FUCHS acquires strategic stake in electrolyte start-up firm
The FUCHS Group announced that it has acquired a 28% stake in E-Lyte Innovations GmbH, a start-up based in Munster, Germany, that is developing and producing groundbreaking liquid electrolytes for high-performance batteries in the industrial and automotive sectors.
The electrolyte in a battery is the substance that allows electrical current to flow between the anode and the cathode. The lifetime, power, safety, and charging time of a battery is, in addition to the choice of anode and cathode materials, determined by the composition of the electrolyte solution.
The investment represents an important step and extends FUCHS’ expertise in the field of e-mobility. The Group already extended its portfolio in 2020 with FUCHS BluEV, a dedicated product line for the latest e-mobility applications.
“We are setting foot on new terrain outside the classic applications for lubricants. The world is changing rapidly and we don’t just want to keep pace, we want to actively meet the future: by entering a very exciting, globally fast-growing market with significant business potential,” said Stefan Fuchs, chairman of the Executive Board.
The lubricant company based in Mannheim, Germany, launched its FUCHS2025 strategy program in 2019. Over the next few years, this program will help the company take advantage of the opportunities presented by the megatrends of digitalization, sustainability, and e-mobility. The new investment will also feed into this strategy, as it grants FUCHS access to the fast-growing market for electrolytes. This market is set to become increasingly important, particularly in and out of Europe, since electrolytes represent a key component of lithium-ion batteries used in countless applications, including e-mobility. FUCHS is investing around EUR8 million (USD8.5 million) in this new area of activity. The share purchase agreement also opens up the possibility of acquiring further shares over time.
“Although this market is uncharted territory for us, at FUCHS we are experts in developing custom-made solutions for special customer requirements and a very wide range of functional fluid applications worldwide,” said Fuchs.
The two companies are both focused on promising high-performance applications, rather than the mass market.
The E-Lyte product technology also focuses on meeting specific requirements and is based on special performance characteristics, such as faster battery charging times. These are not only of vital importance for electric vehicles, but also hold potential for many other promising areas, such as drones, medical engineering, high and low temperature applications, and the aerospace sector.
“There is no longer one universal electrolyte for batteries and the differences between those available are becoming more and more pronounced. The rapidly developing battery technologies for a broad range of applications are causing skyrocketing demand for customized electrolyte formulas and ever larger production volumes. In order to cater for this, we need a local supply chain, not only because the electrolyte doesn’t permit long delivery and storage times because of its limited shelf life,” said Dr. Ralf Wagner, managing partner of E-Lyte Innovations GmbH.
As a next step, the required production infrastructure will be established jointly at the FUCHS location in Kaiserslautern, Germany to facilitate industrialisation, scaling, and further growth. Funds are being invested in the production facilities and laboratory equipment. Production is scheduled to begin in the summer of 2023.
German enterprise Customcells Holding GmbH, a leading international company in the development of special, high-performance lithium-ion battery cells, is the third partner in the joint venture.