Walter van Schalkwijk, PhD, Affiliate Professor, University of Washington; Principal, Battery Sciences, Inc.
With electrification of vehicles being mandated by governments at several levels, battery manufacturing is switching into high gear. But will it be enough? With 1000% growth expected over the next 10 years the strain will be on raw materials and charging infrastructure. This presentation focuses on the materials. Most consideration goes to the middle of the battery supply chain: precursors and battery materials. The back end of the battery supply chain, mining, and smelting are not set up for this growth rate. These are also decidedly dirty, using a lot of fossil fuel for mining and transport, process water and chemicals to make battery material precursors, and have significant waste streams. The goal must be to create a long-term sustainable supply of critical raw materials for battery materials production, thus creating an efficient battery-electric vehicle supply chain. This presentation looks at the processes and improvements to the mining and development of battery raw materials such as cobalt, Class 1 nickel, manganese, copper, aluminum, phosphorous, and fluorine. There is an examination of pre-treatment technology for nickel and cobalt to prepare the materials to the requirement of nickel-rich cathodes. These developments discussed are a major step towards sustainable battery material production, which car manufacturers and customers are demanding.