Litona to showcase Prussian White material for sodium-ion batteries at Hannover Messe

Litona, a startup established at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), will present its Prussian White sodium-ion battery materials (cathode powders and coated electrodes) at Hannover Messe later this month. Litona was established in August 2023 to supply European industry with sodium-ion energy storage materials. The startup is also considering developing its own sodium-ion batteries in the future.

Prussian White is a framework material chemically related to the well-known dye of Prussian blue. It is mainly based on sodium, iron, and manganese. The large pores inside the material enable the capture and storage of a range of atoms or molecules making the compound highly interesting for a range of applications.

Sebastian Büchele, from KIT’s Institute for Applied Materials and founder of Litona, says that sodium-ion batteries are inexpensive and that all the necessary resources are widely available, but that industrial-scale production remains an issue.

“At the moment, even research institutions have considerable difficulties in purchasing sufficient quantities of Prussian White. There are hardly any producers in Europe. This significantly impairs research and transfer of the promising sodium-ion technology”, says Sebastian Büchele.

(In 2023, Swedish sodium-ion battery developer Altris presented a pure Prussian White cathode material with a capacity of 160 mAh/g. In January 2024, Altris received a grant of SEK 77 million (US$7.2 million) from the Swedish Energy Agency for the establishment of a pilot plant to produce sodium-ion battery cells.)

When Büchele started researching sodium-ion technology, he decided to synthesize Prussian White on his own. This work at KIT did not only result in a high-quality cathode material, but also in an innovative production process. To serve a bigger market, he founded Litona together with chemist Tom Bötticher.

“Our competitors had problems in scaling the production of Prussian White analogs. We think that we have solved these problems. Moreover, we have developed methods to further improve our material”, says Tom Bötticher

To validate the scaling steps and optimize the material for use in next-generation batteries, Litona used the infrastructure of KIT.