Reliance Industries Ltd., through its subsidiary Reliance New Energy Limited (RNEL), has signed agreements with Netherlands-headquartered Lithium Werks BV to acquire all of its assets for $61 million (approximately INR 464.80 Cr). This announcement was made in a Reliance Industries media release dated 14th March 2022.
The assets to be acquired include the patent portfolio of Lithium Werks and its manufacturing facility in China. Reliance shall also acquire key contracts of Lithium Werks and carry hiring of its existing employees.
Lithium Werks and LFP Battery Technology
Lithium Werks was founded in 2017 in Netherlands. It acquired certain assets of US-based companies, Valence Technologies Inc. and A123 Systems industrial division, which gave it the necessary experience in developing cobalt-free batteries. It is a major producer and supplier of Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP or LiFePO4) batteries.
Lithium Werks has done extensive research and developmental work in the field of high-performance LFP batteries. The company has about 219 patents related to LFP process and technology. It also has the exclusive rights to LFP nano-technology, cell design and proprietary carbo-thermal reduction method for the production of LFP batteries, and several electro-active materials which are used in these batteries.
Advantages of LFP Batteries over Other Batteries
LFP batteries offer increased battery life as compared to lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries. They are well suited to power Electric Vehicles (EVs) since they also offer better electrochemical performance and lower resistance than other battery chemistries. Tesla already uses LFP batteries in its Model 3 and Model Y vehicles.
LFP batteries are also the safest Lithium-based batteries as of now. Unlike Li-ion batteries, they do not have overheating issues since Lithium Iron Phosphate is thermally very stable.
Usually, in most batteries, higher discharge is a problem due to which battery performance gets affected. However, LFP batteries supply consistent power even when they are discharged to 50% of their capacity. This also means that LFP batteries need to be charged less frequently than other Li-ion batteries.
LFP batteries weigh 50% lighter than Lithium Manganese Oxide batteries, and up to 70% lighter than lead-acid batteries.
Reliance New Energy Solar’s Interest in Acquiring Lithium Werks
Reliance New Energy Solar Ltd (RNESL), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Reliance Industries (RIL), plans to invest Rs. 60,000 crore in setting up four ‘giga-factories’ by 2024. These factories will deal exclusively in the renewable and green energy sector, including innovative battery chemistries. This will be a part of Dhirubhai Ambani Green Energy Giga Complex in Jamnagar, Gujarat, where 5,000 acres of land has been earmarked for this purpose.
With the recent acquision of the UK-based Faradion for its Sodium-ion battery technology and now Lithium Werks BV for its work in LFP battery R&D, Reliance seeks to acquire as many innovative battery technologies as possible. Mr Mukesh Ambani, Chairman of RIL said on acquiring Lithium Werks, “Along with Faradion, Lithium Werks will enable us to accelerate our vision of establishing India at the core of developments in global battery chemistries and help us provide a secure, safe and high-performance supply chain to the large and growing Indian EV and Energy Storage markets”.