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Discovery sweetens the opportunity for lithium-sulfur commercialisation

Wed, 09/22/2021 - 14:06 -- paul Crompton

Scientists at an Australian university have stabilised lithium-sulfur batteries by using sugar on its positive electrode.

A team from the Monash Energy Institute— a cross faculty initiative at the the Monash University— used a glucose-based additive on the positive electrode to create a sustainable rival to lithium-ion batteries.

Test coin-cell prototypes constructed by the team retained 60% capacity after 1,000 cycles.

The team's pouch-cell prototypes reported in their manuscript were 3cm x 5cm, with an overall capacity of ~ 04-0.5Ah. Its recent pouches exceed the ones reported in the article and are ~ 1Ah.

The research by the Monash team, assisted by Australian government agency The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, was published in the scientific journal Nature Communications

Professor Mainak Majumder, associate director of the Monash Energy Institute, said that in less than a decade the technology could lead to vehicles travelling more than 800km without recharging. 

In theory, lithium-sulfur batteries can store up to five times more specific energy than lithium-ion batteries—  but the electrodes deteriorate rapidly because the positive sulfur electrode weakens due to substantial expansion and contraction causing the negative lithium electrode to become contaminated by sulfur compounds.

Last year, the Monash team opened the structure of the sulfur electrode to accommodate expansion and make it more accessible to lithium. 

Now, by incorporating sugar into the web-like architecture of the electrode they have stabilised the sulfur, preventing it from moving and blanketing the lithium electrode.

First author and PhD student Yingyi Huang and her colleagues were inspired by a 1988 geochemistry report that described how sugar-based substances resist degradations in geological sediments by forming strong bonds with sulfides.

Dr Mahdokht Shaibani, second author and Monash researcher, said: “While many of the challenges on the cathode side of the battery has been solved by our team, there is still need for further innovation into the protection of the lithium metal anode to enable large-scale uptake of this promising technology – innovations that may be right around the corner.”

The process was developed by the Monash team with significant contribution from Dr Matthew Hill’s research group in CSIRO Manufacturing.

Energy research and innovation company Enserv Australia hopes to develop and manufacture the batteries in Australia.

A spokesmn for Monash told BEST: "Certain aspects have been licensed to Enserv Australia. Whilst it has been an absolute delight to work with Enserv group,  currently, our engagement with Enserv  on this battery technology has been completed.  We are looking forward to working with new venture partners to take the technology forward. It is our expectation that advanced prototypes will supercede the current technology at our disposal

Mark Gustowski, managing director of Enserv Australia, said his firm would look to use the technology to enter the electric vehicles and electronic devices market. 

He said: “We plan to make the first lithium-sulfur batteries in Australia using Australian lithium within about five years.”

New salts for lithium-ion

Scientists at the Monash University School of Chemistry in Australia have developed an alternative to hexafluorophosphate salt for lithium-ion battery electrolytes.

The electrolyte was developed under the leadership of professor Doug MacFarlane and Dr Mega Kar alongside battery developer Calix.

The synthesised battery grade fluoroborate salt, made using a recrystallisation process, was found to be stable even when exposed to air. 

When used in a battery with lithium-manganese-oxide cathodes, the cell achieved more than 1,000 cycles, even after atmospheric exposure, reported the team.

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Gelion partners with lead battery makers to build zinc-bromine ESSs for Australian market

Mon, 09/20/2021 - 14:17 -- paul Crompton

Renewable-energy storage firm Gelion Technologies and lead-acid battery maker Battery Energy Power Solutions will partner to manufacture and commercialise non-flow zinc-bromide systems in Australia.

The partnership represents the next stage of commercialisation for Gelion. With the stationary batteries due to be deployed in production trials next year ahead of commercial availability.

Battery Energy will provide manufacturing scale-up of Gelion’s Endure battery at its site in Sydney, Australia.

Gelion was founded in 2015 by professor Thomas Maschmeyer as a spin-out from the University of Sydney.

The Endure energy storage system (ESS) is suitable for irrigation, water purification and desalination systems, remote communities, mining facilities and agriculture.

The ESS can be completely discharged and recharged with no loss of function. 

Gelion Technologies’ CEO Andrew Grimes said: “Our vision is to play a leading role in the transition to clean energy across the globe. The partnership is both an environmental and business breakthrough – and a win for local manufacturing, given Australian know-how often goes overseas for production.

“In the coming months, we will be focused on demonstrating our next-generation battery systems in-field in Australia, commencing later this year.”

According to Wood Mackenzie’s ‘Global Energy Storage Outlook H1 2021’, total overall investment in the grid connected energy storage market could be up to $86 billion globally by 2025, with Australia representing 8% of global energy storage investment.

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TNG launches study as it moves forward plans to build a VRFB electrolyte facility in Australia

Wed, 08/18/2021 - 11:16 -- paul Crompton
VRFB diagram

Australian resource and mineral processing technology company TNG has hired an engineering group to undertake a technology and process design study for the development of its vanadium electrolyte production facility.

Perth-based METS Engineering (METS) is due to begin the study on behalf of TNG’s vanadium redox flow battery (VRFB) business, which will be owned by TNG’s 100%-owned subsidiary TNG Energy.

The study will deliver Australian preliminary process design documentation for the vanadium electrolyte facility, which will include all aspects of building the plant. 

The process design will be driven by a comprehensive technology study that will evaluate available technologies, optimisation opportunities and previous work completed by TNG, to determine the most appropriate processing route. 

The study is expected to take up to three months to complete and will support a decision to move into the design and planning phase.

A metallurgical test-work program will also be developed and implemented to help validate the process design and VE production specifications. 

The VRFB business was established as a result of TNG producing high specification, commercial-grade vanadium electrolyte in 2016.

TNG plans to produce its own vanadium product from the 100%-owned Mount Peake Vanadium-Titanium-Iron Project in the Northern Territory. 

The company aims to produce 6,000 tonnes per annum of high-purity vanadium pentoxide from the Mount Peake Project, in addition to titanium dioxide pigment and iron ore fines products. 

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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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Australia to make lithium-ion batteries within months

Tue, 06/22/2021 - 16:22 -- paul Crompton
Australia to make lithium-ion batteries within months

The first Australia produced batteries are due to roll off the production line within weeks as Energy Renaissance moves closer to its goal of a domestic lithium-ion gigafactory.

The company aims to make its first cells at the interim plant in Tomago, New South Wales, by August.

The company is manufacturing its superRack energy storage systems using a combination of Australian and imported materials, but aims to be making batteries using 100% domestically sourced materials from 2024.

The 4,000 square-meter purpose-built, 36MWh per year lithium-ion manufacturing plant in Tomago cost of AUS$28 million ($20 million).

The company expects to transition to its 1GWh purpose-built battery manufacturing facility— Renaissance One— by February 2022 with the aim of growing capacity to 5.3GWh. 

Renaissance One will have an initially capacity of 200MWh per year when it is commissioned next February, with plans to ramp up to 800MWh per year depending on the final level of automation.

A company spokesman told BEST: “We secured the lease for a temporary facility in Tomago, NSW, to allow us to commence production of batteries by August.

“This means we will have Australian batteries available sooner than we had originally planned last October.

“We have commenced planning for the manufacturing of battery cells at a dedicated facility called Renaissance Two that will supply cells to the Renaissance One battery manufacturing facility. 

“At this stage, we are currently in the preliminary planning stages and we hope that Renaissance Two will commence operations in mid-2023.”

Last year the company secured AUS$246,625 ($175,000) co-funded grant to push forward plans for its Renaissance One plant, which will manufacture batteries for Australia and export to Southeast Asia.

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

Fri, 06/18/2021 - 12:54 -- paul Crompton
MoU sets out plans to build North American lithium-ion battery recycling plant

Primobius, a joint venture equally owned by Australia’s Neometals and German SMS group, 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 Stelco Holdings— to commercialise an environmentally friendly 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 to recover valuable materials for re-use or re-sale.

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

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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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Second product recall for Ecoult’s lead-based battery technology

Thu, 08/27/2020 - 09:52 -- paul Crompton

The Australian safety commission has announced a recall of Ecoult’s Ultraflex lead-acid/ultra-capacitor hybrid battery technology due to “risk of fire and electrocution, which may lead to serious injury or death”.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) identified the UltraFlex 48-4, 48-3 and 48-2, which was sold through Smart Storage t/as Ecoult and electrical integrators between June 2014 and November 2019. 

The commission statement read: “UltraFlex was not designed to independently protect itself or the user against excessive voltage, overheating, or excessive gassing when combined with particular other equipment in a system.” 

ACCC is asking consumers to immediately contact Ecoult to arrange for the decommissioning and removal of the UltraFlex units by a licensed electrician.

Ecoult will provide a refund and remove the UltraFlex units.

The UltraFlex is designed for commercial, large-residential, microgrid and small-industrial users needing energy storage rated up to 20 kW. It is powered by the firm’s UltraBattery, which combines a Deka 12V lead-acid cell and a lead-carbon ultra-capacitor.

Ecoult’s website states the UltraFlex has been installed both on the grid and on remote off-grid sites.

The recall follows a similar one in New Zealand, which ended on 26 August after Ecoult arranged for the UltraFlex units to be removed by a licensed electrician in the country.

Ecoult had not responded to BEST about the recall at time of going to press.

Race hots up to build Australia’s first lithium-ion gigafactory as Imperium3 receives governmental backing

Thu, 08/20/2020 - 11:11 -- paul Crompton

A consortium is moving to the next stage of plans to build an AUS$3 billion ($2 billion) lithium-ion gigafactory in Queensland, Australia, after receiving the go-ahead from the state’s government.

The Queensland Department of State Development, Tourism and Innovation has approved the feasibility study by the Imperium3 Townsville consortium, which includes Magnis, Charge CCCV (C4V), and Boston Energy and Innovation and National Bank Australia.

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AMGC backs Australian firm to build country’s first lithium-ion gigafactory

Thu, 08/06/2020 - 11:19 -- paul Crompton

Australia’s place on the global battery map was given another boost this week after a co-funding grant was awarded to the country’s first utility-scale lithium-ion manufacturer Energy Renaissance.

The AUS$246,625 ($175,000) co-funded grant includes matched financial contributions from the industry-led, not-for-project organisation Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC) and Energy Renaissance.

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