Lithium producer opens R&D center to accelerate innovation with EV batteries

Albemarle, the world’s largest manufacturer of lithium products, according to Bloomberg, will open an R&D center in July to accelerate progress in innovations such as batteries for electric cars.

The American company calls the center the Battery Materials Innovation Center and says it wants to conduct research here into lithium hydroxide and lithium carbonate ‘growth platforms’. The company also wants to conduct research into ‘advanced energy storage materials’. At BMIC, BMIC, North Carolina, Albemarle can also synthesize new materials, characterize and analyze the properties of materials, explore how to scale materials, and explore how to integrate materials into battery cells.

BMIC will have a dry room with a multi-layer pouch cell line that can produce battery cells in smartphone format. CTO Glen Merfeld explains to Bloomberg that the company can, for example, make samples of batteries for electric cars with new techniques in order to test these new techniques. This means that the company does not have to make large batteries to conduct research into this. Previously, Albemarle had to outsource this process to other companies, which would take months. Albemarle hopes to be able to carry out this research into new batteries more quickly with the pouch cell line.

Albemarle also wants to develop thin lithium anodes to increase the energy density of batteries. For example, they first want to apply ‘advanced lithium metal rolling ‘ to be able to make lithium foils with a thickness of twenty micrometers. Later, it plans to develop lithium foil with a thickness of three to five micrometers, using technology that is still under development.

With these developments, Albemarle hopes that car manufacturers can switch from batteries with graphite anodes to lithium anodes. This could double the energy density of batteries and halve the costs, the producer says.