Batteries = The New Gold: Demand for EV's Creates Battery Shortage
Successful Results in Integrating NEO's Silicon into Graphite-Based Anodes for Improved Longevity, Stability and Capacity Retention
Point Roberts, Washington and Delta, British Columbia--(Newsfile Corp. - June 22, 2021) - Investorideas.com, a leading investor news resource covering cleantech and mining stocks, releases a sector snapshot on the race for more efficient and cost effective battery sources as more car manufacturers enter the EV space and demand continues to grow. Vancouver-based NEO Battery Materials Ltd. (TSXV: NBM.V) (OTC Pink: NBMFF), a resource company focused on battery materials and metals, intends to become a lead player in the space as a silicon anode materials supplier to the electric vehicle industry.
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In a recent report from Reuters, it was announced that the Biden administration will begin to emphasize battery recycling as part of its electric-car plans, aiming to address supply issues. The recycling push is the result of a 100-day review of gaps in the supply chain of key areas, including metals used in batteries for EVs and consumer electronics, the report said. The administration is seeking not only to expand EV adoption, but to also create a more robust domestic supply chain for key materials.
Recycling is seen as a way to help achieve those goals with less reliance on expanded domestic mining, which faces regulatory hurdles and environmentalist opposition, the report said. The administration is also researching ways to reduce metal usage in batteries, according to the report.
Another solution is to find new, inexpensive materials that allow the batteries to run longer and last longer. Currently, the anode material is known to be the bottleneck of the battery due to graphite's limited capacity to store energy or lithium-ions.
Silicon, hence, is recognized as the next material to forward the development of batteries as it has a capacity more than 10 times than of graphite. However, silicon expands during charging, which damages the anode and battery. Many approaches have been discussed to counter this issue and to commercialize silicon anodes.
As the EV sector continues to grow, there are many looking to solve the silicon issue such as Dr. Jong Hyeok Park, Chief Scientific Advisor and Director of NEO Battery Materials Ltd. (TSXV: NBM) (OTC Pink: NBMFF) who recently announced that NEO's silicon (Si) nanocoating technology is proving to be highly effective in conventional graphite/Si mixture anodes, overcoming a major barrier to the commercialization of Si anodes in graphite anode systems. In the past week, this test was conducted and validated by a well-established third-party laboratory in South Korea. More detailed experiment conditions are as below:
- Loading mass: 6.5mg/cm2
- Electrode density: 1.1g/ cm3
- Natural graphite/Si ratio: 9:1
- Charging condition: 0.5C with CC/CV mode (NOT CC mode)
- Voltage: 0.01V ~ 1.5V
NEO's previous 100% Si nanoparticle-based durability test results had confirmed that NEO's proprietary nanocoating technology stabilizes the Si material at long-term operating times required for electric vehicles (EV) and various energy storage applications. These new results further demonstrate the longevity and stability of NEO's Si anode when it is mixed with a conventional graphite-based anode. Introducing 10% of NEO's nanocoated silicon in a natural graphite anode allows a more uniform solid-electrolyte interface (SEI) layer formation with minimal volume expansion during cycling, and thus, more than two-times higher capacity retention is obtained.
Dr. Park added, "NEO's Si anode innovation breaks through the barriers that have hindered the commercialization of Si anode materials in conventional graphite-based batteries. Initially, we questioned if the nanocoating layer on Si nanoparticles could be sustainable in conventional graphite powder, but this test provides us a highly positive signal for the commercialization of our patented nanocoating technology in silicon-graphite anodes. This indicates that we may increase the Si contents in graphite systems without serious performance degradation."
Additionally, in the past two weeks, NEO has signed several non-disclosure agreements with some established players in the battery metals and materials industry. Discussions pertain to the advancement of NEO's silicon production and proprietary nanocoating technology for silicon anodes. Due to reasons of confidentiality and the competitive nature of the industry, all parties will remain unidentified at this point in time.
Spencer Huh, President and CEO of NEO, commented, "This is extremely welcome news as we are on an accelerated process to push our corporate initiatives. NEO's robust portfolio of properties, patents, and personnel are currently producing considerable synergy, and we look forward and are enthusiastic to advance to the next stage of our plans."
At this time, no further deal terms have been reached, nor has the Company entered into any letters of intent, partnerships, advisory agreements, or any other form of definitive agreement with these parties. As the Company's discussions remain at preliminary stages, there can be no assurance or guarantee that the Company will enter into binding agreements.
General Motors Co. recently announced that it will increase its EV and AV investments from 2020 through 2025 to $35 billion, representing a 75 percent increase from its initial commitment announced prior to the pandemic.
The company's enhanced commitment will accelerate its transformative strategy to become the market leader in EVs in North America; the global leader in battery and fuel cell technology through its Ultium battery platform and HYDROTEC fuel cells; and through Cruise, be the first to safely commercialize self-driving technology at scale.
"We are investing aggressively in a comprehensive and highly-integrated plan to make sure that GM leads in all aspects of the transformation to a more sustainable future," said GM Chair and CEO Mary Barra. "GM is targeting annual global EV sales of more than 1 million by 2025, and we are increasing our investment to scale faster because we see momentum building in the United States for electrification, along with customer demand for our product portfolio."
GM first shared its vision of a world with zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion nearly four years ago.
"There is a strong and growing conviction among our employees, customers, dealers, suppliers, unions and investors, as well as policymakers, that electric vehicles and self-driving technology are the keys to a cleaner, safer world for all," Barra said.
This announcement builds on GM's initial commitment announced in March 2020 to invest $20 billion from 2020 through 2025, including capital, engineering expenses and other development costs, to accelerate its transition to EVs and AVs. In November 2020, the company increased its planned investment over the same period to $27 billion.
These investments are enabled by GM's strong underlying business, including record EBIT-adjusted in the last three quarters. GM now expects to deliver better-than-expected results in the second quarter despite the industry-wide impact of the semiconductor shortage.
EV favorite Tesla Inc. recently released their new Model S Plaid, which has received its first official EPA rating with a range of 348 miles on a single charge, but that's for the bigger and less efficient wheels.
The EPA is slowly releasing the new ratings for the new versions of the updated Tesla Model S.
Earlier this week, they released the new rating for the updated 2021 Model S Long Range, which received a 120 MPGe (highway and city driving combined) and a range of 405 miles on a single charge.
The range was lower than Tesla had originally announced, but the efficiency did improve compared to the previous version of the Model S Long Range trim. Though the EPA has released its first rating for the new Model S Plaid, this was only for the version with 21-inch wheels and the EPA has yet to release the range for the Model S Plaid with 19-inch wheels, but Tesla has been guiding a range of 390 miles.
Ford Motor Company recently joined General Motors with upbeat earnings guidance and sees strong reservations for critical new vehicles including its first electric truck. The No. 2 U.S. auto giant said that it expects adjusted pretax earnings for the second quarter to surpass its own expectations and be "significantly better" than a year ago.
That's despite the semiconductor shortage, which Ford said April 28 would halve its planned Q2 production and reduce full-year adjusted EBIT to $5.5 billion-$6.5 billion. Ford will report for Q2 and offer an outlook for the rest of the year on July 28.
Recently Ford touted 100,000 reservations for the F-150 Lightning, its first all-electric pickup truck and Tesla Cybertruck rival. That's up from 20,000 reported May 20 after a launch event, and 70,000 on May 26.
Meanwhile, its new compact Maverick truck has 36,000 reservations, just a week after unveiling. Ford also reported 20,000 reservations for the all-electric E-Transit commercial van and 190,000 for the new, full-size Bronco SUV.
Ford also recently announced acquiring Electriphi, a California-based provider of charging management and fleet monitoring software for electric vehicles. Electriphi's team and services will be integrated into Ford Pro - a new global business within Ford committed to commercial customer productivity and to developing the most advanced charging and energy management experiences.
"As commercial customers add electric vehicles to their fleets, they want depot charging options to make sure they're powered up and ready to go to work every day," said Ford Pro CEO, Ted Cannis. "With Electriphi's existing advanced technology IP in the Ford Pro electric vehicles and services portfolio, we will enhance the experience for commercial customers and be a single-source solution for fleet-depot charging."
Volkswagen AG announced earlier in June that it is participating, with a contribution of US$620 million (about €500 million), in a financing round of its Swedish battery partner Northvolt AB with a total volume of US$2.75 billion. The Group will thus maintain its stake in the company at about 20 percent. The funds are to be used for capacity expansion in the fields of production, recycling and research and development. Among other activities, Northvolt intends to expand the capacity of its Northvolt Ett gigafactory in Skellefteå, Northern Sweden from 40 GWh to 60 GWh per year, in order to meet higher demand from customers.
Arno Antlitz, Group Board Member for Finance and IT said, "With this investment, we are strengthening our strategic partnership with Northvolt as a supplier of sustainable battery cells which are produced using renewable energy and are comprehensively recyclable."
Volkswagen had already invested about €900 million in Northvolt in June 2019, acquiring about 20 percent of the shares in the company as well as a seat on the Board of Directors. The production of Volkswagen premium cells is to be concentrated at Skellefteå in cooperation with Northvolt. Production of these cells is due to start in 2023 and the annual capacity intended for Volkswagen is to be built up step-by-step to as much as 40 GWh.
All in all, Volkswagen expects to commission six cell factories in Europe by 2030 together with its partners with a view to safeguarding the ramp-up of electric vehicle production.
As the production race rages on from EV automakers trying to meet current consumer demand, advancement in battery efficiency, battery recycling and battery production could see a major boom which is creating new challenges as well as opportunities for companies to solve this growing battery dilemma.
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