The Advanced Propulsion Centre has announced British Lithium as a winner in its Scale Up Readiness Validation (SuRV) competition.
The Cornwall-based company has won £2m in government funding as part of the Automotive Transformation Fund (ATF), a programme that supports large scale industrialisation.
British Lithium has been researching and developing the extraction of lithium carbonate from the mica in Cornish granite over more than five years. Part-funded by Innovate UK, a pilot plant has been built near St Austell and, in a world first, brand-new sustainable technology is being used to successfully produce 99.9% pure battery-grade lithium carbonate. Three patents are pending.
SuRV was launched to encourage large-scale investment in the products and processes awarded ATF funding.
Ian Constance, CEO, Advanced Propulsion Centre, said:
“I am pleased that this project has been successfully funded, sharing part of £25 million from our Scale-Up Readiness Validation competition. With this support, the APC aims to increase confidence in large-scale manufacturing investments to build electrified supply chains in the UK. It is vital, in the transition to net zero, that the automotive sector seizes the opportunity to grow the industry, create or safeguard jobs and build on the expertise anchored here in the UK.”
As set out in its Net Zero Strategy, the Government has committed to transforming the UK car industry.
APC Automotive Transformation Director Julian Hetherington said:
“This announcement underlines the commitment to support the automotive sector, one of the UK’s strategically important industries, as it makes an unprecedented transition towards net zero. I am proud of the role the Automotive Transformation Fund is playing in unlocking opportunities for investment, and all the projects chosen have real potential to scale-up to something significant.
“Through our support, we aim to encourage and de-risk subsequent private investment by demonstrating that these innovative products and technologies work at scale.”
British Lithium’s pilot plant became operational at the end of 2021 and the team are now progressing towards large-scale lithium carbonate production in about three years’ time.
“Lithium has never been produced commercially from mica before, so it’s been very important to rigorously test, refine and optimise our technology,” said Chief Executive Andrew Smith.
“The ATF grant is key in helping us move on to the next phase of our development and we’re delighted to have their support.”
British Lithium is planning to produce 21,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate each year from a single quarrying and refining site by 2030, when all UK car manufacturing converts to electric.