Hong Kong-based GRST has developed a water-soluble binder that can replace PVdF in lithium-ion battery electrodes. The invention enables production of both cathodes and anodes without the use of NMP, a toxic and expensive solvent. Besides the advantages in production GRST's binder also pave the way for a significantly smoother recycling process which essentially can be water-based.
The aim has so far been to license the technology to battery makers. Especially the company has targeted the emerging battery industry in Europe. Through a joint venture with Nan Hung Yeh, the chairman of Realtek Semiconductor, the company now also invest directly in battery production. Initially the new 0.5 GWH plant, located in Jiashan County in Zhejiang Province, China will produce cells for electric two-wheelers, power tools, and energy storage systems. The plan is a gradual expansion with aim to increase the capacity to 15 GWh in 2028.
An interesting part of the setup is that the batteries will be traceable in order to facilitate recycling. The company has positioned its technology to be more recyclable than other conventional binders. These advantages are however lost if the batteries fail to end up in a recycling facility with a dedicated process for the particular cell types. The applications are however challenging in this regard but if used in closed-loop models like for instance battery swapping the company might have created a competitive advantage or at least a show case to be used in further licensing of the technology.
According to South China Morning Post the Finnish energy company Fortum, which also is expanding in lithium-ion battery recycling, is a shareholder in GRST.
Read more about the joint venture here.