LATEST DEVELOPMENTS: Tesla, the gigafactory and low cost batteries
Tesla’s gigafactory is incredibly important to the development of the brand due to the fact that it will help realize Elon Musk’s dream of cutting the cost of batteries to a level that will make electric vehicle production viable on a global scale. Tesla is ramping up for a few big years with the release of its highly anticipated Model 3 in 2017 and the plan to slash the cost of battery units by a massive 30 percent with the opening of its gigafactory.
Tesla: Cutting battery costs
According to the company’s recent annual filing, batteries will initially be produced at the gigafactory for its Model S and Model X cars, beginning in 2016. Considering that workers only broke ground on the site in the summer of 2014, it goes to show how quickly Tesla is working to get the factory up and running.
Production of batteries is of crucial importance to the success of the cheaper Model 3, which is supposed to be launched in 2017. Large-scale battery production is due by 2020.
Even though the facility will not be working at full capacity in time for the release of the Model 3, Tesla is still forging ahead with its ambitious goals. Not only is the facility brand new but also Tesla has limited experience in manufacturing batteries. The site needs to remain on schedule in order to allow for the testing of batteries produced there before the launch of the Model 3.
A major step away from fossil fuels
Currently Panasonic Corporation is the only partner Tesla has in the battery factory, but it is thought that other partners will be brought in at a later date. Recent photographs show that the factory already has a frame and is in the process of being roofed.
The huge factory is expected to make as many lithium-ion batteries in one location as there are currently being manufactured in the entire world. The move away from fossil fuels could see a big push from the gigafactory, and it’s encouraging to see construction advancing so quickly.
Ultium Cells LLC/Li-Cycle: Sustainable Battery Manufacturing
Ultium Cells LLC - a joint venture between General Motors and LG Energy Solutions - has announced its latest collaboration with Li-Cycle. Joining forces the two have set ambitions to expand recycling in North America, recycling up to 100% of the scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing
What is Ultium Cells LLC?
Announcing their partnership in December 2019, General Motors (GM) and LG Energy Solutions established Ultium Cells LLC with a mission to “ensure excellence of Battery Cell Manufacturing through implementation of best practices from each company to contribute [to the] expansion of a Zero Emission propulsion on a global scale.”
Who is Li-Cycle?
Founded in 2016, Li-Cycle leverages innovative solutions to address emerging and urgent challenges around the world.
As the use of Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries in automotive, industrial energy storage, and consumer electronic applications rises, Li-Cycle believes that “the world needs improved technology and supply chain innovations to better recycle these batteries, while also meeting the rapidly growing demand for critical and scarce battery-grade materials.”
Why are Ultium Cells LLC and Li-Cycle join forces?
By joining forces to expand the recycling of scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing in North America, the new recycling process will allow Ultium Cells LLC to recycle cobalt, nickel, lithium, graphite, copper, manganese and aluminum.
“95% of these materials can be used in the production of new batteries or for adjacent industries,” says GM, who explains that the new hydrometallurgical process emits 30% less greenhouse gases (GHGs) than traditional processes, minimising the environmental impact. Use of this process will begin later in the year (2021).
"Our combined efforts with Ultium Cells will be instrumental in redirecting battery manufacturing scrap from landfills and returning a substantial amount of valuable battery-grade materials back into the battery supply chain. This partnership is a critical step forward in advancing our proven lithium-ion resource recovery technology as a more sustainable alternative to mining, " said Ajay Kochhar, President, CEO and co-founder of Li-Cycle.
"GM's zero-waste initiative aims to divert more than 90% of its manufacturing waste from landfills and incineration globally by 2025. Now, we're going to work closely with Ultium Cells and Li-Cycle to help the industry get even better use out of the materials,” added Ken Morris, Vice President of Electric and Autonomous Vehicles, GM.
Since 2013, GM has recycled or reused 100% of the battery packs it has received from customers, with most current GM EVs repaired with refurbished packs.
"We strive to make more with less waste and energy expended. This is a crucial step in improving the sustainability of our components and manufacturing processes,” concluded Thomas Gallagher, Chief Operating Officer, Ultium Cells LLC.