Johnson Matthey to supply cell tech to Virgin Racing

Johnson Matthey has a new partnership to show the eLNO cathode material technology in action. The company teamed up with Formula E team Envision Virgin Racing. They will co-develop what the companies consider the “first-ever” electric race car powered by JM’s new batteries.

The multi-year partnership will also see JM sponsor the racing team’s participation in the Formula E World Championship. The announcement comes on the heels of JM saying they are on track to scale up the production in Poland as planned.

“We’re scaling up our family of nickel-rich advanced cathode materials eLNO now,” JM said to ready it “for the technical demands of the future.”

The company had announced the construction of the plant in the town of Konin in 2019. They expected an initial capacity for 10,000 tons of cathode material per year. Depending on demand, these will be expanded later to up to 100,000 tons per year. These numbers seem intact with the recent report saying they will start mass production in 2022.

The cathode features a high nickel content as JM moves to lower levels of cobalt. Cobalt, as well as lithium, will remain part of it though. Specifically, according to the company, eLNO products come with a layered nickel-rich oxide structure with a stabiliser package and respective surface modifications for density and long-life cycles.

Johnson Matthey also emphasised that they have found a way to ethically source material by working with third-party experts RCS Global to develop and implement a due diligence programme. JM expects to have full transparency ‘back to mine’ for all the materials that contain lithium, cobalt and nickel, which were going into their cathode products.

This demand for sustainability will likely have played a part in the new FE partnership at hand. Envision Virgin Racing claims to be the only Formula E racing team currently certified carbon neutral (PAS 2060). They have also partnered with the UK Government to encourage global action against climate change ahead of the COP26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow this year. Envision Virgin Racing is owned by Envision Group, which works in wind technology, battery development and AIoT infrastructure. (Envison Virgin Racing), (scale up)


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