Albemarle Corporation, a global leader in advanced lithium materials, and 6K, developer of microwave-controlled plasma technology, signed a joint development agreement (JDA) to explore the use of 6K’s patented UniMelt advanced, sustainable materials production platform to develop novel lithium battery materials through potentially disruptive manufacturing processes.
Albemarle is developing advanced lithium materials to enable breakthrough levels of lithium-ion battery performance. The UniMelt plasma technology opens new reaction pathways for lithium material innovation. Our collaboration with 6K has significant potential”, said Dr. Glen Merfeld, Chief Technical Officer for Albemarle Lithium
The ability to synthesize and tailor precisely a spectrum of oxides, nitrides, metals and alloys derives from the ability to control all aspects of the plasma process flow. Microwave-engineered plasma provides a thermal production zone of extreme uniformity, guaranteeing every particle sees the same thermal kinetics and the same process history.
The same technology also enables a large production zone, scalable to 100+ tons/unit/year, and 99% microwave coupling efficiency—translating to higher throughput and lower cost.
Thus, 6K’s UniMelt platform promises benefits for sustainable manufacturing. For example, if a conventional 16-GWh battery cathode production plant was converted to 6K’s UniMelt platform, it would reduce CO2 emissions by 70% (equal to 10M trees per year); lower water consumption by 90% (6.3M barrels per year) and reduce wastewater production by 100% (7M barrels per year) while requiring a 50% smaller factory footprint.
In addition to the JDA, Albemarle has made an undisclosed investment in 6K through Volta Energy Technologies. An existing financial investor in 6K, Volta is a venture capital firm launched in 2017 that also connects strategic investors like Albemarle with well-researched investment opportunities in the energy storage sector.