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Solid-state battery by Tier 1 supplier Schaeffler. The ongoing development of solid-state batteries is certain to be a central topic at the 2023 Battery Show North America. (Schaeffler)

2023 Battery Show opens as automakers, suppliers intensify EV battery investments

EV batteries remain the auto industry’s hottest topic at the opening of the annual North American exhibition connecting the automotive and battery industries.

As the world’s major auto markets begin an inexorable shift to EVs and hybrid-electric vehicles (HEVs), any discussion of the engineering behind the transition invariably includes batteries. The now-constant interest in battery development means the 2023 edition of The Battery Show North America, September 12-14 in Novi, Michigan, will be heavily attended — and its presentations and conference sessions closely deliberated.

The 2023 Battery Show proceeds against a backdrop of accelerating investment in EV battery development and manufacturing by almost all major automakers. And spurred by significant incentives from the U.S. government to promote domestic production of batteries and critical battery minerals, the Detroit Three automakers all made new manufacturing commitments in the weeks prior to the Battery Show’s opening. The Detroit Three's latest investments:

  • Stellantis and Controlled Thermal Resources said Stellantis will invest more than $100 million to further the development of CTR’s Hell’s Kitchen initiative in California’s Imperial County, a geothermal lithium project with a total resource capacity said to be able to annually deliver up to 300,000 metric tons of lithium carbonate equivalent. The lithium derived from what CTS claims is the world’s largest geothermal lithium-extraction project will help Stellantis secure maximum consumer EV purchase incentives under the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act.
  • General Motors announced a strategic investment in Mitra Chem. The partnership was formed to develop iron-based lithium manganese iron phosphate (LMFP) batteries; the LMFP chemistry is targeted to reduce EV battery cost and GM said the chemistry is compatible with its Ultium Platform batteries. The company has stressed that Ultium is designed with the flexibility to accept new battery chemistries as they become commercially viable.
  • Although not a U.S.-based partnership, Ford announced a collaboration with battery developer SK On and EcoProBM for an investment of approximately $887 million to build a cathode-manufacturing facility in Bécancour, Québec. Production is expected to begin in the first half of  2026 and the claimed capacity is for some 45,000 metric tons of active materials annually.

 

Safety, supply chain, sustainability
Battery safety, always a chief concern as vehicles exchange liquid fuel for high-voltage batteries, is a foremost topic of the 2023 Battery Show, but also slated for extensive discussion are supply-chain matters, advancement of alternative chemistries, EV charging and infrastructure and recycling. The organizers said there are some 200 presenters and speakers and the show has an expected 800 exhibitors.

Major auto-industry suppliers also are ramping up investment in battery development. For one example, Schaeffler’s Rashid Farahati, director of engineering, is delivering a presentation on Sept. 14 entitled “Challenges of solid-state battery manufacturing for electric vehicles.” Farahati reportedly will discuss specific issues foreseen for solid-state battery (SSB) manufacturing — specifically, how the palletizing process in manufacturing and stacking pressure in vehicle packaging are two main challenges to scaling SSB production. Schaeffler said it is “developing new processes to simplify not only the palletizing process in production, but also reduce the stack pressure in the pack level.”

SAE International is participating in two 2023 Battery Show sessions. Michael Paras, Manager, Business Development, Commercial Partnerships & Product, takes part in the Sept. 13, session titled “Educating the Next Generation of Battery Workers.” And on Sept. 14, Paras is part of the panel examining “Safety of Lithium-Ion Batteries for Personal Transportation and Micromobility.”

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