In the presence of Thierry Le Hénaff, Chairman and CEO of the Group, Arkema inaugurates the Christian Collette Center of Excellence dedicated to batteries at its Pierre-Bénite Research Center.
It seems that not much has changed from the age of petrol-fueled vehicles to our current era of electric vehicles(EVs). Scientists are still grappling worldwide over the depleting availability of resources and the effective usage of those resources to meet the rising demand in the automotive industry.
By Ashwini Balan, Eastern Trade Media
General Motors earlier this year announced their commitment towards being carbon neutral, and added that by 2035, all their vehicles will consist of zero tailpipe emissions. Audi, another leading multinational automotive manufacturer, pledges to end the production of combustion-engine by 2033.
With these two market leaders taking the leap forward to an all-electric future, many multinational companies are overwhelmed with the pressure to quickly transition to EVs to maintain their competitive edge but more importantly, meet the rising consumer demand. Boston Consulting Group (BCG) analysis forecasts that by 2026, more than half of new passenger vehicles sold worldwide will be electric.
With the shift from fuel-intensive to material-intensive energy sources, there are two main concerns that scientists are struggling to resolve. Firstly, to reduce the usage of metal in batteries as it is scarce, expensive, environmentally toxic and working conditions hazardous to miners. Secondly, would be to create a recyclable battery system to maximise the utility of the valuable metals available.
Lithium-ion batteries are highly used in EVs due to their low cost which is 30 times cheaper than when they first entered the market in the early 1990s. In addition, BNEF estimated that the current reserves of lithium— 21 million tonnes, according to the US Geological Survey — are enough to carry the conversion to EVs through to the mid-century. Hence, what concerns researches in EV batteries is Cobalt and Nickel.
In an attempt to address this issue, researches have been experimenting in removing both cobalt and nickel from the composition of EV batteries. However, to successfully remove them would radically transform the cathode materials. In recent years, Ceder’s team and other groups have displayed that certain lithium-rich rock salts were able to perform without the use of cobalt or nickel and yet remain stable in the process. In particular, they can be made with manganese, which is cheap and plentiful, Ceder says.
To create a battery recycling system, another hurdle to overcome is the cost of recycling lithium. A potential solution would be through government support, which is seen in China where financial and regulatory incentives for battery companies are given to source materials from recycling firms instead of importing freshly mined ones, says Hans Eric Melin, managing director of Circular Energy Storage, a consulting company in London.
It is also problematic for manufacturers in their recycling efforts, when the chemistry of cathodes become obsolete at the end of the cars’ life cycle. In response to that, material scientist Andrew Abbott at the University of Leicester, UK developed a technique for separating out cathode materials using ultrasound. He adds that this method works effectively in battery cells that are packed flat rather than rolled up and can make recycled materials much cheaper than virgin mined metals.
Scaling up the volume of lithium also aids in reducing the cost of recycling and this would make it economically viable for businesses to adopt it says Melin. The example of lead-acid batteries — the ones that start petrol-powered cars — gives reason for optimism. “The value of a lead-acid battery is even lower than a lithium-ion battery. But because of volume, it makes sense to recycle anyway,” Melin says.
With the collaborative effort among policymakers, researchers and manufacturers an all-electric future is an attainable reality.
 M. S. Ziegler & J. E. Trancik Energy Environ. Sci.2021
 BloombergNEF. Electric Vehicle Outlook 2021 (BNEF, 2021)
 Yang, J. H., Kim, H. & Ceder, G. Molecules 26, 3173 (2021)
 Lei, C. et al. Green Chem. 23, 4710–4715 (2021)
 Melin, H. E. et al. Science 373, 384–387 (2021).
You might be interested:
WANT MORE INSIDER NEWS? SUBSCRIBE TO OUR DIGITAL MAGAZINE NOW!
ABB has won an ASEAN Energy Award for the installation of the first-of-its-kind public EV charging station, supporting the Malaysian government’s efforts to accelerate a wider adoption of electric mobility.
ABB`s Terra 53 fast charging station, located in Subang Jaya, Malaysia, reduces the typical charging time from two hours, when using conventional public AC chargers, to around 15 minutes for electric vehicles with storage capacities of approximately 24kWh. The station also utilises electricity generated by a rooftop solar installation at the ABB facility, providing a 100 percent carbon neutral mobility solution. Thus, reflecting the company’s commitment to strengthening the country’s EV ecosystem and to reducing carbon emissions.
ASEAN Secretary General Lim Jock Hoi, presented the award to ABB at the 36th ASEAN Ministers on Energy Meeting, (AMEM) Official Dinner held in Singapore, on October 29, 2018.
Malaysia targets to deploy 100,000 electric cars, 2,000 electric buses and 125,000 charging stations by 2030. The expansion is in line with efforts to reduce dependence on fossil fuel in the transportation sector and to drive down carbon emissions by 45 percent by 2030 in compliance with the Paris climate accord.
“The opportunity for sustainable mobility is immense,” said Frank Muehlon, Managing Director for electric vehicle charging infrastructure at ABB. “Every day, new smarter mobility alternatives are challenging conventional vehicles and the use of fossil fuels. The award recognizes our efforts to take our technology leadership to the next level to find new solutions to catalyse this shift in Malaysia and across the fast developing ASEAN region, whether in cars and buses, trains or ships.”
ABB installed the Terra 53 fast charger last year at its premises in Subang Jaya outside of Kuala Lumpur. It is available daily to EV drivers at zero cost as a ‘drive-thru’ convenience, instead of the traditional approach of using parking bays.
Over 8,000 fast chargers, including high power chargers up to 350 kW, have been installed by ABB across 68 countries, more chargers than any other manufacturer. In addition to Malaysia, the chargers can be found in the region in Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines.
Fortune Magazine recently ranked ABB as number eight on its list of companies that are “changing the world”. This is in recognition of the advances that the company has made in e-mobility and EV charging.
ABB received the award as a special submission under the renewable energy category and was amongst over 60 other recipients. The winners were selected based on their projects, which involved innovation or best practices in the field of renewable energy research, development, demonstration, and commercialisation. Special focus was given to projects that were relevant to ASEAN Member States in terms of regional interests and cooperation on sustainable energy.
The ASEAN Centre for Energy is an intergovernmental organization established by Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
WANT MORE INSIDER NEWS? SUBSCRIBE TO OUR DIGITAL MAGAZINE NOW!