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Johnson Matthey to build eLNO battery materials demonstration plant; targeting EV batteries; full production plant in 2021/22

Johnson Matthey (JM) is building a demonstration-scale plant in Clitheroe, UK to manufacture next-generation battery materials to power electric vehicles. The new, multi-million pound plant will have a capacity of 1,000 tonnes per year and will be used to provide sample quantities of the company’s high energy, low-cobalt eLNO—lithium nickel oxide—battery material (earlier post).

Work is also underway on the design of JM’s first full-scale commercial manufacturing plant for eLNO. This will be located in mainland Europe and is due to start production in 2021/22.

The company said that its demonstration plant will be an important step in the commercialization of eLNO to support the qualification process with customers and to enable JM to build its market presence in next-generation battery materials.

Johnson Matthey says that eLNO represents a step-change in energy density compared to NMC(622), NMC(811) and NCA materials. The material is designed to enable large-scale adoption of pure battery electric vehicles with greater range and lifetime.

… we benchmarked [eLNO] against NMC 811, 622 and, of course, NCA. The key differentiator for eLNO is that we’re able to have higher energy density at lower cost. So, if you think of that important ratio of dollars per kilowatt hour, we have the lowest total cost, dollars-per-kilowatt basis than of any of the other materials. But more importantly, we’re able to do that without sacrificing any of the other attributes.

So, we’re equal to or better than the performance across, again, 622 or 811. That’s the key differentiator here, is that we’re able to offer better performance at a lower cost while not sacrificing recharge, while we’re not sacrificing power, we’re not sacrificing safety. And that’s the key element that’s there. So, we’re able to maintain performance across all of the key performance factors.

—Alan Nelson, Sector Chief Executive, New Markets and Group Chief Technology Officer, Johnson Matthey during JM New Markets Sector Conference Call Dec 2017


JM is also at work on next-generation eLNO, and also sees eLNO as a long-term attractive options for solid-state batteries.


JM has chosen its existing site at Clitheroe to locate the new plant. Nickel is a key component of eLNO and the Clitheroe operations have extensive experience in the scale-up and manufacture of nickel-containing products.



I tried to track down the answers to two questions:

How much cobalt does eLNO actually use?

How fast can it be introduced on a large scale?

And found a conference call from last year with the CTO speaking:


He was lucky enough not to have any dry, boneheaded questions.

He very specifically declined to answer on the actual cobalt usage though (pg17) both because they are varying the mix for different needs, and because it is commercially sensitive.

On speed of introduction, there was this question on page 14:

'but if your stage-gate process does come up with the confirmation of a very high probability of commercial success for eLNO, and given that about 10,000 tonnes is roughly 100,000 cars and you split that with seven companies and you – in the scheme of the auto space, it's not a lot to go around'

The CTO also talks throughout on the need to prove both the technology and the costs at every stage.

So the answer is clearly that no really major impact can be expected until at least 2025 at minimum.


The manganese cells AESC make use NO cobalt.


Johnson Matthey licensed the CAM-7 Lithium Nickel Oxide cathode from CAMX Power. A November 14, 2017 MIT Technology Review article "This Startup Developed a Promising New Battery Material—and a Novel Survival Strategy" discusses The CAM-7 Cathode. It points out that high-nickel cathodes run into stability problems that shorten a battery’s life. CAMX developed a molecularly engineered composition that stabilizes the materials by placing small amounts of cobalt in crucial areas. Further information can be found in the CAMX patent application WO2017139477A1.

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