Panasonic purchases synthetic graphite from Novonix
Novonix will produce the anode material at its plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee – in Germany, the city is known for VW’s US plant there. Should Panasonic Energy request additional quantities during the term up to and including 2028, Novonix says it will “use its best endeavours to supply the increased quantities”.
Where exactly Panasonic will use the anodes made of synthetic graphite is not clear from the two companies’ announcements – it is only clear that the material will be processed in North America. Panasonic operates the Giga Nevada together with Tesla, where 2170 round cells are produced – the Japanese company had held out the prospect of an improved version of the 2170 cells in January. However, a delivery from 2025 would also fit in with the Panasonic battery currently under construction in Kansas, which is scheduled to produce battery cells from March 2025.
Novonix plans to start production in Chattanooga at the end of 2024. The plant’s capacity will later be increased to 20,000 tonnes per year. The company would therefore have the capacity to supply other cell manufacturers in addition to Panasonic – negotiations are ongoing with LG Energy Solutions, but a binding agreement – as is now the case with Panasonic – is not yet known in the case of LGES.
Graphite is used in the anodes of lithium-ion batteries, where it is applied thinly to carrier foils (usually made of copper). Currently, natural graphite is predominantly used, but in most cases this comes from China. However, the US government wants to avoid such dependencies on raw materials – which is why the US Department of Energy has subsidised the Novonix plant in Chattanooga with 100 million US dollars in grants. However, Panasonic is not only focussing on graphite: the Japanese company also ordered silicon anode material from Sila in December.
“As we continue to grow as an EV battery leader in North America, we are thrilled about the partnership with NOVONIX, which will bring innovative technologies to key anode material,” said Shoichiro Watanabe, CTO of Panasonic Energy. “In addition, I believe this collaboration will help us achieve our medium-to-long-term management goals to strengthen the local supply chain and reduce our carbon footprint.”
Chris Burns, CEO of Novonix, added: “We are excited to announce the finalization of a binding off-take agreement with Panasonic Energy to become a supplier of key anode material for its North American based facilities. Off-take agreements with high-quality partners such as Panasonic Energy solidify NOVONIX’s position as a leader in onshoring the supply chain of synthetic graphite and accelerating the adoption of clean energy in the industry.”