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China Power Hardware

Russia Building World's Largest Li-Ion Battery Plant 128

Posted by timothy
from the watt-could-go-wrong? dept.
MikeChino writes "Russia and China are gearing up to dominate the lithium-ion battery industry by launching the world's largest Li-ion plant (press release). Planned for Novobirsk, Russia, the facility will be a joint venture between Chinese firm Thunder Sky and RUSNANO (a Russian state-run corporation) and it will be able to produce up to 500,000 batteries (of all sizes) per year."
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Russia Building World's Largest Li-Ion Battery Plant

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    And where are they getting all the lithium from?

    • China and Russia? Those two are among the major producers of lithium.
      • Re:Li? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by nwf (25607) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @03:23PM (#38529514)

        China and Russia? Those two are among the major producers of lithium.

        And the two counties with the lowest product standards and safety laws.

        • Re:Li? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Luckyo (1726890) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @03:40PM (#38529688)

          Not even close. The problem in both is failure in making companies follow the laws that are in place, not making laws. At least a third of countries in the world has worse product standards and safety laws then China and Russia.

        • There are numerous other countries with shittier conditions than China and Russia. The latter one is generally quite good, actually. China too, especially compared to the truly cheap countries.
          • Re:Li? (Score:5, Funny)

            by ae1294 (1547521) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @04:48PM (#38530530) Journal

            There are numerous other countries with shittier conditions than China and Russia. The latter one is generally quite good, actually. China too, especially compared to the truly cheap countries.

            Yes yes, Russian products still use trusty vacuum tube! Not like in west. Our mono stereo sys-tems truly go to eleven, perhaps even twelve if you run outside in winter times or heating not working.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Please cite this and explain. Until then I call bullshit.

        • Well, it is all about comparative qualities, not absolute ones. Low or not, Russian product standards happen to be the highest available today. If you can find better ones - feel free to buy your batteries from them instead.
        • Actually, Russia has some pretty stringent standards for its products, largely inherited from the USSR. So much so that "Soviet quality" is a frequent advertising slogan. I understand that most Westerners think of cars first and foremost when they encounter the words "Russian" and "quality" in the same sentence, but there are many more industries in the country, and many of them are much better at what they do.

          • Re:Li? (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Skal Tura (595728) on Friday December 30, 2011 @01:31AM (#38535756) Homepage

            Actually Ladas are quite high quality make, some important parts from ladas are used in rally.
            They are known to be quite reliable too (the old RWD ones), up to a certain point. They can't take as much wear in general, but until they are worn out they are damn reliable ones.

            The better models have intriguing accessories too, one would not expect to see in many cars, sport version a friend owned had voltage, rpm, oil press, oil temp gauges, surprisingly fuel injected for such an old car, and other neat little things.

            Also the lesser models were tuned for the russian cheap gasoline, for our usage you could easily tune it up to produce quite a bit more within an single night, changing the tune up for the higher quality fuel we got.

            Parts are tremendously cheap too.

            They are meant to be cheap commodity cars, and for that purpose i think they did quite well. The newer ladas tho ... They all seem to suck and have shoddy quality.

            Disclaimer: I've never owned a lada, i've only driven a lada once (and i hated it, was some reaaally old model with funky steering wheel angle), and will not own one. I'm simply a fan of classic, simple, RWD cars.

          • Yes, Illusian planes come to mind with theirn stellar safety record and the famous Lada manufacturer where cars can go sometimes hundreds of miles before a major breakdown.

        • by Mista2 (1093071)

          NAd just in time for Li-Ion to be replaced by Li-poly.

    • Re:Li? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Rei (128717) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @03:32PM (#38529590) Homepage

      Contrary to many scare reports, lithium is not particularly rare or expensive -- under $10 a kilogram for lithium carbonate, which is used to make a dozen or two percent of the mass of batteries that sell for hundreds of dollars per kilogram. It's a couple percent of the cost. The main risk for lithium is temporary supply shortages, where demand outgrows production rates (it takes many years to get a new mine started). And of course, everyone wants to produce the cheapest stuff, but the cheapest stuff isn't always in the best of locations (producing from seawater -- a basically boundless supply -- costs ~$30 or so per kilogram of carbonate, versus a couple dollars per kilogram from a good lithium-rich playa.

      It's not batteries that will be displaced by elevated lithium prices, but the other uses, which currently make up the vast majority of lithium consumption -- alloys, greases, glass, ceramics, etc.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by ae1294 (1547521)

      And where are they getting all the lithium from?

      From American medicine cabinets.

  • by SmurfButcher Bob (313810) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @03:01PM (#38529184) Journal

    will never feel bad about working there.

  • On the upside, electric cars should become much more affordable.
    • by ae1294 (1547521)

      On the upside, electric cars should become much more affordable.

      Muhahhahaha..... just no....

  • This might just kick the electric car into mainstream mass production, as the cost of reasonable battery technology falls below production costs with illegal subsidies.

    • by Scareduck (177470)

      Meh. Even with idiotic US subsidy, the cars lack range, a consequence of poor energy density. Acceptance of second-rate cars is necessarily minimal.

      • Li-Ion can fix this to a large extent. The Tesla's 6000 Li-Ion batteries give it a 200 mile range at freeway speeds- and a 54 mile range at racetrack speeds. Plasma Boy's White Zebra here in Oregon gets 300 miles to a charge at highway speeds- or can go into drag race mode, and dump the full charge of the batteries into a quarter mile in under 9 seconds.

        But Li-Ion is very expensive currently- which is why I said what I said. Chinese subsidized Solar Panels pushed solar below $1/watt, and made companies l

      • Yes, but coupled with highly efficient internal combustion engines that kick in only once in a while, humans could save burning a lot of fossil fuel and spare ourselves of much of the adverse consequences associated with unnecessarily warming the atmosphere.

        It seems kind of sad that its the Russians and the Chinese who are generating both the business mojo and jobs. It looks as if America is too jaded to act, perhaps because it just doesn't seem cool or limit the freedom of the American worker to go unempl

        • It is rather inefficient to lug big, heavy combustion engines around. What electric cars need to be efficient are the same features that are needed to make a really efficient petrol car: A small vehicle, very lightweight in construction. Basically a European car - but that is something that just won't work in the US market, where customer expectations are quite different.
          • Perhaps so, but the Prius is pretty popular worldwide and Toyota is making quite a bit of money off their sales. Getting 50+mpg isn't bad either.

            • by Skal Tura (595728)

              Getting 50+mpg is nothing new.
              Buy an old Renault Clio, every time it breaks, just buy a new one. You get so much better mileage on the Clio that it's free compared to getting a Prius (and batteries swapped every few years).

              Those tiny cars at best ~4L/100km or less at highway. That's over 60mpg. That's quite good for a car which costs today probably less than your computer.

        • by Skal Tura (595728)

          and thus taxed to death.
          Electricity used to replace fuel?
          Goverments solution:
          1) Introduce taxes at the same level as fuels have on electricity (~80% of consumer price or more, currently about 80% being raised few % next year)
          2) Increase fuel taxes due to lesser consumption

          That's how we roll here in Finland.

    • by Doc Ruby (173196)

      Until the Chinese start to jack up the prices, after they control the market. That's the purpose of dumping (selling below production cost): to destroy competition, opening the door to unrestrained price increases. It's an investment in monopoly.

      Solar prices are temporarily dropping rapidly because of Chinese dumping. Chinese companies (that aren't connected enough to maintain subsidies and dump their own panels) are already starting to fold, as are others around the world. After China has the last supplier

      • by Aighearach (97333)

        Within China, dumping is illegal and is punished by the death penalty.

        It is popular here in the US to accuse China of "dumping" whenever they're selling something cheaper than we could have made it, but it never seems to be actually cheaper than they did make it for... and so it isn't actually dumping.

        Cheap Chinese products do not get followed by expensive Chinese products, they get followed by even cheaper Chinese products!

        The dumping meme is surely being dumped at below it's cognitive value.

        • by Doc Ruby (173196)

          It does seem to be sold cheaper than China makes it. That is what is putting Chinese solar businesses out of business, that aren't connected enough to the subsidies. Even though they all benefit from the currency manipulation that makes it harder for non-Chinese companies to compete with them.

          And what makes you say that cheap Chinese products don't get followed by expensive Chinese products? When has China cornered a market before, as it's doing now with lithium? And when has cornering a market by anyone ev

          • by Aighearach (97333)

            There is a long history of this accusation, and it never turns out to be true.

            It seems to be sold cheaper than it would cost... some other country to make them. People take some number that is either from western manufacturing or a consultant's estimate, and then they think of that as "how much it costs to make foo." Except, that is only how much it would cost them.

            When the whole reason for thinking somebody else is dumping is because they're selling cheaper than you could produce it, that's called a false

            • by Doc Ruby (173196)

              Just this month the WTO upheld a 2009 US anti-dumping tariff on imported Chinese tires [bloomberg.com].

              The US solar panel association split a couple of months ago, with US-only companies leaving the original org because its Chinese owned or controlled member corps were preventing the org from getting the US government to oppose China's dumping. The new org has already got the US government working [greentechmedia.com] on fighting the dumping.

              Dumping happens. This is what it looks like. And this is what it looks like when the US government actu

    • by Aighearach (97333)

      I doubt they would bother if the sale price was so low they would have to subsidize it. On the contrary, this is likely to be a major money-maker for them.

      Subsidies are usually for established industries that are no longer competitive, or that are have some sort of political utility, not for new cutting edge industries.

      Just because certain subsidies are illegal under WTO doesn't mean that legitimate investments by governments are banned, or that government owned businesses are banned.

      • The other use of such subsidies would be to temporarily lower the price to kick everybody else out of the market.

        • by Aighearach (97333)

          There is no record of them doing that in any of the cases where they've been accused of it. In every case their costs really are that low, and they maintain low prices.

          Actually that sort of market manipulation carries the death penalty in China.

  • Novosibirsk (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    There is no Novobirsk in Russia. It is most likely Novosibirsk ().

  • world's largest??? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sribe (304414) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @03:11PM (#38529340)

    500,000 batteries per year is considered that large? When Apple is selling close to 20,000,000 iPads/year? And iPhones, and all the PC manufacturers laptops/netbooks, and all the Android phones, and all the other phones? What do they all do, buy batteries from dozens of different manufacturers for each of their popular products? Really?

    • by jeffmeden (135043) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @03:19PM (#38529444) Homepage Journal

      500,000 batteries per year is considered that large? When Apple is selling close to 20,000,000 iPads/year? And iPhones, and all the PC manufacturers laptops/netbooks, and all the Android phones, and all the other phones? What do they all do, buy batteries from dozens of different manufacturers for each of their popular products? Really?

      Those piddly little things are called cells. If you only have on in a device, yes you might call it a battery, but you would be bringing shame to the likes of REAL batteries. In TFA, they have a pic of a 40V/40AH *battery* which means it can deliver 1600 WH, or the equivalent of around 1,000 of those piddly little "batteries" you refer to that inhabit iThings.

      • Actually, if you read the original article, evidently something the original poster didn't do all that carefully, it says they expect to be able to produce enough batteries to power 500,000 buses per year. It seems that the Russians and the Chinese are busy preparing to dominate the world battery for vehicles market, while we are hung up on our iPads.

      • by pz (113803)

        Yeah, that photo is impressive.

        1600 WH, for those who are uncalibrated, is approximately enough power to run a hair dryer non-stop for an hour: the maximum amount of power you can get out of a standard US wall outlet, for a solid hour straight. It would run your laptop for 2 to 3 years without sleeping. In other words, a highly non-trivial amount of electrical oomph.

        • by snarkh (118018)

          Yeah, that photo is impressive.

          1600 WH, for those who are uncalibrated, is approximately enough power to run a hair dryer non-stop for an hour: the maximum amount of power you can get out of a standard US wall outlet, for a solid hour straight. It would run your laptop for 2 to 3 years without sleeping. In other words, a highly non-trivial amount of electrical oomph.

          You are off by two orders of magnitude. This 6-cell battery [lenovo.com] is approximately 55Wh and is rated for 8 hours. Thus a 1600wh battery is enough to run your laptop for about 30 times as much, which is 240 continuous hours. That's 10 days.

      • by bertok (226922)

        That puts some things into perspective.

        Imagine trying to build a battery-based energy storage system for intermittent power sources, like wind or solar.

        The entire yearly output of batteries from this factory would be able to buffer less than an hour [wolframalpha.com] of the power from a 1 GW power plant!

        Compared to our ability to generate power, our capability to store it is still quite poor.

    • by lindi (634828)
      How much energy can the iPad battery hold? The article talks about 200 Ah (3.7*V*200*A*3600*s = 2.6 MJ?).
    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      Maybe it's the world's largest plant, but other battery sellers must have lots of plants. And yes, big device manufacturers often buy from multiple suppliers.

      Maybe this is a big plant, but it doesn't see like it's going to do much to "dominate the lithium ion battery industry."

    • by Hillgiant (916436)

      Not world's biggest plant. The plant builds the world's biggest batteries. Due to a translation error, the batteries measure 1m on a side.

      • by sribe (304414)

        Not world's biggest plant. The plant builds the world's biggest batteries. Due to a translation error, the batteries measure 1m on a side.

        Ah, that's more like it. Although I focused on number of batteries made in a year, I also find it highly unlikely that 40,000 square feet was the world's largest factory for *anything*. Here's hoping you get modded up soon ;-)

  • Thunder Sky is an awesome name. RusNano pales in comparison, then straight up faints. I'd love to see more of these odd pairings... "Thai company Robogasm has announced plans to build a microprocessor plant with British owned Drolltech". "African firm KittenRocket's joint venture with Spain's SpainSoft has analysts excited". "Destiny Blaster LLC of Florida is building a plant in Canada with local firm Polite Neighbor Software Inc".
  • from press release it is clear, that the plant is not for plug in hybrids market ( and the possible answer - is low quality,which in below the current plugin batteries ). For buses and for grid storage - molten salt batteries are preferred ( because materials are much more abundant and cheaper and for these applications the biggest problems of molten salt batteries ( high temperature ) could be of less significance than in cars ). There are examples of such uses http://asmoronurhadi.blogspot.com/2011/03/t [blogspot.com]
    • by durrr (1316311)
      Laptops, cameras, tablets, smartphones, electric bikes and everything robotic weighing less than a car sure is a tiny market and doesn't benefit at all from more batteries availible...
      Oh wait...
      • Yeah, because more supply in the market for batteries that weigh tens or hundreds of pounds will have all sorts of influence on the market for sub-1 pound batteries used in laptops, cameras, tablets and phones.

    • But not a bad way to accumulate a lot of lithium while it's still widely available.

    • by emilper (826945)

      they put it in Novosibirsk, which means the batteries won't be exported ... the army needs batteries too :)

      Not sure all the projects are idiotic ... they might not make sense per se, but you need to train engineers and line managers before you get to build the real stuff, no matter how good your research and design team is.

      Worked with a couple of guys from Novosibirsk, they were good ... to bad the management was crap, but the management was in yet another country.

    • Molten salt batteries are nice for grid storage (though I gather flow batteries ha an advantage there: If space is no object, it'll give you the lowest Ah-per-$), but.. busses? Do you really want to put something inside a bus that, in the event of a crash, will either explode or splash molten salt over the passangers?

      Li-ion does have the advantage of being an established, tested technology, and only dangerous if you are stupid enough to short one.

      The situation with molten salt will change if Sumitomo's de
      • no cells do not warm up, they are kept warm all the time using insulation ( consider that on the other temp range is a liquid hydrogen and it it stored for quite a while in cars ), the insulation adds cost, but less, than difference between lithium and molten salt cost. for that reason molten salt vehicles work ok at - 40 C while lithium cars just stop working. also molten salt does not explode, though can splash, but in buses it is situated such that it is last thing to be hit from outside. li ion batter
      • by haruchai (17472)
        The Sumitomo battery, if successful, would be a much cooler, safer version of the ZEBRA battery which powered vehicles over several million miles. Due to the thermal mass of the battery, even without insulation, it would take some time to cool down.

        Also, for any rational design, a crash so bad that the battery burst and sprayed the passengers, would be doing so over their already cooling corpses.
        I haven't looked into flow batteries for a while but I think the molten-salt, whether high or moderate temp p
    • Maybe the Chinese figure that if they ship large quantities of lithium to Russia for use in their green bus technology efforts, they will build out their lithium industrial manufacturing base, and help them further dominate the alternative energy technology markets.

      Given our addiction to products like iPads and cellphones, we will buy them at any price and since most of that production is already in China now, our economy simply serves as a conduit to feed theirs. They have to do something with all those d

      • Re:Not Really. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by cavreader (1903280) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @08:09PM (#38533312)
        Please cease the cheer leading for China. They deal with any country in the world that can provide them with cheap resources. They are extreme pragmatists (which is not totally bad) and don't give a shit about anything as long as they get what they want. Environmental protection, rouge regimes of all kinds, and worker safety do not enter into the way they conduct business. If the US operated in the same manner they would be criticized even more than they are already. And it has been predicted that China is going to surpass the US economy and that China is taking US manufacturing jobs but the US still has the highest GDP and is still the number one manufacturer in world with 1/3 of the population China. China has started posting trade deficits after years of surpluses. Some of their rising trade deficits are due to their increased food imports from the US by a factor of 6 over the past 5 years. Currency manipulation is their economic weapon of choice to make sure thier exports are cheap. However, they have pushed the currency manipulation as far as possible and the cost of their exports are rising which is creating opportunities for others to compete. This has also led to a high level of inflation in the country which will also contribute raise the costs of their exports because the workers will require higher salaries to compensate for the inflation. If the Chinese government can not control this trend they would be in danger of destabilizing the country. The only thing they offer to the international market is low prices. Quality and innovation are absent in their economic system. And if push ever came to shove the US could increase import tariffs and impose import quotas because China does not supply anything the US can not produce domestically or obtain from someone else. Contrary to popular belief China is also not loaning the US money. They are making investments that they consider low risk. They only account for approximately 6% of the outstanding US bonds and securities so they hardly own the country.
  • Good Luck with That (Score:2, Informative)

    by Kagato (116051)

    A lot fo american companies went into Russia in the 90s and most of them got burned. The corruption in Russia makes Chinese corruption look quaint. One company I worked for would send crates full of high tech computers and equipment to the factories in Russia, only to find a bunch of rocks in the crates when they opened them up in the factory.

  • by Svenne (117693) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @03:20PM (#38529460) Homepage

    For some reason, the summary says Novobirsk. It should of course be Novosibirsk.

  • The article alludes to the plant's status as "largest" is due to the fact that it is 40,000 sq. feet (quote: "The collaborative facility, named Liotech, will have an area exceeding 40,000 square feet – making it the largest lithium-ion battery factory in the world.")... But in the US a plant recently opened totaling 291,000 sq. feet (see http://ir.a123systems.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=506787 [a123systems.com] ). Which is it? Largest by cell count perhaps?

    • It's supposed to be 40,000 square meters (check the press release) which would be >400,000 square feet.

  • by idji (984038) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @03:55PM (#38529900)
    Is that a city in Beria, or do you mean Novosibirsk in Siberia? Please spell check before you submit.
  • I heard you like battery, so we put some batteries in your bat so you can battery while you batter.
  • 500,000 batteries a year? Google just activated 37 million Android devices in a single day, 74 times as much. The world would need over 22,000 of these factories to keep up, if that rate persists, as it will soon enogh, for only Android devices. How is this a big deal?

    It's good for China and Russia to have mutual trade in high-tech stuff that's cheap. If the world's consumers can be organized to force the two countries to clean up their filthy lithium refining industry (the reason it's cheaper in places lik

  • From the press release: "The new factory has design capacity of more than 1 GWh"

  • actually, that's a beautiful way to get secrets from Americans

    • Last time I checked most of American secrets were secret for one reason only: so that no one would know that these secrets were stolen from Russians in the first place.
      • by haruchai (17472)
        Mr Chekhov, is that you? Stop messing around on the Internet and get back on course, please.

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