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© BMW Electronics Production | October 15, 2018

Northvolt finds powerful partners in BMW and Umicore

The BMW Group, Northvolt and Umicore have formed a joint technology consortium in order to work closely together on the continued development of a complete – and sustainable – value chain for battery cells for electrified vehicles in Europe.
The companies aims to, via this project, press ahead with the sustainable industrialisation of battery cells in Europe and the associated acquisition of skills, from cell chemistry and development through to production and ultimately recycling.

The main objective is to make battery cells sustainable by establishing a closed life cycle loop. This starts with a recyclable cell design and continues with a manufacturing process that mostly uses renewable energy. The next step is a long period of primary use as a drive battery, possibly followed by another phase of secondary use as a stationary energy storage device. At the end of its life cycle, the cell is recycled and the raw materials reused, thereby completing the loop, a press release from the companies reads.

Klaus Fröhlich
© BMW Group
In view of the growing numbers of electrified vehicles, establishing a broad basis for procuring battery cells is becoming a matter of greater strategic significance for manufacturers. With Northvolt as a partner focused on sustainable production and the BMW Group in its capacity as a carmaker that is already developing its own battery cells today, this can be achieved to great effect. Because battery cells contain essential resources and materials, feeding these back into the loop becomes more and more important as electric vehicles multiply in number. This is where Umicore comes in. As a global player in the development and production of active materials for battery cells and resource recycling, coupled with BMW’s expertise in material and cell design, there are high hopes for some major achievements in this area too.

In order to accelerate the development of battery cells and make further progress in terms of cell chemistry and cell design, the BMW’s new battery cell centre of excellence will be inaugurated in summer 2019. Besides battery cell development, other key skills will be pooled there too, from the production of battery cell prototypes to build-to-print expertise.

“The sustainability approach of Northvolt makes it a highly appealing company for us, that was furthermore very receptive to our ideas,” says Klaus Fröhlich, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, responsible for Development, in the press release.

For this reason, the BMW Group and Northvolt have been collaborating for some time now as part of a strategic technology project. The collaboration will leverage the capabilities of Northvolt Labs, a scale-up line and research facility which will be used to test and industrialise battery cells before large-scale production, with the aim of developing cutting-edge green battery cells. The collaboration has been supported by BMW Group through an investment to enable the initial phase of the partnership.

Peter Carlsson
© Northvolt
”BMW and Northvolt have a shared commitment to reduce CO2 emissions from transportation. As batteries are becoming a key strategic question for car manufacturers, this partnership does not only mark a key milestone for Northvolt, it also highlights the importance of sustainable battery cells in the coming wave of electrification”, says Peter Carlsson, Co-Founder and CEO, Northvolt.

Umicore is the partner responsible for active anode and cathode materials development and recycling in the technology alliance. This collaboration will enable innovative and highly efficient production technologies to be applied to the production of active materials based on recycled metals. In addition, this project covers smart battery pack disassembly, screening for reutilisation of the battery cells and feeding the recycled resources back into active material production.

Umicore has recently announced it will soon start building a cathode material manufacturing facility in Europe and already runs a recycling plant for lithium-ion batteries in Europe.
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November 15 2018 5:25 pm V11.9.0-1