Energy storage is a game changer for our future – without a storage solution, there will be no energy transition! Nickel and its strengths rise to the challenge.
RESILIENT BY NATURE
Shimmering, silvery-white nickel is a hard, resilient metal. Nevertheless, it can be processed easily and is mostly used in alloys, for example in steel. Thanks to its properties, it protects propellers and pumps against corrosion. As a component in many catalysts, nickel also makes chemical reactions more efficient.
THE CHAMPION OF THE BATTERY AGE
Nickel is crucial in the production of nickel-cadmium (NiCd) batteries and nickel-metal hydride batteries (NiMH), which are ideal for transportable devices due to their low weight.
The energy transition requires additional solutions, however. Ceramic batteries, which store energy at high temperatures, are one of these solutions. Nickel plays an important role in this technology as well, for example in sodium-nickel chloride (NaNiCl) batteries that are also known as ZEBRA (Zero Emission Battery Research Activities) batteries. These are generally used in stationary energy storage, such as energy parks, grids, and self-sustaining buildings, where they enable delayed use of the energy produced.
The significance of nickel is especially apparent in its growth figures. For example, demand for the metal is forecast to increase by an average of 3.5 % per year between 2017 and 2021, and demand for batteries alone is expected to rise by 14 % in the same period.
OUR CONTRIBUTION TO THE ENERGY TRANSITION
In copper production, the recycling materials and copper concentrate used both contain small amounts of nickel. In the process step that takes place in the copper tankhouse, the nickel remains in the electrolyte, the liquid that flows between anode and cathode. It is continuously removed from the electrolyte as nickel sulfate and then processed into a light green powder through water reduction. In this form, it can’t be used directly for applications such as battery manufacture quite yet, but has to be processed further. We are currently working with another company to conduct a feasibility study into producing nickel suitable for batteries. Aurubis sold a total of 3,022 t of nickel in fiscal year 2017/18. Another way we contribute to the energy supply of the future.