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Battery Resourcers welcomes Toyota Research Institute’s CFO to its board

Tue, 08/24/2021 - 11:50 -- paul Crompton
Kelly Kay

Vertically integrated lithium-ion battery recycler and manufacturer Battery Resourcers has named Kelly Kay as its newest board member.

Kay serves as executive vice president, chief financial officer and chief diversity & inclusion officer at the Toyota Research Institute (TRI). 

Her appointment comes three months after the firm completed a $20 million Series B equity round, and announced the development of a commercial-scale processing facility with the capacity to produce “10,000 tons” of batteries annually.

Mike O'Kronley, CEO and director of Battery Resourcers, said: "Kelly's experience at high growth companies and her deep knowledge of business operations and strategy will help bring us to the next level in our development.”

Kay joined TRI in 2017 and has previously served as the organisation's chief operating officer. 

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China's Lomon Billions to enter lithium-ion battery market with new material plants

Mon, 08/23/2021 - 12:09 -- paul Crompton

China materials firm Lomon Billions plans to enter the battery industry by building three lithium-ion cathode and anode material production facilities. 

The proposed plants in China will cover lithium iron phosphate and titanium dioxide production. 

A 200,000 tonnes-per-year (t/yr) facility for battery-grade iron phosphate will be built in Qinyang city, in the Henan province, over three phases: two 50,000 t/yr stages and a 100,000 t/yr stage.

Another 200,000 t/yr facility is proposed for Henan's Jiaozuo city to ensure feedstock supplies for the lithium iron phosphate project. 

Lomon Billions is planning to construct a 100,000 t/yr plant for artificial lithium-ion battery anode material in Jiaozuo developed in two phases, with 25,000 t/yr and 75,000 t/yr capacity respectively. 

It will also invest 700mn yuan ($108 million) to expand titanium dioxide production in Jiaozuo by 100,000 t/yr. Its total titanium dioxide capacity is 1 million t/yr. 

Details including the construction schedules and launch dates were undisclosed. 

China upping materials production

Chinese companies, including cobalt refinery Jinchuan Group and diversified new energy firm Ningbo Shanshan, have expanded their battery cathode and anode materials production capacity for power.

Jinchuan is on track to raise its production capacity for nickel-cobalt-manganese (NCM) precursors by 100,000 t/yr in China's Gansu province. 

Shanshan is projected to build a 200,000 t/yr production facility for anode material in China's Sichuan province. 

Domestic power battery manufacturer Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL) has unveiled plans to increase its lithium-ion battery capacity by 137GWh/yr through five production projects in the next three years.

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UL and Hyundai team up to make safer second-life lithium-ion ESSs

Wed, 08/18/2021 - 11:21 -- paul Crompton

Battery safety firm Underwriters Laboratory (UL) and vehicle OEM Hyundai Motor Company have signed a deal to help enhance the safe deployment and use of second-life battery energy storage systems (ESS).

The firms will work together on ESS’ using second-life batteries (including safety testing and assessment), a North America demonstration project and an evaluation process development. 

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed on 23 July at a ceremony at UL’s offices in Seoul, South Korea. 

Sajeev Jesudas, executive vice president and chief commercial officer at UL, said: “Reusing batteries in secondary applications is a promising strategy to help combat climate change and carbon emissions.

“We are joining together to consider second-life battery applications as well as their safety and performance potential.”

The batteries from electric vehicles (EV) are deemed ready for second-life use when they “no longer meet the requirements of automotive applications”, but can be used on less demanding grid-connected energy storage applications. 

Anticipating the deployment of second-life automotive batteries for ESSs, UL participated in the development of UL 1974, the Standard for Evaluation for Repurposing Batteries.

The standard, to address the safety and reliability of repurposing batteries, was published in 2018 by UL’s non profit parent, Underwriters Laboratories, as a bi-national Standard of the United States and Canada. 

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'Made in Europe' goal sees Renault and Vulcan sign lithium-ion battery material deal

Fri, 08/13/2021 - 17:09 -- paul Crompton

French vehicle OEM Renault Group has signed a five-year deal to receive up to 17,000 metric tonnes of battery grade lithium hydroxide monohydrate materials a year from Vulcan Energy Resources.

Australian company Vulcan will supply between 6,000 and 17,000 metric tonnes per year of battery grade materials produced in its German plant from 2026.

The binding lithium offtake term sheet is conditional on the execution of a definitive agreement on materially similar terms by 20 November.

The deal is in line with Renault’s ambition to offer 'Made in Europe' cars.

The announcement follows a similar deal with LG Energy Solutions to deliver 55,000 metric tonnes of battery grade lithium hydroxide over a five-year period.

That deal starts in 2025. 

In April, Vulcan Energy bolstered its board of directors by welcoming former Tesla head of battery and energy supply chain, Annie Liu, and ex-Evonik executive Dr. Heidi Grön as non-executive directors.

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LG Chem begins billion-dollar plan to be world’s biggest battery materials firm

Thu, 08/12/2021 - 15:41 -- paul Crompton
LG CHem office building

LG Chem has bought the battery materials manufacturing arm of its subsidiary LG Electronics in a bid to become the “world’s largest general battery materials company”.

The Korean firm bought the operations of the Chemical Electronic Material (CEM) business sector under the LG Electronics’ Business Solution Division for 525 billion KRW ($456 million).

The purchase will bring the four key materials for batteries under LG Chem’s roof, in addition to its existing businesses in the anode materials, cathode binders, electrolyte additive, and CNT (carbon nanotube) sectors.

The announcement on 29 July includes all “tangible and intangible” assets such as production facilities and personnel in the business sector. 

The LG Electronics CEM Division manufactures battery materials such as separation membranes and display materials, and it has production facilities in Cheongju Korea, Hangzhou of China, and Wroclaw of Poland. 

Billion-dollar investment 

LG Chem plans to invest 6 trillion KRW ($5 billion), including this acquisition, to become the world’s top general battery materials company.

The firm plans to build a 60,000-ton capacity plant in Gumi, South Korea, this December for the cathode material business. 

Through this, the cathode production capacity of LG Chem will increase from 40,000 tons last year to 260,000 tons by 2026.

A joint venture is being prepared with an unnamed mining company for the supply of metals that will be used as the raw materials for anode materials. 

The company is also set to focus R&D on anode materials, separation membranes, cathode binders, and radiant adhesives to “differentiate its technologies and acquire market leadership”. 

It also plans to triple CNT production scale from 1,700 tons by 2025. 

In June 2020, LG Chem announced it would invest around KRW 65 billion ($53 million, at the time) to expand CNT manufacturing by 1,200 tons at its Yeosu plant from Q1 of this year.

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Kore Power choses site for its US-owned lithium-ion gigafactory

Tue, 08/10/2021 - 16:07 -- paul Crompton

Lithium-ion battery start-up Kore Power has confirmed that its gigafactory will be built in Arizona, US.

The one million square foot manufacturing facility in Maricopa County will support up to 12GWh of battery cell production for electric vehicles and power grid applications.

The US company, founded in 2018, plans to start construction of the facility, dubbed KOREPlex, by the end of the year with the goal of beginning production in Q2 2023.

Arizona governor Doug Ducey said the plant would “position Arizona as an anchor in the global battery manufacturing supply chain”. 

Kore’s new plant will add to its annual production capacity of 2GWh that is in the process of scaling up to 6GWh. 

KOREPlex will operate with net-zero carbon emissions through strategic partnerships and solar-plus- and storage co-generation.

Lindsay Gorrill, Kore Power CEO, said: “We needed a location for our factory that had a track record of supporting energy storage, a growing clean transportation sector, and a workforce that could deliver American-made battery technology that the supply chain so desperately needs. Arizona hit a home run.”

The decision comes just under two years after Kore first announced it would build a gigafactory in the US.

BEST reported in February how Idaho-headquartered Kore had narrowed the site for its 12GWh plant down to either Arizona, Florida or Texas

Kore said it picked the Arizona site as it offered proximity to complimentary industries such as e-mobility, solar, semiconductor, and utilities, workforce and logistics capacity, and a pro-business tax and regulatory environment.

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Tesla’s lithium-ion megapack causes three-day fire during test at Australian 300MW ESS

Mon, 08/09/2021 - 16:25 -- paul Crompton

A fire that spread across two Tesla lithium-ion battery packs at Neoen’s 300MW/450MWh energy storage system (ESS) in Australia took three days to extinguish.

French firm Neoen, which owns and operates the Victorian Big Battery project, said a fire occurred within one of the Tesla megapacks and spread to another during initial testing of the ESS on 30 July.

The system was disconnected from the grid and there was “no impact to the electricity supply", said Neoen managing director Louis de Sambucy in a statement.

Fire Rescue Victoria (FRV) crews wore breathing apparatus as they worked to contain the fire within the 13 tonne lithium-ion battery— which is housed in a shipping container—and stop it spreading to nearby batteries.

A FRV HAZMAT appliance conducted atmospheric monitoring with a Scientific Officer in support. 

A Neoen statement read: “Investigation preparations are underway and physical inspections will commence once the CFA [Victorian County Fire Authority] have completed their procedures.

“Testing will resume only once Neoen can be ensured that all security conditions are met.”

The Victorian Country Fire Authority, Energy Safe Victoria and WorkSafe Victoria are set to work with Neoen and Tesla on a “full and comprehensive” investigation of the fire.

The FRV statement did not give the cause of the fire.

The project to modernise the grid and unlock capacity within the existing Victorian electricity network will be delivered by Neoen, Tesla, and network partner AusNet Services.

The project is due to start operating this December.

Tesla’s 3MW megapacks are pre-assembled and pre-tested in one enclosure — including battery modules, bi-directional inverters, a thermal management system, an AC main breaker and controls.

Tesla had not replied to BEST’s questions at the time of publication.

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Research collaboration aims to extend lead battery cycle life using lignosulfates

Wed, 08/04/2021 - 11:32 -- paul Crompton

A cohort of US battery companies will collaborate with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory and The University of Toledo (UToledo) to improve lead-battery cycling efficiency. 

The new two-year research collaboration is focused on improving the performance of advanced lead batteries, which includes work to identify methods to extend their cycle life. 

The project will explore lignosulfonates use on a lead battery’s negative plates to maintain the optimum flow of energy from the battery. 

The research team will conduct an atomic level examination of organic materials (known as expanders) to extend the life of lead batteries by improving their cycling efficiency.

The project will be led by Argonne’s Material Science Division in collaboration with Dr. Cora Lind-Kovacs, professor in the UToledo Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. 

Joining Argonne and UToledo are: Crown Battery; Clarios; EnerSys; East Penn Manufacturing; and Ecobat. 

The aim is to develop longer life batteries to assist the US’ transition to an electric and decarbonised future as part of president Joe Biden’s February Executive Order for the US to assert global leadership with home-grown technology. 

Lind-Kovacs said: “We are excited to collaborate with Argonne National Laboratory and the American Battery Research Group to investigate the atomic level mechanism of how expander molecules interact with the different lead species present in batteries.

“This is a great opportunity to use our expertise in materials chemistry at UToledo to work closely with several companies to help address a relevant industrial problem.” 

This cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) marks the second major collaborative research project between the lead battery industry and Argonne. 

The first research program, identified several critical battery additives for intensive research, including the lignosulfonates under investigation here. 

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Arcimoto and Redivivus launch battery recycling partnership

Mon, 08/02/2021 - 11:03 -- paul Crompton
Arcimoto electric vehicle

Electric vehicle maker Arcimoto has launched a battery recycling program with lithium-ion battery recycling company Redivivus.

Redivivus will provide a battery processing solution to Oregan, US, firm Arcimoto’s manufacturing plants, and service and sales centers, based on its hydrometallurgical and electrochemical battery recycling Process.

The materials will be transported to a recycling line designed by Redivivus, where it will use its Redi-Cycle process to convert the materials into secondary materials.

One of the final products is a nickel and cobalt metallic alloy.

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Public-private partnership to plug Europe’s 800,000 person battery skills gap

Mon, 07/19/2021 - 14:40 -- paul Crompton
workers at a battery factory

A public-private partnership aims to fill the European battery industry skills gap by training 150,000 workers to aid the transition to electric vehicles.

A memorandum of understanding between EIT InnoEnergy and France has paved the way to launching the EBA250 Academy, which aims to reskill and upskill specialised engineers, technicians and researchers.

EIT InnoEnergy, coordinating the industrial work under the European Battery Alliance (EBA), will spearhead an education-sharing platform.

EIT InnoEnergy plans to rollout its training programme in France and throughout Europe.

The industry-expert designed courses will cover a range of topics from electromobility, residential storage and grid storage, to recycling and data science.

The modules will be delivered by local training organisations online, although some may require physical attendance at local training facilities.

Any engineer or executive working in energy can apply.

The public-private partnership will address the emerging skills gap that requires around 800,000 qualified workers to enter the European battery industry by 2025. 

This includes the lack of transferrable digital skills needed to support the digitalisation of the entire value chain, from factory automation with industry 4.0 to AI use. 

Reskilling the workforce is essential in ensuring Europe meets its Green Deal targets by safeguarding sufficient battery manufacturing capacity to support the electrification of transport and decarbonisation of energy.

In 2017, the European Commission launched the European Battery Alliance.

Commission vice-president Maroš Šefčovič, in charge of the European Battery Allianc, said: “The new battery industry requires a new set of skills. Reskilling and upskilling programmes, such as the EBA250 Academy, will therefore help match skills with labour market needs as well as reinforce the social dimension of Europe’s recovery.”

Along with France, EIT InnoEnergy is already implementing the EBA250 Academy in Spain and plans to roll out the programme across Europe during 2021. 

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