On Thursday, September 10, the Advanced Manufacturing Office of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the creation of the Federal Consortium for Advanced Batteries (FCAB) to accelerate development of a domestic industrial base for advanced batteries. The FCAB is part of the strategy outlined in the DOE’s Energy Storage Grand Challenge (ESGC) Draft Roadmap, an initiative that started earlier this year. Although the FCAB announcement is light on details (see: https://bit.ly/2Rkkwwy), it seems to be an effort to pull experts from multiple agencies, including the DOE, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Defense and the Department of State, [...]
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NAATBatt held its third annual Workshop on Recycling Lithium-Ion Batteries on Tuesday, July 14. Because of the Covid situation, NAATBatt was forced to hold the workshop as a webinar rather than as a live event. I was unsure exactly how that was going to work out. In fact, the virtual workshop worked better than I expected and far better than I had feared. 185 people registered to attend this year’s recycling workshop, almost double the number that attended the highly successful second annual workshop in Buffalo last July. The sudden move in the battery industry, and indeed in all industries, [...]
Interest in revitalizing U.S. manufacturing combined with COVID-19 supply chain disruptions is driving new action in Washington to support strategic industries and protect strategic supply chains. The Wall Street Journal recently reported Intel’s offer to partner with the Pentagon in building a silicon chip foundry in the United States. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. just announced plans to build a chip factory in Arizona based on unspecified incentives from the federal government. NAATBatt believes that a federal initiative to support domestic manufacturing of lithium-ion batteries may soon be announced as well. While NAATBatt can be expected to endorse any initiative to [...]
Twelve years ago a group of U.S. businessmen and battery experts came together to create a consortium to make sure that American companies would be an important force in the global competition to dominate lithium-ion battery manufacturing. The founders named the consortium “NAATBatt”, at the time an acronym for National Alliance for Advanced Transportation Batteries. The idea behind NAATBatt was based on the SEMATECH consortium founded by leading companies in the American semi-conductor industry in the 1980’s. SEMATECH was to help U.S. semi-conductor manufacturers fight off competition from an aggressive Asian competitor, which was seeking at the time, perhaps by [...]
As the Covid-19 crisis grabs headlines in most of the United States, it is important to appreciate that for a good part of the U.S. oil patch, COVID-19 is second page news. First page news is the collapse of worldwide oil prices. The price of West Texas Intermediate Crude closed this week at $22.76 per barrel. This is nothing short of a disaster for the U.S. petroleum industry and for a significant portion of the U.S. workforce that depends on its health. There are many reasons for the oil price collapse. The petroleum market is nothing if not complex. This [...]
During a recent telephone meeting of the NAATBatt Strategic Planning Committee, one committee member noted that the next stage of the COVID-19 stimulus package was likely to include investments in national transportation infrastructure. The committee member suggested that NAATBatt advocate for allocating part of those new investment to building up the lithium battery supply chain in the United States. I have argued in this column on many occasions that lithium-based battery technology is one of the most important technologies of the 21st Century. Countries that control that technology will have the inside track on leadership in the development and manufacture [...]
One of the most interesting sessions during the NAATBatt 2020 annual meeting was the Industry Leaders Roundtable: How To Make the U.S. a Leader in Lithium-Ion Battery Manufacturing. The session featured a discussion among government and industry leaders in energy storage about what the United States might do better to support the domestic manufacturing of lithium-ion battery cells. The panelists generally agreed on a number of points: that building a supply chain is important but building demand for the batteries may be more important; that the U.S. does not have the same tools to work with that China does; and [...]
NAATBatt 2020, the 11th annual meeting and conference of the NAATBatt International organization, concluded on Thursday of this week. To say that NAATBatt 2020 was NAATBatt’s biggest and best program yet would not be hyperbole: it is an undeniable fact. NAATBatt 2020 had almost 300 attendees, nearly 20 exhibitors and over 80 e-minute “flash” presentations by NAATBatt member firms, jury-selected emerging companies and winners of the Department of Energy’s Phase I Battery Recycling Prize competition. As I warned from the podium in kicking off the meeting, listening to the presentations was a bit like drinking from a fire hose. Everything important [...]
NAATBatt 2020 will be held on February 10-13, 2020, in Pasadena, California. It will be the 11th annual meeting of the NAATBatt International organization, which dates from 2008. For all of those years I have struggled with the question of why NAATBatt should have an annual meeting at all? Trade shows are a big business. You can go to a battery, electric drive or energy storage-focused trade show somewhere in the world just about every week if you want to. Sophisticated media companies run most of those shows. They run them well and make a lot of money by doing [...]
Every New Year invites predictions about what the next year holds. One in every ten New Years invites predictions about the next decade. 2020 is one of those New Years. The 2020’s will mark the fourth decade of the advanced battery era, taking as its start the introduction of the first lithium-ion battery into commerce in 1991. The third decade ended on a high note, with the Nobel Committee finally recognizing the important role of Stan Whittingham, John Goodenough and Akira Yoshino in launching the era. The delayed recognition was fitting. It took the world a good three decades to [...]