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Lithium-ion

Li-Cycle ups US lithium-ion battery recycling capacity to meet growing demand

Tue, 09/21/2021 - 13:46 -- paul Crompton

Canadian firm Li-Cycle has confirmed it will build a fourth commercial lithium-ion battery recycling facility in North America.

The plant— called a spoke by the firm— in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, will provide an initial processing capacity increase of up to 5,000 tonnes of manufacturing scrap and end-of-life batteries per year.

The Tuscaloosa site is also being developed to accommodate a future, second 5,000 tonne processing line, which would double capacity at the site.

The Alabama Spoke is due to start operations by mid-2022.

Spoke 4 will initially bring Li-cycle’s North American recycling capacity to 25,000 tonnes per year, and adds to the firm’s facilities in Ontario, Canada, New York, and a plant in Arizona, US, that is in advanced stage of construction.

The Arizona, Spoke 3, facility will process 10,000 tonnes of batteries per year when complete, effectively doubling the firm’s total recycling capacity in North America.

Tim Johnston, co-founder, and executive chairman of Li-Cycle, said: "Originally, we had planned on rolling out three commercial Spoke facilities in North America over the next five years, with a total recycling capacity of 20,000 tonnes per year. 

“However, demand for lithium-ion battery recycling has continued to outperform our forecasts and we are now forecasting total recycling capacity of 30,000 tonnes per year. 

“This Alabama facility is essential in filling a recycling gap in the southeastern United States. Like our Arizona Spoke, we expect the new facility to have the capability to process entire vehicle battery packs, without dismantling.”

Univar Solutions will be an anchor battery feed supply customer for the new facility, following on Li-Cycle’s previously announced on-site partnership with Univar Solutions to provide waste management solutions for electric vehicle and lithium-ion battery manufacturing.

Mercedes-Benz, US International (MBUSI) is working with Univar Solutions on end-of-life solutions for lithium-ion batteries.

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Birla Carbon enters the storage market with carbon black for lithium-ion and lead batteries

Tue, 09/21/2021 - 13:21 -- paul Crompton

Carbon black manufacturer Birla Carbon has announced its entry into the energy storage systems market with a portfolio of conductive carbons for the lithium-ion and lead-acid batteries.

The portfolio of conductive carbons is designed to enable customisation in formulation and performance in a variety of segments, including automotive, telecoms, motive power, energy storage systems, and e-bikes.

Birla says its Conductex e product portfolio will help increase charge acceptance, cold cranking power, cycle life, gassing and water loss and disperibility in lead batteries.

The firm sees the ideal applications in start-stop micro-hybrid EFB or VRLA applications, SLI and enhanced flooded batteries, e-bikes, energy storage systems and deep cycle operations in e-bikes.

The products leverage the firm’s Ultra process to ensure purity and conductivity, enabling increased charge acceptance, particularly under partial state-of-charge operation.

Birla says its engineered conductive carbon additives can unlock “5-15% energy savings” in lead batteries. 

Dr. Ann Schoeb (pictured), chief R&D officer and business head, Energy Systems, Birla Carbon, said: “As we deepen our focus on innovation and an innovation-driven culture, Birla Carbon has achieved remarkable success in enhancing the contribution of carbons to advanced battery applications.” 

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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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Janus graphene opens doors for sodium-ion batteries to usurp lithium-ion

Thu, 09/16/2021 - 15:53 -- paul Crompton

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology have pushed the performance of electrode material for sodium batteries so it matches lithium-ion batteries.

Using a novel graphene, the team at the Swedish institute reported the specific capacity for sodium ions was 332 milliampere-hours-per-gram— almost ten times that of the capacity of sodium intercalation in standard graphite.

The article “Real-time imaging of Na+ reversible intercalation in “Janus” graphene stacks for battery applications” was published in the journal Science Advances. 

Sodium ions are larger than lithium ions and interact differently, which means they cannot be efficiently stored in the graphite structure— unlike lithium-ion cells where the graphite anode allows better ion intercalation.

Chalmers’ research uses Janus graphene (named after the two-faced ancient Roman God Janus) due to its asymmetric chemical functionalisation on opposite faces of the graphene.

The upper face of each Janus graphene sheet has a molecule that acts as both spacer and active interaction site for the sodium ions. 

Each molecule, in between two stacked graphene sheets, is connected by a covalent bond to the lower graphene sheet and interacts through electrostatic interactions with the upper graphene sheet. 

The graphene layers also have uniform pore size, controllable functionalisation density, and few edges.

Jinhua Sun, from the Department of Industrial and Materials Science at Chalmers and first author of the scientific paper, said by adding the molecule spacer  when the layers were stacked together, the molecule creates a larger space between graphene sheets and provides an interaction point— which leads to a significantly higher capacity.

Vincenzo Palermo, affiliated professor at the Department of Industrial and Materials Science at Chalmers, said: “Our Janus material is still far from industrial applications, but the new results show that we can engineer the ultrathin graphene sheets— and the tiny space in between them— for high-capacity energy storage.”

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US lithium-ion battery recycler promotes CTO to head of company

Wed, 09/15/2021 - 15:34 -- paul Crompton
Ryan Melsert will become its new CEO

Lithium-ion battery recycling firm American Battery Metals Corporation has announced that its company chief technology officer (CTO) Ryan Melsert will become its new CEO. 

The appointment comes as the company prioritises technology development and commercialisation efforts, and aims to position itself for long-term growth.

Doug Cole is the outgoing CEO of the firm.

Melsert and Cole have been working closely over the past two years to set the direction of the company and to help it evolve, with Melsert leading the recruiting and hiring of company executives. 

Melsert said the company was in the process of reprioritising its resources to focus on the commercialisation of its in-house developed technologies within the lithium-ion battery recycling and primary battery metals fields.

Long-time founder-stage board members Cole, Douglas MacLellan, and William Hunter are also planning not to seek re-election at the annual board of directors meeting.

The board intends to assemble a search committee to qualify and nominate director candidates to be presented for shareholder vote during the annual meeting. 

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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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Companies chosen to test lithium extraction methods in Bolivia

Tue, 09/14/2021 - 15:44 -- paul Crompton

Nine companies have been selected to conduct pilot lithium extraction projects by the Bolivian government as the country looks to develop large-scale production of the key lithium-ion battery material.

The unnamed firms were chosen following an international call for proposals to develop deposits in the salt flats of Uyuni, Coipasa and Pastos Grandes. 

State-owned lithium company Yacimientos de Litios Bolivianos (YLB) was founded in 2017 to oversee the development of the country’s lithium industry.

YLB will evaluate the bidders to determine which extraction technology is the most suitable for the Bolivian resources. 

The latest projects are expected to use Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) methods in the Salar de Uyuni salt flat, which has an estimated lithium resource of 21 million tonnes (mn/t).

DLE extracts lithium directly from brine water, without having to evaporate the brines first, which has environmental concerns.

Bolivia hopes the technology will allow it to eventually produce cathodes, lithium carbonate and lithium batteries.

Bolivia has the world's largest lithium resource, when compared with resources of 19.3 mn/t in Argentina; 9.6mn/t in Chile; 6.4mn/t in Australia; and 5.1mn/t in China, according to the US Geological Survey.

Although the firms remain unnamed, Russia’s state owned Rosatom State Atomiс Energy Corporation (ROSTOM) signed a memorandum of cooperation with the Ministry of Energies of the Plurinational State of Bolivia to cooperate in developing the lithium industry through industrial projects and research.

In 2019, the Bolivian government awarded lithium production contracts to German company ACI Systems and China's Xinjiang TBEA, but they were stalled amid local opposition and were put on hold by November 2019.

Lithium extraction methods

Bolivia received $11.6 million from lithium production in the first six months of the year, according to YLB.

Around 6,000 tons of lithium carbonate and potassium chloride was produced and sold during the first half of the year and the goal is to “double” that by the end of the year, said Marcelo Gonzales, executive president of YLB, in July

YLB has been running a pilot operation, producing several hundred tonnes of lithium carbonate per year. 

The company told media outlet Argus Media: "There are five to six types of Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) technology that are being developed; each company employs different technology, which must be adapted to the type of raw material that our salt flats have. The objective is to identify what type of technology is best suited to the recovery of Bolivian lithium." 

The Bolivian government is looking to develop a vertically integrated supply chain within Bolivia under local ownership, rather than having international companies exporting raw materials. 

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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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