ROUNDUP: Northvolt ESS assembly plant, Johnson Controls off-gas detection launch, Li-Cycle to list

Render of Northvolt's ESS assembly plant in Poland. Image: Northvolt.

19 February 2021: Northvolt investing US$200 million in ESS gigafactory 

Lithium-ion battery startup Northvolt will build a factory in Poland for assembling energy storage systems (ESS), with an initial output of 5GWh per year.

The company has been working to establish significant lithium-ion cell manufacturing capacity in Europe, with its first giga-scale battery-making facility under construction in Sweden and another planned for Germany.

Claiming that its batteries will be “the world’s greenest,” made using renewable energy, the company also revealed in an interview last year with Energy-Storage.news that in addition to serving the electric vehicle sector, as much as a quarter of its output could be used for various stationary energy storage applications.

Its first commercial-scale energy storage system solution was deployed at an electric car charge station in Umea, Sweden last year. Today, Northvolt said that it will invest US$200 million in a 50,000 square metre factory in Gdańsk, Poland, where it has already established a ‘battery systems industrialisation’ plant in 2019.

Northvolt will invest a further US$200 million in building the factory, which it hopes will be producing systems in 2022. It will sit alongside a new R&D centre and in total the company said it will be creating 500 new jobs in the region. Battery cells will come from the Northvolt Ett factory under construction in Skellefteå, Sweden. Meanwhile the plan is to also power the Polish assembly centre with renewable energy, including onsite generation.

Energy-Storage.news' Andy Colthorpe moderates a discussion with some of the key players behind financing and building Northvolt Ett: 'VIDEO: What does it take to finance a gigafactory?'

18 February 2021: Johnson Controls launches ‘Lithium-Ion Risk Prevention System’

A three-step safety and risk management solution for lithium-ion battery energy storage systems has been launched by built environment engineering specialist Johnson Controls.

The company’s new solution includes off-gas monitoring which detects gases produced after a lithium-ion cell malfunctions, but crucially, before thermal runaway occurs in a defective, damaged or overheated cell, which could cause fires.

The new product, Johnson Controls Lithium-Ion Risk Prevention System, has sensors which monitor surrounding ambient air around both the controls systems and battery racks of an ESS and can detect even very small concentrations of off-gas.

Once the off-gas has been spotted, the prevention system’s sensors communicate with the ESS’ battery management system to shut down affected battery stacks, preventing the situation from escalating into thermal runaway. It can also trigger inerting systems to prevent ignition of off-gas, which is also a potential risk.

Johnson Controls said the solution is suitable for stationary energy storage systems used for renewable energy integration applications as well as for other assets that use a lot of lithium-ion batteries, such as data centres.

The company’s Risk Prevention System uses manufacturer Nexceris’ gas detection technology, ‘Li-ion Tamer’. Engineering company Honeywell launched an all-in-one fire safety solution in early 2020 which combines Honeywell’s Xtralis brand aspirating smoke detection (ASD) systems with Nexceris' technology. In a 2020 interview, Honeywell Building Solutions’ Peter Lau said that off-gas release usually starts about 20 to 30 minutes before a fire does in a lithium-ion battery facility.

18 February 2021: Li-Cycle latest to eye stock market listing

Commercial lithium-ion battery recycler Li-Cycle has been the latest player in the clean energy tech space to target an IPO through teaming up with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC).

The Ontario-headquartered company which is in the process of establishing a large manufacturing hub and spoke operations in both Canada and in New York State, is planning to get a listing on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol LICY.

Li-Cycle’s proprietary process, based on shredding battery packs to mechanically reduce them and then putting materials through a hydrometallurgy and wet chemistry process is claimed to be able to recycle more than 95% of materials used in batteries including much sought-after metals like cobalt. The company’s Rochester, New York, facility opened late last year with the capacity to recycle 10,000 tonnes a year of spent lithium-ion batteries.

A publicly-traded SPAC, called Peridot Acquisition Corp, will be combined with Li-Cycle to form the new entity. Li-Cycle president, CEO and co-founder Ajay Kochhar said that “there will otherwise be no meaningful changes to the team or how we conduct business”.

“It’s business as usual at Li-Cycle and we are excited to continue to work together in scaling our sustainable process for returning scarce battery materials back into the market, creating a closed-loop lithium-ion battery supply chain,” Kochhar said in a communication emailed to Energy-Storage.news.

The company said in a press release that the combined entity will have a pro forma equity value of around CA$1.67 billion. The transaction is expected to close in Q2 2021, and Li-Cycle claims it will receive around CA$615 million (US$487 million) in gross transaction proceeds, which will help it to expand globally. With more than 40 long-term commercial contracts in place with suppliers and off-takers, the company is forecasting EBITDA of CA$985 million from 2021 to 2025. 

In Europe, Northvolt has formed a joint venture with Norwegian industrial company Hydro to establish a large lithium-ion recycling facility powered by renewable energy. Construction on the facility, in Sweden, began a few weeks ago

Johnson Controls' new solution, which uses the Li-Ion Tamer gas detection technology. Image: Johnson Controls.

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