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Æsir set to build nickel-zinc gigafactory to serve back-up power markets

Thu, 10/14/2021 - 15:22 -- paul Crompton

Battery manufacturer Æsir Technologies is set to build its nickel-zinc gigafactory in South Dakota, US, to service the backup power markets. 

The Rapid City plant’s planned two billion watt hours of production capacity will serve the data center and 5G network back-up power markets.

Phase 1 of the $250 million investment includes the state of South Dakota providing debt support for the building and equipment with funding up to $1 million in workforce development. 

Randy Moore, Æsir’s CEO, said they chose South Dakota because the economic development package put forward by the state was significantly superior to the other 20 locations being considered.

He said: “Incentives offered by many other locations consisted of tax abatements of taxes that don’t exist in South Dakota. 

“Here, the incentives provided true leverage to make our financial plan come together.” 

Æsir said that “most” of the equipment used in the manufacturing process will come from Wirtz Manufacturing in Michigan, US.

The firm plans to directly source its nickel laterites from the Philippines and domestically convert it to nickel hydroxide- the main ingredient for its cathode. 

The data center market has traditionally used lead-acid batteries, but has been turning more and more to lithium-ion.

Bob Galyen, a member of Æsir’s technical advisory board and former CTO of CATL, said: “Of all the possible battery chemistries to be applied in a data center or 5G solution, nickel zinc is probably the best suited due to its energy density, safety attributes, and broad operating temperature range.”

The firm's Joplin facility works with the US Navy and Air Force to develop nickel zinc technology for Virginia Class Submarines and the Minuteman III ICBM, respectively. 

Æsir’s batteries are produced under non-exclusive license to use ZAF Energy Systems’ intellectual property. 

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GM honours ex-director with facility to develop next-generation batteries

Thu, 10/14/2021 - 15:14 -- paul Crompton

Vehicle OEM General Motors has revealed plans to accelerate electric vehicle battery technology with a facility dedicated to developing and commercialising better and cheaper next-generation batteries.

New battery technologies like lithium-metal, silicon and solid-state batteries will be developed, along with advanced production methods, at the Wallace Battery Cell Innovation Center.

The Wallace Center, on the campus of GM’s Global Technical Center (GTC) in Michigan, US, is due to be completed mid-next year.

The first prototype cells are due in the fourth quarter of 2022, with the centre capable of building large-format, lithium-metal battery cells as large as 1,000mm with energy density from 600 to 1200Wh/l.

The Wallace Center will include cell test chambers, cell formation chambers, a material synthesis laboratory— where GM can design its own cathode active materials— a slurry mixing and processing laboratory, a coating room, electrolyte production laboratory, and a forensics laboratory with material analysis equipment and advanced software.

Technology developed at the centre will eventually be be deployed at battery cell manufacturing plants, including GM's joint ventures with LG Energy Solution in Ohio and Tennessee, and other “undisclosed locations” in the US.

The facility will connect GM's network of battery development sites located on its GTC campus, which include GM's Research and Development Chemical and Materials' Subsystems Lab that leads the company's work on lithium-metal anodes.

It will also be connected to the Estes Battery Systems Lab that performs major battery durability tests in-house at the cell, module and pack levels.

Honouring a legacy

The facility is named after Bill Wallace, a GM director who played a pivotal role in the development of its advanced battery technology as director of Battery Systems and Electrification.

Wallace led the team that designed and released GM’s advanced automotive battery systems in the Chevrolet Volt 1, Volt 2, Malibu Hybrid and Bolt EV.

Doug Parks, GM executive vice president, global product development, purchasing and supply chain, said: “In addition to being a good friend, Bill was an innovator who enabled other innovators.

“He gave his team confidence to take risks and reach far beyond their wildest dreams in pursuit of our all-electric, zero-emissions future.”

Wallace also pioneered GM’s relationship with LG Chem R&D (now LG Energy Solution), culminating in the Ultium Cells LLC battery cell manufacturing joint venture plants now under construction.

Despite fighting terminal cancer, Wallace passionately continued to lead and inspire his team and worked until his death in 2018.

Image: Architectural rendering of the completed first phase of GM’s Wallace Battery Cell Innovation Center.

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Bipolar lead battery organisation GreenSeal Alliance welcomes its newest member Amer-Sil

Fri, 10/08/2021 - 15:34 -- paul Crompton

Lead battery and redox flow battery separator firm Amer-Sil has joined the GreenSeal Alliance organisation, which supports the industry’s transition to lead bipolar battery production.

Amer-Sil joined the organisation because it “wants to be ready for the innovations coming to the lead acid battery” and participate in the works on the bipolar battery design, said the Luxemburg-headquartered firm’s managing director Jan Peynsaert.

Amer-Sil designs and produces micro-porous polymer/silica separators for all types of industrial lead acid batteries, and is known in the industry also as a leading gauntlet supplier.

The company joins 21 other key players within the lead battery industry with the collective goal of promoting and improving lead batteries throughout the world using GreenSeal Technology.  

Mike Everett, chairman of the Board of GreenSeal Alliance stated “Amer-Sil’s background and dedication to improve the sustainability of lead batteries will be a perfect addition to the GreenSeal Alliance. With each new industry member, the GreenSeal Alliance grows stronger, deeper and broader in skills and abilities.” 

Read more about bipolar batteries and the GreenSeal allianc’s work HERE

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Ford partners with Korea to boost US lithium-ion battery production

Thu, 10/07/2021 - 10:20 -- paul Crompton

Ford Motor Company and SK Innovation plan to invest $11.4 billion in the US electric vehicle and battery sector— including three dedicated battery plants with a combined 129GWh capacity.

The money is earmarked for sites in the US states of Kentucky and Tennessee as Ford looks to secure a supply of batteries for its North American assembly plants.

Ford will be investing $7 billion of the overall cash boost into US manufacturing, with the South Korean firm SK Innovation delivering the rest of the funding.

The plants are due to begin coming online in 2025 to supply batteries for next-generation electric Ford and Lincoln vehicles.

A $5.6 billion 3,600-acre mega campus in Tennessee called Blue Oval City, will “reimagine” how vehicles and batteries are made and include a battery plant called BlueOvalSK and an assembly plant. 

It is believed the battery manufacturing capacity of the Tennessee plant will be 43GWh.

Kentucky battery plant

In central Kentucky, $5.8 billion has been made available to build a 1,500-acre dedicated battery-manufacturing complex called the BlueOvalSK Battery Park. 

Twin co-located plants at the site will be capable of producing up to 43GWh each for a total of 86GWh annually. 

Ford estimates it will need 140GWh battery supply to meet its manufacturing demand.

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Polypore and SEMCORP establish JV in China for dry-process lithium-ion battery separators

Fri, 10/01/2021 - 11:02 -- paul Crompton

A joint venture to produce up to 1 billion m2/year of dry-process lithium-ion battery separators in China by 2028 has been established by a joint Japanese and Chinese partnership.

The joint venture (JV) was established by Polypore International (Polypore)—  A wholly owned subsidiary of Japan’s Asahi Kasei— and China’s Shanghai Energy New Materials Technology (SEMCORP) 

Production by the JV is scheduled to start next year with a capacity of 100 million m2/year, with plans to raise capacity to 1 billion m2/year by around 2028 in line with demand growth. 

The joint venture will manufacture and sell dry-process separator in China for energy storage systems (ESS) and electric vehicle (EV) batteries. 

The technology and intellectual property related to dry-process polypropylene (PP) separator will be based on a license from Polypore’s subsidiary Celgard.

The JV will leverage Celgard’s technology in combination with SEMCORP’s production process control and cost control capabilities in China. 

The agreement for the establishment of the joint venture was reached in January 2021, but only just confirmed.

Celgard president Lie Shi said that by joining each company’s specialisms, the joint venture would provide a wide range of solutions to customers and stimulate further development of the LIB industry overall.

SEMCORP is China’s leading manufacturer of wet-process LIB separator, with six manufacturing sites in China having a total production capacity of 3.5 billion m2/year. 

SEMCORP chairman and CEO Paul Xiaoming Lee said: “This joint venture will let us capture a huge opportunity in the ESS market with dry-process separator. 

“By combining Celgard’s highest-level technology and know-how with SEMCORP’s rich operational experience in China, track record of mass-producing high-quality separator, and cost-competitiveness, this joint venture with Polypore will be a revolutionary supplier of dry-process separator.” 

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LGES restarts lithium-ion battery production after GM’s billion-dollar EV fire recall

Tue, 09/28/2021 - 15:28 -- paul Crompton

Vehicle OEM General Motors (GM) has revealed an action plan for resuming battery production that includes both hardware and software remedies following a series of fires in electric vehicle packs.

The company’s battery maker LG Energy Solutions' (LGES) plants in Holland and Hazel Park, Michigan, US, have resumed production and the LG Chem subsidiary is adding capacity to provide more cells to GM.

LGES paused battery production after two manufacturing defects— a torn anode and a folded separator— were found to have caused battery fires in GM’s Chevy Bolt EV and EUV vehicles.

LGES has implemented new manufacturing processes and has worked with GM to review and enhance its quality assurance programs to provide confidence in its batteries moving forward, say GM. 

The battery maker said it will initiate these new processes in other facilities providing cells to GM in the future.

As a result, replacement battery modules will be shipped to dealers as soon as mid-October.

GM is prioritising Chevy Bolt EV and EUV customers whose batteries were manufactured during specific build timeframes where GM believes battery defects appear to be clustered.

Doug Parks, GM executive vice president, Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain, said: “Resuming battery module production is a first step and we’ll continue to work aggressively with LG to obtain additional battery supply. 

“In addition, we’re optimistic a new advanced diagnostic software will provide more convenience for our customers.” 

Prioritised battery replacement

GM has established a notification process that will inform affected customers when their replacement modules will be available.  

The new batteries will include an extended battery eight-year/100,000-mile limited warranty (or eight-year/160,000 km limited warranty in Canada).

GM will begin launching a new advanced diagnostic software package that will increase the available battery charging parameters over existing guidance within 60 days.

The diagnostic software will detect specific abnormalities that might indicate a damaged battery in Bolt EVs and EUVs by monitoring the battery performance.

The software will alert customers of any anomalies and prioritise damaged battery modules for replacement. 

GM intends that further diagnostic software will allow customers to return to a 100% state of charge once all diagnostic processes are complete— this follows instructions to limit charge to 90% to avoid fire concerns.

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Group to increase women in C-Suite positions within the battery industry launched at BCI conference

Tue, 09/28/2021 - 14:58 -- paul Crompton
ulie McClure (pictured), the chairman of lead battery equipment manufacturing firm MAC Engineering

A new group to aid the professional development of women in the battery industry was announced during the annual BCI Battery Council International (BCI) Convention + Power Mart.

The Women in the Global Battery Industry group aims to help women further their own careers while building relationships within the industry to further their companies’ goals.

Membership is open to professionals in the global battery industry who are seeking to develop all aspects of their career.

The group’s vice-chair is Virginia Archibald, chief financial officer of Surette Battery, a manufacturer of deep cycle batteries for use in renewable energy, marine, motive power and railroad applications.

Julie McClure (pictured), the chairman of lead battery equipment manufacturing firm MAC Engineering, is the first chair of the new group

She said: “As a second generation professional in the battery industry, I know how valuable relationships are in building leadership skills to serve in executive positions within the industry, especially in one that is a traditionally male enterprise.

“Through the networking, professional growth, education and mentorship opportunities we will offer, I am excited to increase the number of C-suite executives in our growing industry.”

The formation of the group is supported by BCI Board of Directors and its president, Chris Pruitt. 

Pruitt, who is also CEO and president of East Penn Manufacturing, said: “I’ve seen within my own company the power of diverse points of view from an inclusive workforce. This is such a great opportunity for the battery industry to further promote the growth of women within our leadership ranks, and I’m proud to be a part of today’s announcement.”

The steering committee that was instrumental in launching the initiative included: Virginia Archibald, Surrette Battery; Melissa Floyd, Stryten; Claudia Lorenzini, Microporous; Ellen Maxey, Clarios; Maria Roma, Advanced Battery Concepts; Sheila Ryles, Teck Metals; Donna Snyder, East Penn Manufacturing; Tammy Stankey, The Doe Run Company; Emma Thacker, EnerSys; and Pam O’Brien, BCI.

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Li-Cycle ups US lithium-ion battery recycling capacity to meet growing demand

Tue, 09/21/2021 - 13:46 -- paul Crompton

Canadian firm Li-Cycle has confirmed it will build a fourth commercial lithium-ion battery recycling facility in North America.

The plant— called a spoke by the firm— in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, will provide an initial processing capacity increase of up to 5,000 tonnes of manufacturing scrap and end-of-life batteries per year.

The Tuscaloosa site is also being developed to accommodate a future, second 5,000 tonne processing line, which would double capacity at the site.

The Alabama Spoke is due to start operations by mid-2022.

Spoke 4 will initially bring Li-cycle’s North American recycling capacity to 25,000 tonnes per year, and adds to the firm’s facilities in Ontario, Canada, New York, and a plant in Arizona, US, that is in advanced stage of construction.

The Arizona, Spoke 3, facility will process 10,000 tonnes of batteries per year when complete, effectively doubling the firm’s total recycling capacity in North America.

Tim Johnston, co-founder, and executive chairman of Li-Cycle, said: "Originally, we had planned on rolling out three commercial Spoke facilities in North America over the next five years, with a total recycling capacity of 20,000 tonnes per year. 

“However, demand for lithium-ion battery recycling has continued to outperform our forecasts and we are now forecasting total recycling capacity of 30,000 tonnes per year. 

“This Alabama facility is essential in filling a recycling gap in the southeastern United States. Like our Arizona Spoke, we expect the new facility to have the capability to process entire vehicle battery packs, without dismantling.”

Univar Solutions will be an anchor battery feed supply customer for the new facility, following on Li-Cycle’s previously announced on-site partnership with Univar Solutions to provide waste management solutions for electric vehicle and lithium-ion battery manufacturing.

Mercedes-Benz, US International (MBUSI) is working with Univar Solutions on end-of-life solutions for lithium-ion batteries.

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Argonne and the NEMA to partner on lithium-ion battery recycling standards

Mon, 09/20/2021 - 13:11 -- paul Crompton

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) to develop end-of-life standards for recycling lithium-ion electric vehicle packs based on the cell’s design has been signed by two US organisations.

The partnership aims to identify standards manufacturers and recyclers can use to assess the amount of extractable and recyclable material in various battery systems.

The MoU was signed by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory and the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA).

NEMA has represented electrical equipment manufacturers across the US since 1926.

Argonne scientists and NEMA experts will explore how variations in battery design, materials and chemistries, as well as recycling methods, can all affect recyclability.

Jonathan Stewart, industry director of NEMA’s Utility Products and Systems, said: “If we don’t innovate to address end-of-life challenges and consider environmental impacts as more and more batteries are being produced, then we’re going to have a big problem ten years from now.”

The development of a standard will include Argonne working to involve many of the organisations it already works with. These include: ReCell, a battery recycling R&D center led by Argonne and funded by Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Vehicle Technologies Office.

Jeff Spangenberger, the Materials Recycling R&D group lead at Argonne and director of the ReCell Center, said: “Standards can give recyclers a baseline for how much material, and in turn how much revenue, they can expect to recover from a battery. 

“They can also help manufacturers understand what materials and designs are likely to be more recyclable, which can inform their research and development. 

“Our decades of expertise in battery research and the specialized tools we have to solve problems in this space are what make us a good partner in this endeavour.

​“We’re excited to integrate our knowledge with NEMA’s industry expertise to create a more robust battery recycling market here in the US.”

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SK Innovations to invest $1B in new China plant to meet forecast demand of lithium-ion batteries

Fri, 09/17/2021 - 15:17 -- paul Crompton

South Korea's SK Innovation is set to invest 1.2 trillion won ($1 billion) in a new battery factory in China, as it looks to ramp up lithium-ion battery production to 200GWh in the next four years.

Detailed plans for the new factory were not revealed, but in July the firm said it was to up production to 200GWh from a previously announced goal of 125GWh. 

The company’s production capacity is 40GWh.

The South Korean battery maker supplies electric vehicle (EV) batteries to Ford Motor, Volkswagen and Hyundai Motor among others, and has battery production sites in the US, Hungary, China and South Korea.

In July, SK announced it would spinoff its battery division to allow it to concentrate on meeting demand for batteries as global EV sales are set to increase from last year’s 2.5 million, according to IHS Markit.

SK Innovation CEO Kim Jun said in July: “We haven't decided how to split the battery business ... it takes quite a lot of resources to further grow our growing battery business, so we are considering the spinoff as one of the ways to secure resources.”

The South Korean battery maker told news outlet Reuters that it had more than 130 trillion won ($115 billion) worth of battery orders, which is more than 1TWh worth of batteries, enough to power around 14 million electric vehicles.

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