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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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Lithium-ion battery recycler secures Japanese patent

Wed, 09/15/2021 - 15:22 -- paul Crompton

Critical minerals company American Manganese (AMY) has secured a Japanese patent for its closed-loop lithium-ion battery recycling process.

The company’s RecycLiCo process was issued Patent No. 6906060 by the Japanese Patent Office.

The Japanese patent joins already issued patents in the US and South Korea (Patent No. 10-2246670). The Company has also filed National Phase Patent Applications for China, Europe, Australia, India, and Canada.

The patent provides coverage for AMY’s closed-loop method for achieving up to 100% extraction of cobalt, nickel, manganese, aluminium, and lithium from the treatment of cathode chemistries such as lithium-cobalt oxide (LCO), lithium-nickel-manganese-cobalt oxide (NMC), and lithium-nickel-cobalt-aluminium oxide (NCA). 

Compared to traditional hydrometallurgical recycling processes, the company says its process offers advantages such as faster reaction rates, lower consumption of acids, improved water balance, and higher leaching efficiency.

Larry Reaugh, president and CEO of American Manganese, said: “As we move towards our goal of commercialisation, we are reminded by the foundation of patents that supported our growth in battery recycling and we are honoured to be issued another patent by a country that is one of the world leaders in battery innovation.

“Innovation is at the core of our company and as a pioneer in battery recycling we continue to monitor new lithium-ion battery technologies and opportunities.”

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Chinese battery manufacturing giant CATL joins EU battery association Eurobat

Tue, 09/14/2021 - 15:39 -- paul Crompton
Chinese battery manufacturing giant CATL cells

China lithium-ion battery giant Contemporary Amperex Technology Limited (CATL) has joined Eurobat— the association for European automotive and industrial battery manufacturers.

Eurobat covers all battery technologies, and has more than 50 members working with policy-makers, industry stakeholders, and non-governmental organisations to highlight the role batteries play for decarbonised mobility and energy systems.

Headquartered in Ningde, China, CATL had more than 5,000 staff engaged in R&D at of the end of 2020 and is in the process of developing its first European production base in Arnstadt, Germany. 

Matthias Zentgraf, CATL EU-Region co-president, said: “With the European Commissions’ vision for a climate-neutral EU by 2050, we are proud to bring our EV battery technologies and manufacturing to Europe, contributing to a more sustainable Europe powered by E-mobility. 

“Joining Eurobat will bring more exposure to conversations with the local automotive ecosystem and regulatory bodies, facilitate CATL to better integrate with local automotive industry and introduce more advanced solutions and services in the region.” 

Eurobat executive-director Rene Schroeder said: “Europe’s battery industry is currently at a pivotal moment.

“Investments into Europe’s automotive and industrial battery industry are needed if we want Europe to reach its decarbonisation ambition, as recently announced in the European Commission’s Fit for 55 package. 

“At the same time, policy-makers and stakeholders are in the process of shaping the future policy framework for batteries, notably through the new Batteries Regulation.”

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UK-US partnership to scale-up direct lithium-ion battery cathode recycling

Fri, 09/10/2021 - 15:44 -- paul Crompton

UK and US firms have partnered to improve the sustainability of lithium-ion battery manufacturing by using direct cathode recycling methods. 

UK firm Johnson Matthey and the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC) will partner with US firm OnTo Technology on the project involving direct recycling of lithium-ion battery production scrap.

Johnson Matthey has entered into an agreement to scale up OnTo Technology OnTo’s patented process for the direct recycling of lithium-ion battery scrap in collaboration with UKBIC.

Part funding for the feasibility stage of the project is from the UK Government’s Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) in partnership with Innovate UK.

OnTo’s patented Cathode Healing process restores the coating material to be used in making new batteries. 

A Johnson Matthey spokesman told BEST: “The project is aimed at a demonstration unit that can be scaled-up directly to a commercial unit that can meet the need of cell manufacturers.

“The project is focused on cell manufacturing scrap rather than scrap batteries. The demonstration unit will take material from UKBIC’s cell production line and directly from cell manufacturers.

“The objectives of the project is to scale up OnTo’s patented direct cathode recycling technology, which so far has been developed at laboratory scale, to a scale at which the feasibility of a commercial recycling unit can be demonstrated. 

“A successful method of recycling cell scrap with make a significant overall contribution to the manufacturing efficiency of lithium-ion cell manufacturing, increasing the recycled content of new batteries.”

Matthew Dobson, UKBIC’s principal engineer, said: “The recycling of batteries is an important part of developing a sustainable UK value chain and aligns with our objective of enabling a route to Net Zero." 

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American Manganese success in black mass trials and wins support from Canadian government

Fri, 09/10/2021 - 15:36 -- paul Crompton

American Manganese has reported the successful recycling of lithium-ion battery black mass into NMC-622 (nickel-manganese-cobalt oxide) cathode precursor.

The black mass feedstock was produced by mechanical size reduction from end-of-life lithium-ion batteries, using the Canada-based firm’s RecycLiCo closed-loop process.

The resulting powder substance contains battery materials, including: lithium, cobalt, nickel, and manganese, as well as copper, aluminium, and graphite. 

American Manganese (AMY) sourced the samples of black mass from an unnamed electric vehicle manufacturer for demonstration of its process and validation of its product.

Laboratory-scale testing of the black mass samples demonstrated a 99% leach extraction efficiency of lithium, nickel, manganese, and cobalt. 

The resulting pregnant leach solution was then adjusted to the desired ratio of nickel, manganese, and cobalt before the direct co-precipitation of the NMC-622 cathode precursor. 

AMY said that Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) scans showed its NMC-622 product shares the same technical specifications –particle morphology, size, and distribution – found in conventional lithium-ion battery cathode precursor materials produced from raw materials.

Government funding

This month AMY received advisory services and funding to support a pilot lithium-ion recycling project from the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) Industrial Research Assistance Program.

The funding, delivered through NRC’s Fast Pilot in Foreign Markets program, is designed to help Canadian small and medium-sized businesses overcome barriers to market entry and facilitate direct adoption of technology in foreign markets.

AMY will model, commission, and test a lithium-ion battery cathode material recycling demonstration plant to include continuous operation with specific cathode waste processing objectives, such as capacity, extraction efficiency, and material purity.

The pilot project is titled ‘Demonstration of Continuous Recycling of Cathode Material from Lithium-ion Battery Production Scrap’.

NRC provided advisory services and conditional funding to support AMY’s research and development project on the ‘Synthesis of Cathode Material Precursors from Recycled Battery Scrap’ project between November 4, 2020 and March 31, 2021.

The main objective of the project is to conduct a technical feasibility study on the synthesis of cathode material precursors with specific particle parameters.

The latest project is in collaboration with European gigafactory developer Italvolt, which is aiming to build a 45GWh, increasing to 70GWh, lithium-ion plant in Scarmagno, Italy. 

In March, the firm signed a memorandum of understanding to develop a commercial recycling plant alongside the Scarmagno plant.

The MOU is a response to the European Commission’s proposed Batteries Regulation, which aims to ensure batteries placed on the EU market are sustainable throughout their life cycle.

Italvolt founder Carlstrom also founded, and is a shareholder, of UK gigafactory hopeful Britishvolt.

 

In July, Britishvolt was granted planning permission to construct its first full-scale lithium-ion facility in Northumberland, UK.

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Svolt closes $1.5B funding round two months after cobalt-free lithium-ion battery announcement

Thu, 09/09/2021 - 11:13 -- paul Crompton

China cobalt-free lithium-ion battery firm Svolt Energy Technology has closed a B-financing round of 10.28 billion Yuan ($1.5 billion) as it moves to its goal of 200GWh production capacity by 2025.

The financing round will be used for the research and development of new technologies, and the construction of new production facilities in the Chinese cities of Changzhou, Suining, Huzhou, Ma’anshan and Nanjing, as well as in Europe.

This financing round was led by Bank of China Group Investment (BOCGI). 

Other investors include the National Fund for Technology Transfer and Commercialization, Country Garden Venture Capital, Shenzhen Capital Group (SCGC), CCB Investment, IDG Capital, Sany, Xiaomi Corporation, Oceanpine Capital and China Renaissance. 

Original shareholders, including SDIC and JZ Capital, significantly increased their holdings.

The firm closed a 3.5 billion Yuan ($540 million) A-financing round at the end of February.

Svolt has announced orders from Chinese and international automobile manufacturers, including: Great Wall Motors, Geely Automobile, Dongfeng Motor, Stellantis, SF Motors, ENnovate, Leap Motor and Hozon Auto. 

Cobalt-free batteries

In July, Svolt announced the start of series production of its cobalt-free nickel-manganese (NMX) battery cells at a ceremony in Jintan, China.

The firm is initially producing two sizes of its NMX batteries (115 Ah and 226 Ah), which are 75% nickel and 25% manganese. 

Series production of the new NMX batteries followed the successful production of ten tons of cobalt-free cathode material at the battery cell factory in Jintan during January.

Svolt has been mass-producing the cobalt-free cathode material since April.

The batteries can achieve more than 2,500 charging cycles, says the firm.

From the end of 2023, the novel batteries can also be produced at the planned plant in Saarland for the European market.

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