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SK Innovations to invest $1B in new China plant to meet forecast demand of lithium-ion batteries

Fri, 09/17/2021 - 15:17 -- paul Crompton

South Korea's SK Innovation is set to invest 1.2 trillion won ($1 billion) in a new battery factory in China, as it looks to ramp up lithium-ion battery production to 200GWh in the next four years.

Detailed plans for the new factory were not revealed, but in July the firm said it was to up production to 200GWh from a previously announced goal of 125GWh. 

The company’s production capacity is 40GWh.

The South Korean battery maker supplies electric vehicle (EV) batteries to Ford Motor, Volkswagen and Hyundai Motor among others, and has battery production sites in the US, Hungary, China and South Korea.

In July, SK announced it would spinoff its battery division to allow it to concentrate on meeting demand for batteries as global EV sales are set to increase from last year’s 2.5 million, according to IHS Markit.

SK Innovation CEO Kim Jun said in July: “We haven't decided how to split the battery business ... it takes quite a lot of resources to further grow our growing battery business, so we are considering the spinoff as one of the ways to secure resources.”

The South Korean battery maker told news outlet Reuters that it had more than 130 trillion won ($115 billion) worth of battery orders, which is more than 1TWh worth of batteries, enough to power around 14 million electric vehicles.

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Lithium-ion battery recycler secures Japanese patent

Wed, 09/15/2021 - 15:22 -- paul Crompton

Critical minerals company American Manganese (AMY) has secured a Japanese patent for its closed-loop lithium-ion battery recycling process.

The company’s RecycLiCo process was issued Patent No. 6906060 by the Japanese Patent Office.

The Japanese patent joins already issued patents in the US and South Korea (Patent No. 10-2246670). The Company has also filed National Phase Patent Applications for China, Europe, Australia, India, and Canada.

The patent provides coverage for AMY’s closed-loop method for achieving up to 100% extraction of cobalt, nickel, manganese, aluminium, and lithium from the treatment of cathode chemistries such as lithium-cobalt oxide (LCO), lithium-nickel-manganese-cobalt oxide (NMC), and lithium-nickel-cobalt-aluminium oxide (NCA). 

Compared to traditional hydrometallurgical recycling processes, the company says its process offers advantages such as faster reaction rates, lower consumption of acids, improved water balance, and higher leaching efficiency.

Larry Reaugh, president and CEO of American Manganese, said: “As we move towards our goal of commercialisation, we are reminded by the foundation of patents that supported our growth in battery recycling and we are honoured to be issued another patent by a country that is one of the world leaders in battery innovation.

“Innovation is at the core of our company and as a pioneer in battery recycling we continue to monitor new lithium-ion battery technologies and opportunities.”

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Chinese battery manufacturing giant CATL joins EU battery association Eurobat

Tue, 09/14/2021 - 15:39 -- paul Crompton
Chinese battery manufacturing giant CATL cells

China lithium-ion battery giant Contemporary Amperex Technology Limited (CATL) has joined Eurobat— the association for European automotive and industrial battery manufacturers.

Eurobat covers all battery technologies, and has more than 50 members working with policy-makers, industry stakeholders, and non-governmental organisations to highlight the role batteries play for decarbonised mobility and energy systems.

Headquartered in Ningde, China, CATL had more than 5,000 staff engaged in R&D at of the end of 2020 and is in the process of developing its first European production base in Arnstadt, Germany. 

Matthias Zentgraf, CATL EU-Region co-president, said: “With the European Commissions’ vision for a climate-neutral EU by 2050, we are proud to bring our EV battery technologies and manufacturing to Europe, contributing to a more sustainable Europe powered by E-mobility. 

“Joining Eurobat will bring more exposure to conversations with the local automotive ecosystem and regulatory bodies, facilitate CATL to better integrate with local automotive industry and introduce more advanced solutions and services in the region.” 

Eurobat executive-director Rene Schroeder said: “Europe’s battery industry is currently at a pivotal moment.

“Investments into Europe’s automotive and industrial battery industry are needed if we want Europe to reach its decarbonisation ambition, as recently announced in the European Commission’s Fit for 55 package. 

“At the same time, policy-makers and stakeholders are in the process of shaping the future policy framework for batteries, notably through the new Batteries Regulation.”

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UK-US partnership to scale-up direct lithium-ion battery cathode recycling

Fri, 09/10/2021 - 15:44 -- paul Crompton

UK and US firms have partnered to improve the sustainability of lithium-ion battery manufacturing by using direct cathode recycling methods. 

UK firm Johnson Matthey and the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC) will partner with US firm OnTo Technology on the project involving direct recycling of lithium-ion battery production scrap.

Johnson Matthey has entered into an agreement to scale up OnTo Technology OnTo’s patented process for the direct recycling of lithium-ion battery scrap in collaboration with UKBIC.

Part funding for the feasibility stage of the project is from the UK Government’s Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) in partnership with Innovate UK.

OnTo’s patented Cathode Healing process restores the coating material to be used in making new batteries. 

A Johnson Matthey spokesman told BEST: “The project is aimed at a demonstration unit that can be scaled-up directly to a commercial unit that can meet the need of cell manufacturers.

“The project is focused on cell manufacturing scrap rather than scrap batteries. The demonstration unit will take material from UKBIC’s cell production line and directly from cell manufacturers.

“The objectives of the project is to scale up OnTo’s patented direct cathode recycling technology, which so far has been developed at laboratory scale, to a scale at which the feasibility of a commercial recycling unit can be demonstrated. 

“A successful method of recycling cell scrap with make a significant overall contribution to the manufacturing efficiency of lithium-ion cell manufacturing, increasing the recycled content of new batteries.”

Matthew Dobson, UKBIC’s principal engineer, said: “The recycling of batteries is an important part of developing a sustainable UK value chain and aligns with our objective of enabling a route to Net Zero." 

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American Manganese success in black mass trials and wins support from Canadian government

Fri, 09/10/2021 - 15:36 -- paul Crompton

American Manganese has reported the successful recycling of lithium-ion battery black mass into NMC-622 (nickel-manganese-cobalt oxide) cathode precursor.

The black mass feedstock was produced by mechanical size reduction from end-of-life lithium-ion batteries, using the Canada-based firm’s RecycLiCo closed-loop process.

The resulting powder substance contains battery materials, including: lithium, cobalt, nickel, and manganese, as well as copper, aluminium, and graphite. 

American Manganese (AMY) sourced the samples of black mass from an unnamed electric vehicle manufacturer for demonstration of its process and validation of its product.

Laboratory-scale testing of the black mass samples demonstrated a 99% leach extraction efficiency of lithium, nickel, manganese, and cobalt. 

The resulting pregnant leach solution was then adjusted to the desired ratio of nickel, manganese, and cobalt before the direct co-precipitation of the NMC-622 cathode precursor. 

AMY said that Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) scans showed its NMC-622 product shares the same technical specifications –particle morphology, size, and distribution – found in conventional lithium-ion battery cathode precursor materials produced from raw materials.

Government funding

This month AMY received advisory services and funding to support a pilot lithium-ion recycling project from the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) Industrial Research Assistance Program.

The funding, delivered through NRC’s Fast Pilot in Foreign Markets program, is designed to help Canadian small and medium-sized businesses overcome barriers to market entry and facilitate direct adoption of technology in foreign markets.

AMY will model, commission, and test a lithium-ion battery cathode material recycling demonstration plant to include continuous operation with specific cathode waste processing objectives, such as capacity, extraction efficiency, and material purity.

The pilot project is titled ‘Demonstration of Continuous Recycling of Cathode Material from Lithium-ion Battery Production Scrap’.

NRC provided advisory services and conditional funding to support AMY’s research and development project on the ‘Synthesis of Cathode Material Precursors from Recycled Battery Scrap’ project between November 4, 2020 and March 31, 2021.

The main objective of the project is to conduct a technical feasibility study on the synthesis of cathode material precursors with specific particle parameters.

The latest project is in collaboration with European gigafactory developer Italvolt, which is aiming to build a 45GWh, increasing to 70GWh, lithium-ion plant in Scarmagno, Italy. 

In March, the firm signed a memorandum of understanding to develop a commercial recycling plant alongside the Scarmagno plant.

The MOU is a response to the European Commission’s proposed Batteries Regulation, which aims to ensure batteries placed on the EU market are sustainable throughout their life cycle.

Italvolt founder Carlstrom also founded, and is a shareholder, of UK gigafactory hopeful Britishvolt.

 

In July, Britishvolt was granted planning permission to construct its first full-scale lithium-ion facility in Northumberland, UK.

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Svolt closes $1.5B funding round two months after cobalt-free lithium-ion battery announcement

Thu, 09/09/2021 - 11:13 -- paul Crompton

China cobalt-free lithium-ion battery firm Svolt Energy Technology has closed a B-financing round of 10.28 billion Yuan ($1.5 billion) as it moves to its goal of 200GWh production capacity by 2025.

The financing round will be used for the research and development of new technologies, and the construction of new production facilities in the Chinese cities of Changzhou, Suining, Huzhou, Ma’anshan and Nanjing, as well as in Europe.

This financing round was led by Bank of China Group Investment (BOCGI). 

Other investors include the National Fund for Technology Transfer and Commercialization, Country Garden Venture Capital, Shenzhen Capital Group (SCGC), CCB Investment, IDG Capital, Sany, Xiaomi Corporation, Oceanpine Capital and China Renaissance. 

Original shareholders, including SDIC and JZ Capital, significantly increased their holdings.

The firm closed a 3.5 billion Yuan ($540 million) A-financing round at the end of February.

Svolt has announced orders from Chinese and international automobile manufacturers, including: Great Wall Motors, Geely Automobile, Dongfeng Motor, Stellantis, SF Motors, ENnovate, Leap Motor and Hozon Auto. 

Cobalt-free batteries

In July, Svolt announced the start of series production of its cobalt-free nickel-manganese (NMX) battery cells at a ceremony in Jintan, China.

The firm is initially producing two sizes of its NMX batteries (115 Ah and 226 Ah), which are 75% nickel and 25% manganese. 

Series production of the new NMX batteries followed the successful production of ten tons of cobalt-free cathode material at the battery cell factory in Jintan during January.

Svolt has been mass-producing the cobalt-free cathode material since April.

The batteries can achieve more than 2,500 charging cycles, says the firm.

From the end of 2023, the novel batteries can also be produced at the planned plant in Saarland for the European market.

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Hybrid lithium-VRFB system developed for power management applications

Thu, 09/09/2021 - 10:50 -- paul Crompton

Vanadium product recycler AMG Advanced Metallurgical Group has built its first lithium-vanadium hybrid battery for industrial power management applications. 

AMG’s hybrid lithium-vanadium redox flow battery (LIVA) uses the lithium battery for fast discharging including black start; the vanadium battery, which is charged by the grid, is used to recharge the lithium battery.

The first LIVA system will be installed in one of AMG’s German manufacturing plants and is scheduled to go online in the first quarter of next year. 

Engineering has started for three more systems, two in Germany and one in the US. 

AMG Engineering is building the integrated system, with its subsidiaries AMG Titanium & Coatings supplying the vanadium electrolyte, and AMG Lithium designing the lithium portion of the battery. 

AI technology acquisition

To solve the need for an advanced software solution is essential, AMG bought German firm Phyr7, which specialises in artificial intelligence-based power-management solutions. 

Phyr7 will be renamed LIVA Power Management Systems and be established with an initial capitalisation of €5 million ($6 million).  

The Phyr 7 software ecosystem maximises the efficiency, safety and lifetime of the batteries, and enables the economic integration of sector coupling strategies with renewable energies and green hydrogen.

Dr. Volker Koelln (pictured), founder of Phyr7, will be the CEO of LIVA Power Management Systems, and Holger Mueller-Rink will be its CFO, holding the same position at AMG Lithium. 

Dr. Stefan Scherer chairs the company’s Supervisory Board.

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Sunlight investment to expand lead and lithium-ion battery production in Europe and US

Tue, 09/07/2021 - 08:47 -- paul Crompton
Sunlight lead-acid lithium-ion battery manufacturing plant

Battery maker Sunlight will invest an additional €50 million ($59 million) into its US and European plants to increase lead-acid and lithium-ion battery manufacturing.

The Greek firm will invest €30 million ($35.5 million) to increase production of motive power lead-acid flooded products at its plant in Xanthi, northeastern Greece, from 4GWh to 5.3GWh up to Q3 next year.

This investment will include the expansion of existing infrastructure with automated, state-of-the-art machinery in the battery plant. 

The remaining €20 million ($24 million) is being invested to expand its lithium-ion battery assembly plants in Verona, Italy, and North Carolina, US.

Those plants will install three automated assembly lines for lithium modules and complete lithium battery systems, as well as one assembly line for prototyping and R&D purposes.

This investment is part of the company’s goal to offer integrated lithium products for off-road mobility, industrial use, and energy storage applications. 

Production is anticipated to begin by Q3 next year and deliver 1.7GWh of manufacturing capacity a year, while additional space reserved with the potential to increase capacity up to 4GWh.

This latest investment brings Sunlight’s total committed CAPEX spend for 2021-2023 to €180 million ($213 million), with €150million ($170 million) committed to the expansion of lithium production. 

Sunlight’s CEO Lampros Bisalas said: "The investment is already under implementation, and we’re excited for the new, state-of-the art machinery to be installed and further expand our capabilities.

“We’re keen to meet both current and future demands in the off-road mobility and RES energy storage, by scaling up capacity and rendering our Xanthi industrial park a true gigafactory.”

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Entek completes NSG deal to open door to offer PE, AGM and lithium-in battery separators

Mon, 09/06/2021 - 15:40 -- paul Crompton

Battery separator company Entek International completed the acquisition of a Japanese lead-acid battery separator firm.

Entek finalised the purchase of the majority stake in Nippon Sheet Glass’ (NSG) lead-acid battery separator business on 1 September.

The deal was first announced in May when both companies executed the relevant agreements and had to await approval by the laws and regulations in the relevant jurisdictions, including NSG’ home country Japan.

Larry Keith, CEO of Entek International, said the acquisition was an “important milestone” in the growth and evolution of the company’s global business.

The combination of manufacturing footprints and product portfolios will enable Entek to support customers around the world and produce all three primary separator technologies­­— polyethylene (PE) separator and absorbent glass mat (AGM), and lithium-ion separators— for the global energy storage industry.  

The transaction included all NSG's lead-battery separator manufacturing facilities in Japan and China for both AGM and PE

The investment provides Entek with the capacity and expanded product offerings to meet broader customer demands as well as enabling entry into new markets.

The acquisition is one of many strategic initiatives underway by the US firm, others include the expansion of the Indonesian manufacturing site, investment in specialty films at the Oregon campus, expansion of its equipment division and collaboration and investment at the Britishvolt gigafactory site in the UK.

You can read more about the deal in the latest edition of BEST magazine, available here

 
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Sakuú announces pilot facility as it scales up solid-state lithium-ion battery ambition

Fri, 09/03/2021 - 15:25 -- paul Crompton

Construction of a US solid-state lithium-ion battery pilot line and learning center is being built by additive manufacturing company Sakuu Corporation.

The US firm’s (previously named KeraCel) pilot line will be able to produce up to 2.5MWh of solid-state batteries per year and serve as a customer learning center for its advanced additive manufacturing platform. 

The facility is due to be operational by end of 2021.

Sakuú is aiming to produce solid-state batteries that are up to 50% smaller and 30% lighter than lithium-ion batteries, although the firm didn’t give any figures to back up that promise.

The pilot line will test the viability of the battery manufacturing process and enable Sakuú to deliver sample products to its “early access strategic partners”.

The second phase is expected next year and will use an array of Sakuú AM Platforms to produce up to 1GWh of solid-state battery capacity per year.

Sakuú is working with Relevant Industrial and Honeywell Process Solutions to design and develop the facility by scaling-up the laboratory environment into a fully functioning pilot manufacturing plant.

Relevant and Honeywell will provide engineering, process design, systems integration, and process manufacturing expertise to efficiently build the factory.

Robert Bagheri CEO and founder of Sakuú, said: “This is an important milestone for us. Our technology development has progressed to the level where we have decided to move ahead with our plan to construct and operate a pilot facility. 

“This facility will enable us to provide our strategic customers and early access partners with solid-state batteries for their own development and testing."

New cell developed

Last month, Sakuu announced it has developed a 3Ah lithium-metal solid-state battery (SSB).

Sakuú has been developing its first generation battery technology alongside its additive manufacturing platform, and aims for commercial launch by the end of this year. 

The first-generation batteries comprise 30 sub-cells and a proprietary printed ceramic separator. 

The battery will be targeted to consumer, aerospace, mobility, and other applications.

Bagheri said: “Over the last year, we have improved our battery energy capacity by a factor of 100 and our volumetric energy efficiency over 12 times and are planning to begin volume production of the batteries in early 2022 to meet the needs of our strategic partners."

In June, the California-based firm won approval of three patents: a hybrid solid-state cell with a sealed anode structure; an additive manufacturing system; and an electrophotographic multi-material 3D printer. 

This latest patent is for a monolithic ceramic electrochemical cell housing an anode and cathode receptive space, alongside a separator between the two— allowing for higher charging rates without the risk to safety posed by lithium-ion batteries. 

This is in addition to two previous battery patents for an integrated cell stack battery and monolithic solid-state battery, which were granted back in 2020. 

The second patent for a three-dimensional AM system, allows for patterned single layers to be assembled into a three-dimensional active device onto an assembly plate. The patent includes a carrier substrate which allows for single layers to be built separately and then dispensed on a stack on the assembly plate. 

The final patent is an electrophotographic three-dimensional printer system that can be used to create a 3D part derived from a composite toner material. 

The new patent allows for the use of multiple engineering materials, such as ceramic, metal and polymer materials, which electrophotography was previously unable to employ.

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