Lithium Werks is a lithium-ion battery manufacturer that has its headquarters located in the Netherlands. In October, it announced a partnership with the Chinese Zhejiang Jiashan Economic and Technological Development Zone Industry Corporation. They signed an agreement to construct a gigafactory on 60 hectares of land in Jiangsheng, a city near Shanghai.
This week, the company announced that construction is set to start in 2019 and that the factory will have “an initial annual production capacity of 8GWh.” Once operational, this will be the first battery Gigafactory in China built by a European company. The company has also stated that it expects its revenue to surpass $1 billion by 2020.
In a previous press release, Lithium Werks had already stated its ambitious plans to have an annual production capacity of 500 GWh in 2030, a number which even surpasses some of the biggest names in the battery industry. (Tesla’s announced plans cover a capacity of ~150 GWh, but multiple gigafactories are in various stages of serious planning and their capacities are not yet taken into account. Similarly, LG Chem has only announced a 2020 target, 90GWh.)
Considering the company’s ambitious plans to reach a 500 GWh capacity in just 12 years, it is safe to assume that their Chinese factory capacity will expand rapidly and that it will be announcing more gigafactories in the near future.
“As batteries are an essential part of the energy transition, Lithium Werks’ plans to build multiple gigafactories across the world. This will be part of a 15-to-20-year program that mirrors the long-term business models of the wind and solar industry.”
What most people might not know is that this company is actually a merger of 4 companies. Lithium Werks is comprised of Super B (Netherlands), Valence Technologies (US) and part of A123, which was originally an American company that was bought by the Wanxiang Group, a Chinese company, in 2012 after A123 filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy. Wanxiang still owns A123 and its prismatic battery cell plants and technology, while Lithium Werks only acquired A123’s cylindrical battery plants.
“The new global company serves over 1,000 customers in nearly 50 countries and offers jobs to over 550 employees. With more than 400 patents for lithium technology, the company is a leading player when it comes to technical knowhow.”
There are many kinds of lithium-ion batteries out there. What sets Lithium Werks apart from the competition is its lithium-iron-magnesium-phosphate (LFMP) battery cells and “NanoPhosphate technology,” which is supposed to be an improvement upon the standard lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) batteries that the companies it acquired have been focusing on for many years. Unfortunately, its LFMP chemistry batteries are only available in a format similar to a car’s starter battery and offer a maximum of about 5 kWh of energy storage capacity.
So, while a bunch of them can be chained together with the company’s battery management system, you would need at least 10 to have as much capacity as the standard range Tesla Model 3, or around 6 to match the BMW i3’s capacity, and that is simply not very space efficient. Once the company starts making these batteries in a prismatic or cylindrical cell format, then car manufacturers might become more interested in their LFMP products. For now, if cost-efficient, these products can still be used for stationary energy storage systems, buses, or large vans, where space and size is less of an issue. If available information is to be believed, these battery packs might power some of Workhorse’s vans, which UPS recently ordered 1000 of.
This is the first factory Lithium Werks is building since it acquired Valence Technologies, A123, and Super B. Lithium Werks hasn’t specified which products will use the Li-ion batteries this factory will be producing. Perhaps we will soon hear of some exciting new products and battery chemistries from the combined patents and technologies of the companies that together formed Lithium Werks.
While 500 GWh sounds impossible today, Valence Technologies has a lot of potential. CleanTechnica is currently conducting a massive study of the battery industry and we can already tell you that when looking at the rapid progress manufacturers have made in the last 5 years alone, 500 GWh by 2030 is not going to be easy but is not out-of-this-world crazy either.