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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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Green Cubes appoints power industry veteran as chief operating officer

Fri, 08/20/2021 - 11:30 -- paul Crompton

Lithium-ion power systems firm Green Cubes Technology has appointed Ken Johnson as the company’s chief operating officer. 

Johnson will be charged with building continued growth within telecom, materials handling, and industrial automation markets; and managing the company’s production facilities in Malaysia, Slovakia, and the US.

Keith Washington, president and CEO of Green Cubes, said: “Ken has led both domestic and international operations and supply chains through new product introduction, lean transformations, inventory reductions and overall working capital improvement.

“I am confident his experience and focused vision will help us successfully execute our continued growth within strategic markets and geographic locations.”

In March, Green Cubes signalled its global ambitions with plans to expand its US facilities, branch into Europe and launch new products— including adding 36,000 square foot to its engineering and production facilities in Indiana, US, to house engineering staff and produce lithium-ion batteries for the material handling applications.

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Lead battery recycler Ecobat buys into European lithium-ion battery recycling market

Mon, 08/16/2021 - 11:05 -- paul Crompton

Lead-battery recycler Ecobat has bought lithium-ion battery recycler Promesa as it looks to expand its hold in the European market.

Ecobat’s buy-out of the Hettstedt, Germany, firm will allow it a further entry point to the European EV battery recycling market, which is expected to be worth $4.7 billion in 10 years, according to Ecobat.

The deal gives Ecobat a full suite of recycling services for lithium-ion batteries, from collecting, discharging and dismantling batteries, to crushing and sorting them and arranging for black mass disposal.

The company said that Promesa’s strategic location in the vehicle manufacturing and lithium battery centre of Germany provided a “crucial entry point” for battery access and OEM factory scrap. 

Jimmy Herring, Ecobat’s president and chief executive officer, said: "Building on this acquisition, Ecobat will continue to expand our position in the lithium-ion battery recycling space with future investment plans underway to increase capacity at our Promesa facility and to build out additional dismantling capabilities across Germany.”

Promesa will provide Ecobat with access to business-critical permits for 3,200 tons of chemical compounds. 

These contracts cover a broad range of waste materials associated with a variety of battery chemistries from household to electric vehicle, positioning Ecobat for expansive growth opportunities.

Earlier this month, Ecobat was named as a cohort member of US battery companies that will collaborate with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory and The University of Toledo 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 acquisition comes as Ecobat named Jamie Pierson (pictured) as its new chief financial officer. 

Pierson will lead the Finance Homeroom on a global basis and provides strategic advice to the executive leadership team and board of directors. 

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Pilot plant opens to produce lithium-ion battery anode materials from trees

Fri, 08/13/2021 - 16:53 -- paul Crompton
Lignose powder

Renewable materials company Stora Enso has started producing wood-based carbon for lithium-ion batteries at its pilot facility in Finland.

The pilot facility is ramping up production to supply anode materials that replace the synthetic and non-renewable graphite following a €10 million ($11.8 million) investment in 2019.

The wood-based carbon material will have a number of applications, including electric vehicles and consumer electronics as well as large-scale energy storage systems.

The plant will produce Lignode, which is made from lignin, a existing by-product in the production of cellulose fibre and naturally occurring in trees.

Markus Mannström, executive vice president of Stora Enso’s Biomaterials division, said: “With our pilot plant now ramping up operations, we are entering a new value chain in supplying more sustainable anode materials for batteries. 

“With Lignode, we can provide a bio-based, cost-competitive and high-performance material to replace the conventionally used graphite. To serve the fast-growing anode materials market, we are now exploring strategic partnerships to accelerate scale-up and commercialisation in Europe.”

The pilot plant for bio-based carbon materials is located at Stora Enso’s Sunila production site in Finland, where lignin has been industrially produced since 2015. 

The bio-refinery’s annual lignin production capacity is 50,000 tonnes, making Stora Enso the largest kraft lignin producer in the world. 

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Bench tests show First Cobalt can recover key lithium-ion battery materials from black mass

Fri, 08/13/2021 - 16:00 -- paul Crompton
first cobalt refinery plant

First Cobalt Corp has extracted key lithium-ion materials from black mass collected from recycled batteries.

The Canadian firm’s bench-scale testing demonstrated its technology can extract lithium, nickel, cobalt, copper, manganese and graphite from black mass. 

The company is now working to leverage the existing operating permits, flowsheet and equipment at its Canadian hydrometallurgical refinery for the large-scale recycling of battery materials for reuse in the electric vehicle battery supply chain.

Metallurgical test work was conducted by SGS Labs on black mass material provided by upstream battery recyclers in the US and Europe. 

First Cobalt has hired an engineering firm to study the leaching of black mass within its existing refinery to produce nickel, cobalt, copper and manganese products using the existing flowsheet, and to produce lithium and graphite products with recommended modifications.

Completion of the engineering study is expected in Q4. 

If the study is successful, the firm intends to process black mass at the Canadian refinery facility on a pilot basis.

First Cobalt president and CEO, Trent Mell, said: ”There are many producers of black mass in the western world but few environmentally friendly options to then refine the product into battery grade material given the capital expenditure required and the permitting timeline associated with building a hydrometallurgical facility such as ours. 

“We intend to capitalise on this first-mover advantage and leverage our position as an ultra-low carbon operation.”

Under a Phase 1 expansion, the company aims to refine third-party cobalt hydroxide into a high purity, battery grade cobalt sulfate suitable for the electric vehicle market. 

Around 80% of cobalt sulfate is made in China and there is no production in North America. 

Longer term, the company’s aims to establish a battery park that would include large-scale production of nickel sulfate and the co-location of a battery precursor manufacturer.

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US lithium-ion battery recycler ABTC names new COO

Thu, 08/12/2021 - 17:20 -- paul Crompton
Andrés Meza ABC new chief operating officer

American-owned lithium-ion battery recycler American Battery Metals Corporation has named Andrés Meza as its new chief operating officer.

Meza (pictured) will lead the firm’s efforts to grow and move through the construction, commissioning and operations of its first lithium-ion battery recycling facility in Nevada, US.

The company chose Meza because of his “direct hands-on experience” with the operations of manufacturing facilities and high-growth start-ups.

The company is rebranding itself as American Battery Technology Company (ABTC).

ABTC CTO, Ryan Melsert, said: "Andrés has the ground level foundational understanding of fundamentals that comes from being a hands-on process engineer at a chemical plant, while having the field expertise from commissioning and optimising high-volume semiconductor manufacturing facilities.

“He also has the operational leadership experiences from working at premier management consultancy and private equity firms, which together provide the exact set of skills that is needed to support the next stage of our growth and to complement our current leadership team."

Read more about ABTC in the Spring edition of BEST magazine here

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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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LGES signs 45mt off-take deal to secure lithium-ion battery supply from Vulcan

Thu, 08/05/2021 - 11:23 -- paul Crompton
lithium hydroxide

Battery maker LG Energy Solution, a subsidiary of LG Chem, has signed a lithium-ion battery materials off-take deal with Vulcan Energy.

The Australian firm will supply up to 45 metric tonnes of lithium hydroxide over the five-year term of the deal.

Pricing will be based on market prices for lithium hydroxide.

The five-year agreement could be extended by a further five years, with the start of commercial delivery set for 2025.

LG will purchase 5,000 metric tonnes of battery grade lithium hydroxide the first year, ramping up to 10,000 metric tonnes per year during the subsequent years of the deal.

Vulcan said conditions precedent to the start of commercial delivery include execution of a definitive formal offtake agreement on materially the same terms by the end of November 2021, successful start of commercial operation and full product qualification.

Vulcan managing director, Dr. Francis Wedin, said: “This is the first binding lithium off-take term sheet for the Zero Carbon Lithium™ Project, so it is fitting that it is with the largest EV battery producer in the world. LGES’s operations are of course global, but it is already producing batteries in Europe. 

“The agreement is in line with our strategy to work with Tier One battery and automotive companies in the European market.”

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Blackstone Resources gets nod to scale up 3D printed lithium-ion battery plant

Wed, 08/04/2021 - 11:45 -- paul Crompton
Blackstone Resources  lithium-ion battery plant mock image

Blackstone Resources has received an official operating-permit to begin production of 3D printed lithium-ion battery-cells in Germany.

The Switzerland firm’s German subsidiary, Blackstone Technology, received approval from the authorities of the city of Döbeln Saxony, Germany.

Blackstone Technology is building manufacturing facilities for the production of 3D printed battery-cells in Döbeln.

The firm aims to begin production this September following the installation of the plant’s machineries and equipment.

The short-term production will be pouch-cells using Blackstone’s Thick Layer Technology. 

Blackstone has applied for Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy funding from the Sächsische Aufbaubank for the construction of the serial-plants in Döbeln.

The funding comes under the ‘Joint Task Improvement of the regional economic structure’ (GRW) scheme. 

The GRW has as its central funding priority the support of investments in the commercial economy. 

The Sächsische Aufbaubank today handed over the decision for a subsidy for the investment expenditure to Blackstone. 

New finance officer

Earlier this month, Blackstone announced the appointment of Christoph von Aesch as its chief financial officer.

His primary responsibilities are to support the ambitious growth initiatives Blackstone plans to undertake, including the management of the group's capital structure and establishing “solid banking relationships, strengthening the finance organisation, leading mergers, and acquisition projects as well as compliance activities”.

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