Swedish battery gigafactory developer Northvolt has started construction of the Northvolt Labs. Once completed in 2019, the cutting edge scale-up and research facility will be used to develop, test and industrialize lithium-ion battery cells before large-scale production.
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. It also marks the first step towards the creation of a European value chain for large-scale battery cell manufacturing.
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.
Northvolt Labs 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.
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 significant progress has been made towards achieving the goal.
When old technology is phased out and overtaken by electrification in the coming years, batteries are going to become the differentiating factor. With increasing technology differentiation and substantial growth of R&D efforts from sophisticated customers, especially in the transportation industry, our strategy with Northvolt Labs is to provide a facility for them to develop their own design, then test, industrialize and qualify it, before taking it to large-scale production, said Peter Carlsson, Co-Founder and CEO, Northvolt.
– Site selection: After conducting an in-depth assessment spanning over six months of ten potential factory locations in Sweden and Finland, Northvolt announced a partnership with two Swedish municipalities for the establishment of Northvolt Labs in Västerås and Northvolt’s first large-scale battery factory in Skellefteå.
– Environmental permits: Northvolt has, well ahead of schedule, received the environmental permit for the Northvolt Labs operations in Västerås and is in final negotiations around the permit for the large-scale manufacturing facility in Skellefteå.
– Strategic partnerships: Northvolt has since launch entered into strategic industrial partnerships with ABB, Vestas and Scania. The company today announced two new partnerships with Canadian lithium supplier Nemaska Lithium and Japanese battery production equipment manufacturer SECI.
– Battery systems: Driven by customer demand, a unit called Northvolt Battery Systems has been established – 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 today announced it has been selected by Epiroc as a supplier of battery systems for zero-emissions mining machines.
– Cell design: Major strides have been made in cell design. Based on the highest industry standards, which will be implemented in every step of the manufacturing process, the Northvolt cell design team delivered the first test cell earlier this year.
– Recycling: 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.
– Supplier relationships: Northvolt has developed extensive relationships with key suppliers all around the world. These relationships have enabled the team, as a first step already before the establishment of Northvolt Labs, to develop a decentralized demoline on-site at each supplier’s facility to initiate R&D projects in order to test machines, processes and products.
– Raw materials: Northvolt has a clear roadmap to source a responsibly mined, clean and secure feed of material. Northvolt today announced the formation of a strategic partnership for the supply of battery grade lithium hydroxide with Nemaska Lithium Inc.
– Team: The Northvolt team has grown from 12 people at launch to over 100 people today. The team has 27 different nationalities and people with backgrounds from a broad array of companies, such as Scania, Tesla, McKinsey, ABB and Renault Nissan.
– Financing: Northvolt last year initiated a fundraising round with the ambition to raise up to EUR 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.
– The EU Battery Alliance: 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.[source: Northvolt]