For the EV revolution, it’s all about batteries. We all wish we could wave a magic wand that would give us low-cost, long-range, fast-charging batteries today, but that simply is not possible. So we have to settle for slow, steady progress. Literally thousands of researchers are hard at work at hundreds of locations around the world trying to find ways to make batteries better.
The SES Hybrid Battery
SES is a spinoff of MIT based in Singapore. Originally called SolidEnergy Systems, it changed its name this year because the dream of making 100% solid-state batteries just wasn’t working out the way the company hoped it would. The company has pivoted to a hybrid battery, which means it combines solid and liquid components, specifically a protective anode polymer coating with a “proprietary, highly concentrated solvent-in-salt liquid electrolyte.”
The anode itself is unique to SES. In place of a conventional anode, the company uses an extremely thin lithium foil, according to electrive. That anode could boost energy density to as much as 500 Wh per kilogram.
SES isn’t quite there yet, but it says it is ready to provide production-ready examples of its latest Apollo batteries to both General Motors (GM) and Hyundai/Kia soon. In addition, Geely, SAIC, LG, and Foxconn have become investors in SES. The Apollo battery cell has a claimed energy density of up to 417 Wh per kilogram at room temperature.
Back in July, SES announced that the battery’s performance had been verified by two independent third-party testing facilities and several automakers. “Our battery performance is industry-leading in vehicle operation and temperatures and can deliver 400 Wh per kilogram energy density with fast charge capability to 80 per cent in less than 15 minutes while meeting cycle life and safety requirements for electric vehicles,” the company says.
“We have invested almost a decade in the development of our Li-metal hybrid battery. Batteries must be able to deliver high energy density over a wide temperature range and high power density. A car needs to operate in hot and cold environments and function properly in both fast and slow driving conditions. Solid-state batteries can never achieve this performance at the level of our Li-metal hybrid batteries,” says SES founder and CEO Dr Qichao Hu.
Commercialization of the Apollo cell is targeted for 2025. SES plans to build a production facility to make the company’s lithium-metal battery in Shanghai. That factory will be completed in 2023 and have a capacity of one gigawatt-hour per year. That’s a fairly modest goal. If the promised performance is realized in commercial applications, expect investments to pour in to fund significant increases in production.
Northvolt Makes First Batteries From Recycled Materials
Last week, Northvolt announced it had manufactured its first battery cells using nickel, cobalt, and manganese recovered by its Revolt division from existing batteries. In testing, the performance of the new cells was equal to batteries made from freshly mined materials, according to CNBC. That agrees with research by other companies which shows batteries made with recaptured materials are as good or better than batteries made with new materials.
Northvolt says it is expanding the capacity of its Revolt battery recycling facility to 125,000 tons of batteries annually. Construction is slated to begin in the first quarter of next year, with operations starting in 2023. It will recycle batteries that have reached the end of their lifecycle as well as scrap from the battery manufacturing process. In addition, the metal and plastic used in those old batteries will be repurposed as well.
With battery recycling programs coming from Redwood Materials and other companies like Li-Cycle, the great fear that the Earth will become nothing but a pile of old dead lithium-ion batteries seems to be fading.
Isn’t it odd that the people who scream the loudest about the dangers of old batteries never notice that the entire state of West Virginia has been turned into an alien moonscape by coal companies who rip the tops off mountains and dump them into the valleys below? Similarly, all those oil and gas companies bore thousands and thousands of holes in the ground, then pack up their equipment and move on, leaving tens of thousands of uncapped wells to bleed toxic waste into the air and the land in their wake.
You would think that anyone with the IQ of camel dung would know destroying the land to get at the natural resources buried below is a stupid and unsustainable thing to do, but no, let’s fill people’s heads with fears about EV batteries. Now who do you think could be behind such claims? If you said the fossil fuel industry, go to the head of the class.