South Africa plans fuel cell plant to boost platinum demand – by Wendell Roelf (Reuters U.S. – February 9, 2016)

CAPE TOWN, Feb 9 South Africa plans to set up a fuel cell component plant by 2018, the latest initiative from the world’s top platinum producer to increase demand for the metal and support firms hit by plunging prices and labour strife.

The price of platinum has fallen about 30 percent year-on-year, forcing miners to sell assets and cut production and jobs. Around two-thirds of the industry, whose mines were damaged by a five-month strike in 2014, are making losses.

Vinay Somera, chief executive of Isondo Precious Metals, said his firm was preparing a feasibility study and had secured a licence from U.S-based Chemours Technology, to assemble components for the fuel cells using platinum.

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Electric cars, battery revolution power scramble for lithium – by Paul Garvey (The Australian – February 10, 2016)

The growing excitement around electric vehicles and home power storage is spilling over into the junior resources sector, with numerous players joining the hunt for lithium — the key ingredient in the new-generation batteries that are changing the way the world looks at energy.

While momentum has been building in the lithium space for some time amid the hype around Tesla, electric vehicles and other emerging lithium-ion battery applications, the value of the commodity has only recently started to surge.

Lithium carbonate prices have more than doubled in the past few months, climbing from $US7700 a tonne to more than $US16,000 a tonne. The surge comes despite the continued weakness in oil prices, which led some to question whether suddenly cheaper fuel could slow the rollout of electric vehicles.

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Hydro-Québec on a research quest for the ‘God Battery’ – by Bertrand Marotte (Globe and Mail – February 6, 2016)

VARENNES, QUE. — Karim Zaghib powers up a Chevy Volt electric hybrid for a tour of his domain: the energy storage and conversion facilities at Hydro-Québec’s sprawling two-square-kilometre research campus in Varennes, a Montreal exoburb on the South Shore of the St. Lawrence River.

Mr. Zaghib is Hydro-Québec’s point man on a high-stakes strategic mission to develop the superbattery of the future that will propel the much-vaunted all-electric car into the realm of commercial viability and consumer receptivity.

The veteran electro-chemist is a self-described idealist who dreams of spearheading the big technological breakthrough in electric-vehicle battery technology, committed to making a major contribution to a cleaner, more liveable planet.

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The Gates-backed Canadian building a better battery – by Alec Scott (Globe and Mail – June 23, 2015)

Donald Sadoway is the Mr. Chips, the Mr. Holland, the Miss Jean Brodie of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The elfin 65-year-old from Oshawa, Ontario, is the sort of teacher who alums discuss fondly at reunions. Remember the class on the chemistry of Champagne, when he wore a tuxedo and served flutes of bubbly?

Or how he blasted Handel’s Water Music at the start of the class on how hydrogen bonds with oxygen?

Sadoway has won almost every teaching award they have at MIT, some of them multiple times. But he also explodes that nasty old distinction between teachers and doers. He is an inventor with 19 patents, and he’s about to launch a battery that could change the world.

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Is the long-awaited ‘Bolivian lithium boom’ about to happen? – by John Bartlett (Latin Correspondent – February 1, 2016)

Bolivia’s lithium dream is nothing new. Generations of politicians have long made hollow declarations about the country’s lithium potential; but is demand finally catching up with the nation’s bountiful supply?

Practically, the compound lithium carbonate is used in small quantities in the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries – common in smart phones and electric cars. As the automotive industry turns increasingly towards electric-powered and hybrid cars, the price of lithium has again been predicted to rise 20 percent by 2017.

It is thought that Bolivia harbors about half of the world’s lithium. However, it is far from certain exactly how much lies below the vast, bleached expanse of the Salar de Uyuni salt flats in the southwest of Bolivia – the largest of their kind in the world.

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To put it bluntly, batteries suck! – by John Petersen ( – January 8, 2016)

We have a love-hate relationship with them. We can’t imagine life without batteries but we’re rarely happy with them because they invariably need to be recharged or replaced at the worst possible moment.

There’s a reason that “damned” is the attributive adjective most commonly associated with the noun. The best summation I’ve ever heard came from a PhD electrochemist who said, “Batteries are a grudge purchase.”

My love-hate relationship with batteries runs deeper than most. From 2004 through 2007, I worked as legal counsel for and served as chairman of a public R&D stage battery company. Since 2013, I’ve been an officer and director of a private company that’s developing a unique hybrid drivetrain for heavy trucks and struggling to find a battery that can handle the drivetrain’s power profile.

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Understanding Advanced Batteries and Energy Storage – Part I – by John Petersen (InvestorIntel – January 3, 2016)

Since I’m the new kid on the InvestorIntel block and most investors don’t have more than a passing familiarity with the advanced battery and energy storage space, my initial articles will focus on core issues and discuss them in manageable chunks. Once I’ve laid a solid foundation, I’ll begin to explore specific technologies and applications in greater detail.

My initial articles will be thought pieces that build a contextual framework for the more detailed analyses that follow.

Since my perspective on the technical, economic and supply chain issues of energy storage, vehicle electrification and alternative energy is often unsettling, I encourage you to give yourself some time to read, think and participate in the discussion. The process won’t always be comforting, but I hope we’ll have a lot of fun together.

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There’s lithium in them thar … lakebeds – by Sandra Chereb (Las Vegas Review-Journal – December 13, 2015)

CARSON CITY — A new mining boom is taking shape in Nevada, one focused not on gold and silver but brines and clay containing an element critical to a 21st century world.

Interest in Nevada’s lithium supplies spiked after Tesla Motors Inc. chose the Northern Nevada desert as the site for its $5 billion lithium-ion battery factory, a joint venture with Japanese company Panasonic Corp.

Elon Musk, Tesla’s billionaire CEO, said mass production of the batteries is key to his goal of making the company’s fast and sexy electric cars affordable to the general public.

Since factory construction began last year, Musk has launched another endeavor — making energy storage units for homes and businesses capable of storing solar-produced electricity for use when the sun doesn’t shine.

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Battery power gains traction [Underground Mining] – by Norm Tollinsky (Sudbury Mining Solutions Journal – November 2015)

Diesel still rules, but the beginning of a transition to battery-powered vehicles in underground mining appears to be underway.

Industrial Fabrication, a Sudbury-based manufacturer of underground utility vehicles, has three Minecat UT150-EMVs in operation – one at Vale’s Creighton Mine, one at Glencore’s Fraser Mine, both in Sudbury, and one at Goldcorp’s Musselwhite Mine 480 kilometres north of Thunder Bay in northwestern Ontario.

The Sudbury manufacturer first looked at battery power in 2004, but backed away because “at that time we felt the technology wasn’t ready for underground,” said Industrial Fabrication vice-president Daryl Rautiainen.

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Electricity Industry Is Being “Uber’d” By Battery Storage Tech – by Giles Parkinson ( – November 18th, 2015)

West Australian energy minister Mike Nahan said the electricity industry is in the process of being “Uber’d” by battery storage technology, which would fundamentally change the nature of the system.

Nahan also announced that battery storage installations in the state would be allowed to export back into the WA grid from December 1, reversing what he had described as a major error from the state-owned electricity utilities.

Speaking at a battery storage conference in Perth, Nahan said it was up to authorities to allow technology to challenge “the existing paradigm” of investment.

“In other words, the electricity industry, like the taxi industry, is getting Uber’d,” Nahan said.

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Lithium Air Battery Breakthrough Could Lead To Replacement Of Lithium Ion Batteries – by Angelo Young (International Business Times – November 1, 2015)

Lithium ion batteries have been around for nearly a quarter-century, finding their way from laptops to electric cars. But British scientists say the popular energy storage device could be obsolete by the end of the next decade, replaced by a different recipe involving oxygen.

Researchers at the University of Cambridge announced they’ve created a battery prototype that overcomes some of the challenges to making the technology commercially viable, including size and amount of energy lithium oxygen (also known as lithium air) batteries can discharge. The new battery has the potential to store up to 10 times the amount of energy held in heavier lithium ion cells of comparable size, the inventors say.

The implications are enough to make any tech aficionado cheer. Mobile phones could be charged once a week instead of every few hours, and electric cars could finally travel distances similar to gasoline-burning cars without the annoyance of frequent half-hour recharges. The concept battery – still easily a decade away from a market-ready prototype – would be a fifth of the weight and cost of current lithium ion batteries.

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Lithium – Lifting the Spirits – by Christopher Ecclestone ( – October 28, 2015)

You don’t get to hear a specialty metal mentioned often in a Woody Allen movie, but Lithium has managed to score a mention more than a few times. Of course it’s not that the gnomic director has suddenly been converted to a new variety of battery but rather that so many of his characters (and maybe his audience) need a pick-me up of some Lithium to cure (or ameliorate) what ails them.

Then again until 20 years ago the only mention the public ever heard of Lithium was in reference to its medical properties, even though its ceramic applications were massively more important volume-wise. Indeed Lithium was the word on everyone’s lips pre-1950 when it was a standard ingredient in 7-Up (the “up” being literal) and farther back it went into Lithia Coke (give me that over Cherry Coke any day!).

Indeed, it has been speculated (and even tried in some places) that putting Lithium into water supplies might lift people’s mood and reduce suicides. In 1990, a study in 27 counties in Texas found lower rates of not only suicide but also homicide and rape in those where the drinking water contained lithium. In 2009, research in Japan found lower suicide rates in areas with lithium in the water.

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Megafactory trend sparks ‘arms race’ in battery sector – by Simon Rees ( – September 29, 2015)

TORONTO ( – Tesla Motors’ so-called ‘gigafactory’ has sparked an “arms race” in the battery sector, Benchmark Mineral Intelligence MD Simon Moores told an audience attending the Toronto leg of the company’s World Tour 2015, in which Mining Weekly Online participated.

The gigafactory, now being built in Nevada, was designed to meet Tesla’s future battery requirements, either for electric vehicles (EV) or its Powerwall and Powerpack technologies.

“Battery majors, such as LG Chem or Samsung, have all responded with expansion plans for their new plants. Companies like BYD are also building their own battery plants. Boston Power is looking to expand, while Foxconn said they were going to enter battery manufacturing,” Moores stated.

“The megafactory trend is one the battery industry has not seen before. This is not an industry saying it expects to expand by 10% or 20% over the next three years – it’s at an order of magnitude that’s much bigger,” he added.

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How Tesla sparked the latest race for bigger, better batteries – by Michael McCullough (Canadian Business Magazine – September 1, 2015)

Battery makers are suddenly finding themselves with an explosion of new markets to service—both big and small

You can be forgiven for thinking Tesla Motors is a car company. Yes, it started out making electric cars, but only because personal transportation is the lowest-hanging fruit in tackling the global energy and emissions problem. In fact, Tesla’s core mission is to make big batteries inexpensive and practical for any number of uses.

Last spring, founder Elon Musk unveiled a new product called Power­wall, a battery pack starting at US$3,000 that’s designed to power your whole home for 10 hours or more. If you have a solar panel on your roof, it will allow you to store the electricity produced during the day and use it in the evening to cook, do the laundry and max out your electronic devices.

Even if you don’t have solar panels, you may live in one of the growing number of jurisdictions where electricity costs rise and fall at different times of the day. You could save money on your utility bill by charging your Powerwall during the wee hours and drawing from it later.

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How a new battery revolution will change your life – by David J. Unger (Christian Science Monitor – August 30, 2015)

A new generation of super cells promises to reshape the future of energy.

CAMBRIDGE, MASS.; AND ARGONNE, ILL. — It’s probably safe to say that freshman chemistry rarely ranks among college students’ most memorable courses. An overcrowded lecture hall teems with 18-year-olds with chins propped on palms. Eyelids droop at the mere mention of Planck’s constant or Bohr’s model of hydrogen. Yawns abound.

So when Donald Sadoway began teaching introductory chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge in 1995, he wanted to liven things up. Sure, he still lectured on the properties of atomic arrangements in crystalline and amorphous solids, but he did it an unusual way: He peppered his presentations with chemistry jokes only an MIT undergrad would understand and wove literature and art into the rigid lines and squares of the periodic table.

A lifelong music lover, Dr. Sadoway paired each lecture with a relevant tune. He’d play Handel’s “Water Music” in a lecture on hydrogen bonding and Aretha Franklin’s “Chain of Fools” in a class on polymers. For DNA – that famous double-helix spiral – he’d play Hank Ballard’s version of “The Twist.”

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