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Godi makes India’s first domestic lithium-ion cell as country’s manufacturing industry gathers pace

Tue, 01/11/2022 - 10:22 -- Paul Crompton

Indian battery maker Godi has manufactured its first lithium-ion batteries for use in electric vehicle applications.

The commercial grade NMC21700 cells were made at the firm’s Shamshabad facility, according to a report by the news outlet The Times of India.

Godi’s website says the firm provides rechargeable batteries (lithium-ion, sodium-ion, all solid-state) from cell to pack level for a variety of applications across automobiles, consumer electronics, and renewable energy storage sectors. 

The company says its 21700 Energy Cell has a capacity of 4.8-5.2Ah and a 1,200 cycle life; its Power Cell boasts a capacity of 3-4Ah and a cycle life of 2,000.

The cells were designed, developed and manufactured by the domestic battery maker.

India’s reliance on imports

India relies on imported lithium-ion cells, but a number of domestic companies are working to set up manufacturing facilities.

One of those companies is lead battery maker Exide Industries, which announced last month it was planning to build a “multi-gigawatt” lithium-ion cell manufacturing plant in the country.

The firm’s board of directors has agreed to set up a green field lithium-ion cell manufacturing facility in India, according to an exchange filing report by The Economic Times newspaper.

The exact size and location of the plant has not been disclosed; however, as far back as August 2019 India’s biggest lead-acid battery maker said it would start producing lithium-ion cells from a new plant in Gujarat, India

Nexcharge— a joint venture between Exide and Leclanché— has built India's largest factory equipped with fully automated assembly lines for lithium-ion battery packs, modules (pouch/ prismatic/ cylindrical) and cell testing laboratories in Gujarat. 

Nexcharge is also supported by a state-of-the-art, in-house R&D facility in Bangalore. products at competitive prices.

India’s burgeoning capabilities

As far back as 2019, BEST was reporting on plans for India’s lithium-ion industry. They included at the time:

  • The Tata Group has reportedly pledged INR4,000 crore ($600 million) towards building a lithium-ion battery manufacturing plant in Gujarat, India. A 126-acre parcel of land in the area has already been secured for the plant, which could boast up to 10GW of capacity, according to the Times of India.
  • Car maker Maruti Suzuki India Limited (MSIL)— a 56.21% owned subsidiary of the Japanese OEM Suzuki Motor Corporation (SMC)— has said it will commission its battery manufacturing plant in Hansalpur, Gujarat by the end of next year.
  • A joint project by SMC (50%), Toshiba (40%) and Denso (10%) plans to build a lithium-ion battery plant in Hansalpur with a reported IND1,151 crore ($180m) investment.
  • Suzuki Motor Gujarat— a 100% subsidiary of SMC—completed construction of its second Gujarat plant, bringing its combined EV production capabilities to 500,000 units a year.
  • Talks are under way for the Indian government’s first lithium-ion plant— a 1GWh factory to be built by state-owned Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) and LIBCOIN consortium made up of Magnis Energy, Duggal Family Trust and Charge CCCV (C4V). It is part of the “Make in India, for India” programme and could be scaled up to 30GWh if the plans come to fruition. Incidentally, US-based C4V and Australian firm Magnis are part of the Imperium3 consortium planning to build a gigafactory in New York, US.
  • Billionaire Gautam Adani announced in January he would invest in a lithium battery manufacturing complex in Gujarat. 
  • The state of Telangana aims to establish a lithium-ion gigafactory, according to NITI Aayog. The state wants to build a 5GWh plant, and has set aside a 200-acre parcel of land near Hybrabad for the factory.
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A new chapter in Europe’s battery industry as Northvolt assembles first lithium-ion cell

Tue, 01/11/2022 - 09:58 -- Paul Crompton

Gigafactory developer Northvolt Ett has assembled the first lithium-ion cell to have been fully designed, developed and assembled by a homegrown European battery company.

The first cell represents a milestone for Northvolt, which aims to begin commercial delivery of cells of varying formats this year.

Marking a step-change in Europe’s battery industry, the prismatic cell came off the cell assembly line on the 28 December following the commissioning of Northvolt Ett’s gigafactory in Skellefteå, Sweden.

Commissioning and upscaling of the factory will continue through into 2022, when the first commercial customer deliveries will be made.

Peter Carlsson, CEO and co-founder of Northvolt, said: “Of course, this first cell is only the beginning. Over the course of the coming years, we look forward to expanding production capacity greatly.” 

The battery cell was developed at Northvolt Labs, Northvolt’s industrialisation factory in Sweden, which has been in production since early 2020. 

Northvolt plans to increase capacity to 60GWh per year to fulfil more than $30 billion worth of contracts it has secured from customers, including: BMW, Fluence, Scania, Volkswagen, Volvo Cars and Polestar. 

100% recycled NMC cathode

On 12 December, Northvolt announced the production of its first lithium-ion battery cell featuring a nickel-manganese-cobalt (NMC) cathode made entirely with metals recovered from battery waste.

Recycled nickel, manganese and cobalt metals used in the battery cell were recovered through a low-energy hydrometallurgical treatment that involves the use of an aqueous solution to isolate the metals and separate them from impurities.

Northvolt claim the process can recover up to 95% of the metals in a battery to a level of purity and performance on par with virgin material.

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LGES and Siemens partner to develop better battery manufacturing processes

Fri, 01/07/2022 - 11:21 -- Paul Crompton

Battery maker LG Energy Solution will collaborate with German technology company Siemens on battery manufacturing— particularly the digitisation of production process.

Under the terms of the memorandum of understanding (MoU), LG Energy Solution (LGES) will implement smart battery manufacturing processes at its factories with advanced techniques starting with Ultium Cells— a joint venture of LGES and General Motors.

The Ultium cells facility in Tennessee, US is expected to begin production in 2023.  

The firms will also collaborate on building digital twin roadmap to ensure stable operations at facilities, and develop training programs within Institute of Battery Technology (IBT) for academic students set to work for LGES. 

MoU to build a battery plant

In October, Automaker Stellantis NV and LGES entered a MoU to build a 40GWh battery plant in North America. 

The companies expect to break ground in Q2 of next year and the plant is expected to start production by Q1 of 2024.

Stellantis has also entered a MoU with South Korea's Samsung SDI for a battery plant to initially produce 23GWh, potentially rising to 40GWh.

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Li Cycle to increase recycling capacity and sign 10-year battery materials offtake deal with LG Chem

Thu, 01/06/2022 - 11:27 -- Paul Crompton

Lithium-ion battery recycler Li-Cycle Holdings Corp. will increase the capacity of the facility its developed in New York, US by more than 40%.

The Canadian firm will increase the input processing capacity of the ‘Hub’ facility from 25,000 tonnes to 35,000 tonnes of “black mass” annually (equivalent to around 90,000 tonnes of lithium-ion battery equivalent feed annually). 

The Hub will turn black mass into battery grade materials to be returned to the lithium-ion battery supply chain .

The company estimates the Hub will require a total capital investment of around $485 million (+/-15%), which may be funded from existing balance sheet cash.

The Hub will be fully integrated with Li-Cycle’s existing network of facilities across North America that turns end-of-life batteries and battery manufacturing scrap into “black mass” containing nickel, cobalt and lithium.  

Li-Cycle’s Spoke facilities will be the primary suppliers of feedstock for the Hub. 

Once the Hub is fully operational, Li-Cycle expects to become one of the biggest US-based suppliers of battery grade advanced materials. 

Based on independent industry forecasts (including from Benchmark Mineral Intelligence) and the firm’s internal analysis, Li-Cycle estimates there could be nearly 250,000 tonnes of lithium-ion batteries available for recycling from manufacturing scrap in North America alone by 2025.

Multi-Year Strategic Collaboration with LG

Li-Cycle, LG Chem, and LG Energy Solution have entered into a ten-year manufacturing scrap supply and nickel sulphate off-take agreement non-binding letter of intent. 

The firms intend to cooperate on recycling nickel-bearing lithium-ion battery scrap and certain other lithium-ion battery materials to create a closed-loop ecosystem.  

Beginning in 2023, Li-Cycle will supply LGES and LGC with 20,000 tonnes of nickel contained in nickel sulphate from its Rochester Hub facility in New York. 

LGC and LGES together will make a $50 million equity investment in Li-Cycle at a price of $11.32/per common share, upon completion of the commercial agreements by March 13, 2022. 

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Ecograf wins patent for its lithium-ion battery anode technology

Tue, 01/04/2022 - 09:00 -- Paul Crompton

EcoGraf has received a patent for its purification technology that relates to the manufacture of battery anode material and high purity graphite products, together with the recycling of lithium-ion battery anodes.

The Australian Government Patent Office, through IP Australia, has confirmed acceptance of the company’s patent application for EcoGraf's HFfree purification technology.        

The patent comes after the Examiner at the International Preliminary Examining Authority found all 25 of the patent claims were novel and inventive. 

The purification technology was first developed by EcoGraf in Australia and has been refined through extensive testing and analysis conducted in Europe and Asia. 

The process produces battery anode material using natural flake graphite, and has been demonstrated using a range of different graphite feedstocks produced in Asia, Africa and South America.

The company’s Battery Anode Material Facility in Western Australia will now export battery anode material products to anode, lithium-ion battery and electric vehicle markets in Asia, Europe and North America. 

Recycling battery scrap

In August 2020, EcoGraf announced its proprietary purification process had been successfully applied to recycling battery materials from ‘production scrap’ and ‘black mass’.

In testing undertaken in collaboration with potential customers, the firm’s proprietary purification process returned results of 98.6-100% carbon from production scrap and 98-99.6% from black mass.

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Amprius announces six-minute breakthrough in fast charging lithium-ion batteries

Tue, 01/04/2022 - 08:52 -- Paul Crompton

Battery developer Amprius Technologies has reported that its silicon anode lithium-ion battery cells can charge to 80% from zero state of charge in under six minutes.

Pouch cells using the firm’s Si-Nanowire platform with a nominal capacity of 2750mAh were verified by battery regulatory compliance, safety, and performance testing company Mobile Power Solutions 

The purpose of the test was to evaluate cell performance at high charging rates (10C).

Jon Bornstein, chief operating officer of Amprius Technologies, said: “The need to shorten charge times extends well beyond the rapidly growing EV market and into the broader electric-mobility markets, including micro-mobility and aviation.” 

Amprius’ technology uses its proprietary Si-Nanowire anode, which is thinner and lighter than conventional graphite anodes and has much higher conductivity due to the high electrical continuity between silicon and the current collector, say the firm. 

The very low tortuosity of the Si-Nanowire anode structure also facilitates Extreme Fast Charge. 

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Enzinc brings mobility sector expert on board as it continues plans to scale-up its zinc battery

Tue, 12/21/2021 - 09:48 -- Paul Crompton

Zinc battery technology developer Enzinc has welcomed former president of Robert Bosch’s Powertrain Solutions division Stefan Seiberth to its board of senior advisors. 

The announcement comes as the energy company continues to scale up its prototype zinc-anodes, moving from button cells to pouch cells,  with the goal of refining its initial prototype battery for electric bicycles.

Michael Burz, Enzinc founder and CEO, said Seiberth (pictured) was chosen due to his expertise in the mobility sector.

Burz said: “Zinc-based batteries will fit mobility applications from scooters to urban electric vehicles and Stefan’s insights and deep industry connections will further validate our business model and shape our go to market strategy.” 

Seiberth recently retired from Robert Bosch, where he brought the organisation’s drivetrain capability under one umbrella, including e-mobility. 

Seiberth said: “It’s short-sighted to assume that lithium is the right and only battery chemistry for all applications.

“I see zinc as filling a critical need for safe, compact batteries that operate under a wider temperature range, without the supply chain challenges of lithium or the toxic waste of lead. Zinc-based batteries have the potential to not only meet many e-mobility needs but also displace lead acid batteries in traditional applications.”

Enzinc’s rechargeable zinc sponge anode technology allows zinc to be used in high-performance rechargeable batteries. 

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Nissan aiming for $65/kWh solid-state lithium-ion battery pack and cobalt free cells by 2028

Thu, 12/16/2021 - 13:26 -- Paul Crompton

Vehicle OEM Nissan is targeting a $75/kWh cobalt-free and solid-state lithium-ion battery for its electric vehicles by the close of the decade.

Nissan aims to develop its lithium-ion battery technologies and introduce cobalt-free technology to reach the figure by fiscal year 2028.

Nissan believes solid-state battery packs could be as cheap as $75/kWh by 2028, and aims to bring the cost down to $65/kWh in a bid to achieve cost parity between EV and gasoline vehicles.

These are high ambitions, as a BNEF report this month noted that real term lithium-ion battery pack prices had reached $132/kWh this year— but rising raw material prices could mean the mythologised $100/kWh price may not materialise until 2026.

Japanese firm Nissan plans to launch an EV fitted with its proprietary all-solid-state batteries and is preparing a pilot plant in Yokohama, Japan as early as 2024. 

Some of the price goal will depend on Nissan’s economy-of-scale, with the vehicle maker working with its partners to increase its global battery production capacity to 52GWh by 2026, and 130GWh four years later.

Nissan also intends to expand its battery refurbishing facilities beyond Japan with new locations in Europe next year, and in the US in 2025 to support its circular economy in energy management.

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Recycled materials as good as virgin materials for making lithium-ion batteries

Wed, 12/15/2021 - 13:32 -- Paul Crompton

A team from the University in Nevada, US has found lithium-ion batteries using recycled materials operate “at least as well” as batteries made with virgin commercial materials.

The researchers used physical tests, imaging, and computer simulations to compare new cathode materials to those recovered from used electric vehicle batteries using a recycling process being commercialised by Battery Resourcers.

The team was led by Yan Wang, professor in the university’s Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering.

The study was published in the journal Joule.

The team showed the recycled LiNi1/3Mn1/3Co1/3O2 had a superior rate and cycle performance, which was verified by various industry-level tests. 

Specifically, the researchers reported 1Ah cells using the recycled material had a 4,200 cycle life and 11,600 cycles at 80% and 70% capacity retention.

Meanwhile, its rate performance is 88.6% better than commercial powders at 5C. 

Wang said: “As demand grows for lithium-ion batteries, it will be important to recycle materials from used batteries, especially batteries from electric vehicles.

“Battery manufacturers want to know that recycled cathode materials are not inferior to new cathode materials. This research shows that recycled materials can electrochemically match or outperform pristine, state-of-the-art cathode materials from tier 1 suppliers.”

Wang collaborated on the paper with researchers from A123 Systems, Battery Resourcers, Argonne National Laboratory, Rice University, Brookhaven National Laboratory, and the United States Advanced Battery Consortium (USABC)

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Volkswagen deals to secure European EV lithium-ion battery materials and cheaper cell manufacturing

Mon, 12/13/2021 - 13:58 -- Paul Crompton

Volkswagen’s battery strategy is gathering pace with the vehicle OEM securing materials deals to supply its European lithium-ion cell production and investing in a US battery manufacturing process firm.

The first was to increase precursor and cathode material production capacities in Europe through the establishment of a joint venture with Australian firm Umicore.

The firms plan to gradually ramp up precursor and cathode material production capacity from 2025 with an initial annual production of 20GWh of materials for Volkswagen’s plant in Salzgitter, Germany.

Annual production capacity would then grow to 160GWh— enough to power around 2.2 million electric vehicles— by the end of the decade. 

The JV’s portfolio offering will cover next-generation technologies, including high-nickel chemistries. 

Thomas Schmall, member of the board of management of Volkswagen Group for Technology, and CEO of Volkswagen Group Components, said: “Volkswagen is implementing its battery strategy very consistently and at a high pace.

“Teaming up with Umicore enables us to establish a state-of-the-art supply chain in Europe as we share common values such as responsible sourcing of raw materials, as well as closed-loop thinking.”

In the context of the JV, Umicore and Volkswagen will collaborate on the “sustainable and responsible” sourcing of raw materials, with both parties planning to include elements of refining and battery recycling into the JV at a later stage.

Lithium offtake agreement

Volkswagen Group has also secured a binding lithium offtake deal with Vulcan Energy.

The deal is for the purchase of a minimum of 34,000 tonnes and a maximum of 42,000 tonnes of battery grade lithium hydroxide over the duration of the agreement, which is for an initial five-year term.

Commercial delivery of the material is expected to begin in 2026. 

Volkswagen Group and Vulcan have also agreed to a first right of refusal to invest in additional capacity in the latter’s Zero Carbon Lithium Project, which is a lithium hydroxide monohydrate chemical product from its geothermal lithium brine project in the Upper Rhine Valley, Germany.

Investment in 24M Technologies

Volkswagen announced this week it would invest in Cambridge, US-based battery start-up 24M, with the goal of industrialising the latter's semi-solid process that improves the dry coating process, in the automotive battery area. 

The target is to generate "considerable cost optimisation" in future battery production by reducing material usage and eliminating several steps from the conventional production process. 

For this purpose, a new Volkswagen-owned subsidiary will further develop and upscale the technology for automotive applications based on 24M intelectual properties. 

24M President and CEO, Naoki Ota, said: “[Volkswagen's] investment, collaborative development and ability to scale globally will accelerate our manufacturing platform, thereby replacing the conventional manufacturing process and fast tracking electric vehicle adoption.” 

Prospective benefits include up to 40% less production area, considerable savings on investment and more efficient product recycling, as well as the reduction of the CO2 footprint of battery production. 

Implementing the process in large-scale production is targeted for the second half of the decade sunject to customary closing conditions allowing the transaction.

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