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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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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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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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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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‘Made-in-the US’ lithium-ion cell supply deal signed by Proterra and LGES

Wed, 08/25/2021 - 09:12 -- paul Crompton
 lithium-ion battery by Proterra

Electric vehicle and charging firm Proterra has finalised a six-year lithium-ion deal with LG Energy Solution that represents plans for “multiple GWhs of dedicated battery cell capacity” in the US.

The deal extends the firms existing battery-cell supply agreement, and secures Proterra a stable supply of LG Energy Solution (LGES)— a LG Chem subsidiary— battery cells through to 2028. 

The high nickel NCMA cells will be used to manufacture Proterra’s commercial electric vehicle battery systems.

California-based Proterra had to stump up a “nine-figure sum” to secure the long-term supply of lithium-ion cylindrical cells manufactured at Korean-owned LG Energy Solution’s US plant.

Both Proterra and LGES now plan to obtain approval from their board of directors for the agreement by Q4.

Proterra did not confirm the location of the plant that would make the cells when questioned by BEST

LGES plans to invest more than $4.5 billion in US manufacturing capacity, including plants in Michigan and Ohio (in conjunction with with General Motors, which is under construction).

LGES is also working on a pilot plant for Tesla’s 4680 prototype lithium-ion cells.

High nickel NCMA cells 

Wonjoon Suh, the senior vice president and the division leader of Mobility and IT Battery Division at LGES, said: “The collaboration between LG Energy Solution and Proterra will act as a critical milestone in seizing America’s eco-friendly commercial vehicle industry, already taking a lead in the global market. 

“LGES will continue to expand our EV battery manufacturing capability in the U.S. and bolster local supply chain to foster clean energy industry in the US.”

Since 2016, Proterra and LG Chem engineering teams have been collaborating to increase cell performance to meet the requirements of commercial vehicle markets. 

The cylindrical cells to be manufactured at the new LGES plants will feature a high nickel NCMA chemistry engineered for commercial vehicle and industrial applications. 

Earlier this month, LGES secured 100% rights to battery-grade nickel and cobalt materials from Australian Mines.

The six-year deal is for mixed hydroxide precipitate (MPH) from the $1.5 billion Sconi Project in North Queensland, in which it will have access to 71,000 tonnes of nickel and 7,000 tonnes of cobalt from the end of 2024.

LGES signed a lithium-ion battery materials off-take deal with Australian firm Vulcan Energy in August for up to 45 metric tonnes of lithium hydroxide over the five-year term of the deal.

LG Energy Solution woes

In June, LGES was forced to extend its safety recall over concerns its lithium-ion powered Resu-branded residential energy storage units installed could overheat and catch on fire.

The affected units were equipped with lithium-ion cells manufactured between March 2017 and September 2018. 

The systems were installed as part of a residential energy solar system, which allowed owners to capture and store energy from solar panels. 

 

Launched in December, LGES said it had received ‘isolated reports’ about overheating incidents linked to home energy storage system battery installations. 

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Tesla agrees to $1.5 million settlement over battery voltage reduction in its cars

Mon, 08/09/2021 - 16:16 -- paul Crompton

US electric vehicle maker Tesla is set to pay $1.5 million to settle a lawsuit regarding the voltage restriction of batteries amid a spate of fires in their Model S sedans.

The suit, filed in August 2019, alleged that Tesla reduced the maximum voltage to which battery packs in around 1,743 Model S vehicles could be charged.

The over-the-air software updates to battery management systems in May 2019 related to charging and thermal control following a number of incidents where batteries caused fires in their Model S vehicles.

Plaintiff David Rasmussen launched the claim after the software update reportedly reduced his Model S vehicle’s battery by 8kWh, decreased range and increased charging times.

Lawyers for the owners who sued said the "voltage limitation was temporary, with a 10% reduction lasting about 3 months, and a smaller 7% reduction lasting another 7 months before the corrective update was released in March 2020," reported news outlet Reuters.

However, Tesla was found to have fraudulently concealed information the cars would “experience a significant decrease in the total amount of range, and other performance issues”, according to the court paper.

The settlement is pending approval by federal district court of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. 

A hearing to finalise the proposed settlement is scheduled for 9 December which, if approved, would see the 1,743 class members paid $625 each. 

Tesla did not respond to BEST’s request for a comment.

Model S electric vehicle fires

The over-the-air software update followed a number of fires in Tesla’s Model S cars.

The fires included: a “single battery module” causing a Model S in Shanghai, China, to catch alight in April, 2019; a Model S fire in San Francisco, US, in May 2019; also in May 2019, a Model S caught alight in Hong Kong; in July 2019 a Model S caught alight in Germany.

To date, Tesla has failed to provide its customers with any further information regarding the cause of these fires and has failed to inform customers as to which vehicles are potentially at risk of catching fire, according to court papers.

Court filings say 1,552 of the affected Tesla Model S sedans have had their batteries’ voltage fully restored, and 57 received full battery replacements. 

A subsequent update restored about 3% of the battery voltage in the vehicles, and a third update released in March 2020 was designed to fully restore the batteries’ voltage over time as the vehicles are driven, the settlement documents said.

BEST has been reporting on Tesla fires as far back as 2013 when the company faced a costly recall after three fires in five weeks on its Model S called into question the safety of the battery. 

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Arcimoto and Redivivus launch battery recycling partnership

Mon, 08/02/2021 - 11:03 -- paul Crompton
Arcimoto electric vehicle

Electric vehicle maker Arcimoto has launched a battery recycling program with lithium-ion battery recycling company Redivivus.

Redivivus will provide a battery processing solution to Oregan, US, firm Arcimoto’s manufacturing plants, and service and sales centers, based on its hydrometallurgical and electrochemical battery recycling Process.

The materials will be transported to a recycling line designed by Redivivus, where it will use its Redi-Cycle process to convert the materials into secondary materials.

One of the final products is a nickel and cobalt metallic alloy.

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Japanese mining firm eyes 10,000 t/m lithium-ion cathode material output

Fri, 07/16/2021 - 09:40 -- paul Crompton
Sumitomo Metal Mininglogo

Metals firm Sumitomo Metal Mining (SMM) is set to expand its production capacity of lithium-ion cathode materials for electric vehicle batteries. 

Plans include establishing a new plant in the Besshi area (Niihama City, Ehime Prefecture) and expanding production capacity at its Harima Refinery (Harima-cho, Kako-gun, Hyogo Prefecture), both in Japan.

The production capacity of cathode material is planned to be 2,000t/month.

The new plant for nickel-based cathode materials will be opposite SMM’s existing cathode material plant.

Overall capital expenditures for both sites will include: 40 billion yen for the new plant and seven billion yen for the Harima Refinery. 

Construction work is due to be completed in 2025. 

SMM said the production processes will consist of state-of-the-art equipment so the cathode materials can be produced from the start of operation. 

In its 2018 three-year business plan, SMM set a goal of reaching a production capacity of 10,000t/month of cathode material by the end of the 2024. 

This project is adopted by the country’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry as a “Program for Promoting Investment in Japan to Strengthen Supply Chains.” 

SMM will use this grant appropriately in our business to promote the development of Japanese industries. 

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Panasonic sells stake in long-term partner Tesla for $3.6 billion

Tue, 07/13/2021 - 08:53 -- paul Crompton
Panasonic cells and Tesla car

Tesla’s lithium-ion battery maker Panasonic has sold its entire stake in the US electric vehicle OEM for almost $3.6 billion, reports Japanese business news outlet Nikkei.

Panasonic has said the sale will pay for its $7 billion acquisition of artificial intelligence software developer Blue Yonder, reported Nikkei.

Panasonic bought 1.4 million Tesla shares for about $30 million in 2010. Those stocks rose to $730 million at the end of March 2020, and by 24 June closed at $679.82 apiece.

Japanese firm Panasonic has been a long-term supplier of batteries to Tesla.

Last year, the pair signed a three-year pricing deal relating to the manufacture and supply of 2170 lithium-ion battery cells manufactured at its gigafactory in Nevada, US.

Panasonic said it would increase the energy density of its 2170 cells by 20% within five years and commercialise a cobalt-free version within three years.

The stock sell-off came in the same week China battery maker CATL extended a battery supply deal with Tesla to 2025.

Tesla entered into a partnership with South Korea’s LG Chem and China’s CATL in January 2020 as it looked to secure a lithium-ion battery supply for its electric cars at its Gigafactory 3 plant in Shanghai.

CATL signed a two-year battery supply agreement with Tesla, with the US firm determining the battery purchase volume, last July.

For more stories on Teslsa click here 

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Envision joins race to build UK’s first lithium-ion gigafactory

Thu, 07/08/2021 - 11:25 -- paul Crompton
Envision joins race to build UK’s first lithium-ion gigafactory

Envision Group has joined the race to build the UK’s first lithium-ion gigafactory that will form part of a £1 billion ($1.3 billion) electric vehicle hub.

The company will invest £450 million ($622 million) to build the gigafactory on the International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP).

Formal planning for an initial 9GWh plant is about to begin, with Envision potentially investing up to £1.8 billion ($2.4 billion) to reach to 25GWh capacity by 2030 with potential on site for up to 35GWh. 

Envision AESC, the battery arm of Envision Group, already owns and operates a battery plant in Sunderland, established in 2012 to supply batteries to Nissan.

Envision plans to manufacture batteries for up to 100,000 Nissan electric vehicles a year at the gigafactory that will sit opposite the Nissan plant.

Lei Zhang, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Envision Group, said: "His commitment builds on our long-term partnership with Nissan. It will put the North East at the heart of a new EV hub in the UK, collaborating on R&D around the whole battery lifecycle, from storage, to second life use, V2G smart charging and closed loop recycling." 

The gigafactory is part of the Nissan EV36Zero hub, which will bring together electric vehicles, renewable energy and battery production at one site. 

The billion-dollar project has been launched with investment by Nissan, Envision AESC, and Sunderland City Council.

Nissan will invest up to £423 million ($585 million) to produce a new-generation all-electric vehicle in the UK. 

Nissan started production in Sunderland in July 1986. 

Race to build a gigafactory

According to the Faraday Institution, the UK will need eight gigafactories to meet domestic demand from EV and energy storage system developers.

Joining the race for the UK’s first gigafactory is Britishvolt, which announced last December it was set to build its plant in the North East of England— five months after signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Welsh government.

The company plans to begin construction of its plant in the Summer of 2021 after acquiring exclusive rights to a site in Blyth Northumberland. 

Read more about the Britishvolt’s plans in the Autumn 2020 edition of BEST magazine HERE

France gigafactory

Envision AESC is partnering with Renault Group to develop a 9GWh gigafactory in Douai by 2024, with aim of reaching 24GWh six-years later. 

Envision will invest up to €2 billion ($2.3 billion) to produce batteries for electric models, including the future Renault R5, at the plant in Douai situated near to Renault ElectriCity production sites at Douai, Maubeuge and Ruitz.

Lei Zhang, founder and chief executive officer of Envision Group, said: “This first phase development will unlock future large-scale investment to grow the local supply chain and develop the whole life cycle opportunities of batteries, including energy storage, battery reuse, smart charging and closed loop recycling.”

 

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