Next-generation LTO with energy density equivalent to LFP
Taiwan’s Gigafactory GUS… Strength of supply chain excluding China
2024년 07월호 지면기사  / 한상민 기자

Interview Dr. Prem Chandan, GUS Technology      

At the end of April, during 2035 E-Mobility Taiwan, AEM met with Dr. Prem Chandran from GUS Technology, Taiwan's first gigafactory, to learn why they focus on LTO cells and pouch types as their main products, and to hear about their future expansion strategies in terms of battery chemistry and production. GUS, a battery startup founded by materials scientists, is already collaborating with numerous clients in Japan and Europe. One of GUS's strengths is its supply chain, which excludes China and includes South Korea.

written by Sangmin Han

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Can you please share what achievements E-Mobility Taiwan has brought to GUS Technology this year?
 The exposure to many customers especially to the international visitors has been good. There were a few delegation teams from different countries, such as Malaysia, Czech Republic, Germany etc. E-mobility gave us an opportunity to interact with them and portray our technology to them. Some of them are interested in our technology and have come forward for business collaborations in different forms.

GUS Technology was established in 2017. What significance does this hold for GUS in the global, Taiwan, EV industry and GUS?  
 GUS Technology has been in cell manufacturing since 2017. In 2023, we started our first GWh factory in Taiwan. In the near future, we are planning to expand our manufacturing capabilities locally in Taiwan and in different parts of the world to cater to different customers from EV and energy storage industries. The world is in the transition period. Everything that moves is being electrified, moving towards renewable and sustainable energy. And we are right on time.

Like GUS, many battery companies handle everything from material development to Cell to Pack, BMS and software. What is the reason for this? What sets GUS apart from other companies?  
A battery cell cannot be used in an application directly. It becomes useful only after integrating it with a BMS and other necessary components. So, many companies, not only manufacture cells, but also develop other components in-house for having a better reach to their customers. 
Even GUS is recognized for providing a “one-stop solution” from the cell development to module-to-pack to system integration. Inculcating Japanese technology with China-free supply chain has been our strength that has attracted many customers around the world. 

GUS has unique technology and product. What unique battery chemistry will be utilized in manufacturing, and why? LTO electrodes have the disadvantage of low energy density due to their high voltage. What technologies can overcome this? Does this correspond to specific vehicle applications? 
 It is the cell manufacturing capability that GUS boasts of, irrespective of the chemistries used. At GUS however, the major focus is given to LTO cells. Though it suffers from low energy density, it addresses the safety issue that other Lithium batteries are facing. For GUS, safety is of utmost importance. We consider safety to be the fundamental property and not as an added feature. Apart from safety, the LTO cells stand out for fast-charging ability (5 minutes), wide temperature range applications (-40 to 60 C) and super long cycle life (40,000 cycles). Except for the electric cars, or drones and other applications where energy density is the driving factor, LTO cells can be applied in everything else. Starting from the AGVs, trucks, buses, trains, submarines and ships to military and remote applications LTO cells are the most suited.  

At GUS the R&D has been incessantly working on improving the energy density of LTO cells. By the end of this year, we will be having the next generation LTO cells whose energy density is in par with LFP cells. 

What cathode materials are you currently applying?  
 Depending on the application and requirement, we are working with LMO, LNMO and different NCM cathodes for our LTO cells.

What do you think about the future of other battery chemistries? Many companies are researching solid-state batteries due to concerns about battery explosions. Does GUS have a similar research roadmap? Are there any different strategies?
The LTO cells from GUS are already safe without explosion or fire issues. Having said that, we are also working on solid state electrolytes for improving the safety of our NCM cells and also enhancing our LTO safety further. Since we are focused on the pouch type cell format, it will be easier for us to adapt to the solid state battery manufacturing technology as well. 

GUS has signed an MOU with Echion, a niobium-based anode company. How do they plan to utilize this?
 We are co-working with Echion to develop a new battery design with higher efficiency. Tests are in progress, and we cannot say anything much about it. 

A Taiwanese solid-state battery company called PLG seems to be soon releasing commercial products. How do you view this?
 They are making good batteries. We do not see them as a competitor, rather a partner company who is working for the same cause as we are. The requirement of battery solutions to the world is huge and very little has been fulfilled. As battery companies, we have a lot of works to do and a long way to go.  


GUS seems to focus on pouch-type batteries, but are there any differences in manufacturing methods or materials compared to other companies' pouch-type batteries? I heard that GUS only made pouch batteries and Is this still valid? What are the reasons behind this?  
 We manufacture pouch-type cells with bilateral tab design. And we are trying to stick to European standard VDA sizes. As of now we do not have plans to work on cylindrical or the prismatic type. Pouch type is the easiest for customization, has better and homogenous heat dissipation and higher energy density since there is no metal casing that adds weight to the cell. And if we start solid state batteries, pouch type is the easiest to adapt. 

Recently, many OEMs prefer cylindrical batteries like the 4680 to increase energy density. What is GUS's target market or strategy regarding pouch-type batteries?  
 From our understanding, pouch cells are still preferred by many EV companies and for other applications. And we are providing the solutions in the form of standard modules or packs with BMS and not just in the form of pouch cells. 

Are there any pack design and manufacturing technologies related to improving energy density and safety?
Energy density is the intrinsic property of the material we use. On the contrary, adding more components reduces it. So, to increase the energy density, we do not have any pack design. However, we are working on alternate materials of both cathodes and anodes to increase the energy density. And with regard to safety, there are some special kinds of polymers used inside the modules and packs to improve safety. 

It is said that the global battery supply chain for EVs is almost complete. What opportunities does GUS, as well as Taiwan's battery industry, see in this situation? Additionally, last year, GUS announced the establishment of Taiwan's first gigafactory. What does this mean? Many Taiwanese companies have announced gigafactory plans, is GUS really the first?  
 As per the latest reports, still there is a huge gap between the demand and the production of batteries at the global level. The electrification of vehicles has just begun and we see a huge opportunity for GUS to protrude into the EV market. We inaugurated the gigafactory last year and is already in production and serving many customers right now. We strongly believe it is just the first of many more to come from GUS, both in Taiwan and around the world. 

There are few other battery companies in Taiwan doing excellent work in their own capacities, we wouldn’t say we are the first one. 

Digital transformation involving data, cloud, and AI in battery companies is heavily emphasized in terms of battery safety, efficiency, reuse, recycling, and sustainability. What transitions and R&D efforts is GUS focusing on in all aspects of product development and manufacturing? What innovations are customers demanding?  
 GUS is working on integrating the latest technologies that can assist in improving the safety and efficiency of the batteries from cell all the way to pack level. We are working with a few partner companies for recycling. We consistently strive to achieve sustainability with the right approach.
As of now, there are no special demands from the customers except for more efficient batteries. 

What are some references to GUS's competitiveness, such as intellectual property, people, and key customers?  
 GUS was started as a material analysis company by a bunch of material scientists with a strong hold on battery materials. Later went on to become a cell manufacturer. The core management team (CEO, CTO, chief engineers) and the key R&D members are all PhDs in chemistry, material science or chemical engineering. GUS has its own patented Li-Mn rich cathode material along with many other patents related to materials, components and methods. With the advantage of mirroring Japanese technology and China-free supply chain, we gained many customers from Japan and Europe. We have been offering OEM services to three Japanese and 4 European customers. Unfortunately, we cannot name the customers due to confidentiality.

Please tell us about GUS's major plans for the near future. There's a trend towards securing the entire supply chain from raw materials to supply to enhance the competitiveness of electrode material prices. What are your plans regarding this? Many battery companies are expanding overseas factories to enhance manufacturing and supply competitiveness. What is your strategy? 
Our first major expansion will be in Taiwan followed by expansion overseas. We are planning to set up a manufacturing plant in the US, one in Europe and at least one in the ASEAN region. We will be working on selecting the local supply chain and collaborating with them, especially for the main raw materials for easier, faster and cost-effective production. 

GUS is already related to Korea, right? Finally, please say something to Korean readers. 
Since we have a China-free supply chain, our major supply chain consists of Taiwan, Korea and Japan. The raw materials acquired from Korea are quite good. Korea is known for its high-quality products and efficient work ethics. Korea is certainly one of the countries that we would love to expand our business into. To all the readers out there, if any companies or investors are interested in getting our technology to Korea, we will be more than happy to work with you. Thank you everyone. “다들 감사해요.”

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