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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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NeoVolta increases lithium-iron-phosphate battery life to 16.5 years

Fri, 06/25/2021 - 08:53 -- paul Crompton
NeoVolta increases lithium-iron-phosphate battery life to 16.5 years

Battery maker NeoVolta has announced its NV14 energy storage system will include lithium-iron-phosphate batteries that last for 6,000-cycles or 16.5 years.

The system represents a 50% longer life than the firm’s original 4,000-cycle product and represents an engineering milestone for NeoVolta, claim the company.

Neovolta claims the NV14 system has a capacity of 14.4kWh, expandable to 24kWh with the optional NV24 battery, and 7.7kW of instantaneous power discharge.

The claim is based on the home storage batteries being cycled daily, with 6,000 cycles translating to 16.5 years of useful life, based on a full charge and discharge. 

Neovolta did not answer questions put to it by BEST about the technology .

In 2019, a year after it staerrted up, NeoVolta said it was set for a “300% increase in manufacturing capacity” as its moved to a 21,150 sq ft production facility in San Diego.

The move was meant to allow it to increase production of its lithium iron phosphate home battery units to more than 10,000 annually.

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MoU sets out plans to build North American lithium-ion battery recycling plant

Fri, 06/25/2021 - 08:47 -- paul Crompton
MoU sets out plans to build North American lithium-ion battery recycling plant

Battery recycler Primobius has signed a deal to enter the North American lithium-ion battery recycling market.

Primobius has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Stelco—  a wholly-owned subsidiary of Canada-based steel firm Stelco Holdings— to commercialise a recycling solution.

The MoU aims to form a 50:50 incorporated joint venture (JV) to process battery cells from scrap and end-of-life vehicles in North America. 

Under the JV, Primobius will supply a 20,000 tons-per-year cell processing recycling facility adjacent to Stelco’s proposed vehicle recycling operation.

The Primobius pyrometallurgical recycling process recovers materials from consumer electronic batteries, and nickel‐rich electric vehicle and stationary storage battery chemistries.

Stelco will supply the battery cell feed to the plant. 

Both firms intend to share information, conduct due diligence, collaborate and build a business case for a long-term commercial relationship between the parties. 

Stelco is looking to establish a battery recycling business as part of its broader initiative with major automobile producers to recycle end-of-life automobiles, and recover valuable materials for re-use or re-sale.

Primobius is a joint venture equally owned by Australia’s Neometals and German SMS group.

The US facility will be modelled on Primobius’ proprietary refining process following the successful completion of demonstration trials at its plant being built in a warehouse at the SMS group manufacturing center in Hilchenbach, Germany. 

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A new era of Asian lead-acid battery production following partnerhip deal

Tue, 06/22/2021 - 08:37 -- paul Crompton
A new era of Asian lead-acid battery production following partnerhip deal

A new era of Taiwanese advanced lead-acid AGM battery production is planned by Pilot Battery and Gridtential Energy after signing a formal evaluation agreement.

Pilot Battery, a Taiwan AGM battery technology firm, and Gridtential Energy, the inventor of Silicon Joule bipolar battery technology, will target the energy storage systems market.

Under the agreement, Pilot will evaluate a combination of 6V and 24V Silicon Joule reference batteries and, using Gridtential’s development kits, produce prototype batteries in preparation for potential future production. 

Pilot will integrate its own active material in the battery to validate impact on cycle life, energy density, battery efficiency, charging rates and manufacturability.

John Barton, Gridential CEO, told BEST: “The growth of lithium batteries has proven that consumers are willing to pay more up front for higher performance technology that delivers long life resulting in lower total cost of ownership. 

“Our technology is targeting the best of both worlds, delivering lower upfront cost than lithium and better total cost of ownership than traditional lead, creating a catalyst for adoption.

“Battery performance can be improved through tuning the biplate and electrochemistry, all of which are achievable through common industry practices.”

The positive and negatative active materiels (PAM and NAM) and separator are common to the industry, the silicon wafer comes from the solar industry, and the casing and seals are made through common production molding techniques. 

Barton said: “The industrialisation process can be thought of in terms of components and architecture. Then separately there is the throughput and precision of assembly, formation and test. 

“Architecturally, Silicon Joule batteries are much simpler than a traditional monopolar construction, containing only five internal components per cell, a plastic case and terminals.” 

The AGM market is being examined closely as a suitable solution for Taiwan’s goal to increase renewable energy capacity to 27GWh.

Silicon Joule battery technology substitutes treated silicon wafers for conventional lead grids to create an advanced AGM lead battery. 

Gridtential has licensing agreements with 12 battery makers, including US manufacturer East Penn, which is making Silicon Joule reference batteries on a prototype line. 

Last year, Gridtential entered into a formal agreement to collaborate on its technology with flooded lead-acid battery firm US Battery.

Under the terms of the agreement, the firms will industrialise bipolar plate pasting and curing processes, and assemble and test Silicon Joule™ bipolar AGM batteries using US Battery’s active material.

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MoU sets out plans to build North American lithium-ion battery recycling plant

Fri, 06/18/2021 - 12:54 -- paul Crompton
MoU sets out plans to build North American lithium-ion battery recycling plant

Primobius, a joint venture equally owned by Australia’s Neometals and German SMS group, has signed a deal to enter the North American lithium-ion battery recycling market.

Primobius has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Stelco—  a wholly-owned subsidiary of Canada-based Stelco Holdings— to commercialise an environmentally friendly recycling solution.

The MoU aims to form a 50:50 incorporated joint venture (JV) to process battery cells from scrap and end-of-life vehicles in North America. 

Under the JV, Primobius will supply a 20,000 tons-per-year cell processing recycling facility adjacent to Stelco’s proposed vehicle recycling operation.

The Primobius pyrometallurgical recycling process recovers materials from consumer electronic batteries, and nickel‐rich electric vehicle and stationary storage battery chemistries.

Stelco will supply the battery cell feed to the plant. 

Both firms intend to share information, conduct due diligence, collaborate and build a business case for a long-term commercial relationship between the parties. 

Stelco is looking to establish a battery recycling business as part of its broader initiative with major automobile producers to recycle end-of-life automobiles to recover valuable materials for re-use or re-sale.

The facility will be modelled on Primobius’ proprietary refining process following the successful completion of demonstration trials at its plant, which is being built in a warehouse at the SMS group manufacturing center in Hilchenbach, Germany. 

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Northvolt’s billion-dollar ‘milestone’ as it eyes German gigafactory

Wed, 06/16/2021 - 12:22 -- paul Crompton
Northvolt’s billion-dollar ‘milestone’ as it eyes German gigafactory

Battery firm Northvolt has raised a further $2.75 billion in private placement to drive its lithium-ion production capacity and R&D efforts.

The latest round of funding brings Northvolt’s combined financing to more than $6.5 billion in equity and debt as it plans at least 150GWh of deployed annual production capacity in Europe by 2030.

In order to meet its 2030 capacity target, Northvolt anticipates building at least two more gigafactories in Europe, and is actively exploring the opportunity of building the next in Germany.

The latest private placement was co-led by new investors AP funds 1-4, via the co-owned company 4 to 1 Investments, and Canada’s defined benefit pension plan OMERS.

Existing investors included Goldman Sachs Asset Management and Volkswagen Group. 

Also participating in the equity raise were owners AMF, ATP, Baillie Gifford, Baron Capital Group, Bridford Investments Limited, Compagnia di San Paolo through Fondaco Growth, Cristina Stenbeck, Daniel Ek, IMAS Foundation, EIT InnoEnergy, Norrsken VC, PCS Holding, Scania and Stena Metall Finans. 

Alexander Hartman, CFO of Northvolt said: “This is a new European industry in the making and it will require significant investments over the coming decade.”

Northvolt says it has secured more than $27 billion worth of contracts from customers, including: BMW, Fluence, Scania and Volkswagen.

Northvolt’s first gigafactory, Northvolt Ett, in Skellefteå, Sweden, is being expanded from 40GWh to 60GWh, and is due to begin production later this year.

 

Key Green milestone

The Northvolt plant is a key milestone in Europe’s industrial ramp up to achieve the European Green Deal objectives, according to EIT InnoEnergy.    

Diego Pavia, CEO of EIT InnoEnergy, welcomed Northvolt’s new finacing round.

He said: “Northvolt represents a cornerstone in Europe’s ambition to create an annual €250 billion battery value chain by 2025, as envisioned in 2017 when European Commission Vice President Šefčovič launched the European Battery Alliance and mandated EIT InnoEnergy to lead the industrial ecosystem. 

“It is also a leading example of how Europe can create new industrial value chains, which are at the core of growth, job creation and competitiveness.”

The European Battery Alliance brings together more than 600 industrial, financial and innovation actors with the objective to build a strong, sustainable and competitive European industrial battery value chain, from mining to recycling.

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Sodium-ion trends as CATL announces plans to diversify into the technology

Fri, 06/11/2021 - 11:46 -- paul Crompton
Sodium-ion trends as CATL announces plans to diversify into the technology

UK battery maker Faradion has welcomed an announcement that lithium-ion battery giant Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL) will begin making sodium-ion batteries from next month.

Faradion, which also makes sodium-ion batteries, said the decision underscores the importance of the technology as an integral part of a world beyond lithium.

Robin Zeng, the founder of Tesla's battery supplier CATL, reportedly made the announcement at a shareholder meeting.

A Faradion statement read: “This is a necessary transition: lithium-ion batteries used predominantly in EVs contain lithium, cobalt and copper, and in stationary energy storage lithium and copper. These are expensive raw materials and their mining leads to adverse environmental impacts. Lithium has also become constrained due to restricted availability and increased prices.

Faradion’s proprietary technology boasts performance of 150-160Wh/kg. 

In May, UK institute The Faraday Institution released its report ‘Sodium-ion Batteries: Inexpensive and Sustainable Energy Storage’.

The report outlined sodium-ion batteries promising cost, safety, sustainability and performance advantages over commercialised lithium-ion batteries. 

Key advantages include the use of widely available and inexpensive raw materials and a rapidly scalable technology based around existing lithium-ion production methods. 

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QuantumScape hires Mikolajczak to lead transition at solid-state battery pre-pilot facility

Wed, 06/09/2021 - 11:31 -- paul Crompton
Solid-state battery hopeful QuantumScape has appointed Celina Mikolajczak as its vice president of manufacturing engineering.

Solid-state battery hopeful QuantumScape has appointed Celina Mikolajczak as its vice president of manufacturing engineering.

Mikolajczak will lead the transition of the company’s tools and manufacturing processes from research and development to production. 

Her primary projects will involve the deployment of the high-throughput continuous-flow processes at QuantumScape’s pre-pilot line facility in San Jose, US. 

As part of the transition to the company’s leadership team, Mikolajczak is resigning her seat on the QuantumScape board of directors, effective immediately.

Mikolajczak was most recently vice president of engineering and battery technology at Panasonic Energy of North America. 

She was a senior manager, battery technologies at Tesla.

Jagdeep Singh, CEO and co-founder of QuantumScape, said: “Celina is not only a battery technology expert, having spent virtually her entire career at leading battery-related companies, but has a profound understanding of what it takes to scale up battery production.”

Mikolajczak joins Clayton Patch, who started as vice president of manufacturing at the company in May.

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Scientists develop solid-state lithium battery with 10,000 cycle life

Wed, 06/09/2021 - 11:26 -- paul Crompton
Scientists develop solid-state lithium battery with 10,000 cycle life

A team from Harvard University in the US has designed a lithium-metal solid-state battery that can be cycled at least 10,000 times.

The researchers paired a multilayer battery that sandwiches materials of varying stabilities between the anode and cathode with a commercial, high energy density cathode material.

This multilayer, multi-material battery prevents the penetration of lithium dendrites by controlling and containing them, say the team.

The team from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) published the findings in the journal Nature.

The first electrolyte (chemical name Li5.5PS4.5Cl1.5or LPSCI) was more stable with lithium, but prone to dendrite penetration; the second electrolyte, (Li10Ge1P2S12or LGPS), was less stable with lithium, but the researchers found it was immune to dendrites. 

In the second design, dendrites were allowed to grow through the graphite and first electrolyte, but were stopped when they reached the second. 

The cycling performance of the lithium metal anode paired with a LiNi0.8Mn0.1Co0.1 O2 cathode was found to be stable, with an 82% capacity retention after 10,000 cycles at a 20C rate (8.6 milliamps per centimetre squared) and 81.3% capacity retention after 2,000 cycles at a 1.5C rate (0.64 milliamps per centimetre squared). 

The team’s battery recorded a specific power of 110.6kW/kg and specific energy up to 631.1Wh/kg watt at the micrometre-sized cathode material level.

Luhan Ye, co-author of the paper and graduate student at SEAS, said: “Our strategy of incorporating instability in order to stabilise the battery feels counterintuitive but just like an anchor can guide and control a screw going into a wall, so too can our multilayer design guide and control the growth of dendrites.” 

The difference was the researchers’ anchor quickly becomes too tight for the dendrite to drill through, so the dendrite growth is stopped.

The battery is also self-healing; its chemistry allows it to backfill holes created by the dendrites. 

Xin Li, associate professor of Materials Science at SEAS, said: “This proof-of-concept design shows that lithium-metal solid-state batteries could be competitive with commercial lithium-ion batteries.

“And the flexibility and versatility of our multilayer design makes it potentially compatible with mass production procedures in the battery industry. Scaling it up to the commercial battery wont’ be easy and there are still some practical challenges, but we believe they will be overcome.”

 (Image courtesy of Second Bay Studios/Harvard SEAS)

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EPA grants permission for Australia 45,000 tpy lithium battery grade material refinery

Wed, 06/09/2021 - 10:24 -- paul Crompton
EPA grants permission for Australia 45,000 tpy lithium battery grade material refinery

A proposal to construct and operate a refinery to manufacture battery grade lithium hydroxide has been given the go ahead by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).

The 45,000 tonnes per annum Kwinana refinery, part of the Mt Holland project, has been recommended for environmental approval subject to strict conditions relating to greenhouse gas emissions and waste management.

Covalent Lithium aims to process spodumene ore concentrate to produce battery grade lithium hydroxide monohydrate, primarily for use in lithium-ion electric vehicle batteries.

Covalent Lithium is a joint venture between Australia’s Wesfarmers and South America’s Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile (SQM) 

The spodumene ore concentrate will be sourced from the Mt Holland Mine, also known as the Earl Grey Lithium Project.

EPA chair Matthew Tonts said Covalent had identified several measures which would mitigate greenhouse gas emissions over the life of the project, including the use of efficient design and equipment technologies and the purchase of carbon offsets.

The EPA’s 2020 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Guideline requires a proposal exceeding 100,000 tonnes of scope 1 emissions each year to demonstrate its contribution towards achieving net zero emissions by 2050, in line with both the Paris Agreement and the IPCC’s 1.5 report.

The decision opens the doors to finalise the full funding of the project— Wesfarmers’ share of capital expenditure for the development of the project is estimated at AUS$950 million ($735 million). 

Following receipt of all relevant approvals, construction of the mine, concentrator and refinery are expected to begin in H1 next year.

The first production of lithium hydroxide is expected in the second half of 2024. 

An updated definitive feasibility study includes increased flexibility to provide for a second phase of the project to expand production capacity at Mt Holland and the Kwinana refinery. 

Preliminary work to evaluate expansion options will commence in parallel with the construction of the first phase of the project.

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