BASF to supply battery materials for the European automotive market

by Autocar Pro News Desk , 22 Oct 2018

Physical laboratory technician Joerg Mai (left) and chemist Dr Daniela Pfister (right) examine a sample of metal hydroxides for high-performance lithium-ion batteries

Germany-based BASF has selected Harjavalta, Finland, as the first location for battery materials production serving the European automotive market. The plant will be constructed adjacent to the nickel and cobalt refinery owned by Norilsk Nickel (Nornickel).

This investment is part of BASF’s €400 million (Rs 3,378 crore) multi-step investment plan announced last year and builds upon initial battery materials production started in Harjavalta in 2018.  Start-up is planned for late 2020, enabling the supply of approximately 300,000 full electric vehicles per year with BASF battery materials. The new plant in Harjavalta will utilise locally generated renewable energy sources, including hydro, wind and biomass.

Additionally, BASF and Nornickel have signed a long-term, market-based supply agreement for nickel and cobalt feedstocks from Nornickel’s metal refinery. The agreement will establish a locally sourced and secure supply of raw materials for battery production in Europe.

The investment in the new plant in Finland reinforces BASF’s support of the EU Commission’s agenda towards a European battery production value chain. The company claims that it is evaluating additional locations in Europe for the construction of new production plants for battery materials.

Kenneth Lane, president, BASF’s Catalysts division said, “Combined with our Nornickel cooperation, we are creating a strong platform that connects the efforts between industry leaders in raw material supply and battery materials technology and production.”

Jeffrey Lou, senior vice president, battery materials at BASF said, “Our high-nickel cathode materials are key to deliver enhanced energy density and vehicle range to our customers. With this world-scale production facility, BASF will be able to serve the European e-mobility growth strategies of key OEMs and cell suppliers with reliable supply and close collaboration.”

Sergey Batekhin, senior vice president, sales, procurement and innovation at Nornickel, confirmed, “The agreement is an important element of Nornickel’s broader strategy to expand its presence in the global battery materials market and establish long-term cooperation with leading producers of cathode active materials.”

He further added, “We believe that electric vehicles have significant potential to transform the global nickel industry, and Nornickel – as the world’s leading supplier of refined nickel products – is uniquely positioned to support this transformation. We feel especially proud that our company can play an important role in supporting the development of the green economy in Europe and globally. Nornickel reiterates its strong commitment to the sustainable long-term development of its resource base and being a responsible participant in the global materials supply chain.”

BASF claims to be conducting research on innovative cathode active materials for high-performance lithium-ion batteries. The cathode active material usually consists of mixed metal oxides.