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Materials firm plans lithium-ion battery material plant in US

Wed, 09/01/2021 - 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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Public-private partnership to plug Europe’s 800,000 person battery skills gap

Mon, 07/19/2021 - 14:40 -- Paul Crompton
workers at a battery factory

A public-private partnership aims to fill the European battery industry skills gap by training 150,000 workers to aid the transition to electric vehicles.

A memorandum of understanding between EIT InnoEnergy and France has paved the way to launching the EBA250 Academy, which aims to reskill and upskill specialised engineers, technicians and researchers.

EIT InnoEnergy, coordinating the industrial work under the European Battery Alliance (EBA), will spearhead an education-sharing platform.

EIT InnoEnergy plans to rollout its training programme in France and throughout Europe.

The industry-expert designed courses will cover a range of topics from electromobility, residential storage and grid storage, to recycling and data science.

The modules will be delivered by local training organisations online, although some may require physical attendance at local training facilities.

Any engineer or executive working in energy can apply.

The public-private partnership will address the emerging skills gap that requires around 800,000 qualified workers to enter the European battery industry by 2025. 

This includes the lack of transferrable digital skills needed to support the digitalisation of the entire value chain, from factory automation with industry 4.0 to AI use. 

Reskilling the workforce is essential in ensuring Europe meets its Green Deal targets by safeguarding sufficient battery manufacturing capacity to support the electrification of transport and decarbonisation of energy.

In 2017, the European Commission launched the European Battery Alliance.

Commission vice-president Maroš Šefčovič, in charge of the European Battery Allianc, said: “The new battery industry requires a new set of skills. Reskilling and upskilling programmes, such as the EBA250 Academy, will therefore help match skills with labour market needs as well as reinforce the social dimension of Europe’s recovery.”

Along with France, EIT InnoEnergy is already implementing the EBA250 Academy in Spain and plans to roll out the programme across Europe during 2021. 

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Showa Denko to sell lead-battery business interests for $540m

Fri, 07/16/2021 - 09:55 -- Paul Crompton
Showa Denko headquarters

Battery maker Showa Denko is set to sell its underperforming lead-acid operations for a reported 60 billion yen ($540 million). 

The Japanese firm sold its interests in the lead-acid battery market to investment firm Sustainable Battery Solutions, which is operated by Sustainable Battery Holdings (whose largest shareholders are the investment fund Advantage Partners and financial services company Tokyo Century), according to news outlet Nikkei Asia.

Lead battery firms CSB Energy Technology and Thai Energy Storage Technology Public Company are part of a wider company split and incorporation of a new operating company called Energy Storage Devices Spin-Off Preparation.

The transaction will be concluded on the condition that SBS obtains the clearances and licenses necessary under the domestic and international competition laws and other laws and regulations. 

Showa Denko Materials, the consolidated subsidiary of Showa Denko, shall be the splitting company and new company will be the successor company when the split happens this December.

The moves comes as Showa Denko announced it will record an extraordinary loss of about 30 billion yen ($270 million) for the first half of the year. 

 
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Toyocolor to supply CNT to and SK Innovations European plants

Thu, 07/15/2021 - 15:18 -- Paul Crompton
Lioaccum series of conductive carbon nanotube (CNT) dispersions

Functional materials firm Toyocolor is set to supply carbon nanotubes to Korea’s lithium-ion battery maker SK Innovations’ plants in the US and Europe.

Toyocolor, the colorants and functional materials division of Japan’s Toyo Ink Group, will supply its Lioaccum series of conductive carbon nanotube (CNT) dispersions. 

Lioaccum dispersions are used as the conductive additive in lithium-ion cathodes to expand battery capacity that enables electric vehicles to increase driving distances and charge faster. 

In this instance, the CNT’s will be used in lithium-ion batteries for Volkswagen Group and the Ford Motor Company.

Toyocolor said in a statement that its researchers in Japan had achieved high conductivity levels by replacing carbon black in the battery cathode with a small amount of Lioaccum CNT dispersions as the conductive additive.

At present, Toyocolor is providing SK Innovation with Lioaccum dispersions produced at its plant in Georgia, US.

Supply to SK Innovation’s European plants is due to move to Toyo Ink Hungary, in Hungary, in the first quarter of next year. 

Toyo Ink SC Holdings, the parent company of the Toyo Ink Group, plans to invest around 10 billion yen ($9990 million) up to 2026, to strengthen its global battery dispersions production network. 

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Lithium battery material deal marks Spanish mine’s commercialisation

Thu, 07/15/2021 - 10:17 -- Paul Crompton

South Korean lithium-ion manufacturer LG Energy Solutions has secured a supply of battery grade lithium-hydroxide from a Spanish mine. 

The firm will receive the first rights to 10,000 tpa from the San Jose Industrial Lithium Project following the signing of a non-binding memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Infinity Lithium Corporation.

The MoU refers to the potential supply of the material for an initial five-year period with the opportunity to extend that for a further five years.

Australia-listed firm Infinity owns the Spanish site with its joint venture partner Valoriza Mineria S.A.

The project treats and refines the ore into lithium hydroxide on site.

A binding offtake agreement is due to be signed within 12 months of the MoU.

Infinity Lithium first unveiled a scoping study for its San Jose project in 2018.

The company had previously released a lithium carbonate scoping study for San Jose, but said at the time it was shifting the project’s focus towards lithium hydroxide.

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China deploys world’s first sodium-ion grid-scale battery ESS

Wed, 07/14/2021 - 09:01 -- Paul Crompton
China deploys world’s first sodium-ion grid-scale battery ESS

The world’s first grid–scale energy storage system has been deployed in China, according to domestic news outlets.

The system was officially put into operation in Taiyuan, Shanxi Province, and is combined with municipal power, solar and charging facilities to form a micro-grid, reported English language newspaper The Global Times.

The system’s major developer was the Institute of Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, which has worked on the technology for 10 years.

The institute first demonstrated a 100kWh sodium-ion battery in 2019.

China has proposed a target of carbon neutrality by 2060, and is expected to widely use sodium-ion in a variety of sectors including: electric vehicles, home or industrial energy storage, 5G communication base stations and renewable energy.

Last month, UK battery maker Faradion announced that lithium-ion battery giant Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL) would begin making sodium-ion batteries from July.

Image: The 100kWh Na-ion battery-based power station deployed by the Institute of Physics, Chinese Academy of Science in 2019

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Panasonic sells stake in long-term partner Tesla for $3.6 billion

Tue, 07/13/2021 - 08:53 -- Paul Crompton
Panasonic cells and Tesla car

Tesla’s lithium-ion battery maker Panasonic has sold its entire stake in the US electric vehicle OEM for almost $3.6 billion, reports Japanese business news outlet Nikkei.

Panasonic has said the sale will pay for its $7 billion acquisition of artificial intelligence software developer Blue Yonder, reported Nikkei.

Panasonic bought 1.4 million Tesla shares for about $30 million in 2010. Those stocks rose to $730 million at the end of March 2020, and by 24 June closed at $679.82 apiece.

Japanese firm Panasonic has been a long-term supplier of batteries to Tesla.

Last year, the pair signed a three-year pricing deal relating to the manufacture and supply of 2170 lithium-ion battery cells manufactured at its gigafactory in Nevada, US.

Panasonic said it would increase the energy density of its 2170 cells by 20% within five years and commercialise a cobalt-free version within three years.

The stock sell-off came in the same week China battery maker CATL extended a battery supply deal with Tesla to 2025.

Tesla entered into a partnership with South Korea’s LG Chem and China’s CATL in January 2020 as it looked to secure a lithium-ion battery supply for its electric cars at its Gigafactory 3 plant in Shanghai.

CATL signed a two-year battery supply agreement with Tesla, with the US firm determining the battery purchase volume, last July.

For more stories on Teslsa click here 

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Firm announces silicon boosted lithium-ion battery reaches 1,000mAh/g

Thu, 07/01/2021 - 11:16 -- Paul Crompton
One Battery sciences logo

OneD Battery Sciences has unveiled an electric vehicle battery that uses silicon nanowires to boost the energy density of lithium-ion cells.

The announcement follows three years of testing on commercial EV-grade graphite used in the anodes of EV batteries by unnamed graphite suppliers, cell manufactures, and EV makers in the US, Europe, and Asia.

During testing, the firm provided customers with standard versions of the Sinanode anodes for laboratory testing. 

OneD says customers plan to further customise the process to meet their specific needs, including processing large enough quantities to build EV cells for optimization and qualification. 

Testing was conducted in pilot Sinanode facilities, which included the equipment needed to process the graphite powders provided by the OEM.

The June 10 announcement marked the commercial launch of the firm’s pilot line production program dedicated to electric vehicle OEMs. 

The first two facilities are in the US, and additional facilities are under negotiation.

Each facility is set up to process up to 800kg of anode active material per month, and enough anode active material for 34MWh.

Sinanode Pilot processing will begin around the end of the year and the firm anticipates its first anchor tenant to start production by the end of this year or early 2022. Until then, it is processing in its Palo Alto pilot facility.

OneD’s chief commercial officer Fabrice Hudry told BEST: “The Sinanode process is two parts: a Catalyst step and Silicon step. 

“The Catalyst step deposits nanoparticles of copper oxide onto the graphite particles. The Silicon step uses CVD ovens to grow silicon nanowires onto the graphite particles. 

“Each facility has a small production team dedicated full time to the OEM’s processing. The OEM can process multiple graphite powders and select various silicon percentages; they can also work with the OneD R&D team to access many inventions related to adopting the anode materials in specific electrode manufacturing processes and cell designs.

“We expect OEMs to fine-tune EV cells for both the high end and the low end of their EV models due in 2025. These models will enter production by 2024 and we will have the large scale processing ready by then to process according to their fully qualified specific Sinanode formulation.

Existing manufacturing processes

The company’s CEO, Vincent Pluvinage, told BEST: “Over the last ten years, we have built and tested thousands of full pouch cells built with various graphite substrates and various commercial cathodes. 

“We have also tested cells built by our customers from 18650 format to 60 Ah pouch formats. 

“We are currently negotiating the contracts for the programs.”

The firm’s Sinanode technology integrates into existing manufacturing processes to fuse silicon nanowires onto commercial graphite powders.

The higher energy density increases battery range while nanowires shorten charging time, which will enable OEMs to design and produce electric vehicles that answer market demands, say the firm.

The company says its Sinanode pushes the anode specific capacity to around 1,000mAh/g.

A graphite anode, which is widely used in commercial lithium-ion batteries, has a theoretical specific capacity of 372mAh/g.

The Sinanode anode material can be blended with graphite, to achieve initial coulombic efficiency of around 92%, and more than 1,000 full charge cycles than commercially available EV cells.

This reduces the investments and time necessary to scale up the Sinanode step to EV quantities, while decreasing the cost of EV anodes (measured in $ per kWh) by almost 50%, when compared to the cost of most competitive anodes used in EV batteries today.

Pluvinage said: “During this decade, we will witness the largest and fastest transformation of a global industry that’s ever been seen, and the decisions made today will determine which car makers come out on top.

 

“EV demand will be driven by range, charge time, and cost, and our technology addresses each of these purchase drivers in a significant way.”

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High purity lithium hydroxide plant to make lithium-ion battery material in Germany

Tue, 06/29/2021 - 10:53 -- Paul Crompton
High purity lithium hydroxide plant to make lithium-ion battery material in Germany

A German lithium hydroxide material plant to supply the European electric vehicle battery market will be built by Advanced Metallurgical Group (AMG) and GEA.

The battery-grade lithium hydroxide will be produced in a plant operated by AMG Lithium at Chemiepark Bitterfeld-Wolfen, Germany. 

GEA will supply AMG Lithium (a subsidiary and part of the AMG Clean Energy Materials division of AMG) with a pre-concentration plant and its crystallisation technology, which it uses to purify lithium hydroxide.

The first module, due to be commissioned in 2023, will have an annual capacity of 20,000 tons of lithium hydroxide, with plans to increase capacity up to 100,000 tons.

The plant will use technical grade lithium hydroxide as raw material in the first module and convert it into battery grade Lithium hydroxide monohydrate(LiOH- H2O) in the new plant.

The plant engineering solution includes pre-concentration, crystallisation and drying of the crystals and comprises design, manufacture, installation and commissioning.

AMG Lithium combines extensive lithium expertise in R&D, production and marketing with a reliable and safe raw material base from a group-owned mine in Brazil. 

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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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