May 2019

Electric aircraft aren’t far off, but we need to prepare

May 7th, 2019|

Move aside electric cars, another disruption set to occur in the next decade is being ignored in current Australian transport infrastructure debates: electric aviation

Electric aircraft technology is rapidly developing locally and overseas, with the aim of potentially reducing emissions and operating costs by over 75 per cent. Other countries are already planning for 100 per cent electric short-haul plane fleets within a couple of decades.

Australia relies heavily on air transport. The country has the most domestic airline seats per person in the world. We have also witnessed flight passenger numbers double over the past 20 years.

By Jake Whitehead and Michael Kane

Jake Whitehead is a research fellow at the University of Queensland. Michael Kane is a research associate at Curtin University Sustainability Policy Institute. This piece first appeared on The Conversation.


April 2019

WA home to $135 million national battery research hub

April 10th, 2019|

Western Australia will host a national consortium to position Australia as a global leader in the manufacture and supply of batteries after a $135 million industry-backed research hub was supported by the Federal Government. 

Federal Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, the Hon Karen Andrews, announced today that the Curtin University-led national collaboration of 58 industry, government and research partners had been successful in its bid to establish the Future Battery Industries Cooperative Research Centre (CRC). 

Curtin University Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research Professor Chris Moran said the major announcement would ensure Australia capitalised on the significant opportunities presented by the battery boom. 

“The world is transitioning to electricity systems powered by renewable energy and the global use of energy materials is booming, driven by the rising demand for batteries to store this power,” Professor Moran said. 

“The Future Battery Industries CRC will address the existing gaps in the nation’s capacity to respond to this growth industry by creating opportunities to process, manufacture and deploy batteries, delivering an estimated $2.5 billion benefit to the Australian economy over the next 15 years. 

“This national consortium will also offer evidence-based advice to inform the development of government policies, rules and regulations to help guide the rapid transformation of energy systems driven by the expansion of renewables all over the world.” 

Future Battery Industries CRC Chair Mr Tim Shanahan said the consortium had a six-year plan to address industry-identified gaps in the battery industries value chain. 

“The national consortium of 58 industry, academic and government partners aims to co-create the tools and technologies needed to ensure Australia is leading the way in the battery revolution from mining and processing to manufacture and deployment in households, communities and industry, and in the recycling of batteries,” Mr Shanahan said. 

“The Future Battery Industries CRC will investigate opportunities for greater efficiencies in the extraction and refinement of battery minerals, including facilitating the steps beyond mining and concentrate production to cathode production and the manufacture and testing of battery components and systems. 

“Given Australia’s abundant resources of battery minerals and world-class resources sector, the potential to promote the nation’s premium-quality, ethically sourced and safe battery minerals and metals through forensic-accredited and traceable sources will also be investigated, paving the way for Australia to position itself as a global leader in the international battery value chain.” 

The Australian Government has committed $25 million to support the development of the Future Battery Industries CRC, following a $28 million commitment from industry, government and research partners. 

The Western Australian State Government seeded the bid with a combined $6 million in provisional funding to support to establishment of the Future Battery Industries CRC in Perth, Western Australia. 

Led by Curtin University, the Future Battery Industries CRC is supported by Multicom Resources, Galaxy Resources, Protean Energy, Tianqi Lithium, BHP Nickel West, IGO, HEC Group, Syrah Resources, Clean TeQ, Stealth Technologies, Lava Blue, Kibaran Resources, Pilbara Metals Group, BOC Limited Proxa Australia, Yurika, Switch Batteries, Volt Resources, FYI Resources, Lynas Corporation, Magellan Power, Cobalt Blue, Energetics, Envirostream, Mining and Process Solutions, MRI (Australia), Total Green Recycling, RaptorTech, Synergy, EQL, Josh Byrne and Associates, Australian Vanadium, Gemtek Group, MRIWA, DST Group, DNRME, Department of Energy and Mining, GEDC, City of Kwinana, Chemistry Centre of WA, Everledger, Climate KIC, CMEWA, South Metropolitan TAFE, Dassault Systemes, The University of Western Australia, Queensland University of Technology, University of Melbourne, Murdoch University, University of Adelaide, University of Technology Sydney, CSIRO, Live-in Learning, OCI Company, GNS, Korean Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources and CSIR-Institute of Minerals and Materials Technology. 

Exports of lithium, just one of Australia’s energy materials, have risen from $117 million in 2012 to $780 million in 2017, and are expected to rise to $1.1 billion by 2020. 

February 2019


February 11th, 2019|

The all-electric Korean crossover has sold its entire allocation for the year in Britain after just a month on sale, according to a new report. Like the Hyundai Kona Electric, demand is outstripping supply.

Kia has completely depleted its 2019 allocation of the new e-Niro in the UK, with prospective buyers now forced to wait until 2020 for the all-electric SUV.

According to a new report by Auto Express the Korean manufacturer is struggling to satisfy demand for the zero-emissions crossover, similar to parent Hyundai’s experience with the related Kona Electric.

The report claims the Korean manufacturer’s battery suppliers, which include Samsung and LG, have doubled their production outputs and still haven’t been able to meet the vehicle’s demand.

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Automakers stress importance of battery metals

February 7th, 2019|

Major automakers Ford and Honda have stressed the importance of stable and affordable supply of battery raw materials for their ongoing electric vehicle development and roll-out plans.

Ford started to focus on lithium-ion battery technology in 2012 and has since reduced the cobalt input in its battery supply chain by around two thirds because of the metal’s high cost and supply uncertainty, Ted Miller, the company’s senior manager of energy storage strategy and research, said.

“We are increasingly substituting nickel and manganese for cobalt, but this means we will be watchful of the consumption of these metals,” he said. South Korea’s LG Chem produces battery cell technology for Ford’s electric vehicle programme. Ford’s objective is to reduce cobalt in its nickel-manganese-cobalt (NMC) batteries to 10pc or lower.

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October 2018

Potential Bottlenecks Of Materials In Future Green Technologies

October 5th, 2018|

Every year, the global consumption of raw materials increases. In the 19th century, only a few elements were extracted and used. Today the whole periodic table is practically used by society, and many of the considered “critical” or “rare” elements are used in green technologies.

Such technologies shall be the best answer to reduce carbon emissions and achieve the 2ºC limit of temperature increase, as agreed by the United Nations in the conference of the parties in Paris (COP 21). This situation is going to imply a drastic change in the energy sector, increasing the installed power of wind and solar technologies, as well as shifting from conventional to electric vehicles in the mobility sector. Yet this transition must be carefully accomplished as huge amounts of raw materials are going to be required, increasing the pressure on raw material availability.

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July 2018

Dare to dream: Battery manufacturing in WA can be a reality

July 20th, 2018|

The advanced manufacture of batteries in WA is not out of reach according to WA’s chief scientist Professor Peter Klinken.

Speaking at the lithium and energy materials industry consortium on Wednesday, Professor Klinken said global interest in battery materials was booming – and while WA was at the epicentre of mining them, downstream manufacturing shouldn’t be discounted.

“It’s been said to me that we actually can’t do manufacturing here because labour costs are too high and we’re too far away from markets. (They say) we’ve failed with steel, we’ve failed with car manufacturing and the intellectual property is all tied up with batteries.”

“I think we need to lift our eyes a little bit and say manufacturing has actually changed.”

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July 10th, 2018|

Whilst manganese is commonly associated as being reliant on steel consumption and steel market forces, this paradigm could shift over time as battery technology demand grows. With battery technology still in early stages of development, there is currently no clear winner as to which battery will obtain market dominance. Tesla currently uses two differing batteries depending on the application; Nickel Manganese Cobalt (NMC) for its energy storage product and Nickel Cobalt Aluminium Oxide (NCA) for its electric vehicles. As traditional car manufacturers enter the electric vehicle market, we have seen utilisation of Lithium Ion Manganese Oxide (LMO), which has been used by Nissan and BMW.

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While the world worries about a trade war, America and Australia push for a peace treaty of potentially epic proportions over “critical minerals”

July 6th, 2018|

While the world waits, with bated breath, to see who will strike next in what many have dubbed a “trade war” between the United States and a host of other countries, most notably China, members of the EU, and its NAFTA partners, Canada and Mexico, and while investors in the “electric revolution” (electric vehicles, battery metals, energy storage, etc.) appear to be obsessed with where lithium and cobalt supplies are coming from, how soon, and in what amounts, one major development, which should have every such investor’s full attention, has seemingly flown completely beneath their radar.

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Panasonic to consider more investment in Tesla’s Gigafactory if asked: executive

July 4th, 2018|

OSAKA (Reuters) – Panasonic Corp would consider further investment in Tesla Inc’s so-called Gigafactory if requested by the U.S. electric vehicle maker, an executive at the Japanese conglomerate said on Monday.

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Super Batteries: Which Metal Will Fuel the Future?

July 3rd, 2018|

There has been a lot of discussion around which battery metal will reign supreme in the push to bring electric and hybrid vehicles to market. Currently lithium, nickel and cobalt are the heavyweight contenders, but what is next?

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