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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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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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NeoVolta increases lithium-iron-phosphate battery life to 16.5 years

Fri, 06/25/2021 - 08:53 -- Paul Crompton
NeoVolta increases lithium-iron-phosphate battery life to 16.5 years

Battery maker NeoVolta has announced its NV14 energy storage system will include lithium-iron-phosphate batteries that last for 6,000-cycles or 16.5 years.

The system represents a 50% longer life than the firm’s original 4,000-cycle product and represents an engineering milestone for NeoVolta, claim the company.

Neovolta claims the NV14 system has a capacity of 14.4kWh, expandable to 24kWh with the optional NV24 battery, and 7.7kW of instantaneous power discharge.

The claim is based on the home storage batteries being cycled daily, with 6,000 cycles translating to 16.5 years of useful life, based on a full charge and discharge. 

Neovolta did not answer questions put to it by BEST about the technology .

In 2019, a year after it staerrted up, NeoVolta said it was set for a “300% increase in manufacturing capacity” as its moved to a 21,150 sq ft production facility in San Diego.

The move was meant to allow it to increase production of its lithium iron phosphate home battery units to more than 10,000 annually.

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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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JV aims to build Italian lithium-ion gigafactory for motive and stationary application markets

Fri, 06/18/2021 - 12:31 -- Paul Crompton
JV aims to build Italian lithium-ion gigafactory for motive and stationary application markets

A joint venture (JV) aims to produce lithium-ion batteries in Italy with the end goal of reaching a production capacity of more than 2GWh within five years.

Electric propulsion maker Fincantieri SI and energy storage system developer Faist Electronics have formed the JV Power4Future company to build a manufacturing facility, followed by the design, assembly, marketing and after-sales services for modules and battery packs.

Plans also include control devices such as battery management systems (BMS) and ancillary systems (such as fire protection and air conditioning for complete battery stationary systems).

Power4Future will target a number of markets, including: automotive (with particular reference to commercial vehicles), telecommunication and industrial (i.e. material handling machines).

The JV will also target marine and land-based energy storage applications where Faist Electronics and Fincantieri SI are already established.

Gianfranco Natali, president and founder of Faist Group, said: “In a green energy setting, lithium-ion batteries and energy storage systems will be the new fuel tank for the maritime and land mobility of the future.”

Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri, said: “Future environmental protection regulations will drive ship owners to adopt new alternative solutions to those currently based on internal combustion engines, in order to produce and use energy. 

“Faced with the need for greater storage capacity, lithium-ion batteries today are the only solution that is both technically and economically sustainable for full electric vessels, which currently makes them one of the most important assets not only for the naval industry, but also for all the other sectors where we will be able to operate with this new company.”

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Grant centralises lead-acid battery case recycling

Fri, 06/18/2021 - 12:17 -- Paul Crompton

KC Recycling is set to create a facility for recycling the plastic cases from lead-acid batteries following a ($852,000) grant.

The cash from CleanBC Plastics Action Fund will jumpstart a CAD$1.2 million ($991,000) plant upgrade that will include a Polypropylene Extruding Operation at the Trail, British Columbia, plant in Canada.

Previously the plant exported its unfinished plastic regrind to polypropylene compounders, where it was pelletised to meet manufacturers' requirements. 

The new plant will be able to do this with an on-site washing, extrusion, and pelletising laboratory. 

KC Recycling will test the refined material to ensure it meets customer specifications before shipping it to battery manufacturers for use in new batteries.

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MG Motor and Attero partner for responsible recycling of EV batteries in India

Fri, 06/11/2021 - 11:49 -- Paul Crompton
MG Motor and Attero partner for responsible recycling of EV batteries in India

MG Motor India has partnered with urban mining firm Attero to develop ways of reusing and recycling end-of-life lithium-ion batteries from electric vehicles in India. 

MG Motor India—the Indian arm of the UK-based vehicle maker— has made the deal in line with India’s vision of creating an end-to-end electric vehicle ecosystem in the country.

The move aims to assist in the responsible recycling, and minimise the carbon footprint, of EV users. 

Nitin Gupta, Attero’s chief executive officer, said: “We believe in sustainable approaches as we are committed to the ‘Clean India, Green India’ vision.”

Attero holds more than 30 global patents for its recycling technologies. 

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Sodium-ion trends as CATL announces plans to diversify into the technology

Fri, 06/11/2021 - 11:46 -- Paul Crompton
Sodium-ion trends as CATL announces plans to diversify into the technology

UK battery maker Faradion has welcomed an announcement that lithium-ion battery giant Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL) will begin making sodium-ion batteries from next month.

Faradion, which also makes sodium-ion batteries, said the decision underscores the importance of the technology as an integral part of a world beyond lithium.

Robin Zeng, the founder of Tesla's battery supplier CATL, reportedly made the announcement at a shareholder meeting.

A Faradion statement read: “This is a necessary transition: lithium-ion batteries used predominantly in EVs contain lithium, cobalt and copper, and in stationary energy storage lithium and copper. These are expensive raw materials and their mining leads to adverse environmental impacts. Lithium has also become constrained due to restricted availability and increased prices.

Faradion’s proprietary technology boasts performance of 150-160Wh/kg. 

In May, UK institute The Faraday Institution released its report ‘Sodium-ion Batteries: Inexpensive and Sustainable Energy Storage’.

The report outlined sodium-ion batteries promising cost, safety, sustainability and performance advantages over commercialised lithium-ion batteries. 

Key advantages include the use of widely available and inexpensive raw materials and a rapidly scalable technology based around existing lithium-ion production methods. 

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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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UK scientists drive progress on lithium-air batteries

Thu, 06/03/2021 - 13:51 -- Paul Crompton
UK scientists drive progress on lithium-air batteries

Researchers in the UK are making progress in the development of stable and practical electrolytes for lithium-oxygen batteries.

Scientists have characterised and developed electrolyte formulations that minimise side reactions within the lithium-oxygen (lithium-air) battery to enable improved longer cycle stability.

Work was led by the University of Liverpool’s Stephenson Institute for Renewable Energy (SIRE) in partnership with Johnson Matthey, and Loughborough University.

The technology is in its infancy, but in theory could provide much greater energy storage than the conventional lithium-ion battery, say the team.

The research was published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials.

Lead author of the paper, Dr Alex Neale from SIRE, said the research demonstrated the reactivity of certain electrolyte components can be switched off by precise control of component ratios.

Dr Neale said: “The ability to precisely formulate the electrolyte using readily-available, low volatility components enabled us to specially tailor an electrolyte for the needs of metal-air battery technology that delivered greatly improved cycle stability and functionality.

“The outcomes from our study really show that by understanding the precise coordination environment of the lithium ion within our electrolytes, we can link this directly to achieving significant gains in electrolyte stability at the Li metal electrode interface and, consequently, enhancements in actual cell performance.”

The electrolytes provide new benchmark formulations to support ongoing investigations to understand and develop new, and practically viable, cathode architectures to reduce round-trip inefficiencies and further extend cycle lifetimes. 

The collaborative study was made possible by support from an Innovate UK grant.

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