Aluminium – a key enabler for the electrification revolution
The battery industry is expecting a strong annual growth in the coming years due to the high demand for electrification. Gränges has recently accelerated its investments in battery cathode foil in Europe and has the capability to take a leading position in all its markets. A strong track record of successful innovations and commitment to sustainable solutions make Gränges a key partner.
Bill Shannon, SVP for the Global Battery Foil Programme at Gränges with over 30 years of experience serving the battery industry, shares his view on Gränges’ role and potential in the battery value chain.
What does the market for battery components look like?
The battery market is growing exponentially and will continue to do so for many years. A strong underlying driver is the increasing consumer demand for more sustainable products such as electrical vehicles and Energy Storage System. As Gränges aims to invest in sustainable markets and customers, the battery market also fits right into this strategy. Our customers are global battery manufacturers who support automotive and energy sectors. The market potential for batteries is greater than 2,500 Gigawatt hours per year by 2030 which translates into approximately 35 million cars.
How is aluminium used and what makes it a critical material in batteries?
The main benefits of aluminium are its electrical characteristics, its light weight and better thermal properties as well as cost compared to other materials. Rolled aluminium is used both in battery systems, such as battery casings and cooling plates, and in the battery cells themselves as the cathode foil. Cathode foil is thinner than what is typically produced for the automotive market. It is actually as thin as 12–15 microns, or more than four times thinner than a human hair. This puts high demands on the production as well as the characteristics of the material as such. The foil is absolutely critical for the performance of the lithiumion battery cell and therefore consistently high quality is an absolute must.
A new battery supply chain is being established. What makes Gränges a preferred supplier of aluminium cathode foil?
With the existing and planned capacity at our facilities in Europe, the US and China, we will meet the need for regional supply chains. We have a strong global team at Gränges, including Research & Innovation, production, sustainability, marketing and sales, which all play an important role here. The product development requires specific competences and deep material know-how. It is also about the ability of handling process development successfully and not least, to meet the sustainability requirements. Our long tradition of working closely together with our customers while developing new products and solutions is also proven to be extremely important. The possibility to understand our customers’ needs in terms of quality requirements as well as their sustainability targets early in the process is key. The collaboration is also valuable when estimating the market potential.
The electric vehicle industry is highly focused on reducing the climate impact. How can Gränges contribute?
Gränges has the ambition to be a leader in sustainability. This is proven by the fact that we already offer low-carbon products to our customers. Partnerships with companies who share the same ambition will be key. One such example is the Polestar 0 project which Gränges joined recently. The ambition is to create a truly climate-neutral car by 2030. As one of many different technology partners, we will bring our expertise around circular and low-climate impact aluminium materials and processes.
What are the next steps in Gränges expansion plans?
Our ambition is to be a leading supplier of battery cathode foil. With strong annual market growth of over 30 per cent, we have a tremendous opportunity, particularly in Europe and the US where the market is growing even faster and supply chains need development. We’ve invested in cathode foil production in all regions and commercial deliveries started in Asia in 2022. Europe will follow in 2023 and our investments in Americas are planned to go online 2024 and will bring us to a first mover position in the US. Following commercial wins in Europe we are now accelerating by investing in doubling our capacity in Finspång. Gränges approach is to expand capacity in pace with growing demand, and I’m looking forward to taking further steps with the Gränges team and our partners!