Brazil is soon to join the ranks of countries producing batteries for electric mobility, a segment led by China, the US, Japan, and South Korea. At least four battery-production joint ventures have recently been established in the country, all involving local players working with a foreign partner. In most arrangements the battery technology has been or is being developed by the international partner. In 2018, Companhia de Desenvolvimento de Minas Gerais (CODEMGE) concluded an agreement with British-based Oxis Energy to establish the world’s first manufacturing plant for the mass production of lithium-sulfur (Li-S) battery cells. The technology, according to Oxis, is superior in performance and safety to lithium-ion batteries, currently the dominant battery technology in the electric vehicle market. Brazilian battery manufacturer Moura, fuel-cell producer Electrocell, and a consortium formed by Companhia Brasileira de Metalurgia e Mineração (CBMM) and Japanese Toshiba, also plan to establish a presence in the segment.
Oxis Brasil, the joint venture formed by CODEMGE and Oxis Energy, will initially target the heavy vehicle segment—including trucks and buses—and the defense and aerospace industries, across applications such as drones, satellites, and Vertical Take Off and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft. The plant will be built in Belo Horizonte, in Brazil’s southeastern state of Minas Gerais, in a total investment of US$56 million. The facility is expected to begin operation in 2022, initially producing 300,000 cells per year before ramping up production the next year to 1.2 million units, or half its final target capacity. The factory is being developed to accommodate future expansion to 4.8 million cells per year.
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