The new consortium will work to develop a complete and sustainable value chain for battery cells for EVs in Europe
The BMW Group, Northvolt and Umicore are laying the basis for a sustainable value chain for automotive battery cells in Europe, from development and production right through to recycling.
The chief objective is to make battery cells sustainable by establishing a closed life cycle loop. This starts with a recyclable cell design and continues with a manufacturing process that mostly uses renewable energy. The next step is a long period of primary use as a drive battery, possibly followed by another phase of secondary use as a stationary energy storage device. At the end of its life cycle, the cell is recycled and the raw materials reused, thereby completing the loop.
This can be achieved to great effect with Northvolt as a partner focused on sustainable production and the BMW Group in its capacity as a carmaker that is already developing its own battery cells. Umicore is the partner responsible for active anode and cathode materials development and recycling in the technology alliance. As electric mobility continues to expand, growing needs will not be limited to sustainable extraction of raw materials – recovering materials that have already been used will also become increasingly important in easing the burden on raw material production.
The BMW Group and Northvolt have been collaborating for some time now as part of a strategic technology project. The collaboration will leverage the capabilities of Northvolt Labs, a scale-up line and research facility, which will be used to test and industrialise battery cells before large-scale production. The collaboration has been supported by BMW Group through an investment to enable the initial phase of the partnership.
In Europe, the BMW Group has already been manufacturing modules with supplied battery cells before using these modules to build complete batteries for plug-in hybrids and battery-powered electric vehicles. With its battery cell production, Northvolt provides the final element needed for purely European production of complete batteries for electric mobility applications in future, resulting in a substantial reduction in carbon emissions at the same time.
The BMW Group intends to open a new battery cell centre of excellence in summer 2019, which is expected to accelerate the development of battery cells and make further progress in terms of cell chemistry and cell design.