Panasonic Develops Non-Cobalt Batteries For Electric Vehicles
One of the most pressing problems associated with electric cars is the availability and cost of cobalt, an element used in lithium-ion batteries to build stability and improve safety.
Lithium for batteries is mined in a few countries and is relatively easy to access, therefore mining companies keep up with demand. In the early types of popular automotive lithium-ion batteries, cobalt was more than a quarter of the active metals content.
Basically, it is mined as a by-product of copper and nickel. The largest stocks are in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where there are violations of human rights, the exploitation of child labor and an unstable government. Production will soon begin at the first US primary cobalt mine in Idaho.
Nevertheless, Panasonic, the largest manufacturer of lithium-ion batteries, which supplies to Tesla and is a partner of the Gigafactory plant in Nevada, expects a shortage of cobalt, the price of which over the last two years have tripled.
The company says hey are looking for ways to reduce the content of cobalt in their batteries and eventually use no cobalt.
Panasonic informs last week that they increased content of nickel in batteries, significantly reducing the cobalt content, while maintaining excellent thermal stability and “reaching the highest energy density.”
Other types of lithium-ion batteries, including lithium-manganese spinel, lithium nickel cobalt aluminum oxide, use less cobalt, and substances such as lithium-iron phosphate, may not require cobalt. Battery manufacturers are trying to balance the power and energy storage of batteries with their stability, safety and lifetime.
Teams of scientists from the United States and Japan are working on the creation of solid-state lithium batteries, which can generally do without cobalt, which will benefit the car industry. The production process and costs are still unproven.
Source: Green Car Reports
Photo: 2018 Tesla Model 3