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Godi makes India’s first domestic lithium-ion cell as country’s manufacturing industry gathers pace

Tue, 01/11/2022 - 10:22 -- Paul Crompton

Indian battery maker Godi has manufactured its first lithium-ion batteries for use in electric vehicle applications.

The commercial grade NMC21700 cells were made at the firm’s Shamshabad facility, according to a report by the news outlet The Times of India.

Godi’s website says the firm provides rechargeable batteries (lithium-ion, sodium-ion, all solid-state) from cell to pack level for a variety of applications across automobiles, consumer electronics, and renewable energy storage sectors. 

The company says its 21700 Energy Cell has a capacity of 4.8-5.2Ah and a 1,200 cycle life; its Power Cell boasts a capacity of 3-4Ah and a cycle life of 2,000.

The cells were designed, developed and manufactured by the domestic battery maker.

India’s reliance on imports

India relies on imported lithium-ion cells, but a number of domestic companies are working to set up manufacturing facilities.

One of those companies is lead battery maker Exide Industries, which announced last month it was planning to build a “multi-gigawatt” lithium-ion cell manufacturing plant in the country.

The firm’s board of directors has agreed to set up a green field lithium-ion cell manufacturing facility in India, according to an exchange filing report by The Economic Times newspaper.

The exact size and location of the plant has not been disclosed; however, as far back as August 2019 India’s biggest lead-acid battery maker said it would start producing lithium-ion cells from a new plant in Gujarat, India

Nexcharge— a joint venture between Exide and Leclanché— has built India's largest factory equipped with fully automated assembly lines for lithium-ion battery packs, modules (pouch/ prismatic/ cylindrical) and cell testing laboratories in Gujarat. 

Nexcharge is also supported by a state-of-the-art, in-house R&D facility in Bangalore. products at competitive prices.

India’s burgeoning capabilities

As far back as 2019, BEST was reporting on plans for India’s lithium-ion industry. They included at the time:

  • The Tata Group has reportedly pledged INR4,000 crore ($600 million) towards building a lithium-ion battery manufacturing plant in Gujarat, India. A 126-acre parcel of land in the area has already been secured for the plant, which could boast up to 10GW of capacity, according to the Times of India.
  • Car maker Maruti Suzuki India Limited (MSIL)— a 56.21% owned subsidiary of the Japanese OEM Suzuki Motor Corporation (SMC)— has said it will commission its battery manufacturing plant in Hansalpur, Gujarat by the end of next year.
  • A joint project by SMC (50%), Toshiba (40%) and Denso (10%) plans to build a lithium-ion battery plant in Hansalpur with a reported IND1,151 crore ($180m) investment.
  • Suzuki Motor Gujarat— a 100% subsidiary of SMC—completed construction of its second Gujarat plant, bringing its combined EV production capabilities to 500,000 units a year.
  • Talks are under way for the Indian government’s first lithium-ion plant— a 1GWh factory to be built by state-owned Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) and LIBCOIN consortium made up of Magnis Energy, Duggal Family Trust and Charge CCCV (C4V). It is part of the “Make in India, for India” programme and could be scaled up to 30GWh if the plans come to fruition. Incidentally, US-based C4V and Australian firm Magnis are part of the Imperium3 consortium planning to build a gigafactory in New York, US.
  • Billionaire Gautam Adani announced in January he would invest in a lithium battery manufacturing complex in Gujarat. 
  • The state of Telangana aims to establish a lithium-ion gigafactory, according to NITI Aayog. The state wants to build a 5GWh plant, and has set aside a 200-acre parcel of land near Hybrabad for the factory.
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Feedstock concerns to stymie EV battery recycling goals— but China’s market remains appealing

Tue, 12/21/2021 - 09:56 -- Paul Crompton

Lithium-ion electric vehicle battery recycling is not expected to “take off” before 2030 despite a number of projects launching across the globe in the last two years. 

New, cheaper virgin materials, and a lack of feedstock were named as major barriers to the lithium-ion battery recycling sector in a report by market analysts Wood Mackenzie (Wood Mac).

With economies of scale bringing down the cost of battery manufacturing, and cell makers “leaning towards using cheaper materials” recyclers must increase the efficiency of their processes to maintain profit, states the report. 

Moreover, the introduction of new materials such as solid-state electrolytes will require recyclers to retrofit their processes.

Max Reid, research analyst Wood Mackenzie’s battery raw materials service, pointed to the lack of recyclable feedstock as a major barrier due to the limited number of end-of-life (EoL) batteries available for recycling, because EV penetration at the beginning of the decade is much lower than at the end— and EVs have lifespans reaching up to 15 years.

Need for recycling 

The recycling sector is already aggressively scaling up, despite the lack of available secondary supply from recycling.

According to Wood Mac’s analysis, the total capacity of planned recycling facilities will still overshoot feedstock in 2030 when end of life (EoL) EV numbers begin to ramp up.

The resulting supply imbalance will leave independent recyclers, especially in North America and Europe, scrambling to secure a supply of used EV batteries, say Wood Mac.  

That imbalance is, in part, because of China’s appealing location for battery recycling— with companies benefitting from greater integration with nearby cathode production plants— that allows them to bid much higher prices for used batteries than their Western counterparts.

This is unlikely to change until North America and Europe have developed more integrated raw material supply chains, notes the report.

Reid said: “Bullish expectations for lithium-ion recycling may well lead to a rush of new entrants to the space. However, limitations on feedstocks mean that only the large and integrated will likely survive and reap the rewards in later years.”

The lithium-ion EV pack recycling industry is highlighted by reports of potential shortages in the supply chain by 2030.

For example, market analysts Roskill predict lithium carbonate equivalent demand will increase 4.5 times to two million tonnes, and cobalt demand will almost double to 270,000 tonnes by 2030 (from 2020 figures).

Analysts CRU forecast EV battery makers will require around 120,000 tonnes, or nearly 45% of the total cobalt supply by 2025, compared with 39,000 tonnes last year.

A new cathode facility will produce 50 kilo-tonnes per annum (ktpa) of NMC (nickel, manganese and cobalt) material (enough for around 400,000 EVs), whilst a recycling facility will typically process 5-10 ktpa of e-waste (around 30,000 EV-packs yearly).

EV adoption 

Wood Mackenzie predicts global passenger car sales will grow from just under 7% (of all electric vehicle sales) to 23% by 2030— with 89% of lithium-ion battery demand coming from the EV sector by 2040.

Max Reid, research analyst Wood Mackenzie’s battery raw materials service, said: “Underneath the surface of this electric future lies a relatively young supply chain struggling to keep up. The lithium-ion battery demand market can fluctuate over months and expanding upstream and midstream to produce battery materials involves lead times of several years.

“As it is a new industry, there is limited historic capacity to flip the switch on, and yet many see this as a ripe environment for recycling to make a tangible impact.

“This decade will see the supply chain further establish itself to be able to supply vast quantities of battery-grade chemicals and cathodes to cell manufacturers, whilst recyclers will struggle with the large mass and complexity of EV-packs.” 

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Tesla opens Canadian factory as it ups plans for commercial use of its 4680 lithium-ion cells

Tue, 11/16/2021 - 14:24 -- Paul Crompton

Electric vehicle pioneer Tesla has opened a factory in Canada to produce battery manufacturing equipment.

The facility in the city of Markham, Ontario will produce battery manufacturing equipment for use in the company’s gigafactories.

Tesla has not responded to BEST’s questions.

However, on social media platform Twitter, Markham’s city mayor Frank Scarpitti wrote on 4 November: “Welcome tesla look forward to official launch. You are a great edition the “future car” cluster of companies in City of Markham.”

The post included a image that read: "The facility will be the first branded Tesla Canada manufacturing facility in Canada and will produce state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment to be used at the Gigafactories located around the world in the production of batteries."

Markham City official Bryan Frois told news outlet Reuters that the Markham facility opened this summer, marking an expansion of another site in neighbouring Richmond Hill.

In 2019, Tesla bought Canada-based Hibar Systems, which offered advanced automated vacuum filling systems for lithium-ion battery applications for use in hybrid electric vehicles.

In September, 2020, Tesla senior vice president Andrew Baglino said at the firm’s Battery Day event that its "vertical integration" with Hibar and others would allow them to build batteries faster and scale up production of its 4680 battery cells, reported news outlet Reuters.

Tesla has been making the 4680 (80mm X 46mm) cells at its Kato facility in California, US.

The 4680 cells increase EV range by 16% and deliver six times more power over its existing 2170 batteries, which have an energy density of 247Wh/kg and a 4.8Ah/17.3Wh capacity, claim Tesla.

Last month, Tesla’s long-term battery partner Panasonic revealed a 4680 cell, which it plans to begin test production of next year.

Tesla signs material deal

Chinese lithium company Ganfeng Lithium, and its unit GFL International, have signed a contract to supply battery-grade lithium hydroxide to Tesla. 

Ganfeng supplies battery-grade lithium to EV producers including Tesla, with the latest deal to supply products to the OEM for three years starting from 2022.

The sales amount and value of the contract are still pending Tesla's purchase orders, according to the filing to the Shenzhen Stock Exchange.

The deal comes following a 91% increase in lithium hydroxide CIF Asia prices this year to $19,250 a tonne, according to Benchmark’s Lithium Price Assessment. 

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MoU sets out goal to decarbonise Japan’s lithium-ion battery chain

Thu, 10/21/2021 - 15:07 -- Paul Crompton

A “Green Electric Vehicle Ecosystem” will be created following a deal between mining firm BHP, battery maker Prime Planet Energy & Solutions (PPES) and Toyota Tsusho Corporation— the trading arm of vehicle maker Toyota Group.

The memorandum of understanding (MOU) has established a collaboration framework that begins with Australia’s BHP supplying PPES with nickel sulphate from the former’s production plant in Nickel West, Western Australia.

This will enable Japan’s PPES to develop batteries that will be supplied to EV manufacturers, including fellow Japanese firm Toyota. 

The MoU sets out plans to identify ways to make the Japanese battery supply chain more sustainable by lowering carbon emissions, and implementing standards for end-to-end raw materials traceability, ethical sourcing and human rights reporting. 

The parties will explore the possibility of recycling battery scrap and used batteries at BHP’s Nickel West facility for the processing and production of nickel bearing products. 

BHP chief commercial officer, Vandita Pant, said: “Creating a Green EV Ecosystem is something that could make a real difference for the battery supply chain. 

“It starts with the raw material and we are delighted to supply PPES with nickel sulphate in this partnership where we will work together, with TTC, to create long term success and sustainability.”

Toyota Tsusho Corporation’s chief operating officer for metals division, Masaharu Katayama, said: “This partnership has great potential to secure competitive raw materials for the EV value chains as well as to create battery material recycling loops, which is crucial for EV development in the future.”

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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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