World’s first large-scale production of Prussian blue materials begins in Switzerland

Natron Energy Inc. and Arxada AG have announced their collaboration to initiate the large-scale production of battery-grade Prussian blue materials.

Natron, a global leader in the manufacturing of sodium-ion batteries, and Arxada, a global leader in innovative speciality chemicals, have initiated the production of Prussian blue following their 2021 supply agreement.

Production of the material has begun at Arxada’s facility in Visp, Switzerland, with the company supplying Natron with materials to produce up to 600 MW battery capacity annually. Through this collaborative process, Arxada has expanded its Visp facility for the high volume production of these battery-grade materials. The company has successfully completed trial runs and has begun production of the products.

Effective use of the material in sodium-ion batteries

Prussian blue is a pigment consisting of irons, cyanide anions, and water. Initially used in the textile industry, it has more recently been used in diverse energy technologies, including energy storage, electrocatalysis, and thermal power generation.

Now, manufacturers are encouraging its use within batteries. It has significant promise as an effective sodium-ion battery material, with manufacturers promising improved cycle life and rate capability.

Battery-grade Prussian blue has a unique chemical composition, differing from the common pigment used in blue jeans and paint. This composition results in breakthrough battery performance that allows full charge and discharge within ten minutes for tens of thousands of cycles.

Natron’s unique materials can be manufactured at high volume and low cost in existing fine chemical plants. These batteries do not require mined ore or rare minerals – which allows these carbon-intensive materials to be removed from the process – and, therefore, reduces strain on industrial customer compliance initiatives.

Reducing strain on the supply of critical materials

Natron’s batteries – which store sodium ions in electrode materials based on Prussian blue materials – offer high power density, longer service life, and unique safety characteristics over other battery technologies. The batteries are manufactured in the US, and require zero lithium, cobalt, copper, nickel, or other conflict materials, significantly reducing the strain on the critical raw materials industry.

Discussing the benefits that the use of the material will have on the supply of critical minerals, Antje Gerber, President of Arxada’s Speciality Product Solutions, said: “Arxada’s supply of Prussian blue to Natron marks our entry into the electrodes for battery materials market, as part of our strategy to help our customers develop cleaner, greener, and more efficient solutions across a broad spectrum of end markets.

“Leveraging over a century of fine chemicals production experience, Arxada has expanded its existing facility to produce these battery-grade materials to Natron’s specifications. We are pleased to have partnered with Natron to enable high-volume production of battery-grade Prussian blue materials, which will fuel global deployments of this critical and innovative battery technology.”

Colin Wessels, CEO of Natron, added: “Natron and Arxada have worked extremely hard to reach our goal of 600 MW of annual production capacity, and we are thrilled to have achieved this milestone together. The Prussian blue supplied by Arxada will be transformed in our Holland, Michigan, US factory into UL-listed sodium-ion battery products.

“Our customers in the data centre, UPS, and energy storage markets are eager for Natron to scale and deliver the product quickly. The current market for Li-ion materials and batteries is increasingly challenged by limited supply of critical minerals. By collaborating with Arxada, Natron can provide cost-effective battery products, that are manufactured in the US.”

Support for the construction of the Arxada facility was provided by the Swiss Canton of Valais, and has been a leader in attracting battery materials manufacturing, increasing local employment, and helping to reduce global carbon emissions.

Wessels concluded: “Natron is incredibly grateful for the support of the Canton of Valais, which was instrumental in helping us achieve this mass production milestone.”

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