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Morrow Batteries’ ramps up plans for European lithium-ion gigafactory

Tue, 06/08/2021 - 11:21 -- paul Crompton
Battery materials firm Vianode, a subsidiary of Elkam, will supply anode materials for Morrow Batteries’ lithium-ion gigafactory.

Battery materials firm Vianode, a subsidiary of Elkam, will supply anode materials for Morrow Batteries’ lithium-ion gigafactory.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the firms covers the development and qualification of the large-scale supply of anode materials.

Morrow plans to build a 42GWh lithium-ion battery manufacturing facility in Eyde Energy Park in Arendal municipality, Norway.

Vianode intends to supply the anode materials from its planned large-scale battery graphite plant at Herøya Industrial Park, Norway.

As part of the agreement, the companies will jointly develop tailored anode materials suited for Morrow lithium-ion cells, including both synthetic graphite and silicon-containing anode materials. 

Vianode has received NOK10 million ($1.1 million) in financial support from Norwegian government enterprise Enova to fund the initial planning of its materials plant. 

Vianode is aiming for a final investment decision this year to allow construction to begin before the end of 2021. 

Moving forward

On 4 June, Morrow and Siemens announced they would collaborate on sustainable digitalisation and automation of the gigafactory’s battery cell production value chain and the commercialisation of “low-cost products”.

Three days earlier, Morrow signed a letter of intent for support on automation, electrification, and digitisation of its planned facilities with ABB.

In addition, the companies intend to collaborate on a common go-to-market approach, with highly developed battery solutions as well as energy storage systems.

Last month, Morrow formalised the decision to build the 42GWH plant in Eyde Energy Park in Arendal municipality in the south of the country when it gained approval by Arendal City Council.

Morrow is due to start producing battery cells for electric vehicles starting in late 2024. 

All four modules will be completed in 2026.

Last month, Morrow appointed Juergen Lind as executive vice president (EVP) of Industrialization and Business Development. 

The former head of battery development at Audi will lead the build-up of Morrow's Industrialization Center (MIC) and drive “customer-centric battery cell development”.

Juergen will take up his post in August.

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GM to install diagnostic tools and software to recalled EVs at risk of lithium-ion battery fires

Tue, 06/08/2021 - 10:17 -- paul Crompton
GM to install diagnostic tools and software to recalled EVs at risk of lithium-ion battery fires

General Motors has issued a second recall on Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicles due to fire risks with its lithium-ion batteries.

A number of the vehicles were built between 2017-2019 using high voltage cells produced at LG Chem’s Ochang, Korea, facility that may pose a risk of fire when charged to full, or close to full, capacity.

GM is notifying owners that it has developed a remedy to complete the previously announced global safety recall last November of 68,667 Bolt vehicles after a series of fires.

As part of the fix Bolt dealers will use GM-developed diagnostic tools to identify potential battery anomalies and replace battery module assemblies as necessary.  

The fix also includes the installation of diagnostic software into the vehicles that can detect issues related to changes in battery module performance before problems develop.

When the vehicle is updated with the new software, the 90% state of charge limitation— imposed by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration—will be removed so the battery is returned to its previous maximum charging capacity.

Customers of 2019 model year Chevrolet Bolt EVs were able to have this fix performed from 29 April, and customers who own 2017 and 2018 model year Bolt EVs were eligible to have the fix performed from 26 May.

GM said it would also make advanced diagnostic software available to all other Bolt EV owners in the coming months.  

Additionally, they will be making this diagnostic software standard in the 2022 Bolt EV and EUV, as well as future GM electric vehicles.

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BASF and Shanshan new China JV focused on lithium-ion battery materials market

Fri, 06/04/2021 - 14:06 -- paul Crompton
BASF and Shanshan new China JV focused on lithium-ion battery materials market

Chemical company BASF is set to form a joint venture with Hunan Shanshan Energy to produce lithium-ion battery cathode active materials (CAM) and precursors (PCAM) in China.

German firm BASF will have a 51% share of the JV when it closes later this summer following the approval of the relevant authorities.

BASF hopes the intended joint venture will strengthen its position in Asia as it looks to build an integrated, global supply chain for customers in China and worldwide.

The company aims to increase its annual CAM capacity to 160 kilotons by 2022 with further expansion underway.   

Chinese firm Hunan’s product portfolio covers the main categories of the CAM and the corresponding PCAM used in lithium-ion batteries.

Hunan’s business value chain includes: raw materials, PCAM, CAM and battery recycling, and operates four production sites for CAM and PCAM in Hunan and Ningxia, China, with an expected annual capacity of 90 kilotons by 2022.

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Battery developer Innolith makes top-level hires as it readies for commercialisation

Fri, 06/04/2021 - 10:39 -- paul Crompton
Battery developer Innolith makes top-level hires as it readies for commercialisation

Battery developer Innolith has made two senior appointments as it prepares for commercialisation of its lithium-ion inorganic electrolyte technology.

Florian Wolf (left) has been appointed the firm’s chief financial officer, and Nicole Roth (right) is the Switzerland-based firm’s director of sales in its inaugural commercial role.   

Roth, who has previously worked with A123 Systems, Continental Systems and Renault Deutschland, will engage with Innolith customers, liaise with OEM automotive manufacturers for the design and production of battery systems and the development of new e-mobility markets.   

Investment banker Wolf joins Innolith joins from within JP Morgan’s Diversified Industries Investment Banking team where he specialised in the origination and execution of corporate finance deals (including IPO, SPAC, Private Capital, Debt and M&A events) for automotive clients.   

The new appointments come as Innolith reports the energy density of its battery has reached 310Wh/kg.

Konstantin Solodovnikov, CEO of Innolith AG, said the company had reached a crossing point where its focus on new battery technology development was now switching to the industrialisation and commercial marketing of the technology.

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Zaf Energy weeks from deciding location of its US nickel-zinc battery gigafactory

Thu, 06/03/2021 - 10:28 -- paul Crompton
Zaf Energy weeks from deciding location of its US nickel-zinc battery gigafactory

The ultimate location of a nickel-zinc (NiZn) battery gigafactory is just weeks away after ZAF Energy Systems drew up a short list of six US cities to build the facility in.

The new factory will be capable of producing 1.2 million NiZn batteries, or around 2GWh of production, a year.

The gigafactory will focus on the data center and telecom markets exclusively.

The company’s Kirk Plautz, told BEST the list of 31 sites had been reduced to six, with the company set to announce the final location within the next 30 to 45 days. 

He added that he was unable to share the selected list of six cities before the final decision was made.

The firm will build products for the defense, aerospace and medical markets in Joplin, Missouri, through its spin off company AEsir Technologies.

ZAF is the parent company and IP holding company of AEsir, which focuses on the defense, aerospace, medical and critical infrastructure markets, said Plautz, ZAF’s, and now Æsir’s, VP of marketing and sales.

In spinning off Æsir— to continue to serve the specialty markets— ZAF has granted Æsir a non-exclusive license to use the NiZn intellectual property.

Work will continue to be performed at (now) Æsir’s LRIP facility for all current and future contracts to continue to serve customers needing energy storage solutions in the specialty markets. 

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Monbat buys into Tunisian lead battery market with share grab of Nour Batteries

Wed, 06/02/2021 - 11:11 -- paul Crompton
Monbat buys into Tunisian lead battery market with share grab of Nour Batteries

Lead battery business Monbat has bought a majority share holding of Tunisian lead-calcium battery and recycling firm Nour Batteries for €10.3 million ($12.5 million).

A contract for the purchase of 720,000 shares (60% of all shares) was signed on 12 May following a decision by the Bulgarian-based Monbat’s board of directors. 

The deal will take place in two stages: the first is for 23% of the shares; the remaining 37% will be acquired and paid before 31 December, 2021.  

Monbat intends to “modernise the production” of Nour Batteries and expand the recycling plant’s capacity. 

Starting next year, Nour will produce around one million starter batteries per year, which could be doubled in the future. 

The company’s owner Atanas Bobokov said the Nour factory would help Monbat meet demand as the company’s customers “currently order larger quantities than the company can produce”.

Bobokov was released from Bulgarian custody in November on BGN2 million ($1.2 million) bail following allegations he had illegally imported and exported waste lead battery products, reported Sofia news agency Novinite.

Bobokov resigned as the firm’s CEO to “preserve the stability of the company” last June.

Monbat has been interested in expanding into North Africa for several years, and aims to have more than 60% of its market outside of the European Union within five years.

In 2017, Monbat tried to negotiate a deal to buy the Tunisian industrial battery company Assad, but the deal never materialised.

Tunisia has duty-free trade arrangements with 15 African and Middle Eastern countries, including Saudi Arabia—one of Monbat’s major markets. 

Bobokov said in a statement: “The enterprise that Monbat is about to acquire now is smaller than Assad, yet it is a strategic advantage for the Bulgarian company to set foot in Tunisia. 

“We intend to turn Nour into Monbat’s second pillar, so to say, a pillar in Africa.

“Our investment in Tunisia will boost our sales in Saudi Arabia, because we have had to pay a 10% customs duty so far, while the new factory will make our products highly competitive.”

Nour’s previous owner will retain a 40% stake in the enterprise. 

In February, Battery maker Monbat Economic Group established Bulgaria’s first accredited lead-acid battery testing laboratory.

 
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Lithium-sulphur battery firm Oxis on brink of collapse

Tue, 06/01/2021 - 09:33 -- paul Crompton
Lithium-sulphur battery firm Oxis on brink of collapse

Lithium-sulphur battery developer Oxis Energy Limited is on the brink of collapse after failing to secure the funding it needed to continue its research.

British accountancy firm BDO has been appointed to wind up the British lithium-sulphur battery specialist firm.

The majority of the Oxford-based company’s 60 staff have been made redundant.

BDO’s business restructuring partners Simon Girling and Chris Marsden have been appointed as insolvency practitioners.

The joint administrators are now in the process of effecting a sale of the company’s specialist testing equipment and 43 patent families.

Indicative offers were originally requested by 28 May, but a BDO spokesman told BEST the deadline had been extended to 9 June "considering the level of interest expressed in the business and its assets". 

Girling said: “The company was unable to secure the investment required to continue its product development. 

“However, we are hopeful of obtaining a sale of the company’s specialist testing equipment, together with approximately 200 patents held by the company, and the opportunity remains for an acquirer to purchase these assets in situ at an internationally acclaimed testing centre, and separate R&D facility.”

In January, BEST was told by Oxis it was expecting to close a “significant capital injection” following news it had “suspended operations”, which included putting a halt on its $5 million, ten-year contract with Yachts de Luxe (YdL) of Singapore.

The company blamed COVID-19 for the halt in operations, with Oxis saying at the time it was working with its board of directors on accessing short-term funding while it waited for investment funds— signed last year— to be received.

In April the concerns seemed to have been allayed when Oxis announced it would deploy its solid-state lithium-sulfur cell and battery systems for use in trials, proof-of-concept and demonstrator systems this Autumn.

Oxis’ 44 patent families include 214 patents and 106 pending that cover electrolyte systems for lithium-sulphur cells, methods of cell construction and electrodes.

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Systems Sunlight's assembly hub to reach US lithium-ion and lead battery market

Thu, 05/27/2021 - 09:15 -- paul Crompton
Sunlight systems’ assembly hub to reach US lithium-ion and lead battery market

Systems Sunlight, a member of Greece consortium Olympia Group, has launched a subsidiary to run a 2GWh assembly hub for lithium-ion and lead batteries within the US.

The new subsidiary, Sunlight Battery US, and assembly plant follow a $10 million investment.

Sunlight Battery US will run the hub in North Carolina, which will have a total floor plan of 105,000 square feet and an annual capacity of more than 2GWh in lithium and lead technologies. 

The US facility is the company’s largest assembly hub, and supplements its existing plant in Verona, Italy. 

Sunlight says the hub will help it serve existing and future customers and grow its US lead and lithium battery market. 

Systems Sunlight CEO, Lambros Bisalas said: “COVID-19 has highlighted the need and demand for green energy and the US requires innovation and battery production support to compete with the Asian market. 

“We have invested €105 million in R&D for innovative lithium technologies that will usher in a clean energy future. We are keen to utilise and apply this research to our product offerings in the US.”

Brian Faust, vice president-general manager at Sunlight Batteries USA, said the subsidiary would focus on its existing products as well as new technologies like lithium.

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USABC awards battery recycling development contract to US polytechnic

Mon, 05/24/2021 - 11:09 -- paul Crompton
USABC awards battery recycling development contract to US polytechnic

Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Massachusetts, US, will begin a 36-month project to develop lithium-ion battery recycling technology following a $2 million contract.

The United States Advanced Battery Consortium (USABC)— a subsidiary of the United States Council for Automotive Research (USCAR)— awarded the contract, which includes a 50% cost share, to fund the phase III project.

The program, which began in March, will focus on lowering the cost and improving the performance of recycled battery cathode materials relative to equivalent commercially sourced materials. 

The Phase III program will focus on a higher nickel content material (versus Phase II) while also increasing the recycled content of the recycled material. 

Enabled by a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), USABC’s mission is to develop electrochemical energy storage technologies that enable widespread commercialisation in vehicle applications. 

Steve Zimmer, executive director of USCAR, said: “This battery recycling contract with WPI is part of USABC’s broad battery technology research and development program.

“Programs like this are critical to advancing the technology needed to meet both near- and long-term goals that will enable broader scale vehicle electrification.” 

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EU association formed to drive the continent's lithium-ion battery industry

Fri, 05/21/2021 - 08:53 -- paul Crompton
An association dedicated to building the European Union’s (EU) position in the lithium-ion battery cell manufacturing market was formed on 7 May.

An association dedicated to building the European Union’s (EU) position in the lithium-ion battery cell manufacturing market was formed on 7 May.

The LiPLANET Network, which is running as an association in founding, aims to form a network of research pilot lines for the production of lithium battery cells.

The European Commission-funded project aims to lay the foundation for establishing the Network during the two-year Horizon 2020 program. 

LiPLANET plans to “exploit synergies between pilot line operators, identify knowledge and equipment gaps, organise joint trainings, as well collaborate with industry and academia”.

By facilitating the access to market for its stakeholders, the long-term goal is to establish Europe as an internationally competitive production site for batteries.

The association’s founding organisations are: ABEE – Avesta Battery & Energy Engineering (Belgium); AIT Austrian Institute of Technology (Austria); Battery LabFactory Braunschweig (Germany); CEA Liten (France); CIC EnergiGUNE (Spain); CIDETEC Energy Storage (Spain); Fraunhofer ISIT (Germany); and ZSW.

The Network will organise awareness workshops this year to inform participants about the ambition of the project as well as create a network of experts in the field of lithium-ion technologies.

Any pilot line interested in joining the Network has to take the LiPLANET survey and then contact info@liplanet.eu for more information. 

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