Mitsubishi Electric Europe and Novali Partner to Improve Large-Scale Battery Cell Production
“Industry and government both agree on the need to establish battery cell production in Europe. It is essential to meet demand and establish production independence for the EU trading bloc.” Roald De Meyer, Co
The signed memorandum of understanding between Belgium based battery company Novali and industrial automation solution supplier Mitsubishi Electric Europe B.V. demonstrates quite how soon that agreement may be realized.
Novali was set-up to finance and deliver multiple ‘giga factories’ across Europe, with production scheduled to start in 2025. In order to meet these deadlines Novali has signed a technology partnership agreement with Mitsubishi Electric Europe.
‘The relationship will encompass fast deployment of existing automation solutions for battery cell production, and then collaboration to build the value chain for the next generation of batteries manufactured in Europe.’ Klaus Petersen, Director Lithium Battery Industry EMEA, Mitsubishi Electric Europe BV
Mitsubishi Electric has long term experience in supplying automation solutions in the lithium cell manufacturing industry in Asia, and a well established customer base of machine builders in Europe. While the value chain in Europe still needs to be built up, the partners aim at creating a network of local machine builders capable of delivering a complete cell manufacturing line at gigawatt hour (GWh) scale. The focus will be on building best in class cells while avoiding wastage within the process, something that has so far been a challenge in the sector.
‘Lithium battery cell manufacturing is a relatively new field in Europe that is being built-up quickly. Any lessons already learned by our partners that we can take advantage of can help us to reach start of production (SOP) quicker. Scaling-up a factory to GWh capacity is ambitious and Novali sees this as an opportunity to build up a local value chain. That is why this project is so important in our opinion as the whole European electrification initiative will profit from that.’ Thomas De Clippeleer, Co founder.
The company also believes that its mission goes beyond commercial necessities and extends to the general challenge of sustainability. The target is to achieve CO2 neutral manufacture of batteries. One of the key aspects is reducing consumption of energy and raw materials, which is also why a high-level of factory automation is required. The cell manufacturing process itself is challenging and Mitsubishi Electric’s automation solutions have already proven how well they can manage this task, setting high production quality standards while still prioritizing energy efficiency.
Big plans and the benefits of being agile
‘Novali provides a platform for scaling up manufacturing of next generation battery technology. On the one hand we partner up with technology companies that are frontrunners in their respective field, and on the other hand we work together with automotive and industrial partners like Mitsubishi Electric for developing the supply chain and bringing the batteries into mass production.
As a startup, we are agile and able to quickly set up collaborations with technology companies. This allows us to jointly offer automotive vehicle OEMs flexibility and a future-proof mix of different technologies. We plan to manufacture four generations of battery cells. Lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO) or (LFP) cells for low-cost market segments, state of-the-art nickel manganese cobalt (NMC) cells transitioning to high voltage cathodes and silicon anodes for mid-market segments. Solid state or lithium metal batteries we predict will enter the market at a premium.
Another important aspect is that the batteries should be available at a high volume. This requires record investments in cell manufacturing and the downstream supply chain. We are working together with global investment funds and industrial partners setting up joint ventures with automotive companies to achieve this.
Manufacturing equipment and general factory automation is a crucial element in the supply chain. Mitsubishi Electric has decades of experience supplying automation products to all the incumbent cell and equipment manufacturers in Asia. The goal of this alliance is to tap into this expertise for establishing a local ecosystem of European manufacturers.’ Roald De Meyer.