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Lithium-ion

Materials firm plans lithium-ion battery material plant in US

Wed, 09/01/2021 - 11:59 -- Paul Crompton
Specialty materials firm Unifrax plans today to build its first large-scale SiFAB

Specialty materials firm Unifrax plans today to build its first large-scale SiFAB (silicon fiber anode material) manufacturing line in the US.

The New York-headquartered manufacturer plans to build the facility in the state of Indiana by the end of 2023.

It is the first time Unifrax has taken a step into developing silicon fiber for the lithium-ion battery manufacturing market. 

SiFAB is being tested in multiple battery systems, with Unifrax expecting results to show the material delivers faster charges and longer battery life for applications including electric vehicles, and energy grid storage.

The Indiana plant will be the first to begin building SiFAB long-term manufacturing capacity. 

John Dandolph, Unifrax president and CEO, said the ability to leverage their existing facility and add new infrastructure to support manufacturing would “significantly accelerate” the timeline for supplying to material to its partners.

Chad Cannan, senior vice president R&D, said: “We designed SiFAB from its inception to be manufactured at large scale so that we could supply all market segments (EV’s, consumer electronics, power tools, and renewable storage), utilise our existing global manufacturing footprint, and deliver a product that has a high degree of quality and consistency.”

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Public-private partnership to plug Europe’s 800,000 person battery skills gap

Mon, 07/19/2021 - 14:40 -- Paul Crompton
workers at a battery factory

A public-private partnership aims to fill the European battery industry skills gap by training 150,000 workers to aid the transition to electric vehicles.

A memorandum of understanding between EIT InnoEnergy and France has paved the way to launching the EBA250 Academy, which aims to reskill and upskill specialised engineers, technicians and researchers.

EIT InnoEnergy, coordinating the industrial work under the European Battery Alliance (EBA), will spearhead an education-sharing platform.

EIT InnoEnergy plans to rollout its training programme in France and throughout Europe.

The industry-expert designed courses will cover a range of topics from electromobility, residential storage and grid storage, to recycling and data science.

The modules will be delivered by local training organisations online, although some may require physical attendance at local training facilities.

Any engineer or executive working in energy can apply.

The public-private partnership will address the emerging skills gap that requires around 800,000 qualified workers to enter the European battery industry by 2025. 

This includes the lack of transferrable digital skills needed to support the digitalisation of the entire value chain, from factory automation with industry 4.0 to AI use. 

Reskilling the workforce is essential in ensuring Europe meets its Green Deal targets by safeguarding sufficient battery manufacturing capacity to support the electrification of transport and decarbonisation of energy.

In 2017, the European Commission launched the European Battery Alliance.

Commission vice-president Maroš Šefčovič, in charge of the European Battery Allianc, said: “The new battery industry requires a new set of skills. Reskilling and upskilling programmes, such as the EBA250 Academy, will therefore help match skills with labour market needs as well as reinforce the social dimension of Europe’s recovery.”

Along with France, EIT InnoEnergy is already implementing the EBA250 Academy in Spain and plans to roll out the programme across Europe during 2021. 

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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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Pilot plant pushes NEO closer to lithium-ion silicon anode material commercialisation

Fri, 07/16/2021 - 09:23 -- Paul Crompton
me-metals schematic of silicon process

Canadian lithium-ion battery material firm NEO Battery Materials is on the verge of developing a first prototype of its silicon anode material.

NEO is in the scale-up phase of commercialisation following the successful integration of its silicon (Si) technology in commercial graphite anodes.

In phase one, NEO will provide graphite/Si mixture anode materials with different levels of Si content for controllable anode specific capacity. 

NEO reports it has achieved ~500 mAh/g, at a 70% capacity enhancement.

Spencer Huh, president and CEO of NEO, said: “The development of our prototype is part of our research to increase the specific capacity of our high silicon content anodes with graphite, and we are also onto a new strategic move into integrating NEO’s silicon with solid-state electrolytes. 

“We are in discussion with parties in the industry to explore and discover potential synergies and mutual benefit for NEO’s silicon anode technology.”

The firm has also announced the initiation of a pilot plant project where it intends to use in-house resources to design and test equipment that will use its single-step Si nanocoating process.

Sung Rock Hwang, chief operating officer and senior vice president of NEO, said the goal of the project was to establish a basic pilot-scale coating process design and to check the feasibility of NEO’s nanocoating technology for metallurgical-grade silicon.

He added: “Moreover, we are further focusing on a cost-effective separation method since it will capture the largest portion of energy consumption during our nanocoating pilot process. 

“The pilot plant project aims to prove the capacity of the Company to produce various sized Si materials ranging from ~50 nanometers to several micron-sized Si materials that are strategically important to conventional liquid-based Li-ion batteries and next generation all-solid-state batteries (ASSBs).”

The company’s directors, scientific advisors, and engineers are in the process of working on the conceptual design of the pilot plant, which marks the first step towards realising wide-scale production. 

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Toyocolor to supply CNT to and SK Innovations European plants

Thu, 07/15/2021 - 15:18 -- Paul Crompton
Lioaccum series of conductive carbon nanotube (CNT) dispersions

Functional materials firm Toyocolor is set to supply carbon nanotubes to Korea’s lithium-ion battery maker SK Innovations’ plants in the US and Europe.

Toyocolor, the colorants and functional materials division of Japan’s Toyo Ink Group, will supply its Lioaccum series of conductive carbon nanotube (CNT) dispersions. 

Lioaccum dispersions are used as the conductive additive in lithium-ion cathodes to expand battery capacity that enables electric vehicles to increase driving distances and charge faster. 

In this instance, the CNT’s will be used in lithium-ion batteries for Volkswagen Group and the Ford Motor Company.

Toyocolor said in a statement that its researchers in Japan had achieved high conductivity levels by replacing carbon black in the battery cathode with a small amount of Lioaccum CNT dispersions as the conductive additive.

At present, Toyocolor is providing SK Innovation with Lioaccum dispersions produced at its plant in Georgia, US.

Supply to SK Innovation’s European plants is due to move to Toyo Ink Hungary, in Hungary, in the first quarter of next year. 

Toyo Ink SC Holdings, the parent company of the Toyo Ink Group, plans to invest around 10 billion yen ($9990 million) up to 2026, to strengthen its global battery dispersions production network. 

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BASF’s cathode expansion accelerates with German lithium-ion recycling plant

Thu, 07/15/2021 - 14:44 -- Paul Crompton
BASF flags

Chemicals giant BASF is set to build a battery recycling prototype plant in Germany to extract key materials from end-of-life lithium-ion cells and production scrap.

The plant at BASF’s cathode active materials (CAM) plant site in Schwarzheide is scheduled to be commissioned by 2023.

The prototype plant will allow for the “development of operational procedures and optimisation” of technology to recover lithium, nickel, cobalt and manganese from used batteries as well as off spec material from cell producers and battery material producers.

The recovered metals will be used to manufacturer cathode active materials.

Dr. Matthias Dohrn, senior vice president, precious and base metal services at BASF, said: “With this battery recycling, plus leading process technology for manufacturing of cathode active materials, we aim to ‘close the loop’ while reducing the CO2 footprint of our cathode active materials by up to 60% in total compared to industry standards.”

The plant’s location was announced in February.

Aggressive cathode expansion

In June, BASF is set to form a joint venture (JV) 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.

In May, materials firm Umicore and BASF entered into a non-exclusive patent cross-license agreement covering a range of lithium-ion cathode materials and their precursors.

 
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Lithium battery material deal marks Spanish mine’s commercialisation

Thu, 07/15/2021 - 10:17 -- Paul Crompton

South Korean lithium-ion manufacturer LG Energy Solutions has secured a supply of battery grade lithium-hydroxide from a Spanish mine. 

The firm will receive the first rights to 10,000 tpa from the San Jose Industrial Lithium Project following the signing of a non-binding memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Infinity Lithium Corporation.

The MoU refers to the potential supply of the material for an initial five-year period with the opportunity to extend that for a further five years.

Australia-listed firm Infinity owns the Spanish site with its joint venture partner Valoriza Mineria S.A.

The project treats and refines the ore into lithium hydroxide on site.

A binding offtake agreement is due to be signed within 12 months of the MoU.

Infinity Lithium first unveiled a scoping study for its San Jose project in 2018.

The company had previously released a lithium carbonate scoping study for San Jose, but said at the time it was shifting the project’s focus towards lithium hydroxide.

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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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Lithium-ion ESS to help Ukraine align its power markets with Europe

Tue, 07/13/2021 - 08:31 -- Paul Crompton
world bank logo

A Ukrainian firm is set to build a 197MW lithium-ion energy storage system after securing a nine-figure loan from the World Bank.

Ukrainian private joint stock company Ukrhydroenergo (UHE) has borrowed a total of $212 million for the project to help link Ukraine’s power grid with the European power grid.

Power grid synchronisation is a Ukrainian strategic objective to create a competitive power market aligned with EU regulations and market practices. 

The project aims to enhance reliability and security of power supply through diversification of energy sources, and access to the EU’s market. 

The project will combine the energy storage systems with solar power plants within four hydropower plant sites (Kyiv, Kaniv, Kremenchuk and Seredniodniprovska) to allow for ancillary services to the national power grid. 

A long-duration battery with a solar power plant will also be installed within Dniester Hydro Power Plant.

The loan includes: a $177 million International Bank of Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) loan; a $34 million Clean Technology Fund (CTF) concessional loan; and a $1 million CTF grant for a new project in Ukraine – Improving Power System Resilience for European Power Grid Integration (Installation of Hybrid Systems for Electricity Production in Ukrhydroenergo). 

Rup Banerji, World Bank regional country director for eastern Europe, said: “This will help Ukraine integrate its power system with the European power grid, reduce the influence of vested interests, and contribute to the achievement of a more energy independent Ukraine.”

The World Bank has already been working to prepare Ukraine’s power infrastructure for synchronisation with the EU power grid under the ongoing Second Power Transmission Project (PTP2). 

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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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