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India's first cathode active materials plant inaugurated by Altmin-ARCI

From left to right: Dr. V K Saraswat, Hon'ble Member, NITI Aayog, Dr. Anil Kakodkar, Chairman, Governing Council, ARCI, Tata Narsinga Rao, Director, ARCI, and Mourya Sunkavalli (right extreme), Founder & MD, Altmin, at the inauguration ceremony of the CAM facility. Source: Ashok Thakur (ETN)

Battery materials firm Altmin and ARCI, under the Union Ministry of Science and Technology, have launched a 10 MW pilot plant for producing Cathode Active Material (CAM) - first of its kind in India - at the latter's campus in Balapur, Hyderabad. 

The facility is poised to make 100 kilos of CAM per day, marking India's foray into the local production of CAM meant for the manufacturing of advanced chemistry Li-ion battery cell. The maiden product under the partnership would be Lithium Ferrous Phosphate (LFP) that has humongous market demand for making electric vehicle batteries. 

The International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy and New Materials (ARCI) is supporting Altmin as a technology partner and has backed the company's R&D endeavors as well. Altmin strives to to become a leading producer of indigenously developed battery materials and develop its own cell chemistries. 

In this specific partnership with ARCI, the licensing of the CAM produced lies exclusively with Altmin internationally, while at the domestic front, the private firm has a non-exclusive arrangement. Altmin claims to have already secured interest from major battery players in India and across the globe.

The company has partnered up with Yacimientos de Litio Bolivianos (YLB), Bolivia for a consistent and secure supply of battery-grade lithium carbonate, which is pre-requisite for the planned CAM production and future scale-up.

This is an achievement that everybody should emulate. Indigenous manufacturing is important, but backing it up with a robust supply chain is equally important and such young startups backed by strong R&D gives us the ability to ensure good ecosystems

Dr. Anil Kakodkar, Chairman, Governing Council, ARCI, and Former Chairman Atomic Energy Commission

Speaking on the launch of the pilot plant, Mourya Sunkavalli, Founder & MD, Altmin, said, "Initially the battery industry was focused on NMC (Nickel- Manganese-Cobalt Oxide) batteries, but with Tesla's announcement in 2021, the world is shifting towards LFP for ESS & mobility. At Altmin we have put in years of R&D, studied the market & 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".

He further added, "ARCI has been a true team player; they 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". 

Image Source: Ashok Thakur (ETN)

"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", he said. 

Altmin claims that its indigenous and frugal technology aims at stabilizing the supply chain and creating a sustainable production module with minimal emissions. The company was formed to support India's ACC-PLI scheme, and will continue to operate as a public- private partnership with ARCI, it adds.

At the inauguration of the pilot facility for CAM production at ARCI campus in Balapur, Hyderabad. Source: Ashok Thakur (ETN)

"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", commented Tata Narsinga Rao, Director, ARCI.

"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 and wish them all the success", he added.

This will reduce the cost of materials used as inputs in Li-ion battery manufacture and also reduce our dependence on China for raw materials, helping make us aatmanirbhar

Dr. V K Saraswat, Hon'ble Member, NITI Aayog.

It is to be noted that Altmin is a 'Leadership Member' of India Energy Storage Alliance (IESA), which is at the forefront of developing a favourable and holistic ecosystem for the supply chain of batteries in India. IESA's India Battery Manufacturing & Supply Chain Council (IBMSCC) initiative continues to be instrumental in evolving the battery materials supply chain, including raw materials sourcing and processing, to support the establishments of gigafactories in the country.

Welcoming the development, IESA President Dr. Rahul Walawalkar, said, "It is exciting to see this major milestone for Altmin... CAM was one of the last challenges for localizing the supply chain and we are looking forward to further development of this ARCI-developed technology. I think dry or thermal-based processing for CAM is a new area of development and Altmin's facility, once operational, can put India at the forefront of this technology."

Author : Dhiyanesh Ravichandran
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