Johnson Matthey to site battery materials demo plant in UK

Johnson Matthey are going to make samples of new battery materials for electric vehicles at a factory to be sited in Clitheroe, United Kingdom.

The global science and sustainable technology company announced recently that the “demonstration scale plant” will be manufacturing “next generation battery materials.”

battery materials - charging an EV - pixabay-1023035The new plant will make samples of next generation battery materials for use in pure battery electric vehicles. Image: pixabay-1023035

Its purpose will be to provide global customers with sample batches of the company’s new enhanced lithium nickel oxide (eLNO) battery material.

Vehicle manufacturers will test the Johnson Matthey (JM) samples in their “qualification process” to help them decide whether to use eLNO in their new all-electric models.

Foothold in market for new battery materials

JM see the multi-million pound plant – which will be able to make 1,000 tonnes of battery materials per year – as an “important step” in bringing eLNO to market.

They also hope that it will help to position JM as a significant producer of next generation battery materials.

The reaction from customers who have already started testing eLNO battery materials has been “extremely positive,” say JM.

The technology is designed with a prime aim in mind: to spur the mass-production of “pure battery electric vehicles with greater range and lifetime.”

‘To deliver break out growth in battery materials’

The existing facility at Clitheroe already has a track record of upscaling and manufacturing of products containing nickel, a prime component of eLNO. The new plant will build on this.

The company’s strategy, says JM chief executive Robert MacLeod, “is to deliver break out growth in battery materials” and enable “the journey to pollution-free roads.”

The FTSE 100 company is one of many in the race to develop and make new battery materials. A race in which the U.K. is “looking to take the lead.”

As part of its Industrial Strategy, the U.K. government are helping British organizations get ahead of other countries in the race by providing significant amounts of money.

In July 2017 they launched a £246 million investment program intended to help the U.K. become a global leader in design, development, and manufacture of new electric battery technology.

Large-scale manufacturing will be in mainland Europe

In the meantime, JM are planning to locate large-scale commercial manufacturing of eLNO battery materials in mainland Europe, with production starting during 2021-2022.

Earlier this year, the company announced the sale of their automotive battery systems business in the U.K. to the Fortune 500 global power technology and engine manufacturer Cummins.

One of the conditions of the sale was that the two companies would work together on the “development of high energy battery materials for commercial heavy-duty applications.”

The sale also frees up JM to focus on eLNO and other new high energy battery materials.