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Lithium-ion

German firm to open $44 million EV lithium-ion battery testing facility in US

Mon, 01/10/2022 - 10:13 -- Paul Crompton

German testing firm TÜV SÜD is set to invest $44 million in a state-of-the-art electric vehicle (EV) lithium-ion battery testing facility in Michigan, US.

The 80,000-square foot facility will provide EV battery, environmental, EMC/wireless, electrical safety testing and homologation services to the automotive and transportation market.

The new facility is scheduled for completion in Q1 2023.

The firm’s electric vehicle lithium-ion battery testing and certification services ensures batteries, cells, chargers and electrical components for use in automotive applications meet global safety requirements for all major manufacturer and industry certifications quickly.

Testing includes: full environmental capabilities; altitude simulation; shock and vibration; vibration with environmental (including humidity), battery abuse testing; life cycle testing; calendar life testing, and more.

 
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Carbon-based anode could pave way to ultra-fast charging lithium-ion batteries.

Mon, 01/10/2022 - 10:07 -- Paul Crompton

Scientists from Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (JAIST) have developed a new anode material that could overcome the slow charging times of conventional lithium-ion batteries.

The technology uses a carbon-based anode with ∼17 wt% of nitrogen doping (introduction of nitrogen impurities) with charging capability at 18.6 A g−1.

The findings could pave the way to fast-charging and durable batteries for electric vehicles as the industry looks to cut the charge time of EVs from around 40-minutes to be below 15 minutes. 

The team of scientists from JAIST was led by professor Noriyoshi Matsumi, and included: professor Tatsuo Kaneko; senior lecturer Rajashekar Badam,; JAIST technical specialist Koichi Higashimine; JAIST research fellow Yueying Peng, and JAIST student Kottisa Sumala Patnaik.

The team’s findings were published online in the journal Chemical Communications.

Professor Matsumi said: "The extremely fast charging rate with the anode material we prepared could make it suitable for use in EVs. Much shorter charging times will hopefully attract consumers to choose EVs rather than gasoline-based vehicles, ultimately leading to cleaner environments in every major city across the world."

New battery material

The precursor material for the anode is poly (benzimidazole), a bio-based polymer that can be synthesized from raw materials of biological origin was calcinated at 800°C. 

Durability tests using half-and full-cells showed the proposed anode material retained around 90% of its initial capacity after 3,000 charge-discharge cycles at high rates.

The researchers verified the successful synthesis of the material and studied its composition and structural properties using a variety of techniques, including: scanning electron tunneling microscopy, Raman spectroscopy, and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy.

A method being investigated to cut charge times is increasing the diffusion rate of lithium ions, which in turn can be done by increasing the interlayer distance in the carbon-based materials used in the battery's anode. 

While this has been achieved with some success by nitrogen doping there is no method easily available to control interlayer distance or to concentrate the doping element.

Modifications to the structure of the polymer precursor could lead to even better performance, which might be relevant for the batteries not only of EVs, but also of portable electronics. 

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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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Feedstock concerns to stymie EV battery recycling goals— but China’s market remains appealing

Tue, 12/21/2021 - 09:56 -- Paul Crompton

Lithium-ion electric vehicle battery recycling is not expected to “take off” before 2030 despite a number of projects launching across the globe in the last two years. 

New, cheaper virgin materials, and a lack of feedstock were named as major barriers to the lithium-ion battery recycling sector in a report by market analysts Wood Mackenzie (Wood Mac).

With economies of scale bringing down the cost of battery manufacturing, and cell makers “leaning towards using cheaper materials” recyclers must increase the efficiency of their processes to maintain profit, states the report. 

Moreover, the introduction of new materials such as solid-state electrolytes will require recyclers to retrofit their processes.

Max Reid, research analyst Wood Mackenzie’s battery raw materials service, pointed to the lack of recyclable feedstock as a major barrier due to the limited number of end-of-life (EoL) batteries available for recycling, because EV penetration at the beginning of the decade is much lower than at the end— and EVs have lifespans reaching up to 15 years.

Need for recycling 

The recycling sector is already aggressively scaling up, despite the lack of available secondary supply from recycling.

According to Wood Mac’s analysis, the total capacity of planned recycling facilities will still overshoot feedstock in 2030 when end of life (EoL) EV numbers begin to ramp up.

The resulting supply imbalance will leave independent recyclers, especially in North America and Europe, scrambling to secure a supply of used EV batteries, say Wood Mac.  

That imbalance is, in part, because of China’s appealing location for battery recycling— with companies benefitting from greater integration with nearby cathode production plants— that allows them to bid much higher prices for used batteries than their Western counterparts.

This is unlikely to change until North America and Europe have developed more integrated raw material supply chains, notes the report.

Reid said: “Bullish expectations for lithium-ion recycling may well lead to a rush of new entrants to the space. However, limitations on feedstocks mean that only the large and integrated will likely survive and reap the rewards in later years.”

The lithium-ion EV pack recycling industry is highlighted by reports of potential shortages in the supply chain by 2030.

For example, market analysts Roskill predict lithium carbonate equivalent demand will increase 4.5 times to two million tonnes, and cobalt demand will almost double to 270,000 tonnes by 2030 (from 2020 figures).

Analysts CRU forecast EV battery makers will require around 120,000 tonnes, or nearly 45% of the total cobalt supply by 2025, compared with 39,000 tonnes last year.

A new cathode facility will produce 50 kilo-tonnes per annum (ktpa) of NMC (nickel, manganese and cobalt) material (enough for around 400,000 EVs), whilst a recycling facility will typically process 5-10 ktpa of e-waste (around 30,000 EV-packs yearly).

EV adoption 

Wood Mackenzie predicts global passenger car sales will grow from just under 7% (of all electric vehicle sales) to 23% by 2030— with 89% of lithium-ion battery demand coming from the EV sector by 2040.

Max Reid, research analyst Wood Mackenzie’s battery raw materials service, said: “Underneath the surface of this electric future lies a relatively young supply chain struggling to keep up. The lithium-ion battery demand market can fluctuate over months and expanding upstream and midstream to produce battery materials involves lead times of several years.

“As it is a new industry, there is limited historic capacity to flip the switch on, and yet many see this as a ripe environment for recycling to make a tangible impact.

“This decade will see the supply chain further establish itself to be able to supply vast quantities of battery-grade chemicals and cathodes to cell manufacturers, whilst recyclers will struggle with the large mass and complexity of EV-packs.” 

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Plans for UK’s biggest lithium-ion battery ESS unveiled by Sembcorp

Mon, 12/20/2021 - 10:22 -- Paul Crompton

Plans for a 360MW lithium-ion energy storage system are underway in the UK by energy generation and battery storage firm Sembcorp Energy UK (SEUK).

The system will be built at Wilton International on Teesside, with Sembcorp planning to build out the first phase of the project by 2023, with the rest of the project to follow in stages.

Once completed, the full 360MW of storage capacity will be on one site, where Sembcorp has available land and connections ready to install the batteries.

A competitive tender is being conducted to decide who will supply the energy storage system (ESS).

Grid connection approval is under way and, if successful, the ESS will operate on the wholesale markets delivering balancing services (firm frequency response, fast reserve, dynamic containment) plus new products that power utility National Grid is developing (dynamic moderation and dynamic regulation) and aim to launch next March.

SEUK operates 70MW of batteries, with a further 50MW due to be operational in early 2022. 

 Andy Koss, CEO of UK & Middle East, Sembcorp Industries, said: “Now, more than ever, flexible energy sources play an increasingly important role in maintaining secure and reliable energy supplies. 

“With a growing reliance on renewables, the UK energy system needs to be flexible and able to respond quickly to changes. Sembcorp Energy UK is committed to accelerating the energy transition with sustainable solutions, such as batteries.” 

In comparison, the biggest lithium-ion ESS of its kind in the world was completed by generation firm Vistra in Monterey County, US in August.

The 100MW expansion of the Moss Landing Energy Storage Facility brings the facility's total capacity to 400MW/1.6GWh. 

Building out UK’s power supply 

In September, BEST reported the UK’s largest lithium-ion energy storage system using a Tesla Megapack was being built at Clay Tye in Essex,

The 99MW/198MWh ESS will be delivered through a partnership between Spain’s Fotowatio Renewable Ventures (FRV)— part of Saudi Arabia’s Abdul Latif Jameel group— and the UK’s Harmony Energy.

The Clay Tye ESS beats two other projects in the UK, which are: the 150MW/150MWh Minety battery in south-west England, and a 100MW/100MWh project in Chester, which is due to be commissioned in Q1 2022.

In July 2020, the UK government introduced a secondary legislation to remove barriers for storage projects above 50MW in England and 350MW in Wales.

Removing barriers for energy storage projects were aimed at encouraging bolder investment decisions in larger battery facilities.

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Industry wide consortium to develop 500Wh/kg vehicle battery after $75 million DoE funding

Mon, 12/20/2021 - 10:10 -- Paul Crompton

The Battery500 Consortium— a collaboration of US laboratories and academia that includes Nobel Prize winners— has been awarded $75 million for the second phase of research on high-performing vehicle batteries. 

The cash— $15 million a year over five years, subject to appropriations— was part of $209 million provided by the Department of Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) for advancing electric vehicles, batteries and connected vehicles.

Phase 2 will continue research on developing high-energy batteries with a specific energy up to 500Wh/kg, to meet Department of Energy performance and cost goals. 

The collaboration brings together complementary skills and resources in materials, chemistry, condensed matter physics, batteries; and computation from multiple Department of Energy national laboratories, universities, and industry. 

John Goodenough, engineering professor at University of Texas at Austin and co-recipient of the Nobel Prize recipient in chemistry for developing lithium-ion batteries, said: “We have come a long way with fundamental research and development that has led to widespread commercialization of lithium-ion battery technology. 

“As we proceed with automobile electrification, long driving range between charges with acceptable cycle life is critical.”

Industry wide collaboration

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) leads the consortium, with collaborators continuing from Phase 1.

Those collaborators are: Brookhaven National Laboratory, Idaho National Laboratory, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Binghamton University, the University of Texas at Austin, Stanford University, the University of California at San Diego, and the University of Washington.

Tapped to join Phase 2 are scientists from Texas AM University, Penn State University, the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Maryland, and General Motors.

M. Stanley Whittingham, distinguished professor of chemistry at Binghamton University and co-recipient of the 2019 Nobel Prize, said the next phase of the research would allow the consortium to build on the success of the last five years.

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Researchers develop new anode to speed lithium-ion charging by 10 times

Fri, 12/17/2021 - 15:45 -- Paul Crompton

Researchers from the University of Twente (MESA+ Institute) in the Netherlands have developed an anode for lithium-ion batteries that they claim speeds up charging by ten times.

By using nickel niobate for the anode of lithium-ion batteries researchers said they could increase the charging speed without the risk of damaging the material.

Nickel niobate is more compact than graphite, so it has a higher ‘volumetric’ energy density. 

The research team tested the first full battery cells with the new anode material with various existing cathode materials. 

They concluded the material would be ideal for introducing it into an energy grid, in electrically powered machines, or in electrically powered heavy transport. 

The technology is not yet ready for use in electrical vehicles. 

The researchers published their first results in the journal Advanced Energy Materials.

The new material nickel niobate (NiNb2O6) appears to return to its original level after fast charging due to its ‘open’ and regular crystal structure, resulting in channels for charge transport that are identical.

In the search for alternatives, new types of nano-structured materials are an option, but un channels organized in a random way may cause deposits of lithium on the anode material, resulting in poorer performance after every cycle. 

Manufacturing these materials is also complicated— for nickel niobate, a cleanroom infrastructure is not necessary.

The new anode will also work for alternatives for lithium, research leader Professor Mark Huijben says.

The paper ‘Nickel Niobate Anodes for High Rate Lithium-ion batteries’. 

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Latest South Korean firm reveals plans for 108,000 tpy European lithium-ion battery cathode plant

Fri, 12/17/2021 - 10:04 -- Paul Crompton

South Korean firm EcoPro BM— the battery material business unit of Ecopro— is set to build a 108,000 tonnes per year lithium-ion cathode factory in Hungary.

The company plans to build a cathode factory in Hungary to supply the electric car battery market, Hungary's foreign minister Péter Szijjártó confirmed via Facebook, according to news outlet Reuters.

The 264 billion forints ($810 million) investment will see the first phase of the plant’s construction finished in the second half of 2024 in the town of Debrecen. 

The second phase will finish a year later.

Szijjártó is reported to have said the Hungarian government was providing an unannounced grant to EcoPro BM.

The grant total is expected to be announced after the European Commission is notified of the deal.

Hungary’s battery expansion

Last month, Korean firms Toray Industries and LG Chem concluded a joint venture agreement to create a lithium-ion battery separator firm in Hungary.

The agreement sets out plans to establish LG Toray Hungary Battery Separator Kft. (LTHS), in which Toray and LG Chem will each hold a 50% interest. 

Under this arrangement, LG Chem will invest $375 million (around ¥43 billion) in Toray Industries Hungary (THU), a 100% subsidiary of Toray engaged in the manufacture and sales of battery separator film.

The deal is due to be finalised next year, subject to fulfilling regulatory requirements.

In the past five years BEST has reported on a number of battery projects in Hungary, which can be viewed here

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