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Vanadium producer Largo prepares 1.4GWh of flow battery stack manufacturing capacity

Largo Clean Energy was officially launched in December last year, with the company expected to commercialise its VRFB product within 18 months of that date. Image: Largo Resources via Twitter.

Largo Resources, a vertically-integrated vanadium supplier launching its own line of redox flow batteries for energy storage, is establishing 1.4GWh of annual battery stack manufacturing capacity.

The company said yesterday that it has secured a location in Massachusetts, US, from which it will manufacture the vanadium redox flow battery (VRFB) stacks and develop products. The new site will also be the headquarters for Largo Clean Energy, the subsidiary Largo Resources launched in December to capitalise on opportunities in stationary storage for the grid.

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Largo, which sources vanadium for different market applications from a mine it owns in Brazil, has developed its VRFB product, called VCHARGE±, which it plans to put on the market within about a year. In January, reported that the company had said vanadium demand is growing on the back of interest from the battery industry and that it believed VRFBs will play a “critical role” in addressing significant demand for energy storage as installed renewable energy capacity around the world grows. Some technologies, IP and personnel were acquired from VIONX, a flow battery startup which was trying to commercialise in the mid-2010s but went out of business.

The company is currently undergoing the process of getting VCHARGE± through UL1973 and UL9540 safety testing, both of which are increasingly considered prerequisite for battery energy storage systems (BESS) to receive approvals for use in grid-connected environments as well as for projects to get financing.

VCHARGE± is expected to be made using Largo Resources’ own vanadium as electrolytes and in addition to the Massachusetts assembly lines, a site in New Hampshire has been selected for electrolyte production and manufacturing full containerised BESS solutions. Around US$4.4 million in capital expenditures are expected to be made during 2021 to support Largo Clean Energy’s activities, the company said. 

“We continued to make considerable progress in advancing our clean energy division with the view of becoming a leading player in the long-duration energy storage sector with our superior VRFB technology. I am pleased to report that the Company secured its U.S. based stack manufacturing facility and product development center, which is expected to have an annual manufacturing capacity of 1.4 GWh,” Largo president and CEO Paulo Misk said.

Like Tesla did last year to tease its lithium-ion battery plans and solid-state battery startup Quantumscape this year, Largo is also planning to hold a ‘Battery Day’ at some point to showcase its VRFB technology, Misk said. Vanadium flow batteries are increasingly being considered as an electrochemical energy storage technology which can store and discharge electrons over roughly six to 12 hours without the large incremental capital expenditure increase that doing those longer durations of storage with lithium-ion batteries — commonly used for applications requiring up to and including four hours of energy storage.

The company has just recruited Salvatore Minopoli, former VP at liquid air energy storage (LAES) technology provider Highview Power, to the role of VP of operations for Largo Clean Energy. Minopoli will be responsible for commercial development and implementing a strategic business growth plan.

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