National University of La Plata (Argentina) – Experts Analyzed the Progress of the Lithium Cell and Battery Manufacturing Plant

With a work agenda focused on the imminent start-up of the National Technological Development Plant for Lithium Cells and Batteries (UniLiB), the Lithium Table of the National University of La Plata met this afternoon at the Rector’s Office. This multidisciplinary space coordinates, designs and promotes high-impact projects in the sector, and is made up of different research groups that belong to the University of La Plata. The space is coordinated by the Secretariat for Linkage and Technological Innovation, led by Javier Díaz.

The meeting was attended by the president of the UNLP, Martín López Armengol, the Academic Vice President, Fernando Tauber, the Secretary of Production, Daniel Tovio, the Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources, Nora Gómez, the Pro-Secretary of Science and Technology, Adriana Dertiano and the Pro-Secretary of Works of the UNLP, Agustín Olivieri. Also attending the meeting were Calos Della Védova, deputy director of CCT -CONICET La Plata, and Jorge Thomas, representative of YPF Technology, together with specialists with extensive experience from different faculties.

During the meeting, details regarding the state of progress of the Plant, created within the framework of a consortium in which the UNLP itself, CONICET, Y-TEC, and the MinCyT participate, were presented. It should be remembered that the first part of the civil works by the University has already been completed, and now it remains to be completed when the technological equipment -which has already been acquired- is installed for its start-up.

One of the salient topics of the meeting was linked to the importance of developing this type of technology from the Public University, without putting profit first. On this particular, they agreed on the need to promote the transfer of knowledge and replicate the experience to advance on the path of sovereignty in terms of clean, non-polluting energies.

The president of the UNLP, Martín López Armengol, remarked that “the multidisciplinary nature of this space is essential to articulate knowledge and communicate to society the enormous importance that the start-up of the lithium battery factory will have. For the entire region, it will be a development tool arising from our Public University; a model to be replicated throughout the country, which will bring benefits to the entire community”.

Armengol also highlighted “the importance of advancing with research on the issue of lithium, which is a strategic commitment to protecting the environment and designing our country’s energy transition; articulating scientific progress with the development of clean energy production and storage technologies”.

For his part, Fernando Tauber valued the meeting and stressed that “this is a great opportunity to shape our transfer policy towards the community. This auspicious development serves to concentrate our experience and in the future expand this factory to meet the needs of the region”.

Tauber assured that “our objective must be the production of clean energy, accepted and coexisting with the community; We are convinced that we can multiply sovereign opportunities from knowledge. In this sense, he indicated: “the plant should serve to produce, but production will only make sense if, for example, we set ourselves the goal of articulating with the public transport system to implement a more sustainable model. Along the same lines, the official advanced the idea of ​​”including the University Train in a reconversion plan to move from the use of fossil fuels to clean energy sources.”

Finally, the vice president affirmed that “our University, the faculties, the research units, have the capacity to generate scientific knowledge by promoting awareness and environmental care; therefore, it is from the Public University that we can and must accept the challenge of constituting ourselves as the clean energy region”.

At the beginning of the meeting, the Pro-Secretary of Works detailed the progress of the civil works of the future Lithium Battery Plant of the UNLP and the different pertinent steps to receive the necessary equipment. It is estimated that there are more than 110 tons of machinery and technology that will arrive in containers at the port of Buenos Aires, from China. His arrival is expected by the end of October this year.

Lithium Battery Plant: the UNLP pioneer in the treatment of this mineral

Called UniLiB, the UNLP will have the first technological development plant for lithium ion cells and batteries in Argentina. It is an unprecedented undertaking in the country, promoted and developed by the National University of La Plata, Y-TEC, YPF’s technology company, and CONICET, with the support of the National Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation. .

Located in the Center for Innovation and Technology Transfer that the UNLP owns at diagonal 113 between 64 and 66, according to estimates, the plant will be operational and will start producing the first batteries by the end of 2022.

The building where UniLiB will function has an area of ​​1,650 m2. The plant will have an annual production capacity -measured in stored energy- of 13 MWh, equivalent to 1,000 batteries for stationary storage of renewable energies or about 50 for electric collectives.

The start-up of the first Argentine lithium battery factory will require a total investment of 7 million dollars. Of these, some 5.5 million correspond to civil works, machinery and the production of electrode materials (MINCyT 1.5 MM, Universidad Nacional de la Plata 2 MM, Y-TEC 2 MM). In turn, USD 1 M corresponds to the laboratories and pilot plant timely acquired by Y-TEC with its own funds that allowed the development of the knowledge that will be used today in industrial production.

Successful experiences with the UNLP seal

For more than a decade, the UNLP has been leading different projects to validate the use of lithium as a source of clean energy and an alternative to fossil fuels in our country.

One of the first advances came to light in 2013, when the electric tricycle developed in the Engineering laboratories managed to complete its first long-distance trip, linking the cities of La Plata and Mar del Plata, by route 2. That vehicle, fully fueled With lithium batteries, it thus passed a fundamental test to evaluate its performance and autonomy.

The electric tricycle became the first vehicle in Latin America powered entirely by lithium batteries. A year earlier, a motorcycle had been run using the same type of energy. Both prototypes were developed jointly by INIFTA researchers, from the Faculty of Exact Sciences, from the Research and Development Unit-Group of Applied Mechanical Tests (GEMA), from the Faculty of Engineering; and the Scientific Research Commission of the Province of Buenos Aires (CIC).

But without a doubt, one of the greatest achievements in terms of the development and application of clean energy was reached in February 2016, when the UNLP successfully launched the University Ecobus, the first one hundred percent ecological transport in the city of La Plata. . The electric bus was conceived and conceived entirely at the University, and since then it has traveled -with two units- the streets of the La Plata forest.

The UniLiB building built by the UNLP

The Eco-Bus works entirely with lithium batteries developed in the laboratories and workshops of the university. This is an unprecedented advance for the national university system in terms of applied research for the development of non-polluting energy as an alternative to fossil fuels.

Finally, the Ecobus was followed by the Ecoauto, the first electric car developed by a Latin American university, and powered by lithium batteries. The vehicle, a VW Gol adapted with recycled materials, plugs into a standard outlet and consumes half the energy of an air conditioner to recharge, in an estimated time of 5 hours.

Engineers and advanced students of Aeronautics, Mechanics, Electronics and Computer Engineering participated in the project. It is a pure electric car, which does not pollute. Its autonomy is between 90 and 70 kilometers, at an average speed of 70 kilometers per hour.