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6K Energy Develops Small Particle Size NMC 811 with UniMelt® Plasma Production Platform and Begins Customer Sampling

North Andover, MA., September 9, 2020 – 6K, the world’s leading developer of microwave plasma technology for the production of advanced materials through its recently launched 6K Energy division, today announced that it has developed NMC 811 at 1-3 microns as well as the capability to produce single crystal NMC. The ability to dial in smaller size ranges, desired in the industry but challenging to do with conventional methods, enables customers to improve charge time, extend run time and improve power. 6K has received strong customer pull at all levels of the supply chain for a cost effective solution for small particle high Ni cathodes such as NMC 811. Low cost sources of these materials are sorely needed to maximize the energy density of EV batteries via bimodal size distributions, and to improve power in portable power applications. Moreover, 6K has demonstrated the ability to use the UniMelt platform to produce single crystal NMC without the multiple additional material- and energy-intensive steps required using standard methods. This could have major implications for the cycle life and safety of future NMC-based EV products, allowing for smaller, lower cost packs without giving up vehicle range.

“We are responding directly to strong demand we’ve had from multiple iconic brand customers in the EV and consumer battery markets who are seeking higher nickel content and smaller size NMC,” said Dr. Richard Holman, VP of Battery Products for 6K. “In less than 3 months our team was able to adapt the NMC-622 process to produce NMC-811 at over 200 mAh/g, and dial in sizes from 1-3 micron. What is a challenge for standard co-precipitation is relatively easy for 6K Energy, which underscores the power of the UniMelt production process.”

Michael Sanders, Senior Advisor with Avicenne Energy added “In our recently released rechargeable battery report we have predicted lower cobalt NMC formulations like 811 will reach 35% market share by 2030. There have been significant challenges in the manufacture, costs from raw materials and durability moving to lower cobalt.”

6K’s UniMelt plasma production technology pushes chemistry beyond traditional boundaries to create virtually any material. While other processes are constrained by the limitations of traditional synthesis methods, UniMelt can produce essentially any chemistry. UniMelt provides exquisite control over size and microstructure, with an unprecedented ability to tune size over a 10,000X range. This combination of chemistry and morphology control means materials can be independently designed to optimize for power, energy density and cost, allowing a single production platform to address all of the energy storage markets. The speed and flexibility of the UniMelt process allows 6K, in collaboration with its partners and customers, to iterate designs significantly faster than existing methods. This enables rapid design turns and fast time to market with new materials for energy storage cells and batteries, accelerating performance improvements and the adoption of energy storage in EV and on the grid.

Dr. Aaron Bent, CEO of 6K commented, “Our NMC 811 development is just the tip of the iceberg, both in terms of what is possible for battery chemistries, but also the positive impact on our business model and market realization. We innovate in days and weeks, not months and years. We have an intelligent closed loop, almost combinatorial approach to product design. What’s more, the same platform used to innovate at grams per hour is used in scaled production for 100 tons per year with our UniMelt platform, collapsing the time to market entry. UniMelt technology allows us to build an ecosystem/partner model that completely changes the development paradiagm allowing our customers to hone in on chemistries that enhance their cell performance they simply can not obtain with other technologies.” 

6K has already demonstrated application of its UniMelt plasma for LTO, NMC-333, NMC-532, NMC-622, NMC-811, higher nickel containing NMC, and silicon anodes including nano-structured foam and intermetallic composite powders. The 6K Energy division has development and commercialization programs with several global materials and cells companies and is looking to partner for development of advanced battery materials and single crystal cathode materials.