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In a milestone, supermaterials trailblazer Lyten has shipped lithium-sulfur (Li-S) batteries to Stellantis and other US and EU OEMs for testing.

Lyten’s shipment of A samples of its 6.5 Ah Li-S pouch cells is the first major step in the commercial evaluation of lithium-sulfur batteries by leading US and European automakers. Stellantis announced that it had invested in Lyten’s lithium-sulfur battery development in May 2023.

“This milestone is the result of years of dedicated work and innovation from the Lyten team, and we are just at the start of further expanding the capabilities of our lithium-sulfur battery cells,” said Lyten CEO and cofounder Dan Cook.

Operating from its automated pilot production line in San Jose, California, which came online in May 2023, Lyten produces lithium-sulfur batteries using standard lithium-ion manufacturing equipment and practices. The company plans to ship cylindrical A samples later this year, and its first giga-scale factory is currently being designed.

Lithium-sulfur batteries face issues related to cycle life and stability under real-world operating conditions, but Lyten says it’s addressed those challenges in its lithium-sulfur EV batteries.

Lyten has integrated its proprietary 3D graphene structure within the Li-S battery’s cathode. This structure enhances the battery’s overall stability and conductivity, addressing common issues such as the polysulfide shuttle effect, which typically leads to rapid capacity loss in Li-S batteries.

By using a lithium metal composite for the anode instead of the traditional graphite, Lyten has improved the anode’s stability and efficiency. This modification also helps to increase the battery’s overall energy density while potentially reducing degradation over time.

The need for critical minerals like nickel, cobalt, and manganese in the cathode is also eliminated, and that means a projected 65% lower carbon footprint than lithium-ion batteries and a supply chain that can be fully sourced in the US or EU at scale.

In February 2024, Chrysler announced the inclusion of Lyten’s Li-S batteries in its Halcyon concept EV, and the US Department of Energy has granted Lyten $4 million to accelerate development.  Lyten has raised more than $410 million in equity capital to date.

What do you think of the commercial potential Li-S EV batteries? Let us know in the comments below.

Read more: Stellantis sees Q1 2024 drop in revenue, but EV sales were up


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There’s a big problem with McClaren’s ‘World’s most powerful trail-legal’ electric mountain bike

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There's a big problem with McClaren's 'World's most powerful trail-legal' electric mountain bike

McClaren, better known for its high-performance sports cars, has just announced a series of new electric bikes, including what the company calls the “World’s most powerful trail-legal” electric mountain bike.

The new carbon fiber e-bike models include two full-suspension electric mountain bikes known as the Extreme 600 and the Extreme 250, as well as two hardtail eMTBs known as the Sport 600 and the Sport 250.

Both bikes feature mid-drive motors, with the power rating matching the monikers to offer 600 and 250 Watts of power, respectively.

The lower power 250W versions are likely intended to meet regulations for the European market, where stricter e-bike laws limit most models to 250 watts of power, or roughly one-third of a horsepower.

The 600W models take advantage of looser regulations in markets that allow more power, such as in North America.

The only problem is that McClaren’s marketing line of being the “world’s most powerful trail-legal electric mountain bikes” is, at best, misleading, and at worst, patently false.

The issue is that for European e-bikes, 250W is the legal limit for both on-road and trail usage. So if you’ve got a 250W e-bike, you’ve basically tied every single other e-bike on the market for highest power. Of course, none of the 250W e-bikes rolling around today actually put out only 250W of power. They all sneak by with higher peak power ratings, but the continuous power ratings are all identical. Thus, claiming to have the world’s most powerful trail-legal electric mountain bike is a bit like claiming to sell the world’s tallest 6-foot ladder.

When you look at the US market, it’s even more problematic. E-bikes in the US fall under various regulations depending on the state, but most areas use a 3-class system. And to make things simple, all three classes allow up to 750 watts of power.

If you’re on private property, it doesn’t really matter how much power your e-bike has. ‘Murica! But if you’re on public property, like public roads or trails on state land, you’re likely going to be limited to that 750W of power in most places. Thus, claiming that a 600W e-bike is the world’s most powerful trail-legal e-bike is obviously quite problematic in the land of 750W e-bikes.

If we are to consider peak power, McClaren claims that its 600W mid-drive motor actually peaks at 852W. That’s impressive, but still below the peak power of dozens of e-bike models in the US that peak in the four digits.

What McClaren might be referring to is torque, and the 600W version of their new e-bike does make an impressive claim of 161 Nm, one of the highest figures in the industry. But it takes more than being “one of the highest” to park at the top of the podium. For example, other trail-legal e-bikes, such as Optibike’s Class 1 RIOT eMTB, claim 190 Nm of torque.

But marketing untruths aside, we might as well take a look at what McClaren is offering. We’re already here, as it were.

For a starting price of just US $7,950, you can throw a leg over the Sport 250, the lower-power hardtail model. That ticket price gets you entry to a carbon fiber frame and a 250W mid-drive motor with a claimed 121 Nm of torque. That’s pretty darn torquey, though it still doesn’t surpass several other mid-drive e-bikes we’ve seen.

Garnished with a 12-speed SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain and SRAM G2 RE quad-piston hydraulic disc brakes, the bike certainly looks ready for action. The 36V battery isn’t huge at just 540 Wh, but the bike is intended for pedalers, so it’s likely to still offer good range on the trails. This isn’t a motorcycle in a bike frame like many we’ve seen.

Rounding out the major components are a RockShox Pike Rush RC fork, a color display embedded in the carbon fiber handlebars, and a carbon wheelset to match, complete with a set of Pirelli Scorpion Enduro M 29×2.4″ tires.

The bike comes in three sizes and offers a two-year warranty.

And the prices only go up from there. Upgrading to the more powerful Sport 600 bumps the price to US $8,950.

The full-suspension bikes are even pricier, with the Extreme 250 coming in at US $10,950 and the Extreme 600 topping the lineup at US $11,950.

To be fair, you do get the more premium wireless 12-speed SRAM XX Eagle AXS transmission on the higher-end model, as well as a wireless dropper post and a nicer RockShox Lyrik Rush RC fork, but that’s still a pretty penny.

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Caterpillar is putting MASSIVE 240-ton electric haul truck to work in Vale mine

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Caterpillar is putting MASSIVE 240-ton electric haul truck to work in Vale mine

Mining company Vale is turning to Caterpillar to provide this massive, 240-ton battery-electric haul truck in a bid to slash carbon emissions at its mines by 2030.

Caterpillar and Vale have signed an agreement that will see the Brazilian mining company test severe-duty battery electric mining trucks like the 793 BEV (above), as well as V2G/V2x energy transfer systems and alcohol-powered trucks. The test will help Vale make better equipment choices as it works to achieve its goals of reducing direct and indirect carbon emissions 33% by 2030 and eliminating 100% of its net emissions by 2050.

If that sounds weird, consider that most cars and trucks in Brazil run on either pure ethyl alcohol/ethanol (E100) or “gasohol” (E25).

“We are developing a portfolio of options to decarbonize Vale’s operations, including electrification and the use of alternative fuels in the mines. The most viable solutions will be adopted,” explains Ludmila Nascimento, energy and decarbonization director Vale. “We believe that ethanol has great potential to contribute to the 2030 target because it is a fuel that has already been adopted on a large scale in Brazil, with an established supply network, and which requires an active partnership with manufacturers. We stand together to support them in this goal.”

Vale will test a 240-ton Cat 793 battery-electric haul truck at its operations in Minas Gerais, and put energy transfer solutions to a similar tests at Vale’s operations in Pará over the next two-three years. Caterpillar and Vale have also agreed to a joint study on the viability of a dual-fuel (ethanol/diesel) solution for existing ICE-powered assets.

Vale claims to be the world’s largest producer of iron ore and nickel, and says it’s committed to an investment of between $4 billion to $6 billion to meet its 2030 goal.

Cat 793 electric haul truck

During its debut in 2022, the Cat 793 haul truck was shown on a 4.3-mile test course at the company’s Tucson proving grounds. There, the 240-ton truck was able to achieve a top speed of over 37 mph (60 km/h) fully loaded. Further tests involved the loaded truck climbing a 10% grade for a full kilometer miles at 7.5 mph before unloading and turning around for the descent, using regenerative braking to put energy back into the battery on the way down.

Despite not giving out detailed specs, Caterpillar reps reported that the 793 still had enough charge in its batteries for to complete more testing cycles.

Electrek’s Take

Caterpillar-electric-mining-truck
Cat 793 EV at 2022 launch; via Caterpillar.

Electric equipment and mining to together like peanut butter and jelly. In confined spaces, the carbon emissions and ear-splitting noise of conventional mining equipment can create dangerous circumstances for miners and operators, and that can lead to injury or long-term disability that’s just going to exacerbate a mining operation’s ability to keep people working and minerals coming out of the ground.

By working with companies like Vale to prove that forward-looking electric equipment can do the job as well as well as (if not better than) their internal combustion counterparts, Caterpillar will go a long way towards converting the ICE faithful.

SOURCES | IMAGES: Caterpillar, Construction Equipment, and E&MJ.

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Argonne Nat’l Lab is spending big bucks to study BIG hydrogen vehicles

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Argonne Nat'l Lab is spending big bucks to study BIG hydrogen vehicles

Argonne National Laboratory is building a new research and development facility to independently test large-scale hydrogen fuel cell systems for heavy-duty and off-road applications with funding from the US Department of Energy.

The US Department of Energy (DOE) is hoping Argonne Nat’l Lab’s extensive fuel cell research experience, which dates back to 1996, will give it unique insights as it evaluates new polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cell systems ranging from 150 to 600 kilowatts for use in industrial vehicle and stationary power generation applications.

The new Argonne test facility will help prove (or, it should be said, disprove) the validity of hydrogen as a viable fuel for transportation applications including heavy trucks, railroad locomotives, marine vessels, and heavy machines used in the agriculture, construction, and mining industries.

“The facility will serve as a national resource for analysis and testing of heavy-duty fuel cell systems for developers, technology integrators and end-users in heavy-duty transportation applications including [OTR] trucks, railroad locomotives, marine vessels, aircraft and vehicles used in the agriculture, construction and mining industries,” explains Ted Krause, laboratory relationship manager for Argonne’s hydrogen and fuel cell programs. “The testing infrastructure will help advance fuel cell performance and pave the way toward integrating the technology into all of these transportation applications.”

The Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office (HFTO) of DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy is dedicating about $4 million to help build the new Argonne facility, which is set to come online next fall.

Electrek’s Take

Medium-sized Hydrogen FC excavator concept; via Komatsu.

It’s going to be hard to convince me that the concentrated push for a technology as inefficient as hydrogen fuel cells has more to do with any real consumer or climate benefit than it does keeping the throngs of people it will take to manufacture, capture, transport, store, house, and effectively dispense hydrogen gainfully employed through the next election cycle.

As such, while case studies like the hydrogen combustion-powered heavy trucks that have been trialed at Anglo American’s Mogalakwena mine since 2021 (at top) and fuel cell-powered concepts like Komatsu’s medium-sized excavator (above) have proven that hydrogen as a fuel can definitely work on a job site level while producing far fewer harmful emissions than diesel, I think swappable batteries like the ones being shown off by Moog Construction and Firstgreen have a far brighter future.

Speaking of Moog, we talked to some of the engineers being their ZQuip modular battery systems on a HEP-isode of The Heavy Equipment Podcast a few months back. I’ve included it, below, in case that’s something you’d like to check out.

SOURCES | IMAGES: ANL, Komatsu, and NPROXX.

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