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JM sells Battery Materials

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 opens cathode materials R&D centre

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 to invest with and in 6K

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.

JM to close Battery Materials

Following discussions with various parties about a sale of its Battery Materials business, Johnson Matthey (JM) has announced that it has not been able to reach an agreement to sell the business as a going concern. It is therefore beginning consultation with employees about proposed closure of the business and pursuing the sale of its individual assets.

Cabot exits purification

Cabot has agreed to sell its Purification Solutions business, which makes activated carbon for a wide range of applications, to private equity firm One Equity Partners. President and CEO Sean Keohane said that this “will allow us to focus resources on our core business segments and invest in areas where we see strong future growth and innovation potential for Cabot, such as battery materials”.

Johnson Matthey to exit battery materials

Following a detailed review, Johnson Matthey has concluded that the potential returns from its Battery Materials business “will not be adequate to justify further investment”. It will therefore seek to sell all or parts of the business.

Although demand has been growing strongly, the company said, “so is competition from alternative technologies and other manufacturers” and the market is becoming commoditised. JM had explored partnerships in the field but found that “our capital intensity is too high compared with other more established large-scale, low-cost producers”.

Koreans invest in battery materials

Three South Korean conglomerates have announced major investments into battery materials in the past month, in anticipation of projected market growth from under €30 billion/year in 2021 to nearer €75 billion in 2026. SK Materials is to build a lithium-silicon battery materials, while Posco Chemical will build a cathode materials plant and LG Chem has even bigger, longer-term plans.

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