July 13, 2011

What a shame that we could not find a US partner to develop this. Or do we have any companies in the US that are not under the thumb of banks that deter development of products that will make their own obsolete? A good look at history will show that this has happened many times.

2.  Preston said on July 18, 2011

RJ, why wish for just a U.S. company, why not a Texan one. Well wait, Austin is the home of UT, let's just do an Austin company. But really, we only care about our community, so let's just do business with them.

Oh wait, then we would just be trading with ourselves...

Congrats UT research at changing the world! Hopefully the financial contribution to this university will help stem cuts that could detract from future innovations!

3. said on July 19, 2011

Interesting how UT is collaborating with Canada!

4.  Heinz Roesch said on July 21, 2011

This is wonderful news - congratulations to all involved
Go for the next deal

5.  Kenneth H. Wax said on July 21, 2011

How is an employee of The University of Texas (professor, TA, conultant, etc.) that has received grants from the University paid for patent, discovery, etc.? Do they receive any compensation?

Ken Wax

6.  Pascal Ouellette said on July 21, 2011

Why would you do this with a Canadian company, when a US company is in the same field, check what Dow Chemical joint venture is doing?

7.  tom curb said on July 21, 2011

Why is a contractual arrangement or any terms thereof between any entity and a public, taxpayer supported university confidential? What do they have to fear?

8.  David Caldwell said on July 23, 2011

While congratulations are due Dr. John Goodenough, and the university, I shiver at the conflict(s) of interest and the lack of transparency obvious in this agreement. Although, if Rick Perry's appointee Jeff Sandefer had been around, the research might have never been completed. We can both applaud our tier-one research institutions & strive for greater public accountability. The terms of these agreements should be public information.

9.  Mike Szarka said on July 26, 2011

The article states that the partnership has been ongoing for 15 years. So Hydro-Quebec has been funding the research all this time and someone would suggest that they are not the right partner for commercialization? Ridiculous. And the reasons the terms are confidential is because it is competitive business information, not a conspiracy.

10.  NAVEEN said on July 30, 2011

WONDERFUL NEWS , Congratulations to all involved in a great research !

11.  John Allison said on July 30, 2011

Thanks to Mike Szarka for his comment. Of course the exact terms of a contract like this must be confidential for business reasons.

Congratulations to Dr. Goodenough and UT. We have an exceptionally fine engineering school, and I am very proud of it.