Commercialisation of SiFAB battery technology could overcome critical EV barrier

Commercialisation of SiFAB battery technology could overcome critical EV barrier

BCG Digital Ventures, the corporate innovation and business building arm of Boston Consulting Group, and Unifrax, a provider of high-performance specialty materials backed by Clearlake Capital Group, have announced a collaboration on a new battery technology for improving energy density, accelerating charges, and lengthening battery life.

The team is focusing on commercialisation of Unifrax’s patented silicon fibre anode battery technology (SiFAB) by early 2022.

“SiFAB is a major breakthrough for the battery industry and will accelerate transition to renewable energy,” said John Dandolph, CEO of Unifrax. “Our collaboration with BCG Digital Ventures combines our success in manufacturing and fibre-based technology with the firm’s expertise in accelerating innovative and sustainable ventures. Working together, we can create a significant impact for customers, stakeholders, and advanced industries worldwide.”

SiFAB, which can be added to existing battery production processes, addresses a critical barrier to mass adoption of electric vehicles and the broader transition to clean renewable energy. The technology also has wide-ranging implications across a range of sectors that would benefit from the superior performance, longer battery life, and reduced size and weight that SiFAB delivers.

“Today’s climate and environmental challenges are an existential threat that can be addressed only through decisive action by the world’s most ambitious corporations, entrepreneurs, institutions, and investors,” said Raju Sarma, managing director and partner and Social Impact global practice area lead for BCG Digital Ventures. “BCG believes that SiFAB is uniquely positioned to lead the evolution of lithium ion battery technology, in part due to the significant energy density gains enabled by its drop-in technology, as well as to Unifrax’s large-scale manufacturing capabilities and facilities around the world. Our team is excited to continue our collaboration with Unifrax to bring this technology to market at a rapid pace and help advance the global transition to a zero-carbon economy.”

TotalEnergies wins Amsterdam EV public charging network concession

TotalEnergies wins Amsterdam EV public charging network concession

The municipality of Amsterdam has awarded the concession for the expansion of its electric vehicle public charging network to TotalEnergies. As part of this new concession, TotalEnergies will expand Amsterdam’s network with 2,200 new EV charging points, to be installed by Autumn 2022.

The installation of 1,100 chargers, each equipped with two charging points, will give a boost to Amsterdam’s Clean Air Action Plan, which aims to achieve completely emission-free transport by 2030. Providing sufficient charging points to support strong growth of electric vehicles is core to the clean air plan.

TotalEnergies says it will offer a “hassle-free and transparent” customer experience, while guaranteeing both the availability and the quality of the charging service.

Total Energies says it is taking a data-driven approach in which chargers are proactively added to meet demand. For the first time in Amsterdam, Total Energies will make large-scale use of clustering of chargers and the expansion of the charging network will be partly based on requests from drivers of electric vehicles.

Egbert de Vries, Amsterdam’s Deputy Mayor for Traffic, Transport, Water and Air Quality said, “With the installation of 2,200 new charging points in the city, we are taking the next important step towards cleaner air for all Amsterdam residents. Together with TotalEnergies, we will continue to work on the roll-out of a reliable charging network, which is essential for the transition to electric transport. I look forward to a great collaboration.

“This policy is a striking example of joint efforts towards more sustainable and emission-free mobility, delivering affordable energy that is increasingly reliable and accessible to as many people as possible.”

With over 6.500 charging points in operation, TotalEnergies is already the largest EV charging operator in the Metropolitan Region of Amsterdam which includes the three provinces of Noord-Holland, Flevoland and Utrecht.

TotalEnergies says this new concession reinforces its position as a key player in electric mobility across Europe, supporting its plan to operate more than 150,000 charging points by 2025.

Hydrogen pod system offers claimed emission free flight range of nearly 750km

Hydrogen pod system offers claimed emission free flight range of nearly 750km

US clean fuel company Universal Hydrogen has signed letters of intent with three airlines to convert at least 15 regional airliners to run on green hydrogen. The company is developing conversion kits that accept interchangeable hydrogen modules that the company’s press release suggests works like coffee pods.

Founded by former Airbus technology chief Paul Eremenko, Universal Hydrogen aims to speed up the introduction of hydrogen for smaller regional airplanes to 2025 by using fuel cells fed by modular hydrogen capsules to replace their turboprop systems.

Universal Hydrogen has been working on a conversion kit for the De Havilland Canada DHC-8, commonly known as the Dash 8, replacing the standard plane’s Pratt & Whitney turboprops and jet fuel tanks with a pair of two-megawatt Magnix electric motors, a hefty fuel cell and the modular hydrogen fuel system incorporating 2m pop in and out fuel capsules

The hydrogen conversion takes up some space – the Dash 8’s cabin capacity reduces from 56 seats to 40 – but the planes will offer a claimed emissions-free range of 740 km. That, according to a report by Reuters, covers about 75 percent of current routes flown by Dash 8s and could be extended to 95 percent when anticipated developments in liquid hydrogen mature.

The company has signed letters of intent with Spain’s Air Nostrum for 11 aircraft, Ravn Alaska for five, and Icelandair Group for an unspecified “fleet” of planes.

Mercedes-Benz sets out plan to be electric-only by end of the decade

Mercedes-Benz sets out plan to be electric-only by end of the decade

Mercedes-Benz has pledged to go all electric by the end of the decade, where market conditions allow. Shifting from electric-first to electric-only, the luxury car company says it is accelerating toward an emissions-free and software-driven future.

By 2022, Mercedes-Benz will have battery electric vehicles (BEV) in all segments the company serves. From 2025 onwards, all newly launched vehicle architectures will be electric-only and customers will be able to choose an all-electric alternative for every model the company makes.

“The EV shift is picking up speed – especially in the luxury segment, where Mercedes-Benz belongs. The tipping point is getting closer and we will be ready as markets switch to electric-only by the end of this decade,” said Ola Källenius, CEO of Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz AG.

And in what Källenius decribes as “a profound reallocation of capital”, Mercedes-Benz has unveiled a comprehensive plan which includes significantly accelerating R&D. In total, investments into battery electric vehicles between 2022 and 2030 will amount to over €40 billion.

Plans include eight battery Gigafactories and the company says it intends to team up with new European partners to develop and efficiently produce future cells and modules. including solid-state technology which offers higher energy density and safety.

“Our main duty in this transformation is to convince customers to make the switch with compelling products. For Mercedes-Benz, the trailblazing EQS flagship is only the beginning of this new era,” Källenius said.

Musk tweet confirms Tesla to make US Supercharger network open to all

Musk tweet confirms Tesla to make US Supercharger network open to all

Tesla is to make its North American high capacity EV charging network available to other EVs. The intention was “officially” announced by company’s CEO Elon Musk in a recent tweet: “we’re making our Supercharger network open to other EVs later this year.”

Musk reminded followers that Tesla developed it proprietary charging connector because at the time “there was no other solution for fast charging”.

“We created our own connector, as there was no standard back then & Tesla was only maker of long range electric cars,” the tweet continues. “It’s one fairly slim connector for both low & high power charging.”

Observers predict Tesla will now switch to a new connector compatible with the CCS Combo 1 to allow other EVs with CCS1 inlets to use the Tesla chargers. Tesla’s European Superchargers are already retrofitted with CCS Combo 2-compatible plugs. Other EV manufacturers are not willing to leave the CCS standard so this appears the most practical solution and might just sow the seeds for everything to switch to the CCS Combo 2 globally – a move considered highly desirable in the switch to EVs.

Shell ties up with UK supermarket chain doubling access to Shell Recharge stations

Shell ties up with UK supermarket chain doubling access to Shell Recharge stations

Multinational energy company Shell will install 800 electric vehicle chargers at high-end British grocer Waitrose by 2025, roughly doubling the number of Shell Recharge stations in the UK.

Around 100 Waitrose shops will gain charge points, with each site expected to receive six 22kW chargers and two 50kW rapid chargers.

The first installation is expected to take place early next year, in a move to create what Shell terms ‘destination charging’, where customers charge their EVs at a location they’re primarily visiting for another activity, in this case shopping.

“This is great news for EV drivers across the UK, knowing they can easily, quickly and reliably charge up at Shell charge points while shopping at Waitrose,” said Bernadette Williamson, the general manager of Shell UK Retail. “We want to make EV charging as hassle-free as possible and support our customers wherever they want to charge.”

The partnership will also result in the number of Shell forecourt shops selling Waitrose food increase from 57 to 125 by 2025.

“We’re also delighted to bring our customers 800 new charging points for electric vehicles, including new rapid charging capabilities, as the UK moves more and more towards a sustainable transport network,” said Waitrose executive director James Bailey.

There are 108 Shell Recharge points located across the UK, with almost half located in London.

Shell recently acquired EV charging company Ubitricity and has set itself a goal of installing a total of 5000 charge points on forecourts and other locations by 2025.

US Electric Highway Coalition gains support of major energy company

US Electric Highway Coalition gains support of major energy company

US Energy company and utility Exelon has joined the Electric Highway Coalition, a partnership of 14 US utilities established to create a seamless network of rapid electric vehicle charging stations connecting major highway systems, stretching from the Atlantic Coast through the Midwest, South and into the Gulf and Central Plains regions.

“Protecting our future means ensuring electric vehicles are an affordable, accessible, and reliable transportation option for customers in the communities we serve,” said Calvin Butler, CEO of Exelon Utilities. “Our customers and communities want cleaner air and action on climate change – just one reason why we want to make sure rapid charging is as easily available along major highways as traditional gas stations. Our partnership with the Electric Highway Coalition will help alleviate range anxiety by creating convenient, rapid charging stations that will give travellers in our communities the confidence to know they can rely on electric vehicles for long distance travel wherever they need to go.”

The members of the EHC have agreed to work together to ensure efficient and effective fast charging deployment plans that enable long distance EV travel, avoid duplication and complement existing corridor fast charging sites. Sites initially will be located less than 100 miles apart on major roadways. Additionally, each site will have at least two charging stations with universal vehicle compatibility and at least 100 kilowatts of output per station. This will enable drivers to get back on the road in 20-30 minutes. Each member company will determine its own execution methods, specific pricing models and charging equipment providers for their service territory.

The Edison Electric Institute estimates 18 million EVs will be on US roads by 2030, and the progress made by the Electric Highway Coalition demonstrates to customers that industry leaders are united in a commitment to ensuring accessibility and convenience for rapid charging stations across an expanded network of major highways.

Exelon has already committed to electrifying half of its utility vehicle fleet by 2030 and will continue to find new ways to partner with leaders across the industry to provide equitable, safe and sustainable energy and transportation solutions for customers.

In addition, Exelon’s utilities continue to actively work with stakeholders to promote the expansion of EV infrastructure and remove barriers to adoption. Through approved programs at each of its utilities, Exelon will enable the installation of more than 7,000 residential, commercial and/or utility-owned charging ports across Maryland, Washington, D.C., Delaware and New Jersey.

The installations will help jurisdictions achieve climate and zero-emission vehicle goals, improve air quality in their regions and prepare for the economic opportunities connected to the growing EV market.


Mexico calls on international expertise to decarbonise road freight

Mexico calls on international expertise to decarbonise road freight

British energy and environment consultancy Ricardo is leading an international consortium to support the Mexican Government’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the freight sector.

Over the next 12 months, specialists in sustainable transport will work with organisations, including Mexico-based Centro Mario Molina and Urbanistica, to provide advice to the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) as part of the Sustainable Transport Programme.

The country’s commitment to reducing GHGs by 22% by 2030 depends on the successful decarbonisation of its transport sector, which contributes to 25% of total CO2 emissions nationally. Road activity is responsible for 97% of all transport emissions and freight transport plays a key role by moving nearly 75% of land-based cargo across the country while railways serve the remaining transport flows.

Lorenzo Casullo, Associate Director, said: “Initiatives addressing greenhouse gas emissions will also improve urban air pollution and noise levels that negatively affect Mexican cities.

“This project demonstrates our growing influence in Central and Latin American countries as we continue to win more work across the region. Being able to deliver the entire project in Spanish, thanks to the multi-lingual capabilities of our team, is a bonus for us and shows the global support Ricardo is able to offer.”

Ricardo’s focus will be on green freight, helping national and local policy makers, as well as freight operators based in Mexico, to reduce the climate change and air pollution impacts of the transport of goods through a series of practical actions.

The team will provide regulatory advice to the Mexican Ministry of Environment on how to implement the regulations on air pollution standards for trucks. Ricardo and partners will also engage in capacity building efforts, looking at training courses and case studies covering telematic applications for fleet management and eco-driving.

Further support will come from pilot projects at the sub-national level, helping regions and cities test new business models for more effective vehicle scrapping policies, fleet renewal schemes and urban logistics approaches.

The project will support the cooperation between Mexico and Germany, which aims to promote climate mitigation efforts in Mexico’s road freight sector by supporting ministries, authorities and companies.

UK publishes plan to decarbonise its entire transport system by 2050

UK publishes plan to decarbonise its entire transport system by 2050

The UK Government has published its long-awaited Transport Decarbonisation Plan which provides a ‘greenprint’ to cut emissions from “seas and skies, roads and railways, setting out a pathway for the whole transport sector to reach net zero by 2050”.

The plan is based around commitments focused on:

  • increasing cycling and walking
  • zero emission buses and coaches
  • decarbonising railways
  • zero emission cars, vans, motorcycles and scooters
  • accelerating maritime and aviation decarbonisation

It also set out targets for phasing out the sale of new diesel and petrol heavy goods vehicles – with a 2035 phase out date for vehicles weighing from 3.5-26 tonnes and 2040 for vehicles weighing more than 26 tonnes. This builds on the commitment last year to ban the sale of new internal combustion engine cars from 2030 and hybrids from 2035.

“Transport is not just how you get around. It is something that fundamentally shapes our towns, cities, and countryside, our living standards and our health. It can shape all those things for good, or for bad,” said Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

“Decarbonisation is not just some technocratic process. It’s about how we make sure that transport shapes quality of life and the economy in ways that are good.

“The Transport Decarbonisation Plan is just the start – we will need continued efforts and collaboration to deliver its ambitious commitments, which will ultimately create sustainable economic growth through healthier communities.”

Responding to the Transport Decarbonisation Plan, Cllr David Renard, Transport spokesperson for the Local Government Association, “the national voice of local government”, said, “Given that transport is the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in the UK, the Transport Decarbonisation Plan is key to how the country will achieve its net-zero ambition.

“Councils are already doing a lot to reduce carbon and other harmful emissions to protect their communities and the environment, by investing in cycle lanes, clean air zones, better public transport and EV charging infrastructure. However, the scale of the challenge requires a collaborative approach between local and national government, industry and our communities.

“In order to support local government in its role of leading places and providing a greener future, councils want to work with government and business to establish a national framework for addressing the climate emergency, supported by long-term funding, guidance for individuals and clarity on the practical steps that will be needed locally to help the public to transition to more sustainable forms of transport.”

VB’s green-labelled stubbies just got greener

VB’s green-labelled stubbies just got greener

Australian beer brand Victoria Bitter has started using zero-emissions delivery trucks promising beer with a reduced environmental impact. Liveried in Victoria Bitter’s green, trucking company Linfox will use the Volvo FL electric truck to transport beer from brewer Asahi Beverages’ distribution centre in Melbourne.

Asahi says the truck is in effect powered entirely from 100% renewable sources thanks to an energy purchasing deal to buy output from the Karadoc solar farm in Mildura in Victoria.

With a single charge range of 250km it is the first purely electric Volvo truck to reach Australia.

“Linfox has delivered VB for more than 50 years. It’s fitting these two Australian icons are taking this major step towards a sustainable future together,” said Robert Iervasi, group CEO of Asahi Beverages which purchased Carlton & United Breweries last year.

“This truck will deliver VB and our other beers in a sustainable, safe and efficient way, which makes sound commercial sense.”

Iervasi says the Volvo FL truck is just the first of many to come, as the company works towards its sustainability goals: “It is the first of many electric trucks that will deliver our beer. Transitioning our deliveries to electric vehicles will help us achieve our sustainability goals of reducing our net carbon emissions across our entire supply chain by 30% by 2030 and to zero by 2050.”

Linfox executive chairman Peter Fox said, “Australia’s domestic freight has doubled in the past decade and will continue to grow. It is essential the fleet does this safely, efficiently and with reduced environmental impact.

“We are proud to introduce Volvo’s first electric vehicle in Australia to the Linfox fleet. The majority of Linfox’s carbon emissions come from transportation tasks. As we continue our journey to act sustainably and achieve zero net emissions by 2030, the way we operate will change in response, with more electric vehicles planned for our fleet and increased use of rail transport where viable.”

Indian manufacturer Hero EV gears up for explosive growth in electric two-wheelers

Indian manufacturer Hero EV gears up for explosive growth in electric two-wheelers

Indian electric bike, motorbike and scooter manufacturer Hero Electric Vehicles plans to invest Rs 7 billion to meet what it believes will be an ‘explosive growth’ for electric two-wheelers.

The company will use the investment to increase capacity at its existing plant and set up a new manufacturing facility to support its target of increasing annual production from 75,000 units to a million within five years.

Hero EV’s research and development, marketing, and dealer network will also be ramped up and it will expand its supply chain, service network and charging stations.

“What we’re doing now is expanding our capacity from 75,000 units to about 300,000 units. While we are building this up, we’re also planning on the next facility which is going to be about a million units per year and that we believe is not very far off now. It’s going to be sooner rather than later,” Hero Electric Managing Director Naveen Munjal told news agency PTI.

The company has so far raised Rs 2.2 billion in a funding round led by Gulf Islamic Investments, but says it will go for another “much larger” funding round to meet manufacturing requirements to fulfil the anticipated exponential growth in sales.

Stellantis gives Vauxhall UK plant an electric-van lifeline

Stellantis gives Vauxhall UK plant an electric-van lifeline

Stellantis announced it will build full-electric versions of its Opel/Vauxhall Combo, Peugeot Partner and Citroen Berlingo small vans at its factory in Ellesmere Port, northwest England.

The automaker will spend £100 million to convert the factory for electric-vehicle production starting at the end of 2022.

The plant will become the first in the Stellantis production network to build only electric vehicles.

The decision secures the future of the plant, which has been uncertain since Stellantis decided to move production of the new-generation Astra Tourer station wagon from Ellesmere Port to Opel’s home factory in Ruesselsheim, Germany.

The electric vans will be built in Ellesmere Port for the UK and for export to continental Europe. The factory will produce panel and passenger versions. Battery packs will be assembled on site, but cells will be imported from Europe.

The plant’s annual production will be 50,000 units a year initially on a double shift system, well below the 160,000 units that the factory was capable of building at the height of Astra production. A third shift is planned to increase production to 60,000, said Stellantis global head of production, Arnaud DeBoeuf.

Stellantis had considered building the new Astra in Ellesmere Port, but decided van output made more sense. The van has many advantages over the Astra, said Stellantis global head of production, Arnaud DeBoeuf.

Van sales are surging across Europe, partly due to the growth in demand for online delivery services. Stellantis said the zero-emissions vans built in Ellesmere Port will help to make a significant contribution to reducing emissions in towns and cities, while the passenger versions will enable families to enjoy a “zero emission” active life with up to seven seats.

And as DeBoeuf puts it, “We have full-electric so we are free to export to Europe without any problem with tariffs.”

The Ellesmere Port investment will safeguard the future of jobs at the plant as well “thousands of jobs across the region in the supply chain,” Stellantis said. Currently the plant employs around 1,000 people.

The investment includes support from the British government, which Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares had said in March was essential for Stellantis to invest in the plant. No figure was given for the government’s investment but it is understood to be about £30 million.

Charging-as-a-Service concept designed to allow bus and truck operators to decarbonise fleets quickly

Charging-as-a-Service concept designed to allow bus and truck operators to decarbonise fleets quickly

Australian investment bank Macquarie’s Green Investment Group has partnered with Dutch fast charging solutions provider Heliox to offer a new ‘charging-as-a-service’ model for electric bus and truck operators across Europe.

Under the deal, the partnership will own and fund the construction of charging infrastructure and maintain the facilities on behalf of customers.

GIG and Heliox are initially targeting high growth EV markets identified as the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and the UK.

The partnership will provide fully financed, turnkey charging solutions for the lifecycle of the projects in return for fixed regular payments. By removing up-front costs, the service negates one of the main barriers to fleet electrification.

“The transport sector presents one of the world’s greatest decarbonisation challenges. We’ve got to accelerate the deployment of low-carbon technologies across all segments of the sector”, said Greg Callman, Head of Energy Technology at GIG. “Our partnership with Heliox helps bus and truck operators decarbonise their fleets cost effectively and rapidly, while reducing diesel emissions and improving the air quality of European cities.”

Projects delivered through the partnership will utilise Heliox’s vehicle-to-grid and dynamic charging technologies. This allows real time control of charging between the grid and electric vehicle, meaning high-cost peak-demand hours can be avoided; while the vehicle-to-grid technology provides a bi-directional energy flow, transforming the vehicles and depots into a virtual power plant.

The technology was implemented at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport in 2018, which is still the world’s largest bus depot charging network. And last month, Helios was selected by First Bus to power its depot in Glasgow, Scotland. Over the next 18 months, the depot will be reconfigured to enable on-site charging of up to 300 eBuses, transforming it into the UK’s biggest electric charging station.

Roel Vissers, Group CFO of Heliox, said: “Globally, transport is undergoing a generational transition to zero-emissions, and the technology to support that transition is now available for mass rollout, thereby pushing the envelope for earlier and faster adoption of carbon neutral electric vehicles.

“By partnering with GIG, we answer a real need in the market for an affordable and tailored financing solution in Europe. Charging-as-a-service will make the switch to electrification easily available for ambitious fleet and charge point operators in all sectors, thereby truly supporting the low carbon transition.”

Volvo previews its future electric vehicles with the Concept Recharge

Volvo previews its future electric vehicles with the Concept Recharge

Volvo Cars presented its plans to become an all-electric premium car brand by 2030 at the recent Volvo Cars Tech Moment event in Gothenburg.

Promising a “behind-the-scenes tour of our future”, Volvo launched its all-new Concept Recharge, which suggests the Swedish automaker’s next generation electric vehicles will push toward longer driving ranges, faster, bidirectional charging, and rapidly evolving safety tech to develop a series of electric cars that are as convenient and practical as its current range.

“Our Concept Recharge represents a manifesto for the all-electric future of Volvo Cars, as well as a new type of vehicle,” said Robin Page, head of design. “It displays new and modern proportions that go hand-in-hand with increased versatility and shows what technology can enable in terms of design.”

Volvo used the event to highlight its new partnership with Swedish battery specialist Northvolt, to achieve 1,000-km real-world driving ranges by the latter part of the decade. It will also seek to cut charging times in half and add bidirectional charging capabilities so that cars can send power back into the grid during peak times and charge during periods of low demand.

“We want to offer our customers sustainable pure electric cars that make their lives easier and more enjoyable. By simplifying the design and integration of our battery cells, we can reduce weight and maximize space, allowing for considerable improvements in battery capacity, range and charging times,” said Volvo CTO Henrik Green.

Software is another key component of the Concept Recharge and Volvo will integrate computer functions from the current myriad electronic control units into a single core computing system, due to be introduced on production models next year.

The centralized computing system will run the all-new VolvoCars.OS and receive over-the-air updates to improve cars over time. In developing the updates, Volvo will collect real-time customer driving data collected by sensors that include the high-resolution LiDAR, helping to identify issues and roll out improvements and new features more efficiently. Volvo says the collected data will lessen development time frames from “years to days,” and help the company toward its goal of zero collisions.

Volvo also announced it will be working with Google on “cutting extraneous information, promoting driver attentiveness and safety, and integrating the Android system into the VolvoCars.OS architecture”.

EV battery recycling breakthroughs reduce need for cobalt and nickel

EV battery recycling breakthroughs reduce need for cobalt and nickel

Researchers in Britain and the US are reporting significant breakthroughs in recycling electric vehicle batteries that could help the auto industry tackle criticism that EV batteries come with a heavy carbon footprint thanks to the effort of extracting mined materials used in their manufacture.

And as national governments and regions race to secure supplies for an expected acceleration in EV demand, the breakthroughs could make valuable supplies of materials such as cobalt and nickel go further. They would also reduce dependence on China and difficult mining jurisdictions.

“We can’t recycle complex products like batteries the way we recycle other metals. Shredding, mixing up the components of a battery and pyrometallurgy destroy value,” Gavin Harper, a research fellow at the government-backed Faraday Institution in Britain, said.

Pyrometallurgy refers to the extraction of metals using high heat in blast furnaces, which analysts say is not economic.

Current recycling methods also rely on shredding the batteries into very small pieces, known as black mass, which is then processed into metals such as cobalt and nickel.

A switch to a practice known as direct recycling, which would preserve components such as the cathode and anode, could drastically reduce energy waste and manufacturing costs.

Researchers from the University of Leicester and the University of Birmingham working on the Faraday Institution’s ReLib project have found a way to use ultrasonic waves to recycle the cathode and anode without shredding and have applied for a patent.

The technology recovers the cathode powder made up of cobalt, nickel and manganese from the aluminium sheet, to which it is glued in the battery manufacture. The anode powder, which would typically be graphite, is separated from the copper sheet.

Andy Abbott, a professor of physical chemistry at the University of Leicester said separation using ultrasonic waves would result in cost savings of 60% compared with the cost of virgin material.

Compared with more conventional technology, based on hydrometallurgy, which uses liquids, such as sulphuric acid and water to extract materials, he said ultrasonic technology can process 100 times more battery material over the same period.

Abbott’s team has separated battery cells manually to test the process, but ReLib is working on a project to use robots to separate batteries and packs more efficiently.

As supplies and scrap levels take time to accrue, Abbott said he expected the technology to initially use scrap from battery manufacturing facilities as the feedstock and the recycled material would be fed back into battery production.

In the United States, a government-sponsored project at the Department of Energy called ReCell is in the final stages of demonstrating different, but also promising recycling technologies that refurbish battery cathode to make it into new cathode.

ReCell, headed by Jeff Spangenberger, has studied many different methods, including ultrasonics, but focused on thermal and solvent based methods.

“The US doesn’t make much cathode domestically, so if we use hydrometallurgy or pyrometallurgy we have to send the recycled materials to other countries to be turned into cathode and shipped back to us,” Spangenberger said.

“To make lithium-ion battery recycling profitable, without requiring a disposal fee to consumers, and to encourage growth in the recycling industry, new methods that generate higher profit margins for recyclers need to be developed.”

There are challenges for direct recycling, including continuously evolving chemistries, Spangenberger said. “ReCell is working on separating different cathode chemistries.”

Early electric vehicle battery cells typically used a cathode with equal amounts of nickel, manganese, cobalt or 1-1-1. This has changed in recent years as manufacturers seek to reduce costs and cathode chemistries can be 5-3-2, 6-2-2 or 8-1-1. In the future the aim will be to blend recycled with virgin material to get the required ratios of nickel, manganese and cobalt.

Source Reuters

Nissan and Envision AESC invest £I billion in UK Gigafactory

Nissan and Envision AESC invest £I billion in UK Gigafactory

Nissan has confirmed plans to turn its Sunderland manufacturing facility into a £1 billion electric vehicle (EV) hub which will feature a Gigafactory with an initial 9GWh plant for battery production.

Dubbed the Nissan EV36Zero, and launched with battery technology company Envision AESC, the investment comprises three interconnected initiatives which Nissan describes as delivering “a world-first EV manufacturing ecosystem in the UK”.

Nissan EV36Zero brings together electric vehicles, renewable energy and battery production, setting, says Nissan, a blueprint for the future of the automotive industry.

Nissan will also invest up to £423 million to produce a new-generation all-electric vehicle in the UK with a forecasted production capacity of up to 100,000 units.

Nissan President and Chief Executive Officer, Makoto Uchida, says, “This project comes as part of Nissan’s efforts to achieve carbon neutrality throughout the entire lifecycle of our products. Our comprehensive approach includes not only the development and production of EVs, but also the use of on-board batteries as energy storage and their reuse for secondary purposes.”

He adds, “Our announcement comes out of lengthy discussions held within our teams, and will greatly accelerate our efforts in Europe to achieve carbon neutrality. The experience and know-how gained through the project will be shared globally, enhancing Nissan’s global competitiveness.”

Envision AESC already owns and operates Europe’s first battery plant in Sunderland, established in 2012 for the localisation of Nissan LEAF battery production. The new gigafactory will create 750 new jobs and safeguard the jobs of 300 current employees.

Lei Zhang, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Envision Group, states, “Envision Group’s mission is to be the net zero technology partner of choice for global enterprises, governments, and cities. We are therefore delighted to be a part of EV36Zero with Nissan and Sunderland City Council.”

Solar cells and new battery extend Sion range

Solar cells and new battery extend Sion range

German electric vehicle developer Sono Motors has released details of a greener and upgraded battery with revised range predictions for its Sion electric car which integrates solar cells into the car’s body.

Sono claims the solar cells could provide up to of 245 km of range per week in optimal conditions, while topping up while in use on a longer journey could extend the range of a single charge by around 50km.

The new “greener” 54-kWh lithium-iron phosphate battery is free of cobalt, which is traditionally considered a “troublesome” battery component.

According to Sono Motors, the new battery increases the range from 255 km to 305 km, and supports faster charging, up from 50kW to 75kW. The company says the battery will remain safe and functional across 3,000 cycles, or enough to travel 900,000 km.

“The growing EV market is generating enormous demand for longer-lasting, more sustainable batteries,” says Markus Volmer, Chief Technology Officer at Sono Motors. “This enhanced battery enables Sion drivers to extend the time between charges, whilst reducing the charging time itself.”

The electric drive offers 150-kW peak power and 270 Nm of torque, with top speed listed as 140 km/h. Sono says it has received more than 13,000 orders for the Sion. Production was originally planned to start next year, though that timeline is now unclear with delays attributed to the coronavirus pandemic.

SAN Group HQ incorporates solar powered green hydrogen hub

SAN Group HQ incorporates solar powered green hydrogen hub

Austrian solar energy company Fronius has broken ground on a green hydrogen hub at the SAN Biotech Park, in Herzogenburg, Lower Austria which will become the new SAN Group regional headquarters and global centre for research and development.

The hydrogen hub is designed to run a fleet of vehicles on green hydrogen produced entirely on-site using solar panels.

The Fronius SolHub will incorporate some 1.5 megawatts of photovoltaic panels, around 5000 solar panels, which should be sufficient to produce around 100 kg of clean hydrogen a day, sufficient to power approximately 16 cars or 1,500 km of bus or truck travel. The hydrogen hub will start operation in spring 2022.

The project’s second phase will include construction of the round central office and laboratory building for research and development focusing on agro-biotechnology, sustainable plant protection and veterinary medical products.

The entire project is geared around sustainability. “The central concept of the building is its resource efficiency, be it sustainable building technology, photovoltaic systems, ground heat exchangers, waste heat recovery, or collection of rainwater for operating the sanitary systems,” explains Johann Trauninger, Head of Real Estate Development of SAN Group. Ecological and long-lasting construction materials, 100% LED lighting, and green roof and facades also have a positive effect on the life-cycle assessment of the building.

The project is designed by ARGE SWAP Architektur and will be built by STRABAG as general constructor. The main building will be move-in ready in winter 2023.

Leading heavy-duty truck manufacturers plan European high-performance charging network

Leading heavy-duty truck manufacturers plan European high-performance charging network

Three leading commercial vehicle manufacturers Volvo Group, Daimler Truck and the TRATON GROUP have signed a non-binding agreement to install and operate a high-performance public charging network for battery electric heavy-duty long-haul trucks and coaches across Europe.

The joint aim is to initiate and accelerate the build-up of charging infrastructure to enhance customer confidence and to support the EU’s transformation to climate-neutral transportation.

The agreement lays the foundation of a joint venture, equally owned by the three parties, which will become operational next year. The parties intend to invest Euro 500 million to install and operate at least 1,700 high-performance charging points close to highways as well as at logistic and destination points, within five years from the establishment of the JV.

The aim over time is to increase significantly the number of charging points by seeking additional partners and public funding. The future JV is planned to operate under its own corporate identity and will be based in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

The future JV will act as catalyst and enabler for realising the European Union’s Green Deal for a carbon-neutral freight transportation by 2050.

Martin Lundstedt, President and CEO Volvo Group says, “We are laying the necessary foundation in making a break-through for our customers to make the transformation to electrification by creating a European charging network leader. We have powerful electromobility technologies, and now, with Daimler Truck, the TRATON GROUP and thanks to the European Green Deal, also an industry-wide understanding as well as a political environment to make fundamental progress towards sustainable transport and infrastructure solutions.”

Martin Daum, CEO Daimler Truck adds, “It is the joint aim of Europe’s truck manufacturers to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. However, it is vital that building up the right infrastructure goes hand in hand with putting CO2-neutral trucks on the road.”

Matthias Gründler, CEO TRATON GROUP: “For the TRATON GROUP, it is clear that the future of transport is electric. This requires the rapid development of publicly accessible charging points, especially for long-distance heavy-duty transport. We are now moving forward together with our partners Daimler Truck and Volvo Group to make this high-performance network a reality as quickly as possible. We now make the first step to accelerate the transition towards sustainable, fossil free transport. The second step should be a strong engagement of the EU for the full scale-up of a charging network across Europe.”

Analysts are calling for up to 15,000 high-performance public and destination charging points no later than 2025, and up to 50,000 high-performance charging points no later than 2030. The JV promises a customer centric approach offering battery electric vehicle fleet operators both fast charging tailored to the 45-minute mandatory rest period in Europe for long-distance transport as well as overnight charging. The network will be open and accessible to all commercial vehicles in Europe, regardless of brand.

Jive talking London gets fleet of 20 hydrogen double-deckers

Jive talking London gets fleet of 20 hydrogen double-deckers

England’s first fleet of hydrogen-powered double-decker buses has gone into service in London. Twenty fuel cell vehicles, built by Northern Ireland’s Wrightbus, will serve the number 7 route between East Acton and Oxford Circus.

The new London bus fleet is part of a larger push for hydrogen power in public transport across Europe. Transport for London (TfL) has led the UK procurement within the Joint Initiative for Hydrogen Vehicles across Europe (JIVE) to buy in bulk with other UK authorities.

Under the procurement process Wrightbus is the sole supplier of double-deckers for Great Britain. By November there will be a total of 55 hydrogen fuel cell buses across London, Birmingham and Aberdeen.

In total, the JIVE initiative is on track to deploy 139 new fuel cell buses and associated refuelling infrastructure across five European countries. Under JIVE II this will increase to nearly 300 hydrogen-powered buses in the UK, Germany, France, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Iceland.

“Our investment in these hydrogen buses is not only helping us to clean up London’s air but is supporting jobs and local economies across the UK,” said Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, upon launching the new fuel cell buses.

The buses were manufactured by Wrightbus in Northern Ireland, and the gas cylinders are manufactured by Luxfer in Nottingham. The hydrogen for the buses is produced at Air Liquide’s plant in Runcorn, harnessing waste hydrogen as a by-product from an industrial chlor-alkali plant. Oxford-based Ryze Hydrogen is responsible for transporting the fuel to the fuelling station. A fuelling station built by Danish engineering firm Nel Hydrogen is used to top up each hydrogen fuel cell bus once per day in as little as five minutes.

From 2023, the hydrogen will be produced by electrolysis powered by a direct connection to an offshore windfarm.

Funding came through TfL at around £6 million. More than £5 million of funding has been provided by European bodies such as the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking, and the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA), an executive agency of the European Commission, as well as £1 million from the Office of Zero-Emission Vehicles.

“London may have one of the cleanest bus fleets in Europe, but we need to continue to act now to tackle climate change and the city’s toxic air quality,” said Geoff Hobbs, Interim Director of Buses at TfL.

“Introducing these hydrogen double decker buses to our fleet, alongside electric buses, diversifies our green bus portfolio and helps us use the right technology for the varying operational requirements of our vast network. This will help Londoners breathe cleaner air.”

Transport for London already has more than 500 electric buses in its fleet, and aims to be zero-emission by 2030.