Albemarle, a leading lithium extraction company, is investing millions into a new lithium research facility to improve battery technology in EVs.
With current technology, EVs are inextricably linked to lithium. The alkali metal is the critical element needed for every EV battery currently on the market. And while research is ongoing to find a better replacement, there are currently no viable solutions available on the market. This has led one leading lithium producer, Albemarle, to invest millions into a new lithium research facility studying better extraction, refining, and implementation processes that will aid EVs.
According to Albemarle’s press release, the new research facility outside of Charlotte, North Carolina, will cost roughly $180 million and will come online in 2025 and expand research going into 2026. The new “world-class facility designed for novel materials research, advanced process development, and acceleration of next-generation lithium products to market” is part of Albemarle’s mine-to-market innovation strategy.
Albemarle did not specify what projects the new facility will be working on, but they did outline a couple of key areas they would like the research to improve; “enhance lithium recovery, improve production methods, and introduce new forms of lithium to enable breakthrough levels of battery performance.”
Along with Albemarle’s sizeable investment, the company also received a $13 million incentive from the State of North Carolina. Albemarle expects the facility will employ over 200 professionals when complete. “Albemarle’s work on the next generation of products related to lithium batteries really advances North Carolina’s leadership in the emerging clean energy economy,” said North Carolina’s Governor Cooper. “Reducing carbon emissions is good for our environment and great for our economy too.”
Albemarle’s investment follows interest from numerous other companies looking to expand into the mining/refining sector in the coming year. Perhaps most notably, Tesla has specified it will be constructing a lithium refining facility and may, if necessary, invest in a lithium extraction operation as well.
It’s unclear if more automakers will be looking to move into the lithium production industry in the near future. Still, it is likely a good move for existing producers, such as Albemarle, to specialize while they can. Through investments like Arbemarle’s new research facility, the company can differentiate and attract customers from the auto industry instead of attracting them to the market as competitors.
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