Albemarle and 6K to develop novel lithium battery materials

January 13, 2022

Advanced lithium materials provider Albemarle Corporation, headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA, and 6K, North Andover, Massachusetts, have signed a joint development agreement to explore the use of 6K’s patented UniMelt® plasma production platform to develop novel lithium battery materials.

“Albemarle is developing advanced lithium materials to enable breakthrough levels of lithium-ion battery performance,” commented Dr Glen Merfeld, Chief Technical Officer for Albemarle Lithium. “The UniMelt plasma technology opens new reaction pathways for lithium material innovation. Our collaboration with 6K has significant potential.”

In addition to this potential, 6K also states that its UniMelt platform promises benefits for sustainable manufacturing. For instance, if a conventional 16-GWh battery cathode production plant was converted to 6K’s UniMelt platform, it would reduce CO2 emissions by 70% (equal to 10 million trees per year); lower water consumption by 90% (6.3 million barrels per year) and reduce wastewater production by 100% (7 million barrels per year) while requiring a 50% smaller factory footprint.

“6K technology creates the opportunity for modular manufacturing allowing for a smaller footprint, faster construction, and new models for localisation. The collaboration sets a strong foundation not only for advanced material development but also for future commercialisation,” Merfeld added.

Dr Aaron Bent, 6K’s CEO, stated, “We are pleased to partner with a world leader in lithium technology and production. The agreement with Albemarle highlights the commitment of both organisations to drive battery material performance enhancements while introducing more sustainable production methods. We are thrilled to welcome Albemarle to our investor group and our engineers are eager to work alongside Albemarle’s team.”

It is reported that Albemarle has also made an undisclosed investment in 6K through Volta Energy Technologies. An existing financial investor in 6K, Volta is a venture capital firm launched in 2017 that also connects strategic investors like Albemarle with well-researched investment opportunities in the energy storage sector.

Dr Jeff Chamberlain, CEO of Volta Energy Technologies, said, “Albemarle’s engagement with 6K is yet another example of Albemarle’s commitment to maintain its technology leadership in lithium. Volta is thrilled that 6K continues to work directly with world leaders in the development of its ground-breaking manufacturing technology.”

For more background on 6K’s UniMelt, read our ‘A route to the sustainable production of battery materials with 6K’s plasma technology’ article in the Autumn 2021 issue of PM Review.

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