Mineral processing company Green Lithium has secured a £631,000 grant from the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) to support the development of what it claims will be Europe’s first large-scale lithium refinery, located in the UK.
The funding comes through the APC’s Automotive Transformation Fund Feasibility Studies (ATF-FS). The APC – which was founded in 2013 and collaborates with the UK government, the automotive industry and academia – says it has funded 150 low-carbon projects involving 375 partners. The technologies developed in these projects are projected to save over 260 million tonnes of CO2, the equivalent of removing the lifetime emissions from 10.2 million cars.
The Automotive Transformation Fund (ATF) was committed in 2019 to accelerate the development of a net-zero vehicle supply chain, funding UK companies involved in batteries, motors and drives, power electronics, fuel cells, or recycling.
Green Lithium says there is no commercial lithium refining capability of scale in Europe at the moment. The company hopes to fill the gap and supply the UK and Europe with battery-grade lithium hydroxide.
A growing EV industry
The company projects that the UK and European electric vehicle industries will require 1.4 million tonnes of refined battery-grade lithium hydroxide and lithium carbonate per year by 2030, meaning growth of more than 400% in supply is needed over the next ten years.
The news from the mineral processing company comes after British Lithium secured an Innovate UK grant in March to build a pilot lithium extraction plant in Cornwall. The grant would be put to use in accelerating the company’s route to commercialisation and providing critical natural resources to boost the UK’s electric vehicle manufacturing industry.
Slightly further along the supply chain, environment and engineering consultancy Ricardo last week announced it received government funding to explore battery production for UK manufacturers creating off-highway machines, special vehicles or luxury cars for customer bases in the low thousands.
The refining process
Green Lithium says it applies a sustainable and low-carbon refining process of hard-rock, unrefined lithium mineral spodumene concentrate. The company employs a “modern sulphate and acid-free refining process”, according to its website.
The company also claims to have secured a site, although gives no further details here. A timeline shows 24 more months to prepare for production: finding suppliers, operators and receiving all permits.
Richard Taylor, founding director at Green Lithium, commented:
“We are committed to achieving a carbon net-zero operation, targeting 2030, and providing a secure, local, low-carbon source of refined battery-grade lithium hydroxide and lithium carbonate with 100% traceability for the lithium-ion battery industry.”