Enabled Future Limited and b-science.net LLC Sign Agreement to Provide Machine Learning-Supported R&D Decision Making Tools for the Fuel Cells & Electrolyser Community

Enabled Future Limited is delighted to announce its collaboration with Zurich-based b-science.net LLC for the expansion of its lithium-ion battery machine-learning based information services into the fuel cells and electrolyser space. The collaboration draws upon EFL’s vast experience in the catalysis, power-to-X and fuel cells sectors offered through its EnabledPower market vertical as well as its legacy skills in the provision of consulting based on patent and technical information analysis.

We very much look forward to working with the b-science.net team led by CEO, Dr Pirmin Ulmann. More details of the collaboration and the associated membrane fuel cell and electrolyser subscriber report, to be offered throught b-science.net, are provided in the following press release.

Enabled Future Limited and b-science.net LLC Sign Agreement (globenewswire.com)

Recent Solid State Battery Patent Applications Filed by China’s BYD Published

Recent Solid State Battery Patent Applications Filed by China’s BYD Published

A number of patent publications have appeared this year on solid state batteries (SSB) filed by China’s battery and electric vehicle OEM- BYD. The company whose name means “Build Your Dream” is the largest manufacturer globally of rechargeable batteries. It has already seen 167 of its patent filings published in 2021, according to data from the European Patent Office online patent database – Espacenet. Two documents were identified using machine translation which describe some of the innovations on SSB which BYD have sought to patent. CN112242519  describes a core-shell cathode active material (CAM) which includes an oxide of titanium in the formulation. The CAM has desirable properties including operation at high voltage, good cycling and rate performance. CN112242557 describes an SSB with an electrolyte consisting of a mixture of lithium-sulphide and tin sulphide which results in better safety performance and higher energy density – necessary for increasing the driving range and performance in operation for instance in an electric passenger car.

SSB are widely anticipated to be employed in the next generation of lithium ion batteries (LIB) and it is not surprising to see BYD’s R&D approaches appearing in the patent literature this soon into 2021. There are many different types of solid state electrolyte technologies including (Na) Super Ionic CONductor, (NASICON), LIthium Super Ionic CONductor (LISICON), Lithium Phosphorus Oxy-Nitride (LiPON), lithium nitride (Li3N), sulfide, argyrodite, anti-perovskite, garnet, perovskite, and many others.

CN112242519 (A)  – A positive electrode material and preparation method thereof, and a solid-state lithium battery

Applicant: BYD Co. Ltd.

Publication Date: 19th January 2021

Machine Translated Abstract:

The present invention provides a cathode material with a core-shell structure, the core is a cathode active material, the shell includes a lithium-containing transition metal oxide and Ti2O3, and the ionic conductivity of the lithium-containing transition metal oxide is higher than 10 − 8S·cm-1, the lithium-containing transition metal oxide can remove lithium to form an oxide under a voltage higher than 3.0V, and the electronic conductivity of the oxide is higher than 10-6S·cm-1. The invention also provides a preparation method of the positive electrode material and a solid lithium battery. The cathode material can construct a lithium ion transmission channel and an electron transmission channel at the same time, which greatly improves the capacity development, first-lap coulombic efficiency, cycle performance and high rate performance of solid-state lithium batteries. Use of this technology enables good safety performance and higher energy density.

CN112242557 A – A lithium-ion battery solid electrolyte and its preparation method and solid-state lithium-ion battery

Applicant: BYD Co. Ltd.

Publication Date: 19th January 2021

Machine Translated Abstract:

The present disclosure relates to a lithium ion battery solid electrolyte, a preparation method thereof, and a solid lithium ion battery. The electrolyte contains a substance with the chemical formula aLi2S-MS2·nH2O, where M is one or more of Si, Ge and Sn, and 1≤ n≤12, 1≤a≤2. The solid electrolyte of the present disclosure has good safety performance and higher energy density

1st Rare Earths News Weekly Bulletin

Welcome to the inaugural edition of the Rare Earth News Weekly Activity Update. In fact, this edition covers all activity from the 1st of January 2021 and will be updated on a weekly basis. Also included in this update is the new EnabledMetals Rare Earth Magnets Patent Tracker. The free version of the tracker can be downloaded each week from the link at the bottom of the article. A premium version is also available for subscribers including more detail on the patent description, claims, legal status, family, citations and a strategic view of its importance.

To enquire about premium subscription options please email me at: michelle.lynch(at)enabledfuture.com

Guest Blog – Tesla Battery Recycling

In today’s guest blog, Bodo Albrecht, President of precious metals management consulting firm, BASIQ Corporation, puts Battery Recycling under the spotlight and looks at how, the Electric Vehicle pioneer, Tesla is preparing for sustainable End-Of-Life (EOL) disposal of batteries from its range of passenger electric vehicles.

Tesla Battery Recycling – the long road to “closed loop” systems

Electric vehicles (EV) – battery electric vehicles (BEV), to be precise, just won’t die. Even though General Motors famously crushed its “EV1” program in the late 1990s, the technology survived in other icons such as the Toyota Prius Hybrid (which was launched almost in parallel) and, 8 years later, the Tesla Roadster. Since then, not only has the technology broken through the 1 million unit mark in annual sales, it is also increasingly expected that EV (encompassing hybrid and fuel cell variants) will make up over half of all new car sales by 2040 and eventually replace ICE (internal combustion engine) technology all together.

General-Motors-EV1

The trend is driven for the most part by a necessity to reduce emissions and the need to utilize scarce resources on our planet more responsibly. So, naturally, the new technology is under strict scrutiny to ensure that it will achieve what it promises, not just in terms of local emissions but also the sustainability of its entire life cycle.

Vehicle batteries have been, and are still, at the center of this process. Life cycle considerations range from the mining of lithium, the carbon footprint of the underlying logistics of material procurement and component production, the generation and supply of electricity to end-of-life (EOL) solutions. Let us focus on the latter issue today:

Tesla Model X

While early EVs and hybrids like the Toyota Prius had nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries, the most commonly used batteries today are lithium-based because of their better energy density (longer range) and the ability to recharge them more rapidly. More precisely, these batteries utilize variations of lithium, cobalt, manganese, lanthanum, cerium, neodymium and other metals; a somewhat different technology employed by BYD, a leading Chinese producer of EVs, uses iron instead of cobalt. Because of the complexity of these systems, efficient recycling technologies are still in their infancy. Li-ion batteries have a life expectancy of 8-10 years meaning that the first Tesla batteries will become available for recycling just about now. But the car was originally made in very small numbers only, as was the Model S that followed in 2012, which is why investments in large scale, industrial size recycling plants will have to wait several years to see a positive RoI. What is more, companies like Tesla are pushing out the end-of-life issue by repurposing their batteries for stationary use, where high performance and quick recharging times are not as critical.

Experts expect that it will take until 2025 until EV batteries will become an economically viable industry for recyclers. This doesn’t mean that recycling technologies do not exist. Early on, Tesla partnered with California based Kinsbursky Brothers Inc (also doing business as “Toxco” and “Retriev”) who were already active in related fields of recycling cellphone, laptop and other batteries. The creation of scrap in battery production, as well as the need to dispose of defective, damaged or malfunctioning batteries from production vehicles, made it necessary to establish a recycling channel from the start. According to Tesla’s blog, the Kinsbursky recycling method does not use metal smelting but is based on crushing and separating battery components into a copper / cobalt concentrate, plastics and slurry. The report, which is from the early days of utilizing the process, states that only 60% of the input materials are fully recycled while 10% are being reused in other applications; the rest goes into landfill. Since then, these ratios will no doubt have improved but exact information on current performance is not published by Tesla.

Tesla’s second partner, according to a press release, is Umicore of Hoboken, Belgium. The company took on an entirely different path of material recovery. In a first step, “large format” batteries are being disassembled at the company’s plant in Hanau, Germany, and segregated into “pack materials” (copper cables, steel, plastic), electronic components and battery modules. Most of the pack materials can be recycled or reused without complex processing. Efficient recycling process already existed in-house for electronic components. For the battery modules, Umicore inaugurated a pilot plant in 2012 employing a patented “UHT” (“ultra-high temperature”) technology which, according to media statements, allows for an almost complete separation of metals and materials. The pyro-metallurgical process, which operates at or above 3,000° C, creates a metal alloy of cobalt, nickel and copper which is suited for further hydro-metallurgical separation afterward. A slag fraction remains which, Umicore claims, is suitable for reuse in the construction industry, or for further refining. The company has since launched into an expansion of its plant with a goal to process much larger volumes of EV batteries in future.

Either technology will be facing cost/benefit questions concerning the energy put into the recycling of spent Tesla batteries. Unsurprisingly, a large number of startup companies are taking aim at this emerging market which analysts are predicting will be worth as much as US$ 20 billion by 2025 and beyond. Fueled by an enthusiastic supply of grants and venture capital money, the race is on for more sustainable technologies to separate battery materials.

In an interview with “The Guardian”, and in context of the creation of Tesla’s “Gigafactory”, Khobi Brooklyn, a Tesla representative, hinted at plans to “conduct onsite recycling of lithium-ion batteries at the Gigafactory, capturing nickel, aluminum and lithium for use in new battery cells”. He was supported by Phil Hermann, chief energy engineer at Panasonic Eco Solutions, who said he expects to “ultimately see recycling rates at close to 100% for lithium-ion batteries”. Redwood Materials, a recent acquisition linked to two Tesla executives, might be a further hint in this direction.

Will an established entity pave the way to sustainable battery recovery? Or will a complete unknown, much like Tesla itself, succeed with an unconventional approach? It’s an exciting development which we will follow closely in this series.

Bodo Albrecht
President, BASIQ Corporation

Enabled Future Limited Patent Services

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