Soluna has become the latest newcomer to Australia’s vibrant battery storage market with the first commercial shipment of the China-made lithium-ion batteries arriving in Victoria. The new battery brand will be sold locally by Soluna Australia, a joint venture between Lithium Australia, an ASX-listed company which aspires to ‘close the loop’ on the energy-metal cycle, and Chinese battery manufacturer DLG Group.
Lithium Australia said on Monday it had completed the formalities for joint battery marketing operations with DLG – a 50:50 partnership which seeks to boost battery uptake and recycling in Australia. “A detailed investigation of the Australian energy-storage industry identified serious supply-chain constraints in the delivery of LIBs to Australian customers,” the company said. “Soluna Australia intends to provide a new and reliable supply source for renewable energy solutions to power users in Australia.”
In addition to offering grid-scale and residential battery solutions, the joint venture plans to focus on creating innovative energy storage solutions for remote-site and mining applications in Australia. It will also evaluate the feasibility of manufacturing battery packs locally, as well as offer battery recycling solutions through Lithium Australia’s 90%-owned Envirostream.
Touted as Australia’s only facility for shredding li-ion batteries, Envirostream joined forces with Lithium Australia earlier this year in a bid to integrate their processes. Envirostream’s capabilities to shred spent batteries and generate a powder containing the critical battery minerals ready for refining were combined with Lithium Australia’s ability to create a flowsheet to process these powders to liberate the nickel, cobalt, manganese and lithium chemicals required for battery cathodes. The Victorian recycler is also working with Korean battery maker LG Chem.
Under the Soluna partnership, the companies will also work together to facilitate technological cooperation between Lithium Australia’s wholly-owned subsidiary VSPC and DLG for both cathode and battery research and development. The goal is to fast-track commercialisation of VSPC’s proprietary cathode powders for use in DLG batteries, initially with a focus on lithium-ferro-phosphate (LFP) LIBs.
“For some time now, DLG has been working with VSCP to test LFP cathode powders produced at the latter’s pilot plant in Brisbane,” the statement said. The products were recently found to meet DLG’s “stringent specifications”.
“Formalisation of Lithium Australia’s joint venture with DLG, which resulted in the creation of Soluna Australia, paves the way for the introduction of superior energy-storage products into the Australian market, reducing the carbon footprint of national energy consumption for both residential and industrial consumers,” said Adrian Griffin, Lithium Australia CEO. “We foresee great potential for energy storage in fringe-of-grid and off-grid applications, as well as improvements in the utilisation of power from existing grids,” he said.