Taiwan’s ProLogium to Build Solid Battery Factory in France, Pioneering New Generation of Batteries

By announcing Friday, May 12 the choice of Dunkirk for a large battery factory, the Taiwanese group ProLogium intends to make France a pioneering land to mass produce a new generation of so-called “solid” batteries, more resistant and more powerful than the previous ones, assures the group.

“The reasons for setting up in France are numerous”, indicated during an interview with several press agencies the vice-president responsible for the international development of the group, Gilles Normand, while French President Emmanuel Macron is expected on Friday in this city ​​in northern France to highlight the reindustrialization of the region.

In total, ProLogium intends to invest 5.2 billion euros in Dunkirk by 2030 to reach an annual production capacity of 48 GWh, enough for hundreds of thousands of cars. The group hopes to start production at the end of 2026 and ramp up over several years, with the key to 3,000 jobs in the factory and 12,000 indirect jobs for the territory.

The Taiwanese company wanted “to have access to carbon-free electricity”, but in Dunkirk, “we not only have access to nuclear electricity but there are also offshore wind turbines”, lists Gilles Normand.

“A real ecosystem for batteries is developing in the north of France”, he welcomes, while three other “gigafactory” projects have already been announced there: in Douvrin, whose opening is scheduled for the end of May, in Douai, and already in Dunkirk, with the French start-up Verkor. “This will allow us to have a critical mass to see material suppliers set up”, while current so-called “lithium-ion” batteries are very greedy in critical metals such as lithium, graphite or cobalt, with a supply chain now largely controlled by China.

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This also allows “proximity to our customers because many electric vehicle factories are located in Northern Europe” and “Dunkirk is very well connected by rail, road and a deep-water port which facilitates imports and export of our products”, continues Gilles Normand.

More powerful and resistant batteries

ProLogium, founded in 2006, presents itself as a pioneer in solid-state batteries, which makes it possible to achieve “a power between 360 and 390 watts per kg against between 160 and 180 watts per kg for lithium-ion batteries”, assures its founder. and CEO, Vincent Yang.

The solid battery is distinguished from its competitors by its solid electrolyte to carry the electric charge and not liquid like in traditional batteries.

The separator key element for the operation of a battery is ceramic and not polymer, making the battery much more resistant to shocks, less prone to short circuits and therefore to catch fire.

L’anode one of the two electrodes is entirely composed of silicon oxide, easier to find in Europe than the graphite usually used, which comes “90% from China”, according to Gilles Normand.

“Currently, at least six equipment manufacturers in Europe and the United States are in the test phase,” adds Vincent Yang, while this technology is still waiting to be approved for electric mobility.

Autonomy “doubled” and reduced weight

The solid battery allows for serious improvements, according to the two leaders. “It charges to 80% in 12 minutes, whereas if we take a Tesla Model 3, for example, it takes 20 minutes” in fast charging, explains Gilles Normand.

The new technology makes it possible to “double the autonomy” of the batteries while reducing their weight “by at least 11%, or at least 50 kg”, he continued. But “50 kg on a car is huge, it reduces the braking system, etc.”

The plant will have to reach a production level of 30 GWh before being competitive, according to him. ProLogium initially planned to invest on its own funds before filling its order book.

The certifications of the battery “will take at least two years” before its adoption by the manufacturers, provides Gilles Normand.

Since its creation, ProLogium has raised 700 million euros and counts Mercedes-Benz among its shareholders. The company is banking on European and national financial aid for green industry and is planning an IPO to finance its investments.

With AFP

2023-05-12 07:00:00

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