Umicore and Prayon join forces

Umicore and Prayon join forces to develop and produce phosphate based cathode materials for lithium-ion batteries

Materials technology leader Umicore is joining forces with phosphate producer Prayon to develop and produce phosphate-based cathode materials for use in lithium-ion (Li-ion) rechargeable batteries. The collaboration will be in the form of a joint venture, named beLife, which is set up on a 51 (Prayon): 49 (Umicore) ownership basis.

beLife will initially focus on developing advanced, cost-competitive products and production processes for lithiumiron phosphate cathode materials used in lithium-ion rechargeable batteries. The joint venture is establishing an industrial pilot plant in Engis1, Belgium, that will be operational in the coming months with all materials produced being exclusively marketed by Umicore. The materials are dedicated to batteries for energy storage applications as well as batteries for hybrid and electric vehicles.

Umicore and Prayon have been developing Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) technology independently for a number of years and both companies will contribute strong intellectual property to the joint venture. This intellectual property includes Prayon's worldwide license for the production and sale of LFP materials granted by LiFePO4+C Licensing AG.

Prayon is a leading global producer of phosphate materials for various industrial applications and its high-purity phosphates are one of the key intermediates for LFP battery materials. Umicore is a world leader in cathode materials for Li-ion batteries and is recognized for its product and application knowhow as well as its large-scale production competences.

Kurt Vandeputte, Senior Business Director for Umicore Rechargeable Battery Materials commented: "We are delighted to initiate this partnership with Prayon for phosphate-based cathode materials. The partnership is based on a unique combination of strengths and offers significant value for existing and future customers. We can offer customers the broadest range of cathode chemistries [including lithium cobaltite (LCO), nickel manganese cobalt (NMC) and lithium iron phosphate (LFP)] for the broadest range of applications."

Yves Caprara, CEO of Prayon SA, added: "As a worldwide leader in high purity phosphoric acid technology, the development of eco-friendly applications for our products is at the core of our strategy. Sourcing is secured by our strong link with OCP SA (Office Chérifien des Phosphates, Morocco), which owns 50 pc of our shares. Combined with Umicore's leadership position in battery materials, beLife is in a unique position to offer reliable sources of high-quality LFP materials.

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