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US: Simbol Materials starts commercial lithium carbonate production

By Simon Warburton | 28 September 2011

Simbol Materials says it has started commercial production of the world's highest-purity lithium carbonate in California for use in electrolytes for electric vehicle batteries and other energy storage applications.

"Simbol Materials' goal is to fundamentally transform the critical materials supply chain in support of clean technology," said Luka Erceg, chief executive officer of Simbol Materials.

"With the electric vehicle battery industry set to take off, the demand for premium quality lithium, manganese and zinc - building blocks for the next generation of energy storage, including EV batteries - requires an urgent and high performance solution."

The startup of this 500 tonne per year facility marks a step forward for Simbol Materials as the company says it is now one of only a limited group of companies worldwide producing lithium for use in advanced batteries and battery materials.

Simbol Materials' high purity lithium carbonate will be used to produce cathode battery materials and LiPF6 for electrolytic salts used in electrolyte solutions, critical components for EVs and other clean-energy storage applications.

"The market continues to look for new, innovative and higher quality materials to increase the efficiency and quality of battery performance," said Josh Green, general partner of Mohr Davidow, a lead investor in Simbol Materials.

Simbol has also designed a three-fold expansion of this facility, and expects to break ground late 2012.

"The new facility and expansion plans positions Simbol Materials as the most competitive producer of high purity lithium and other lithium compounds and derivatives that are critical to electric vehicle batteries and clean energy," said Takashi Sunada, of the chemicals division of Itochu Corporation, another lead investor at Simbol Materials.