Life-blood of Tesla batteries hits supply limits in Andean mine

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For the past nine months, a U.S. company that is the world’s largest producer of lithium—a key ingredient in electric-car batteries—has been locked in battle with the Chilean government over pricing issues, production quotas, and environmental compliance. With no resolution in sight, the fight is sending tremors all the way up the electric vehicle supply chain that provides batteries to Tesla Inc., Nissan Motor Co., Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, and other car makers.

The drama is playing out in the northern reaches of Chile’s Andes Mountains amid the arid and austere Atacama Desert, a vast, high-altitude bowl surrounded by snow-capped volcanic peaks named after ancient gods of the indigenous people. The U.S. company, Albemarle Corp., has taken over a massive salt-flats mine, pumping scarce briny water through dried-out salt marshes and lagoons to extract the prized mineral. A dozen or so miles away, thick flocks of Andean flamingos feed peacefully in a lagoon teaming with tiny shrimp, as they have for countless millennia. But as mining activity surges, water tables are falling amid growing environmental concerns.

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Chinese company says it will soon cross $100 battery threshold, slaying the gasoline car

 

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Envision Group analysts discovered the price curve after purchasing Nissan’s battery division, Envision CEO Lei Zhang said. Getty photoGETTY

Envision Energy will produce batteries for $100 per kilowatt hour by 2020, the Shanghai company’s founder and CEO said at Stanford University, predicting the price will drop to $50 only five years later and end the reign of the internal-combustion engine.

Envision’s analysts realized they could achieve these goals after the company purchased Nissan’s battery division earlier this year, CEO Lei Zhang said at Stanford University’s Global Energy Forum. Stanford just released video of Lei’s remarks, which came in response to a slightly more conservative prediction by Stanford’s Arun Majumdar.

“I have something to add on to Arun’s comment,” Lei said. “He mentioned by 2022 we are able to reach $100 per kilowatt hour, but I say we are able to arrive much earlier. By 2020 we are able to deliver the cost of $100 U.S. Just recently we bought a Japanese battery company, so we have very detailed analyzed this trend of cost, so we are able, probably by 2025, to achieve $50 U.S. dollar per kilowatt hour.”

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Large “Tesla ships” all-electric container barges are launching this autum

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The Dutch company Port-Liner is building two giant all-electric barges dubbed the ‘Tesla ships‘. The company announced that the vessels will be ready by this autumn and will be inaugurated by sailing the Wilhelmina canal in the Netherlands.

The 100 million-euro project supported by a €7m subsidy from the European Union is expected to have a significant impact on local transport between the ports of Amsterdam, Antwerp, and Rotterdam.

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Scientists turn nuclear waste into diamond batteries

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They’ll reportedly last for thousands of years. This technology may someday power spacecraft, satellites, high-flying drones, and pacemakers.

Nuclear energy is carbon free, which makes it an attractive and practical alternative to fossil fuels, as it doesn’t contribute to global warming. We also have the infrastructure for it already in place. It’s nuclear waste that makes fission bad for the environment. And it lasts for so long, some isotopes for thousands of years. Nuclear fuel is comprised of ceramic pellets of uranium-235 placed within metal rods. After fission takes place, two radioactive isotopes are left over: cesium-137 and strontium-90.

These each have half-lives of 30 years, meaning the radiation will be half gone by that time. Transuranic wastes, such as Plutonium-239, are also created in the process. This has a half-life of 24,000 years. These materials are highly radioactive, making them extremely dangerous to handle, even with short-term exposure.

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This new Lithium battery tech can simply suck up CO2 to power itself

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We need this right now!

Everybody knows the world’s got a serious carbon dioxide problem, but an ingenious and potentially cost-effective way of dealing with our surplus CO2 could provide the means of tomorrow’s battery technology.

For years scientists have looked at ways of capturing carbon and storing it underground or even potentially in the ocean. But a new system might offer a powerful advantage over these efforts.

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Tenfold improvement in liquid batteries mean electric car refuelling could take minutes

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Tenfold improvement in liquid batteries mean electric car refuelling could take minutes.

Big companies from around the world have already shown interest in Prof. Lee Cronin’s energy-dense liquid battery.

One of the biggest drawbacks of electric vehicles – that they require hours and hours to charge – could be obliterated by new type of liquid battery that is roughly ten times more energy-dense than existing models, according to Professor Lee Cronin, the Regius Chair of Chemistry at the University of Glasgow, UK.

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A new flow battery prototype aims to store vast amounts of renewable power for the grid

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This ‘flow battery’ could power green homes when the sun goes down and the wind stops blowing.

With solar and wind electricity prices plunging, the hunt is on for cheap batteries to store all this power for use around the clock. Now, researchers have made an advance with a flow battery, the type of battery being developed to soak up enough excess wind and solar power to fuel whole cities. They report the discovery of a potentially cheap, organic molecule that can power a flow battery for years instead of days.

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Tesla and PG&E are working on a massive ‘up to 1.1 GWh power pack battery system

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For the past few months, Tesla and CEO Elon Musk have been teasing a giant battery project that would dwarf even the company’s 129 MWh Powerpack project in Australia.

Today, we learn that Tesla is working with PG&E on a massive battery system with a capacity of “up to 1.1 GWh” in California.

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Where 3 million electric batteries will go when they retire

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GM, Toyota and BYD are part of a potential $550 billion industry.

The first batches of batteries from electric and hybrid vehicles are hitting retirement age, yet they aren’t bound for landfills. Instead, they’ll spend their golden years chilling beer at 7-Elevens in Japan, powering car-charging stations in California and storing energy for homes and grids in Europe.

Lithium-ion car and bus batteries can collect and discharge electricity for another seven to 10 years after being taken off the roads and stripped from chassis—a shelf life with significant ramifications for global carmakers, electricity providers and raw-materials suppliers.

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The death of the internal combustion engine

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“HUMAN inventiveness…has still not found a mechanical process to replace horses as the propulsion for vehicles,” lamented Le Petit Journal , a French newspaper, in December 1893. Its answer was to organise the Paris-Rouen race for horseless carriages, held the following July. The 102 entrants included vehicles powered by steam, petrol, electricity, compressed air and hydraulics. Only 21 qualified for the 126km (78-mile) race, which attracted huge crowds. The clear winner was the internal combustion engine. Over the next century it would go on to power industry and change the world.

The big end

But its days are numbered. Rapid gains in battery technology favour electric motors instead (see Briefing ). In Paris in 1894 not a single electric car made it to the starting line, partly because they needed battery-replacement stations every 30km or so. Today’s electric cars, powered by lithium-ion batteries, can do much better. The Chevy Bolt has a range of 383km; Tesla fans recently drove a Model S more than 1,000km on a single charge. UBS, a bank, reckons the “total cost of ownership” of an electric car will reach parity with a petrol one next year—albeit at a loss to its manufacturer. It optimistically predicts electric vehicles will make up 14% of global car sales by 2025, up from 1% today. Others have more modest forecasts, but are hurriedly revising them upwards as batteries get cheaper and better—the cost per kilowatt-hour has fallen from $1,000 in 2010 to $130-200 today. Regulations are tightening, too. Last month Britain joined a lengthening list of electric-only countries, saying that all new cars must be zero-emission by 2050.

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A 100% renewable grid isn’t just feasible, it’s already happening

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New study debunks myths claiming renewables can’t be integrated into electric grid.

The ongoing debate around whether it’s feasible to have an electric grid running on 100 percent renewable power in the coming decades often misses a key point: many countries and regions are already at or close to 100 percent now.

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