Livista Energy, a start-up seeking to set up one of Europe’s first lithium refineries in England, has secured investment from the UK government, the Financial Times has reported.
The start-up was among the 21 projects that secured around £45m in financial backing from the government-backed Advanced Propulsion Centre.
Livista Energy co-founder Roland Getreide said that the proceeds will be used to select sites for its planned refinery.
“The electrification of the car fleet means a whole new supply chain and the UK government has chosen us [Livista] to explain the process and how to build a refinery here,” said Getreide, who hopes to finalise the refinery site before the end of 2022.
Lithium, which is one of the key materials required in manufacturing batteries that power electric vehicles, is extracted from brines located in South America or from rocks in Australia.
According to analysts’ estimates, refineries in China produce up to 90% of the world’s battery-grade lithium and process a vast majority of other key battery materials such as cobalt and nickel.
As per Livista Energy’s website, “currently, European battery and electric vehicle manufacturers are reliant on products produced exclusively outside of the EU, the majority coming from Asia”.
Livista Energy aims to construct Europe’s first standalone Lithium Conversion Facility close to its direct consumers.
Initially, the Livista aims to build a refinery with a capacity of 30,000 tonnes per year, which will be increased up to 60,000 tonnes as EV uptake increases.
Getreide said that his firm could build its refinery in Blythe, Northumberland. Notably, another start-up Britishvolt is also working on a £3.8bn battery “gigafactory” in the Blythe location.
Earlier this month, European Parliament members voted in favour of a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2035.