Tesla Supplier LG Chem Expects Battery Revenue to Double by 2025

on August 7, 2020

While the Covid-19 pandemic has dented demand for electric vehicles this year, a South Korean supplier expects its battery sales to reach a new high thanks to strength in Europe and a contract with Tesla Inc.’s factory in China.

Revenue at LG Chem Ltd.’s battery business will reach a record of about 13 trillion won ($11 billion) this year, before hitting 30 trillion won in 2025, Chief Executive Officer Hak Cheol Shin said in an interview at his office in Seoul.

“We have no problem in our supply chain and can deliver all of the orders from customers this year despite the coronavirus,” Shin said.

Even with demand for rechargeable batteries seen slumping for the first time ever in 2020, South Korean makers posted sales gains in the first half. The Asian nation’s suppliers particularly benefited from European governments using virus recovery funds to help boost EV sales as well as new models from automakers including Volkswagen AG, according to SNE Research.

Sales at LG Chem jumped 83% to 10.5 gigawatt hours, lifted by rising demand for Tesla’s Model 3 sedans in China as well as for Renault SA’s Zoe cars, SNE Research said. That helped LG Chem, whose stock has more than doubled this year to a record high market value of about $44 billion, take the market lead over China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd. The Korean company’s shares rose as much as 11.5% Friday morning after Bloomberg published the first version of this story. CATL fell as much as 4.4% amid general weakness in Chinese stocks.

“The point is how much LG will be able to get orders from Tesla, because everyone agrees Tesla will lead the electric-car market,” said Hwang Kyu-Won, an analyst at Yuanta Securities Korea Co. “However, if other automakers catch up with Tesla, that might be good news for LG Chem too, because of its diversified customers.”

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsTesla Supplier LG Chem Expects Battery Revenue to Double by 2025

VIDEO: ‘Beyond Lithium’ Case Studies and Q&A With Tech Providers

on August 3, 2020

While pumped hydro accounts for the majority of already-installed energy storage capacity, worldwide, lithium-ion (Li-ion) accounts for the vast majority of advanced energy storage facilities we see being deployed today. However, there’s a race to develop new technologies – and adapt existing ones – that can either be complementary to lithium batteries, or even compete with them. These could include longer duration electrochemical storage such as flow batteries, mechanical energy storage, thermal energy storage and others including ultracapacitors and hydrogen (power-to-gas) storage.

In this session from the Energy Storage Digital Series online conference hosted earlier this year by our publisher Solar Media, representatives from three technology providers offer up some case studies, data, insights and opinions on where they think the market could go.

Moderated by Energy-Storage.news editor Andy Colthorpe, the session includes a Q&A session at the end. Presenter is Solar Media Events producer Lucy Jacobson-Durham.

Taking part are:

  • Javier Cavada, CEO, Highview Power Systems (liquid air energy storage)
  • Ed Porter, Business Development Director, Invinity Energy Systems (vanadium flow batteries)
  • Charlie Blair, Managing Director, Gravitricity (gravity-based energy storage).

The Energy Storage Digital Series, an online-only conference and webinar series, produced and hosted by the events division of our publisher Solar Media, took place in May 2020. Thanks to all who attended and supported the event!

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsVIDEO: ‘Beyond Lithium’ Case Studies and Q&A With Tech Providers

Replacing Lithium With Sodium in Batteries

on July 20, 2020

An international team of scientists from NUST MISIS, Russian Academy of Science and the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf has found that instead of lithium (Li), sodium (Na) “stacked” in a special way can be used for battery production. Sodium batteries would be significantly cheaper and equivalently or even more capacious than existing lithium batteries. The results of the study are published in the journal Nano Energy.

It is hard to overstate the role of lithium-ion batteries in modern life. These batteries are used everywhere: in mobile phones, laptops, cameras, as well as in various types of vehicles and space ships. Li-ion batteries entered the market in 1991, and in 2019, their inventors were awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry for their revolutionary contribution to the development of technology. At the same time, lithium is an expensive alkaline metal, and its reserves are limited globally. Currently, there is no remotely effective alternative to lithium-ion batteries. Due to the fact that lithium is one of the lightest chemical elements, it is very difficult to replace it to create capacious batteries.

The team of scientists from NUST MISIS, Russian Academy of Science and the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf, led by Professor Arkadiy Krashennikov, proposes an alternative. They found that if the atoms inside the sample are “stacked” in a certain way, then alkali metals other than lithium also demonstrate high energy intensity. The most promising replacement for lithium is sodium (Na), since a two-layer arrangement of sodium atoms in bigraphen sandwich demonstrates anode capacity comparable to the capacity of a conventional graphite anode in Li-ion batteries—about 335 mAh/g against 372 mAh/g for lithium. However, sodium is much more common than lithium, and therefore cheaper and more easily obtained.

A special way of stacking atoms is actually placing them one above the other. This structure is created by transferring atoms from a piece of metal to the space between two sheets of graphene under high voltage, which simulates the process of charging a battery. In the end, it looks like a sandwich consisting of a layer of carbon, two layers of alkali metal, and another layer of carbon.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsReplacing Lithium With Sodium in Batteries

New Tech Puts Lithium Batteries Back In The Energy Storage Race

on July 15, 2020

Researchers are in a race to find the ultimate energy storage solution, considering the rise of renewable energy generation and electric vehicle (EV) sales around the world. Some scientists are trying to improve the lithium-based battery chemistry with alternative and innovative solutions, while others are hoping that they will come up with a way to use different –i.e., cheaper and more readily available–chemical elements in batteries.

Aluminum, sodium, and potassium are some of those chemical elements that are much more abundant than lithium. In theory, these could be used in batteries for energy storage.

However, research has shown that aluminum, sodium, and potassium are challenging to work within batteries because they lack the suitable materials for the battery electrodes.

That is, until now.

New research led by Professor Guoxiu Wang from the University of Technology Sydney proposes a novel method to strain engineer a 2D graphene nanomaterial for making a new type of cathode. Strain engineering refers to the process of changing the properties of a material by changing its mechanical or structural characteristics.

The new research, which was published in Nature Communications, says that the new approach could be extended to beyond-lithium-ion chemistry in high energy storage applications, according to its authors.

The strain engineering of 2D nanomaterials could help developers of batteries other than those based on the lithium-ion chemistry by making aluminum, potassium, or sodium the main element in batteries.

Related: Why The Hydrogen Boom Is Good News For Natural Gas

“The strategy of strain engineering could be extended to many other nanomaterials for rational design of electrode materials towards high energy storage applications beyond lithium-ion chemistry,” the scientists said in their research.

According to Professor Wang, who is also Director of the UTS Centre for Clean Energy Technology:

“Beyond-lithium-ion batteries are promising candidates for high-energy-density, low-cost and large-scale energy storage applications. However, the main challenge lies in the development of suitable electrode materials.”

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsNew Tech Puts Lithium Batteries Back In The Energy Storage Race

Lead-Acid vs Lithium Ion Batteries: Which will Win?

on July 14, 2020

Almost everywhere you look there is news about improvements in lithium-based batteries and storage technologies. But what about traditional lead-based batteries? Are they a dying energy storage source? To answer that question, let’s take a look at trends in each market and the overlapping market space for each.

Almost everywhere you look there is news about improvements in lithium-based batteries and storage technologies. But what about traditional lead-based batteries? Are they a dying energy storage source? To answer that question, let’s take a look at trends in each market and the overlapping market space for each.

The lead-acid battery is the earliest type of rechargeable battery. Potential energy is stored chemically in an aqueous sulphuric acid bath as the potential difference between the pure lead at the negative side and the PbO2 on the positive side. Despite having a very low energy-to-weight ratio and a low energy-to-volume ratio, a lead-acid battery can supply high surge currents. This results in a relatively large power-to-weight ratio, which makes them ideally suited for use in motor vehicles to provide high currents required by starter motors. Plus lead-acid batteries are relatively inexpensive.

As the main energy source in motive, stationary, automotive, industrial and current grid energy storage systems, sales of lead acid batteries are set to climb in passenger vehicles, electric vehicles and two-wheelers, notes a recent market study by Future Market Insights (FMI). The report predicts that the lead acid battery market should surpass US$116.60Bn by the end of 2030. Further, the study estimates that demand for lead acid batteries will be upheld by a transportation sector that is slated to grow 1.4x through 2029

While 2020 looks to be a modest market for lead-acid batteries, market vendors are pushing into the e-bikes markets. Further, thanks to high crank characteristics, AGM batteries are witnessing high demand growth in off-grid applications where charge rates are relatively lower and high autonomy is preferred. AGM stands for “Absorbent Glass Mat”, which is a type of separator used in batteries. AGM batteries have a relatively small amount of acid, which is absorbed by the AGM separator. This allows the battery to be spill-proof and better suited for e-bikes and off-grid energy storage.

“Stationary energy storage has enormous near-term potential. Businesses such as battery manufacturers, grid operators are set to establish collaborative relationships with solar power developers and energy service companies”, says the FMI Analyst in its press release. For instance, Furakawa Battery Co Ltd has signed an agreement with I-WIND for the supply of batteries to be used in a wind power generation project.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will impact the lead-acid battery market in the near term. According to the FMI report, the end of first quarter of 2020 saw lead acid battery demand slowly climbing up as containment strategies in China started to take effect and lockdown restrictions were lifted. Relatedly, consumer demand for major automotive and industrial manufacturing has fallen due to the pandemic.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsLead-Acid vs Lithium Ion Batteries: Which will Win?

Japanese Firm Develops Battery That’s 90% Cheaper Than Lithium-Ion

on July 10, 2020

APB Corp founder Hideaki Horie has received backing from a swath of Japanese firms to develop a new kind of battery that would significantly decrease production costs and improve safety, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday.

The battery, which would replace the intricate battery parts such as metal-lined electrodes and liquid electrolytes with a resin material, would be more like mass producing steel instead of the complex production process that lithium-ion batteries undergo today.

This complex process requires pricey clean rooms that only a handful of industry players can afford.

What’s more, the resin-based battery would also be fire resistant even when punctured. Fire safety has dogged lithium-ion batteries for years, with multiple fires, some of which have grabbed headlines. One such fire was of lithium-ion batteries carried by a FedEx truck in 2016. The fire destroyed the truck and its contents, and was attributed to a safety loophole that doesn’t require low production or prototype lithium-ion batteries to undergo the same level of testing that mass production batteries are subject to prior to being transported.

Even more headline-grabbing were a series of alleged battery fires in Teslas that raised even more awareness for battery safety.

APB’s bipolar battery design would prevent traditional power bottlenecks that are present in lithium-ion batteries that cause batteries to overheat, instead allowing the whole surface of the battery to absorb any power surges that are often created by punctures.

So far, APB has raised close to $80 million, which is sufficient to startup one mass-production factory in Japan that will start next year, growing to a capacity of 1 gigawatt-hour by 2023.

While the battery addresses the safety and cost issues of lithium-ion batteries, the resin material is less conductive than metal, so the carrying capacity would be reduced.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsJapanese Firm Develops Battery That’s 90% Cheaper Than Lithium-Ion

New Energy Storage Tech Challenges Lithium Batteries but at What Cost?

on May 28, 2020

Bill Gates is at it again. Through his investments in a group called Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV), Gates is exploring new ways to store renewable energy. While many innovative companies are creating ways to generate energy, BEV is focused on technologies that will allow enough energy storage to supply the major power-grids with clean energy even during windless days, cloudy weather, and nighttime.

One of the more promising ways to store energy is through the creation of long-duration storage systems. Short-duration devices like lithium-ion batteries are fine for laptops, mobile phones and electric cars. But cheaper and longer-duration systems are needed for the electrical power-grid.

A BEV-backed startup known as Form Energy is poised to meet that demand. The company has teamed up with Minnesota-based co-op Great River Energy to build a new battery that can discharge for 150 hours. Storage for this length of time is far better than conventional batteries and will help wind and solar energy sources to dominate the US energy landscape in a few years. So, how does it work?

Flow batteries are based on the chemistry that produces electricity when two specialized liquids flow next to each other, separated only by a thin membrane. Flow batteries are also known as reduction-oxidation (redox) flow batteries, due to the ionic exchange (accompanied by a flow of electric current) that occurs in the membrane as the fluids pass by one another.

To story energy in liquid form, the redox flow battery needs a positive and a negative chemical stored in separate tanks. The chemicals are pumped in and out of a chamber where they exchange ions across a membrane – flowing one way to charge and the other to discharge. The energy capacity of these redox batteries is a function of the electrolyte volume (amount of liquid electrolyte), while the power is a function of the surface area of the electrodes.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsNew Energy Storage Tech Challenges Lithium Batteries but at What Cost?

Three Ways We Could Improve Lithium-Ion Batteries

on May 25, 2020

Driven by an ever-increasing world population as well as global economic growth, our energy needs have been rising rapidly, peaking 113,000TWh in 2017 according to the International Energy Agency. The impact of this growth on the environment and well-being of society is becoming more apparent, intensifying the need to decarbonise the transportation and power generation sectors – the two highest polluting sectors in the European Union (EU).

Electromobility has become the prevalent solution for the decarbonisation of the transportation sector, with sales of EVs increasing by 60% in the last two years. In the power generation sector meanwhile, the harvesting of wind and solar is gaining pace, with a quarter of global electricity coming from renewable energy sources.

For these solutions to reach their full potential, they need to be coupled with efficient energy storage technologies. The performance of lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries has increased tremendously as a result of significant investments in R&D; energy density has tripled since 2008, while cost has reduced by close to 85%. Still, further research is needed to decrease levelised cost of energy (LCOE), and ensure that the production and use of batteries does not generate a negative impact on the environment.

  1. Find alternatives to scarce electrode materials to improve energy density and decrease the impact on the environment and society
    Today’s batteries include REE (Rare Earth Elements), CRM (Critical Raw Materials), and other “sensitive” materials. The most crucial elements are perhaps Cobalt (Co), Nickel (Ni), Manganese (Mn), and Lithium (Li), due to their importance in the battery’s final electrochemical performance.

The EU’s Joint Research Centre estimates that demand for these materials will grow by up to 2,500% from 2015 to 2030, creating a scarcity issue. The fact that most such elements are unevenly distributed around the world does not make things easier either; one-third of nickel and lithium used in batteries globally are mined in China and Chile respectively, while two-thirds of cobalt supplies are sourced from the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to the European Commission. This creates significant supply chain risks and contributes to the huge short- and long-term price volatility. Adding to that is the questionable impact on the environment and society from the sourcing of such materials, with most infamously, the mining of cobalt in the Democratic Republic of Congo using artisanal mines and child labour.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsThree Ways We Could Improve Lithium-Ion Batteries

German Research Pinpoints Safety Risk for Lithium-ion Batteries

on May 15, 2020

Sydney, Australia, May 15, 2020 – (ABN Newswire) – Ground breaking research recently completed by a leading German battery technology institute has identified a previously unrecognised contamination and safety risk for lithium-ion batteries – the use of lower purity (grade) alumina in battery cell manufacture.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS in Dresden Germany, recently completed test work that has the potential to rock the lithium-ion battery industry.

Globally, lithium-ion battery production is rapidly expanding to meet the burgeoning demand from electric vehicles (EV’s) and portable electronic devices. The Fraunhofer ITKS research was triggered because a significant part of the industry, including those that supply EV batteries, are turning to cheaper substitutes such as low grade alumina and boehmite as the coating material on battery separator sheets and composite separators. However, this hot-off-the-press German research brings into question the safety of using lower quality separator coating materials.

A lithium-ion battery stores then releases power by lithium ions moving between the battery cathode and anode, representing the charge and visa-versa discharge cycles. Separating the cathode and anode within the battery is a liquid electrolyte and a thin polymer sheet through which lithium ions pass – a separator sheet. The composition of these polymer separator sheets has evolved over time in parallel with increases in battery energy density and faster charging requirements. Now separator sheets are mostly coated with thin layers of alumina powder to maintain separator integrity under the ever-increasing operating temperatures of modern high-energy lithium-ion batteries.

Wisely it would seem, the lithium-ion battery industry initially adopted high grade 4N alumina (99.99%) as the standard coating material for separator sheets, especially where battery safety was paramount – such as in EV’s. The scientific tests recently completed by the Fraunhofer IKTS plainly vindicate the initial choice of 4N alumina by the battery industry. In its tests, the Institute exposed various commercially available lower grades of alumina / boehmite powders to lithium battery electrolyte solution under controlled battery type conditions. What was observed was extremely concerning – the severe leaching of sodium from the lower grade alumina’s into the organic electrolyte solution, which resulted in significant electrolyte contamination.

Specifically, the research reported that in its test of 3N alumina (99.9% alumina) the sodium content within the electrolyte solution rose from an acceptable 0.5 ppm up to a potentially catastrophic level of 40 ppm (an 80-fold increase). Similar leaching was observed for boehmite (99.7% alumina), where the level of sodium in the electrolyte jumped 20-fold. As a base line, sodium leaching from 4N alumina (99.99%) into the electrolyte is negligible, as there is virtually no sodium present in the 4N product.

Sodium contamination is one of the major no no’s for anywhere within a lithium-ion battery. Sodium can dramatically reduce battery discharge capacity and adversely affect the reactivity of lithium ions. When too much sodium is present in a battery’s organic electrolyte solution, the movement of lithium ions is hindered and the discharge capacity is rapidly reduced; the performance of the battery is compromised. Lithium-ion battery end-users such as EV assemblers or high-end portable electric device manufactures would never accept a battery with an electrolyte solution containing 40ppm sodium – yet it would seem that this is where they are set to end up if 3N alumina / boehmite is adopted by industry as a coating on battery separator sheets.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsGerman Research Pinpoints Safety Risk for Lithium-ion Batteries

‘Important to Explore Alternatives’ to Lithium-Ion, Shell-NREL Accelerator Says

on May 5, 2020

A collaboration between the innovation arm of fossil fuel company Shell and the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) selected the maker of an organic flow battery among a group of “startups with the potential to dramatically alter the future global energy landscape”.

Adam Duran, programme director at Shell GameChanger Accelerator Powered by NREL (styled as CGxN), spoke with Energy-Storage.news about the selection of Jolt Energy Storage as one of three startups selected to receive technical and capital resource assistance to accelerate commercialisation of their products, and de-risking investment somewhat.

Duran said the three companies, the third tranche of selected cohorts, “represents startups that are increasing efficiency of solar and energy storage technologies and standardising manufacturing processes at a lower cost than available solutions,” with the overall accelerator programme focusing on “accelerating the commercialisation of disruptive, novel technologies”.

Beechwood, Michigan-headquartered Jolt makes flow batteries “with the same large-scale storage capabilities as lithium-ion, but at a lower cost,” a press release sent out by GCxN said. The devices use organic compounds for electrolytes and claim an energy density around four times that of vanadium redox flow batteries.

Selected alongside Jolt and its redox flow energy storage batteries were BluDot Photonics, which is attempting to create cost-effective and scalable solar cells using perovskite and Icarus RT, which is making a hybrid solar-thermal photovoltaic system that recycles “waste heat” from solar panels.

“As renewables adoption increases over time, the need for large-scale energy storage technologies will continue to grow,” NREL staffer Duran said, in explaining Jolt Energy’s selection.

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Fractal Energy Storage Consultants‘Important to Explore Alternatives’ to Lithium-Ion, Shell-NREL Accelerator Says