Northern Graphite launches battery materials group to spearhead mine-to-battery strategy

1st February 2024 By: Creamer Media Reporter

Ottawa-headquartered Northern Graphite on Wednesday announced the launch of the NGC Battery Materials Group to spearhead its mine-to-battery strategy, which will make the company one of only a few integrated developers, producers and processors of natural graphite outside China.

NGC will specialise in advanced material analytics and electrochemical characterisation techniques for carbon and battery materials, as well as providing in-depth expertise in the field of high-temperature processing, scale-up and carbon design.

This will enable Northern to provide tailored solutions to electric vehicle (EV) battery makers and original-equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to satisfy their various unique battery requirements.

NGC was formed through the acquisition of the assets and research and development team of the battery division of Germany’s Heraeus Group, and includes a fully operational, state-of-the-art laboratory in Frankfurt.

Northern has also licensed intellectual property from Heraeus to develop, produce, and sell Porocarb, a high-performance porous hard carbon material developed over the last ten years and patented by Heraeus to enhance the efficiency and speed of energy storage mechanisms.

NGC will be operated by Northern and financed by selling excess production capacity to partners and other material developers. Northern will pay Heraeus a 2% royalty on sales of all Porocarb products.

“This is a pivotal move for Northern,” said CEO Hugues Jacquemin. “What sets this group apart is the wealth of expertise that comes with it. With a fully functioning laboratory equipped for analytics and battery testing, access to existing customers in the battery market and the ability to scale high heat and carbon materials processes, Northern is set to accelerate the execution of its vision. The move is not merely a plan; it's a commitment to tangible results.”

NGC Group will lead the development of Northern’s planned 200 000 t/y Baie-Comeau battery anode material facility, with construction expected to start in 2026, subject to financing.

Northern plans to build Baie-Comeau in modules tailored to the specific needs of OEMs and EV battery makers, including proper milling, shaping, and classification of graphite flakes, followed by purification and coating.

“We are excited to join Northern and to spearhead its mine-to-battery strategy of developing a sustainable and carbon-dioxide-friendly active anode material,” said Michael Grimm, who will lead the NGC Battery Materials Group that officially starts on February 1.

“It's not just about the physical and chemical properties of the material; it's about the performance of the product in the battery and ensuring we improve that performance in each application."

“The emphasis on application-oriented testing is crucial, especially in an industry where each battery maker's design is unique, necessitating a tailored approach,” said Moritz Hantel, who will oversee innovation and product management.

“In creating this group, we move one step closer to our goal of being a fully integrated, mine-to-battery graphite company and press our first-mover competitive advantage as North America’s only graphite producer,” said Jacquemin.

“The new battery group will work closely with our mining group to bring critical, cutting-edge technological and processing expertise to the company as we work to supply battery makers with anode material for use in lithium-ion batteries for EV production.”