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Carbon-conscious mining company Snow Lake Lithium and battery production specialist LG Energy Solution announced they have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to establish a domestic supply chain of lithium in North America. When Snow Lake’s lithium mining operation gets up and running in 2025, it plans to supply LG with the precious Earth material essential to current EV battery chemistry. This domestic supply chain could help several automakers qualify for US federal tax credits as well.

Snow Lake Resources Ltd. ($LTIM) is a publicly traded mining company looking to source precious battery materials in new and more sustainable ways. The company has already made a commitment to provide completely traceable, carbon-neutral, and zero harm lithium to the EV and battery market in North America by utilizing hydroelectric power and zero emission mining machinery.

The lithium-rich land is located in Manitoba, Canada, where Snow Lake has been consolidating the area and conducting surveys to determine its resource potential. It kicked off its initial assessment of the land in early 2022, but said it will take 18-24 months for environmental work such as permitting to be complete before commercial lithium mining can actually begin in North America.

Snow Lake Lithium still has a lot to accomplish before it can mine this rich supply of lithium to automakers in North America, but based on early assessments, the company believes it will be able to provide enough lithium to power five million EVs on the continent alone, while simultaneously reducing US automakers’ dependency on China.

With its latest announcement, LG Energy Solution – a major battery provider to EV automakers in North America – is onboard to establish a viable domestic supply chain of lithium that can lead to financial benefits to the automakers themselves, in addition to their US customers.

Lithium North America
Source: Snow Lake Lithium

Snow Lake to provide Lithium to North America with LGES

The companies announced their non-binding MOU in a press release today, outlining some of the early terms and expected timelines for domestic lithium distribution to support EVs. When Snow Lake Lithium begins approved lithium mining in Canada, it will supply LG Energy Solution (LGES) with the chemical element for EV battery cell production in North America over a ten year period.

LGES is a newer battery production unit of the larger LG Group, originally spun out of LG Chem toward the end of 2020. Its main focus is the development of lithium-ion batteries for EVs, Mobility & IT applications, and Energy Storage Systems (ESS).

Following an early partnership with Hyundai Motor Group, LGES has shared plans for a 45 GWh battery cell factory in Canada with Stellantis, in addition to three new battery plants in the US for GM on the wings of a massive $2.5 billion grant from the US Department of Energy. Through its collaborations with American automaker Ford, LGES has already begun exploring other sustainable ways to source lithium with companies like Compass Materials International.

Based on these movements, an agreement with Snow Lake Lithium and the potential of its colossal, 55,000-acre domestic mining site for the EV industry feels like a natural next step. LG Energy Solution CEO Youngsoo Kwon shared a similar sentiment:

As we have recently announced our mid- to long-term strategy to focus on North America, the fastest growing EV market, these partnerships serve as a crucial step towards securing a stable key raw material supply chain in the region. By constantly investing in upstream suppliers and establishing strategic partnerships with major suppliers of critical minerals, LGES will continue to ensure the steady delivery of our top-quality products, thereby further advancing the global transition to EVs and ultimately to a sustainable future.

Both companies state that completion of the partnership outlined in the MOU will be subject to a number of conditions, including “the completion of due diligence from both parties.” Should both companies find the partnership terms and mining prospects agreeable, a massive supply of lithium available domestically could benefit EV automakers and customers alike.

Under new terms outlined in the recently signed Inflation Reduction Act, EVs and a majority of their battery components must be assembled in North America in order to qualify for federal tax credits up to $7,500. Furthermore, a majority of those critical battery materials like lithium must be sourced in North America, or from countries with free trade agreements with the US.

Currently, most EVs sold in the US no longer qualify under these terms that will officially kick in January 1, 2023, but automakers are already pivoting their production strategies toward US assembly. Since several major automakers already have working relationships with LGES, obtaining battery cells built with materials from North America could prove fruitful as long as Snow Lake Lithium can complete the necessary measures to ensure approval for mining in Canada.

As previously mentioned, this process will still require years, but if Snow Lake remains on schedule, the global EV production landscape could make a pivotal shift toward significantly larger manufacturing in North America. Additionally, Canada is expected to rank third in the global production of the raw materials needed for electric vehicle batteries by 2025.

When you think about how significant North America’s current dependency is on China for a lot of these resources, the fact that Canada could be a major player in less than three years again demonstrates how quickly this industry is moving, and how much opportunity could soon be coming to the US and its neighbor to the North, by way of EV adoption.

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Stanford scientists figured out why lithium metal batteries fail

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Stanford scientists figured out why lithium metal batteries fail

Researchers at Stanford University and the US Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have identified what causes lithium metal batteries to short-circuit and fail – and this could help avoid the problem in future battery production.

As a result of this discovery, energy-dense, fast-charging, nonflammable lithium metal batteries that last a long time could overcome the main barriers to their use in EVs, among other benefits.

Lithium metal batteries with solid electrolytes are lightweight, inflammable, pack a lot of energy, and can be recharged very quickly. There’s just been a short-circuiting problem that causes them to fail.

But researchers appear to have pinpointed the problem. In a paper published in the journal Nature Energy, titled, “Mechanical regulation of lithium intrusion probability in garnet solid electrolytes,” researchers cited mechanical stress, especially during potent recharging, to be the cause of failure.

Senior author William Chueh explains:

Just modest indentation, bending or twisting of the batteries can cause nanoscopic fissures in the materials to open and lithium to intrude into the solid electrolyte, causing it to short circuit.

Even dust or other impurities introduced in manufacturing can generate enough stress to cause failure.

This artist’s rendition shows one probe bending from applied pressure, causing a fracture in the solid electrolyte, which is filling with lithium. On the right, the probe is not pressing against the electrolyte and the lithium plates on the ceramic surface, as desired. (Image credit: Cube3D)

Colead author Xin Xu likened it to the way a pothole appears in pavement. Through rain and snow, car tires pound water into the tiny, preexisting imperfections in the pavement, producing ever-widening cracks that grow over time.

Xu said:

Lithium is actually a soft material, but, like the water in the pothole analogy, all it takes is pressure to widen the gap and cause a failure.

So the researchers are now looking at ways to use these very same mechanical forces to toughen the material during manufacturing, much like a blacksmith anneals a blade during production. They’re also looking at ways to coat the electrolyte surface to prevent cracks or repair them if they emerge.

Scientists around the world working to develop new solid electrolyte rechargeable batteries can design around the problem, or even turn the discovery to their advantage, as scientists at Stanford are now researching. 

Main image section: Cube3D

Read more: Porsche to design 3D-printed battery gigafactories for Sakuu


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Arrival (ARVL) names new CEO but cuts staff in half as it fights to reach Van production in US

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Arrival (ARVL) names new CEO but cuts staff in half as it fights to reach Van production in US

The woes continue for commercial EV start-up Arrival, which hopes an internal promotion of a new CEO can help get its all-electric Van into US production as part of a business strategy pivot to cut costs. Arrival is still struggling with capital, however, as it also shared plans to reduce its current staff by 50% to further cut costs and stay afloat. Here’s the latest.

Arrival ($ARVL) is an EV start-up focused on delivering urban-centric mobility, particularly its last-mile Arrival Van, although the start-up was originally also developing an all-electric passenger bus and a rideshare-specific Arrival Car designed alongside Uber.

Since going public via an SPAC merger in March of 2021, the start-up’s stock value has dwindled, leading to an announcement last summer that it would be reorganizing its business to focus solely on Arrival Van production, halting Bus and Car development.

By October, Arrival announced it was pivoting its EV business once again, shifting its focus to US production after citing significant costs to scale overseas and a less-than-stellar at-the-market (ATM) platform.

What was more concerning was Arrival’s cutting of “cash-intensive activities,” which included staff salaries. With a refocused aim on US Van production, Arrival shared that its new strategy would, unfortunately, have “a sizable impact on the company’s global workforce, predominantly in the UK.”

By November, Arrival president and chief of strategy Avinash Rugoobur resigned for personal reasons, and CEO Denis Sverdlov stepped down into a new role as chair of the board. Peter Cuneo has been in place as Arrival’s interim CEO since.

Today, Arrival has announced a new chief taking the reins, but with even more job cuts to follow as the start-up looks to further lean down in order to reach a start of US Van production.

Arrival Van
The Arrival Van, which will (hopefully) be manufactured at the start-up’s North Carolina microfactory / Source: Arrival

Arrival Van to arrive in 2024 but will need additional capital

This morning, Arrival shared that its former EVP of digital Igor Torgov will take over as company CEO today, following a unanimous vote from the board. In addition to his time at Arrival, Torgov has held leadership positions at Atol, Bitfury, and Microsoft. He commented on his new role:

Accepting this important role at a critical point in Arrival’s journey is a significant responsibility. Arrival has developed unique technologies in a market that has huge growth potential and can play a key role in addressing climate change. To unlock these opportunities, we need to make difficult decisions and to take swift action. Following a detailed evaluation of Arrival and the wider EV market during the past two months, the leadership team and the Board have taken decisive action to ensure the most effective use of our current resources and optimize the efficiency of the business. The actions support our journey to become a champion in innovative products and new, more efficient methods of vehicle production, particularly in the important US market for commercial electric vehicles. We are keenly aware that these decisions, while necessary, will have a profound impact on a significant number of our colleagues. We are 100% committed to supporting our employees during this difficult process.

A difficult process indeed.

As the new CEO, Torgov’s first task following the aforementioned company evaluation is to cut its current staff of 1,600 by half. By combining those significant job cuts with “reductions in real estate and third-party spending,” Arrival expects to also halve its operational costs down to about $30 million per quarter as it continues to try and begin scaled Van production.

As of December 31, 2022, Arrival had just $205 million in cash on hand. Arrival’s stock has sat well below $1 per share for months now, triggering a noncompliance letter from the Nasdaq Stock Market LLC this past November. Arrival has until May to once again eclipse $1 per share, or it will be delisted.

Arrival said it will share more details of its 2023 business plan during its 2022 full-year business update in March, including its financial outlook and product milestones for the Arrival Van. The start-up reiterated that it intends to start Van production in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 2024 but admits that goal remains subject to raising additional capital.

It’s hard out here for an EV start-up these days, and Mr. Torgov certainly has his work cut out for him.

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World’s first semi-submersible floating offshore wind farm blows past expectations

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World's first semi-submersible floating offshore wind farm blows past expectations

WindFloat Atlantic – the world’s first semi-submersible floating offshore wind farm – has been online for two years, and it’s far exceeding power output expectations.

The 25 megawatt (MW) WindFloat Atlantic project ended 2022 with an electricity production of 78 gigawatt hours (GWh) – 5% more output than its first year. It supplies power to more than 25,000 households and avoids 33,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide. Its annual availability was between 93-94%.

The offshore wind farm sits 20 km off the coast of Portugal in the municipality of Viana do Castelo, north of Porto. It’s made up of three 8.4 MW Vestas wind turbines that sit on semi-submersible, three-column floating platforms anchored by chains to the seabed. A 20 km long (12.4 mile long) cable connects it to an onshore substation.

WindFloat Atlantic was connected to the grid at the end of 2019 and commissioned in 2020, and it’s now finished its full second year in operation. It has an operations and maintenance base in the port of Viana do Castelo, where the team receives the wind farm’s information in real time so can address any issues that arise in real time. Onsite intervention can be complex, due to adverse weather and sea conditions in the area where it’s sited.

It’s a joint venture between Spanish renewable company EDPR, global energy firm ENGIE, Spanish energy firm Repsol, and California-headquartered floating offshore wind firm Principle Power.

Principle Power, which also worked on Scotland’s Kincardine, the world’s largest floating offshore wind farm, says on its website that the “WindFloat” technology is compatible with any standard offshore wind turbine and can be deployed in waters deeper than 40 m (131 feet).

So, what makes semi-submersible floating offshore wind unique? Here’s what Principle Power says:

The WindFloat has been developed specifically to achieve exceptional stability performance, while reducing structural weight, and simplifying logistics during installation and operation.

The virtual pitch- and yaw-free performance in the offshore environment allows the use of existing commercial offshore wind turbines, located at one of the columns, with only minor modifications to control software. 

Photo: Principle Power


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