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NGK and BASF launch sodium-sulfur battery ESS test project in Belgium

Wed, 11/03/2021 - 10:13 -- paul Crompton

Operations using sodium-sulfur (NaS) batteries have begun in Belgium three years after a NGK Insulators and BASF New Business (BNB) entered into a sales partnership agreement to develop the technology.

The NGK supplied batteries are connected to the power grid at an Antwerp Verbund site owned by German chemical group BASF, of which BNB is a wholly owned subsidiary.

The project aims to develop a business model by allowing BNB to gain direct experience in long-term operations of a NaS battery system.

Learnings from examining various use cases will enable the firms to advise end users in the planning and implementation of NaS projects and to collect data for further development.

The system comprises of a maximum 1,000kW-dc power and 5,800kWh-dc dischargeable energy and four sets of containerised NAS batteries.

BASF’s facility started operation in September 2021.

In 2019, NGK and BNB entered into sales partnership agreement for NAS battery and a joint development agreement for next-generation sodium-sulfur batteries.

Since then, the firms have been cooperating by combining NGK’s expertise in battery design and production with BNB’s chemistry know-how to market and further develop NAS batteries.

In April, NGK won an order to supply its NaS technology to the Tanegashima Space Center of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

The batteries will be used to ensure the reliable launch of vehicles from the space center, as well as improving the reliability of its electric power systems, including: emergency backup power source (backup power supply for electrical generators), frequency stabilisation and energy conservation.

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GMG launches pilot plant as it eyes graphene aluminium-ion battery future

Tue, 11/02/2021 - 10:42 -- paul Crompton

Graphene Manufacturing Group expects to commission its graphene aluminium-ion (G+AI) battery pilot production and testing plant this month.

The Company has also committed additional funding to allow the plant in Brisbane, Australia, to produce pouch pack cell format batteries in addition to the previously announced coin cell format.

This addition to the facility is intended to accelerate the development of G+AI pouch packs and allow early collaboration with some of the company’s major customer prospects and their specific requirements.

Pilot production of a prototype coin cell battery is targeted before the end of this year, with a commercial prototype pouch battery targeted before the end of 2022.

Subject to successful commercial prototypes and a final investment decision, GMG could build a commercial coin cell G+AI battery manufacturing facility.

The location of this manufacturing facility is not yet decided but will likely be in Australia where GMG’s headquarters and existing operations are located, say the firm.

GMG’s managing director and CEO, Craig Nicol, said: “We are excited to shortly be able to develop, manufacture and test our own G+AI battery coin cell and pouch packs in-house, in continued collaboration with the University of Queensland.

“This will allow us to potentially accelerate the development of our batteries, work with our future customers and further build on our internal expertise.

“Our new headquarters in Brisbane, Australia, will enable GMG to have graphene manufacturing, graphene fluid blending, the G+AI Battery pilot plant, as well as our global headquarters all under one roof which will greatly enhance our overall efficiency.”

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SK IE Technology readies its EU lithium-ion battery separator plant for production

Thu, 10/21/2021 - 15:21 -- paul Crompton

Korean materials firm SK IE Innovation has held an opening ceremony for its lithium-ion battery separator plant in Poland, the company's first European production base.

The company, the material business subsidiary of SK Innovation, held the ceremony to mark the start of commercial production after 21 months of construction, which saw mechanical completion in June and test operation in August.

The plant will have an annual production capacity of 340 million/m2.

CEO and president of SK IE Technology, Rho Jae-sok, said: "The operation of the first European plant has positioned the company as the first battery separator producer in Europe. We will take a significant part in revitalizing the global electric vehicle market."

The company’s first plant in Poland is expected to kick off commercial operation in the fourth quarter of this year.

The products will be supplied to global battery companies such as SK On.

SK IE Technology (SKIET) plans to invest a total of KRW2 trillion ($16.7 million) in Silesia Province by 2024 to ensure production capacity of 1,540 million/m2 of lithium-ion battery separators.

A second plant with a 340 million/m2 production capacity is under construction and is scheduled to be ready for commercial operation by 2023. 

Last July ground was broken on third and fourth plants with respective 430 million/m2 capacity. 

It is anticipated that the global production capacity of SKIET encompassing South Korea, China, and Europe will reach a total of 2,730 million/m2.

According to research agency IHS Market, the European battery industry will be expanded by five times from 82GWh this year to about 410GWh in 2026. The demand for separators will likely follow suit.

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Nouveau Monde opens laboratory to drive lithium-ion R&D

Thu, 10/21/2021 - 15:12 -- paul Crompton

“Green” lithium-ion battery anode material firm Nouveau Monde Graphite is set to add a state-of-the-art laboratory to its existing quality testing facilities.

The new facilities are part of the firm’s goal to supply “high-performing and environmentally responsible” battery materials that can be tailored to a variety of specifications for electric vehicles (EV) and energy storage applications.

The laboratory wil be situated at its premises in Saint-Michel-des-Saints, Canada.

The new facilities include equipment covering a range of technical measurements such as: particle size, tapped density, full coin cell preparation equipment, ICP trace element analysis, coating quality and impurity analysis by SEM-EDX.

Arne Frandsen, chairman of Nouveau Monde, said: “Today’s investment in R&D is tomorrow’s competitive advantage in the marketplace. 

“We continue our confidential and proprietary development efforts with a view to supporting the world’s leading lithium-ion battery makers and intend to continue investing in cutting-edge technology with the support of best-in-class scientists and engineers.”


The company has recruited Mogalahalli V. Venkatashamy Reddy, and Neel Rahem, to its internal technical team that includes specialists in the fields of lithium-ion batteries, carbon materials, bi-polar plates, electrochemistry, and engineered advanced materials.

Reddy is joining as senior professional researcher to advance the company’s product portfolio.

He has worked as a senior researcher at Hydro-Québec’s research institute, the Centre of Excellence in Transportation Electrification and Energy Storage, and at the National University of Singapore’s Department of Materials Science & Engineering, Advanced Batteries Lab and Department of Physics.

Rahem— a chemist specialised in metallurgy, process chemistry and quality programs— is joining the company as laboratory manager.

Prior to working at Nouveau Monde, Rahem looked after laboratory activities for Canadian Royalties, Minerai de Fer Québec, and Glencore.

Image: M.V. Reddy, PhD, senior professional researcher; Martin Brassard, PhD, R&D director; and Neel Rahem, laboratory manager in Nouveau Monde’s new facilities.

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Battery maker Systems Sunlight hires new CEO and president for US subsidiary

Mon, 10/18/2021 - 14:37 -- paul Crompton

Greek lead-acid and lithium-ion battery maker Systems Sunlight has appointed Todd Sechrist as CEO and president of the Greek firm’s US business. 

Sechrist, who has been a board member for Sunlight for 11 years, has also become a member of the Sunlight Batteries USA’s executive committee.

He joins the company from warehouse material handling firm Pengate Handling Systems, where he held the dual position of president and CEO.

Sechrist— the former president-Americas and COO at lead battery firm Enersys— began the role at the company’s subsidiary Sunlight Batteries USA on 18 October.

Systems Sunlight established the US subsidiary in 2019, and began assembling and distributing lead and lithium batteries for industrial electric vehicles (EVs) from its manufacturing plant in Greensboro, North Carolina, last year.

The firm is in the process of tripling capacity at its Greensboro plant with the addition of advanced machinery and equipment for the assembly of complete lead-acid and lithium-ion batteries by Q1, next year.

Last month, Sunlight announced it would invest an additional €50 million ($59 million) into its US and European plants to increase lead-acid and lithium-ion battery manufacturing.

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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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