Domestic Battery Material Production With Unlimited Chemistry Possibilities
Faster, Cleaner and at a Lower Cost
The market for energy storage materials continues to expand at an incredible rate due to phenomenal growth in portable power, grid storage, and in particular, vehicle electrification. Today 85% of the world’s battery material is sourced from China. 6K’s unique UniMelt® production technology addresses supply chain vulnerabilities and contributes to the domestic sourcing of critical battery materials. At 6K Energy, the power and flexibility of our UniMelt microwave plasma system makes us uniquely suited to meet these challenges.
While other processes are constrained by the rules of traditional synthesis routes, 6K can produce virtually any material, with chemistry, size, and microstructure uniquely tailored to the power and energy requirements of the application — all with a scalable, low cost, and sustainable manufacturing process.
Infinite Materials — Limitless Possibilities
Introducing the Advantages of UniMelt by 6K
At the heart of 6K Energy is the unique, proprietary UniMelt process, the world’s first full scale microwave plasma production system.
UniMelt microwave plasma platform provides:
- Up to 50% lower conversion costs
- 50% smaller factory footprint
- 20% – 30% CAPEX reduction
- Up to 30% reduction in energy costs
- Upcycle EOL battery materials in new
The UniMelt is well positioned to replace today’s traditional manufacturing processes, which are constrained by the limitations of conventional synthetic routes and processing methods. Traditional manufacturing methods for NMC cathode using coprecipitation can take 2-3 days, spanning multiple energy-intensive and waste-producing steps. 6K collapses the production time from days to as little as two seconds, drastically reducing the conversion costs and production Capex.
UniMelt Technology – a revolutionary sustainable manufacturing process
Not only does producing batteries use a wide range of raw materials, including metals and non-metals, but the battery industry can also generate considerable amounts of environmental pollutants (e.g., hazardous waste, greenhouse gas emissions, and toxic gases). The development of energy storage is increasingly being looked at as an indispensable component of sustainability. While it is clear that electric vehicles are far and away more sustainable than gas combustion vehicles, the manufacturing processes employed to produce the materials for the batteries used in EVs are not only dated, but environmentally unfriendly and counter to the mission of sustainability and rationale for EVs.
Lithium-ion batteries contain materials spanning the full spectrum, including ceramics, metals, polymers, lithium salts, carbon and graphite, and increasingly, silicon-based materials. While electrification of vehicles and the grid is a key component of a sustainable energy strategy, the manufacturing processes for many key battery materials are not well aligned with the environmental end goals. Traditional material manufacturing processes like coprecipitation (used in the production of NMC cathodes) generate large amounts of environmental pollutants, consume huge amounts of water, and use highly energy-intensive processes.
Battery Materials Recycling & Upcycling Using UniMelt Microwave Plasma
With our partner programs, we take in recycled battery material as our feedstock to create new battery material at a fraction of the cost and 70-90% lower impact on the environment then current co-precipitation. Our innovative process will upcycle old battery material to the newest, most efficient chemistry in seconds. Allowing a cost-effective, sustainable solution to battery material production.
Energy storage batteries present a huge future waste management challenge — as well as an opportunity. Viable recycling routes for batteries at end of life must be developed to minimize pollution and secure a strong supply of critical raw materials at low environmental cost. With new industrial transformation manufacturing processes like 6K’s UniMelt platform, the idea of recycling and even upcycling battery materials can become a reality.
Today’s recycling processes are environmentally unfriendly and have major drawbacks that make the process complicated and costly, requiring large capital investments. Direct recycling of end of life cathode would bypass the majority of the issues with today’s approach by avoiding the need to go back to the elements, create sulfate salts, then repeat the full cathode coprecipitation process. Unfortunately, cathode at end of life suffers from multiple issues that need to be addressed in order to be reused at full performance: End of Life (EoL) cathode is:
- Lithium loss to parasitic side reactions, leading to low capacity
- Mechanical damage from cycling, leading to both low capacity and high impedance
- Obsolescence – last-gen chemistry no longer competitive
6K Energy’s direct recycling approach overcomes these limitations, resulting in a much simpler, lower cost, and more sustainable approach. Using 6K’s UniMelt plasma process, the lost lithium is supplemented, the chemistry can be modified to upcycle the cathode to current generation, and the mechanical damage is thermally healed in a matter of seconds.