BMW is investing in an innovative method devised by startup Lilac Solutions
October 11, 2021: The increase for the need for lithium, an important raw material for production of battery cells, increases with the prediction of at least half the BMW Group’s global sales expected to come from fully electric vehicles by the year 2030.
The BMW Group, through its venture capital fund, BMW I Ventures, is investing in an innovative process developed by US Startup Lilac Solutions to promote environmentally-friendly, resource-efficient extraction of lithium. Lilac Solutions has developed and patented an ion exchange technology which will significantly improve efficiency, costs and sustainability by extracting lithium from brine resources, which are natural deposits of salt water.
The Senior Vice President Indirect goods and services, raw material, production partners at the BMW Group, Woflgang Obermaier, talked about the investment, saying that innovative technologies provide better, more sustainable and more efficient access to raw materials; and by investing in startups, they are speeding up development of new technologies, stimulating competition and providing impetus that will make it easier for young companies to access the market.
Lilac Solutions aims to significantly reduce environmental impact compared to conventional methods, while at the same time protecting ecosystems and local communities. An already proven technology in initial field pilots, it must now be demonstrated that it can be scaled and industrialised in the mid-term. This process could then be used with brines worldwide, even if they have a low lithium content.
Making sustainability and resource efficiency central to the company’s strategic direction, one of the key aspects here is the BMW Group’s compliance with environmental and social standards in the supply chain. Eliminating infringements of human rights and environmental standards presents a particular challenge in the case of critical raw materials, as is the case with lithium. Therefore, BMW Group Purchasing has implemented additional measures for this raw material, sourcing lithium directly from the mines and making it available to battery cell suppliers. And in this way, the company creates complete transparency about the origin and mining methods of the material.