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Lithium-ion

EPA grants permission for Australia 45,000 tpy lithium battery grade material refinery

Wed, 06/09/2021 - 10:24 -- paul Crompton
EPA grants permission for Australia 45,000 tpy lithium battery grade material refinery

A proposal to construct and operate a refinery to manufacture battery grade lithium hydroxide has been given the go ahead by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).

The 45,000 tonnes per annum Kwinana refinery, part of the Mt Holland project, has been recommended for environmental approval subject to strict conditions relating to greenhouse gas emissions and waste management.

Covalent Lithium aims to process spodumene ore concentrate to produce battery grade lithium hydroxide monohydrate, primarily for use in lithium-ion electric vehicle batteries.

Covalent Lithium is a joint venture between Australia’s Wesfarmers and South America’s Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile (SQM) 

The spodumene ore concentrate will be sourced from the Mt Holland Mine, also known as the Earl Grey Lithium Project.

EPA chair Matthew Tonts said Covalent had identified several measures which would mitigate greenhouse gas emissions over the life of the project, including the use of efficient design and equipment technologies and the purchase of carbon offsets.

The EPA’s 2020 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Guideline requires a proposal exceeding 100,000 tonnes of scope 1 emissions each year to demonstrate its contribution towards achieving net zero emissions by 2050, in line with both the Paris Agreement and the IPCC’s 1.5 report.

The decision opens the doors to finalise the full funding of the project— Wesfarmers’ share of capital expenditure for the development of the project is estimated at AUS$950 million ($735 million). 

Following receipt of all relevant approvals, construction of the mine, concentrator and refinery are expected to begin in H1 next year.

The first production of lithium hydroxide is expected in the second half of 2024. 

An updated definitive feasibility study includes increased flexibility to provide for a second phase of the project to expand production capacity at Mt Holland and the Kwinana refinery. 

Preliminary work to evaluate expansion options will commence in parallel with the construction of the first phase of the project.

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Morrow Batteries’ ramps up plans for European lithium-ion gigafactory

Tue, 06/08/2021 - 11:21 -- paul Crompton
Battery materials firm Vianode, a subsidiary of Elkam, will supply anode materials for Morrow Batteries’ lithium-ion gigafactory.

Battery materials firm Vianode, a subsidiary of Elkam, will supply anode materials for Morrow Batteries’ lithium-ion gigafactory.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the firms covers the development and qualification of the large-scale supply of anode materials.

Morrow plans to build a 42GWh lithium-ion battery manufacturing facility in Eyde Energy Park in Arendal municipality, Norway.

Vianode intends to supply the anode materials from its planned large-scale battery graphite plant at Herøya Industrial Park, Norway.

As part of the agreement, the companies will jointly develop tailored anode materials suited for Morrow lithium-ion cells, including both synthetic graphite and silicon-containing anode materials. 

Vianode has received NOK10 million ($1.1 million) in financial support from Norwegian government enterprise Enova to fund the initial planning of its materials plant. 

Vianode is aiming for a final investment decision this year to allow construction to begin before the end of 2021. 

Moving forward

On 4 June, Morrow and Siemens announced they would collaborate on sustainable digitalisation and automation of the gigafactory’s battery cell production value chain and the commercialisation of “low-cost products”.

Three days earlier, Morrow signed a letter of intent for support on automation, electrification, and digitisation of its planned facilities with ABB.

In addition, the companies intend to collaborate on a common go-to-market approach, with highly developed battery solutions as well as energy storage systems.

Last month, Morrow formalised the decision to build the 42GWH plant in Eyde Energy Park in Arendal municipality in the south of the country when it gained approval by Arendal City Council.

Morrow is due to start producing battery cells for electric vehicles starting in late 2024. 

All four modules will be completed in 2026.

Last month, Morrow appointed Juergen Lind as executive vice president (EVP) of Industrialization and Business Development. 

The former head of battery development at Audi will lead the build-up of Morrow's Industrialization Center (MIC) and drive “customer-centric battery cell development”.

Juergen will take up his post in August.

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LG Chem extends ESS recall after concerns with over-heating lithium-ion batteries

Tue, 06/08/2021 - 10:56 -- paul Crompton
LG Energy Solution— an LG Chem subsidiary— will extend its scheme to replace lithium-ion batteries used in its home energy storage systems (ESS) to include all geographical markets.

LG Energy Solution— an LG Chem subsidiary— will extend its scheme to replace lithium-ion batteries used in its home energy storage systems (ESS) to include all geographical markets.

ESSs manufactured between April 2017 and September 2018 are being recalled due to overheating concerns.

The latest scheme expands on similar programs in Australia and the US.

The Korean firm— launched last December by LG Chem— will replace batteries with others that “incorporate manufacturing process improvements that further enhance the safety of its ESS batteries” for free.

All proposed safety measures, including the replacement of the potentially affected ESS batteries, will take place after consultation with customers.

LG Energy Solution will implement remote modifications to the affected batteries, where possible, to reduce the potential for overheating while owners of the affected ESS units wait for their replacement units.

In addition, the firm will update its battery diagnostic and control software. 

Earlier this year, the Korean battery giant made a safety recall over concerns its Resu-branded residential ESSs installed in Australia could overheat and catch on fire.

These concerns came just months after a similar recall in the US, with the company working with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) following reports of five fires with its battery systems.

The latest recall in the UK involves LG Chem’s RESU 10H lithium-ion storage battery that have been installed as part of a residential energy solar panel system.

The serial number of the recalled product begins with R15563P3SSEG and is located behind the access door of the RESU 10H (Type-R) home battery.

A newswire statement from LG Chem read: “LG Energy Solution conducted a review of its manufacturing and quality assurance processes in relation to reported incidents that occurred due to the overheating of the batteries subject to this program. 

“Based on its review, LG Energy Solution has determined that there were certain issues in the early production processes for electrodes used in these potentially affected ESS batteries. “ 

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GM to install diagnostic tools and software to recalled EVs at risk of lithium-ion battery fires

Tue, 06/08/2021 - 10:17 -- paul Crompton
GM to install diagnostic tools and software to recalled EVs at risk of lithium-ion battery fires

General Motors has issued a second recall on Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicles due to fire risks with its lithium-ion batteries.

A number of the vehicles were built between 2017-2019 using high voltage cells produced at LG Chem’s Ochang, Korea, facility that may pose a risk of fire when charged to full, or close to full, capacity.

GM is notifying owners that it has developed a remedy to complete the previously announced global safety recall last November of 68,667 Bolt vehicles after a series of fires.

As part of the fix Bolt dealers will use GM-developed diagnostic tools to identify potential battery anomalies and replace battery module assemblies as necessary.  

The fix also includes the installation of diagnostic software into the vehicles that can detect issues related to changes in battery module performance before problems develop.

When the vehicle is updated with the new software, the 90% state of charge limitation— imposed by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration—will be removed so the battery is returned to its previous maximum charging capacity.

Customers of 2019 model year Chevrolet Bolt EVs were able to have this fix performed from 29 April, and customers who own 2017 and 2018 model year Bolt EVs were eligible to have the fix performed from 26 May.

GM said it would also make advanced diagnostic software available to all other Bolt EV owners in the coming months.  

Additionally, they will be making this diagnostic software standard in the 2022 Bolt EV and EUV, as well as future GM electric vehicles.

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BASF and Shanshan new China JV focused on lithium-ion battery materials market

Fri, 06/04/2021 - 14:06 -- paul Crompton
BASF and Shanshan new China JV focused on lithium-ion battery materials market

Chemical company BASF is set to form a joint venture with Hunan Shanshan Energy to produce lithium-ion battery cathode active materials (CAM) and precursors (PCAM) in China.

German firm BASF will have a 51% share of the JV when it closes later this summer following the approval of the relevant authorities.

BASF hopes the intended joint venture will strengthen its position in Asia as it looks to build an integrated, global supply chain for customers in China and worldwide.

The company aims to increase its annual CAM capacity to 160 kilotons by 2022 with further expansion underway.   

Chinese firm Hunan’s product portfolio covers the main categories of the CAM and the corresponding PCAM used in lithium-ion batteries.

Hunan’s business value chain includes: raw materials, PCAM, CAM and battery recycling, and operates four production sites for CAM and PCAM in Hunan and Ningxia, China, with an expected annual capacity of 90 kilotons by 2022.

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Battery developer Innolith makes top-level hires as it readies for commercialisation

Fri, 06/04/2021 - 10:39 -- paul Crompton
Battery developer Innolith makes top-level hires as it readies for commercialisation

Battery developer Innolith has made two senior appointments as it prepares for commercialisation of its lithium-ion inorganic electrolyte technology.

Florian Wolf (left) has been appointed the firm’s chief financial officer, and Nicole Roth (right) is the Switzerland-based firm’s director of sales in its inaugural commercial role.   

Roth, who has previously worked with A123 Systems, Continental Systems and Renault Deutschland, will engage with Innolith customers, liaise with OEM automotive manufacturers for the design and production of battery systems and the development of new e-mobility markets.   

Investment banker Wolf joins Innolith joins from within JP Morgan’s Diversified Industries Investment Banking team where he specialised in the origination and execution of corporate finance deals (including IPO, SPAC, Private Capital, Debt and M&A events) for automotive clients.   

The new appointments come as Innolith reports the energy density of its battery has reached 310Wh/kg.

Konstantin Solodovnikov, CEO of Innolith AG, said the company had reached a crossing point where its focus on new battery technology development was now switching to the industrialisation and commercial marketing of the technology.

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Kore Power shortlists three sites for US lithium-ion manufacturing facility

Wed, 06/02/2021 - 10:35 -- paul Crompton
Kore Power shortlists three sites for US lithium-ion manufacturing facility

Battery maker Kore Power is a step closer this week to opening its US lithium-ion gigafactory.

Idaho-headquartered Kore has narrowed the site for its 12GWh plant down to either Arizona, Florida or Texas. 

The company plans to announce the site this summer. 

The decision comes just under two years after Kore first announced it would build a gigafactory in the US.

The planned one-million square-foot manufacturing facility will support up to 12GWh of battery cell production for the US’ lithium-ion battery supply chain for grid and electric vehicle applications. 

Kore’s executive team is looking at the quantitative monetary analysis of each location, as well as an in-depth qualitative evaluation of each state, region, and specific site before making a final decision.

The three sites were chosen for their energy storage, manufacturing and electric transportation opportunities. 

Other factors for selecting these states include: 

• Proximity to continental transportation arterials and international deep-water ports
• World-leading clean energy utilities
• Friendly tax, regulatory and strong pro-business environment 
• Established complimentary industries such as e-mobility, solar and semiconductor
• State and Local economic development incentivisation programs
• Available workforce capacity
• Local community support, cooperation, and commitment 

The project will operate with net-zero carbon emissions through strategic partnerships and solar-plus- and storage co-generation.

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Lithium-ion supply chain launches end-to-end cobalt traceability initiative

Fri, 05/28/2021 - 09:22 -- paul Crompton
Lithium-ion supply chain launches end-to-end cobalt traceability initiative

Companies from the lithium-ion industry will pilot a system for tracing responsibly produced cobalt from the mine to the end product.

The Re|Source system will be piloted by metals and mining companies CMOC, Eurasian Resources Group (ERG) and Glencore in collaboration with battery material supplier Umicore.

An unnamed “global EV pioneer” and an unnamed “leading battery maker” are also part of the pilot. 

The pilot will run until the end of 2021, with the roll-out of the final solution expected next year.

The system will be tested in real operating conditions, from upstream cobalt production sites in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to downstream electric vehicle production sites.

Founded by CMOC, ERG and Glencore, and launched in 2019, Re|Source was later joined by Umicore, as well as the battery and EV company. 

The system uses various technologies, including: blockchain and Zero-Knowledge Proofs, to link digital flows with physical material flows on the ground. 

The system is supported by boutique technology studio Kryha, which is experienced in carbon footprint and metals traceability and known for projects with the World Economic Forum. 

Re|Source also has a direct link with the Battery Passport project of the Global Battery Alliance (GBA), through ERG, Umicore, Glencore and other Re|Source pilot partners, members of the GBA. 

Ivan Glasenberg, CEO of Glencore, said: “Blockchain technology offers us an unprecedented ability for traceability in the supply chain. 

"Through this pilot, we are supporting the development of this tool for our customers who seek to understand and demonstrate the origin of the cobalt units in their products. 

"But traceability is not enough on its own, it must be part of a wider industry effort to bring improvements to the entire cobalt supply chain. 

"This starts with responsible sourcing compliance, for example through RMI; the collective use of wider ESG standards such as CIRAF and ICMM; and supporting the artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) sector in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) sector through multi-stakeholder initiatives like the Fair Cobalt Alliance (FCA).”

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Systems Sunlight's assembly hub to reach US lithium-ion and lead battery market

Thu, 05/27/2021 - 09:15 -- paul Crompton
Sunlight systems’ assembly hub to reach US lithium-ion and lead battery market

Systems Sunlight, a member of Greece consortium Olympia Group, has launched a subsidiary to run a 2GWh assembly hub for lithium-ion and lead batteries within the US.

The new subsidiary, Sunlight Battery US, and assembly plant follow a $10 million investment.

Sunlight Battery US will run the hub in North Carolina, which will have a total floor plan of 105,000 square feet and an annual capacity of more than 2GWh in lithium and lead technologies. 

The US facility is the company’s largest assembly hub, and supplements its existing plant in Verona, Italy. 

Sunlight says the hub will help it serve existing and future customers and grow its US lead and lithium battery market. 

Systems Sunlight CEO, Lambros Bisalas said: “COVID-19 has highlighted the need and demand for green energy and the US requires innovation and battery production support to compete with the Asian market. 

“We have invested €105 million in R&D for innovative lithium technologies that will usher in a clean energy future. We are keen to utilise and apply this research to our product offerings in the US.”

Brian Faust, vice president-general manager at Sunlight Batteries USA, said the subsidiary would focus on its existing products as well as new technologies like lithium.

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Commercially ready anode-free sodium-metal battery developed in US

Tue, 05/25/2021 - 11:01 -- paul Crompton
Commercially ready anode-free sodium-metal battery developed in US

A US team from the Washington University in St. Louis has developed a stable sodium-ion coin cell that could one day replace lithium-ion batteries.

The ‘cheaper and smaller’ technology uses a thin layer of copper foil on the anode side of the battery as the current collector.

Taking into account only the active materials, the energy density of the tested coin cells were in the range of 310-340 Wh/kg.

For the 100 cycles, the team tested at 2C-rate and 3C-rate with the cells showing a >99.9% capacity retention rate per cycle, which projects the cells can run for more than 200 cycles before reaching 80% of the initial capacity.

The technology is ready for commercial tests and optimisation, say the team.

In the anode-free battery the ions are transformed into a metal where they plate themselves onto the copper foil, before dissolving when returning to the cathode.

The research was published 3 May in the journal Advanced Science.

Previously, anode-free batteries were unstable, and grew dendrites that were attributed to the reactivity of the alkali metals involved, namely sodium.   

The technology was made in the laboratory of Peng Bai, assistant professor in the university’s Department of Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering in the McKelvey School of Engineering.

Bai told BEST: “Our focus here was the anode, which by itself (in a control cell) can run for more than 7,000 hours without degradation. 

“But we need a better cathode to make the anode-free full cell to achieve longer cycle life. 

“Once the optimised cathode material, either from us or from another research group or company, is identified the technology will be ready for commercialisation. It doesn't require any special facilities other than what people currently use for lithium-ion batteries.”

He added: “Our demonstration shows that in terms of energy density it is comparable to lithium-ion batteries. So wherever people want to lower the cost of their lithium-ion batteries, they can use this anode-free sodium battery. They would not notice performance differences, but save a lot of money.” 

The cost-saving for manufacturing the anode-free sodium (Na) battery comes from three aspects: the anode material (no need for anode materials like graphite); anode processing (no need to fabricate the graphite anode laminate); and the cathode material (Na-based materials are cheaper than lithium-based materials for synthesizing the cathode).

The concept of replacing lithium with sodium and removing the anode isn’t new, but the problem has been developing an anode-free battery with a reasonable lifetime, said Bai.

Bingyuan Ma, the paper’s first author and a doctoral student in Bai’s laboratory, said: “In our discovery, there are no dendrites; the deposit is smooth, with a metal luster. 

“This kind of growth mode has never been observed for this kind of alkali metal.”

Watching the battery in action, the researchers saw shiny, smooth deposits of sodium, which eliminates morphological irregularities that can lead to the growth of dendrites.

Image: Bingyuan Ma holding a transparent capillary cell. Bai’s Lab at the McKelvey School of Engineering is the only one in the world with such diagnostic cells. (Courtesy: Bai Lab)

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