Livent has opened what will be the first of several major expansions of its operations around the world Bessemer City, North Carolina. The company has increased lithium hydroxide production capacity by 50% to address growing demand for electric vehicle battery materials. The company added aided by long-term growth opportunities and downstream incentives from the recently enacted Inflation Reduction Act, which encourages use of lithium produced or processed in North America.
Battery materials maker Vianode has opened the Vianode Technology Centre (VTC) at Kristiansand, in Norway, where it had opened an industrial pilot plant in 2021. This came barely a month after the company announced an investment of €194 million in a battery materials plant at Herøya.
Following on from other recent announcements in the field, Umicore has announced a 5-50, €3 billion joint venture to supply precursor and cathode material production to the European battery cell factories of PowerCo, the Volkswagen Group’s battery company. No site has yet been chosen.
This will begin in 2025 by supplying PowerCo’s factory in Salzgitter. They aim to reach 40 GWh cell/year capacity in 2026 and to quadruple that to 160 by 2030, depending on market and demand development. This would be equivalent to what is needed to power about 2.2 million full electric vehicles.
Umicore has agreed to develop high-performance catholyte materials for solid-state batteries with Japan’s Idemitsu Kosan, combining its expertise in cathode active materials (CAMs) for lithium-ion batteries with that of Idemitsu Kosan in high-purity lithium sulfide. Catholytes combine CAMs and solid electrolytes, enabling solid-state batteries to achieve better performance.
Johnson Matthey (JM) has exited from the batteries market by selling most of its Battery Materials business to EV Metals Group for £50 million and the Canadian part to Nano One Materials for C$10.25 million. Both buyers are specialists in the field.
EV Metals is taking the battery technology centres at Oxford and Billingham, UK, and Moosburg, Germany; a pilot plant and laboratories also at Billingham; a cathode active materials (CAMs) plant under construction in Konin, Poland (pictured); JM’s eLNO technology; and associated patents, licences and other IP rights.
Umicore has officially inaugurated its new global R&D centre for cathode materials next to its existing R&D centre and production plants in Cheonan, Korea. Operational since April, this comprises a 30,000 m2 building complex, with space for growth.
The focus of research will continue to be next-generation battery materials, including very high-nickel NMC, low-cobalt NMC, manganese-rich chemistries as well as solid-state battery materials technology. The centre also houses a large battery cell laboratory with testing capabilities.
Albemarle has signed a joint development agreement with 6K, a specialist in microwave-controlled plasma technology, to explore the use of 6K’s UniMelt materials production platform to develop novel lithium battery materials. It has also made an undisclosed investment in 6K through Volta Energy Technologies, a venture capital firm active in the energy storage sector that is already an investor.