Ion age: why the future will be battery powered

The variable nature of wind and solar power means storing energy is a huge part of the fight to mitigate climate change.

Why have batteries become important?

In a world increasingly anxious about climate change, the surge in the generation of renewable energy over the past 20 years offers a sliver of hope. But the variable nature of wind and solar power means that storing energy until consumers need it has become the next big challenge. And so, large-scale battery installations are springing up across electricity grids around the world, to make them more flexible. In 2017, more than 1GW of power storage capacity was added around the world – a record, yes, but still a drop in the ocean of global energy demand.

Full article here.

Hydrogen trains lined up for 2021 start in UK

Converted hydrogen trains could be on the UK’s railways by 2021.

An Alstom and Eversholt Rail joint venture has revealed concept designs and plans to convert Class 321 rolling stock into hydrogen powered trains of the future, operational as a soon as 2021.

Codenamed ‘Breeze’ the new trains would be converted Class 321 units, some of the UK’s most reliable rolling stock.

The characteristics, fleet size and availability for conversion to a Hydrogen Multiple Unit (HMU) make the 321 stock the ideal choice for conversion.

The trains will use a combination of a fuel cell and a lithium ion battery that gives the train a range of approximately 1,000km, similar to a typical diesel powered unit.

Full article here.

Before the Electric Car Takes Over, Someone Needs to Reinvent the Battery

To deliver an electric vehicle that’s cheaper, safer and capable of traveling 500 miles on a single charge, the auto industry needs a breakthrough in battery technology. Easier said than done.

Scientists in Japan, China and the U.S. are among those struggling to crack the code of how to significantly boost the amount of energy a battery cell can store and bring an EV’s driving range into line with a full tank of gas. That quest has zeroed in on solid-state technology, an overhaul of a battery’s internal architecture to use solid materials instead of flammable liquids to enable charging and discharging. The technology promises major improvements on existing lithium-ion packs, which automakers say are hitting the limits of their storage capabilities and may never hold enough power for long-distance models.

Full article here.

Graphene nanotechnology charges onto the battery market

New graphene nanotechnology in batteries could reduce charging times, improve durability and boost energy density.

Jas Kandola, CEO of the Graphene Corporation, said his company has developed high-performance graphene-lithium batteries in a commercially viable way.

The firm, which has research, development and commercial operations based in both the UK and India, has created a “proven, unique and cost-efficient process for producing all grades of graphenes, graphene oxides and graphene composites”.

It has developed a battery designed to the specifications of a large mobile phone brand – it boasts an energy density up 45% higher than comparable lithium-ion options, a weight reduction of 30% and is able to reach 80% charge in only 20 minutes.

Full article here.

Centrica, Uber launch electric vehicle trial to monitor impact on UK energy grid

Thousands of electric vehicles are to be hooked up to Britain’s electricity grid to test its ability to cope with power fluctuations caused by a mass roll-out of the technology.

The trial of 3,000 of the vehicles in London and the South of England has been approved by Ofgem, Britain’s energy regulator, and is being led by Uber and Centrica, the owner of British Gas.

The cars will be on the road by the second half of next year and the trial will continue until 2022.  data will be collected about the distance traveled, the cost of trips, as well as the amount of energy consumed and the times of day at which vehicles were charged.

Full article here.

The world’s largest electric vehicle (EV) project has been given the go-ahead by energy regulator Ofgem.

The Optimise Prime project will look to bring together leading power, technology, fleet and transport companies to test and implement the best approaches to the EV rollout.

Spearheaded by data firm Hitachi Vantara and electricity distributor UK Power Networks, the trial will see up to 3,000 electric vehicles from Centrica, Uber and a large UK depot-based parcel carrier take to the road.

The project is sponsored by Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN), Hitachi Europe and Hitachi Capital Vehicle Solutions.

Full article here.

Nissan reveals plans for EV charging to second life ‘ecosystem’

Nissan, the Japanese vehicle OEM, announced plans on November 27 to create an energy storage ‘ecosystem’ where electric vehicles are used to power buildings and reused in a storage system.

The plan, called Nissan Energy, will also let the company build on its Intelligent Mobility strategy programmes launched in the US, Japan and Europe by developing new ways to reuse EV batteries.

The latest plan will establish new standards for connecting vehicles to energy systems through three initiatives: Nissan Energy Supply (vehicle charging), Nissan Energy Share (vehicle-to-grid/home/building applications) and Nissan Energy Storage (second-life battery pack applications).

Full article here.

Arsenal leads charge into battery power at Emirates Stadium

Arsenal has become the UK’s first football club to install large-scale battery energy storage, in a bid to cut electricity costs and support green energy.

Tucked in the basement of the Emirates, the system is capable of powering the 60,000-seat stadium for an entire match, or the equivalent of 2,700 homes for two hours.

The Gunners’ home is one of the biggest stadiums in the UK, with energy demand coming from refrigeration, full-time offices and growing lights to maintain the grass on the pitch. Consumption spikes on match days but not as much as in the past because of energy-efficient LED floodlights.

While other UK football clubs have installed solar panels and similar green measures, Arsenal is believed to be the first with large-scale storage.

Full article here.

Sustainability Assessment of Second Life Application of Automotive Batteries (SASLAB)

The fast increase of the electrified vehicles market will translate into an increase of waste batteries after their use in electrified vehicles (xEV). Once collected, batteries are usually recycled; however, their residual capacity (typically varying between 70% and 80% of the initial capacity) could be used in other applications before recycling. The interest in this topic of repurposing xEV batteries is currently high, as can be proven by numerous industrial initiatives by various types of stakeholders along the value chain of xEV batteries and by policy activities related to waste xEV batteries. SASLAB (Sustainability Assessment of Second Life Application of Automotive Batteries), an exploratory project led by JRC under its own initiative in 2016-2017, aims at assessing the sustainability of repurposing xEV batteries to be used in energy storage applications from technical, environmental and social perspectives. Information collected by stakeholders, open literature data and experimental tests for establishing the state of health of lithium-ion batteries (in particular LFP/Graphite, NMC/Graphite and LMO-NMC/Graphite based battery cells) represented the necessary background and input information for the assessment of the performances of xEV battery life cycle. Renewables (photovoltaics) firming, photovoltaics smoothing, primary frequency regulation, energy time shift and peak shaving are considered as the possible second-use stationary storage applications for analysis within SASLAB. Experimental tests were performed on both, new and aged cells. The majority of aged cells were disassembled from a battery pack of a used series production xEV. Experimental investigations aim at both, to understand better the performance of cells in second use after being dismissed from first use, and to provide input parameters for the environmental assessment model. The experimental tests are partially still ongoing and further results are expected to become available beyond the end of SASLAB project. To obtain an overview of the size of the xEV batteries flows along their life cycle, and hence to understand the potential size of repurposing activities in the future, a predictive and parametrized model was built and is ready to be updated according to new future data. The model allows to take into account also the (residual) capacity of xEV batteries and the (critical) raw materials embedded in the various type of xEV batteries. For the environmental assessment, an adapted life-cycle based method was developed and applied to different systems in order to quantify benefits/drawbacks of the adoption of repurposed xEV batteries in second-use applications. Data derived from laboratory tests and primary data concerning energy flows of the assessed applications were used as input for the environmental assessment. Under certain conditions, the assessment results depict environmental benefits related to the extension the xEV batteries’ lifetime through their second-use in the assessed applications. In the analysis, the importance of using primary data is highlighted especially concerning the energy flows of the system in combination with the characteristics of the battery used to store energy. A more comprehensive environmental assessment of repurposing options for xEV batteries will need to look at more cases (other battery chemistries, other reuse scenarios, etc.) to derive more extensive and firmer conclusions. Experimental work is being continued at the JRC and the availability of further data about the batteries’ performances could allow the extension of the assessment to different types of batteries in different second-use applications. A more complete sustainability assessment of the second-use of xEV batteries that could be useful to support EU policy development will also require more efforts in the future in terms of both the social and economic assessment.

Full paper here.