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Albemarle joins forces with microwave-plasma specialist 6K to develop novel battery materials

By Mary Page Bailey |

Albemarle Corporation (Charlotte, N.C.) and 6K, an emerging leader of microwave-controlled plasma technology, announced they have 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.

At the same time, 6K’s UniMelt platform promises benefits for sustainable manufacturing. For instance, 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.

“6K technology creates the opportunity for modular manufacturing allowing for a smaller footprint, faster construction, and new models for localization. The collaboration sets a strong foundation not only for advanced material development but also for future commercialization,” Merfeld said.

“We are pleased to partner with a world leader in lithium technology and production,” commented Dr. Aaron Bent, 6K’s CEO. “The agreement with Albemarle highlights the commitment of both organizations to drive battery material performance enhancements while introducing more sustainable production methods. We are thrilled to welcome Albemarle to our investor group and our engineers are eager to work alongside Albemarle’s team.”

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. “Albemarle’s engagement with 6K is yet another example of Albemarle’s commitment to maintain its technology leadership in lithium,” said Dr. Jeff Chamberlain, CEO of Volta Energy Technologies. “Volta is thrilled that 6K continues to work directly with world leaders in the development of its ground-breaking manufacturing technology.”

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