BASF chooses Quebec for a major plant of cathodic active materials for batteries

The German chemicals giant announced on Friday that it plans to build a plant in Quebec to produce cathode active materials – helping to fill a gap in Canada’s electric vehicle battery supply chain – production is expected to start in by 2025

BASF, a global chemical company based in Germany, announced today that it has been awarded land to build a recycling plant for cathode active materials (CAM) and battery metals in Bécancour, Quebec. The company says the new facility will support North America’s shift to electric mobility and strengthen BASF’s position as a major CAM supplier.

Cathode active materials are critical to the production of lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles and are typically the most energy-intensive part of the battery manufacturing process.

BASF is already building a precursor cathode active materials (PCAM) in Finland and a CAM plant in Germany. Additionally, the company is in partnership with Toda Kogyo Corp. of Japan to produce battery materials at two facilities in Ohio and Michigan. According to BASF, the Quebec site aims to further strengthen its cathode production footprint in North America by complementing its existing manufacturing sites, thereby strengthening its overall place in the North American battery materials supply chain.

“With new investments in electric vehicles and supporting infrastructure continuously announced in North America, we are excited to continue our own investment in the region,” said Peter Schuhmacher, executive vice president of BASF North America in a Press statement.

Important to Canada

The news is important from a Canadian perspective. The construction of a large CAM plant in Quebec and production capacities by 2025 fills a missing link in the development of an end-to-end supply chain for household electric vehicle batteries.

Bécancour, it should be remembered, is an industrial park with a deep-water port off the St. Lawrence River with rail, road and air access and “at the crossroads of three hydroelectric networks”, which gives it a reliable energy supply. and low carbon. .

It is already home to two other Quebec companies in the EV battery supply chain.

Nouveau Monde Graphite has completed construction of a graphite purification facility in 2021 and says they are planning a 200,000 m neighbor2 battery anode active materials factory. In the same year, Nemaska ​​Lithium announced that it had obtained an option to purchase land of 500,000 m2 plot of land to construct a chemical conversion facility to produce battery-grade lithium hydroxide.

BASF’s announcement is now part of a series of battery cathode-related developments for Canada – but there is still one partnership whose potential implications for Canada remain to be seen.

In December, GM Corp. announced a joint venture with Posco Chemical, a South Korean battery materials company, to build a CAM plant at an unspecified location in North America. At the time, Electric Range Canada published an article describing the possibility that this factory is located in Canada.

Among the indicators was a statement from GM Canada President Scott Bell in an exclusive interview with Electric autonomy last fall. In it, Bell said GM sees Canada as “playing an important role” in that company’s battery supply chain and that there are “certain opportunities” outstanding with respect to the materials needed to the manufacture of batteries, in particular.

Along with Bell’s interview, Quebec was able to shore up another weak point in the national manufacturing value chain with twin announcements.

British technology manufacturing company Britishvolt said Electric autonomy exclusively that it is seeking a “strategic location” in the province to build its own 60 GWh battery cell gigafactory, R&D center and anode and cathode processing. The company tells Electric autonomy via email that it has no updates to announce regarding its Canadian operations at this time and it is not yet confirmed where a future Britishvolt facility will be located in the province.

And Ontario-based StromVolt also announced plans to build a 250 MWh lithium battery cell facility and research center in Quebec, but has not confirmed a location since.

A BASF spokesperson said Electric autonomy in an email stating that customers for its cathode materials will be automotive OEMs and battery cell producers, but would not provide further details on specific companies.

An essential prerequisite

In BASF’s press release, Schuhmacher also said, “This land acquisition is a necessary precondition to advancing our strategy to grow our presence in key regions to better serve our customers’ operations with local sourcing. durable and reliable. We look forward to supporting the transition to e-mobility in the United States, Canada, Mexico and beyond.

The Bécancour site will have enough space to produce up to 100 kilotons of CAMs per year, according to BASF, “with the potential to supply fully integrated precursor cathode active materials (PCAMs).”

“The opportunity for potential future integration of upstream investments supports BASF’s strategy to create an integrated ecosystem of closed-loop battery materials across all key regions,” reads the press release.

The new facility will be strategically located along the St. Lawrence River between Montreal and Quebec. The proximity of the access to the river offers “favorable conditions for highly efficient logistics” and will allow access to competitive hydroelectricity to further reduce the carbon footprint of the installation.

Planning for the plant is still underway, but BASF expects it to be commissioned by 2025, pending necessary approvals.

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