There is much EV battery news out there. Some of it is hard to decipher, some is misleading, and some is just downright cool. Here are 10 recent stories that couldn’t quite catch their own headline here on CleanTechnica but seemed worth highlighting.
1. Samsung SDI recently put more cash money into EcoPro EM, a joint venture with EcoPro BM. It’s not a giant deal, but it’s something: “According to Samsung SDI, it will fund a total of 120 billion won ($96.9 million) with EcoPro BM into EcoPro EM. Samsung SDI and EcoPro BM will contribute 48 billion won and 72 billion won, respectively, to control 40 percent and 60 percent of the JV, respectively.”
The joint venture is expected to begin cathode production of a factory later this year in Pohang, North Gyeongsang Province. The factory is expected to produce cathode materials for nickel-cobalt-aluminum (NCA) 811 batteries in the 1st quarter of 2022.
2. Where does the lithium for electric vehicle batteries come from? How is it mined? What are the side effects? Volkswagen Group explains in a Q&A it recently published, including acknowledging that there are some open questions. The Q&A includes a number of fun facts about lithium. Here are a few:
“The global market for the alkali metal lithium is growing rapidly. Between 2008 and 2018 alone, annual production in the major producing countries rose from 25,400 to 85,000 tons.”
“With 8 million tons, Chile has the world’s largest known lithium reserves. This puts the South American country ahead of Australia (2.7 million tons), Argentina (2 million tons) and China (1 million tons). … The total global reserves are estimated at 14 million tons. This corresponds to 165 times the production volume in 2018. …
“With 51,000 tons, Australia was by far the most important supplier of lithium in 2018 – ahead of Chile (16,000 tons), China (8,000 tons) and Argentina (6,200 tons). This is shown by figures from the USGS (United States Geological Survey). The four countries mentioned have long dominated the picture, with Australia only gaining a clear lead over Chile in recent years.”
(Full disclosure: I own shares of Volkswagen Group. I do not intend to buy or sell any shares in the coming 48 hours.)
3. ARK Invest’s Sam Korus notes that a new Audi EV project may not be a good sign for the state of EV development at Volkswagen Group. “Audi’s new CEO is launching project ‘Artemis,’ a unit designed to cut through bureaucracy and leverage all of VW Group’s resources to build a competitive EV by 2024. To date, VW has spent billions of dollars not only on EV projects but also a modular platform for EVs, but its flagship vehicle, the ID3, has been plagued with software issues. That Audi is not adopting VW’s EV platform is damning, particularly because its first attempt at an EV, the Audi e-tron, seems to have faded away.
“Our major takeaway is that no company gets an EV right the first time around, bringing to mind the Tesla/Apple analogy. After the launch of the Apple iPhone in 2007, competitors needed two to three product cycles to catch up.
“A smartphone product cycle, however, is much faster than that for cars. If they remain on a four-year development cycle, traditional auto manufacturers are unlikely to be competitive with Tesla until 2024 or 2028. As ARK’s internet analyst, James Wang, notes, the only reason competitors caught up to Apple so quickly was Google’s decision to develop the Android OS. We believe the auto space enjoys no such innovator.”
(Full disclosure: Along with Volkswagen Group, I own shares of Tesla. I do not intend to buy or sell any shares in the coming 48 hours.)
4. Groupe PSA and Punch Powertrain are creating a second joint venture together, this time to “design, manufacture, and supply Punch Powertrain’s DT2 dual clutch transmission for the industry’s next generation of mild hybrid electric (MHEV) and plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) vehicles,” among other things. After supplying Groupe PSA, the plan to to sell these transmissions to other automakers as well.
“Punch Powertrain will contribute its DT2-related business unit, including world-class engineering, manufacturing, and support functions to the new entity which is expected to be operational by the third quarter 2020. Punch Powertrain will also transfer its current DT2-related facilities in Sint-Truiden, Belgium, and Eindhoven, the Netherlands. In turn, Groupe PSA will make a cash investment in the Joint Venture.
“This latest Joint Venture will supply one of the industry’s first 48V solutions to equip mild hybrid electric vehicles (MHEV). A high voltage variant of the DT2 is designed for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) and allows full electrically powered driving.”
That last bit is the battery part of the story.
5. BYD and Hino Motors have signed an agreement to collaborate on commercial battery electric vehicles (BEVs). BYD is one of the top sellers of plug-in vehicles globally, and also a major battery producer. Hino Motors is a truck and bus manufacturer that was a leader in hybrid commercial vehicles. Presumably, BYD is going to help Hino jump into full electrification and provide the batteries for it, but this is as much detail as we get from Taketo Nakane, Hino’s director and senior managing officer:
“By bringing together BYD’s achievement in BEV development and Hino’s electrification technology and reliability built over years of experience in developing hybrid vehicles, we will develop the best-fit commercial BEV products for consumer in working towards swift market introduction.”
6. Lithium-ion battery power capacity is significantly affected by temperature, according to a new research paper published in Journal of Power Sources. The end of the abstract summarizes the conclusions as such: “In normal operating conditions, capacity change little (~0.47% per °C) regardless of temperature change, but power increase by about 3% per °C. Considering that each cell type has a totally different cell configuration, the similarity of this trend between LIB types is quite noticeable. Consequently, when measuring the power of LIB, the temperature must be controlled precisely, or at least calibrated if temperature differences are observed.”
7. Mercedes-Benz and Hydro-Québec have partnered on solid-state battery development. Solid-state batteries are widely considered the next big leap in batteries, but no one has seemingly gotten close to commercial competitive/viable solid-state batteries. Will Mercedes-Benz and Hydro-Québec figure out the magic formula?
“Hydro-Québec’s internationally renowned Center of Excellence in Transportation Electrification and Energy Storage is a leading research and development institute for advanced battery materials, focusing on solid-state battery technologies. With its latest developments Hydro-Québec has achieved promising results for future battery performance, range, weight, moreover harnessing the potential of solid-state-materials on safety, which can unleash new possibilities in vehicle electrification. Hydro-Québec and Mercedes-Benz researchers will cooperate to test new materials under field conditions to accelerate the development cycle.”
8. Researchers at Georgia Tech, ETH Zürich, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory may have found a way to boost the energy density of batteries. Maybe.
“An unexpected property of nanometer-scale antimony crystals — the spontaneous formation of hollow structures — could help give the next generation of lithium ion batteries higher energy density without reducing battery lifetime. The reversibly hollowing structures could allow lithium ion batteries to hold more energy and therefore provide more power between charges.
“Flow of lithium ions into and out of alloy battery anodes has long been a limiting factor in how much energy batteries could hold using conventional materials. Too much ion flow causes anode materials to swell and then shrink during charge-discharge cycles, causing mechanical degradation that shortens battery life. To address that issue, researchers have previously developed hollow ‘yolk-shell’ nanoparticles that accommodate the volume change caused by ion flow, but fabricating them has been complex and costly.
“Now, a research team has discovered that particles a thousand times smaller than the width of a human hair spontaneously form hollow structures during the charge-discharge cycle without changing size, allowing more ion flow without damaging the anodes. The research was reported June 1 in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.”
9. Commodity research firm Roskill forecasts that lithium-ion battery demand will increase 10× over by 2029. Only 10 times?
“The pipeline capacity of battery gigafactories is reported by Roskill to exceed 2,000GWh in 2029, at more than 145 facilities globally.
“Driven by demand from the automotive and energy storage markets, NCM/NCA type cathode materials are expected to remain dominant though other cathode types will take market share in niche environments or applications. In the late 2020s, Li-ion technologies could see increasing competition from other battery technologies, though Li-ion cells are expected to maintain their dominant position, Roskill said.”
Looks like Roskill has a crystal ball. We’ll find out in 10 years if this was a good wild-ass guess or a bad one.
10. Empire State Development, an arm of the New York state government, announced recently that “Li-Cycle Corporation, a North America based lithium-ion battery resource recovery company, will establish its first US-based facility in New York State.
“The company will set up operations at Eastman Business Park (EBP) in Monroe County in an effort to tap into the robust lithium-ion battery supply chain in the United States and the lithium-ion battery ecosystem in Rochester. Li-Cycle selected EBP for this facility after determining it as the best location for the company to provide services to its growing client base to the South and Midwest.”
This is expected to be a $23.3 million project, with operations commencing later this year.
“Since its inception, Li-Cycle has developed and validated a unique process that allows them to recover 80 to 100% of all materials found in lithium-ion batteries while maintaining no wastewater discharge and actualizing the company’s zero waste philosophy. All materials that are recovered from lithium-ion batteries are either processed to the point of being reusable in battery production, thus closing the loop, or sent for further processing to other recyclers (i.e., steel and plastics) to ensure all materials generated are being returned to the economy. The company is capable of processing all types of lithium-ion batteries used in electronic devices, e-mobility, electric vehicles and energy storage.”
Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!
Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.
Former Tesla Battery Expert Leading Lyten Into New Lithium-Sulfur Battery Era — Podcast:
I don't like paywalls. You don't like paywalls. Who likes paywalls? Here at CleanTechnica, we implemented a limited paywall for a while, but it always felt wrong — and it was always tough to decide what we should put behind there. In theory, your most exclusive and best content goes behind a paywall. But then fewer people read it! We just don't like paywalls, and so we've decided to ditch ours. Unfortunately, the media business is still a tough, cut-throat business with tiny margins. It's a never-ending Olympic challenge to stay above water or even perhaps — gasp — grow. So ...