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Hybrid lithium-VRFB system developed for power management applications

Thu, 09/09/2021 - 10:50 -- paul Crompton

Vanadium product recycler AMG Advanced Metallurgical Group has built its first lithium-vanadium hybrid battery for industrial power management applications. 

AMG’s hybrid lithium-vanadium redox flow battery (LIVA) uses the lithium battery for fast discharging including black start; the vanadium battery, which is charged by the grid, is used to recharge the lithium battery.

The first LIVA system will be installed in one of AMG’s German manufacturing plants and is scheduled to go online in the first quarter of next year. 

Engineering has started for three more systems, two in Germany and one in the US. 

AMG Engineering is building the integrated system, with its subsidiaries AMG Titanium & Coatings supplying the vanadium electrolyte, and AMG Lithium designing the lithium portion of the battery. 

AI technology acquisition

To solve the need for an advanced software solution is essential, AMG bought German firm Phyr7, which specialises in artificial intelligence-based power-management solutions. 

Phyr7 will be renamed LIVA Power Management Systems and be established with an initial capitalisation of €5 million ($6 million).  

The Phyr 7 software ecosystem maximises the efficiency, safety and lifetime of the batteries, and enables the economic integration of sector coupling strategies with renewable energies and green hydrogen.

Dr. Volker Koelln (pictured), founder of Phyr7, will be the CEO of LIVA Power Management Systems, and Holger Mueller-Rink will be its CFO, holding the same position at AMG Lithium. 

Dr. Stefan Scherer chairs the company’s Supervisory Board.

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Sunlight investment to expand lead and lithium-ion battery production in Europe and US

Tue, 09/07/2021 - 08:47 -- paul Crompton
Sunlight lead-acid lithium-ion battery manufacturing plant

Battery maker Sunlight will invest an additional €50 million ($59 million) into its US and European plants to increase lead-acid and lithium-ion battery manufacturing.

The Greek firm will invest €30 million ($35.5 million) to increase production of motive power lead-acid flooded products at its plant in Xanthi, northeastern Greece, from 4GWh to 5.3GWh up to Q3 next year.

This investment will include the expansion of existing infrastructure with automated, state-of-the-art machinery in the battery plant. 

The remaining €20 million ($24 million) is being invested to expand its lithium-ion battery assembly plants in Verona, Italy, and North Carolina, US.

Those plants will install three automated assembly lines for lithium modules and complete lithium battery systems, as well as one assembly line for prototyping and R&D purposes.

This investment is part of the company’s goal to offer integrated lithium products for off-road mobility, industrial use, and energy storage applications. 

Production is anticipated to begin by Q3 next year and deliver 1.7GWh of manufacturing capacity a year, while additional space reserved with the potential to increase capacity up to 4GWh.

This latest investment brings Sunlight’s total committed CAPEX spend for 2021-2023 to €180 million ($213 million), with €150million ($170 million) committed to the expansion of lithium production. 

Sunlight’s CEO Lampros Bisalas said: "The investment is already under implementation, and we’re excited for the new, state-of-the art machinery to be installed and further expand our capabilities.

“We’re keen to meet both current and future demands in the off-road mobility and RES energy storage, by scaling up capacity and rendering our Xanthi industrial park a true gigafactory.”

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Entek completes NSG deal to open door to offer PE, AGM and lithium-in battery separators

Mon, 09/06/2021 - 15:40 -- paul Crompton

Battery separator company Entek International completed the acquisition of a Japanese lead-acid battery separator firm.

Entek finalised the purchase of the majority stake in Nippon Sheet Glass’ (NSG) lead-acid battery separator business on 1 September.

The deal was first announced in May when both companies executed the relevant agreements and had to await approval by the laws and regulations in the relevant jurisdictions, including NSG’ home country Japan.

Larry Keith, CEO of Entek International, said the acquisition was an “important milestone” in the growth and evolution of the company’s global business.

The combination of manufacturing footprints and product portfolios will enable Entek to support customers around the world and produce all three primary separator technologies­­— polyethylene (PE) separator and absorbent glass mat (AGM), and lithium-ion separators— for the global energy storage industry.  

The transaction included all NSG's lead-battery separator manufacturing facilities in Japan and China for both AGM and PE

The investment provides Entek with the capacity and expanded product offerings to meet broader customer demands as well as enabling entry into new markets.

The acquisition is one of many strategic initiatives underway by the US firm, others include the expansion of the Indonesian manufacturing site, investment in specialty films at the Oregon campus, expansion of its equipment division and collaboration and investment at the Britishvolt gigafactory site in the UK.

You can read more about the deal in the latest edition of BEST magazine, available here

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Sakuú announces pilot facility as it scales up solid-state lithium-ion battery ambition

Fri, 09/03/2021 - 15:25 -- paul Crompton

Construction of a US solid-state lithium-ion battery pilot line and learning center is being built by additive manufacturing company Sakuu Corporation.

The US firm’s (previously named KeraCel) pilot line will be able to produce up to 2.5MWh of solid-state batteries per year and serve as a customer learning center for its advanced additive manufacturing platform. 

The facility is due to be operational by end of 2021.

Sakuú is aiming to produce solid-state batteries that are up to 50% smaller and 30% lighter than lithium-ion batteries, although the firm didn’t give any figures to back up that promise.

The pilot line will test the viability of the battery manufacturing process and enable Sakuú to deliver sample products to its “early access strategic partners”.

The second phase is expected next year and will use an array of Sakuú AM Platforms to produce up to 1GWh of solid-state battery capacity per year.

Sakuú is working with Relevant Industrial and Honeywell Process Solutions to design and develop the facility by scaling-up the laboratory environment into a fully functioning pilot manufacturing plant.

Relevant and Honeywell will provide engineering, process design, systems integration, and process manufacturing expertise to efficiently build the factory.

Robert Bagheri CEO and founder of Sakuú, said: “This is an important milestone for us. Our technology development has progressed to the level where we have decided to move ahead with our plan to construct and operate a pilot facility. 

“This facility will enable us to provide our strategic customers and early access partners with solid-state batteries for their own development and testing."

New cell developed

Last month, Sakuu announced it has developed a 3Ah lithium-metal solid-state battery (SSB).

Sakuú has been developing its first generation battery technology alongside its additive manufacturing platform, and aims for commercial launch by the end of this year. 

The first-generation batteries comprise 30 sub-cells and a proprietary printed ceramic separator. 

The battery will be targeted to consumer, aerospace, mobility, and other applications.

Bagheri said: “Over the last year, we have improved our battery energy capacity by a factor of 100 and our volumetric energy efficiency over 12 times and are planning to begin volume production of the batteries in early 2022 to meet the needs of our strategic partners."

In June, the California-based firm won approval of three patents: a hybrid solid-state cell with a sealed anode structure; an additive manufacturing system; and an electrophotographic multi-material 3D printer. 

This latest patent is for a monolithic ceramic electrochemical cell housing an anode and cathode receptive space, alongside a separator between the two— allowing for higher charging rates without the risk to safety posed by lithium-ion batteries. 

This is in addition to two previous battery patents for an integrated cell stack battery and monolithic solid-state battery, which were granted back in 2020. 

The second patent for a three-dimensional AM system, allows for patterned single layers to be assembled into a three-dimensional active device onto an assembly plate. The patent includes a carrier substrate which allows for single layers to be built separately and then dispensed on a stack on the assembly plate. 

The final patent is an electrophotographic three-dimensional printer system that can be used to create a 3D part derived from a composite toner material. 

The new patent allows for the use of multiple engineering materials, such as ceramic, metal and polymer materials, which electrophotography was previously unable to employ.

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Battery Resourcers to build new US facilities as it drives forward US and European plans

Thu, 09/02/2021 - 11:22 -- paul Crompton

Battery Resourcers is set to build two facilities in the US to accelerate the growth of its lithium-ion battery recycling and manufacturing business model.

The new facilities in Massachusetts and Michigan mark a step in Battery Resourcers’ scaling up pilot operations before continued commercial expansion in North America and Europe.

A facility in Westborough, Massachusetts, will process black mass to cathode precursor material and purify the recovered graphite to a level higher than 99.9%. 

The company’s battery material research and development team will be relocated to Westborough to integrate laboratory development and increase manufacturing scaling efforts. 

The Novi, Michigan, facility will support the company’s goal of developing and commercialising battery materials, including the sintering and finishing of nickel manganese cobalt cathode. 

The Novi site also contains a state-of-the-art materials analytical laboratory, as well as laboratory-scale battery production and test capabilities, to evaluate the performance of its battery materials.  

The new pilot plants are in addition to Battery Resourcers’ operation in Worcester, Massachusetts.

As part of the expansion, the operation center in Worcester will be converted into a mechanical shredding operation, including disassembly, discharge and shredding operation for cells, modules and complete battery packs. 

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Battery recycler Li-Cycle Corp appoints new VP of Asia and board of advisors

Thu, 09/02/2021 - 10:05 -- paul Crompton
Li-Cycle Corp has appointed Dawei Li

Battery materials recycler Li-Cycle Corp has appointed Dawei Li to the role of vice-president of the company’s Asia business and its board of advisors to deliver management advisory services to the Canadian firm’s senior management team.

Focused on the Asian market, Li (pictured) will oversee the Canada firm’s team, business development, and commercial lithium-ion battery recycling facility rollout across the continent.

Li says he plans to leverage his experience with directing global teams to facilitate Li-Cycle’s expansion in a region that is experiencing “prolific growth of electrification and lithium-ion batteries”.

He will report directly to Li-Cycle’s co-founder and chief executive officer, Ajay Kochhar.

Kochhar said: "The Asian lithium-ion battery market is the world’s largest, presenting a considerable supply of battery manufacturing scrap as well as lithium-ion batteries that are approaching their end-of-life and will need to be recycled.

“Li will play a major role in our global growth plans by spearheading our expansion in Asia. Asia is one of the key components of our broader global rollout plan over the next five years and beyond.”

Prior to joining Li-Cycle, Li served as the global business director for Lithium Carbonate at the Albemarle Corporation.

Li-Cycle is set to debut as a publicly traded company in the US and expand its operations into Asia, in addition to other regions.

Board of advisors

John Mitchell and Govind Arora were asked to join the company's board of advisors because of their  “experience and expertise” in business development, commercial support and strategic and business planning.

Both are partners and co-founders of Blue Horizon Advisors and Blue Horizon Capital, which support companies to scale and provide index-based investment products across the new energy economy. 

The other members of the board of advisors are Dr. Yuan Gao and Dr. Ahmad Ghahreman, who provide technical advisory services.

Mitchell comes from the specialty chemicals, energy materials, utility infrastructure, and industrial gases industries. 

He has previously served as president of lithium for the Albemarle Corporation, where he guided its lithium division. 

Arora was previously chief commercial officer for Albemarle Corporation’s lithium business. 

Dr. Gao is vice-chairman of the board of directors of Qinghai Taifeng Pulead Lithium-Energy Technology Co. Ltd. (Pulead), one of China’s leading lithium-ion battery cathode producers. 

Dr. Ghahreman has more tha 15 years of hydrometallurgical/wet chemistry experience. 

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Paper-waste shows potential for bringing sodium batteries to commercialisation

Thu, 09/02/2021 - 09:51 -- paul Crompton
Zhen Xu, a research postgraduate at the Faculty of Engineering, Department of Chemical Engineering.

A team at Imperial College London have created a battery material they believe could enable the transition from lithium-ion to sodium-ion batteries. 

The scientists prepared lignin (a waste by-product of the paper industry)-derived carbon nanofibre to produce mats that serve as a protective “skeleton” to protect the cell’s metallic sodium anode.

The team from the Titirici Group in the Department of Chemical Engineering used coin cells in the tests with an energy density of around 384Wk/kg-1, which was based on the total active mass of the cathode and anode.

The plan is to next test the technique at pouch level with the goal of producing sodium batteries that can be used in EV or grid energy storage stations as flexible or structural energy storage devices.

The results were published in journal Energy and Environmental Science.

Lignin mats were produced using ‘electrospinning’, with the fibres then carbonised to produce numerous defects in the material structure that support an “even and stable” deposition of metallic sodium.

By combining metallic sodium with specially tailored lignin-based carbon, the team was able to retain and utilise the energy capacity benefits while the safety risks associated with a build-up of dendrite— which causes batteries to short-circuit— were reduced. 

Normally, a sodium metal anode can directly store sodium ions, but the dendrite formation would cause a short circuit of the batteries, said Zhen Xu, a research postgraduate at the Faculty of Engineering, Department of Chemical Engineering.

Co-author of the paper Xu told BEST: “Therefore, we need a skeleton to protect the sodium metal anode. Bulk sodium metals are pieces of normal sodium metal without any skeleton.

“In this study, the lignin-derived carbon nanofibre mats serve as a skeleton to protect the metallic sodium anode from the dendrite formation, so the metallic sodium is the active anode material to store sodium ions in fact. 

“To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time to use the lignin-derived carbon nanofibre mats to protect the sodium metal anode.” 

Xu added: “Our research shows the great potential for sodium-ion batteries to play a significant role in a sustainable energy future. Now we hope to work with industry to develop this technology on an industrial scale and explore new applications for sodium-ion batteries.”

Corresponding author of the paper, professor Magda Titirici, said: “It is exciting to see new opportunities for lignin utilisation in the battery sector and its potential to develop new sodium-based technologies, which could revolutionise the electric vehicle sector by creating high performance, safe and more sustainable batteries.”

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Energy Assurance extends lithium-ion battery testing capabilities with new laboratory

Wed, 09/01/2021 - 15:37 -- paul Crompton

Start-up Energy Assurance has expanded its battery analysis capabilities to include large-format cell testing for the electric/hybrid automotive and energy storage systems with the purchase of a laboratory.

The 20,000-square-foot laboratory will enable the firm to expand beyond small-to medium-format battery testing to deliver a third-party resource for battery testing.

The company has begun operating out of the building in Massachusetts, US.

The acquisition extends Energy Assurance's capacity to around 3,000 cell and battery test channels with the ability to test lithium-ion and other chemistry cells and batteries up to 150V and 1,350A.

The centre is in addition to it’s testing laboratory in Atlanta, US. 

The new laboratory uses all MACCOR channels, and was previously owned by an unnamed “leading battery cell manufacturer” for automotive use.

Cindy Millsaps, CEO of Energy Assurance, said: "As the market for larger and more energy-dense batteries grows exponentially, so does the demand for testing to support the growth, making the timing right for this acquisition.

"The acquisition dramatically increases our high-current cycling capacity, and we can now test the full gamut of lithium-ion cells for high-performance products—from small to large and from low to high current—within our facilities." 

Energy Assurance was founded by Millsaps and John Copeland, both former Motorola test laboratory engineers, in 2018.

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Freyer signs MoUs as it ramps up plans for 83GWh lithium-ion battery production in Norway

Wed, 09/01/2021 - 14:58 -- paul Crompton
freer factory image

Battery developer Freyer has entered into two non-binding memoranda of understanding (MoU) for the potential development of industrial scale battery cell production in Finland. 

The MoUs with Finnish Minerals Group and the City of Vaasa come as Freyer ramps up plans to develop up to 43GWh of battery cell production capacity by 2025 and 83GWh by 2028.

The MoU with the City of Vaasa provides the exclusive right to a 90-hectare (900,000 square meters) site for a potential battery cell plant and states the parties will explore opportunities for joint site-development to accelerate the manufacturing of low-carbon and low-cost batteries in Finland.

Tom Einar Jensen, the CEO of Freyer, said the city of Vaasa offered an attractive location for a gigafactory due to its access to short-travelled raw materials, abundant renewable power and cooling water, plus an existing cluster of leading suppliers for the battery value chain.

Freyer holds an exclusive right up until 22 July next year to the selected 90-hectares, subject to certain conditions related to the progress of the project being met. 

The site is adjacent to a battery cathode material production facility planned by Johnson Matthey in strategic partnership with Finnish Minerals Group.

Finnish Minerals Group manages the Finnish State’s mining industry shareholdings, and is working actively to develop a lithium-ion battery value chain and engage in long-term technology development of the mining and battery industry. 

Finland is the largest nickel producer in the EU, and the only EU member state with industrial scale cobalt production. 

Production of lithium is also expected to commence in Finland over the next decade.  

Matti Hietanen, CEO of Finnish Minerals Group, said: “One of our strategic objectives is to create a sustainable battery value chain in Finland. 

“As part of this, our objective of introducing precursor and cathode active material production investments is already well progressed. 

“Now our disclosed strategic partnership with Freyer marks the next logical step in our work to put Finland on the map of European cell plant projects.” 

Casting equipment deal

Freyer has signed a contract with the UK’s Mpac Lambert for the supply of the casting and unit cell assembly equipment package to the battery cell production line at Freyer’s Customer Qualification Plant in Mo i Rana, Norway. 

Preparatory work on the facility is underway with a planned start date of operations in the second half of 2022.

Mpac Lambert was prequalified to participate in the competitive tender following nearly three years of cooperation with 24M Technologies on industrialising and scaling 24M’s SemiSolid lithium-ion battery platform technology. 

The company will leverage 24M’s innovative battery casting technology and in-house expertise and experience in automation and mass production systems to construct and install the equipment.

Einar Kilde, EVP Projects at Freyer, said: “The casting and unit cell assembly sits at the heart of the battery cell production process. 

“This is our first contract for critical production line machinery, and we are excited to take the important step towards achieving the milestones outlined in our project plan. 

Freyer expects to start construction this month. 

The contract with Mpac Lambert also grants Freyer options for delivery of the casting and unit cell assembly equipment packages for its planned gigafactories.

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Ganfeng Lithium reveals plans for 15GWh of lithium-ion battery production in China

Fri, 08/27/2021 - 13:41 -- paul Crompton
ganging lithium office

Jiangxi Ganfeng Lithium has announced plans to build lithium-ion battery making plants totalling 15GWh in China.

The facilities are part of the company’s goal of making its subsidiary, Jiangxi Ganfeng LiEnergy Technology (JGLT), a leading player in the battery industry.

JGLT intends to invest RMB3 billion ($463 million) in a 5GWh plant in the High Tech Industrial Development Zone of Xinyu, Jiangxi Provence.

This project will include four battery production plants, battery R&D centre, and a product analysis and testing centre. 

The plant is due to be completed and put into operation in October 2023. 

The company will also invest RMB5.4 billion ($833 million) to set up a independent legal entity project company to build a “new-type lithium battery” 10GWh a year Science and Technology industrial park and an Advanced Battery Research Institute project in Liangjiang New District, Chongqing. 

The projects are due to be completed within 18 months of the unconfirmed start date of construction, and put into operation within six months of completion. 

The plans will be put into action if agreed during an extraordinary general meeting of the company on 31 August.

Solid-state battery tests

Jiangxi Ganfeng has signed a agreement with China's state-controlled automaker Dongfeng to develop, promote and demonstrate the viability of the latter’s E70 solid-state battery model.

The company will continue to expand its output of solid-state batteries beyond its existing 1GWh capacity within this year to support Dongfeng's new energy developments, reported media outlet Argus Media. 

Dongfeng is on target to complete listing its solid-state battery-equipped vehicle model this year and aims to begin deliveries in 2022. 

Ganfeng Lithium invested 2.2 billlion yuan ($340 million) to construct a facility with 7,000 t/yr of lithium metal and lithium material capacity in Yichuan city in south China's Jiangxi province in April.

Its second-generation solid-state battery is made from high-nickel ternary cathode and lithium metal containing anode material, which has an energy density of more than 350Wh/kg and can be cycled around 400 times. 

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