A growing consciousness among consumers and manufacturers to reduce carbon emissions and reduce reliance on fossil fuel are among the factors fueling the demand for advanced lithium-ion batteries. Increased production of lithium batteries also led to their decreased cost over the last few years, fueling their feasibility for use in electric vehicles, which are projected to contribute to the increased demand for portable lithium-ion battery solutions. The long lifespan of lithium-ion batteries makes them ideal for use in hybrid vehicles. These batteries are also being adopted for other renewable fuel sources as storage systems for solar and wind energy. The global market for advanced lithium-ion batteries is expected to grow at a CAGR of 15.90% over 2020-2025. Companies such as Nano One Materials Corp., Albemarle Corporation , Lithium Americas Corp., Johnson Controls Inc., and Enphase Energy Inc. are making their mark with various innovations, collaborations, and expansion processes.
Nano One Enters a Co-Development Agreement with CBMM
Nano One Materials Corp. , a clean technology company, has announced an advanced co-development agreement with niobium producer CBMM. CBMM is a global leader in the production and commercialization of niobium products and technologies.
The agreement will use niobium for coating nickel-rich cathode materials made through Nano One’s One-Pot Process. The One-Pot process is a patented technology that allows Nano One to produce low-cost, high-performance cathode materials for use in lithium-ion batteries meant for consumer electronics, energy storage, and electric vehicles.
Niobium in lithium-ion batteries forms a protective coating on the outer surface of cathode powder, thus reducing the rapid degeneration of high-performance batteries due to damaging side reactions.
“Nano One has successfully demonstrated the use of niobium as a coating for various cathode materials and has several related patents now granted and pending,” said Nano One CTO Dr. Stephen Campbell. “Our One-Pot process enables us to form coatings simultaneously with the underlying cathode material. This avoids extra steps and costs while enabling individual nanocrystals, also known as single crystals, to be coated for increased durability. With the support and partnership of CBMM, we will build on these successes and optimize our One-Pot process for the production of niobium coated nickel rich cathode materials for demanding applications such as electric vehicles.”
Nano One CEO, Mr. Dan Blondal, said, “CBMM has an impressive track record in niobium technology and business development, and we believe that upstream collaborations, such as this, add to our differentiation and offer strategic value to downstream partners as we progress towards the adoption and commercial application of our technologies.”
CBMM’s Executive Manager for Battery Products, Rogério Ribas, said, “CBMM is encouraged by Nano One’s ground-breaking innovations and capabilities, and we look forward to elevating the role of niobium in lithium-ion batteries and fostering a long-lasting and collaborative working relationship with Nano One.”
In an earlier release, Nano One provided an update on the joint LNMO cathode development with an undisclosed Asian producer, noting that the first two phases are complete with validation from both parties. The two companies are now proceeding to the next stage of the project.
Companies Take Steps to Ensure Their Stake in the Renewable Energy Sector
Albemarle Corporation in January 2021 announced the expansion of their Nevada lithium production facility in Silver Peak to allow the exploration of clays and other resources available for the commercial production of lithium. The expansion project aims to double the current production of lithium at the site between 2021 and 2025. “As a leader in the lithium industry, our priority is to optimize our world-class resources and production. This includes Silver Peak, a site uniquely positioned as the only lithium-producing resource in the United States. This investment in domestic capacity shows that we are committed to looking at the many ways in which Silver Peak can provide domestic support for the growing EV market,” said Eric Norris, Albemarle President, Lithium.
Meanwhile, Lithium Americas Corp. received a Record of Decision (ROD) for the Thacker Pass lithium project after the company completed the National Environmental Policy Act process. The ROD is an important milestone in the development of the Thacker Pass Process. Commenting about the ROD, CEO and President Jon Evans said, “The issuance of the ROD is the culmination of over 10 years of hard work from the Thacker Pass team, as well as the BLM and other federal, state, and local agencies, all of whom worked tirelessly to ensure their respective commitments to environmental stewardship and community engagement. With the federal permitting process complete, our focus is on advancing the financing process including discussions with potential strategic partners.”
A global leader in smart, healthy, and sustainable buildings, Johnson Controls Inc. (NYSE:JCI)announced the launch of a lithium-ion risk prevention system. This system is designed to provide an early-warning detection of battery failure in lithium-ion energy storage systems. The system will monitor and mitigate battery failure before the battery presents a fire threat. Johnson’s system continuously monitors the battery racks for the presence of lithium-ion off-gases, which are released upon cell malfunction. Once the system detects these off-gases, it automatically sends the battery management system a signal to shut down the affected battery stacks, preventing thermal runaway.
Enphase Energy Inc., a leader in energy management technology, announced an expansion of their partnership with Momentum Solar to include battery storage. “Momentum is proud to expand its strategic partnership with Enphase into home energy storage, offering our customers a unified platform designed for safe, reliable, and uninterrupted power,” said Arthur Souritzdis, CEO of Momentum Solar. Enphase’s solar storage option features an LFP battery chemistry for a longer-lasting battery.
Companies in the renewable energy market, such as Nano One Materials Corp., are taking steps that will see them benefit from the growing demand for eco-friendly energy sources.