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Panasonic sells stake in long-term partner Tesla for $3.6 billion

Tue, 07/13/2021 - 08:53 -- Paul Crompton
Panasonic cells and Tesla car

Tesla’s lithium-ion battery maker Panasonic has sold its entire stake in the US electric vehicle OEM for almost $3.6 billion, reports Japanese business news outlet Nikkei.

Panasonic has said the sale will pay for its $7 billion acquisition of artificial intelligence software developer Blue Yonder, reported Nikkei.

Panasonic bought 1.4 million Tesla shares for about $30 million in 2010. Those stocks rose to $730 million at the end of March 2020, and by 24 June closed at $679.82 apiece.

Japanese firm Panasonic has been a long-term supplier of batteries to Tesla.

Last year, the pair signed a three-year pricing deal relating to the manufacture and supply of 2170 lithium-ion battery cells manufactured at its gigafactory in Nevada, US.

Panasonic said it would increase the energy density of its 2170 cells by 20% within five years and commercialise a cobalt-free version within three years.

The stock sell-off came in the same week China battery maker CATL extended a battery supply deal with Tesla to 2025.

Tesla entered into a partnership with South Korea’s LG Chem and China’s CATL in January 2020 as it looked to secure a lithium-ion battery supply for its electric cars at its Gigafactory 3 plant in Shanghai.

CATL signed a two-year battery supply agreement with Tesla, with the US firm determining the battery purchase volume, last July.

For more stories on Teslsa click here 

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Envision joins race to build UK’s first lithium-ion gigafactory

Thu, 07/08/2021 - 11:25 -- Paul Crompton
Envision joins race to build UK’s first lithium-ion gigafactory

Envision Group has joined the race to build the UK’s first lithium-ion gigafactory that will form part of a £1 billion ($1.3 billion) electric vehicle hub.

The company will invest £450 million ($622 million) to build the gigafactory on the International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP).

Formal planning for an initial 9GWh plant is about to begin, with Envision potentially investing up to £1.8 billion ($2.4 billion) to reach to 25GWh capacity by 2030 with potential on site for up to 35GWh. 

Envision AESC, the battery arm of Envision Group, already owns and operates a battery plant in Sunderland, established in 2012 to supply batteries to Nissan.

Envision plans to manufacture batteries for up to 100,000 Nissan electric vehicles a year at the gigafactory that will sit opposite the Nissan plant.

Lei Zhang, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Envision Group, said: "His commitment builds on our long-term partnership with Nissan. It will put the North East at the heart of a new EV hub in the UK, collaborating on R&D around the whole battery lifecycle, from storage, to second life use, V2G smart charging and closed loop recycling." 

The gigafactory is part of the Nissan EV36Zero hub, which will bring together electric vehicles, renewable energy and battery production at one site. 

The billion-dollar project has been launched with investment by Nissan, Envision AESC, and Sunderland City Council.

Nissan will invest up to £423 million ($585 million) to produce a new-generation all-electric vehicle in the UK. 

Nissan started production in Sunderland in July 1986. 

Race to build a gigafactory

According to the Faraday Institution, the UK will need eight gigafactories to meet domestic demand from EV and energy storage system developers.

Joining the race for the UK’s first gigafactory is Britishvolt, which announced last December it was set to build its plant in the North East of England— five months after signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Welsh government.

The company plans to begin construction of its plant in the Summer of 2021 after acquiring exclusive rights to a site in Blyth Northumberland. 

Read more about the Britishvolt’s plans in the Autumn 2020 edition of BEST magazine HERE

France gigafactory

Envision AESC is partnering with Renault Group to develop a 9GWh gigafactory in Douai by 2024, with aim of reaching 24GWh six-years later. 

Envision will invest up to €2 billion ($2.3 billion) to produce batteries for electric models, including the future Renault R5, at the plant in Douai situated near to Renault ElectriCity production sites at Douai, Maubeuge and Ruitz.

Lei Zhang, founder and chief executive officer of Envision Group, said: “This first phase development will unlock future large-scale investment to grow the local supply chain and develop the whole life cycle opportunities of batteries, including energy storage, battery reuse, smart charging and closed loop recycling.”

 

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Vehicle OEMs form joint ventures to make lithium-ion batteries in Europe

Tue, 07/06/2021 - 11:43 -- Paul Crompton
porsche ev

Two vehicle OEMs are aiming to navigate the pitfalls of securing a future battery supply for their electric cars by making the cells themselves.

Cellforce Group, a joint venture company between Porsche and lithium-ion battery firm Customcells, will produce battery cells at the Weissach Development Centre, Germany.

Porsche has a 83.75% stake in the new venture, which will be headquartered in Tübingen, Germany. 

The town is also on the shortlist for the location of the battery factory, which has a planned minimum annual capacity of 100MWh, or around 1,000 vehicles.

The Federal Republic of Germany and the state of Baden-Württemberg are funding the project with around €60 million ($71.4 million).

Oliver Blume, chairman of the Executive Board at Porsche, said: “The battery cell is the combustion chamber of the future. 

“This joint venture allows us to position ourselves at the forefront of global competition in developing the most powerful battery cell and make it the link between the driving experience and sustainability.”

Cellforce’s battery cell chemistry relies on silicon as the anode material, to deliver the same energy content with a smaller size. 

Chemical company BASF will exclusively provide NCM cathode materials after being chosen as a cell development partner.

The managing directors of Cellforce are Markus Gräf (chief operating officer), Wolfgang Hüsken (chief financial officer from Porsche), and Torge Thönnessen (chief technology officer from Customcells).

Volvo JV

Volvo Car Group intends to establish a joint venture with Swedish battery company Northvolt, to develop and produce batteries for the vehicle OEM’s next generation of pure electric cars.

The 50/50 joint venture initially aims to set up a research and development center in Sweden that will begin operations next year. 

The center plans to develop next-generation, “state-of-the-art” battery cells and vehicle integration technologies, and establish a new gigafactory in Europe.

The planned gigafactory could have up to 50GWh capacity per year, with production expected to start in 2026. The location of the new plant is yet to be decided.

As part of the plans, Volvo Car Group also aims to source 15GWh of battery cells per year from the existing Northvolt Ett battery plant in Skellefteå, Sweden starting in 2024. 

Volvo’s goal is for pure electric cars to make up half of all sales by the middle of this decade, and 100% by 2030.

The partnership and joint venture are subject to final negotiation and agreements between the parties, including board approval.

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Firm announces silicon boosted lithium-ion battery reaches 1,000mAh/g

Thu, 07/01/2021 - 11:16 -- Paul Crompton
One Battery sciences logo

OneD Battery Sciences has unveiled an electric vehicle battery that uses silicon nanowires to boost the energy density of lithium-ion cells.

The announcement follows three years of testing on commercial EV-grade graphite used in the anodes of EV batteries by unnamed graphite suppliers, cell manufactures, and EV makers in the US, Europe, and Asia.

During testing, the firm provided customers with standard versions of the Sinanode anodes for laboratory testing. 

OneD says customers plan to further customise the process to meet their specific needs, including processing large enough quantities to build EV cells for optimization and qualification. 

Testing was conducted in pilot Sinanode facilities, which included the equipment needed to process the graphite powders provided by the OEM.

The June 10 announcement marked the commercial launch of the firm’s pilot line production program dedicated to electric vehicle OEMs. 

The first two facilities are in the US, and additional facilities are under negotiation.

Each facility is set up to process up to 800kg of anode active material per month, and enough anode active material for 34MWh.

Sinanode Pilot processing will begin around the end of the year and the firm anticipates its first anchor tenant to start production by the end of this year or early 2022. Until then, it is processing in its Palo Alto pilot facility.

OneD’s chief commercial officer Fabrice Hudry told BEST: “The Sinanode process is two parts: a Catalyst step and Silicon step. 

“The Catalyst step deposits nanoparticles of copper oxide onto the graphite particles. The Silicon step uses CVD ovens to grow silicon nanowires onto the graphite particles. 

“Each facility has a small production team dedicated full time to the OEM’s processing. The OEM can process multiple graphite powders and select various silicon percentages; they can also work with the OneD R&D team to access many inventions related to adopting the anode materials in specific electrode manufacturing processes and cell designs.

“We expect OEMs to fine-tune EV cells for both the high end and the low end of their EV models due in 2025. These models will enter production by 2024 and we will have the large scale processing ready by then to process according to their fully qualified specific Sinanode formulation.

Existing manufacturing processes

The company’s CEO, Vincent Pluvinage, told BEST: “Over the last ten years, we have built and tested thousands of full pouch cells built with various graphite substrates and various commercial cathodes. 

“We have also tested cells built by our customers from 18650 format to 60 Ah pouch formats. 

“We are currently negotiating the contracts for the programs.”

The firm’s Sinanode technology integrates into existing manufacturing processes to fuse silicon nanowires onto commercial graphite powders.

The higher energy density increases battery range while nanowires shorten charging time, which will enable OEMs to design and produce electric vehicles that answer market demands, say the firm.

The company says its Sinanode pushes the anode specific capacity to around 1,000mAh/g.

A graphite anode, which is widely used in commercial lithium-ion batteries, has a theoretical specific capacity of 372mAh/g.

The Sinanode anode material can be blended with graphite, to achieve initial coulombic efficiency of around 92%, and more than 1,000 full charge cycles than commercially available EV cells.

This reduces the investments and time necessary to scale up the Sinanode step to EV quantities, while decreasing the cost of EV anodes (measured in $ per kWh) by almost 50%, when compared to the cost of most competitive anodes used in EV batteries today.

Pluvinage said: “During this decade, we will witness the largest and fastest transformation of a global industry that’s ever been seen, and the decisions made today will determine which car makers come out on top.

 

“EV demand will be driven by range, charge time, and cost, and our technology addresses each of these purchase drivers in a significant way.”

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High purity lithium hydroxide plant to make lithium-ion battery material in Germany

Tue, 06/29/2021 - 10:53 -- Paul Crompton
High purity lithium hydroxide plant to make lithium-ion battery material in Germany

A German lithium hydroxide material plant to supply the European electric vehicle battery market will be built by Advanced Metallurgical Group (AMG) and GEA.

The battery-grade lithium hydroxide will be produced in a plant operated by AMG Lithium at Chemiepark Bitterfeld-Wolfen, Germany. 

GEA will supply AMG Lithium (a subsidiary and part of the AMG Clean Energy Materials division of AMG) with a pre-concentration plant and its crystallisation technology, which it uses to purify lithium hydroxide.

The first module, due to be commissioned in 2023, will have an annual capacity of 20,000 tons of lithium hydroxide, with plans to increase capacity up to 100,000 tons.

The plant will use technical grade lithium hydroxide as raw material in the first module and convert it into battery grade Lithium hydroxide monohydrate(LiOH- H2O) in the new plant.

The plant engineering solution includes pre-concentration, crystallisation and drying of the crystals and comprises design, manufacture, installation and commissioning.

AMG Lithium combines extensive lithium expertise in R&D, production and marketing with a reliable and safe raw material base from a group-owned mine in Brazil. 

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Tesla air quality fine as authority notes 33 violations at Fremont plant

Wed, 05/19/2021 - 09:06 -- Paul Crompton
Electric vehicle and energy storage firm Tesla must pay a $1 million fine over air quality violations at its manufacturing plant in Fremont, California, US.

Electric vehicle and energy storage firm Tesla must pay a $1 million fine over air quality violations at its manufacturing plant in Fremont, California, US.

The fine from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (Air District) includes Tesla having to install a solar roof project and implement a comprehensive environmental management system at the plant.

Tesla must also fund a community microgrid, pairing a two-powerpack storage system with up to 160kW solar electric system. 

The settlement covers 33 notices of violation that the Air District issued to Tesla. 

The violations included: emissions exceeding Tesla’s permit limits, installing or modifying equipment without proper permits, failure to conduct required emissions testing, failure to maintain records and failure to report information to the Air District in a timely manner. 

Jack Broadbent, executive officer of the Air District, said: “This settlement requires Tesla’s compliance with Air District regulations at its Fremont facility and demonstrates the Air District’s continuing efforts to ensure strict compliance with air pollution regulations, while seeking mutually beneficial solutions for the community.

“As part of this settlement, Tesla has agreed to implement a community microgrid project, which leverages the company’s technological expertise in developing next generation power here in the Bay Area.” 

The comprehensive environmental management system will track all applicable environmental requirements and ensure that the company’s managers are trained on what is needed to comply with them. 

This environmental management system is designed to ensure that Tesla remains in full compliance going forward. 

Tesla has already begun implementing such a system, but today’s settlement agreement will make this a legally binding and enforceable commitment. 

All the violations that led to this settlement have been corrected and are back in compliance. 

Last November, BEST reported how a report filed to the US Securities and Exchange Commission for the quarterly period ending 30 September, 2020, showed Tesla’s subsidiary in Germany has been ordered to pay a €12 million ($14 million) fine imposed by the Umweltbundesamt (the German Federal Environment Agency) for alleged non-compliance of ‘take-back obligations with respect to end-of-life battery products’. 

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Fenix opens recycling facility in Scotland specialising in EV lithium-ion batteries

Fri, 05/14/2021 - 07:57 -- Paul Crompton
Fenix Battery Recycling has opened a multi-chemistry battery recycling facility in Kilwinning in Scotland specialising in electric vehicle batteries (EV).

Fenix Battery Recycling has opened a multi-chemistry battery recycling facility in Kilwinning in Scotland specialising in electric vehicle batteries.

The fully licensed and permitted site near Glasgow is ready to accept batteries for storage and discharge, with material coming from as far as the US to be treated by the company.

The news comes after Fenix Battery Recycling, Ever Resource and the University of Birmingham received £955,000 ($1.3 million) grant funding. 

The funding was from the UK government’s Innovate UK Smart Grants programme, and will be used to develop separation technologies for end-of-life lithium ion batteries.

Damian Lambkin, commercial and business development director at Fenix Battery Recycling said he company’s development plans also include establishing educational and research facilities within the wider community in Scotland.

Fenix Battery Recycling also has a plant at Willenhall in the West Midlands, which is due to become fully operational once it receives its permit from the Environment Agency – a process which has been delayed by Covid-19. 

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Start-ups secure funding to drive lithium-ion battery market in India

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 15:06 -- Paul Crompton

Lithium-ion electric vehicle battery manufacturing and recycling start-up Lohum Cleantech has raised $7 million to expand its manufacturing and recycling capabilities and expand its presence to the US in the coming months.

The New Delhi, India, firm secured the cash during a round of funding from institutional investors led by Baring Private Equity Partners (BPEP). 

Lohum aims to increase its combined manufacturing and recycling capacity to 700MWh, from 150MWh for the former and 150MWh for the latter. 

Its manufacturing plant in Greater Noida has the capacity to produce battery packs for 75,000 electric two-wheelers, according to Lohum CEO Rajat Verma.

Verma told the Indian English language newspaper The Economic Times the company was looking to raise an additional $20 million in funding (INR 150 Crore) over the next year. 

Lohum assembles lithium-ion batteries from cells imported from other countries, including China and Taiwan.

It follows Mumbai-based electric vehicle and energy storage company Gegadyne raising $5 million in strategic investment from electrical appliances giant V-Guard. 

This investment will enable Gegadyne Energy to scale up its operations and further enhance research and development.

Founded in 2015, Gegadyne says its battery consists of proprietary nano-material composites and ‘advanced battery architectures’ that enable quick charging batteries with high energy density similar to lithium-ion batteries.

However, it is not clear what chemistry its battery uses but it claims to be able to charge in 15 minutes.

JAC Motors partners with CBAK to design lithium-ion batteries for China’s EV market

Mon, 01/18/2021 - 10:55 -- Paul Crompton

China-based lithium-ion battery manufacturer CBAK Energy Technology has signed a three-year strategic agreement with state-owned vehicle OEM Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Group (JAC Motors).

The strategic agreement will combine the former's battery knowledge in the research, development, and manufacturing of battery cells with the latter's technology capabilities in the electric vehicle industry. 

 

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BYD builds on its closed loop dream with second-life lithium-ion battery partnership

Tue, 01/05/2021 - 14:34 -- Paul Crompton

Chinese battery OEM and electric vehicle maker BYD will transform old batteries into energy storage systems through a partnership with Chinese lithium-ion recycling start-up Pandpower and Japanese trading house Itochu.

Old battery packs from buses, taxis and other vehicles manufactured by BYD will be collected from dealerships across China and turned into ship-container-sized power units for renewable energy and factories.

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