BHP will now supply some of the world’s lowest-carbon nickel to Tesla, while BASF will supply Porsche with high-energy HED™ cathode active materials and recycle battery-production waste to close the loop.
Tesla secures sustainable nickel supply with BHP
BHP and Tesla have signed an agreement that will supply the automaker with nickel from BHP’s Nickel West asset in Western Australia — one of the most sustainable and lowest-carbon-emission nickel producers in the world.
Tesla is the world’s largest manufacturer of electric vehicles and battery storage systems, with a mission to accelerate the transition to sustainable energy; and nickel is a key component of its battery technology.
“BHP produces some of the lowest-carbon-intensity nickel in the world; and we are on the pathway to net zero at our operations. Sustainable, reliable production of quality nickel will be essential to meeting demand from sustainable energy producers like Tesla Inc,” said BHP Minerals Australia President Edgar Basto. “The investments we have made in our assets and our pursuit of commodities like nickel will help support global decarbonization and position us to generate long-term value for our business.”
In addition to the supply agreement, BHP and Tesla will collaborate on ways to make the battery supply chain more sustainable, with a focus on end-to-end raw material traceability using blockchain; technical exchange for battery raw materials production; and promotion of the importance of sustainability in the resources sector, including identifying partners that are most aligned with the two companies’ principles and battery value chains.
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The two will also collaborate on energy-storage solutions to identify opportunities to lower carbon emissions in their respective operations through increased use of renewable energy, paired with battery storage.
BASF, Porsche to develop high-performing lithium-ion EV battery, closed-loop manufacturing process
Meanwhile, chemical giant BASF has been selected by Cellforce Group — a joint venture between Porsche and Customcells — as the exclusive cell development partner for its next-generation lithium-ion battery. BASF will provide high-energy HED™ NCM cathode active materials to contribute to high-performance battery cells for fast charging and high energy density.
Cellforce Group will produce the high-performing batteries in its production plant, starting in 2024 — with an initial capacity of at least 100 MWh per year, powering 1,000 motorsport and high-performance vehicles.
As a global leading supplier of high-performance cathode active materials with a strong R&D network, BASF will be able to provide battery materials for both responsible and reliable sourcing of raw materials as of 2022. To close the loop, production waste from the future Cellforce Group battery plant will be recycled at BASF’s prototype plant for battery recycling in Schwarzheide, Germany. Lithium, nickel, cobalt and manganese will be recycled in a hydrometallurgical process and re-introduced into BASF’s production process for cathode active materials.
“We look forward to collaborating with Porsche and the Cellforce Group to develop future high-performance batteries for electric vehicles and work together towards our common goal of sustainable mobility,” says Dr. Markus Kamieth, Member of the Board of Executive Directors of BASF SE. “BASF’s cathode active materials will be tailored to Porsche’s specific needs, leveraging our strong R&D capabilities. Furthermore, they will have an industry-leading low-CO₂ impact thanks to our efficient manufacturing process, the high share of renewable energy, the upstream integration into the key raw materials as well as the short transportation route along the value chain. With battery recycling, we can ensure that valuable materials are kept in the production loop and further reduce the CO2 footprint of our cathode materials by an expected total of up to 60 percent.”
The new, closed-loop manufacturing process for EV batteries will complement BASF’s existing work developing a process for recycling them, as well: has In 2019, BASF announced the “Recycling Li-ion batteries for electric Vehicle” (ReLieVe) project — a partnership with multinational mining and metallurgy company Eramet and circular waste solutions provider SUEZ — to develop a closed-loop process to recycle lithium-ion EV batteries, and to enable the production of new lithium-ion batteries in Europe.
Since January 2020, the ReLieVe project has worked toward the large-scale development of this process and the structuring of an integrated industrial sector — from the collection and dismantling of end-of-life batteries for recycling, all the way to the manufacturing of new electrode materials.
For its part, Porsche aims for at least 50 percent of its new cars sold to feature an electric drive as early as 2025; and more than 80 percent of all new vehicles sold to be purely electric or plug-in hybrid models by 2030.
“As an automotive manufacturer, Porsche aims to be CO2-neutral in its overall balance sheet by 2030. In this respect, a low CO2 footprint, closed-loop recycling and sustainability are increasingly in the foreground,” says Michael Steiner, Member of the Executive Board for Research and Development at Porsche AG. “The cooperation with BASF is a win-win situation for all parties involved. European sources for the materials nickel and cobalt, the associated security of supply and the short transport routes from Schwarzheide to Baden-Württemberg in Germany were all important arguments for the decision to work with BASF. The battery cells — especially the cathode active materials — are at the center of considerations here. We are very pleased that together with BASF we are bringing an environmentally friendly cell technology to series-production readiness.”