Archive | Battery Technology Storage Innovation

Demand, not supply, is the great unknown for lithium and cobalt – by Andy Home (Reuters U.S. – June 15, 2017)

http://www.reuters.com/

The number of electric vehicles on roads worldwide rose to a record high of 2 million last year, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). That represented a doubling from the 2015 tally but electric cars still only accounted for 0.2 percent of the global count.

How many will there be in five years’ time? Or in 10 years’ time? The answer to that question will determine the fortunes of multiple metals over the coming years.

Battery materials such as lithium and cobalt are already bubbling as supply chains which have historically evolved to meet niche applications adapt to the much bigger demands of the green technology revolution. Continue Reading →

The open veins of Bolivia’s lithium powering the world – by Bostjan Videmsek (Sydney Morning Herald – June 11, 2017)

http://www.smh.com.au/

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia: Late in the morning the colours are at their prettiest, at their most intense. As far as the eye can see, the luminous white of the world’s greatest salt flats blends with the tender blue of the clear skies above the alpine desert of the Bolivian Andes.

The charismatic silence, very good at relieving the burden of one’s thoughts, is occasionally broken by the whistle of a mild though decidedly chilly breeze. The surrounding hills, some of them straining up 5000 metres, are sharply reflected in the thin film of rainwater not yet evaporated into the atmosphere. On a clear day and from afar, Salar de Uyuni looks like a colossal mirage. From up close, it looks nothing less than a miracle. But it may not remain that way for long.

Along the salt lake’s southern rim, industrial machines roar. Hundreds of heavy trucks are coming and going over the salty crust, wheezing like exhausted beasts, some 40 years old. Diesel fumes permeate the crisp mountain air. In their wake, the trucks leave perfect brown lines in the virginal whiteness, making the lake’s scores of square kilometres look like a giant bowl of cafe latte. Continue Reading →

Race Is on to Mine Metal Powering Electric Vehicles – by David Stringer (Bloomberg News – June 8, 2017)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

The race is on to supply more of the cobalt needed for batteries in the fast-growing market for electric vehicles — and that means fresh competition for the big players Glencore Plc and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

A pipeline of projects is looming in places including Australia, the U.S. and Canada after cobalt prices more than doubled in the past year. Glencore produces almost a third of the world’s supply, mainly from the Congo, which is by far the biggest source, accounting for as much as 65 percent.

Among those backing new global developments are billionaire Anil Agarwal and mining tycoon Robert Friedland. They’re aiming to capitalize as a battery boom sends demand for cobalt soaring more than 30-fold by 2030, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Continue Reading →

Electric car demand sparks lithium supply fears – by Henry Sanderson (Financial Times – June 8, 2017)

https://www.ft.com/

The cost of extracting vital battery material is likely to create a ‘supercycle’ and drive up prices

A year ago, Tesla Motors founder and chief executive Elon Musk quipped that lithium was only the “salt on the salad” for the batteries that are vital to the US company’s electric cars.

Fast forward 12 months and concern is growing among analysts, and some other carmakers, that the supply of what Mr Musk dismissed as mere “salt” will not be able to keep pace with demand as the expansion of electric vehicles begins to erode the world’s century-long reliance on oil.

“There’s a pivot,” says John Kanellitsas, vice-chairman of Lithium Americas, a miner that is developing a lithium project in Argentina. “There’s much more consensus on demand; we’re no longer even debating demand. We’re shifting to supply and whether, as an industry, we can deliver.” Continue Reading →

UK takes step closer to national electric battery hub – by Costas Pitas (Reuters U.S. – May 31, 2017)

https://www.reuters.com/

COVENTRY, ENGLAND – Britain is moving towards creating a new national development hub for electric car batteries with officials setting out plans for companies to work together to improve the technology, possibly paving the way for large-scale local production.

Representatives from politics, academia and business in the central English city of Coventry, the historic heart of the British car industry, have pitched plans for a “National Battery Prototyping Centre” which would focus on research and development and testing.

Local government officials set out their plans to create the center, with state help, at an event on Tuesday attended by the business minister and by Ralf Speth, the chief executive of Britain’s biggest carmaker, Jaguar Land Rover, who has said he wants to build electric models in the country. Continue Reading →

The Race to Build a Better Battery for Storing Power – by Ken Wells (Wall Street Journal – May 21, 2017)

https://www.wsj.com/

Long-term, utility-scale storage would turn solar and wind energy into on-demand sources of electricity

There’s the battery in your watch. There’s the battery in your mobile phone. And then there’s the battery at Green Mountain Power’s Stafford Hills solar farm in Rutland, Vt.

The lithium-ion gargantuan is housed in two trailer-truck-size green metal containers. It sits atop a 10-acre former landfill and captures electricity from 7,722 nearby solar panels—enough to power 2,000 homes on a sunny day. What’s revolutionary about this system isn’t the solar farm; it’s the size and purpose of the battery, which offers 3.4 megawatt-hours of storage, enough to supply backup power to about 170 homes for a day, if needed.

The rap on solar and wind is intermittence—they don’t produce power when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing, making them unreliable as the primary source for power grids. But if vast amounts of renewable energy—say, enough to power entire cities—could be captured and stored in giant batteries and deployed when needed, that downside would fade away. Continue Reading →

Energy storage and the UK industrial strategy: what’s next? – by Ian Larive (Energy Storage News – May 17, 2017)

https://www.energy-storage.news/

When UK prime minister Theresa May announced there would be a general election on 8 June, you could forgive the public a weary sigh at the thought of a third trip to the ballot box in as many years. And you could forgive those of us in the battery storage sector for wondering whether an election campaign might slow the industry’s momentum.

After all, the ink has barely dried on an industrial strategy that, amongst its numerous pillars, set lofty goals for the development of battery storage capacity in the UK, committing the country to innovation and becoming a world leader.

Could the election campaign mean that impetus was lost ahead of Brexit negotiations that would dominate the political space, while possibly reducing access to electricity from the continent, making storage capacity with the UK grid more vital? Continue Reading →

A graphite pro reviews recent battery event and the conflict mineral challenge – by Nicolas Tremblay (InvestorIntel.com – April 12, 2017

https://investorintel.com/

The Battery Conference in Fort Lauderdale that I recently attended from March 20-23rd is an annual event where the top battery scientists, industry executives, forecasters and enthusiasts gather to hear about the latest developments and the current state of research. On my part, I care about:

  • The worldwide state of lithium-ion market penetration and its forecasted growth;
  • How many EVs were produced in the last year and the forecasted trends for next year and beyond;
  • Getting a feel for the progress of lithium-ion in the field of ESS’s connected to the grid;
  • Looking for a battery breakthrough that has a chance of making it to production in the coming years;

There are dozens of presentations, several of which run concurrently. For anyone interested in an understanding of the current market penetration of lithium-ion needs to attend Avicenne Energy’s presentation for a talk on the market penetration of lithium-ion batteries. Here are the main things to know: Continue Reading →

Company developing lithium-ion batteries that won’t explode, catch fire – by Mike Freeman (Toronto Star – April 1, 2017)

https://www.thestar.com/

SAN DIEGO—At American Lithium Energy’s headquarters outside San Diego, president and co-founder Jiang Fan opens a padlocked door to the company’s battery-testing chamber.  Here, squat machines puncture batteries with nails, crush them with a weight and pump so much voltage into them during recharging that they swell like miniature balloons.

This abuse could spark explosions or fires in typical lithium-ion batteries. Yet American Lithium’s cells don’t blow up or ignite. They’re misshapen but harmless.

The small company, which mostly supplies batteries to the U.S. military, believes it has come up with technology to improve safety in rechargeable lithium-ion batteries — the power source for a growing number of electronic gadgets ranging from cellphones to laptops to electric cars to home energy storage. Continue Reading →

The Great Nevada Lithium Rush to Fuel the New Economy – by Paul Tullis (Bloomberg News – March 29, 2017)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

The race is on to get the mineral out of Clayton Valley and into your iPhones, Bolts, and Powerwalls.

John Rud has been riding the peaks and valleys of the commodities markets around North America since he left the University of Oregon 55 years ago with a master’s degree in geology. “The valleys are real broad, and the peaks are real narrow,” he likes to say. Copper in Canada. Silver in Texas. Gold in Mexico.

Iron in Arizona. Uranium in Utah. In one 18-year stretch, Rud and his wife moved 27 times. “I got to where I could load up a house in a U-Haul truck starting at 4 p.m., be done by midnight, and be on the next job by morning,” he says. “I considered that quite a talent.” (His wife was rather less impressed and eventually left him.)

Rud—pronounced like the adjective—typically shows up in an area with abundant stores of a natural element that looks set for a price spike, puts his geology skills to work finding a lode, files a claim under the General Mining Act of 1872, and waits for the phone to ring. Continue Reading →

The richest seam: Mining companies have dug themselves out of a hole (The Economist – March 11, 2017)

http://www.economist.com/

Electric vehicles and batteries are expected to create huge demand for copper and cobalt

FOR mining investors there is something sinfully alluring about Glencore, an Anglo-Swiss metals conglomerate. It is the world’s biggest exporter of coal, a singularly unfashionable commodity. It goes where others fear to tread, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which has an unsavoury reputation for violence and corruption. It recently navigated sanctions against Russia to strike a deal with Rosneft, the country’s oil champion.

Yet Glencore could still acquire a halo for itself. It is one of the world’s biggest suppliers of copper and the biggest of cobalt, much of which comes from its investment in the DRC. These are vital ingredients for clean-tech products and industries, notably electric vehicles (EVs) and batteries.

The potential of “green” metals and minerals, which along with copper and cobalt include nickel, lithium and graphite, is adding to renewed excitement about investing in mining firms as they emerge from the wreckage of a $1trn splurge of over-investment during the China-led commodities supercycle, which began in the early 2000s. Continue Reading →

Argentina Eyeing Lithium Superpower Status Amid Battery Boom – by James Attwood and Jonathan Gilbert (Bloomberg News – March 6, 2017)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

Argentina has some good news for Elon Musk’s Tesla Inc., and bad news for lithium producers elsewhere: the country may be about to flood the market with lithium.

After President Mauricio Macri removed currency and capital controls and taxes introduced by his predecessors, about 40 foreign companies began to consider opportunities in Argentina’s mining industry, more than half of those in lithium, according to Mining Secretary Daniel Meilan.

Industry heavyweights Albemarle Corp., Soc. Quimica y Minera de Chile SA, Eramet SA and Jiangxi Ganfeng Lithium Co. are among groups looking at expanding or building new lithium operations in Argentina, as part of a $20 billion pipeline of mining projects through 2025, Meilan said Monday in an interview. China’s CITIC is also looking for opportunities, according to the government. Continue Reading →

Kirkland Lake Gold pioneering battery-powered mining – by Matt Durnan (Northern Ontario Business – February 28, 2017)

https://www.northernontariobusiness.com/

Kirkland Lake Gold is moving away from the use of diesel fuel in its mining operations, with the introduction of lithium-ion battery-powered scoops and trucks in its underground gold mines. To date, the company has invested more than $15 million into the development of battery-powered equipment.

On Feb. 27, at Science North in Sudbury, the gold miner showed off its newest addition to the fleet: a ‘153’ load-haul-dump (LHD) truck, manufactured by California-based Artisan Vehicle Systems.

Artisan specializes in battery-powered mining equipment, and Kirkland Lake Gold is operating about one third of its equipment fleet with Artisan battery cells. Continue Reading →

Electric car boom spurs investor scramble for cobalt – by (Reuters U.S. – February 14, 2017)

http://www.reuters.com/

LONDON – Investors are buying up physical cobalt anticipating that shortages of the metal, a key component of lithium-ion batteries used in electrical cars, will spur prices to their highest levels since the 2008 financial crisis.

Prices for cobalt metal have climbed nearly 50 percent since September to five-year peaks around $19 a lb as stricter emissions controls boost demand for electric vehicles, especially in China, struggling with ruinous pollution levels in some cities. (For a graphic on how Lithium-ion battery works click tmsnrt.rs/2kOUBNQ)

Consultants CRU Group say electric car and plug-in hybrid vehicle sales could hit 4.4 million in 2021 and more than six million by 2025, from 1.1 million last year. By 2020, 75 percent of lithium-ion batteries will contain cobalt, whose properties allow electric cars to extend their range between charges, according to eCobalt Solutions, which produces battery grade cobalt salts. Continue Reading →

Battery expert Jeff Dahn wins major Canadian science prize – by Ivan Semeniuk (Globe and Mail – February 7, 2017)

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/

When Jeff Dahn answers the phone at work, the first thing you notice is the sound of blowing air.

“Our air conditioners run in the winter,” said Dr. Dahn, a professor of physics at Dalhousie University and a leading expert in battery technology. Working in rooms packed from floor to ceiling with testing equipment, all of which generates enormous amounts of heat, he and his team have spent years advancing the subtle science of lithium-ion batteries – the slim little power packs that have become key enablers of the smartphone era.

In recognition of his long and impressive track record in the field, Dr. Dahn has been named this year’s winner of the Herzberg Gold Medal, Canada’s most prestigious science prize. But at 60, Dr. Dahn shows little sign of powering down. Continue Reading →