Aspiring European battery gigafactory developer Northvolt (earlier post) has begun the the construction of Northvolt Labs. Once completed in 2019, the scale-up and research facility will be used to develop, test and industrialize lithium-ion battery cells before large-scale production.
The facility will enable fully process representative manufacturing and allow a faster and more efficient time to market for unique formulations, cell formats and technology. At Northvolt Labs, Northvolt will be able to fully validate product and process development, from active material for finished cell, for multiple form factors. Capacity is planned to be 125 MWh/year.
The facility will be built in Västerås, outside of Stockholm, Sweden. Västerås is home to several multinational companies with world-class engineering and R&D competence in electrification and process optimization.
With support from the EIB and InnovFin – EU Finance for Innovators Energy Demonstration Projects facility, the Swedish Energy Agency, and industrial partners, the establishment of Northvolt Labs is a key step towards the launch of Northvolt’s large-scale battery cell factory, with ultimate planned capacity of 32 GWh by 2023. It also marks the first step towards the creation of a European value chain for large-scale battery cell manufacturing.
With the mission to enable the transition to renewable energy and electrification, Northvolt in March 2017 launched its plans to build Europe’s largest lithium-ion battery cell factory. During the past 12 months it has made progress towards achieving the goal.
Northvolt is now entering the next phase, going from a planning to a physical phase. With a number of key partners and customers onboard, and with major progress made within cell, product and process development, we are now ready to take the next step.—Peter Carlsson, Co-Founder and CEO, Northvolt
Northvolt has entered into strategic industrial partnerships with ABB, Vestas and Scania. (Earlier post.) The company also announced two new partnerships with Canadian lithium supplier Nemaska Lithium and Japanese battery production equipment manufacturer SECI.
Nemaska Lithium Inc. and Northvolt AB signed an agreement in principle providing for the supply by Nemaska to Northvolt of battery-grade lithium hydroxide.
Under this agreement in principle, Nemaska Lithium agreed to supply, through its wholly-owned subsidiary Nemaska Lithium Shawinigan Transformation Inc., and Northvolt agreed to purchase, on a take-or-pay basis, up to 5,000 but not less than 3,500 metric tonnes per year of lithium hydroxide produced at Nemaska’s commercial plant in Shawinigan, for a 5-year supply period commencing upon the start of commercial production at both the Shawinigan Plant and Northvolt’s projected Skellefteå factory in Sweden.
In connection with this supply of lithium hydroxide, Northvolt has agreed to deliver to Nemaska a €10-million promissory note which, at Nemaska’s option, can be converted into voting shares of Northvolt in connection with the N Factory funding, or redeemed at cost plus an agreed-upon interest rate.
The supply of lithium hydroxide and the issue of the promissory note, as contemplated, are subject to the conclusion of a mutually satisfactory definitive supply agreement and to the prior approval of the board of directors of both parties.
Northvolt has also established a unit called Northvolt Battery Systems—a team dedicated to developing complete battery systems, which includes cells, battery, data management systems and thermal control functions, for key customer segments. The first battery module prototype was completed in February of this year. Northvolt has been selected by Epiroc as a supplier of battery systems for zero-emissions mining machines.
Northvolt’s cell design team delivered the first test cell earlier this year.
Northvolt has also initiated a recycling program has been initiated with Chalmers University with the aim to industrialize the recycling process of lithium-ion batteries. By dismantling and recycling raw materials on elementary level, Northvolt believes that resources can be taken care of and prepared to the quality level of primary material to reintroduce in the production line.
Northvolt last year initiated a fundraising round with the ambition to raise up to €100 million to finance the launch of Northvolt Labs. Those funds have been secured and exceeded. The team will later this year initiate a larger funding round to support the establishment of the first part of the large-scale factory in Skellefteå.
After an initiative from Maroš Šefčovic, Vice-President for the Energy Union in the European Commission, the industry led EU Battery Alliance was formed during the fall. The alliance will work to create a comprehensive, European-wide, roadmap for battery manufacturing. Northvolt has been an active part of the EU Battery Alliance from the very beginning, and will continue to contribute towards this initiative in order ensure continued European competitiveness.