UK-based chemicals company Johnson Matthey (JM) has signed a long-term agreement to supply battery cathode material to Dutch lithium-ion producer, Lithium Werks (LW).
Under the agreement— which will run for five years, commencing 1 April 2019— JM will supply lithium iron phosphate (LFP) material manufactured at its Changzhou, China facility.
In September 2018, JM sold its automotive battery business to US-based Cummins, allowing the company to focus on “developing commercial battery materials for the full range of transport applications”.
France will invest €700 million (US$788.8 million) over the next five years to boost the European battery industry and reduce reliance on Asian battery makers, President Emmanuel Macron has said.
Speaking to the International Organisation of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers in Paris, Macron said that Europe needs a “wake-up call” on batteries, referencing the threat of external dependence for an increasingly vital resource in an era of international trade wars.
“In terms of sovereignty and independence, I think it’s not good in the long run for our industry to be 100 per cent reliant on non-Europeans,” Macron was quoted by Reuters as saying.
Canadian deep cycle lead-acid battery maker Surrette is expanding its production facility in Nova Scotia, to “boost its global competitiveness and spur business growth”.
The 25,000 sq. ft. expansion to the Surrette Battery Company’s Springhill plant will be accompanied by the incorporation of “advanced robotics and automation” at its production facility.
Contrary to many wider fears of the undesirable effects of automation, Surrette’s actions will cause them to hire an additional 18 “highly-skilled workers”, taking their total roll-call to 100.
Alexander Technologies Europe has announced expansion plans in order to keep pace with rising demand for its lithium-ion products.
The expansion plans include an additional manufacturing facility in Peterlee, UK, and a “significant investment in its battery and charger manufacturing capabilities.”
CEO Michael Shirley described the expansion plans as “a major investment for the company” which “represent a significant increase to our current footprint, from 16,000 sq. ft. to 40,000 sq. ft.”
Europe has “lost its edge” to China in the battery stakes— even before the EU’s proposed Batteries Alliance starts making cells, the boss of the company that owns French batteries firm Saft has said.
Patrick Pouyanné (pictured), the chairman and CEO of oil and gas giant Total, which acquired Saft in 2016, told broadcaster CNBC: “Quite frankly, Europe’s lost its edge, in this area, hasn’t it? The Chinese are now the world leaders in renewable energy.”
Pouyanné said he had spoken to German economy minister Peter Altmaier, who had “talked a lot about batteries, and how he thinks it’s an important direction” in which Europe should go.
Siemens has opened a battery module factory in Norway to assemble its BlueVault lithium-ion maritime battery systems.
The facility in Trondheim will assemble its liquid-cooled battery modules comprising cells manufactured in Asia, a Siemens spokesperson told BEST Battery Briefing.
Each battery has nine modules, with each module comprising 28 battery cells “for a combined total installed power of 60 kilowatt-hours”, the spokesperson said.
Japanese compatriots Panasonic and Toshiba have concluded contracts toward setting up a joint venture (JV) company related to the automotive prismatic battery business.
The JV— which is subject to approval by anti-trust chiefs— will cover “research, development, production, engineering, manufacturing, procurement, order receipt, and management”.
Toyota will contribute equipment and personnel in the areas of development and production engineering related to battery cells, while Panasonic will contribute equipment and personnel to support activities including production, development, engineering and manufacturing (at its plants in Japan and Dalian, China).
Within the next 18 months, Malaysia is set to become the first country in the Association of SouthEast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to produce lithium-ion batteries, according to the CEO of Malaysia Automotive Robots and IoT Institute (MARII).
Datuk Madani Sahari (pictured) told South Korea’s Maeil Business Newspaper that, at least in terms of size and energy retention, the batteries produced would be similar to those used in Tesla automobiles.
“We are looking at possible production sites in Negeri Sembilan or Sengalor, which will be finalised in the first half of this year”.
Swiss battery metals investor Blackstone Resources is launching a research centre in Germany— ahead of plans to set up “a substantial battery-production project” in the country.
The company is investing €200 million to establish Blackstone Research in the city of Erfurt, with the goal of building “the next generation of electric-vehicle batteries, close to where German auto manufacturers are based”, in the east-central state of Thüringen.
Blackstone said it will initially put up the investment itself, but hopes to “garner support from subsidies” from European Union R&D funds and from regional and federal funding in Germany.