The AEM Group has identified a window of opportunity to play a leading role in the development of the supply chain for the United Kingdom’s (UK) lithium-ion battery for electric vehicles (EV-LIB) industry.
With electric vehicle and battery makers increasingly keen to drive down costs and simplify supply chains by co-locating production, the future of the UK automotive industry hinges on its ability to scale up production capacity with a new generation of EV-LIB giga factories.
AEM is pursuing a strategy to become the UK’s supplier of choice for high purity alumina (HPA) coating for battery separators and a leading supplier to other European markets. The company plans to design and build a plant in the UK initially to produce 1,000 tpa of 5N HPA using UK-sourced kaolin as its feedstock. In March 2021, it was awarded a grant from the UK government’s Automotive Transformation Fund (ATF) to support its feasibility studies for this project.
Launched in July 2020, the ATF builds on the significant R&D base supported through the Advanced Propulsion Centre since 2013, helping to form the last part of the bridge into industrialisation at scale. The programme can provide support for investment in the key technology areas of batteries, fuel cells, motors, drives and power electronics, working to develop their upstream supply chains as well as circling back to address the opportunities around recycling technologies to enable the UK to be globally competitive.
The new plant’s design will be a “next generation” derivative of the Cap Chat plant incorporating many process improvements to achieve lowest manufacturing costs. It will adopt a modular approach based on factory manufactured units, which will be delivered to site for final assembly, which will facilitate rapid expansion of capacity in the future and form the design template for the company’s plans to establish HPA manufacturing in other markets.
The design and related feasibility studies will be conducted in 2021 with the aim of building and commissioning the plant by early 2023.