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Volkswagen deals to secure European EV lithium-ion battery materials and cheaper cell manufacturing

Mon, 12/13/2021 - 13:58 -- Paul Crompton

Volkswagen’s battery strategy is gathering pace with the vehicle OEM securing materials deals to supply its European lithium-ion cell production and investing in a US battery manufacturing process firm.

The first was to increase precursor and cathode material production capacities in Europe through the establishment of a joint venture with Australian firm Umicore.

The firms plan to gradually ramp up precursor and cathode material production capacity from 2025 with an initial annual production of 20GWh of materials for Volkswagen’s plant in Salzgitter, Germany.

Annual production capacity would then grow to 160GWh— enough to power around 2.2 million electric vehicles— by the end of the decade. 

The JV’s portfolio offering will cover next-generation technologies, including high-nickel chemistries. 

Thomas Schmall, member of the board of management of Volkswagen Group for Technology, and CEO of Volkswagen Group Components, said: “Volkswagen is implementing its battery strategy very consistently and at a high pace.

“Teaming up with Umicore enables us to establish a state-of-the-art supply chain in Europe as we share common values such as responsible sourcing of raw materials, as well as closed-loop thinking.”

In the context of the JV, Umicore and Volkswagen will collaborate on the “sustainable and responsible” sourcing of raw materials, with both parties planning to include elements of refining and battery recycling into the JV at a later stage.

Lithium offtake agreement

Volkswagen Group has also secured a binding lithium offtake deal with Vulcan Energy.

The deal is for the purchase of a minimum of 34,000 tonnes and a maximum of 42,000 tonnes of battery grade lithium hydroxide over the duration of the agreement, which is for an initial five-year term.

Commercial delivery of the material is expected to begin in 2026. 

Volkswagen Group and Vulcan have also agreed to a first right of refusal to invest in additional capacity in the latter’s Zero Carbon Lithium Project, which is a lithium hydroxide monohydrate chemical product from its geothermal lithium brine project in the Upper Rhine Valley, Germany.

Investment in 24M Technologies

Volkswagen announced this week it would invest in Cambridge, US-based battery start-up 24M, with the goal of industrialising the latter's semi-solid process that improves the dry coating process, in the automotive battery area. 

The target is to generate "considerable cost optimisation" in future battery production by reducing material usage and eliminating several steps from the conventional production process. 

For this purpose, a new Volkswagen-owned subsidiary will further develop and upscale the technology for automotive applications based on 24M intelectual properties. 

24M President and CEO, Naoki Ota, said: “[Volkswagen's] investment, collaborative development and ability to scale globally will accelerate our manufacturing platform, thereby replacing the conventional manufacturing process and fast tracking electric vehicle adoption.” 

Prospective benefits include up to 40% less production area, considerable savings on investment and more efficient product recycling, as well as the reduction of the CO2 footprint of battery production. 

Implementing the process in large-scale production is targeted for the second half of the decade sunject to customary closing conditions allowing the transaction.

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High purity lithium hydroxide plant to make lithium-ion battery material in Germany

Tue, 06/29/2021 - 10:53 -- Paul Crompton
High purity lithium hydroxide plant to make lithium-ion battery material in Germany

A German lithium hydroxide material plant to supply the European electric vehicle battery market will be built by Advanced Metallurgical Group (AMG) and GEA.

The battery-grade lithium hydroxide will be produced in a plant operated by AMG Lithium at Chemiepark Bitterfeld-Wolfen, Germany. 

GEA will supply AMG Lithium (a subsidiary and part of the AMG Clean Energy Materials division of AMG) with a pre-concentration plant and its crystallisation technology, which it uses to purify lithium hydroxide.

The first module, due to be commissioned in 2023, will have an annual capacity of 20,000 tons of lithium hydroxide, with plans to increase capacity up to 100,000 tons.

The plant will use technical grade lithium hydroxide as raw material in the first module and convert it into battery grade Lithium hydroxide monohydrate(LiOH- H2O) in the new plant.

The plant engineering solution includes pre-concentration, crystallisation and drying of the crystals and comprises design, manufacture, installation and commissioning.

AMG Lithium combines extensive lithium expertise in R&D, production and marketing with a reliable and safe raw material base from a group-owned mine in Brazil. 

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Leoch expands further into Europe with lead-acid battery distributer buy out

Tue, 05/18/2021 - 08:38 -- Paul Crompton
Leoch expands further into Europe with lead-acid battery distributer buy out

Chinese battery manufacturer Leoch has strengthened its grip on the European lead-acid market with the buyout of Spanish battery distributor Meibat.

The Chinese company will set up firm Leoch Iberia with the goal of establishing a permanent market hold in the Iberia region.  

Established in 1992, Meibat distributed industrial batteries in Spain from its base just outside of Madrid.

A new warehouse facility will be set up in Madrid to cover the network power and motive power markets throughout Spain and Portugal. 

Meibat has historically focused on complementary sectors to Leoch in telecommunications, UPS, data centres, renewables and energy storage as well the motive markets. 

The company is in the top 10 of battery and energy system distributors in Spain with all the major key accounts in the region.

Leoch now has direct operations in Spain, Greece, France, Germany, Italy and the UK. 

The company has 10 regional manufacturing plants in China, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, India and Vietnam.

Apostolos Tasiopoulos, Leoch's vice president for Europe, Middle East and Africa, said: “Leoch previously had a representative in Spain but this major acquisition will enable us to establish a permanent footprint with all original equipment customers in Iberia. 

“It was the only major European country on our target list where we didn’t have our own entity; it joins our existing facilities in France, Germany, Italy and the UK.”

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Inobat launches lithium-ion pouch cell designed within 12 months using AI and HTP

Tue, 10/27/2020 - 13:03 -- Paul Crompton

European EV battery producer InoBat Auto launched the world’s first electric vehicle lithium-ion battery designed using artificial intelligence and high-throughput technology on 9 October.

The Slovakian firm developed the ‘intelligent’ batteries within a year of using processes that identify the optimum cell chemistry to meet the exact needs of an individual vehicle or automaker. 

InoBat will begin manufacturing the 265Wh/kg lithium-ion pouch cells from next year.

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Start-up Verkor plans to develop France’s second gigafactory

Fri, 07/31/2020 - 15:23 -- Paul Crompton

Battery start-up Verkor is set to increase European battery cell production with  a16GWh lithium-ion gigafactory in an as yet undisclosed location in France. 

With support of EIT Energy, Schneider Electric and the IDEC Group, the new venture will produce low-carbon batteries in France to help meet the increasing demand for electric vehicles (EVs) and battery energy stationary storage (BESS).

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VW and Northvolt JV plans for EU lithium-ion gigafactory gain momentum

Mon, 05/11/2020 - 15:42 -- Paul Crompton

Vehicle OEM Volkswagen is investing €450 ($487million) to construct the buildings and infrastructure of a European lithium-ion gigafactory it is developing with its joint venture partner Northvolt.

Construction of the Northvolt Zwei factory in Salzgitter, Germany— close to VW’s existing Center of Excellence for Battery Cells— is due to begin by the close of the year with cell production scheduled for early 2024.

 

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48 volt lithium drive trains have arrived

Tue, 02/07/2017 - 11:07 -- Paul Crompton
48 volt lithium drive trains have arrived

Two major battery and electric drive train suppliers introduced 48 volt systems for the European and Chinese vehicle markets at AABC last week— to the surprise of many analysts.

The 48 volt concept has been dismissed as ‘without value’ by Menachem Anderman, perhaps the most prominent industry watcher.

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EU scrap lead price rigging cartel facing fines

Tue, 02/07/2017 - 11:05 -- Paul Crompton
EU scrap lead price rigging cartel facing fines

A cartel of European lead recyclers caught up in a price rigging scandal are set to find out how their much they will be fined by European Union antitrust authorities this month, report Reuters.

Last year Ecobat Technologies, Campine and Recylex owned up to price rigging with smaller rivals on the price of lead purchased from scrap dealers.

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Samsung targets European EV battery market with latest move

Wed, 09/07/2016 - 12:41 -- Paul Crompton
Samsung targets European EV battery market with latest move

Battery maker Samsung SDI has begun construction of its lithium-ion plant in Hungary to supply the European electric vehicle market.

The South Korean firm new facility in Hungary will enable it to establish a triangular production structure along with existing plants in Ulsan, Korea and Xian, China.

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