Martinrea International Inc. has entered into a joint venture with Montreal-based graphene company NanoXplore Inc. to develop graphene-enhanced batteries, designed to reduce charging times and increase electric-vehicle range.
“Graphene will be a differentiator by improving charge time and vehicle distance, ultimately bringing solid state battery technology to the market sooner,” Martinrea CEO Pat D’Eramo said in a statement. “Combining our advanced lightweighting technologies with graphene-enhanced batteries is a big step forward in the EV space.”
NanoXplore and Martinrea will each invest $4 million into the JV, dubbed VoltaXplore Inc., to build a demonstration facility in Montreal. There, the companies hope to successfully demonstrate the value of using graphene, a thin but strong and highly conductive material, in lithium-ion batteries. Should it do so and build a business case for it, VoltaXplore aims to eventually build a battery production plant in Canada.
D’Eramo was named VoltaXplore’s chairman, while NanoXplore CEO Soroush Nazarpour was named the JV’s chief executive. Both companies “will provide critical scientific, development and manufacturing expertise as appropriate,” while also committing to provide an additional $6 million each in development funding if needed.
“Graphene is a really exciting material for improved performance in [lithium-ion] batteries,” Nazarpour said in a statement. “It increases the charging speed and capacity of the batteries while improving safety by enabling batteries to work at lower temperatures.”
The announcement comes as Canada looks to position itself as an EV manufacturing hub, with recent announcements by the Detroit Three to build electric vehicles in the country. The federal budget, unveiled on Monday, includes millions of dollars in funding for electric battery development and charging infrastructure. Among other proposals, the government wants to reduce corporate income tax rates for businesses that manufacture zero-emission technologies, including batteries and fuel cells.
The JV builds on the relationship between NanoXplore and Martinrea, the third-largest Canada-based auto supplier by annual sales to automakers and a major shareholder of NanoXplore.
Martinrea in 2020 issued a purchase order for NanoXplore’s graphene for use in fuel and brake lines. The use of graphene demonstrated “significant lifetime improvements in comparison with existing solutions in the market,” the companies said.