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EV Plug-In: Teck and SAAM partners on electric tugboats


IMAGE: A rendering of the electric tugboat designed by Robert Allan Ltd.
A rendering of the electric tugboats designed by Robert Allan Ltd. (Courtesy Teck Resources Ltd.)

Teck Resources Ltd. and SAAM Towage have agreed to deploy two electric tugboats at Neptune Terminal in Vancouver, marking the first of their kind in Canada to be used in harbour assist and tugboat services.

SAAM will provide two ElectRA 2300 SX tugs commencing operations during the second half of 2023, which are expected to eliminate over 2,400 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year.

The quieter vehicles will also reduce noise underwater, to the benefit of marine life.

The ElectRA Tugs are designed by Vancouver-based Robert Allan Ltd. and will be built at Sanmar Shipyards in Turkey.

Based in Chile, SAAM Towage is a division of SAAM Group, the largest operator of towing services in the Americas. It operates 80 tugboats in 13 countries, including nine tugs in Vancouver’s Inner Harbour. 

Teck (TECK-A-T) plans to achieve a 40 per cent reduction in shipping emission intensity by 2030. Beyond that, its goals are to reduce carbon intensity across operations by 33 per cent by 2030 and be a net-zero operator by 2050.

Li-Cycle opens Alabama facility

Lithium-ion battery recycling company Li-Cycle Corp. has begun commercial operations at its Tuscaloosa, Ala. facility.

In April, SustainableBiz reported on the Mississauga-based company's plans to scale up its Spoke and Hub facilities. Spoke facilities collect and break down waste batteries into recyclable elements. The Hub then takes the byproduct known as black mass, and turns it into reusable materials.

Its fourth Spoke recycling facility has the capacity to process up to 10,000 tonnes of manufacturing scrap and end-of-life batteries per year. It can recycle the equivalent of approximately 20,000 electric vehicle (EV) batteries per year and has the ability to directly process full EV battery packs.

Across its four Spoke facilities, Li-Cycle (LICY-N) now has a total input processing capacity of 30,000 tonnes per year, or the equivalent of approximately 60,000 EV batteries. The other facilities are located in Kingston, Ont., Rochester, N.Y. and Gilbert, Ariz.

By the end of 2023, the company expects to have a total of 65,000 tonnes per year of processing capacity in North America and Europe.

Its Hub facility is under construction in Rochester, N.Y. and Li-Cycle expects that it will be capable of processing 35,000 tonnes of black mass annually, with battery materials equivalent to approximately 225,000 EVs once it is complete in 2023.

Next Hydrogen collaborates with Hyundai

Next Hydrogen Solutions Inc. has delivered a proof of concept alkaline electrolyzer module to Hyundai Motor Company.

In July 2021, Next Hydrogen signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Hyundai to advance electrolyzer module-related technologies. The pilot test demonstrated the ability to operate at significantly higher current densities and temperature compared to traditional alkaline electrolyzers, which can lead to cost-effective green hydrogen production.

“We are extremely pleased with the successful outcome of this project with Hyundai Motor and Kia Corporation,” said Raveel Afzaal, president and CEO of Next Hydrogen in a statement on the delivery.

“Combining Hyundai Motor and Kia’s state-of-the-art cell component technology with our innovative cell design architecture has demonstrated significant potential to improve the known performance of alkaline water electrolyzers and to produce green hydrogen economically. The team at Next Hydrogen is looking forward to next steps and potential commercial arrangements in the future."

In January, SustainableBiz reported on Next Hydrogen's collaboration with the Black and Veatch tech accelerator, focusing on producing green hydrogen for industrial uses such as ammonia, steel and cement, and transportation applications such as heavy mobility and off-highway fleets.

Electra begins battery recycling at Ontario complex

Electra Battery Materials Corp. recently began the commissioning of its black mass recycling demonstration plant at its battery materials park north of Toronto.

"Pending completion of the demonstration plant and a review of project economics, success could pave the way towards the buildout of a 5,000 tonne per annum black mass processing facility within our battery materials park in Ontario using existing infrastructure, personnel, and lab facility," said Trent Mell, Electra's CEO in a statement on the plant.

"Additional capacity would be added through construction of additional modules as the market for recycled battery material expands."

Electra (ELBM-X) is currently retrofitting its existing cobalt sulfate refinery located in Temiskaming Shores, Ont. to accommodate its proprietary hydrometallurgical process designed to treat black mass. That process produces stable non-acid generating tailings, which in turn reduces environmental impacts while meeting or exceeding water discharge effluent criteria set by government regulations.

The full commissioning of the black mass plant is expected this fall, while the cobalt sulfate refinery will kick off in spring 2023. This will be followed by a nickel sulfate refinery, all on the same 600 acre battery materials park.

In September, SustainableBiz reported on Electra's scoping study regarding its battery park.

“North American OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) in particular have started to realize that there was too much reliance on China. In fact, there are a couple of metals that are key to NMC (nickel, manganese, cobalt) batteries, between 75 and 90 per cent are processed in China,” explained Joe Racanelli, Electra’s vice president of investor relations to SustainableBiz at the time.

“Given some geopolitical developments over the past couple of years, the realization is that that’s not going to be advantageous or strategic.”

Hillcrest signs MOU with Hercules

Vancouver-based Hillcrest Energy Technologies Ltd. has signed a MOU with Hercules Electric Mobility Inc. The collaboration will focus on a project to build, test and potentially commercialize a system that includes a 250 KW, 800 volt inverter from Hillcrest that has been optimized for a Hercules electric powertrain. 

It will begin in October 2022 and is expected to run through March 2023, with potential applications including marine, automotive and other electric mobility areas.

The MOU is Hillcrest's (HEAT-CN) first in the realm of development.

Hercules was founded in Farmington Hills, Mich. in 2018 with its initial focus being on electric propulsion in recreational boating and marine applications.

In March, SustainableBiz reported on Hillcrest completing its design specifications for its first high-efficiency inverter (HEI) commercial prototype, which it says is lighter, more compact and more efficient than the systems currently employed in the EV industry.

“Deploying higher switching frequencies, historically, has meant a greater increase in losses (and) lower system efficiency,” said Don Currie, Hillcrest’s CEO at the time. “The HEI technology enables the powertrain applications to leverage higher switching frequencies and realize improved traction motor performance and reliability, operating (at) higher power levels without compromising any deficiencies.”

Hillcrest also recently appointed James Bolen, who had previously served the company for the last nine months as an advisor, as its chief commercialization officer. 

Delivery of the zero voltage switching inverter prototype remains on track for the fourth quarter of this year.

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