Reliance to acquire cobalt-free battery specialist Lithium Werks

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The Mukesh Ambani-led diversified business conglomerate Reliance Industries is betting on cobalt-free lithium iron phosphate (LFP) technology in addition to sodium-ion for its proposed fully integrated energy storage giga-factory in India.

Following the acquisition of sodium-ion battery provider Faradion, Reliance Industries, through its arm Reliance New Energy Limited (Reliance), has now signed the agreement to acquire substantially all of the assets of Netherlands-headquartered LFP battery specialist Lithium Werks for US$ 61 million. The investment also provides funding for future growth.

The Lithium Werks assets being acquired by Reliance include its entire patent portfolio, manufacturing facility in China, key business contracts, and hiring of existing employees as a going concern. 

Reliance’s choice of LFP battery technology is in line with the global trend towards cobalt-free cathode chemistries as cobalt availability and price volatility pose a challenge for manufacturing metal-oxide chemistry-based batteries like NMC and LCO. About 60% of the world’s cobalt supply is believed to come from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Further, cobalt mining has been linked to human rights abuses, corruption, environmental destruction, and child labor.

Speaking about Lithium Werks acquisition, Mukesh Ambani, Chairman of Reliance Industries Limited, said, “LFP is fast gaining as one of the leading cell chemistries due to its cobalt and nickel free batteries, low cost, and longer life compared to NMC and other chemistries. Lithium Werks is one of the leading LFP cell manufacturing companies globally and has a vast patent portfolio and a management team that brings tremendous experience of innovation across the LFP value chain. We are looking forward to working with the Lithium Werks team and are excited about the pace at which we are progressing towards establishing an end-to-end battery manufacturing and supply ecosystem for India markets.”

“Along with Faradion, Lithium Werks will enable us to accelerate our vision of establishing India at the core of developments in global battery chemistries and help us provide a secure, safe, and high-performance supply chain to the large and growing Indian EV and Energy Storage markets.” 

The transaction is expected to complete by June 2022. 

Lithium Werks 

Founded in 2017, Lithium Werks designs, engineers and manufactures cobalt-free and high-performance LFP batteries ranging from cells to custom battery modules for industrial, medical, marine, energy storage, commercial transportation, and other highly demanding applications. 

The battery specialist has operations in the US, Europe, and China (two wholly-owned manufacturing plants in Changzhou and Suzhou, China). It has 219 patents related to the LFP process and technology, an exciting product development pipeline, and an integrated cell manufacturing capability. Its patented Nanophosphate cathode powder (developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) delivers high power, safety, and cycle life performance and is more ESG friendly than competing technologies.

The acquisition of Lithium Werks and Faradion Limited further strengthens Reliance’s technology portfolio for large-scale manufacture of key supply chain materials (like cathode, anode, electrolyte) as well as cells—giving Reliance the flexibility to produce batteries and battery module systems consisting of different chemistries for various applications across energy storage and mobility.

The management of Lithium Werks brings 30+ years of battery expertise and nearly 200 MWh annual production capacity, including coating, cell, and custom module manufacturing capability.

Joe Fisher, Co-Founder and CEO of Lithium Werks, said, “We are pleased to become a part of the Reliance New Energy initiative. This deal means increased resources and expanded global reach while leveraging our experienced team and IP portfolio and providing scale and momentum to help drive our product innovation, capacity expansion and accelerate our clean energy strategy”.

Christian P Ringvold, Co-Founder of Lithium Werks, added, “Reliance is committed to sustainable development and understands the importance of batteries in the transition to a fossil-free future. The company’s strong values, solid track record, and high ambitions make me confident that this is the right way forward for Lithium Werks. 

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