Lopal Ramps Up Battery Materials Strategy

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Chinese lubricant marketer Lopal Technology Co. said recently that it is accelerating its previously stated strategy of growing a business to supply lithium derivatives for electric vehicle batteries.

The company, which is headquartered in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, posted a message on its social media website that it plans to increase its lithium iron phosphate production capacity from 85,000 metric tons per year to 197,500 t/y during the second half of this year.

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In November stockholders approved a proposal for Lopal to form a joint venture with Stellar Kapital Investments to build a facility in Indonesia capable of producing 100,000 tons of the material annually. Lopal said then that the partners planned to build the Indonesia plant in two phases, with the first opening in 2023.

The company’s social media post did not mention the joint venture, but that is the only project of such magnitude that it has announced.

Lithium iron phosphate is an alternative to lithium cobalt oxide used to make cathodes in lithium-ion batteries. Lithium iron phosphate has less energy density than lithium cobalt oxide but is more stable, cheaper and said by some to have less negative impacts on the environment. It also faces less supply chain constraints than materials the cobalt variety.

Lopal has described its entry into the lithium iron phosphate business as a strategy to get ahead of the curve of supplying materials for electric vehicle batteries. In November the company’s nameplate capacity for producing the material was just 10,800 t/y, but it was developing two plants in China that it said would add 55,000 t/y. Apparently it has opened those facilities and also added additional capacity.

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