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India Debuts in Cathode Active Material Production

ARCI has joined forces with the Hyderabad-based Altmin as technology partner and has backed the company’s R&D endeavours alongside international players.

by Aishwarya Saxena

International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy and New Materials (ARCI) has teamed up with Altmin, marking it as a new milestone for India as it forayed into Cathode Active Material (CAM) production through a Public-Private Partnership.

AltminThe maiden product under this partnership is manufacture of Lithium Ferrous Phosphate (LFP), the key component of CAMs which is required in the manufacturing of advanced lithium-ion cells that would support the burgeoning EV industry and other industrial applications.

LFP is used as a cathode material in lithium-ion batteries. LFP batteries are one of the most widely used compositions, used in a variety of ways from electric vehicles to residential batteries to grid-scale applications.

Located within the ARCI campus at Balapur, Hyderabad, the hi-tech 10 megawatts pilot plant is all set to begin producing 100 kilos per day. Altmin states that it “is poised to clock a turnover of $80 million within one year of production at 30 GW scale.”

ARCI has joined forces with the Hyderabad-based Altmin as technology partner and has backed the company’s R&D endeavours alongside international players.

The licensing of the CAM produced through the Altmin-ARCI partnership lies exclusively with Altmin internationally while at the domestic front, Altmin has a non-exclusive arrangement. Altmin has already secured interest from major battery players for product deployment in India and globally.

In terms of procurement of lithium procurement, the key mineral required for the production of CAM, Altmin has partnered YLB of Bolivia for a consistent and secure supply of battery grade lithium carbonate necessary for the planned production and future scale up. Bolivia is known to be among the countries with the largest reserves of lithium in the world.

Altmin’s indigenously developed economical technology aims at stabilizing the supply chain and creating a sustainable production module that promises minimal emissions. The company was formed to support the government of India’s ACC-PLI scheme, earmarked to localize the manufacturing of Li-Ion cells and batteries in India and will continue to operate as a public-private partnership with ARCI.

Speaking on the launch of the pilot plant, Mourya Sunkavalli, founder and MD of Altmin said: “The world is poised to usher in a tectonic shift in mobility, since EVs are the way forward. It is urgent and imperative that we develop efficient energy storage systems to drive this change. Initially the battery industry was focused on NMC (Nickel- Manganese-Cobalt Oxide) batteries, but the world is shifting towards LFP for ESS and mobility. At Altmin, we have put in years of R&D, studied the market and the supply chain carefully and came up with a technology that is fool-proof, economical and sustainable through technology partners and collaborations both in India and abroad. ARCI have been relentless in their efforts to develop the most efficient product with us. We are glad that our cathode materials have done phenomenally well at lab level and are bolstered by thorough research. I’m very confident that we will be India’s leader in cathode materials and Tier 1 supplier to global OEMs, while creating a secure supply chain in India and supporting the local clean energy transition domestically. Additionally, we want to achieve a circular economy in this space, recycling will soon become the order of the day. Our product is built to achieve this”.

Tata Narsinga Rao, director of ARCI, said: “Altmin is an emerging hi-tech manufacturing company with a clear vision of addressing supply challenges of battery material for the future battery companies across the globe. ARCI, being a translational materials research lab, has developed along with Altmin a novel process to make one of the key cathode materials (Lithium iron phosphate) which is a safe and low-cost material suitable for tropical conditions. Identifying Altmin as a potential partner for commercializing the technology, ARCI has entered into agreements with Altmin for technology transfer and establishing a pilot facility at the incubator facility at ARCI. I am very confident that Altmin will become a global supplier of battery materials.”

Altmin states that it aims to scale up production year on year to achieve a 3 GW capacity by 2025 and start production at strategic locations in other parts of India. The company will continue to support major Indian cell OEMs with custom-developed materials in line with their cell requirement outlay.

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