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Saudi company invests in US battery maker Pure Lithium

Workers at the Lucid Motors plant in Arizona. PIF is Lucid's main investor and the company is building its first factory outside the US in Jeddah Reuters/Caitlin O'Hara
Workers at the Lucid Motors plant in Arizona. PIF is Lucid's main investor and the company is building its first factory outside the US in Jeddah
  • Aim to replace lithium-ion
  • Safer to use in Gulf climate
  • Plan for Saudi supply chain

Saudi Arabian investment company Energy Capital Group has announced a collaboration with US tech startup Pure Lithium to develop renewable batteries. 

The batteries will use lithium extracted from oilfield brines, giving a further boost to Saudi Arabia’s plans to dominate in green industries. 

Based in Riyadh, Energy Capital Group did not disclose how much it was investing in the project with Boston-based Pure Lithium – a venture capital-backed company set up in 2019 – but said it is in discussions with further potential investors and partners in Saudi Arabia. 

The technology aims to replace the lithium-ion battery through its lighter weight and three-day manufacturing cycle, eliminating the need for other metals. It is also more efficient, costing $50 per kilowatt hour to produce, compared to $150 for the standard lithium battery. 

The project would establish a fully integrated supply chain in Saudi Arabia, which would be able to use the batteries on a large scale, Pure Lithium CEO Emilie Bodoin said. She added that pure lithium batteries could be safer to use in the Gulf region’s climate. 

Lithium batteries are commonly used in a range of modern consumer items, from electric vehicles (EVs) to smartphones, laptops and cameras. Lithium-ion batteries are among the main drivers of China’s traditional export sectors. 

Developing an EV manufacturing industry is part of Saudi Arabia’s plan to diversify its economy away from oil revenues, known as Vision 2030. 

Saudi Arabia is expected to start exploring for lithium and other rare metals this year in a collaboration between state mining giant Ma’aden and US-based Ivanhoe Electric that was announced in July

US EV manufacturer Lucid – in which Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund is the major shareholder – is building its first manufacturing plant outside the United States in Jeddah. Saudi Arabia will buy up to 100,000 EVs over 10 years from Lucid.

Australia-based battery chemicals and technology company EV Metals Group also said in February it plans to build Saudi Arabia’s first battery chemicals complex producing materials used in lithium-ion batteries. The first of two plants could be online by late 2024. 

In June the Saudi ministry of investment signed a $5.6 billion deal with Chinese electric car maker Human Horizons for the development, manufacture and sale of vehicles. Human Horizons makes cars under the HiPhi brand in China.