Sunday, December 26, 2021

Batteries: ...The Race to Build Europe’s Frst Lithium-Iron-Phosphate Battery Gigafactory

 Lithium-Iron, it's all anyone is talking about.

From Sifted (FT backed tech site), Dec 20: 

What Europe’s first LFP gigafactory will mean for the impact sector

In October, electric vehicle company Tesla announced it was switching up the chemistry of its batteries for their standard range models — from nickel-cobalt-aluminium to lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP). It might not seem as dramatic as Elon Musk’s other ideas like ultra-fast trains or (un)breakable windows, but it follows the trend of EV manufacturers moving towards the more affordable, climate-friendly battery option. 

According to one market research company, the LFP batteries market is expected to reach $10.6bn by 2024. The only problem? China gets 70% of the production pie because Europe doesn’t have an LFP battery factory… yet.

In October, Serbian energy company ElevenEs announced it’s building the first LFP gigafactory in Europe, funded in part by EIT InnoEnergy, which is supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), a body of the EU. 

Why these batteries?

“ElevenEs is Europe’s first LFP gigafactory, which is basically a different chemistry used for lithium-ion batteries compared to most announced gigafactories in Europe,” Nemanja Mikac, ElevenEs’ chief executive tells Sifted, adding that it’s the most used technology in China and is about to come to Europe as well. 

According to Mikac, LFP batteries are more affordable and more sustainable than other solutions because the raw materials used to produce them are more freely available. This, he says, is a major draw to the technology.

“The LFP batteries have no nickel and no cobalt, so they’re very sustainable,” he says. “Therefore they are also more affordable.” 

While they don’t have as long a range as other batteries, Mikac says this is compensated by new “cell-to-pack” designs which increase the energy density....


 The "impact sector"?

"Tesla in talks with China's EVE for low-cost battery supply deal -sources" TSLA)
Well I guess Tony Stark Elon Musk is now officially Iron Man.
Back in 2018 we posted "Batteries: Lithium-Iron may be Competitive With Lithium-Cobalt" but with so many technologies that failed to scale-up over the years we are a little bit jaundiced about wasting the reader's time chasing every rabbit that pops up.

However, if this works, Elon may have found the chemistry for the next generation of Powerwalls.

Also from 2018:
"Ten years left to redesign lithium-ion batteries"
This time frame is not too restrictive.
Tesla and their battery partner, Panasonic, have removed a lot of the cobalt (60%) from their battery recipe and are on their way to zero cobalt over the next couple years.

So, more interesting than any time pressure is the potential spur to creativity on the question of alternative chemistries.

From the journal Nature, July 25:...

One more from 2018—apparently a great year for Iron Age types while I kept writing Bronze Age on my checks. ("Dad, what's a check?"):

Twenty Month Payback for Tesla 100-MW Utility Scale Battery Storage System
Elon (and Panasonic) may have just found another multi-billion dollar business.
Going forward the chemistry probably won't be Lithium ion, maybe molten-salt or iron based, but the fact TSLA can now pitch this kind of payback probably heralds the beginnings of lithium rush 3.0, or at least the promotion thereof....

And just so you know how long it can take to go from lab bench to production, this post is from 2008!

Lithium-Ion Batteries for Less

From MIT's Technology Review:
Researchers show a low-cost route to making materials for advanced batteries in electric cars and hybrids.

A new way to make advanced lithium-ion battery materials addresses one of their chief remaining problems: cost. Arumugam Manthiram, a professor of materials engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, has demonstrated that a microwave-based method for making lithium iron phosphate takes less time and uses lower temperatures than conventional methods, which could translate into lower costs.

Lithium iron phosphate is an alternative to the lithium cobalt oxide used in most lithium-ion batteries in laptop computers . It promises to be much cheaper because it uses iron rather than the much more expensive metal cobalt. Although it stores less energy than some other lithium-ion materials, lithium iron phosphate is safer and can be made in ways that allow the material to deliver large bursts of power, properties that make it particularly useful in hybrid vehicles.

ndeed, lithium iron phosphate has become one of the hottest new battery materials. For example, A123 Systems, a startup based in Watertown, MA, that has developed one form of the material, has raised more than $148 million and commercialized batteries for rechargeable power tools that can outperform conventional plug-in tools....MORE