[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.]
Nissan and Eaton broaden xStorage Home energy storage portfolio; 10-year xStorage Buildings deal with Amsterdam ArenA
November 30, 2016
Nissan and power management leader Eaton are broadening their portfolio of xStorage Home residential energy storage solutions—which can use second-life EV batteries—by introducing a range of six product configurations, giving consumers greater choice to meet their energy needs. This announcement comes as pre-orders of xStorage Home begin today in the United Kingdom, Norway and Germany with other European markets to follow in the coming months.
Nissan and Eaton also announced a 10-year deal with Amsterdam ArenA—home of Ajax Football Club and world-famous entertainment venue—to provide back-up power to the arena from second-life Nissan LEAF batteries. The 55,000-seat stadium has hosted numerous high profile concerts and sporting events over the years.
Stanford team uses battery electrode materials to boost platinum catalytic performance for fuel cells
November 25, 2016
A team at Stanford University has developed a method for using battery electrode materials directly and continuously to control the lattice strain of a platinum (Pt) catalyst, thereby boosting catalytic activity for the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) in fuel cells by up to nearly 90%. A paper on their work is published in Science.
Modifying the electronic structure of catalysts can improve their performance; lattice strain (either compressive or tensile) modifies the distances between surface atoms and hence modifies catalytic activity. However, the common approach of using metal overlayers to induce strain has some control issues, such as introducing ligand effects.
Saint Jean Carbon building a high performance lithium-ion battery with recycled/upcycled material
Saint Jean Carbon Inc., a carbon science company engaged in the design and build of energy storage carbon materials, and a battery manufacturing partner will build a high-powered full-scale lithium-ion battery with recycled/upcycled material from an electric car power pack and upcycled anode material from Saint Jean Carbon.
Saint John said that this project—a first—is intended to provide results showing that the battery materials can be re-used over and over again, greatly reducing the demand for continued mining and helping the environment significantly. The project will take a three-stage approach:
Toyota develops method to observe behavior of Li ions in electrolyte; expected contributions to battery performance & durability
November 24, 2016
Toyota Motor’s Central R&D Labs, along with Nippon Soken and four universities (Hokkaido, Tohoku, Kyoto, and Ritsumeikan) has developed the first method for observing the real-time behavior of lithium ions (Li-ions) in an electrolyte as a Li-ion battery charges and discharges. The researchers will present a paper on this method, results and the implications for battery design at the 57th Battery Symposium in Japan next week.
Toyota believes that this method—which combines high-intensity X-ray (synchrotron radiation) for high speed measurement at high resolution with a special, easy-to-observe electrolyte—will provide essential guidelines for R&D that aims to improve the performance and durability of batteries, which would lead to longer battery life, as well as longer driving ranges for plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHVs) and electric vehicles (EVs).
DOE awards $1.1M to Penn State project to develop protective, self-healing layers for Li metal anodes
November 23, 2016
The US Department of Energy Vehicle Technologies Office has awarded Donghai Wang, associate professor of mechanical engineering at Penn State, a $1.1-million grant to develop a new lithium-ion conductor for the protection of lithium metal used in next-generation battery technologies for electric vehicles. (Earlier post.)
With the new funding, Wang, who leads the Energy Nanostructure Laboratory at Penn State, and his team will use very thin layers of nanostructured hybrid (organic-inorganic—i.e., organo-LixSy and organo-LixPySz) materials to suppress the formation of dendrites on lithium metal anodes. The overall goal is to develop protective, self-healing layers for Li-metal anodes that will allow high cycling efficiency (> 99.7%) and dendrite-free cycling.
Some Volkswagen strategists see battery-electric, diesel cost lines crossing by 2023-2025; TRANSFORM 2025+
November 22, 2016
The increasing stringency of global emissions standards, both current and projected, is driving up the cost for internal combustion engines to meet those standards, although numerous technology pathways exist. (Earlier post.)
In a conversation with Green Car Congress at AutoMobility LA last week, Dr. Matthias Erb, Executive Vice President of the NA Engineering and Planning Center, Volkswagen Group of America, said that, as a result of those pressures, some strategists in the Volkswagen Group project that the cost lines between battery-electric vehicles and diesel will cross within the coming decade.
Volkswagen & BASF “Science Award Electrochemistry” to Dr. William Chueh from Stanford; special prize to Dr. Martin Ebner from ETH University Zurich
The Volkswagen and BASF international “Science Award Electrochemistry 2016” goes to Dr. William Chueh from Stanford University. The jury of representatives from BASF, Volkswagen and from academia selected him for his outstanding research results in the area of energy storage and conversion.
Dr. William C. Chueh is assistant professor at the Department of Materials Science & Engineering and Center Fellow at the Precourt Institute for Energy. He has attained a new level of understanding for diverse fundamental battery dynamics which limit battery rate capability and life cycle. His insights are paving the way for further improving lithium-ion batteries and significantly enhancing their performance. (Earlier post.)
Leclanché and Narada Power sign strategic global alliance for Li-ion technology
November 21, 2016
Swiss battery manufacturer Leclanché SA (earlier post) and China-based Zhejiang Narada Power Source Co Ltd, a global battery manufacturer, announced a strategic partnership for the manufacturing and development of lithium-ion battery technology for the Chinese and global markets.
Leclanché will support Narada with technology transfer to achieve low-cost, scale manufacturing of Leclanché’s proprietary high-cycling and fast-charging lithium titanate (LTO) and high energy density graphite nickel manganese cobalt (G-NMC) battery storage technologies.
CMU team details impact of regional and drive-cycle variations on degradation of a PHEV battery pack
November 20, 2016
A team at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) led by Dr. Jeremy Michalek has investigated the implications of regional and drive cycle variations on the degradation of a plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) battery. Modeling a PHEV with an air-cooled battery pack comprising cylindrical LiFePO4/graphite cells, they simulated the effect of thermal management, driving conditions, regional climate, and vehicle system design on battery life.
In their paper, published in the Journal of Power Sources, they reported that in the absence of thermal management, aggressive driving can cut battery life by two-thirds; a blended gas/electric-operation control strategy can quadruple battery life relative to an all-electric control strategy; larger battery packs can extend life by an order of magnitude relative to small packs used for all-electric operation; and batteries last 73–94% longer in mild-weather San Francisco than in hot Phoenix.
Volkswagen investing €3.5B in German plants for e-mobility and digitalization; MEB production, pilot plant for batteries and modules
November 18, 2016
Volkswagen will invest €3.5-billion (US$3.7-billion) investment in the future-oriented areas of e-mobility and digitalization for its German plants. As part of an agreement with its General Works Council (i.e., labor), the Board of Management announced that the Volkswagen brand’s German plants will develop and produce electric vehicles and components based on the Modular Electric Drive Kit (MEB). (Earlier post.)
The MEB is the foundation for an entirely new generation of long-range battery-electric vehicles that will be connected, autonomous, open and priced for the volume market as required by Volkswagen’s positioning. The first production MEB vehicle, a version of the I.D. concept shown this year at the Paris show (earlier post), will—with a range of up to 373 miles and a market introduction in 2020—be priced approximately at the level of a diesel Golf, before any subsidies.
DOE to issue $47M FY17 Vehicle Technologies program-wide funding opportunity
November 17, 2016
The US Department of Energy (DOE) will soon issue its FY17 Vehicle Technologies Program Wide Funding Opportunity Announcement (DE-FOA-0001701). The FOA will have estimated funding of $47,150,000; DOE expects to post the full announcement (DE-FOA-0001629) in December.
DOE’s Vehicle Technologies Office supports a broad technology portfolio of advanced highway transportation technologies. Research, development, and deployment efforts are focused on reducing the cost and improving the performance of a mix of near- and long-term vehicle technologies including advanced batteries, power electronics and electric motors, lightweight and propulsion materials, advanced combustion engines, advanced fuels and lubricants, and other enabling technologies. The upcoming FOA may include the following areas of interest (AOI):
Brown team creates patterned metal-oxide films using GO template; 4x charge-carrying capacity in Mn2O3
November 10, 2016
Researchers from Brown University have developed a new method for making ultrathin metal-oxide sheets containing intricate wrinkle and crumple patterns by transferring those patters from graphene oxide templates. In a study published in the journal ACS Nano, the researchers show that the resulting textured metal-oxide films have better performance when used as photocatalysts and as battery electrodes.
The new findings build on previous work done by the same research group in which they developed a method for introducing finely tuned wrinkle and crumple textures into sheets of the nanomaterial graphene oxide (GO). The study showed that the process enhanced some of graphene’s properties. The textures made the graphene better able to repel water, which would be useful in making water-resistant coatings, and enhanced graphene’s ability to conduct electricity.
DOE FY17 SBIR Phase I Release 2 topics include fuel cells, EV batteries, engines
November 08, 2016
The US Department of Energy (DOE) has announced the 2017 Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) Phase I Release 2 topics, including three subtopics focused on hydrogen and fuel cell technologies. The fuel cell subtopics include innovative materials for bipolar plates; liquid organic hydrogen carriers; and emergency hydrogen refuelers.
The Phase I Release 2 topics also include four vehicle subtopics, including electric drive vehicle batteries; SiC device qualification for electric drive vehicle power electronics; fuel efficiency improvement technologies for conventional stoichiometric gasoline direct injection multi-cylinder internal combustion engines; and wide-range high-boost turbocharging system. Further, a technology transfer opportunity is the use of a new Argonne catalyst for reducing NOx.
Nikkei: Toyota to begin mass-producing 300+ km BEV by 2020
November 07, 2016
Without citing sources, the Nikkei reported that Toyota Motor intends to start mass-producing battery-electric vehicles capable of a range of more than 300 km (186 miles) on a single charge by 2020. According to the report, the platform underlying the Prius or Corolla is being considered for an electric SUV.
Up to now, Toyota has envisioned using all battery-electric powertrains mainly in short-distance, urban applications; longer-range electric operation was to be handled by fuel cell vehicles. With GM readying the release of the 383 km (238-mile) Chevy Bolt for this year, Tesla plowing ahead for a release of the Model 3 next year, and other rivals such as Volkswagen accelerating their long-range EV efforts, however, Toyota apparently is broadening its strategy.
Cummins working on two medium- and heavy-duty PHEV projects; Class 6 truck, Class 7 and 8 buses
November 03, 2016
At the SAE 2016 Range Extenders for Electric Vehicles Symposium this week in Knoxville, Gary Parker, Director of Electromobility programs for Cummins, Inc. outlined two of the plug-in hybrid projects in which the engine manufacturer is currently involved.
The first project, in partnership with the Ohio State University, PACCAR, NREL and Argonne National Laboratory and funded with $4.5 million from the DOE, is to develop a Class 6 commercial plug-in hybrid electric vehicle that can reduce fuel consumption by at least 50% over conventional Class 6 vehicles. (Earlier post.)
Nissan introduces series-hybrid powertrain with Note e-POWER in Japan; small pack, small engine, LEAF motor, low price
November 02, 2016
In Japan, Nissan Motor introduced its new series-hybrid drive system called e-POWER along with its application in the Note. This marks the first availability of e-POWER technology for consumers, marking a milestone in the electrification strategy under Nissan Intelligent Mobility.
e-POWER borrows from the EV technology in the Nissan LEAF. Unlike the all-battery-electric powertrain of the LEAF, e-POWER adds a small gasoline engine to charge the high-output battery when necessary, eliminating the need for an external charger while offering the same high-output. Nissan says that although e-POWER uses a much smaller battery than the LEAF (1.5 kWh vs 30 kWh), it delivers the same driving experience as a full EV.
Maxwell Technologies delivers first commercial application of Li-ion capacitor technology with CRRC-SRI in China
November 01, 2016
Maxwell Technologies, Inc., a leading developer and manufacturer of ultracapacitor-based energy storage and power delivery solutions, announced the first commercial application of lithium-ion capacitors, developed in conjunction with China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation (CRRC-SRI), China’s largest rail manufacturer. (Earlier post.)
The technology will be used for rapid energy regeneration in the trolley system in the capital city of Hunan province in China. Following last year’s announcement of Maxwell’s strategic partnership with CRRC-SRI to collaborate on developing next-generation capacitive energy storage solutions, this project is the first to leverage Maxwell’s new lithium-ion technology and validates its unique value proposition for rail applications.
Aqua Metals produces first AquaRefined lead at first AquaRefinery; tests 99.99% pure
Aqua Metals has produced the first AquaRefined lead at its AquaRefinery in McCarran, Nevada. AquaRefining is a water-based, room-temperature process that is the only clean lead recycling method for lead-acid batteries (LAB). (Earlier post.)
Through its own on-site assay, Aqua Metals has verified that the lead produced in the AquaRefining module is more than 99.99% pure. The company will send its initial production samples to several US battery manufacturing companies—which collectively represent more than 50% of US battery production—to allow them to conduct their own assays.
New interfacial architecture enables high-energy solid-state Li battery with long cycle life
October 27, 2016
Researchers led by a team from Ningbo Institute of Materials Technology and Engineering in China has developed ultrastable all-solid-state lithium batteries (421 mAh g−1 at 1.27 mA cm−2 after 1000 cycles) with high energy and power densities of 360 Wh kg−1 and 3823 W kg−1 at current densities of 0.13 and 12.73 mA cm−2, respectively. A paper on their work is published in the ACS journal Nano Letters.
To achieve their results, the researchers developed a new interfacial architecture. The researchers say that their design approach can be used as a generic route for synthesizing other sulfur-based or transitional metal sulfides−sulfide electrolyte composites for all-solid-state lithium batteries.
Columbia team develops new prelithiation method to increase Li-ion battery energy density by 10-30%
October 24, 2016
A team at Columbia University, with colleagues from Institute Recherche d’Hydro-Québec (IREQ), has developed a new pre-lithiation method to increase the energy density of lithium (Li-ion) batteries by utilizing a trilayer structure that is stable even in ambient air. This makes the battery both longer lasting and cheaper to manufacture. The work, which may improve the energy density of lithium batteries by 10-30%, is published in the ACS journal Nano Letters.
Li-ion batteries are produced in a discharged state; however, a considerable amount of active Li+ ions are lost during the initial charge due to the formation of the solid electrolyte interphase (SEI) on the anode surface. This results in a low initial coulombic efficiency and lowers the energy density of full cells. This step is even more critical in nanostructured anodes with high specific capacity, such as Si and Sn, due to their high surface area and large volume change.
Daimler subsidiary ACCUMOTIVE begins construction of second Li-ion factory; batteries for 1st EQ model, 48V systems
Daimler subsidiary ACCUMOTIVE has begun construction of a second Li-ion battery factory at its site in Kamenz. With an investment of about €500 million (US$545 million), the site in Kamenz will be one of the biggest and most modern battery factories in Europe.
The new production facility is planned to start operations in the middle of 2018. The area of about 20 hectares is located in immediate proximity of the existing battery factory in Kamenz, about 50 kilometers from Dresden. With the construction of the second facility, the production and logistics area will be quadrupled to about 80,000 square meters. The workforce will double by the end of this decade.
U-M team uses new technique to provide in-depth understanding of dendrite growth on Li metal anodes
October 19, 2016
A team at the University of Michigan (U-M) has used operando video microscopy to develop a comprehensive understanding of the voltage variations observed during Li metal cycling, which is directly correlated to dendrite growth. Specifically, they observed the evolution of the morphology of the Li electrode through operando high-resolution video capture, and directly correlated the morphology to time synchronized voltage traces.
They then developed a model to relate electrode morphology and competing electrochemical kinetics to cell voltage. This allowed for an in-depth understanding of the electrochemical processes occurring. This work, published in an open-access paper in ACS Central Science, provides a level of detailed understanding that can help researchers take the next steps toward bringing Li metal anodes to commercial reality.
Ube Industries and Mitsubishi Chemical to form 50-50 Li-ion battery electrolyte JV in China
October 18, 2016
Ube Industries, Ltd. and Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation have agreed to a tie-up for their electrolyte businesses in China under a 50-50 joint venture to supply highly competitive electrolyte to the market. The JV will enable the two companies to combine their production technologies and mutually to use their technology resources including intellectual property, in order to enhance their technologies and cost competitiveness.
Ube Industries and Mitsubishi Chemical will apply for approval from government authorities in China and other relevant countries. Upon securing the necessary approvals, the two companies will shift their electrolyte businesses in China to a joint operation in April 2017.
24M delivers initial quantity of production-size semi-solid Lithium-ion cells to NEC Energy Solutions
October 12, 2016
On schedule, 24M has successfully delivered an initial quantity of production-size battery cells to NEC Energy Solutions, Inc. (NEC ES), meeting the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) the two companies signed last year at this time. (Earlier post.)
24M is leveraging existing, preferred energy storage chemistry but using a new cell design with semi-solid (a mixture of solid and liquid phases) thick electrodes and manufacturing innovations to deliver what it says will be up to a 50% reduction in current Li-ion costs.
Maxwell Technologies unveils 51-Volt ultracapacitor module for hybrid buses
Maxwell Technologies, a leading developer and manufacturer of ultracapacitor-based energy storage and power delivery solutions, has introduced a 51-volt (51V) module, the newest addition to its ultracapacitor product offerings for rugged applications. The 51V module uses Maxwell’s leading 2.85V, 3,400-farad (F) ultracapacitor cell to deliver the company’s highest available energy and power density.
As durable and efficient energy storage solutions are in strong market demand, Maxwell’s 51V module provides a self-cooling system solution that helps to optimize the performance of hybrid buses and other high-duty cycle applications.
MIT team develops first supercapacitor made entirely from neat MOFs, without conductive additives or binders
October 11, 2016
Researchers at MIT have shown that a MOF (metal-organic framework) with high electrical conductivity—Ni3(2,3,6,7,10,11-hexaiminotriphenylene)2 (Ni3(HITP)2)—can serve as the sole electrode material in a supercapacitor. This is the first example of a supercapacitor made entirely from neat MOFs as active materials, without conductive additives or other binders.
The MOF-based device shows an areal capacitance that exceeds those of most carbon-based materials and capacity retention greater than 90% over 10,000 cycles, in line with commercial devices. Given the established structural and compositional tunability of MOFs, these results herald the advent of a new generation of supercapacitors whose active electrode materials can be tuned rationally, at the molecular level, the researchers suggested. A paper on their work is published in the journal Nature Materials.
Report: Honda and Saitec develop practical Mg-ion battery with vanadium oxide cathode; commercialization by 2018
October 10, 2016
The Nikkei, citing unnamed sources, reports that R&D organization Saitec (Saitama Industrial Technology Center) and Honda Motor have developed a practical magnesium-ion rechargeable battery and hope to commercialize it. Saitec reportedly led the development; Honda R&D assessed the technology’s viability. The two are slated to announce the battery next month.
Because magnesium is divalent, it can displace double the charge per ion (i.e., Mg2+ rather than Li+). As an element, magnesium is much more abundant than lithium, and more stable. Magnesium-ion batteries theoretically could offer good electrochemical performance, while being safer and less expensive than Li-ion batteries. Toyota has been looking into Mg-ion systems for a number of years (earlier post). However, Mg-ion batteries have suffered from a number of limitations, resulting in rapid degradation of performance.
Sulfur-loaded carbon aerogel as cathode for Li-S battery offers improved cyclic stability
Researchers at South China Normal University in Guangzhou have developed a novel composite of sulfur loaded in micropore-rich carbon aerogel (CA-S) for use as a cathode in Li-sulfur batteries.
Compared to sulfur loaded in a common carbon material, acetylene black (AB-S), the CA-S exhibited significantly improved cyclic stability and rate capability. The CA is micropore-rich with micropore volume over 66% of total pore volume. In a paper in the Journal of Power Sources, and team attributed the improved performance of CA-S to the confinement of the micropores in CA to small sulfur allotropes and corresponding lithium sulfides.
Volkswagen’s MEB for EVs: long electric range, open-platform, open-space, pricing for the volume market; “tablet on wheels”
October 05, 2016
Brands within the Volkswagen Group have been rolling out modular component matrices, or assembly toolkits, for their light-duty vehicles over the past few years. Until recently, the four main modular toolkits (modularen Baukästen) of the Group were: the MQB (transverse, driven by the Volkswagen brand); the MLB (longitudinal, driven by the Audi brand); the MSB (standard drive, driven by Porsche); and the NSF (New Small Family).
Development work on these continues; Audi, for example, is refining MLB evo—the second-generation of MLB and the foundation for the battery-electric e-tron quattro SUV due out in 2018. (Earlier post.) These four main kits are now joined by the all-new Modularer Elektrifizierungsbaukasten (“Modular Electric Drive kit”, or MEB), being developed by the Volkswagen brand. The MEB will be the foundation for an entirely new generation of battery-electric vehicles designed not only to be electric and feature extended range, but to be connected, autonomous, open and priced for the volume market as required by Volkswagen’s positioning.
CCM: demand for ternary Li-ion batteries in China to more than double to 10 GWh in 2016 from 4.4GWh in 2015 due to subsidy fraud and response
In the wake of the news that five alternative energy vehicle (AEV) makers defrauded the Chinese government of about US$150 million in subsidies, the Chinese government adjusted its subsidy policies for alternative energy vehicles. Market analyst CCM believes that the adjustment will change the market structure and that ternary Li-ion power batteries—i.e., Li-ion batteries with ternary cathode materials such as LMO, NCM/NCA, LFP, etc.—will be the biggest gainers.
The firm forecasts an immediate boom in demand for ternary Li-ion batteries—mainly used to power alternative energy vehicles—from 4.4GWh in 2015 to 10 GWh in 2016.
LG Chem to supply Li-ion cells to Faraday Future; targeting highest energy density production cell for automotive battery
October 04, 2016
Faraday Future (FF) announced a partnership with LG Chem to supply lithium-ion cells for FF’s electric vehicles. The partnership also represents a joint commitment between both companies to collaborate on the development of EV battery technology, resulting in the world’s highest energy density for a production automotive battery.
These cells will be incorporated into Faraday Future’s VPA platform, the company’s universal and scalable modular battery structure that supports the development of a range of vehicles. The VPA platform is a critical component to Faraday Future’s future product portfolio.
Sion Power reports 400 Wh/kg, 700 Wh/L and 350 cycles under 1C for Li-ion battery with Li-metal anode technology
October 03, 2016
Sion Power reported that a Licerion-Ion system has achieved 400 Wh/kg, 700 Wh/L and 350 cycles under 1C discharge conditions. Dr. Yuriy Mikhaylik, Sion Power’s Director of Materials, is presenting details on this performance in an invited presentation at the ECS meeting in Honolulu this week.
Licerion, a product of Sion Power’s technical collaboration with BASF (earlier post), is a comprehensive battery system that significantly enhances the energy and cycle life of rechargeable batteries using a physically protected metallic lithium anode. The physical protection is based on ceramic-polymer composite membranes and is combined with specialized cell design and electrolyte systems providing smooth, dendrite-free lithium deposition and chemical protection of the exposed metallic lithium surface. This approach addresses the safety and cycle life problems that have historically plagued lithium-metal electrodes.
Ube to expand production capacity for Li-ion battery separators; used in batteries in Gen 4 Prius
October 01, 2016
Ube Industries, Ltd. will expand its production capacity for its U-Pore polyolefin multiparous film for lithium-ion battery separators at the Sakai Factory in Sakai City, Osaka Prefecture, in order to meet growing demand for lithium-ion batteries used in automobiles.
UPORE has a uniform microporous structure, developed using UBE’s proprietary technology, and comes in either single or multi-layer membranes. UPORE is manufactured using an environmentally friendly dry process (lamellar crystal stretching) that does not use solvents or inorganic fillers. The use of polypropylene and polyethylene layers delivers low-temperature shutdown and high-temperature heat resistance. A uniaxial stretching method is used, resulting in no traverse direction shrinkage. Membrane thickness and permeability can be modified as required by customers.
Renault boosts range of ZOE EV to 400 km with new 41 kWh pack option
September 29, 2016
At the Paris Motor Show, Renault introduced its enhanced-range ZOE electric vehicle. Equipped with the new 41 kWh Z.E. 40 battery, ZOE now has a range of up to 400 km (249 miles) NEDC—twice the distance of the original launch version of the ZOE. At the same, ZOE owners can benefit from a range of new connected services and equipment upgrades. Order books for the new ZOE line-up are open. The new ZOEs fitted with the new Z.E. 40 battery are made at Renault’s Flins plant in France and will be available for delivery before the end of the year.
Renault said that new Z.E. 40 battery delivers a real-world range of 300 kilometers (186 miles) in urban or suburban areas. (The ranges are for ZOEs equipped with either the 75- or 90-horsepower version of the standard R75/90 motor, previously known as the R240 (earlier post). The figure used for this motor’s name now refers to the power output instead of the NEDC range as was previously the case. The R90 motor is available for all versions of the ZOE, with the exception of the French market’s entry level version which features the R75 motor.)
New high-performance foldable cathode for Li-S batteries based on 3D activated carbon fiber matrix
September 28, 2016
A team at Sun Yat-sen University in China has developed new high-performance, stable cathode for Li-S batteries consisting of a 3D activated carbon fiber matrix (ACFC) and sulfur.
The structured 3D foldable sulfur cathode (ACFC-S) delivers a reversible capacity of about 979 mAh g−1 at 0.2C; a capacity retention of 98% after 100 cycles; and 0.02% capacity attenuation per cycle. Even at an areal capacity of 6 mAh cm−2—2 times higher than the values of Li-ion batteries—it still maintains an excellent rate capability and cycling performance. An open access paper on their work is published in Scientific Reports.
BioSolar begins development of high-energy anode technology
BioSolar, a developer of energy storage technology and materials, has begun development of a high energy anode for current- and next-generation lithium batteries. While this anode is an independent technology, the Company will seek synergies with the Super Cathode technology it has been developing. (Earlier post.)
BioSolar’s cathode technology, which has been the primary focus of its university-led research and development efforts, is a novel conductive polymer material that leverages fast redox-reaction properties rather than conventional lithium-ion intercalation chemistry to enable rapid charge and discharge. In contrast, BioSolar’s new anode technology is compatible with existing lithium-ion intercalation chemistries.
Vattenfall, BMW and Bosch test second-life EV battery electricity storage in Hamburg for grid stabilization
September 23, 2016
Vattenfall, BMW and Bosch are testing the use of second-life EV batteries in a 2 MW, 2,800 kWh energy storage system in Hamburg, Germany, to keep the electricity grid stable.
The electricity storage facility comprises 2,600 battery modules from more than 100 electric vehicles. It could supply electricity to an average two-person household for seven months. However, the stored energy is not intended for general supply, but instead is sold on the primary control reserve market by Vattenfall, along with power from other flexibly controllable facilities. The storage facility delivers primary control reserve power necessary to keep the 50 Hz grid frequency stable. Primary control reserve power must be available within a few seconds.
Lead-acid battery companies join forces with Argonne to enhance battery performance
September 20, 2016
Exploring the unrealized potential of lead batteries is the goal of a new collaboration between the US Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory and two leading lead recycling and lead battery manufacturing companies: RSR Technologies and East Penn Manufacturing.
The collaboration will enable RSR and East Penn to use Argonne‘s state-of-the-art analytic technologies to accelerate the research of lead batteries in order to enhance performance. Tests undertaken will investigate the fundamental transport processes in lead batteries using a variety of characterization techniques available at Argonne.
UNIST/Stanford team develops new Li-ion anode with silicon-nanolayer-embedded graphite/carbon; 1,043 Wh/l full LiCoO2 cell
September 19, 2016
Researchers affiliated with Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), South Korea, and Stanford University have demonstrated the feasibility of a next-generation hybrid anode for high-capacity Li-on batteries using silicon-nanolayer-embedded graphite/carbon.
This architecture allows compatibility between silicon and natural graphite and addresses the issues of severe side reactions caused by structural failure of crumbled graphite dust and uncombined residue of silicon particles by conventional mechanical milling. A paper describing the work is published in the journal Nature Energy.
Ilika to work with Johnson Matthey on 3-year project to develop protected anodes for Li-S batteries
September 18, 2016
UK-based materials company Ilika, also a developer of solid-state batteries, is taking part in a three-year project to develop protected anodes for lithium sulfur batteries, led by Johnson Matthey Plc and supported by Innovate UK and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). £365,133 (US$475,000) of the grant will be used to fund project activities at Ilika.
This project will develop an innovative approach to protected lithium anodes, via Ilika’s high-throughput materials development technique, to discover new electrolyte composition options and fabricate a free-standing, lithium-containing protected anode/separator for integration into pouch cells.
24M and partners awarded $3.5M from ARPA-E to develop ultra-high-energy density batteries with new lithium-metal anodes
September 16, 2016
As part of its new IONICS (Integration and Optimization of Novel Ion Conducting Solids) program awards (earlier post), the US Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) awarded $3.5 million in funding to a team that includes 24M, Sepion Technologies, Berkeley Lab, and Carnegie Mellon University. The funds will be used to develop novel membranes and lithium-metal anodes for the next generation of high-energy-density, low-cost batteries.
24M’s core technology is semi-solid lithium-ion, a new class of lithium-ion batteries that will be initially deployed in stationary storage. With this ARPA-E program, 24M and its partners will extend the capabilities of semi-solid electrodes to ultra-high-energy density cells that use lithium-metal anodes.
ARPA-E awards $37M for IONICS projects; improving solid-state batteries and fuel cells
September 14, 2016
The US Department of Energy (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) announced $37 million in funding for 16 innovative new projects as part of a new ARPA-E program: Integration and Optimization of Novel Ion-Conducting Solids (IONICS). IONICS project teams are paving the way for technologies that overcome the limitations of current battery and fuel cell products.
By creating high performance parts built with solid ion conductors—solids in which ions can be mobile and store energy—the IONICS program will focus on new ways to process and integrate these parts into devices with the goal of accelerating their commercial deployment. In particular, IONICS projects will work to improve energy storage and conversion technologies in three categories: transportation batteries, grid-level storage, and fuel cells.
World’s largest 2nd-use battery storage starting up; Daimler, Mobility House, GETEC
September 13, 2016
The world’s largest 2nd-use battery storage is starting up. The 13 MWh project is now nearing completion after a construction time of just under one year; a total of 1,000 battery systems from second-generation smart fortwo electric drive cars are being grouped into a battery storage in Lünen, Westphalia. Partners in the project are Daimler AG, The Mobility House AG and GETEC.
The first power units are already in the grid. The 13 MWh battery storage will put its full capacity at the disposal of the German energy market before the end of this year. The output will be available to the winner of the weekly auctions among the network operators for primary controlling power range, with fully automatic energy storage and feed-in.
A123 collaborating with Argonne on new Li-ion NMC cathode targeting EV applications
September 10, 2016
A123 Systems LLC, a developer and manufacturer of advanced lithium-ion batteries and systems, will collaborate with Argonne National Laboratory on an advanced nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC) cathode development program that results in safe lithium-ion batteries with high energy densities and long lifetimes.
The three-year, multi-million dollar agreement between A123 Systems and Argonne National Laboratory will focus on improving the cathode safety without compromising cell energy density or battery life. With A123 playing the lead role, the two organizations will produce a safe class of advanced cathode materials for use in transportation applications that require substantial improvements in electric driving range.
XALT Energy introduces high-performance lithium titanate cell technology; electric bus applications
XALT Energy has introduced a high-performance Lithium Titanium Oxide (LTO) cell that it says has achieved better cycle life performance over a wider range of operating conditions than any lithium-ion cell ever built.
XALT pairs the LTO anode with an NMC cathode in a prismatic, stacked parallel plate electrode design offering greater reliability, safety, life and fast charge capability. The 60 Ah, 2.2 V cell features high power capability (5C/10C), a wide operating range (-40 °C to +55 °C), low impedance and heat generation, and is capable of a less than 10-minute fast charge.
Dalhousie team explores impact of different electrolyte solvents and electrolyte additives on high-voltage Li-ion cells
September 09, 2016
One pragmatic approach to delivering the high energy-density Li-ion batteries required for longer EV range is to boost the operating voltage of batteries above the current ~4 volts. However, the performance of some higher voltage electrode materials is poor in conventional carbonate-based electrolytes due to increased electrolyte oxidation at high positive potentials, leading to cell failure stemming from gas generation and impedance growth.
As a result, successfully operating higher voltage Li-ion cells may require a combination of new electrolyte solvents, electrolyte additives as well as surface coatings. A team at Dalhousie University (Canada) led by Professor Jeff Dahn has explored the impact of different electrolyte solvents and electrolyte additives in high-voltage coated and uncoated NMC442 (LiNi0.4Mn0.4Co0.2O2)/graphite cells and compared them head-to-head using an automatic storage system (up to 4.7 V) and automated EIS/cycling measurements (up to 4.5 V). A paper detailing their findings is published in the Journal of Power Sources.
Fuji Pigment synthesizing ionic liquids for Al-air battery electrolytes, Li-ion electrolytes and other applications
September 08, 2016
Fuji Pigment Co., Ltd. is synthesizing ionic liquids for a range of applications, including its own aluminum-air battery, currently under development (earlier post); electrolytes for Li-ion batteries; and solvents for cellulose nanofibers.
Ionic liquids are chemical compounds composed of organic cations such as imidazolium ions and pyridinium ions, and anions such as bromide, fluoride, and chloride. Various ionic liquids with different properties can be created by combining different cations and anions. The unlimited number of ion combinations for their synthesis leads to numerous different ionic liquids that can be created. So far, Fuji Pigment has synthesized imidazolium-, chloride-, and bromide-based ionic liquids, with a number of other ionic liquids currently under development. The company can synthesize most ionic liquids at a customer’s request.
MIT team discovers two mechanisms at work in Li dendrite formation
September 02, 2016
Researchers at MIT have carried out the most detailed analysis yet of lithium dendrite formation from lithium anodes in batteries and have found that there are two entirely different mechanisms at work. While both forms of deposits are composed of lithium filaments, the way they grow depends on the applied current.
Clustered, “mossy” deposits, which form at low rates, turn out to grow from their roots and can be relatively easy to control. More sparse and rapidly advancing “dendritic” projections grow only at their tips. The dendritic type, the researchers say, are harder to deal with and are responsible for most of the problems dendrites cause: degraded performance and short-circuits that damage or disable the battery. Their findings are reported in an open-access paper in the RSC journal Energy and Environmental Science.
Berkeley Lab team directly probes solid/liquid interface of electrochemical double layer
September 01, 2016
Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have directly probed the solid/liquid interface of the electrochemical double layer (EDL) using a novel X-ray toolkit. The X-ray tools and techniques could be extended, the researchers say, to provide new insight about battery performance and corrosion, a wide range of chemical reactions, and even biological and environmental processes that rely on similar chemistry.
Originally conceived by Hermann von Helmholtz in the 19th century, the EDL is a key concept in the modern electrochemistry of electrified interfaces. The properties of the interface formed by a charged electrode surface immersed in an electrolyte governs the charge transfer processes through the interface itself, thus influencing the electrochemical responses of the electrode/electrolyte system. These concepts and models together serve as the foundation of modern electrochemistry, the researchers noted in an open-access paper describing the work published in Nature Communications.
Samsung SDI building Li-ion battery plant in Hungary; global triangular production structure
August 31, 2016
Samsung SDI has decided to use Hungary as its Li-ion battery production base in Europe. The new battery plant will be built in Goed, north of Budapest in a 330,000 m2 site, using existing facilities previously used for display production. The new facility in Hungary will enable Samsung SDI to establish a global triangular production structure along with existing plants in Ulsan, Korea and Xian, China.
Aiming to start commercial production in 2nd half of 2018, the company will build production lines with annual capacity of batteries for 50,000 pure electric vehicles, investing around 400 billion won (~US$358 million).
DOE HPC4Mfg program funds 13 projects to advance US manufacturing; welding, Li-S batteries among projects
A US Department of Energy (DOE) program designed to spur the use of high performance supercomputers to advance US manufacturing has funded 13 new industry projects for a total of $3.8 million. Among the projects selected are one by GM and EPRI of California to improve welding techniques for automobile manufacturing and power plant builds in partnership with Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).
Another one of the 13 projects is led by Sepion Technologies, which will partner with LBNL to make new membranes to increase the lifetime of Li-S batteries for hybrid airplanes.
SLAC, Utrecht Univ. team visualize poisoning of FCC catalysts used in gasoline production; seeing changes in pore network materials
Merging two powerful 3-D X-ray techniques, a team of researchers from the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Utrecht University in the Netherlands revealed new details of the metal poisoning process that clogs the pores of fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) catalyst particles used in gasoline production, causing them to lose effectiveness.
The team combined their data to produce a video that shows the chemistry of this aging process and takes the viewer on a virtual flight through the pores of a catalyst particle. More broadly, the approach is generally applicable and provides an unprecedented view of dynamic changes in a material’s pore space—an essential factor in the rational design of functional porous materials including those use for batteries and fuel cells. The results were published in an open access paper in Nature Communications.
Neah Power wins DOE award to work with Argonne to increase capacity of PowerChip Li-metal battery
August 30, 2016
Neah Power Systems, Inc., a provider of fuel cell-based power solutions and rechargeable lithium battery storage solutions for defense, commercial, and consumer applications, has won a grant from the US Department of Energy through the Small Business Vouchers Pilot Program. Neah will work with Argonne National Laboratory to increase the capacity and manufacturability of its PowerChip rechargeable lithium-metal / porous silicon battery.
The focus in this project is on characterizing the battery and performing a deconstruction analysis to determine methods to increase the energy density and / or increase the lifetime of the battery.
NOHMs raises $5M for commercializing non-flammable, ionic-liquid containing electrolytes for EV batteries
August 29, 2016
NOHMs Technologies Inc. (NOHMs), a Cornell University spin-out founded in 2010, raised $5 million in Series B venture capital financing to commercialize its non-flammable electric vehicle (EV) battery electrolyte technology. Phoenix Venture Partners II LP (PVP) led the round with Solvay Ventures, New York State Innovation Venture Capital Fund (NYSIVCF), and angel investors.
NOHMs Technologies has developed a family of ionic-liquid-containing electrolytes that are stable above 4.5 volts in lithium ion cells. The two electrolyte product lines currently under development for electric vehicle (EV) batteries are:
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.
Opinion: Could A Lithium Shortage De-Rail The Electric Car Boom?
by James Stafford of Oilprice.com
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
$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.
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.
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.
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+.
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.
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.
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.
Opinion: Why Lithium Will See Another Price Spike This Fall
July 20, 2016
by James Stafford of Oilprice.com
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.