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[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]

Silicon-iron composite material for high capacity Li-ion anodes

August 26, 2016

Researchers at Japan’s National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS) and Georgia Tech have jointly developed unique Si-iron (Fe) based nanomaterials connected by Ge nanostructures for use as a high-capacity anode material for Li-ion batteries.

As described in a paper in the journal Nano Energy, the Si-Fe based new nanostructures showa maximum capacity of about 689 mAh/g—about twice as high as conventional materials—and a long, stable cycle life.

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Opinion: Could A Lithium Shortage De-Rail The Electric Car Boom?

by James Stafford of

We’ve gone electric, and there’s no going back at this point. Lithium is our new fuel, but like fossil fuels, the reserves we’re currently tapping into are finite—and that’s what investors can take to the bank.

You may think lithium got too popular too fast. You may suspect electric vehicles are too much buzz and not enough real future. You may, in short, be a lithium skeptic, one of many. And yet, despite this skepticism, lithium demand is rising steadily and sharply, and indications that a shortage may be looming are very real.

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OSU smart membrane could enable new category of high-energy, high-power energy storage for EVs

August 24, 2016

A team at the Ohio State University has developed a membrane that regulates bi-directional ion transport across it as a function of its redox state and that could be used as a programmable smart membrane separator in future supercapacitors and redox flow batteries.

Described in a paper published in the RSC journal Energy & Environmental Science, the smart membrane separator could enable the design of a new category of rechargeable/refillable energy storage devices with high energy density and specific power that would overcome the contemporary limitations of electric vehicles.

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U Florida team using fungi to extract cobalt and lithium from waste batteries

August 22, 2016

A team of researchers University of South Florida is using naturally occurring fungi to drive an environmentally friendly recycling process to extract cobalt and lithium from tons of waste batteries. The researchers presented their work at the 252nd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in Philadelphia.

Although a global problem, the US leads the way as the largest generator of electronic waste. It is unclear how many electronic products are recycled. Most likely, many head to a landfill to slowly break down in the environment or go to an incinerator to be burned, generating potentially toxic air emissions.

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TU Graz team uses monocrystalline Si as Li-ion anode; integrated micro batteries for on-board sensors

August 21, 2016

Electrochemists at TU Graz have used single crystalline acceptor-doped Si—as ubiquitously used in the semiconductor industry—as anode material for rechargeable Li-ion batteries. In an open access paper in the journal Scientific Reports, the team suggests that the use of such patterned monocrystalline Si (m-Si) anodes directly shaped out of the Si wafer is a highly attractive route to realize miniaturized, on-board fully integrated, power supplies for Si-based chips.

The microchip not only houses the electronics, but is at the same time an important part of a mini battery providing electrical energy, e.g. for sending and receiving information.

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DOE awards $1.25M to UMERC team for self-healing 3D conformal solid-state electrolytes

August 18, 2016

The Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded $1.25M to a team of researchers at the University of Maryland Energy Research Center (UMERC) for the development of advanced high-voltage electrolytes and additives, conformable and self-healing solid-state electrolytes, and lithium metal protection. The goal is to design self-healing, 3-D conformal solid-state electrolytes to prevent dendrite formation and achieve high battery cycle life.

In a paper published in June in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the University of Maryland researchers reported their development of the first flexible, solid-state, ion-conducting membrane based on a 3D Li-ion conducting ceramic nanofiber network. (Earlier post.)

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Dahn team develops ethylene-carbonate-free electrolytes for better-performing high-voltage Li-ion cells

August 17, 2016

Conventional electrolytes for Li-ion batteries contain ethylene carbonate (EC) and other additives. However, the cycling performance of Li-ion cells using these carbonate-based electrolytes has been poor at higher voltages (≥4.4 V) due to increased electrolyte oxidation at the surface of the cathode as the potential increases. This increased oxidation results in salt consumption, gas evolution and impedance growth, all reducing the energy density and the lifetime of Li-ion cells.

A team led by Professor Jeff Dahn at Dalhousie University (Canada) has now demonstrated that EC is actually detrimental for Li-ion cells at high voltages and that cyclic carbonates such as VC (vinylene carbonate), FEC (fluoroethylene carbonate) and DiFEC ((4R,5S)-4,5-Difluoro-1,3-dioxolan-2-one) can act as the enablers for EMC (ethylmethyl carbonate)-based electrolytes which function well in NMC442/graphite cells tested up to 4.4 or 4.5 V. A paper on their work is published the Journal of Power Sources. The team has also submitted a related paper to the Journal of the Electrochemical Society.

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Solar Impulse 2 used Kokam Ultra High Energy NMC batteries in round-the-world solar flight

The Solar Impulse 2—the solar airplane that recently completed a round-the-world flight—used batteries from Kokam, based on that company’s advanced Ultra High Energy Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt (NMC) Oxide (Ultra High Energy NMC) technology.

The Solar Impulse uses four 38.5 kWh Kokam Ultra High Energy NMC battery packs—one in each motor housing—with 150 Ah cells totaling 154 kWh of energy storage. Over the course of 17 flights totaling 26,744 miles (43,041 kilometers), the Solar Impulse 2’s 17,248 mono-crystalline silicon solar cells—mounted atop the wings, fuselage and horizontal stabilizer—produced 11,000 kWh of electricity, much of which was stored in its Kokam Ultra High Energy NMC batteries and then discharged to power the plane at night.

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DOE to award up to $137M for SuperTruck II, Vehicle Technology Office programs

August 16, 2016

The US Department of Energy (DOE) will invest up to $137 million in two programs, subject to appropriations, to develop next-generation technologies that will support industry in going beyond the newly announced Phase II standard for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles (earlier post) and also accelerating technology advances for passenger cars and light trucks.

One initiative, SuperTruck II (earlier post), will award $80 million to four projects to develop and to demonstrate cost-effective technologies that more than double the freight efficiency of Class 8 trucks. Through the other initiative, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Vehicle Technologies Office Program Wide Funding Opportunity Announcement (earlier post)selections, 35 new projects will receive $57 million to develop and deploy a wide array of cutting-edge vehicle technologies, including advanced batteries and electric drive systems, to reduce carbon emissions and petroleum consumption in passenger cars and light trucks.

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MIT analysis finds current EVs could replace ~90% of personal vehicles now on the road based on driver’s energy consumption

August 15, 2016

A study by a team at MIT has concluded that roughly 90% of the personal vehicles on the road in the US could be replaced by an electric vehicle available on the market today, even if the cars can only charge overnight. MIT Associate Professor Jessika Trancik, corresponding author of the paper published in Nature Climate, noted that this would more than meet near-term US climate targets for personal vehicle travel.

The team spent four years on the project, which included developing a way of integrating two large datasets—one highly detailed set of second-by-second driving behavior based on GPS data, and another broader, more comprehensive set of national data based on travel surveys—to estimate the energy requirements of personal vehicle trips across the US. Together, the two datasets encompass millions of trips made by drivers all around the country.

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thyssenkrupp and partners launch collaborative project EffiForm to lower Li-ion battery cost through improved formation cycling

Under the collaborative project EffiForm (Efficient formation strategies for increased durability, reliability and safety as well as cost reduction in the production of lithium-ion cells/batteries) launched in early 2016, thyssenkrupp System Engineering is partnering with VARTA Microbattery GmbH, BMW Group, Scienlab electronic systems GmbH, Fraunhofer IKTS, the Technical University of Munich and the MEET battery research center of Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster to study the SEI formation process in Li-ion batteries in detail.

The high cost of battery cells continues to be a major stumbling block to improving the cost-efficiency and popularity of e-mobility. Roughly a third of battery production costs are currently accounted for by the final step in the manufacturing process—formation cycling.

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U Windsor team reports self-healing behavior of cracks in silicon-aluminum anodes for Li-ion batteries

August 13, 2016

One well-known problem facing the use of high-capacity silicon anodes in rechargeable Li-ion batteries is lithiation-induced volume changes in silicon, resulting in fracture and fragmentation of the anode material, with corresponding capacity loss.

A large body of research has thus been looking for a way to reduce Si electrode fragmentation and hence prevent the capacity loss. Proposed solutions have included Si/C composite electrodes with 3D architectures and nano-scale morphologies, as well as dispersing silicon particles in a ductile and inert phase. Now, a team from the University of Windsor (Ontario, Canada) is reporting self-healing behavior of cracks in micron-sized Si particles dispersed in a ductile Al matrix cycled using a high lithiation rate of 15.6 C. Their paper is published in the Journal of Power Sources.

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U Maryland and US Army Research Lab furthering “water-in-salt” electrolyte Li-ion battery; targeting EV use

August 12, 2016

University of Maryland (UMD) and US Army Research Lab (ARL) researchers are spearheading a public-private sector collaboration to further develop a lithium-ion battery that would be safer to operate and less costly to dispose of than those currently available on the market. Their approach involves using a high concentration of salt in aqueous lithium batteries to boost energy density and viability. (Earlier post.) The UMD-ARL team won the Invention of Year of UMD in 2016 for the technology.

This water-in-salt electrolyte lithium battery recently achieved an energy density of 200 Wh/kg, said Dr. Chunsheng Wang at UMD, adding that the DOE had sought 150 Wh/kg, or double that of a traditional aqueous Li-ion battery. “The researchers in the field and program managers alike are very excited,” Dr. Kang Xu at ARL said, adding the next target is 300 Wh/kg.

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Berkeley Lab researchers devise ant-nest-like structure for promising Li-S electrodes

August 11, 2016

Inspired by the structure of ant nests, researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have devised a novel Li–S electrode featuring increased sulfur loading and sulfur/inactive-materials ratio to improve life and capacity.

In a paper in the ACS journal Nano Letters, the team reports that the efficient capabilities of the ant-nest structure facilitate fast ion transportation, sustain polysulfide dissolution, and assist efficient precipitation. High cycling stability in the Li–S batteries, for practical applications, has been achieved with up to 3 mg·cm–2 sulfur loading. They also achieved Li–S electrodes with up to a 85% sulfur ratio.

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BASF and TODA KOGYO enter negotiations to collaborate on Li-ion cathode active materials in North America

August 09, 2016

BASF and TODA KOGYO are entering exclusive negotiations to collaborate in cathode active materials (CAM) and its respective precursors in North America.

The proposed collaboration would focus on the manufacture of a broad range of CAM and its respective precursors in North America for use in lithium-ion batteries for the automotive, consumer electronics and stationary storage markets.

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Lux: Total is leading example of oil supermajor expanding into solar plus storage and distributed generation

France-based Total is the first oil supermajor aggressively to enter new areas of business including solar plus storage and distributed generation, notes Lux Research in a new report: “Superpower Darwinism: What Big Oil Can and Cannot Do About Total’s Billion-Dollar Battery Move.”

Even though viable battery companies have become harder and more expensive to buy since Total’s $1-billion acquisition of Saft (earlier post), the oil supermajors—BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell and Total—have cash piles ranging from $5 billion to $30 billion each, despite shrinking profits since 2012 and uncertainty about timing of the eventual recovery of oil prices.

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Johnson Matthey and 3M complete NMC patent license agreement for automotive Li-ion batteries

August 08, 2016

Johnson Matthey and 3M have entered into a patent license agreement that aims at further expanding the use of Nickel-Manganese-Cobalt (NMC) cathode materials in lithium-ion batteries for automotive applications. Under the agreement, 3M grants Johnson Matthey a license to US6964828 (Lu and Dahn), US7078128 (Lu and Dahn), US8241791 (Lu and Dahn), US8685565 (Lu and Dahn) and all global equivalents thereof, and to US6660432 (Paulsen et al.) and all global equivalents thereof.

The cathode compositions composed of nickel, manganese and cobalt offer a balance of power, energy, thermal stability and cost. NMC cathode materials can be tailored through changes in composition and morphology to give optimized performance in a diverse range of automotive applications from micro-hybrid systems to fully electric vehicles.

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Aqua Metals opens first AquaRefining center for low-pollution lead-acid battery recycling

Aqua Metals, Inc. recently held an open house at its first AquaRefinery at the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center (TRIC) in McCarran, Nevada. The company says that its proprietary AquaRefining is first environmentally friendly process to recycle lead-acid batteries (LABs).

The AquaRefining technology extracts lead from LABs with a room temperature, closed-loop, water-based process that results in significant reductions of hazardous waste and direct human contact with the lead itself. The process produces lead that is as pure as—or purer than—mined lead, requiring no secondary processing.

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UCR team finds adding even small amounts of tin to Si-based anode greatly improves charge capacity and cycling stability

August 04, 2016

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside have found that adding tin nanoparticles—even in small amounts—to a silicon-based anode provides significant improvements in performance in terms of both charge capacity and cycling stability.

In an open-access paper published in Scientific Reports, the team said that the addition of even small amounts of tin results in a significant decrease in the anode resistance. This, in turn, leads to a decrease in charge transfer resistance, which prevents the formation of electrically inactive “dead spots” in the anode structure and enables the effective participation of silicon in the lithiation reaction.

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BMW provides some insight into Dingolfing eDrive competence center; motors, battery packs and more

July 29, 2016

During its Innovation Days 2016 event in Munich, the BMW Group provided some insight into its Dingolfing competence center for the manufacture of electric drive systems (eDrive). Dingolfing supplies the high-voltage batteries and other chassis and powertrain components for BMW i models and the BMW Group’s plug-in hybrid models—current (earlier post) and future.

Beginning with the launch of the first BMW i production models, the Dingolfing plant has produced high-voltage batteries and other powertrain and chassis components for these vehicles. Prior to that, the plant had supplied high-voltage batteries for the BMW Active E; BMW 3 Series ActiveHybrid; BMW 5 Series ActiveHybrid; and BMW 7 Series ActiveHybrid. Now, with the market launch of the first plug-in hybrid versions of the BMW core-brand models—for which the plant supplies the rear-mounted electric motors and all high-voltage battery packs—production of BMW eDrive components in Dingolfing is scaling up once again.

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Researchers improve aluminum-air battery performance by using flax straw extract as corrosion inhibitor

July 28, 2016

In a paper in ChemSusChem, a team from Israel and Russia reports substantial improvements in the performance of aluminum-air batteries by adding flax straw extract (3 vol %) to the alkaline solution to act as a mixed-type aluminum corrosion inhibitor.

The Aluminum-air battery, a metal-air battery system which uses a catalytic air cathode in combination with an electrolyte and an aluminum anode, has been of great interest for a number of years due to its high theoretical specific energy. (Earlier post, earlier post, earlier post.) However, parasitic hydrogen evolution caused by the corrosion of the aluminum anode during the discharge process is a well-known obstacle to commercialization of the system, as it not only causes additional consumption of the anode material but also increases the ohmic loss in the cell.

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Sony to sell battery business to Murata

Sony Corporation, the company that in 1991 commercialized the world’s first lithium-ion battery, and Murata Manufacturing have entered into a non-binding memorandum of understanding that confirms their intent to negotiate the transfer of the Sony Group’s battery business to the Murata Group. Sony has operated its battery business since 1975.

Following due diligence and negotiation of detailed terms and conditions of the Transfer, Murata and Sony are aiming to execute binding definitive agreements by the middle of October 2016, and to complete the Transfer by the end of March 2017, subject to required regulatory approvals.

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Silicon/soft-carbon nanohybrid as high-performance anode for Li-ion batteries

A team from Samsung R&D and Shinshu University has developed a silicon/soft-carbon nanohybrid anode material for high performance lithium-ion batteries (LIBs). The material, which is composed of micronized silicon coated with “soft-carbon” dispersed in soft-carbon matrix at nanometer level, is characterized with abundant nanosized voids (nanovoids) (diameter of ~70 nm) and hard bulk skeletal structure.

As described in a paper in the Journal of Power Sources, the material’s volume expansion ratio is 6.9% at a capacity level of 1100 mAh/g. This electrode capacity is approximately three times larger than that of graphite-based electrode currently used in LIB. Furthermore, the electrode retained 80.9% of its capacity at 250 cycles in a full cell with a LiCoO2 counter electrode. Addition of 5 wt % fluoroethylene carbonate (FEC) to the electrolyte improved the retention up to 81.3% after 300 cycles.

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$50M Battery500 consortium targeting battery pack with specific energy of 500 Wh/kg

July 27, 2016

Announced last week as one of the Obama Administration’s new initiatives to advance electric vehicle adoption (earlier post), the Battery500 consortium, led by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), aims to build a battery pack with a specific energy of 500 watt-hours per kilogram, compared to the 170-200 watt-hours per kilogram in today’s typical EV battery.

The team in this 5-year project hopes to reach these goals by focusing on lithium-metal batteries, which use lithium instead of graphite for the battery’s anode. The team will pair lithium with two different materials for the cathode. While studying these materials, the consortium will work to prevent unwanted side reactions in the whole battery that weaken a battery’s performance.

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Porsche ramping up hiring for Mission E; leveraging the 919 Hybrid

July 26, 2016

Porsche said it will hire more than 1,400 new employees in the Stuttgart region to work on the development and production of the first all-electric sports car from Porsche, the Mission E. (Earlier post, earlier post.)

The company plans to recruit in the fields of digitalization, e-mobility, smart mobility and vehicle connectivity. Porsche will also focus on recruiting production planners familiar with Factory 4.0 and digital production and will hire more than 100 IT specialists as well.

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Northwestern study finds Li3PO4 promising coating to limit dissolution of transition metals from Li-ion cathodes

The dissolution of transition metals (TMs) from Li-ion battery cathodes is a major contributor to cell degradation during cycling and aging. First, such dissolution decreases the amount of cathode material, directly contributing to loss of capacity. Secondly, dissolved TMs can migrate through the electrolyte to the anode, causing chaneges to the Solid Electrolyte Interphase (SEI), resulting in increased impedance, decreased cell capacity, and decreased lifespan.

A study by a team at Northwestern University has found that Li3PO4 is a promising candidate as a stable coating on oxide materials to limit such dissolution of transition metals into the Li-ion electrolyte. An open access paper on their work is published in the Journal of The Electrochemical Society.

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New nanolithia cathodes may address technical drawbacks of Li-air batteries; scalable, cheap and safer Li-air battery system

July 25, 2016

An international team from MIT, Argonne National Laboratory and Peking University has demonstrated a lab-scale proof-of-concept of a new type of cathode for Li-air batteries that could overcome the current drawbacks to the technology, including a high potential gap (>1.2 V) between charge and discharge, and poor cyclability due to the drastic phase change of O2 (gas) and Ox− (condensed phase) at the cathode during battery operations.

As described in a paper in the journal Nature Energy, the cathode consisting of nanoscale amorphous lithia (nanolithia) confined in a cobalt oxide enabled charge/discharge between solid Li2O/Li2O2/LiO2 without any gas evolution. The cathode has a theoretical capacity of 1,341 Ah kg−1, a mass density exceeding 2.2 g cm−3, and a practical discharge capacity of 587 Ah kg−1 at 2.55 V versus Li/Li+.

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FMC accelerates battery-grade lithium hydroxide expansion following multi-year supply agreement with major manufacturer of EVs; path to 30K tonnes

FMC Corporation will accelerate the expansion of its global lithium hydroxide production capacity as a result of a new multi-year supply agreement with a major manufacturer of electric vehicles.

FMC had previously announced plans to triple its global lithium hydroxide production capacity to serve the growing electric vehicle market, with the first 4,000 metric tons per year scheduled to come on line in mid-2017. As a result of the new announcement, an additional 4,000 metric ton expansion will come on line in 2017, raising the company’s total global lithium hydroxide capacity to 18,000 metric tons.

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European Strategy for low-emission mobility stresses digital tech, electrification and ZEVs

July 22, 2016

Earlier this week, the European Commission published a strategy for low-emission mobility, which sets out guiding principles to Member States to prepare for the future. EU legislation currently refers to low-emission vehicles as vehicles having tailpipe emissions below 50 g/km. This would include some plug-in hybrids, full electric cars and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. The latter two examples also represent zero-emission vehicles.

The low-emission mobility strategy will frame the initiatives that the Commission is planning in the coming years, and it maps the areas in which it is exploring options. It also shows how initiatives in related fields are linked and how synergies can be achieved. In parallel to this strategy, the Commission is launching public consultations on the approach towards reducing emissions from road transport: cars and vans as well as trucks, buses and coaches.

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Obama Administration launches series of actions to accelerate EV adoption; inc. $4.5B in loan guarantees, pursuing 350 kW fast charge

July 21, 2016

The Obama Administration has announced a series of actions from the Federal government, private sector, and states, as well as a new framework for collaboration for vehicle manufacturers, electric utilities, electric vehicle charging companies, and states, all geared towards accelerating the deployment of electric vehicle charging infrastructure and putting more electric vehicles on the road.

The collaboration, forged by the White House in partnership with DOE and the Department of Transportation (DOT), the US Air Force and US Army, and the Environmental Protection Agency, is centered on a set of Guiding Principles to Promote Electric Vehicles and Charging Infrastructure. 46 organizations have signed on to the principles so far.

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Opinion: Why Lithium Will See Another Price Spike This Fall

July 20, 2016

by James Stafford of

So far, lithium has been the hottest metal of 2016, beating out gold, with exponential demand expected over the coming years. Although the price trajectory of the metal has been subdued in recent months, the fundamentals behind the long-term trajectory suggest strong potential for long-term growth. Price doubling from 2014/2015 was first seen in China and is now being felt worldwide, with lithium hydroxide prices from $16-20 and carbonate prices from $12-14 thousand USD per ton.

Automotive Thrust. There is no doubt as to the push that Tesla has given the current automotive transition to electric vehicles (EVs). Since 2014, when Tesla first announced the Gigafactory with Panasonic, other manufacturers have begun to take notice and take action. Volkswagen AG announced last week that it was considering LG Chem Ltd. or Panasonic Corp. as partners for several US$2-billion factories, according to Bloomberg, with confirmation expected later in the year. Previous announcements of billion-dollar investments in battery factories by Volkswagen were largely brushed off by investors as deflections from their “Dieselgate” scandal. But with LG and Panasonic in the picture, concrete plans appear to be crystalizing.

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Li-ion startup Cadenza Innovation raises $5+M in oversubscribed Series A; ex Boston Power team

July 18, 2016

Cadenza Innovation, a Li-ion battery startup founded in 2012 by Dr. Christina Lampe-Onnerud, former CEO and founder of Boston Power (earlier post), has raised more than $5 million in growth capital. The company says it will use the new funds to expand product development, secure additional certifications, extend initial deployments, make key new hires and fuel revenue growth.

Cadenza Innovation is bringing to market a low-cost and high-performance technology platform—cell design and housing—for licensing to lithium-ion battery manufacturers worldwide.

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ECS and Toyota North America announce 2016-2017 Fellowship winners for projects in green energy technology

July 16, 2016

The ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship Selection Committee has selected three recipients who will receive a minimum of $50,000 each for fellowships for projects in green energy technology. The winners are Professor Elizabeth Biddinger, City College of New York; Professor Joaquin Rodriguez Lopez, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; and Professor Joshua Snyder, Drexel University.

The ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship, a partnership between The Electrochemical Society (ECS) and Toyota Research Institute of North America (TRINA), an advanced research arm of Toyota Motor North America, Inc. (TMNA), is in its second year. (Earlier post.)

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CCM: LiPF6 industry in China may face overcapacity in 2017

July 12, 2016

Soaring prices for and profits from LiPF6—lithium hexafluorophosphate, the dominant Li-salt used in electrolytes in commercial rechargeable lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) based on a graphite anode and a 3–4 V cathode material—has encouraged enterprises in China to expand LiPF6 production while also attracting new players. However, according to market analyst firm CCM, based on the current planned capacity expansions, the LiPF6 industry may face overcapacity in 2017.

In a Li-ion battery electrolyte, LiPF6 is combined with an organic solvent and additives. The resulting electrolytes allow for both high energy densities and appreciable power densities, providing a medium to transfer charge between the electrodes via the Li+ cations and the counter-anions.

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Caltech team uses computational topology optimization to design silicon anode structures for Li-ion batteries

July 10, 2016

Researchers at Caltech have used computational topology optimization methods to design optimal multifunctional silicon anode structures for lithium-ion batteries. A paper on their work is published in the Journal of Power Sources.

Sarah Mitchell and Michael Ortiz set out to address two problems related to silicon anodes: lithiation-induced mechanical degradation due to volumetric expansion and the low intrinsic electrical conductivity of silicon.

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Researchers boost performance of lithium-rich cathode material 30-40% by creating oxygen vacancies

July 07, 2016

An international team of researchers has demonstrated a new way to increase the robustness and energy storage capability of a particular class of “lithium-rich” cathode materials by using a carbon dioxide-based gas mixture to create oxygen vacancies at the material’s surface. Researchers said the treatment improved the energy density of the cathode material by up to 30 to 40%.

As described in an open access paper in Nature Communications, the target material (Li[Li0.144Ni0.136Co0.136Mn0.544]O2, denoted as LR-NCM) delivers a discharge capacity as high as 301 mAh g−1 with initial Coulombic efficiency of 93.2%. After 100 cycles, a reversible capacity of 300 mAh g−1 still remains without any obvious decay in voltage. The discovery sheds light on how changing the oxygen composition of lithium-rich cathode materials could improve battery performance, particularly in high-energy applications such as electric vehicles.

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Silatronix, developer of organosilicon electrolytes for Li-ion batteries, raises $8M

Silatronix, a developer of unique organosilicon (OS) electrolytes for use in lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) (earlier post), has raised US$8 million in new equity capital, and secured partnerships for distribution and joint technological development. These funds and partnerships will allow Silatronix to capitalize on the commercial value of its portfolio of OS materials in the high-growth LIB market.

The capital comes from the company’s existing investors and two strategic partners in Japan with strong business interests in the LIB market: Hitachi Chemical Co., Ltd. and Inabata & Co Ltd. Inabata will serve as Silatronix’s exclusive distributor to key LIB customers across Asia. Silatronix and Hitachi Chemical will jointly evaluate the potential performance benefits of several OS additive materials with Hitachi Chemical’s LIB products, especially anode materials. Silatronix, a spin-out from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has introduced its first commercial product, a third-generation organosilicon material (OS3)—an advanced functional solvent that provides multiple benefits to LIB performance at additive levels.

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Swiss researchers devise simple procedure to enhance performance of conventional Li-ion batteries without changing chemistries

July 06, 2016

Materials researchers at the Swiss Paul Scherrer Institute PSI in Villigen and the ETH Zurich have developed a very simple and cost-effective procedure for significantly enhancing the performance of conventional Li-ion rechargeable batteries by improving only the design of the electrodes without changing the underlying materials chemistry. The procedure is scalable in size, so the use of rechargeable batteries can be optimized in all areas of application—e.g., in wristwatches, smartphones, laptops or cars.

Battery storage capacity can be significantly extended, and charging times reduced. The researchers reported on their results in the latest issue of the journal Nature Energy.

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Skeleton Technologies joins Flying Whales program to develop next generation of heavy-lift, large-capacity airships

July 05, 2016

European ultracapacitor manufacturer Skeleton Technologies will join French firm Flying Whales’ program to build a 60-ton Large Capacity Airship (LCA60T, for the global transport market.

Skeleton Technologies will join the program to help design and build hybrid propulsion for the LCA60T’s electric power systems. Average operational power is expected to be approximately 1.5 MW with the company’s graphene-based ultracapacitors assisting to cover the additional 2 MW peaks for hovering, lifting and stabilisation in reasonable and turbulent environments.

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Powin Energy introduces advanced battery managemenet system bp-OS

June 30, 2016

Powin Energy, a designer and developer of safe and scalable energy storage solutions for utilities, C&I, and EV fast-charging stations, is publicly introducing its advanced battery management software—the Battery Pack Operating System (bp-OS)—by announcing that it has been patented (US20140015469 A1).

The patented bp-OS utilizes a unique algorithm to balance batteries actively and passively down to the cell level, enabling the minimization of voltage differentials across all battery cells over the system’s lifetime. The bp-OS also delivers visibility into battery health through real-time battery monitoring, state-of-charge management, and detailed diagnostics to ensure safety, optimize performance, and extend the operational lifetime of batteries used in stationary storage systems and EV fast-charging systems.

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Kreisel Electric introduces Li-ion home energy storage systems; 9.6 kW output for faster EV charging

June 29, 2016

Austrian manufacturer of high-performance batteries Kreisel Electric (earlier post) has introduced the MAVERO home energy storage system. The Li-ion battery packs are available in four different sizes, with usable capacity ranging from 8 kWh to 22 kWh. The casing is available in two colors and communicates all charge and discharge activities by means of LEDs. First deliveries are planned for early 2017.

MAVERO is a wall-mounted home energy storage system that stores electricity from any renewable energy source. Featuring a sophisticated design and a compact size of 105cm x 140 cm (41" x 55"), the discharge power of the system ranges from 4.8 to 9.6 kW in the voltage range from 288 to 384 V. The system enables accelerated EV charging with 100% self-generated electricity.

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Ford, LG Chem team reports 1st cradle-to-gate LCA for mass-produced battery pack in commercial BEV; cell manufacturing key GHG contributor

A team from Ford’s Research and Innovation Center and LG Chem’s Corporate R&D group has reported the first cradle-to-gate (i.e., the factory gate—before delivery to the consumer) emissions assessment for a mass-produced battery in a commercial battery electric vehicle (BEV)—the lithium-ion battery pack used in the Ford Focus BEV. Their paper is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

The researchers based their assessment on the bill of materials and energy and materials input data from the battery cell and pack supplier (LG). They calculated that the cradle-to-gate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for the 24 kWh Ford Focus lithium-ion battery are 3.4 metric tonnes of CO2-eq (140 kg CO2-eq per kWh or 11 kg CO2-eq per kg of battery). Cell manufacturing is the key contributor accounting for 45% of the GHG emissions.

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Lux: plug-in vehicle battery market to hit $10B in 2020; 6 carmakers = 90% of demand; VW to show most growth

June 28, 2016

Led by Tesla, China’s BYD, and Volkswagen, the battery market for plug-in vehicles will rise to $10 billion in 2020, with electric vehicles (EV) emerging as the drivetrain of choice, according to a new forecast by Lux Research. Volkswagen will show the most growth as it focuses on plug-ins following its emissions scandal, while Toyota will continue to lag in plug-in sales as it focuses more on hybrids and fuel cells.

Just six large carmakers will account for 90% of the battery demand: Tesla, BYD, Volkswagen, General Motors (GM), Renault-Nissan and BMW. Among battery-makers, Panasonic will keep its lead with 46% market share, followed by BYD, LG Chem, NEC, Samsung SDI and others.

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Argonne Lab partners with Strem Chemicals to bring next-gen battery materials to market

June 24, 2016

Strem Chemicals, a manufacturer and distributor of specialty chemicals founded in 1964, has licensed 23 separate pieces of intellectual property for next-generation battery materials from Argonne. Strem will manufacture and distribute nine resulting battery solvents and additives via its extensive marketing and global distribution networks.

The materials were all invented at Argonne’s Electrochemical Energy Storage Center and scaled at Argonne’s Materials Engineering Research Facility (MERF). Since its founding, MERF has scaled up and distributed more than 30 kilograms of materials in the form of more than 150 different samples.

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UMD team develops new nanocomposite sulfur electrode for high-performance all-solid-state Li-S batteries

A team at the University of Maryland have synthesized a mixed conducting nanocomposite sulfur electrode that consists of different nanoparticles with distinct properties of lithium storage capability, mechanical reinforcement, and ionic and electronic conductivities.

As described in a paper published in the ACS journal Nano Letters, the new nanocomposite serves as a mechanically robust and mixed conductive (ionic and electronic conductive) sulfur electrode for all-solid-state lithium–sulfur batteries (ASSLSBs). The team achieved a reversible capacity of 830 mAh/g (71% utilization of Li2S) at 50 mA/g for 60 cycles with a high rate performance at room temperature even at a high loading of Li2S (∼3.6 mg/cm2).

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UMD team develops new high-performance solid-state ion-conducting membrane for Li batteries

June 23, 2016

Researchers at the University of Maryland have developed a novel, flexible, solid-state, ion-conducting membrane based on a 3D ion-conducting ceramic nanofiber network. The researchers said that their work, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), represents a significant breakthrough to enable high performance lithium batteries. The all-solid ion-conducting membrane can be applied to flexible Li-ion batteries and other electrochemical energy storage systems, such as lithium–sulfur batteries.

The 3D ion-conducting network is based on percolative garnet-type Li6.4La3Zr2Al0.2O12 (LLZO) solid-state electrolyte nanofibers, which enhance the ionic conductivity of the solid-state electrolyte membrane at room temperature and improve the mechanical strength of the polymer electrolyte.

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DOE selects SiiLion for $1M SBIR Phase II award; ionic-liquid-enabled high-energy li-ion battery

June 22, 2016

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has selected SiiLion, Inc. to receive a $1-million Small Business Innovation and Research (SBIR) Phase II award. The company is developing high-energy batteries featuring pure silicon anodes and high voltage cathodes—including lithium-manganese-rich and nickel-rich chemistries—enabled using a non-flammable ionic liquid electrolyte.

SiiLion was one of 23 companies receiving a 2016 SBIR FY 2016 Phase II award. The $1-million awards are intended to help small businesses advance promising concepts toward commercialization. SiiLion had received a $150,000 SBIR Phase I award in 2015.

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DOE awarding $16M to 54 projects to help commercialize promising energy technology from national labs

The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced nearly $16 million in funding to help businesses move promising energy technologies from DOE’s National Laboratories to the marketplace. This first Department-wide round of funding through the Technology Commercialization Fund (TCF) will support 54 projects at 12 national labs involving 52 private-sector partners. Among the selected technologies are a number addressing advanced vehicle and transportation needs.

The TCF is administered by DOE’s Office of Technology Transitions (OTT), which works to expand the commercial impact of DOE’s portfolio of research, development, demonstration and deployment activities. In February of 2016, OTT announced the first solicitation to the DOE National Laboratories for TCF funding proposals. It received 104 applications from across the laboratory system, for projects in two topic areas:

  • Topic Area 1: Projects for which additional technology maturation is needed to attract a private partner; and

  • Topic Area 2: Cooperative development projects between a lab and industry partner(s), designed to bolster the commercial application of a lab developed technology.

All projects selected for the TCF will receive an equal amount of non-federal funds to match the federal investment.

A selected list of transportation-related TCF selections, as well as the Topic Area 2 projects and their private sector partners is below.

Transportation-related TCF Awards
Technology National Lab Partner Funding
Manufacturing Of Advanced Alnico Magnets for Energy Efficient Traction Drive Motors Ames Carpenter Powder Products $325,000
Direct Fabrication of Fuel Cell Electrodes by Electrodeposition of High-performance Core-shell Catalysts Brookhaven $100,000
Nitride-Stabilized Pt Core-Shell Electrocatalysts for Fuel Cell Cathodes Brookhaven $100,000
Enhancing Lithium-Ion Battery Safety for Vehicle Technologies and Energy Storage Idaho $119,005
Vehicle Controller Area Network (CAN) Bus Network Safety and Security System Idaho Mercedes-Benz R&D North America $150,000
Large Area Polymer Protected Lithium Metal Electrodes with Engineered Dendrite-Blocking Ability Lawrence Berkeley $73,831
Cryo-Compressed Hydrogen Tank Technology in an Internal Combustion Engine Application Lawrence Livermore GoTek Energy $431,995
Scaled Production Of High Octane Biofuel From Biomass-Derived Dimethyl Ether NREL Enerkem $740,000
Thermal Management for Planar Package Power Electronics NREL John Deere Electronic Solutions (JDES) $250,000
Assembly Of Dissimilar Aluminum Alloys For Automotive Application PNNL $500,000
Development of Electrolytes for Lithium Ion Batteries in Wide Temperature Range Applications PNNL Farasis Energy, Navitas Systems $375,000
Direct Extruded High Conductivity Copper for Electric Machines Manufactured Using the ShAPE Process PNNL General Motors R&D $600,000
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BMW i home energy storage system integrates 2nd-life i3 vehicle batteries

June 21, 2016

BMW i announced a home stationary energy storage system solution integrating its BMW i3 vehicle battery at EVS 29 in Montréal.

The system utilizes BMW i3 high-voltage batteries and can be expanded to incorporate second-life batteries as they become available in the market. This strategy will extend the useful life of the battery for the owner, even beyond in-vehicle use, BMW said.

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USABC awards $4M to SiNode Systems to develop advanced silicon-graphene anode materials for EV batteries

June 20, 2016

The United States Advanced Battery Consortium LLC (USABC), a collaborative organization of FCA US LLC, Ford Motor Company and General Motors, awarded a $4-million contract to SiNode Systems Inc. for development of advanced anode materials for automotive lithium-ion battery applications. The competitively bid contract award is 50% cost share-funded by the US Department of Energy (DOE).

The 30-month program will focus on the development of silicon-graphene high-energy anode material appropriate for vehicle applications and the development and scale-up of pouch cells that exhibit anode performance metrics that exceed the minimum USABC targets for active materials development for electric vehicles.

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VW Group strategy calls for >30 new BEVs by 2025 with annual EV sales of 2-3M units; mobility services

June 16, 2016

Volkswagen Group CEO Matthias Müller presented the company’s new new strategic plan—TOGETHER - Strategy 2025—in Wolfsburg. With regard to vehicles and drivetrains, the new strategy places special emphasis on e-mobility.

The Group is planning a broad-based initiative in this area: it intends to launch more than 30 purely battery-powered electric vehicles (BEVs) over the next ten years. The Company estimates that such vehicles could then account for around a quarter of the global passenger car market. The Volkswagen Group forecasts that its own BEV sales will be between two and three million units in 2025, equivalent to some 20 to 25 percent of the total unit sales expected at that time.

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Low-cost N-doped interlayer derived from loofah sponge enables high-performance Li-S, Li-Se and LiI2 batteries

Researchers from Griffith University in Australia and Peking University in China have synthesized low-cost, hierarchically porous, and nitrogen-doped loofah sponge carbon (N-LSC) derived from the loofah sponge via a simple calcining process and applied it as a multifunctional blocking layer for Li–S, Li–Se, and Li–I2 batteries.

As a result of the ultrahigh specific area (2551.06 m2 g–1), high porosity (1.75 cm3 g–1), high conductivity (1170 S m–1), and heteroatoms doping of N-LSC, the resultant Li–S, Li–Se, and Li–I2 batteries with the N-LSC-900 membrane deliver outstanding electrochemical performance stability in all cases, i.e., high reversible capacities of 623.6 mAh g–1 at 1675 mA g–1 after 500 cycles; 350 mAh g–1 at 1356 mA g–1 after 1000 cycles; and 150 mAh g–1 at 10550 mA g–1 after 5000 cycles, respectively. A paper on their work is published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.

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Daimler developing new dedicated architecture for battery-electric vehicles; debut at Paris Motor Show in September; 500 km

June 13, 2016

Daimler is developing a dedicated, multi-model electric vehicle architecture for battery-powered vehicles. (Earlier post.) The global debut will take place at the Paris Motor Show this fall, and the first model is to be launched onto the market before the end of the decade.

Mercedes-Benz said it will benefit not only from its internal development and production expertise but also from the group’s multi-model series modular strategy for alternative drive systems and direct access to key components for electromobility.

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Mercedes-Benz expands plug-in hybrid rollout with 2 models this year; new battery tech in S 500 e in 2017

Later this year, Mercedes-Benz will add the seventh and eighth plug-in hybrids to its line up. (Earlier post.) The new GLC Coupé 350 e 4MATIC and the E 350 e will join the S 500 e; C 350 e (Sedan, Wagon and long version for China); the GLE 500 e 4MATIC; and the GLC 350 e 4MATIC. The hybrid (plug-in and conventional) portfolio from Mercedes-Benz currently comprises 13 models.

The E 350 e will use the 9G-TRONIC plug-in-hybrid transmission and the latest generation of electric motors to deliver top rankings in fuel consumption, ride comfort and dynamism. The E 350 e is also the first hybrid from Mercedes-Benz with a high trailer towing capacity of up to 2,100 kg.

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Hunan team develops new strategy to prolong cycle life of Li-S batteries

Researchers at Hunan University, China, have developed a new strategy to suppress the diffusion of polysulfides into the electrolyte in Li-Sulfur batteries, resulting in improved performance.

As described in a paper in the Journal of Power Sources, the research tea used hydrophilic carbon paper anchored by hierarchically porous cobalt disulfides as an interlayer for capturing polysulfides through physical absorption and chemical bonding. The sulfur-graphene composite with a sulfur content of 70.5% delivers a high initial capacity of 1239.5 mAh g−1 at 0.2 C and retains a reversible capacity of 818 mAh g−1 after 200 cycles.

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Materials Project releases trove of data to public; support for work on multivalent battery chemistries and electrolytes

June 10, 2016

The Materials Project, a Google-like database of material properties aimed at accelerating innovation (earlier post), has released an enormous trove of data to the public, giving scientists working on batteries, fuel cells, photovoltaics, thermoelectrics, and other advanced materials a powerful tool to explore new avenues of research.

Two sets of data were released: nearly 1,500 compounds investigated for multivalent intercalation electrodes and more than 21,000 organic molecules relevant for liquid electrolytes as well as a host of other research applications. Batteries with multivalent cathodes (which have multiple electrons per mobile ion available for charge transfer) are promising candidates for reducing cost and achieving higher energy density than that available with current lithium-ion technology. (Earlier post.)

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OXIS Energy and Lithium Balance partner on Li-sulfur battery system for China e-scooter market; targeting spring 2018

June 08, 2016

Li-sulfur battery developer OXIS Energy UK (earlier post) and Lithium Balance of Denmark are partnering to build a prototype Lithium-sulfur battery system primarily for the e-scooter market in China. Lithium Balance is a battery management expert which has supplied its BMS systems for Li-ion based e-scooters for a decade. The E-scooter itself will be manufactured in China.

The current prototype battery has a capacity of 1.2 kWh using 10Ah OXIS Long Life cells; weighs 60% less than the current lead acid battery; and delivers a significant increase in range. The next stage is to build a second prototype using an improved Long Life chemistry (up to 20Ah) which will increase battery capacity at a reduced weight.

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ORNL, XALT show nanoscale alumina coating on layered oxide cathode materials substantially improves Li-ion battery performance

June 06, 2016

A team from Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and XALT Energy, with colleagues from the University of Michigan and Energy Power Systems, have shown that atomic layer deposition (ALD) of alumina (Al2O3) on Ni-rich full concentration gradient (FCG) NMC and NCA cathode materials can substantially improve Li-ion battery performance and allow for increased upper cutoff voltage (UCV) during charging—delivering significantly increased specific energy utilization.

As described in an open-access paper published in Scientific Reports, their results showed that Al2O3 coating improved NMC cycling performance by 40% and NCA cycling performance by 34% at 1 C/−1 C with respectively 4.35 V and 4.4 V UCV in 2 Ah pouch cells.

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A novel method for energy efficient warmup of lithium-ion batteries from sub-zero temperatures using predictive control

by Paul N. Blumberg, PhD

Many of the machines and appliances that are in common use today require that their power be available immediately, regardless of adverse ambient conditions such as sub-zero temperatures. For example, on a 0 °F day, we expect to be able to start our cars or trucks, which may have cooled down to near ambient conditions, and proceed to use them in the same manner as if we were in more moderate climates. To accomplish this, engineers and scientists have worked hard to ensure that in extremely cold temperature environments, the engine oil does not become too viscous and that there are sufficient high volatility components in the fuel so that vaporization and ignition within the engine are possible on an almost instantaneous basis.

The same requirement holds true for battery-powered devices or vehicles. The Lithium-ion battery has emerged as the current “battery of choice” for automotive hybrid and electric vehicle applications. Over the last decade, significant improvements in its energy and power density have been made through research in all aspects of its fundamental electrochemistry and materials. Nevertheless, due to fundamental electrochemical factors, the availability of “instantaneous” power at temperatures below approximately 15 ˚F remains a challenge.

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Daimler establishes Mercedes-Benz Energy GmbH for stationary energy storage

June 02, 2016

Daimler AG has established Mercedes-Benz Energy GmbH to take over the development and global sale of Mercedes-Benz brand stationary energy storage (earlier post) with immediate effect. The production of the systems remains the core expertise of Daimler’s other wholly owned subsidiary, Deutsche ACCUMOTIVE GmbH & Co. KG.

Daimler AG, with ACCUMOTIVE, began delivery of domestic storage solutions for the German market in April. Work also started on setting up the first large-scale industrial projects in the field of primary regulation energy. With the establishment of Mercedes-Benz Energy GmbH based in Kamenz/Saxony, the company is now taking another step toward expanding its stationary storage business. International expansion and collaboration with further partners are particularly high on the agenda, Daimler said.

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Toshiba to start field testing medium-sized EV bus with wireless recharging, SCiB Li-ion battery

May 31, 2016

Toshiba Corporation has developed a fast, cable-free contactless charger for electric vehicles (EVs), and will field test it on a medium-sized EV bus designed to handle the power demands of regular high-speed journeys on expressways. Field tests will start from 1 June and continue until December.

The 45-seat bus is powered by a long-life, high-output 52.9 kWh SCiB (earlier post) pack, Toshiba’s advanced lithium-ion rechargeable battery, and will make regular trips between All Nippon Airways Co. Ltd. facilities in Tonomachi, Kawasaki and Haneda Airport in Tokyo. The 11-kilometer (6.8-mile) journey will test the bus and its performance under various traffic conditions, and will allow Toshiba to verify the convenience and practicality of contactless charging, along with its contribution to reducing CO2 emissions.

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Berkeley Lab researchers shed light on how lithium-rich cathodes work, opening the door to higher capacity batteries

Researchers at the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) report a major advance in understanding how oxygen oxidation creates extra capacity in lithium-rich cathodes, opening the door to batteries with far higher energy density.

The nature of the findings shows “a clear and exciting path forward” to create the next-generation cathode materials with substantially higher energy density then current cathode materials, the researchers wrote in a paper on their work published in the journal Nature Chemistry.

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Johnson Controls funds two research projects with U Wisconsin to enhance fuel efficiency of start-stop vehicles and next-gen EVs

May 26, 2016

Johnson Controls will fund two multi-year research projects at the University of Wisconsin–Madison (UW–Madison) aimed at enhancing the fuel efficiency of start-stop and next-generation battery-electric vehicles. The projects will be funded by Johnson Controls, which includes a Fellows gift of $500,000. UW–Madison graduate students Jacob Dubie and Kevin Frankforter, the first recipients of Johnson Controls Distinguished Graduate Fellowships, will carry out the projects.

The first project will focus on identifying the aging mechanisms of absorbent glass mat (AGM) batteries and supporting systems in start-stop applications and vehicle optimization strategies.

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PSA Group outlines electrification solutions for future hybrid and electric vehicles; 4 EVs, 7 PHEVs by 2021

May 25, 2016

At its Innovation Day event, PSA Group presented its new electrification strategy. PSA Group is consolidating the development of its models on two global modular platforms—CMP and EMP2—allowing it to offer a wide range of internal combustion, electric and plug-in hybrid gasoline models from 2019.

Both platforms are optimized and lighter (25kg for EMP2 and 40kg for CMP) than current platforms, and offer greater modularity in terms of length, width, height and wheel diameter. Both platforms will be compatible with the manufacturing resources put in place as part of the Plant of the Future program. (Earlier post.)

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Researchers develop safe and durable high-temperature Li-S battery with conventional C-S electrode using MLD alucone coating

Researchers from University of Western Ontario, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), and Canadian Light Sources (CLS) have developed a safe and durable high-temperature Li-sulfur battery using universal conventional carbon–sulfur (C-S) electrodes with a molecular layer deposited (MLD) alucone (aluminum oxide polymeric film) coating.

The MLD alucone-coated C−S electrodes demonstrate stabilized ultralong cycle life at high temperature (55 ˚C) with a capacity of more than 570 mA h g−1 after 300 cycles. The utilization of MLD enables the usage of conventional C-S cathode materials with carbonate-based electrolytes—a facile and versatile approach that can be applied to a variety of C−S electrodes without redesigning the carbon host materials. A paper on their work is published in the ACS journal Nano Letters.

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Amprius demonstrates new tool for roll-to-roll manufacturing of high-energy batteries with Si nanowire anodes

May 24, 2016

Amprius, a manufacturer of high-energy lithium-ion batteries using silicon nanowire anodes (earlier post), has demonstrated a novel tool for high-volume manufacturing. The new tool, a first-of-its-kind system for inline, continuous, and roll-to-roll production of three-dimensional silicon nanowire anodes, will enable Amprius to scale manufacturing and deliver lightweight and long-lasting batteries for unmanned vehicles, wearable technologies, and electric vehicles.

Amprius developed its new tool in partnership with Meyer Burger (Netherlands) B.V., a world leader in high-throughput deposition systems and processes. The tool uses a multi-step, Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) process to produce Amprius’ silicon nanowire anodes. Amprius will unveil its new manufacturing tool to a select group of industry partners on 29 June 2016, at a Meyer Burger facility in the Netherlands.

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CCM: China Li-ion industry booming; domestic outputs triples in 2015 to 15.7 GWh

May 23, 2016

In China, the development of alternative energy vehicles and the Li-ion battery sector are booming with the support of promotional policies from the Chinese government, according to new report from CCM, a leading market intelligence provider for China’s agriculture, chemicals, food & ingredients and life science markets. In May 2016 alone, nearly RMB2.6 billion (US$400 million) flowed into the Li-ion battery market, with Tianqi Lithium, Ganfeng Lithium and GEM CO., Ltd. putting in the most capital.

Over the past five years, the growth of electrochemical energy storage market in China has outpaced that of the global market, with a CAGR (2010-2015) of 110%—six times as high as that of the global. Among it, the installed capacity of Li-ion battery captured 66% of the market share in the electrochemical energy storage market.

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Prieto Battery receives investment from Stanley Ventures to pursue commercialization of 3D Li-ion battery

May 21, 2016

Prieto Battery, a company commercializing a 3D Lithium-ion battery technology (earlier post), announced a strategic investment from Stanley Ventures, the newly-formed venture arm of Stanley Black & Decker, a world-leading provider of tools and storage, commercial electronic security and engineered fastening systems.

Prieto Battery Inc. was founded in June 2009 to accelerate the shift of Prieto’s innovations from the research laboratory to the commercial marketplace. The company’s mission is to commercialize a patented 3D lithium-ion battery technology that delivers transformational performance at a competitive cost using non-toxic materials with the ability to customize shapes.

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Hanyang/BMW team develops high-energy density Li-ion battery with carbon-nanotube-Si composite anode and NCM concentration gradient cathode

May 20, 2016

Researchers from Hanyang University in Korea and the BMW Group have developed a new fully operational, practical Li-ion rechargeable battery combining high energy density with excellent cycle life. A report on their work is published in the RSC journal Energy & Environmental Science.

A carbon nanotube (CNT)-Si composite anode with extremely stable long-term cycling provides a discharge capacity of 2364 mAh g-1 at a tap density of 1.1 g cm-3; a two-sloped full concentration gradient (TSFCG) Li[Ni0.85Co0.05Mn0.10]O2 cathode, with a Ni-enriched core and Mn-enriched layer, yields a discharge capacity of 221 mAh g-1. The full cell generates an energy density of 350 Wh kg-1 with excellent capacity retention for 500 cycles at 1 C rate—satisfying the energy density limit imposed by the drive range requirement for EVs.

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Electrovaya introduces 1 kWh and 48V, 2.3 kWh battery modules

May 17, 2016

Electrovaya Inc. has introduced a 1kWh battery module (LITACORE1000) and an intelligent 48V, 2.3 kWh module (EV4823) as building blocks for Lithium-ion battery systems.

The LITACORE1000 is a 1 kWh module with integrated voltage and temperature sensors in an aluminum case with laser welded contacts; the module features the Litacell. The EV4823 is a 48V, 2.3 kWh module with an integrated intelligent battery management system (iBMSTM) complete with CANbus communications.

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High-performance Li-S cathodes using 3D hierarchical porous nitrogen-doped aligned carbon nanotubes

May 16, 2016

Researchers from Hunan University and Changsha University in China have designed 3D hierarchical porous nitrogen-doped aligned carbon nanotubes (HPNACNTs) with well-directed 1D conductive electron paths as scaffold to load sulfur for use as a high-performance cathode in Li-S batteries. A paper on their work is published in the Journal of Power Sources.

The HPNACNTs have abundant micropores, mesopores and macropores with a relatively high specific surface area and a large total pore volume. The sulfur-HPNACNTs (with 68.8 wt% sulfur) composite exhibits a high initial discharge capacity of 1340 mAh g−1 at 0.1 C and retains as high as 979 mAh g−1 at 0.2 C after 200 cycles. It also shows high reversible capacity at high rates (817 mAh g−1 at 5 C).

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Nissan team gains insight into atomic structure of SiO using new methodology; potential benefit for Li-ion battery capacity

May 13, 2016

Using a new methodology, researchers in Japan—including colleagues from Nissan subsidiary Nissan Arc Ltd., a materials analysis and research center—have developed a heterostructure model of the atomic structure of silicon monoxide (SiO). The heterostructure model well explains the distinctive structure and properties of the material, which could play an important role in boosting the capacity of Li-ion batteries. An open-access paper on the work is published in Nature Communications.

Silicon (Si) is capable of holding greater amounts of lithium compared with common carbon-based materials; as such, it is a target of great focus as an anode material for higher capacity Li-ion batteries. However, in crystalline form, Si possesses a structure that deteriorates during charging cycles, ultimately impacting performance. However, amorphous SiO is resistant to such deterioration.

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Researchers develop nanoscale LTO anode with superior high temperature performance

May 10, 2016

A team led by researchers from the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University has synthesized nanoscale porous lithium titanium oxide (LTO) material for Li-ion anodes that exhibit stable electrochemical performance at high temperature (50 °C) and high charge/discharge rates (5 C) without performing any post-surface treatments.

As reported in their paper in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, the synthesis method uses water, with the final products exhibiting nanoscale and highly porous structures. In addition, the grain size of the LTO particles can be tuned and controlled by the calcination temperature.

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Researchers visualize lithiation of magnetite electrode in real time; hunting for new Li-ion electrode materials

May 09, 2016

A team of scientists from the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Maryland, College Park, has developed an electron microscopy technique to visualize—in real time and at high resolution—lithiation pathways in electrode materials.

The scientists used this advanced technique, described in an open-access paper in Nature Communications, to observe the discharge of a lithium-ion battery cell containing nanoparticles of magnetite—an inexpensive, nontoxic, high-conducting, high-energy-storage material. These discharge mechanisms were then correlated with the battery’s discharge rates. The team’s findings about how lithium migrates at the nanoscale could help improve the electrochemical performance of comparable electrode materials in lithium-ion batteries.

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Total to acquire battery-maker Saft in US$1.1-billion deal

France-based energy major Total has filed a friendly tender offer on all of the issued and outstanding shares in the capital of advanced battery maker Saft with the French Financial Markets Authority (Autorité des Marchés Financiers, AMF).

The proposed offer will target all of Saft’s issued and outstanding shares at a price of €36.50 per share, ex-dividend of €0.85 per share, valuing Saft’s equity at €950 million (US$1.1 billion). The offer price represents a 38.3% premium above Saft’s closing share price of €26.40 on 6 May 2016; a premium of 41.9% above the volume weighted average share price over the past six months; and a premium of 24.2% above the volume weighted average share price over the past year.

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Argonne: longer-range BEVs may be almost as powertrain energy dense as gasoline vehicles by 2045

An analysis by a team at Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) has found that by 2045, some configurations of battery electric vehicles (BEV) could become almost as energy dense as a conventional vehicle. The team presented their paper at the recent 2016 SAE World Congress.

Hydrocarbon fuels (either fossil- or bio-derived) have high energy densities that are at least 100 times greater than that of a present day lithium-ion battery. Despite projected improvements in battery technology, this form of energy storage is still expected to be significantly less energy dense than gasoline even by 2045. However, the Argonne team argues, the energy density of storage medium (fuel or battery) should not be used as the sole criterion to compare conventional vehicles and BEVs. Rather, powertrain-level energy and power density will be better criteria to compare the propulsion technology used for BEVs and conventional vehicles, they suggest.

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ORNL-led team identifies feature enabling fast ion conduction in solid electrolytes; new strategy for design

May 06, 2016

A team led by the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has used state-of-the-art microscopy to identify a previously undetected feature, about 5 billionths of a meter (nanometers) wide, in a solid electrolyte. The work experimentally verifies the importance of that feature to fast ion transport, and corroborates the observations with theory. The new mechanism the researchers report in Advanced Energy Materials points to a new strategy for the design of highly conductive solid electrolytes.

Using a solid electrolyte in a rechargeable battery is one of the most important factors in enabling safe, high-power, high-energy batteries, said first author Cheng Ma of ORNL, who conducted most of the study’s experiments. However, solid electrolytes typically suffer from low ionic conductivity, limiting their applications, Ma added.

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CMU study concludes lithium market fluctuations unlikely to impact Li-ion battery prices significantly

May 05, 2016

A new study by a team from Carnegie Mellon University’s College of Engineering has found that even large increases in lithium prices are unlikely to increase significantly the cost of batteries or battery packs for end users such as vehicle manufactures or consumers—although some manufacturers may see reduced profit margins. The study comes against the backdrop of a more than doubling of global lithium prices over the last 6 months.

The Carnegie Mellon University researchers, whose study was published in the Journal of Power Sources, analyzed multiple lithium-ion battery chemistries and cell formats to see whether extreme lithium price variations would have a substantial impact. They found that the use of more expensive lithium precursor materials results in less than 1% increases in the cost of lithium-ion cells considered. Similarly, larger fluctuations in the global lithium price (from $0 to $25/kg from a baseline of $7.50 per kg of Li2CO3) do not change the cost of lithium-ion cells by more than 10%.

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BMW boosts battery capacity of MY2017 i3 to 33 kWh with higher energy density Li-ion cells; up to 114 miles combined cycle range

May 02, 2016

BMW will offer a new model range of its i3 compact electric car, and from the 2017 model year will be offering a new version with more than 50% increased battery capacity.

The 2017 BMW i3 (94 Ah) has a capacity of 33 kilowatt hours (kWh) due to the use of higher energy density lithium-ion cells; the dimensions of the pack remain unchanged while still offering a significant range increase. The new BMW i3, in varying weather conditions and with the air conditioning or heating turned on, has a range of up to 114 miles (183 km) combined (hwy/city) cycle, as shown by independent BMW testing; EPA figures are still pending. The EPA range rating for the MY 2016 i3 is 81 miles (130 km).

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PARC, ORNL and Ford collaborate on high-energy, high-power battery production for EVs using CoEx printing

April 28, 2016

PARC, a Xerox company, is collaborating with Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and Ford Motor Company in a DOE-funded project that will use PARC’s novel CoEx printing technology (earlier post) to fabricate thick, higher energy and higher power battery electrodes with the end goal of enabling longer range and low cost electric vehicles.

The goal of the project—“Co-Extrusion (CoEx) for Cost Reduction of Advanced High-Energy-and-Power Battery Electrode Manufacturing”—is to demonstrate pilot-scale, electric vehicle (EV) pouch cells with a 20% improvement in gravimetric energy density (Wh/kg), and a 30% reduction in $/kWh costs.

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New silicon-sulfur battery built on 3D graphene shows excellent performance

Researchers at Beihang University in Beijing have developed a new Li-sulfur battery using honeycomb-like sulfur copolymer uniformly distributed onto 3D graphene (3D cpS-G) networks for a cathode material and a 3D lithiated Si-G network as anode.

In a paper published in the RSC journal Energy & Environmental Science, they reported that the full cell exhibits superior electrochemical performances in term of a high reversible capacity of 620 mAh g-1, ultrahigh energy density of 1147 Wh kg−1 (based on the total mass of cathode and anode), good high-rate capability and excellent cycle performance over 500 cycles (0.028% capacity loss per cycle).

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Daimler starts deliveries of Mercedes-Benz Li-ion energy storage units for private homes

April 22, 2016

Daimler AG has commenced deliveries of Mercedes-Benz stationary energy storage units (earlier post) for use in private homes. The lithium-ion batteries are being manufactured by the Daimler subsidiary Deutsche ACCUMOTIVE and distributed through selected sales partners and partner companies.

At present, the company’s partners include the energy service provider Energie Baden-Württemberg (EnBW), the solar technology specialist SMA, as well as a number of wholesale traders. Their network of qualified specialist installers take care of providing the end customers with on-site advice, planning, compiling an individual quotation for all components and the actual installation.

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New nanowire-based hybrid battery/capacitor shows extreme cycle stability

Researchers funded by Nanostructures for Electrical Energy Storage (NEES), a DOE Energy Frontier Research Center, have developed a nanowire-based hybrid battery/capacitor that can be recharged hundreds of thousands of times. The team, based at the University of California, Irvine, coated gold nanowire in a manganese dioxide shell and encased the assembly in an electrolyte made of a Plexiglas-like gel. The combination is reliable and resistant to failure.

In a paper published in the journal ACS Energy Letters, they reported reversible cycle stability for up to 200 ,000 cycles with 94–96% average Coulombic efficiency for symmetrical δ-MnO2 nanowire capacitors operating across a 1.2 V voltage window in a poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) gel electrolyte.

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Applications open for the fifth Volkswagen and BASF “Science Award Electrochemistry”; new special award for applied research

April 19, 2016

The BASF and Volkswagen international “Science Award Electrochemistry” is now in its fifth year (earlier post) and has opened the application period for this year’s award. Applications are due by 12 August 2016. Contributions submitted will be assessed by a jury comprising experts from BASF, Volkswagen and representatives from the scientific community. The award ceremony takes place in Berlin on 21 November 2016.

The international “Science Award Electrochemistry” supports excellent scientific and engineering achievements and intends to provide fresh impetus to the development of high-efficiency energy storage devices. The science award has been held every year since 2012 and is intended for scientists working in academic research all over the world. The prize money totals €100,000 and first place receives €50,000.

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Optodot and LG Chem sign patent license agreement for boehmite ceramic-coated separators for Li-ion batteries

Optodot Corporation recently granted a license to LG Chem Ltd. under a patent portfolio controlled by Optodot covering batteries, cells, separators and electrolyte members comprising boehmite.

Boehmite—an aluminium oxide hydroxide (γ-AlO(OH)) mineral, and a component of the aluminium ore bauxite—is a key material used in ceramic coating layers. The patent portfolio includes 20 patents issued in the US, Japan, Korea, China, and Europe. The license permits LG Chem to utilize boehmite separator films for lithium-ion batteries.

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Outokumpu and Fraunhofer Institute develop lightweight stainless steel battery pack for EVs; up to 20% weight reduction

Finland-based stainless steel expert Outokumpu is working on lightweight stainless steel solutions for electric vehicles in cooperation with Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT, in Germany. Their latest innovation is a new battery pack that combines several lightweight engineering technologies as well as new types of cooling and structural strategies.

The Forta H1000 fully-austenitic, ultra-high-strength stainless steel (an advanced manganese-chromium alloy) from Outokumpu enables the implementation of structural lightweight engineering initiatives, while providing a high level of safety.

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Adgero signs €3.5M deal with ultracap manufacturer Skeleton for road freight KERS

April 14, 2016

Adgero has signed a €3.5-million (US$4-million) distribution agreement to ensure modules from ultracapacitor manufacturer Skeleton Technologies, are part of its Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS) for road freight. (Earlier post.) Under the agreement, the French transport technology developer will now source SkelMod 160V modules exclusively for the Adgero hybrid system pioneered to increase efficiency for the truck transport industry.

The Adgero KERS unit consists of a bank of five high-power Skeleton Technologies SkelMod 50F 160V ultracapacitors, working alongside an electrically driven axle to capture energy loss and use this energy to re-power the vehicle.

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Tesla And Other Tech Giants Scramble For Lithium As Prices Double

by James Stafford of

Demand for lithium—the hottest commodity on the planet and the only commodity to show positive price movement in 2015—is poised to continue on its upward trajectory, becoming the world’s new gasoline and earning the moniker of “White Petroleum”. And the battle for market share in and around this commodity has everyone from major tech players to trend-setting investor gurus vying for a foothold.

Driven by the rise of battery gigafactories and game-changing Powerwall and energy storage businesses, the world now finds itself at the beginning of a lithium super cycle that is all about securing new supply, much of which is poised to come from lithium superstar Argentina.

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BASF licenses CAM-7 Li-ion cathode materials from CAMX Power LLC

April 12, 2016

BASF and CAMX Power LLC announced that BASF has been granted a license under the intellectual property of CAMX Power LLC (CAMX) relating to the CAMX suite of CAM-7 cathode materials for lithium-ion batteries. (Earlier post.) CAM-7 is a patented cathode material that harnesses the properties of high-nickel compounds to deliver high energy density with high-power capability.

The CAM-7 cathode material platform for advanced lithium-ion batteries, developed for over a decade by CAMX Power and now globally patent-protected, has been shown by key entities in the industry to be capable of extending the range of electric vehicles and the run time between charges in portable devices.

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New silicon oxycarbide glass/graphene anode material; lightweight, high-capacity and long cycle life

April 11, 2016

Researchers at Kansas State University have developed a new high-performance Li-ion battery anode material combining silicon oxycarbide (SiOC) glass and graphene. The self-standing (i.e., no current collector or binder) anode material comprises molecular precursor-derived SiOC glass particles embedded in a chemically-modified reduced graphene oxide (rGO) matrix.

The porous reduced graphene oxide matrix serves as an effective electron conductor and current collector with a stable mechanical structure, and the amorphous silicon oxycarbide particles cycle lithium-ions with high Coulombic efficiency. The SiOC-rGO composite electrode delivers a charge capacity of ~588 mAh g−1electrode (~393 mAh cm−3electrode) at the 1,020th cycle and shows no evidence of mechanical failure.

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PNNL study identifies one of the mechanisms behind Li-sulfur battery capacity fade; the importance of electrolyte anion selection

March 31, 2016

Researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) investigating the stability of the anode/electrolyte interface in Li-Sulfur batteries have found that Li-S batteries using LiTFSI-based electrolytes are more stable than those using LiFSI-based electrolytes.

In their study, published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials, they determined that the decreased stability is because the N–S bond in the FSI anion is fairly weak; the scission of this bond leads to the formation of lithium sulfate (LiSOx) in the presence of polysulfide species. By contrast, in the LiTFSI-based electrolyte, the lithium metal anode tends to react with polysulfide to form lithium sulfide (LiSx), which is more reversible than LiSOx formed in the LiFSI-based electrolyte.

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Saft to supply marine Li-ion battery system to Rolls Royce Marine for hybrid multi-application vessel

Saft won a major contract from Rolls Royce Marine to supply the specialized marine lithium-ion (Seanergy) battery system for an innovative hybrid multi-application vessel under construction in Denmark for Kystverket, the Norwegian Coastal Administration (NCA).

It is Saft’s second major contract signed since the end of last year in the marine segment. The high energy battery system onboard the OV Bøkfjord will help Kystverket meet its ambitious climate and environmental targets, reduce maintenance and deliver 25% fuel savings.

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Ioxus introduces ultracap-based uSTART drop-in battery replacement for Class 3-6 trucks

March 28, 2016

Ioxus, Inc. is offering the ultracapacitor-based uSTART engine starting system for Class 3-6 trucks as a drop-in replacement product that needs no special wiring.

Ioxus says the product increases the vehicle bus voltage by greater than 10% during crank, reducing cranking time by more than 20%; reducing peak current to the starter by more than 15%; reducing the cycling seen by the battery by more than 40%; increases starter life by more than 30%; and provides a built-in jump start system that will allow users to charge the capacitor from adjacent “dead” batteries and eliminate stranded trucks.

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Chinese researchers develop novel aluminum–graphite dual-ion battery

March 25, 2016

A team from the Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology (SIAT) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences has developed a novel, environmentally friendly low-cost battery. The new aluminum-graphite dual-ion battery (AGDIB) offers significantly reduced weight, volume, and fabrication cost, as well as higher energy density, in comparison with conventional LIBs.

The battery shows a reversible capacity of ≈100 mAh g−1 and a capacity retention of 88% after 200 charge–discharge cycles. A packaged aluminum–graphite battery is estimated to deliver an energy density of ≈150 Wh kg−1 at a power density of ≈1200 W kg−1—≈50% higher than most commercial lithium-ion batteries. A paper on the work is published in the journal Advanced Energy Materials.

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Stanford team develops new simple approach for viable Li-metal anodes for advanced batteries

Lithium-metal anodes are favored for use in next-generation rechargeable Li-air or Li-sulfur batteries due to a tenfold higher theoretical specific capacity than graphite (3,860 mAh/g vs. 372 mAh/g); light weight and lowest anode potential. However, safety issues resulting from dendrite formation and instability caused by volume expansion have hampered development and deployment of commercially viable solutions.

A team at Stanford led by Prof. Yi Cui has now introduced a simple approach to address both issues by effectively encapsulating lithium inside a porous host scaffold using a facile melt-infusion approach. Uniformly confined within the matrix, the lithium creates a material that can deliver a high capacity of around 2,000 mAh/g (gravimetric) or 1,900 mAh/cm3 (volumetric) as stable anodes for Li-metal batteries. A paper on their work is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

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Toyota GAZOO Racing introduces TS050 hybrid racer for 2016 WEC season; moves up to 8MJ class with Li-ion battery

March 24, 2016

Toyota GAZOO Racing revealed the all-new TS050 HYBRID LMP1 racer—Toyota’s third new car since joining WEC in 2012—for the 2016 World Endurance Championship (WEC) competition. Following an unsuccessful defense of its World Championship titles in 2015, Toyota set itself tough performance targets in order to compete once again at the front of the field, featuring fellow LMP1-Hybrid manufacturers Porsche and Audi.

The TS050 HYBRID features a significant change in powertrain concept. A 2.4-liter, twin-turbo, direct injection V6 gasoline engine is combined with an 8MJ hybrid system, both of which are developed by Motor Sport Unit Development Division at Higashi-Fuji Technical Center.

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Hyundai unveils Ioniq HEV, PHEV and EV for US market at New York show

Hyundai Motor America introduced the Ioniq Hybrid, Plug-in Hybrid, and Electric models for the US market at the New York International Auto Show; the full line of three electrified variants made their global debut earlier this year at the Geneva show. (Earlier post). Ioniq is the first to offer three distinct electrified powertrains on a single, dedicated vehicle platform.

The Ioniq Hybrid and Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid both feature a new Kappa 1.6 direct-injected Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine with a thermal efficiency of 40%, delivering an estimated 104 horsepower (78 kW) and an estimated 109 lb-ft (148 N·m) of torque. This engine has been specifically tailored to the hybrid application and is combined with a smooth shifting six-speed double-clutch transmission—intended to differentiate Ioniq from its key competitors with a more dynamic and engaging driving experience.

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Porsche presents new 919 Hybrid LMP1 racer; 800V battery technology

March 23, 2016

Two days before the official Prologue for the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) at Paul Ricard, France, Porsche presented its new 919 Hybrid LMP1 race car for the 2016 season.

This season, Porsche will fully exploit the WEC regulations by deploying three different aerodynamic packages to make the car best suited to the respective race tracks. (Three aerodynamic specifications are the maximum allowed.) The weight of the four-cylinder turbo engine, as well as its fuel consumption, was further reduced, while the efficiency of the two energy recovery systems of the hybrid drive have been improved. For 2016, the components of the electric drive have also become more powerful and efficient.

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Toyota doubles the electric range in the new version of Prius PHEV with 8.8 kWh pack

Toyota unveiled the new Prius Prime plug-in hybrid (PHEV) at the 2016 New York International Auto Show. Toyota expects the Prius Prime’s manufacturer-estimated 120 or above MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent) to be the highest MPGe rating of any current plug-in hybrid. It also represents a substantial 26-percent enhancement over its predecessor, the Prius PHV, a result of greater battery capacity and an improved hybrid system. In hybrid mode, the Prius Prime is targeting a hybrid MPG equal to or better than the Prius liftback.

Toyota also expects the Prius Prime, equipped with an 8.8 kWh battery pack, to offer an estimated 22 miles (35.4 km) of all-electric range—twice the electric range of the previous model with its 4.4 kWh pack—and to drive at speeds up to 84 mph (135 km/h).

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Sadoway and MIT team demonstrate calcium-metal-based liquid metal battery

MIT professor Donald Sadoway and his team have demonstrated a long-cycle-life calcium-metal-based liquid-metal rechargeable battery for grid-scale energy storage, overcoming the problems that have precluded the use of the element: its high melting temperature, high reactivity and unfavorably high solubility in molten salts.

Their work, reported in an open-access paper in the journal Nature Communications, could make liquid metal battery technology even more practical and affordable, and open up a whole family of potential variations that could make use of local resources.

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