Elkem has successfully commissioned its industrial pilot for battery materials in Kristiansand, Norway, starting industrial scale pilot production for customers. As the next step towards large-scale production, Elkem has set up Vianode as a new company and brand dedicated to develop and produce sustainable and high quality active anode materials to meet the needs of the exponentially growing electric vehicles marketplace.
Vianode has been established as a fully-owned subsidiary of Elkem and Elkem’s existing activities in advanced battery materials will become part of the new company. Elkem is currently inviting external industrial and financial partners to participate. Vianode is continuing its active recruitment for key positions, including the organisation for the planned facility at Herøya Industrial Park.
By establishing Vianode as a dedicated company for advanced battery materials, Elkem ensures full focus on developing this business and progressing the large-scale battery plant towards a planned final investment decision in 2021, according to CEO of Elkem, Michael Koenig.
Vianode’s industrial pilot in Kristiansand, Norway, has already started qualification processes with several battery cell producers.
Reducing CO2 emissions by more than 90%
Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries typically consist of four main components: An anode, a cathode, an electrolyte and a separator. Today, anode materials are one of the largest greenhouse gas emission contributors in battery cell production. Vianode intends to reduce emissions from this part of the battery materials value chain by more than 90% compared to conventional production.
Vianode is currently in dialogue with a number of battery cell manufacturers globally and entered into a memorandum of understanding related to the supply of battery materials with FREYR in October 2020. A positive investment decision for a large-scale battery materials plant in Norway requires competitive public support mechanisms and supportive government policies. Vianode has already received NOK 10 million in financial support from Enova, the Norwegian government body to contribute to the low emission society, to fund the initial planning of the potential large-scale battery materials plant in Norway. Additional applications will be submitted to Enova over the coming months in relation to the large-scale plant.
Vianode has also previously received grants from Innovation Norway related to the pilot plant, and is on the shortlist for support from EU’s Innovation Fund with preliminary scores in the upper tier in relation to ”degree of innovation“, ”project maturity“ and ”relative GHG emissions”.
Vianode is continuing to carry out advanced research on silicon-graphite composite materials for improved battery performance for the years to come. The company is participating in the Hydra and 3beLiEVe research projects on next generation lithium-ion batteries, coordinated by SINTEF and the Austrian Institute of Technology, respectively. Both projects have received funding from the EU Horizon programme. Vianode is also investing in R&D on recycling of battery-grade graphite which is supported by the Norwegian Research Council.
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