\Vulcan Energy Resources (ASX: VUL) and European chemicals producer Nobian have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to work together towards the development of Vulcan’s planned Central Lithium Plant (CLP) in Europe.
In September 2021, Vulcan secured a site for the plant, which will process lithium chloride into lithium hydroxide at Höchst chemical park in Germany.
Earlier this year, Vulcan announced five new exploration licences for geothermal energy and lithium in Germany’s Upper Rhine Valley, following binding lithium offtake agreements with Volkswagen Group, Stellantis, Renault Group and Umicore, and a binding term sheet with LG Energy Solution.
These agreements see Vulcan’s planned production schedule fully booked for the next five years.
Zero Carbon lithium project
Vulcan Energy’s Zero Carbon lithium project aims to decarbonise the transition to electric vehicles by using renewable geothermal energy for the production of battery quality lithium chemicals, which eliminate the need for evaporation ponds, mining or fossil fuels.
As the fourth largest chlor-alkali producer in Europe, Vulcan managing director Dr Francis Wedin said Nobian’s expertise in electrolysis will be invaluable to the development and operation of the CLP.
Conveniently, Nobian already has an operational centre at the Höchst chemical park.
The planned joint development project will consist of three phases, with a progress decision to be made at the end of phase two.
Phase one covers the initial design, building and operation of the CLP, followed by operation of an electrolysis demonstration plant at Nobian’s existing site at the chemical park.
Phase three will be ramping up operations to commercial scale, as well as discussing offtakes of the CLP chlorine and hydrogen by-products via an existing pipe network.
Nobian and Vulcan well paired
Mr Wedin said that the agreement with Nobian would bolster the operation experience and expertise in electrolysis production within the Zero Carbon lithium project.
“Lithium electrolysis, for environmental, infrastructure and economic reasons, is Vulcan’s selected process for lithium hydroxide production for battery electric vehicles,” he said.
“Our partnership with Nobian is consistent with our strategy to capitalise on the synergies that are available to us with existing chemical producers.”
He added that Nobian’s experience will contribute to de-risking the planned scale-up and build-out towards the company’s goal of beginning production at the Zero Carbon lithium project in 2024.
Nobian Chlor-Alkalai vice-president and managing director Dr Jürgen Baune also expressed excitement about the MoU.
“It will allow Nobian to become a key player in supplying raw materials to the battery industry and to further strengthen its battery raw materials portfolio.”
He added the MoU also put Nobian in a strong market position to commercialise the chlorine and hydrogen by-product.