6K, North Andover, Massachusetts, USA, has announced the creation of a Center of Excellence for its 6K Energy division, focused on the development of sustainable battery materials for electric vehicles (EVs), grid storage and consumer goods. Over the next two years, the company will invest $25 million to triple the size of its North Andover facility, with as many as ten UniMelt® microwave-based plasma systems dedicated to the full-scale development and pilot production of battery materials. 6K Energy will expand the size of the company’s product development team, as well aid in achieving its broader goals of enhancing material testing capabilities and helping the US to lower supply chain risks.
Dr Aaron Bent, CEO, stated, “Production of advanced materials for batteries is virtually non-existent in the United States. The investment we are making in infrastructure and team will accelerate our time-to-market to deliver lower cost, next generation battery materials produced on US soil. The UniMelt platform’s sustainability benefits, and the scale of the new Center of Excellence, means that 6K Energy can deliver the advanced materials the market requires for next generation batteries and the administration’s mandate for improvements in the supply chain for battery materials.”
The 6K facility will house ten UniMelt systems – the company’s proprietary microwave plasma technology – which will be able to produce as much as 100 tons of material from each system annually, supporting full-scale development of materials such as high energy density and single crystal cathode, solid-state electrolyte materials, silicon anodes for fast-charging and many others. The expansion will enable pilot production capabilities to fully support partner qualification, providing a gateway direct to domestic production.
6K’s UniMelt platform offers multifaceted sustainability benefits; as an example, if a legacy battery cathode production plant were to be replaced with theUniMelt platform, the following changes would be expected: 100% of wastewater would be eliminated, energy usage and greenhouse gas generation would be reduced by up to 70%, and water usage would be decreased by 90%.
The Center of Excellence will also allow 6K Energy to offer dedicated UniMelt systems to customers, enabling the rapid commercialisation of battery materials, which could have major implications for the cycle life and safety of future NMC-based EV products, making smaller, lower cost batteries a reality, without giving up vehicle range.
Former Congressman Joe Kennedy III, 6K board member, stated, “The new administration’s executive order clearly outlines a commitment for the United States to lead clean energy technology – especially in the area of batteries for electric vehicles. The new order also calls for a review of supply chains and ensuring the domestic supply of four key areas, one of them being battery production. The new Center of Excellence will not only allow 6K to address the administration’s concerns, but it enables 6K’s key partners and players in the battery production space to take advantage of a scalable, green process based in the US to fulfil the US supply chain requirements.”