Battery technology specialist Nano One (TSX:NANO/FRA:LBMB) has announced major plans to scale up its processes for commercial qualification and production. This is a big move for the company, which previously worked with partners on the basis of license agreements. The company has reported it is planning the construction of a multi-1000 tpa industrial scale commercial demonstration line in Quebec.
Nano One currently develops and makes kilogram scale cathode active materials (CAM) using its patented One-Pot Process in a 1 tonne per annum (tpa) R&D pilot facility located in Burnaby, BC, Canada. This technology has enabled Nano One to successfully demonstrate to strategic interests, a quantifiable reduced environmental footprint, capital costs and operating costs while meeting or exceeding performance criteria. It has a growing list of active collaborators, including more than 15 auto OEMs, battery suppliers, cathode makers and miners, and more than 20 other evaluation programs.
The company’s scale-up efforts are being focused initially on Nano One’s most mature product, lithium iron phosphate (LFP), to address growing demand in the automotive and energy storage markets in North America, Europe and other emerging jurisdictions.
“The global lithium ion battery materials market is ramping to millions and tens of millions of tonnes to meet terawatt-hours of forecasted energy storage,” said Nano One CEO Dan Blondal, “however, there are inefficiencies and by-products in the existing supply chain that do not readily scale. We cannot landfill billions of kilograms, we cannot generate more waste than we recycle and we cannot be burning through precious energy sources with inefficient processes. Nano One’s technologies are unique in addressing these costly and wasteful shortcomings in the battery supply chain and we intend to drive change in cathode materials manufacturing for a cleaner and more efficient future.”
Expansion to support technology commercialisation
To support its technology commercialisation plans, Nano One has incorporated a subsidiary in the province of Québec, as Nano One Materials Québec Inc. (Matériaux Nano One Québec Inc.), so that it may leverage the province’s skilled and experienced workforce, raw materials, low-cost hydro-electric energy and its decades-in-the-making mines-to-mobility battery materials ecosystem.
Nano One says it is evaluating options for its 100 tpa multi-CAM pilot line, starting with LFP, which will serve as a launchpad for sulfate-free cathode production and technology validation. It will also be a collaborative hub to evaluate raw material inputs in different forms with the aim of eliminating the wasteful by-products and inefficiencies entrenched in overseas supply chains. Recruitment is underway, in both Québec and British Columbia, for new job positions to support these plans.
Collaboration with automotive partners
Nano One also said it is continuing to successfully collaborate with all of its automotive partners, at various stages with each, and advancing the development of cathode materials, supply chain economics and engineering plans to meet their future growth plans.
Following optimisation work in the One-Pot Process for LFP in 2021, Nano One is working with various collaborators on the evaluation of its LFP materials. The future growth of the LFP market opportunity is driving the initiatives in Québec towards 100tpa piloting.
Phase 1 of Nano One’s joint development work with Johnson Matthey on its eLNO high nickel materials was recently completed, successfully, and the project has wound down in anticipation of Johnson Matthey’s exit from the battery materials business. Insights gained in this project are relevant to the Nano One’s scale-up plans with other materials. Nano One reported that it continues to evaluate and develop a range of different nickel-rich NMC (lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide) materials, techno-economic models and engineering plans in collaboration with automotive OEMs and other strategic interests in the lithium ion battery supply chain.
Asian cathode partnership
Nano One said it has also successfully met LNM project milestones with its currently undisclosed Asian cathode partner and is evaluating its next steps for pilot scale activities. A number of end-user collaborations and material testing programs are underway with the company to demonstrate the benefits of its LNM materials in next-gen high voltage batteries.
The company is also building relationships with global mining companies and has successfully validated their products, including nickel, lithium and iron, as raw material inputs to Nano One’s sulfate-free M2CAM process. Nano One has also successfully transitioned its work with CBMM to niobium coating of higher nickel NMC formulations and the joint development of battery grade manganese for NMC and LNM is underway in collaboration with Euro Manganese.
“The Government of Canada, the President of the United States, as well as provincial and state governments have prioritised the creation of a North American battery supply chain, with tens of billions of dollars focused on processing critical minerals into cathode active materials,” said Adam Johnson, VP of External Affairs at Nano One. “As multinational anchor investors begin pouring into Canada, Nano One believes that its technology and strategy can help differentiate North American supply chains by scaling with less complexity and cost, and without the waste implications. We are engaging with various levels of governments and strategic parties to support this critical initiative and we look forward to sharing more news as these partnerships develop and as we continue to execute on our business plans.”