Britishvolt selects low-carbon battery mixing technology for use in Gigaplant

Britishvolt, which is building its first full-scale Gigaplant in the United Kingdom, has selected Bühlers’s proven mixing technology for battery slurry preparation – with the technology set to achieve significant waste reduction and energy savings.

In line with Britishvolt’s  Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) principles and commitments, the technology brings a 95% waste reduction and a 50% energy saving. The joint project with Britishvolt underscores Bühler’s strategy of developing and scaling sustainable solutions for its customers.

For a 20 GWh (gigawatt hour) electrode factory, the energy savings from footprint reduction and higher process efficiences, are equivalent to the annual energy consumption of about 1,000 single-family homes.

A prerequiste for reducing CO2 emissions from today’s mobility systems is the transition to electric transportation. Batteries play a crucial role in that journey. Without adequate batteries, there will be no successful switch to a renewable electricty future.

Timon Orlob, Global Chief Operating Officer at Britishvolt, said: “Battery solutions will be the catalyst that will drive our society to an electrified, zero-emissions future. By carefully selecting our trusted partners we can create a supply chain that is focused on driving down the carbon footprint of the entire battery manufacturing process. Selecting advanced manufacturing capability enables the reduction of waste in the production process and increases efficiency. With a high degree of local community engagement and development as well as the desire to evolve the manufacturing technology together, Bühler will be a strong partner for Britishvolt.”

For Britishvolt’s first Gigaplant in Northumberland, Bühler will supply large scale production lines for the manufacture of electrode slurries for the first go-to-market phase of 4.8 GWh, which will be further expanded to 38 GWh towards the end of the decade. This corresponds to enough cells for well in excess of 300,000 electric vehicles per year.

Electrode slurry is a key component in producing high performance batteries. Its quality is crucial for the performance of the latest lithium-ion battery technologies. Bühler has developed a revolutionary continuous electrode slurry mixing process that saves 60% of investment and operating costs, and improves battery performance. Due to the benefits of this continuous process, the British battery cell manufacturer has opted for Bühler’s mixing solution for its ramp-up and production facilities in Northumberland. 

While the traditional slurry production of large batches takes several hours, the continuous mixing process requires a residence time of only a few minutes.

“We use a rotating twin-shaft mixer that combines the necessary process steps such as premixing, homogenizing, dispersing, and degassing in a single, continuously running unit,” explains Adrian Spillmann, Director Market Segment Battery Solutions at Bühler.

Energy savings, waste reduction, and high battery slurry quality are the main advantages of Bühler’s continuous mixing systems. Material losses are reduced by 95% due to short start and stop procedures, no manual intervention, a low active mixing volume, and inline process control. 

Orlob adds: “To make eMobility more accessible to further parts of society as end consumers, the production costs of high-performance batteries need to be reduced and production made more sustainable. Bühler’s technology lays the foundation for more cost-effective sustainable production of high-performance batteries as well as for further developments in battery technology.” 

The ramp-up and production lines for Britishvolt are scheduled to be commissioned in September 2023 and spring 2024, respectively. The Gigaplant development is a major boost for Northumberland and Britain, delivering around 3,000 direct skilled jobs and another 5,000-plus in the associated supply chains. 

Spillmann notes: “Thanks to increased investments and a real sense of urgency, innovation and collaboration are happening on a scale we have never experienced before. With our continuous mixing technology, we have a proven and sustainable and cost-effective solution for our customers that will allow them to ramp up production capacities and ready themselves for the increasing demand.”  

Image courtesy of Britishvolt. 

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