Global lithium sulfur battery plants take shape

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By Nick Flaherty

UK lithium sulfur pioneer Oxis Energy is rolling out two global plants to make its batteries.

In Brazil, it has signed a 15 year lease agreement with Mercedes Benz Brazil (MBB) to take possession of a plant to build lithium sulfur battery cells and packs. The $50m project is expected to be operating by 2023 to supply electric trucks and aircraft.

At the same time it is breaking ground on a plant in Wales, UK, to produce electrodes and electrolyte for the cells.

In Brazil, Oxis is working with Minas Gerais Development Company (CODEMGE) on the plant (above) at the Mercedes site in Juiz de Fora, in the state of Minas Gerais in the south east of the country. The 20,000 sq ft plant will be developed by Nordika Pharmaceutical of Brazil and will be able to produce 5m lithium sulfur cells a year with the option to extend and double the estate and cell capacity.

“Within five years, this factory will be a centre of excellence producing world class lithium sulfur cells and battery systems,” said Huw Hampson-Jones, CEO of Oxis Energy. “Exporting worldwide to a range of markets including aviation, defence, Heavy Electric Vehicles (HEVs), Light Commercial Vehicles and large marine vessels, our aim is to aid the Brazilian Government to eliminate all internal combustion engine ICE buses over a period of 25 years, equating to the production of over 4bn cells.  Brazil has the third largest bus market in the world, with 700,000 ICE buses currently in circulation.”

The plant will be supplied in part by the new factory in Wales. The plant at Kenfig Hill near Port Talbot will be online in 2021 and will produce enough cathode and electrolyte to support the production of 500,000 cells, with room to expand further.

“This will become a global export unit to supply the material composition that creates the chemical reaction in our advanced rechargeable lithium sulfur vehicle battery systems,” said Hampson-Jones. “We are targeting the worldwide bus and truck markets, and for every 1,000 diesel buses we replace, we remove 500 barrels of oil. The factory in Wales will play a key role in achieving this, with the result of many more jobs created in Port Talbot.”

Oxis manufactures and produces all aspects and components in the making of the Li-S cell and does not use any toxic or rare earth material – a significant factor in the production of large battery systems for buses and trucks, it says. This is one of the reasons why researchers around the world are looking closely at the technology (see below): UN REPORT DRIVES COBALT-FREE AND SILICON BATTERY TECH. Oxis has a considerable lead in the technology, with over 43 patent families, 198 patents granted and 92 pending.

Oxis and CODEMGE are already working with several Brazilian blue chip companies regarding utilising its Li-S cells for the electrification of regional aircraft, buses and trucks and are collaborating with Brazilian aircraft manufacturers to build electric aircraft in the country. CODEMGE is also supporting OXIS Energy in its work with numerous US, European and Japanese aircraft producers.

Related research articles on lithium sulfur battery technology 


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