This Week in Batteries – Week 30

Welcome to this week’s battery roundup. The most important news surrounding battery technology and production from Europe and beyond.

Czech Government and Utility Company Cooperate on 40 GWh Battery Plant

The Czech industry ministry recently signed an MoU with majority state-owned utility company CEZ to build a €2 billion battery plant. The plant could produce around 40 GWh worth of batteries annually.

The government is actively looking for partners for this and possibly other battery plants. There is a rumor that Volkswagen, its Czech subsidiary Škoda, or LG might become a partner in the endeavor to establish a Czech battery production. The capacity of 40 GWh corresponds to requirements VW’s Thomas Schmall announced at Power Day. One possible site, Prunéřov, is conveniently less than 60 km from the Cínovec site where lithium could be mined in the future.

VW Partner QuantumScape Testing 10 Layer Cell

The San José-based startup announced it’s currently testing a new 10-layer battery cell in its Q2 letter to shareholders. The cell features a lithium metal anode and has similar early capacity retention and cycling behavior as their one-layer and 4-layer counterparts. The cell will continue to be developed throughout the next year. To this day, there is no information on QuantumScape’s cell’s capacities.

Credit: QuantumScape

By 2025, Volkswagen and QuantumScape want to establish a factory for solid-state batteries in Germany, most likely in Salzgitter, the site for VW’s 40 GWh battery plant. VW has invested around $300 million in the startup.

Previously, QuantumScape had only presented a one-layer cell. Critics like Scorpion Capital claimed the company’s findings to be misleading. Testing a 10-layer cell that is closer to the cell that will be produced in the future might clear up these uncertainties.

The shareholder letter also reported on the progress of the QS-0 pre-pilot plant, which will start production in 2023.

Rio Tinto Commits Funding to Serbian Jadar Mine

British-Australian mining company Rio Tinto committed €2 billion for its lithium mining site in Serbia. By 2029 the company wants to produce around 58,000 tonnes of battery-grade lithium carbonate annually. Operations are to start in 2026. In total, the company aims to produce around 2.3 million tonnes of lithium carbonate.

The next steps are regulatory approval and licenses.

As I reported in my article on European lithium projects, many locals condemn the mining project due to deviating information on the amount of lithium that can be extracted and the fear of the destruction of the environment. An environmental impact study will be published soon.

CUSTOMCELLS to Supply Lilium’s Electric Jet With Batteries; New Funding Secured

German battery maker CUSTOMCELLS recently established a JV with Porsche to produce high-performance cells. This week, another customer was revealed: Munich-based company Lilium will source batteries from CUSTOMCELLS for its electric 7-seater jet to enter the market in 2024. The cells will be produced at the company’s Tübingen battery plant.

Liliums 7-seater electric jet. Credit: CUSTOMCELLS

“On the basis of flexible manufacturing concepts, CUSTOMCELLS® guarantees high-tech solutions for special applications and tailor-made production of electrodes, electrolytes, and battery cells with an outstanding quality and traceability approach, depending on the customer’s requirements profile. This partnership will bring two leading German innovators together and underlines the strength of the German manufacturing and tech ecosystem.”

Leopold König, Co-Founder and CEO of CUSTOMCELLS

This week it was also announced that CUSTOMCELLS has secured the support of new shareholders in a funding round. The investors include Vsquared Ventures and 468 Capital, as well as Porsche Ventures. The amount of the funding was not disclosed.

Beyond Europe: CATL Presents New Sodium-Ion Cell

Chinese frontrunner in battery production CATL presented its new sodium-ion battery cell, making it the first among major automotive battery makers. The cells have an energy density of 160 Wh/kg, for the time of commercialization, the company aims for 200 WH/kg. This still doesn’t measure up to lithium-ion batteries. Many cells have an energy density of up to 250 Wh/kg. However, with sodium being much more abundant and easy to source, Na-ion batteries could take a  foothold in the industry in the future.

CATL’s sodium-ion battery. Credit: CATL

At room temperature, the cells can be charged to 80% in under 15 minutes. CATL aims to establish a supply chain by 2023. The Chinese company is currently a supplier for lithium-ion battery cells for many automakers like Tesla, Daimler, VW, and others.

This is not a complete list of news from this week but the press releases and articles I found the most interesting. Let me know if I missed anything important. I am working on another detailed article at the moment but I am always interested in ideas for further posts, so let me know what you want to read about.

You can also follow me on Twitter (@BatteryBayEU), where I post some of the news before they end up in my weekly roundup. I’m looking forward to learning about your involvement or interest in the industry and chatting about everything batteries.

Also, please feel free to use the comment section below to leave any feedback or suggestions!

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