Battery highlights: Henkel opens battery centre in Germany; Ascend Elements raises US$542 mn to speed up production of battery materials in US

Henkel opens battery centre in Germany

Adhesives maker Henkel has launched its Battery Engineering Centre in Germany. The opening solidifies the company`s role as a premier design and innovation partner for automotive OEMs and battery manufacturers worldwide, it adds.

The centre features two high-tech facilities – a Battery Application Centre which has opened in August 2023 and a Battery Test Centre which will start operating in 2024. The laboratories have been designed to foster collaborative development of next-generation electric vehicle (EV) battery solutions. Accommodating a team of dedicated EV battery experts, known as Henkel’s esteemed ‘Fuel the Future’ team, the centre focuses on pivotal innovation areas such as safety, sustainability, thermal management, integrated battery design, and battery cell technology.

”The Battery Engineering Centre, housed inside Henkel`s EUR130-million Inspiration Centre, represents Henkel's unwavering commitment to spearheading innovation and technological advancement in the E-Mobility sector,” says George Kazantzis, Global Head of Henkel`s Automotive Components business unit.

Equipped with the latest facilities and technologies for battery assembly, disassembly, material application, and advanced modelling and simulation, the centre boasts advanced battery testing capabilities. These capabilities facilitate exhaustive examination of a battery pack’s performance through temperature cycling and charge and discharge processes. Crucially, the data generated is seamlessly integrated with the simulation team, ensuring a harmonious integration of real-world testing and digital modelling. This powerful synergy offers unparalleled flexibility and savings for our customers and optimszes and accelerates the design and material selection process.

Designed to handle all types of full-scale battery systems, at full pack level and confidential prototypes, the centre is TISAX certified, the automotive industry’s global standard on information security assessments.

In addition, Henkel has partnered with AVL, one of the world’s leading mobility technology companies for development, simulation and testing in the automotive industry, and in other sectors, to equip the test centre with the latest tools, equipment, and technology for full-scale battery system testing, including a climatic chamber, following the automotive industry standards. By collaborating with Atlas Copco on their powerful high-end precision and smart dosing equipment, the company has further enhanced the capabilities of the Battery Engineering Centre. This enables customers to implement reliable, fast, and sustainable processes for battery assembly, running and testing all existing and innovative materials from small development scale up to series speed.

As the pioneering facility of its kind, the Battery Engineering Centre in Duesseldorf represents just the beginning. Henkel says it plans to establish a global network of Battery Engineering Centres with upcoming locations in the US and China.

Ascend Elements raises US$542 mn to speed up production of battery materials in US

In other news, Ascend Elements, a US-based manufacturer of sustainable, engineered battery materials for electric vehicles, announced it has raised US$542 million in new equity investments, including US$460 million in Series D investments and US$82 million of additional investments from earlier this year.

Ascend Elements' Series D round was led by Decarbonization Partners, Singapore-based investment firm Temasek, and Qatar Investment Authority (QIA). Other investors include Tenaska, Alliance Resource Partners, PULSE - CMA CGM Energy Fund, BHP Ventures, Fifth Wall, Hitachi Ventures, Mirae Asset, At One Ventures, Agave Partners, Alumni Ventures and other leading global investors.

The US$542 million equity financing is one of the largest cleantech equity private placements in the US of 2023 to date, and one of the top 10 equity private placements in the US this year.

The funding will advance construction of Ascend Elements' Apex 1 facility in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, which will be North America's first sustainable cathode precursor (pCAM) and cathode active material (CAM) manufacturing facility.

CAM and pCAM are engineered materials made to precise microstructure specifications for use in electric vehicle batteries. While most of the world's pCAM and CAM are made in China from primary (mined) metals, U.S.-based Ascend Elements is commercializing an ultra-efficient method to make sustainable pCAM and CAM from black mass, the traditional output of lithium-ion battery recycling facilities.

The patented Hydro-to-Cathode direct precursor synthesis process eliminates several intermediary steps in the traditional cathode manufacturing process and provides significant economic and carbon-reduction benefits.

Several peer-reviewed studies have shown Ascend Elements' recycled battery materials perform as well as similar materials made from virgin (or mined) sources while reducing carbon emissions by up to 93%.

Over the last 12 months, Ascend Elements has achieved several significant milestones, including signing its first commercial scale pCAM contract, starting construction of its Apex 1 facility, and securing two US Department of Energy (DOE) grants.

In June 2023, Ascend Elements signed a US$1 billion contract to supply sustainable pCAM starting in Q4 2024 with options to expand the multi-year contract to a larger quantity with a value of up to US$5 billion. In October 2022,

Ascend Elements began construction of its one-of-a-kind Apex 1 facility on a 140-acre site in southwest Kentucky. When complete, the 1-million-sq-ft facility will produce enough sustainable pCAM for 750,000 electric vehicles/year.

Ascend Elements was also awarded two US Department of Energy grants totalling US$480 million, part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) in October 2022.


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