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A new chapter in Europe’s battery industry as Northvolt assembles first lithium-ion cell

Tue, 01/11/2022 - 09:58 -- Paul Crompton

Gigafactory developer Northvolt Ett has assembled the first lithium-ion cell to have been fully designed, developed and assembled by a homegrown European battery company.

The first cell represents a milestone for Northvolt, which aims to begin commercial delivery of cells of varying formats this year.

Marking a step-change in Europe’s battery industry, the prismatic cell came off the cell assembly line on the 28 December following the commissioning of Northvolt Ett’s gigafactory in Skellefteå, Sweden.

Commissioning and upscaling of the factory will continue through into 2022, when the first commercial customer deliveries will be made.

Peter Carlsson, CEO and co-founder of Northvolt, said: “Of course, this first cell is only the beginning. Over the course of the coming years, we look forward to expanding production capacity greatly.” 

The battery cell was developed at Northvolt Labs, Northvolt’s industrialisation factory in Sweden, which has been in production since early 2020. 

Northvolt plans to increase capacity to 60GWh per year to fulfil more than $30 billion worth of contracts it has secured from customers, including: BMW, Fluence, Scania, Volkswagen, Volvo Cars and Polestar. 

100% recycled NMC cathode

On 12 December, Northvolt announced the production of its first lithium-ion battery cell featuring a nickel-manganese-cobalt (NMC) cathode made entirely with metals recovered from battery waste.

Recycled nickel, manganese and cobalt metals used in the battery cell were recovered through a low-energy hydrometallurgical treatment that involves the use of an aqueous solution to isolate the metals and separate them from impurities.

Northvolt claim the process can recover up to 95% of the metals in a battery to a level of purity and performance on par with virgin material.

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Ecobat buys battery distributor Emrol as it strengthens hold within EU market

Tue, 11/02/2021 - 10:37 -- Paul Crompton

Lead producer and battery recycler Ecobat has bolstered its position in Europe with the buyout of Belgium-based industrial battery distributor Emrol.

The Texas, US, based firm said the acquisition complements its operations by allowing it to serve customers in Europe with “solutions and services” for energy storage.

This acquisition expands Ecobat’s offerings of batteries in non-automotive markets such as motive power and niche e-mobility markets.

Emrol distributes a range of battery types, including lithium-ion and lead-acid.

Ecobat chief executive officer Jimmy Herring, said: "As a leading distributor of motive power solutions used in industrial applications, this strategic acquisition of Emrol underscores our continued strategy to grow Ecobat Battery across Europe."

This acquisition expands Ecobat’s footprint throughout the Benelux region (Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg)

European expansion

In August, Ecobat bought lithium-ion battery recycler Promesa as it looked to gain a hold in the European EV battery recycling market, which is expected to be worth $4.7 billion in 10 years, according to Ecobat.

Ecobat’s buy-out of the Hettstedt, Germany, firm gave Ecobat a full suite of recycling services for lithium-ion batteries, from collecting, discharging and dismantling batteries, to crushing and sorting them and arranging for black mass disposal.

The company said that Promesa’s strategic location in the vehicle manufacturing and lithium battery centre of Germany provided a “crucial entry point” for battery access and OEM factory scrap. 

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SK IE Technology readies its EU lithium-ion battery separator plant for production

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

Korean materials firm SK IE Innovation has held an opening ceremony for its lithium-ion battery separator plant in Poland, the company's first European production base.

The company, the material business subsidiary of SK Innovation, held the ceremony to mark the start of commercial production after 21 months of construction, which saw mechanical completion in June and test operation in August.

The plant will have an annual production capacity of 340 million/m2.

CEO and president of SK IE Technology, Rho Jae-sok, said: "The operation of the first European plant has positioned the company as the first battery separator producer in Europe. We will take a significant part in revitalizing the global electric vehicle market."

The company’s first plant in Poland is expected to kick off commercial operation in the fourth quarter of this year.

The products will be supplied to global battery companies such as SK On.

SK IE Technology (SKIET) plans to invest a total of KRW2 trillion ($16.7 million) in Silesia Province by 2024 to ensure production capacity of 1,540 million/m2 of lithium-ion battery separators.

A second plant with a 340 million/m2 production capacity is under construction and is scheduled to be ready for commercial operation by 2023. 

Last July ground was broken on third and fourth plants with respective 430 million/m2 capacity. 

It is anticipated that the global production capacity of SKIET encompassing South Korea, China, and Europe will reach a total of 2,730 million/m2.

According to research agency IHS Market, the European battery industry will be expanded by five times from 82GWh this year to about 410GWh in 2026. The demand for separators will likely follow suit.

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Chinese battery manufacturing giant CATL joins EU battery association Eurobat

Tue, 09/14/2021 - 15:39 -- Paul Crompton
Chinese battery manufacturing giant CATL cells

China lithium-ion battery giant Contemporary Amperex Technology Limited (CATL) has joined Eurobat— the association for European automotive and industrial battery manufacturers.

Eurobat covers all battery technologies, and has more than 50 members working with policy-makers, industry stakeholders, and non-governmental organisations to highlight the role batteries play for decarbonised mobility and energy systems.

Headquartered in Ningde, China, CATL had more than 5,000 staff engaged in R&D at of the end of 2020 and is in the process of developing its first European production base in Arnstadt, Germany. 

Matthias Zentgraf, CATL EU-Region co-president, said: “With the European Commissions’ vision for a climate-neutral EU by 2050, we are proud to bring our EV battery technologies and manufacturing to Europe, contributing to a more sustainable Europe powered by E-mobility. 

“Joining Eurobat will bring more exposure to conversations with the local automotive ecosystem and regulatory bodies, facilitate CATL to better integrate with local automotive industry and introduce more advanced solutions and services in the region.” 

Eurobat executive-director Rene Schroeder said: “Europe’s battery industry is currently at a pivotal moment.

“Investments into Europe’s automotive and industrial battery industry are needed if we want Europe to reach its decarbonisation ambition, as recently announced in the European Commission’s Fit for 55 package. 

“At the same time, policy-makers and stakeholders are in the process of shaping the future policy framework for batteries, notably through the new Batteries Regulation.”

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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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Lead battery recycler Ecobat buys into European lithium-ion battery recycling market

Mon, 08/16/2021 - 11:05 -- Paul Crompton

Lead-battery recycler Ecobat has bought lithium-ion battery recycler Promesa as it looks to expand its hold in the European market.

Ecobat’s buy-out of the Hettstedt, Germany, firm will allow it a further entry point to the European EV battery recycling market, which is expected to be worth $4.7 billion in 10 years, according to Ecobat.

The deal gives Ecobat a full suite of recycling services for lithium-ion batteries, from collecting, discharging and dismantling batteries, to crushing and sorting them and arranging for black mass disposal.

The company said that Promesa’s strategic location in the vehicle manufacturing and lithium battery centre of Germany provided a “crucial entry point” for battery access and OEM factory scrap. 

Jimmy Herring, Ecobat’s president and chief executive officer, said: "Building on this acquisition, Ecobat will continue to expand our position in the lithium-ion battery recycling space with future investment plans underway to increase capacity at our Promesa facility and to build out additional dismantling capabilities across Germany.”

Promesa will provide Ecobat with access to business-critical permits for 3,200 tons of chemical compounds. 

These contracts cover a broad range of waste materials associated with a variety of battery chemistries from household to electric vehicle, positioning Ecobat for expansive growth opportunities.

Earlier this month, Ecobat was named as a cohort member of US battery companies that will collaborate with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory and The University of Toledo to improve lead-battery cycling efficiency

The new two-year research collaboration is focused on improving the performance of advanced lead batteries, which includes work to identify methods to extend their cycle life. 

New CFO

The acquisition comes as Ecobat named Jamie Pierson (pictured) as its new chief financial officer. 

Pierson will lead the Finance Homeroom on a global basis and provides strategic advice to the executive leadership team and board of directors. 

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Vehicle OEMs form joint ventures to make lithium-ion batteries in Europe

Tue, 07/06/2021 - 11:43 -- Paul Crompton
porsche ev

Two vehicle OEMs are aiming to navigate the pitfalls of securing a future battery supply for their electric cars by making the cells themselves.

Cellforce Group, a joint venture company between Porsche and lithium-ion battery firm Customcells, will produce battery cells at the Weissach Development Centre, Germany.

Porsche has a 83.75% stake in the new venture, which will be headquartered in Tübingen, Germany. 

The town is also on the shortlist for the location of the battery factory, which has a planned minimum annual capacity of 100MWh, or around 1,000 vehicles.

The Federal Republic of Germany and the state of Baden-Württemberg are funding the project with around €60 million ($71.4 million).

Oliver Blume, chairman of the Executive Board at Porsche, said: “The battery cell is the combustion chamber of the future. 

“This joint venture allows us to position ourselves at the forefront of global competition in developing the most powerful battery cell and make it the link between the driving experience and sustainability.”

Cellforce’s battery cell chemistry relies on silicon as the anode material, to deliver the same energy content with a smaller size. 

Chemical company BASF will exclusively provide NCM cathode materials after being chosen as a cell development partner.

The managing directors of Cellforce are Markus Gräf (chief operating officer), Wolfgang Hüsken (chief financial officer from Porsche), and Torge Thönnessen (chief technology officer from Customcells).

Volvo JV

Volvo Car Group intends to establish a joint venture with Swedish battery company Northvolt, to develop and produce batteries for the vehicle OEM’s next generation of pure electric cars.

The 50/50 joint venture initially aims to set up a research and development center in Sweden that will begin operations next year. 

The center plans to develop next-generation, “state-of-the-art” battery cells and vehicle integration technologies, and establish a new gigafactory in Europe.

The planned gigafactory could have up to 50GWh capacity per year, with production expected to start in 2026. The location of the new plant is yet to be decided.

As part of the plans, Volvo Car Group also aims to source 15GWh of battery cells per year from the existing Northvolt Ett battery plant in Skellefteå, Sweden starting in 2024. 

Volvo’s goal is for pure electric cars to make up half of all sales by the middle of this decade, and 100% by 2030.

The partnership and joint venture are subject to final negotiation and agreements between the parties, including board approval.

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Billion-dollar deal will see Highview Power deploy 2GWh of liquid air energy storage in Europe

Thu, 05/27/2021 - 09:06 -- Paul Crompton
Billion-dollar deal will see Highview Power deploy 2GWh of liquid air energy storage in Europe

Energy storage firm Highview Power is set to develop up to 2GWh of liquid air energy storage projects to help Spain move towards its net zero emissions target.

An estimated investment of around $1 billion will see up to seven CRYOBattery™ projects ranging from 50MW/300MWh in Asturias, Cantabria, Castilla y Leon, and the Canary Islands.

The projects will be realised alongside development partners and a consortium of investors, which include engineering company TSK, and the Center for Energy, Environmental and Technological Research (CIEMAT). 

Highview Power’s technology uses liquid air as the storage medium and delivers critical grid stability services, like synchronous inertia, short circuit and dynamic voltage control. 

Spain adopted the National Energy and Climate Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 23% by the close of the decade.

Read more about liquid air technology in our interview with Highview Power in the Summer edition of BEST mag out in July. Click here to ensure you receive your copy.

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VW breaks ground on Lab to develop and test US focused lithium-ion EV batteries

Mon, 11/16/2020 - 15:10 -- Paul Crompton

Vehicle OEM Volkswagen of America, a subsidiary of Volkswagen Group, has begun building its first lithium-ion battery testing facility outside of Europe or Asia to ensure “better tuned” cells for the US electric vehicle market.

The $22 million Battery Engineering Lab at its Chattanooga Engineering and Planning Center in the US state of Tennessee will test and validate electric vehicle cells and battery packs for the North American market.

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Northvolt secures almost $2billion to continue goal of building Europe’s first ‘home-grown’ lithium-ion gigafactory

Fri, 08/14/2020 - 10:44 -- Paul Crompton

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has signed a $350 million loan agreement to support Northvolt’s hopes of Europe’s first home-grown lithium-ion battery gigafactory.

The funding follows the EIB supporting the demonstration line at Northvolt Labs in 2018, which produced its first battery cells in late 2019.

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