Britishvolt extends EV battery partnership with WMG at University of Warwick

The company driving plans for an electric battery gigaplant in the North East has extended its contract with WMG, University of Warwick, in a multimillion-pound deal.

Battery technology pioneer Britishvolt has announced the contract extension which will see the university develop battery cell technologies in a move to accelerate their route to market. The deal follows a successful initial 12-month project between the two organisations, triggering the new two-year programme of work.

Britishvolt is currently on site at the former coalyards of the old Blyth Power Station in Northumberland as part of a £3.8bn electric vehicles battery plant project which will eventually lead to 3,000 jobs, as well as thousands more through its supply chain.

Britishvolt said these would then be tested according to its agreed protocols.

“The battery science, advanced materials and cell prototyping expertise and capability at WMG has directly, and positively, supported our battery technology development program,” Britishvolt CTO Allan Paterson said, adding that this gave a good basis to progress from as the company looked to scale and commercialize its technologies and enable it to continue to develop its products further.

“WMG has been investing over the last decade in the research and development capabilities needed to help Britishvolt and other battery companies to be internationally competitive now and in the future,” WMG CEO of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult Professor David Greenwood said.

Increased demand for batteries, particularly from the EV industry, has resulted in strong battery metal prices. Platts assessed spot battery-grade nickel sulfate with minimum 22% nickel content and maximum 100 ppb magnetic material at Yuan 41,900/mt ($6,254.20/mt) DDP China June 21, up 23.6% since the start of 2022, S&P Global Commodity Insights data showed.

Britishvolt started construction on its GBP3.8 billion ($4.7 billion) lithium-ion battery gigafactory last September. The site, which will be built in four phases of around 10 GWh, has targeted 2024 as the start of Phase One production.

It also plans to build a second 60 GWh gigafactory in Quebec and is in talks with the Canadian government concerning its expansion plans.

At the end of May, Britishvolt partnered with logistics real estate operator Prologis to invest more than GBP 200 million to build a battery cell scale-up facility in the UK’s West Midlands, which will have an initial output of 1.2 GWh with space for a second line expansion.

The facility will be close to the WMG, Faraday Institution, UK Battery Industrialisation Centre and the Advanced Propulsion Centre and create a “Battery Corridor” to enhance the UK’s existing battery ecosystem, Britishvolt said at the time, adding that it would develop new cell formats, formulation and electro chemistries to boost the cell performance and affordability.

Britishvolt also said previously it plans to release an official A-sample battery cell in 2022, which it expected to help further accelerate commitments from customers.

It developed the pre-A battery samples at WMG and is scaling these up and testing them at the national battery manufacturing development facility UKBIC in Coventry.