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Commercially ready anode-free sodium-metal battery developed in US

Tue, 05/25/2021 - 11:01 -- paul Crompton
Commercially ready anode-free sodium-metal battery developed in US

A US team from the Washington University in St. Louis has developed a stable sodium-ion coin cell that could one day replace lithium-ion batteries.

The ‘cheaper and smaller’ technology uses a thin layer of copper foil on the anode side of the battery as the current collector.

Taking into account only the active materials, the energy density of the tested coin cells were in the range of 310-340 Wh/kg.

For the 100 cycles, the team tested at 2C-rate and 3C-rate with the cells showing a >99.9% capacity retention rate per cycle, which projects the cells can run for more than 200 cycles before reaching 80% of the initial capacity.

The technology is ready for commercial tests and optimisation, say the team.

In the anode-free battery the ions are transformed into a metal where they plate themselves onto the copper foil, before dissolving when returning to the cathode.

The research was published 3 May in the journal Advanced Science.

Previously, anode-free batteries were unstable, and grew dendrites that were attributed to the reactivity of the alkali metals involved, namely sodium.   

The technology was made in the laboratory of Peng Bai, assistant professor in the university’s Department of Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering in the McKelvey School of Engineering.

Bai told BEST: “Our focus here was the anode, which by itself (in a control cell) can run for more than 7,000 hours without degradation. 

“But we need a better cathode to make the anode-free full cell to achieve longer cycle life. 

“Once the optimised cathode material, either from us or from another research group or company, is identified the technology will be ready for commercialisation. It doesn't require any special facilities other than what people currently use for lithium-ion batteries.”

He added: “Our demonstration shows that in terms of energy density it is comparable to lithium-ion batteries. So wherever people want to lower the cost of their lithium-ion batteries, they can use this anode-free sodium battery. They would not notice performance differences, but save a lot of money.” 

The cost-saving for manufacturing the anode-free sodium (Na) battery comes from three aspects: the anode material (no need for anode materials like graphite); anode processing (no need to fabricate the graphite anode laminate); and the cathode material (Na-based materials are cheaper than lithium-based materials for synthesizing the cathode).

The concept of replacing lithium with sodium and removing the anode isn’t new, but the problem has been developing an anode-free battery with a reasonable lifetime, said Bai.

Bingyuan Ma, the paper’s first author and a doctoral student in Bai’s laboratory, said: “In our discovery, there are no dendrites; the deposit is smooth, with a metal luster. 

“This kind of growth mode has never been observed for this kind of alkali metal.”

Watching the battery in action, the researchers saw shiny, smooth deposits of sodium, which eliminates morphological irregularities that can lead to the growth of dendrites.

Image: Bingyuan Ma holding a transparent capillary cell. Bai’s Lab at the McKelvey School of Engineering is the only one in the world with such diagnostic cells. (Courtesy: Bai Lab)

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USABC awards battery recycling development contract to US polytechnic

Mon, 05/24/2021 - 11:09 -- paul Crompton
USABC awards battery recycling development contract to US polytechnic

Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Massachusetts, US, will begin a 36-month project to develop lithium-ion battery recycling technology following a $2 million contract.

The United States Advanced Battery Consortium (USABC)— a subsidiary of the United States Council for Automotive Research (USCAR)— awarded the contract, which includes a 50% cost share, to fund the phase III project.

The program, which began in March, will focus on lowering the cost and improving the performance of recycled battery cathode materials relative to equivalent commercially sourced materials. 

The Phase III program will focus on a higher nickel content material (versus Phase II) while also increasing the recycled content of the recycled material. 

Enabled by a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), USABC’s mission is to develop electrochemical energy storage technologies that enable widespread commercialisation in vehicle applications. 

Steve Zimmer, executive director of USCAR, said: “This battery recycling contract with WPI is part of USABC’s broad battery technology research and development program.

“Programs like this are critical to advancing the technology needed to meet both near- and long-term goals that will enable broader scale vehicle electrification.” 

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California’s DTSC removes lead-acid batteries from its toxic watch list

Wed, 05/19/2021 - 08:14 -- paul Crompton
oger Miksad, executive vice president of BCI,

Lead-acid batteries have been removed from a list of priority products and chemicals under review for potential regulation in the US.

The California's Department of Toxic Substances Control’s (DTSC) ‘2021-23 Priority Product Work Plan’ document omits the batteries for the first time since 2018.

The plan is released every three years under the organisation’s Safer Consumer Products Program (SCPP).

A technical document summarising the information DTSC’s relied on to make its decision is due to be published later this year.

The Battery Council International (BCI) welcomed the news.

A BCI statement said the DTSC’s decision to refrain from listing lead batteries as a “Priority Product” in the SCPP sent an important signal to the energy marketplace.

The organisation hopes the decision will encourage continued investment in lead batteries. 

Roger Miksad, executive vice president of BCI, said: “This outcome is the right one and recognises that lead batteries are critical to meeting America’s energy storage needs and are already well-regulated. 

“The industry’s highly successful closed-loop recycling system and investment in new technologies and innovations also means that lead batteries hold the promise of delivering safe, sustainable energy storage in the future.” 

The agency's decision reflects an evaluation of potential life cycle impacts, current regulations and ongoing product innovation in the lead battery industry.

Lead batteries were placed on the 2018-2020 Priority Product Work Plan, in part, because of lead contamination concerns surrounding the closed Exide battery recycling facility in California.

The report noted: “Based on the findings of our work, we concluded that listing lead-acid batteries as a priority product is not likely to further enhance protection to human health, given that billions of dollars are already being invested worldwide in researching new, safer battery technologies.” 

The SCPP Program will hold a public workshop on lead-acid batteries this summer. 

DTSC will provide short summaries of the ongoing work of the Lead-Acid Battery Recycling Facility Investigation and Cleanup (LABRIC) Program and the Lithium-Ion Car Battery Recycling Advisory Group as context for its decision. 

A BCI statement read: “Lead batteries are a proven technology powering motor vehicles, cargo handling equipment, medical devices, telecommunications infrastructure, microgrids and many other applications across California in a safe, reliable, cost effective and sustainable manner. 

“Ongoing improvements in design and performance position lead batteries as a cornerstone energy storage technology to enable greater utilization of renewable energy resources and 24/7 reliability for residential properties and commercial buildings.”

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Record breaking lithium-ion ESS commissioned in US

Thu, 01/07/2021 - 10:26 -- paul Crompton

The world’s largest lithium-ion energy storage system has come online in the US, Vistra Energy announced on 6 January.

The300MW/1.2GWh system, at Vistra's Moss Landing Power Plant in Monterey County, California, was connected to the power grid and began operating on 11 December.

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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.

UAE firm opens its first US lead-acid battery plant to serve motive power market.

Fri, 11/27/2020 - 09:57 -- paul Crompton

United Arab Emirates lead-acid battery maker Eternity Technologies has opened its first plant in the US to make batteries for the forklift market.

The plant in Sherman, Texas was opened in October to manufacture its full range of BCI 2 volt low maintenance and enhanced capacity batteries for the US, Mexican and Canadian markets.

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Ambri inks deal to deploy its liquid metal battery at a US ESS project

Thu, 11/26/2020 - 09:34 -- paul Crompton

Liquid metal battery firm Ambri is set to deploy its energy storage technology in a US data centre following an agreement with TerraScale.

The collaboration includes delivery of 250MWh Ambri system to TerraScale’s Energos Reno project in Nevada, which is planned to start next year.

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US scientists unveil proof-of-principle lithium-ion battery recycling technique

Wed, 11/18/2020 - 14:05 -- paul Crompton

Scientists at Idaho National Laboratory (INL) in the US have demonstrated a proof-of-principle electrochemical process for recycling lithium-ion batteries. 

The room temperature process uses electricity, instead of heat, to power the reactions that leach cobalt, lithium, manganese and other materials from shredded lithium-ion batteries. 

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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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Eos to deliver more than 1GWh of zinc-based ESSs across the US in next two years

Tue, 11/10/2020 - 15:49 -- paul Crompton

Eos Energy Storage has signed an agreement to provide more than 1GWh of zinc battery storage systems across three south-west states in the US during the next 24 months.

The $250 million deal with renewable energy developer Hecate Energy will see Eos design, build and deploy its zinc-based battery solutions in Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas.

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