Safety Testing, Recycling Partnerships, Modular Power for COVID Decontamination

September 14, 2021 | Updates from the battery industry this month include new UL testing for Urban Electric Power, a partnership for Heritage Battery Recycling and 6K, new facilities for Battery Resourcers, and more.


Urban Electric Power announced that its rechargeable alkaline battery has completed a critical UL testing standard for fire safety, confirming a key advantage over lithium-ion batteries which are susceptible to thermal runaway. An independent testing laboratory heated a zinc manganese-dioxide cell from Urban Electric Power to over 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit (538 degrees Centigrade). The lab reported that “thermal runaway was not achieved,” after being subjected to abuse tests consistent with UL 9540A standard for thermal runaway fire propagation in battery energy storage systems. The same battery cells also passed testing to the UL 1973 standard earlier in the year, covering batteries for use in stationary applications such as for capturing power from PV solar and wind turbine, uninterruptible power supplies, etc.

Heritage Battery Recycling and 6K have announced an exclusive joint development agreement to produce new cathode material from recycled batteries. The process leverages Heritage’s established network infrastructure to collect, store, and process end-of-life batteries, combined with 6K’s breakthrough plasma technology to manufacture critical cathode-grade battery materials needed to power applications with high-purity requirements. Heritage will draw upon resources from its affiliate, Heritage Environmental Services, as well as its collaboration with Heritage Crystal Clean to build an unrivaled national collection network for sourcing battery feedstock. Heritage and 6K plan to be making cathode from recycled content as early as Q1 2022.

NeoGraf Solutions, a leading developer and manufacturer of high-performance natural and synthetic graphite sheets, rolls, and powders, has been awarded a $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for the development of graphite bipolar plates for heavy-duty fuel cell applications. The NeoGraf proposal was among 31 projects which received a total of $52.5 million to advance next-generation clean hydrogen technologies and support DOE’s recently announced Hydrogen Energy Earthshot initiative. The grant will fund the technology advancement of low-cost, flexible graphite bipolar plates for heavy-duty fuel cell applications for the U.S. trucking and mass transportation industries. NeoGraf’s proposal focuses on the development of flexible graphite that supports the cost targets and high-volume manufacturing requirements. The goal of the project is to significantly reduce the cost of bipolar plate graphite for next-generation heavy-duty fuel cell applications through the development of thin and durable flexible graphite. This represents a critical advancement in bipolar plate technology and substantial progress towards meeting 2030 system level heavy-duty truck targets of $80/kW system cost and 25,000-hour durability.

SUNLIGHT, global technology company and producer of industrial and advanced energy storage solutions, announces the implementation of a €50m investment plan for infrastructure, machinery, and new production-assembly lines for both lead-acid and lithium-ion technologies. The larger part of the investment, €30m, will go toward the expansion of existing infrastructure with automated, state-of-the-art machinery in SUNLIGHT’s lead-acid battery plant based in Xanthi, northeastern Greece, as well as further expansions of its assembly plants in Verona, Italy and North Carolina, United States. The upgrade will increase annual production capacity of lead-acid motive power products from 4GWh to 5.3GWh gradually until Q3 2022 and will render the Xanthi-based manufacturing unit the largest in the world for industrial, motive, lead-acid batteries. An additional €20m is being invested in the production of lithium-ion batteries, with the installation of three highly automated assembly lines for lithium modules and complete lithium battery systems, as well as one assembly line for prototyping and R&D purposes. This investment will accommodate the company’s goals to offer global markets integrated lithium products for off-road mobility, industrial use, and Energy Storage for renewables. Production is anticipated to begin by Q3 2022 and deliver 1.7GWh in annualized capacity, while additional space has already been reserved with the potential to more than double capacity up to almost 4GWh.

Battery Resourcers, a vertically integrated lithium-ion battery recycling and manufacturing company, has opened two new pilot plants, in addition to the conversion of its current operation in Worcester, Massachusetts, to support the company’s overall expansion and to service new customers. The expansion will serve to build Battery Resourcers’ processing capacity, as well as further support the technology development of closed loop sustainable materials. Beyond simple recycling, this process returns custom developed cathode back into the supply chain. The advanced new facilities, strategically located in Westborough, Massachusetts and Novi, Michigan, mark a significant step in scaling up Battery Resourcers’ pilot operations before continued commercial expansion in North America, as well as Europe, that will be announced later this year. With this expansion and opening of additional United States facilities, Battery Resourcers has positioned itself as a leading company in the production of sustainable battery materials to support the needs of battery producers and vehicle equipment manufacturers as they expand their electric vehicle (EV) production.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory has licensed its wireless charging technology for electric vehicles to Brooklyn-based HEVO. The system provides the world’s highest power levels in the smallest package and could one day enable electric vehicles to be charged as they are driven at highway speeds. HEVO intends to work with ORNL to continue development of this critical technology to increase power levels and efficiency of existing charging techniques. The license covers ORNL’s unique polyphase electromagnetic coil that delivers the highest surface power density available, 1.5 megawatts (1,500 kilowatts) per square meter — eight to 10 times higher than currently available technology. This surface power density supports higher power levels in a thinner, lighter coil, resolving the issue of adding range-sapping weight to electric vehicles. The license also includes ORNL’s Oak Ridge Converter, which eliminates one of the power conversion stages needed for wireless power transfer, resulting in more compact and less costly stationary infrastructure.

BriteShot, an industry leader in LED lighting solutions and expert in COVID decontamination products, expands its product lineup with the new BritePower modular power system. This mobile and rugged energy delivery solution provides continuous power via hot-swappable lithium-ion manganese phosphate battery packs. With its small footprint and long lifecycle, BritePower packs provide energy for commercial applications, including film and entertainment as well as home use, offering reliable power supply for a range of applications. The BritePower modular power base system consists of a charger, a 4kW AC to DC inverter and one 2.5-kWh (kilowatt hours) battery pack. Multiple battery packs can be connected simultaneously, parallel to the invertor, to extend the energy capacity to 5kWh or more. Alternatively, one battery can be charged while the other is in use. In this configuration, a fully charged battery can be connected to the system before removing a depleted one, allowing for uninterrupted power delivery, which is a must-have for mission-critical and time-sensitive applications. Each battery pack charges in approximately two and half hours and lasts three hours depending on power consumption.

SunMirror AG has, via its wholly owned subsidiary, SunMirror Luxembourg S.A., agreed to acquire Finnish cobalt company Latitude 66 Cobalt Oy with focus on exploration and mine development with its business operations located in Finland. Founded 4 years ago, Latitude 66 is one of the leading explorers of cobalt in Europe and controls the largest exploration tenement package of any single company in Finland, currently in excess of 9,000 square kilometres. Latitude 66’s most advanced mine development project is the fourth largest known cobalt deposit in the European Union and the second largest not yet in production. In addition, Latitude 66 has an extensive exploration portfolio with over 100 targets identified for further exploration. The expected purchase price payable to Latitude 66 Cobalt will be EUR 45 million, payable in cash on closing, and SunMirror Luxembourg has agreed to a 2% net smelter royalty on future production. The completion of the acquisition of Latitude 66, or a takeover bid if one is subsequently announced by SunMirror Luxembourg, is subject to completion by SunMirror of a capital raising of EUR 70 million and other customary conditions.