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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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Thermal runaway root cause of Tesla megapack fires that shut down Australian ESS

Mon, 10/04/2021 - 09:29 -- Paul Crompton

Thermal runaway in a Tesla megapack was the likely cause of a three-day fire that halted testing at Neoen’s 300MW/450MWh energy storage system (ESS) in Australia.

The fire at French firm Neoen’s Victorian Big Battery project occurred during initial testing of the ESS on 30 July and caused the system to be temporarily disconnected from the grid.

Two Megapacks (each being a shipping container-sized battery unit) were completely consumed by the fire. 

Neoen International SAS and its contractors UGL Engineering and Tesla Motors Australia), who respectively own and operate the site, have worked with safety regulator Energy Safe Victoria (ESV) throughout its investigation. 

Tesla’s engineering investigation and recreation of events found the most likely cause of the fire was a leak within the megapack cooling system, which caused a short circuit that led to a fire in an electronic component. 

This resulted in heating that led to a thermal runaway and fire in an adjacent battery compartment within one megapack, which spread to an adjacent second megapack. 

The findings were informed by testing undertaken by Tesla, examination of the scene by ESV (and other Victorian agencies), video surveillance footage and telemetry data from the original incident. 

A number of other factors contributed to the destruction of the entire megapacks and, had they not been present, the initial fault would likely have been identified and either manually or automatically contained, said Neoen. 

Those factors are: 

  • The supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system for a megapack took 24 hours to ‘map’ to the control system and provide full data functionality and oversight to operators. 
  • The megapack that caught fire had been in service for 13 hours before being switched into an off-line mode when it was no longer required as part of the commissioning process. This prevented the receipt of alarms at the control facility. 
  • A key lock was operated correctly to switch the megapack to off-line service mode (which was no longer required for ongoing commissioning) but this caused:  telemetry systems for monitoring the condition of the (now out of service) Megapack to shut down and so remove visibility of the developing event; the battery cooling system to shut down; the battery protection system to shut down, including the high voltage controller (HVC) that could have operated a pyrotechnic fuse to disconnect the faulty battery unit.

ESV requires Tesla to provide the final results of its investigation (when available) into why the fire resulted in the loss of a second megapack and what it is to do to prevent that circumstance arising again. 

Having completed its technical review, ESV will now determine if there have been any breaches of the Electricity Safety Act 1998 (Vic) and supporting regulations and, if so, whether enforcement action is warranted.

Back on line

Neoen confirmed re-energisation testing of the Victorian Big Battery would recommence on 29 September, in preparation for operations this Australian summer. 

Neoen and Tesla are continuing to work towards delivering the project in time for the Australian summer. 

The Victorian Big Battery will unlock up to 250MW of additional peak capacity on the existing Victoria/New South Wales Interconnector (VNI) over the next decade, playing a key role in the transition of the electricity sector towards lower emissions. 

ESV has advised Tesla that it has no objection to the recommencing of commissioning at the VBB providing a number of measures were installed.

The actions to prevent a recurrence of this incident are: 

  • Each Megapack cooling system is to be fully functionally and pressure tested when installed on site and before it is put into service 
  • Each Megapack cooling system in its entirety is to be physically inspected for leaks after it has been functionally and pressure tested on site 
  • The SCADA system has been modified such that it now ‘maps’ in one hour and this is to be verified before power flow is enabled to ensure real-time data is available to operators 
  • A new ‘battery module isolation loss’ alarm has been added to the firmware; this modification also automatically removes the battery module from service until the alarm is investigated 
  • Changes have been made to the procedure for the usage of the key lock for megapacks during commissioning and operation to ensure the telemetry system is operational 
  • The high voltage controller (HVC) that operates the pyrotechnic fuse remains in service when the key lock is isolated 

Designers are also working to ensure that megapacks are engineered to fully mitigate the risk of fire propagation from one unit to another under Victorian climatic conditions, with proposed mitigation procedures to be rolled out to applicable megapacks globally.

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UK to build its biggest lithium-ion ESS to date— a year after capacity limit was lifted

Fri, 09/24/2021 - 13:53 -- Paul Crompton

The UK is set to build its largest lithium-ion energy storage system using a Tesla Megapack.

The system will be delivered through a partnership between Spain’s Fotowatio Renewable Ventures (FRV)— part of Saudi Arabia’s Abdul Latif Jameel group— and the UK’s Harmony Energy.

Work on the 99MW/198MWh energy storage system (ESS) at Clay Tye in Essex, has begun.

The system will use a Tesla Megapack lithium-ion batteries, together with Tesla’s Autobidder AI software for real-time trading and control.

It will be connected to the distribution network operator UK Power Networks to deliver energy storage and grid-flexibility services.

Clay Tye follows the completion of the firms’ 34MW/68MWh energy storage system in West Sussex, UK, that uses 28 Tesla Megapack batteries and Tesla’s Autobidder software; the firm’s also deployed a system in Holes Bay last year.

Tesla fire

Last month, a fire spread across two Tesla lithium-ion battery packs at Neoen’s 300MW/450MWh energy storage system (ESS) in Australia.

UK lift restrictions

The Clay Tye ESS beats two other projects in the UK, which are: the 150MW/150MWh Minety battery in south-west England, and a 100MW/100MWh project in Chester, which is due to be commissioned in Q1 2022.

In July 2020, the UK government introduced a secondary legislation to remove barriers for storage projects above 50MW in England and 350MW in Wales.

Removing barriers for energy storage projects were aimed at encouraging bolder investment decisions in larger battery facilities.


Image: an ESS previously built in Holes Bay, UK.

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Tesla’s lithium-ion megapack causes three-day fire during test at Australian 300MW ESS

Mon, 08/09/2021 - 16:25 -- Paul Crompton

A fire that spread across two Tesla lithium-ion battery packs at Neoen’s 300MW/450MWh energy storage system (ESS) in Australia took three days to extinguish.

French firm Neoen, which owns and operates the Victorian Big Battery project, said a fire occurred within one of the Tesla megapacks and spread to another during initial testing of the ESS on 30 July.

The system was disconnected from the grid and there was “no impact to the electricity supply", said Neoen managing director Louis de Sambucy in a statement.

Fire Rescue Victoria (FRV) crews wore breathing apparatus as they worked to contain the fire within the 13 tonne lithium-ion battery— which is housed in a shipping container—and stop it spreading to nearby batteries.

A FRV HAZMAT appliance conducted atmospheric monitoring with a Scientific Officer in support. 

A Neoen statement read: “Investigation preparations are underway and physical inspections will commence once the CFA [Victorian County Fire Authority] have completed their procedures.

“Testing will resume only once Neoen can be ensured that all security conditions are met.”

The Victorian Country Fire Authority, Energy Safe Victoria and WorkSafe Victoria are set to work with Neoen and Tesla on a “full and comprehensive” investigation of the fire.

The FRV statement did not give the cause of the fire.

The project to modernise the grid and unlock capacity within the existing Victorian electricity network will be delivered by Neoen, Tesla, and network partner AusNet Services.

The project is due to start operating this December.

Tesla’s 3MW megapacks are pre-assembled and pre-tested in one enclosure — including battery modules, bi-directional inverters, a thermal management system, an AC main breaker and controls.

Tesla had not replied to BEST’s questions at the time of publication.

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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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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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Tesla air quality fine as authority notes 33 violations at Fremont plant

Wed, 05/19/2021 - 09:06 -- Paul Crompton
Electric vehicle and energy storage firm Tesla must pay a $1 million fine over air quality violations at its manufacturing plant in Fremont, California, US.

Electric vehicle and energy storage firm Tesla must pay a $1 million fine over air quality violations at its manufacturing plant in Fremont, California, US.

The fine from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (Air District) includes Tesla having to install a solar roof project and implement a comprehensive environmental management system at the plant.

Tesla must also fund a community microgrid, pairing a two-powerpack storage system with up to 160kW solar electric system. 

The settlement covers 33 notices of violation that the Air District issued to Tesla. 

The violations included: emissions exceeding Tesla’s permit limits, installing or modifying equipment without proper permits, failure to conduct required emissions testing, failure to maintain records and failure to report information to the Air District in a timely manner. 

Jack Broadbent, executive officer of the Air District, said: “This settlement requires Tesla’s compliance with Air District regulations at its Fremont facility and demonstrates the Air District’s continuing efforts to ensure strict compliance with air pollution regulations, while seeking mutually beneficial solutions for the community.

“As part of this settlement, Tesla has agreed to implement a community microgrid project, which leverages the company’s technological expertise in developing next generation power here in the Bay Area.” 

The comprehensive environmental management system will track all applicable environmental requirements and ensure that the company’s managers are trained on what is needed to comply with them. 

This environmental management system is designed to ensure that Tesla remains in full compliance going forward. 

Tesla has already begun implementing such a system, but today’s settlement agreement will make this a legally binding and enforceable commitment. 

All the violations that led to this settlement have been corrected and are back in compliance. 

Last November, BEST reported how a report filed to the US Securities and Exchange Commission for the quarterly period ending 30 September, 2020, showed Tesla’s subsidiary in Germany has been ordered to pay a €12 million ($14 million) fine imposed by the Umweltbundesamt (the German Federal Environment Agency) for alleged non-compliance of ‘take-back obligations with respect to end-of-life battery products’. 

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Tesla secures five-year supply of lithium in deal with China’s Yahua

Mon, 01/04/2021 - 11:01 -- Paul Crompton

US electric vehicle (EV) maker Tesla has signed a five-year deal to receive battery-grade lithium hydroxide from China’s Sichuan Yahua Industrial Group. 

The total value of the contract, signed by Yahua's wholly-owned subsidiary Yaan Lithium, is $630-$880 million and lasts up to 2025, according to news outlet Reuters, which quoted a filing by the Shenzhen Stock Exchange.

The cost value translated into a total lithium hydroxide procurement amount of 63,000-88,000 tonnes, or 12,600-17,600 tonnes per annum, according to analysts at Daiwa Capital Markets.

Last May, Yahua commissioned a 20,000 tonnes per year lithium hydroxide plant in Yaan city into operation, more than doubling its previous capacity.

It already sources lithium - an ingredient in EV batteries - from China’s Ganfeng Lithium, one of the world’s top lithium producers.

In 2018, Tesla signed a deal to receive a fifth of China's largest lithium compounds producer, Jiangxi Ganfeng Lithium’s production. Under the terms of the agreement, Tesla also designated its battery suppliers to buy lithium-hydroxide products from Ganfeng.

In 2019, Ganfeng Lithium finalised a $160 million investment deal to raise its stake in Argentina’s Cauchari-Olaroz lithium brine project to 50%. Ganfeng Lithium now partners with Canada’s Lithium Americas in a 50-50 joint venture that will develop and operate the project.

Panasonic to boost energy density and develop cobalt free 2170 lithium-ion cells

Fri, 08/14/2020 - 09:53 -- Paul Crompton

Tesla’s long-term battery partner aims to increase the energy density of its 2170 cells by 20% within five years and commercialise a cobalt-free version within three years.

The bold claims by the head of Japan’s Panasonic’s US EV battery business, Yasuaki Takamoto, were reported by global news agency Reuters.


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Report outlines Tesla’s ‘secret’ Roadrunner lithium-ion battery plans for California

Wed, 07/01/2020 - 12:01 -- Paul Crompton

Tesla is planning to expand manufacturing capacity at its Freemont, California, facility to develop more ‘effective’ lithium-ion batteries and more efficient manufacturing technology.

Plans given to Freemont government back-up rumours of the US firm’s Roadrunner project that will support manufacturing, R&D operations— including cathode making— and the final step in cell manufacturing.

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