CATL develops new battery without nickel or cobalt
China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. (CATL), the world’s biggest manufacturer of battery cells and batteries, is developing a new type of electric-vehicle battery that contains no nickel or cobalt, the company communicated a few days ago.
The new battery type will be different from existing NCA (Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide), NMC (Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide), and LFP (Lithium Iron Phosphate) batteries. It will have no expensive metals like nickel or cobalt.
It was Meng Xiangfeng, a senior executive at CATL, who told this at an industry conference held by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers in Shanghai. Meng did not give details of the make-up or the cost of the planned battery type.
Nickel and cobalt are vital ingredients in the batteries that power EVs at the moment. The way cobalt is mined (especially in the Republic of Congo) has been under severe criticism because of the circumstances of mining and the use of child labor.
Cobalt is also expensive and relatively scarce. That’s why all major battery producers, from CATL (Chinese) over Panasonic (Japanese) and LG Chem (South-Korean) to Tesla (American), are lowering the use of expensive cobalt in their batteries.
Last month, Elon Musk urged miners to produce more nickel, warning the current cost of batteries remained a significant hurdle to the company’s growth.
The Chinese giant is also working on a new technology that will allow battery cells to be integrated into the EV chassis, shedding traditional casings that make battery systems bulky and more expensive.
Integrating cells directly into an electric vehicle’s frame will allow more cells to be loaded into a car and extend its range, a key concern for customers. EVs could thus have a driving range of more than 800 kilometers without needing more battery space.
The development of such new technologies will allow EV battery makers to participate in a vehicle’s design from an earlier stage. Carmakers currently tend to source battery modules from battery makers and equip them to fit a car’s mechanical design. This often leads to unwanted compromises.