Freyr hails trials milestone

The battery challenger has taken another step in proving up its innovative production process

Freyr hails trials milestone
Clean, as well as cost-competitive, is a major plank of Freyr's investment story

Norwegian battery start-up Freyr has successfully begun conducting automated casting trials of electrodes with active electrolyte slurry at a customer qualification plant (CQP), a key step on the road to proving its 24M Semisolid production platform concept.

Freyr’s team at the CQP started producing automatically casted electrodes with active electrolyte slurry in a dry room environment from 31 January. The introduction of active electrolyte slurry and the safe commencement of dry room operations had been one of the most significant remaining milestones before completing the casting and unit cell assembly commissioning packages and the anticipated start of automated CQP production on the 24M Semisolid platform, Freyr says.

Automatic production of active cathodes and anodes will be the next step on proving the viability of the SemiSolid platform at GWh scale. The first casting trials with active electrolyte slurry mark a significant achievement towards reaching that milestone, Freyr continues.

“I am happy to report that Freyr has surpassed another key precursor to finalising commissioning and starting fully automated production of cells at the CQP,” says Mike Brose, Freyr’s head of its Asset Mo team. “By demonstrating our ability to operate safely and effectively under dry room conditions in accordance with our internal timeline, our people and partners are now approaching landmark achievements on the path to scaling the next generation 24M Semisolid technology.”

A key distinction between the 24M Semisolid production platform and conventional lithium-ion battery manufacturing technology is the order in which electrolyte is introduced to the process. In the 24M process, electrolyte is added at the start of cell processing, which Freyr hails as eliminating the “costly and energy intensive step of solvent recovery by drying the electrodes”. Demonstrating the ability to cast electrodes with live electrolyte is therefore a critical milestone on the path to eventually producing B sample cells for customers.

Following the successful electrode casting trials with active electrolyte slurry, Freyr has completed handover of 363 of 388, or 94pc, of the discrete production line equipment commissioning and testing packages at the CQP. The remaining technical hurdles to commence automated cell production at the CQP are:

    — Successfully conducting production trials on the anode casting system with solvent slurry before proceeding to casting with active anode slurry.

   —  Integrating the casting webs across the cathode, anode, and merge units of the Casting and Unit Cell Assembly equipment using highly complex multi-carrier systems.

“I am excited by the progress our people, in close collaboration with our partners, have made in recent weeks at the CQP to bring the 24M Semisolid technology platform online at an unprecedented scale,” says Freyr CEO Birger Steen. “The remaining work on the casting and unit cell assembly equipment is highly complex and technically demanding.

“Nevertheless, I am encouraged that we are nearing the achievement of Freyr’s top near-term priority: making functional battery cells for sampling to our customers using the full automation of the production line equipment at the CQP in the first half of 2024,” he continues.

Freyr has secured conditional offtakes and one long-term sales agreement totalling c.130GWh of cumulative capacity. At prices of $70-$80/kWh, these offtake agreements could equate to revenues of $9-10bn.

Providing B sample cells to customers that are produced with the full automation of the CQP production line equipment is imperative to converting conditional offtakes and long-term sales agreements to binding, financeable commitments, Freyr says.

US loan ambitions

Freyr is continuing to work on Part 2 of its Title 17 application to the Loan Programs Office of the US Department of Energy (DoE), having been invited to do so in December. The firm expects to submit the completed Part 2 application to the DOE during the first half of this year.

“Freyr continues to believe that contributing to the development of a US battery value chain by scaling 24M’s US-based technology platform is a potential source of long-term competitive differentiation,” says the firm’s CFO Oscar Brown. “The deployment of 24M’s next-generation Semisolid process at Freyr’s Giga America project is core to that strategy and is intended to align with the objectives of the Inflation Reduction Act.”

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Freyr is commencing development of its Giga America battery manufacturing project in Coweta County, Georgia. The CQP for technology development is situated in Mo i Rana, Norway.

The firm ended 2023 with $275.7mn of cash, cash equivalents, and restricted cash, roughly in line with previous guidance of $250mn.

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