Fuchs Buys Stake in Electrolytes Start-up

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Fuchs Buys Stake in Electrolytes Start-up
A cross section of a battery in an electric vehicle. © Grzegorz Czapski

German independent lubricants maker Fuchs Group entered the battery market by acquiring 28% of the shares in E-Lyte Innovations GmbH, a start-up that develops and produces electrolytes for high-performance batteries in the industrial and automotive sectors.

Fuchs said the companies will next establish production infrastructure at Fuchs’ location in Kaiserslautern, Germany, to facilitate industrialization, scaling and further growth of electrolyte production. The company said it is investing in production facilities and laboratory equipment, with electrolyte production scheduled to begin in summer 2023.

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“We are setting foot on new terrain outside the classic applications for lubricants,” Stefan Fuchs, chairman of the executive board, said in a news release. “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.”

The company noted the stake in E-Lyte provides it access to the fast-growing market for electrolytes, which is set to become increasingly important, “particularly in and out of Europe, since electrolytes represent a key component of the lithium-ion batteries used in countless applications including e-mobility.” Fuchs said the E-Lyte shares acquisition represents an €8 million investment and that the share purchase agreement also opens up the possibility of acquiring further shares on a step-by-step basis 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,” the CEO said. The company in 2020 introduced BluEV, a dedicated product line for the latest e-mobility applications.

According to its website, E-Lyte offers customized electrolyte solutions for lithium-ion batteries, sodium-ion batteries, supercapacitors and other modern energy storage systems. E-Lyte’s technology aims to accommodate faster battery charging and higher energy densities. The company said these are not only of vital importance for electric cars, but also hold potential for many other emerging applications, like drones, medical engineering, high- and low-temperature applications and aerospace.

“There is no longer one universal electrolyte for batteries, and the differences between those available are becoming more and more pronounced,” said Ralf Wagner, managing partner of E-Lyte Innovations GmbH. “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.”

E-Lyte Innovations was founded in May 2019 as a start-up from the MEET Battery Research Center of the University of Muenster in Germany. E-Lyte is funded by the pre-seed program Exist-Transfer of Research that is financed by the Federal Ministry of Energy and Economics and the European Social Fund. The E-Lyte company team has 12 members.

German enterprise Customcells Holding GmbH – a founding shareholder of E-Lyte – is a leading international company in the development of special, high-performance lithium-ion battery cells and serves as the third partner in the joint venture, along with Fuchs and E-Lyte itself. Fuchs now owns 28%, Customcells owns 10% and E-Lyte itself owns the remainder of the joint venture, a Fuchs spokesperson told Lube Report.