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Battery materials firm hopes new VP’s government contacts will boost business

Mon, 07/05/2021 - 10:02 -- paul Crompton
6K has appointed Mary Cronin as vice-president of government affairs

Lithium-ion battery materials firm 6K has appointed Mary Cronin as vice-president of government affairs on the US firm’s executive leadership team. 

6K hopes Cronin’s contribution will add to the growing number of Defence Logistics Agency programs the company has been awarded.

Those programs include the $1 million DLA phase II program to establish a domestic capability to recover and convert critical metals from defense scrap into premium additive manufacturing powder.

Cronin has links to Capital Hill, the Defense Logistics Agency, the Department of Energy, the Department of Defense and strategic defense primes.

6K CEO Aaron Bent said: “Issues like battery manufacturing in the US, of which there is near zero capability currently, and securing critical elements like titanium domestically, pose a national threat to the country. 

“Our production platform can be a key driving force in solving these issues. Having Mary leading these initiatives with the highest levels of government will give us a strong voice in DC and uncover more strategic program opportunities.”

Cronin said she was attracted to the company because of its potential to impact domestic [US] battery production and its commitment to a new Battery Center of Excellence.

In April, 6K announced plans for the $25 million, 33,000 square-foot, Center of Excellence facility in Massachusetts to develop sustainable battery materials for energy storage devices, with a focus on electric vehicles, grid storage, and consumer goods.

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Residents evacuated as 100-ton lithium-ion fire rages for three days

Mon, 07/05/2021 - 09:33 -- paul Crompton
Illinois factory burns containing lithium-ion batteries

Toxic fumes and smoke from a fire involving up to 100 tons of lithium-ion batteries prompted emergency services to set up an evacuation order for up to 4,000 people from the area.

Firefighters in Illinois, US, battled for more than three days to bring the fire involving around 180,000 to 200,000 pounds of lithium batteries under control.

The lithium-ion batteries, ranging from mobile phone to SLI sized, were reportedly around three feet deep, covering an area of about 30 feet by 40 feet.

Exploding lithium batteries inside the building prompted fire officials to let the blaze burn out because they feared that trying to extinguish it could trigger more explosions, reported the Star Tribune newspaper.

Crews initially used water on the blaze before realising the batteries were inside the building. They then used more than 1,000 pounds of dry chemical Purple-K cement powder, and pumped 28 tons of dry Portland cement to cover a "trouble spot" of burning batteries.

Two federal agencies were involved: the US Environmental Protection Agency and FEMA headquarters in Washington DC.

Speaking at the time, fire chief Tracey Steffes from the Morris Fire Protection & Ambulance District, said: “We were advised that we're dealing with between 80 and 100 tons of lithium batteries- so around 180,000 pounds to 200,000 pounds of lithium batteries.

"These batteries range in size from your cell phone to a little bigger than a car battery and as these batteries get wet, they short out and they ignite and explode. And that's the problem we're having. So we started our initial attack with water, and then we learned very quickly that that was not going to be a good avenue for extinguishment for this fire."

"The biggest hazard we have is the smoke and fumes as well as the gas from the fire. Highly poisonous and very deadly."

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Recycling partnership aims to make lithium-ion battery-grade graphite

Fri, 07/02/2021 - 11:10 -- paul Crompton
Recycling partnership to make lithium-ion battery-grade graphite

Nouveau Monde Graphite and Lithion Recycling have signed a collaboration agreement for the recovery and recycling of graphite for reuse as lithium-ion battery anodes.

The agreement aims to define the most efficient and cost-effective way to turn recycled graphite into anode material for lithium-ion batteries.

The partnership aims to position both companies in the global market using Lithion's hydrometallurgical recycling process and Nouveau Monde’s expertise to promote a graphite circular economy. 

Both companies operate in Québec, with facilities in and around Montréal, Canada. 

The firms will target “western markets” for commercialisation of their products.

A Nouveau Monde spokesman told BEST: “Operational parameters haven’t been finalised just yet. The agreement is the first step toward developing this collaboration and expertise.”

Lithion says its recycling process allows up to 95% of battery components to be recovered and treated so they can be reused by battery manufacturers.

Between 2022-2023, Lithion is set to launch its first commercial recycling plant, drawing on operational data from an industrial-scale demonstration plant in Québec. 

Lithion’s business model includes worldwide deployment, through licensing agreements, aiming at 20 recycling plants. 

Nouveau Monde is working towards developing a fully-integrated source of green battery anode material in Québec, Canada. Targeting commercial operations by 2023.

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Envision Group has joined the race to build the UK’s first lithium-ion gigafactory

Thu, 07/01/2021 - 12:14 -- paul Crompton
Envision Group 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.

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Materials firm plans lithium-ion battery material plant in US

Thu, 07/01/2021 - 11:59 -- paul Crompton
Specialty materials firm Unifrax plans today to build its first large-scale SiFAB

Specialty materials firm Unifrax plans today to build its first large-scale SiFAB (silicon fiber anode material) manufacturing line in the US.

The New York-headquartered manufacturer plans to build the facility in the state of Indiana by the end of 2023.

It is the first time Unifrax has taken a step into developing silicon fiber for the lithium-ion battery manufacturing market. 

SiFAB is being tested in multiple battery systems, with Unifrax expecting results to show the material delivers faster charges and longer battery life for applications including electric vehicles, and energy grid storage.

The Indiana plant will be the first to begin building SiFAB long-term manufacturing capacity. 

John Dandolph, Unifrax president and CEO, said the ability to leverage their existing facility and add new infrastructure to support manufacturing would “significantly accelerate” the timeline for supplying to material to its partners.

Chad Cannan, senior vice president R&D, said: “We designed SiFAB from its inception to be manufactured at large scale so that we could supply all market segments (EV’s, consumer electronics, power tools, and renewable storage), utilise our existing global manufacturing footprint, and deliver a product that has a high degree of quality and consistency.”

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China on verge of banning large-scale ESSs using second-life lithium-ion batteries

Thu, 07/01/2021 - 10:19 -- paul Crompton
China large-scale ESS lithium-ion batteries

Is China on the verge of banning the use of second-life lithium-ion batteries in large-scale energy storage systems (ESS) amid a spate of fires this year?

The halt will continue until a “breakthrough in battery consistency management technology and a sound power battery performance testing and evaluation system” is developed, according to reports from China media group Caixing.

The ceasing of secondary battery use follows the National Energy Administration issued a draft report ‘Regulations for the Management of New Energy Storage Projects’ on June 22.

What capacity constitutes “large-scale” is not clear.

The Caixing report stated: “According to industry sources, there are few energy storage projects that can be called cascade utilization of large-scale power batteries. In addition, the document does not specify the criteria for defining "large-scale" projects.”

The draft also proposes that completed and operating projects should be regularly evaluated and monitored, and supervision should be strengthened.

Cascade utilisation generally refers to using a battery with less than 80% capacity in EESs for commercial and residential, and telecom base station applications.

In January, an explosion at a China recycling plant owned by lithium-ion battery giant Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL) killed one person and injured 19 more.

In April, two firefighters died when they were putting out a fire in an energy storage power station in Fengtai District of Beijing, according to the China Daily news outlet.

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Firms partner to collect and recycle EV lithium-ion batteries across the US

Tue, 06/29/2021 - 10:37 -- paul Crompton
retriev EV lithium-ion batteries recycling plant in the  US

Retriev Technologies has solidified its position in the North American lithium-ion battery recycling market with two milestones this month.

Last week the firm announced its first volume shipment of recovered battery materials to Marubeni Corporation.

The shipment was made under the umbrella of their strategic partnership, which was formed in February to develop an business model for end-of-life Lithium-ion batteries.

The recycling program aims to take valuable metals recovered from used batteries to expand the circular business model for EV battery-to-battery closed loop recycling.

Earlier this month, the company teamed up with electronics recycler Hobi International to begin collecting and recycling large format EV batteries throughout North America.

The companies entered into a collaborative partnership to ensure lithium batteries used in EVs are collected and responsibly recycled to create value within the battery industry’s circular economy.

Rick Rose, vice president of Retriev Technologies’ Ohio Corporate Headquarters, said: “As more states adopt measures similar to California, which has implemented a ban on internal combustion engines sold in the state starting in 2030, the EV market will grow exponentially in the coming years. 

“The end-of-life management and recycling of these batteries is critical for environmental safety and sustainability, and it must be addressed now.” 

Last year, scientists at Idaho National Laboratory (INL) in the US demonstrated a proof-of-principle electrochemical process for recycling lithium-ion batteries using material from Retriev.

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Solid-state lithium-ion company to go public after merger with blank cheque firm

Fri, 06/25/2021 - 16:36 -- paul Crompton
Solid-state lithium-ion company to go public after merger with blank cheque firm

The battery industry’s gradual transition to solid-state lithium-ion technology continues this week with Solid Power signing a deal to become a publicly listed company.

The producer of all-solid-state batteries is due to trade on NASDAQ following a merger with Decarbonization Plus Acquisition Corporation III (DRC), a blank cheque firm sponsored by an affiliate of energy-focused private investment firm Riverstone Holdings.

Upon closing of the transaction, the combined company’s common stock and warrants are expected to trade under the ticker symbol “SLDP”, and is expected to have a nine-person board composed of a majority of independent directors and will continue to be led by its existing management team.

Cash proceeds to Solid Power will be used to fund operations and support its growth.

The boards of directors of both Solid Power and DCRC have approved the proposed transaction, which is due to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2021. 

Robert Tichio, chairman of the board of DCRC and partner at Riverstone Holdings, said, “Solid-state batteries have long been the elusive technology breakthrough in the battery category for the better part of a decade. 

“Countless labs, scientists, ventures and corporates have claimed progress towards scalable solid-state batteries, with an emphasis on claims. No other known company has made the type of commercialisation achievements in all-solid-state batteries that Solid Power has.”

In May, Solid Power announced a $130 million Series B investment round led by the BMW Group, Ford Motor Company and Volta Energy Technologies. 

Ford and the BMW Group also expanded existing joint development agreements with Solid Power to secure all-solid-state batteries for future electric vehicles. 

Transaction Overview 

The business combination values Solid Power at an implied $1.2 billion pro forma enterprise value. Upon closing of the transaction and assuming no redemptions by DCRC public stockholders, Solid Power is expected to have approximately $600 million in cash, including a $165 million fully committed PIPE transaction anchored by investors Koch Strategic Platforms, Riverstone Energy Limited, Neuberger Berman funds and Van Eck Associates Corporation. 

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Environmentally friendly lithium-ion battery recycling method announced by ORNL

Fri, 06/25/2021 - 16:33 -- paul Crompton
Environmentally friendly lithium-ion battery recycling method announced by ORNL

Scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have developed a solvent that enables a “more environmentally friendly” process for recycling lithium-ion batteries.

The ORNL-developed wet chemical process uses triethyl phosphate to dissolve the binder material that adheres cathodes to metal foil current collectors in lithium-ion batteries.

The method can recover cobalt-based cathodes, graphite and other valuable materials like copper foils for reuse in new batteries.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory researcher Yaocai Bai told BEST: "We are working with the battery industry and several companies are interested in this patented technology.

"The pyrometallurgical process involves the high energy cost of using high-temperature kilns and the detrimental generation of gaseous pollutants. The hydrometallurgical process involves caustic reagents and wastewater treatment. In contrast, our method utilises a green solvent that can be recycled and reused, making the process more environmentally friendly.

"The cost of this process is currently being evaluated. We are using the EverBatt model developed by the DOE ReCell Center to study both the cost and environmental aspects of our process. We believe the cost is low because of the reusability of the green solvent."

The use of, triethyl phosphate enabled the recovery of cobalt-containing cathodes, such as NMC622, by dissolving the polymeric binder of poly (vinylidene fluoride). 

Electrochemically active materials were separated from cathode scraps collected at the manufacturing step of electrodes through a solvent-based separation method without jeopardizing their physical characteristics, crystalline structure, and electrochemical performance. 

The team reported the recovered aluminum foils had no sign of corrosion and the polymeric binder could be recovered via a non-solvent-induced phase separation.

Additionally, recovery of cathode materials from spent cells was achieved using refined separation parameters based on the recycling of cathode scraps.

ORNL’s Ilias Belharouak said: “With this solvent, we’re able to create a process that reduces toxic exposure for workers and recovers valuable, undamaged, active NMC [nickel-manganese-cobalt] cathodes, clean metal foils and other materials that can be easily reused in new batteries.” 

To date, the tem has only tested the technology on a "few kilograms" of battery scrap.


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MoU sets out plans to build North American lithium-ion battery recycling plant

Fri, 06/25/2021 - 08:47 -- paul Crompton
MoU sets out plans to build North American lithium-ion battery recycling plant

Battery recycler Primobius has signed a deal to enter the North American lithium-ion battery recycling market.

Primobius has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Stelco—  a wholly-owned subsidiary of Canada-based steel firm Stelco Holdings— to commercialise a recycling solution.

The MoU aims to form a 50:50 incorporated joint venture (JV) to process battery cells from scrap and end-of-life vehicles in North America. 

Under the JV, Primobius will supply a 20,000 tons-per-year cell processing recycling facility adjacent to Stelco’s proposed vehicle recycling operation.

The Primobius pyrometallurgical recycling process recovers materials from consumer electronic batteries, and nickel‐rich electric vehicle and stationary storage battery chemistries.

Stelco will supply the battery cell feed to the plant. 

Both firms intend to share information, conduct due diligence, collaborate and build a business case for a long-term commercial relationship between the parties. 

Stelco is looking to establish a battery recycling business as part of its broader initiative with major automobile producers to recycle end-of-life automobiles, and recover valuable materials for re-use or re-sale.

Primobius is a joint venture equally owned by Australia’s Neometals and German SMS group.

The US facility will be modelled on Primobius’ proprietary refining process following the successful completion of demonstration trials at its plant being built in a warehouse at the SMS group manufacturing center in Hilchenbach, Germany. 

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