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Multiple chemical firms in battery advances

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.

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.

Nobian, Vulcan in lithium deal 

Chlor-alkali producer Nobian, which was separated from the rest of Nouryon last year, has signed an agreement with German-Australian lithium developer Vulcan Energy to assess the feasibility of producing lithium hydroxide from lithium chloride in Germany. 

Nobian has an electrolysis and crystallisation demo-plant at its site in Frankfurt, near to Vulcan’s own geothermal-lithium reservoir sites in the Upper Rhine Valley area, where it plans to build several geothermal plants and a central lithium-hydroxide plant. 

Umicore, VW in battery materials JV

Subject to final agreements and customary conditions, including regulatory approvals, Umicore and Volkswagen will establish a joint venture in precursor and cathode material production in Europe. This will begin in 2025 with initial production of 20 GWh/year for the plant in Salzgitter, Germany, and should grow to 160 GWh/year by 2030, enough to power about 2.2 million full electric vehicles.

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