Archive | Battery Technology Innovation/Electric Vehicles

Electrifying everything: After electric cars, what more will it take for batteries to change the face of energy? (The Economist – August 12, 2017)

https://www.economist.com/

No need for subsidies. Higher volumes and better chemistry are causing costs to plummet

ABOUT three-quarters of the way along one of the snaking production lines in Nissan’s Sunderland plant, a worker bolts fuel tanks into the chassis of countless Qashqais—the “urban crossover” SUVs which are the bulk of the factory’s output. But every so often something else passes along the line: an electric vehicle called a Leaf.

The fuel-tank bolter changes his rhythm to add a set of lithium-ion battery packs to the floor of the Leaf. His movements are so well choreographed with the swishing robotic arms around him that he makes the shift from the internal combustion engine to the battery-charged electric vehicle look almost seamless.

Until recently, it was a transition that many found unthinkable. The internal combustion engine has been the main way of powering vehicles on land and at sea for most of the past century. That is quite the head start. Though Leafs are the world’s biggest-selling electric vehicle, the Sunderland plant, Britain’s biggest car factory, only made 17,500 of them last year. It made 310,000 Qashqais. And the Qashqais, unlike the Leafs, were profitable. Nissan has so far lost money on every Leaf it has made. Continue Reading →

Electric cars: The death of the internal combustion engine (The Economist – August 12, 2017)

https://www.economist.com/

“HUMAN inventiveness…has still not found a mechanical process to replace horses as the propulsion for vehicles,” lamented Le Petit Journal, a French newspaper, in December 1893. Its answer was to organise the Paris-Rouen race for horseless carriages, held the following July.

The 102 entrants included vehicles powered by steam, petrol, electricity, compressed air and hydraulics. Only 21 qualified for the 126km (78-mile) race, which attracted huge crowds. The clear winner was the internal combustion engine. Over the next century it would go on to power industry and change the world.

But its days are numbered. Rapid gains in battery technology favour electric motors instead (see Briefing). In Paris in 1894 not a single electric car made it to the starting line, partly because they needed battery-replacement stations every 30km or so. Today’s electric cars, powered by lithium-ion batteries, can do much better. The Chevy Bolt has a range of 383km; Tesla fans recently drove a Model S more than 1,000km on a single charge. Continue Reading →

Vedanta explores ways to produce cobalt for batteries – by Barbara Lewis (Reuters U.S. – August 15, 2017)

https://www.reuters.com/

LONDON (Reuters) – Vedanta Resources (VED.L) is studying how to produce cobalt for use in batteries as the diversified miner becomes the latest company to seek exposure to an anticipated electric vehicle boom.

Tom Albanese, who steps down as CEO of Vedanta at the end of August, said the excitement around electric vehicles had prompted the company to looking at producing cobalt suitable for batteries from its Zambian copper mines, rather than just treating it as a copper by-product.

Vedanta is also betting on continued use of conventional fuel and in April completed the merger of its Indian metals and mining group Vedanta Limited (VDAN.NS) with oil and gas company Cairn India Ltd (CAIL.NS). Continue Reading →

Why gasoline and Diesel will be around for a long time to come – by Norris McDonald (Toronto Star – August 12, 2017)

https://www.thestar.com/

“If more people buy EVs instead of internal-combustion vehicles, how will
governments make up the tax shortfall? Right now, about 40 per cent of what
you pay per litre for fuel at the pump goes to governments.”

I spend a lot of time these days reading, listening and discussing the use of electricity to propel automobiles compared to conventional gasoline and other alternatives, such as hydrogen. It comes with the job. The ground is shifting, and it’s better to be on top of what’s happening than running to catch up.

So, I’ve been reading about how Big Oil will react when everybody starts running out to buy electric cars. And how the end of internal-combustion will be just like the end of film for cameras — it will (seemingly) come out of nowhere and be so sudden that everybody will wake up one day and wonder what happened.

And that some European countries will ban the sale of gasoline and Diesel-powered cars as of such-and-such a date. And the province of Quebec will soon start fining automakers that don’t sell enough EVs. Continue Reading →

Cornish Lithium project secures 1 million pounds for exploration – by Barbara Lewis (Reuters U.S. – August 14, 2017)

https://www.reuters.com/

LONDON, Aug 14 (Reuters) – British mining company Cornish Lithium has secured 1 million pounds ($1.30 million) to explore for lithium in Cornwall, southwest England, its CEO said, taking the country a step closer to a domestic source of the strategic mineral.

Lithium plays an essential role in electric car batteries, and is produced by evaporation in Latin America, which has been considered the cheapest source. But new technology to extract lithium from brine is helping to make other options more viable.

In January, Cornish Lithium said it had reached a mineral rights agreement with Canada’s Strongbow Exploration. It then said it needed around 5 million pounds to develop its project to extract lithium from underground hot springs and to supply products to the rapidly growing battery market for electric cars and for power storage. Continue Reading →

Why electric vehicles are closer than they appear – by David Olive (Toronto Star – August 12, 2017)

https://www.thestar.com/

We are in the early stages of a revolution in automobiles. The widespread adoption of all-electric vehicles and of driverless, or autonomous cars, is much closer on the horizon than it appears.

Until last year, the consensus forecast was for electric vehicles (EVs) to account for about one-third of vehicles on the road by 2040. But breakthroughs in the technology of EVs and the batteries that power them; stepped-up government advocacy of them; and automakers’ bet-the-company commitments to them have sharply altered that forecast. In May, researchers at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecast that as much as 90 per cent of vehicle production worldwide will be EVs by 2040.

Yes, that’s 27 years off. But the transition is well underway, and market saturation by EVs could come much sooner. This month, Tesla Inc. is rolling out its first mass-market EV, the Model 3. It’s generally thought in the industry that if the Model 3 succeeds, electrification of all vehicles is a sure thing. Continue Reading →

Environmentalism: A Slippery Slope of Ignorance and Hypocrisy – by Saurabh Malkar (Modern Diplomacy – August 13, 2017)

http://moderndiplomacy.eu/

Perusing through my morning news digest, I came across an article from The Daily Mail featuring a story on the employment of child labor in cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

While I can be chillingly apathetic to social plight, especially, when it doesn’t concern my loved ones: something I impute to my upbringing in a third world country; I was deeply moved by this story, which shed light on the horrors of artisanal cobalt mining, employing children, working in dangerous conditions, with no safety measures, and being paid a pittance. The kicker, though, of this story was that much of this cobalt would go into battery packs that would be installed in electric cars marketed to gullible, do-gooders around the world.

But, why would one want to buy cars that take hours to refuel and can only be refueled at specific points, thus, imposing a massive time cost on their usage? These contraptions don’t match in utility to gasoline-powered cars, let alone surpassing them. No wonder governments around the world are trying to get consumers to buy electric cars through purchase subsidies and tax exemptions of all sorts. Continue Reading →

Major Miners’ Battle to Get Into Batteries Steps Up a Notch – by David Stringer (Bloomberg News – August 11, 2017)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

The world’s biggest miners’ determination to muscle into the burgeoning battery market stepped up a notch with Rio Tinto Group reporting breakthroughs in cracking the technology needed to unlock its giant lithium project in Serbia that could meet 10 percent of global demand.

Tests at a research facility in a converted shipping container in Australia have successfully produced lithium products from samples from the Jadar deposit, the company said Friday. It’s aiming to bring the mine in Serbia into production as soon as 2023 to tap soaring demand for the metal used in batteries for electric vehicles and power storage.

“There has been, through the phases, a number of breakthrough steps,” Simon Trott, Rio’s salt, uranium and borates division managing director, told reporters at the facility in Melbourne. “The key is that we’re producing lithium carbonate that’s to a specification that we are very confident” will meet customer requirements, he said. Continue Reading →

UPDATE 2-Glencore raises trading guidance, sees electric vehicles boosting demand – by Barbara Lewis (Reuters U.S. – August 10, 2017)

https://www.reuters.com/

LONDON, Aug 10 (Reuters) – Mining group Glencore raised earnings guidance for its trading business, citing higher commodity prices, and said on Thursday increased take-up of electric vehicles and demand for energy storage would boost demand for its products.

Following the commodities downturn of 2015-16, big miners have repaired their balance sheets to help position themselves for growth. Glencore has cut debt and also has a mix of assets that could help it benefit from an upsurge in electric cars.

The company raised full-year guidance for adjusted earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) in its trading or marketing business by $100 million to a range of between $2.4 billion and $2.7 billion. Continue Reading →

BHP turns to electric car batteries to recharge its nickel business – by James Regan (Reuters U.S. – August 9, 2017)

http://www.reuters.com/

SYDNEY (Reuters) – The rise of electric vehicles is driving the world’s biggest mining house, BHP, to switch gears and invest heavily in its long-suffering nickel business.

Eduard Haegel, division chief of BHP Nickel West, said the company planned to spend more than $43 million building a nickel processing plant near Perth, Australia as part of a broader plan to reposition the business around batteries.

Haegel told the “Diggers and Dealers” conference in Australia he expected demand for batteries used to power electric cars to account for about 90 percent of Nickel West’s output within five or six years, replacing traditional markets, such as stainless steel makers. Continue Reading →

Lithium processors prepare to meet demand in era of electric car – by Pratima Desai and Zandi Shabalala (Reuters U.K. – August 7, 2017)

https://uk.reuters.com/

LONDON (Reuters) – Producers of processed lithium – an essential element for batteries used in electric cars – are agreeing long-term contracts with their customers to fund the investments needed to address a looming shortfall.

Demand for battery-grade lithium compounds is expected to skyrocket in the next decades in tandem with soaring demand for electric cars as governments and individual consumers try to reduce their carbon footprint.

Although there’s plenty of lithium around, the problem is ensuring there is enough capacity to process it. Battery makers and other end-users such as car manufacturers will need to sign multi-year deals that encourage large producers to invest more, and faster, industry sources say. Some of that is already happening. Continue Reading →

Electric Car Boom Drives Rush to Mining’s $90 Billion Hub – by David Stringer (Bloomberg News – August 7, 2017)

 

https://www.bloomberg.com/

A scramble by the lithium market’s biggest players to tie up supply of the high-tech metal is gathering pace in the 170-year-old heartland of Australia’s $90 billion mining industry.

Rising Chinese demand for lithium-ion batteries needed for electric vehicles and energy storage is driving significant price gains and an asset boom in Australia, already the world’s largest lithium producer. The fast-developing hub is drawing investment and deals from global producers as well as chemical-to-battery manufacturers in China, the top consumer.

Western Australia has four operations in production and three more major projects being advanced to begin output. Major players are likely to continue to scope for deals in the state to secure supply for the next 20 or 30 years, according to consultant Benchmark Mineral Intelligence. Continue Reading →

Tech Guru Bill Joy Unveils a Battery to Challenge Lithium-Ion – by Brian Eckhouse (Bloomberg News – August 4, 2017)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

Elon Musk isn’t the only visionary betting that the world will soon be reliant on batteries. Bill Joy, the Silicon Valley guru and Sun Microsystems Inc. co-founder, also envisions such dependence. He just thinks alkaline is a smarter way to go than lithium-ion.

On Thursday, Joy and Ionic Materials unveiled a solid-state alkaline battery at the Rocky Mountain Institute’s Energy Innovation Summit in Basalt, Colorado, that he says is safer and cheaper than the industry leader, lithium-ion. The appeal of alkaline: it could cost a tiny fraction of existing battery technologies and could be safer in delicate settings, such as aboard airplanes.

“What people didn’t really realize is that alkaline batteries could be made rechargable,” Joy said in a phone interview Thursday. “I think people had given up.” Continue Reading →

Electric-Car Revolution Shakes Up the Biggest Metals Markets – by Mark Burton and Eddie Van Der Walt (Bloomberg News – August 2, 2017)

 

https://www.bloomberg.com/

The revolution in electric vehicles set to upturn industries from energy to infrastructure is also creating winners and losers within the world’s biggest metals markets.

While some of the largest diversified miners like Glencore Plc argue fossil fuels such as coal and oil still play a crucial role supplying energy needs, they’ll also benefit the most from a move to electric cars, requiring more cobalt, lithium, copper, aluminum and nickel.

The outlook for greener transportation got a boost this year as the U.K. joined France and Norway in saying it would ban fossil-fuel car sales in coming decades. That’s as Volvo AB announced plans to abandon the combustion engine and Tesla Inc. unveiled its latest, cheaper Model 3. Such vehicles will outsell their petroleum-driven equivalents within two decades, Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimates. Continue Reading →

Carmakers’ electric dreams depend on supplies of rare minerals – by Karl West (The Guardian – July 29, 2017)

https://www.theguardian.com/

With mining of cobalt and other elements politically and ethically charged, the hunt for alternatives is on

Britain last week joined France in pledging to ban sales of petrol and diesel cars by 2040 in an attempt to cut toxic vehicle emissions. The move to battery-powered vehicles has been a long time coming.

Environmental campaigners claim that charging cars and vans from the grid, like a laptop, is sure to be cleaner than petrol or diesel power. The government agrees and says it will invest more than £800m in driverless and clean technology, and a further £246m in battery technology research.

BMW plans to build a fully electric version of the Mini at Cowley in Oxford from 2019. Volvo announced earlier this month that from the same year, all its new models will have an electric motor. Continue Reading →