Uh-oh. This battery maker is out to prove we don’t need cobalt for energy storage
Mining & Resources
Mining & Resources
Canadian actor Jack Carson (1910-1963) photographed in 1951. Pic: Getty
The partner of graphite miner Magnis Resources has developed one of the world’s first solid-state batteries – and it doesn’t need cobalt.
Battery maker C4V has unveiled a new solid state battery at a conference in New York that replaces more than 80 per cent of the usual liquid electrolyte with a solid electrolyte.
Solid-state technology is harder to engineer — but promises a lower-cost battery that is higher capacity, higher density, higher performance and quicker to charge according to Magnis (ASX:MNS).
C4V’s battery also does not require cobalt, which is becoming harder to source and is an expensive component of batteries.
Up until now, many have argued that cobalt cannot be removed from batteries because it is needed to stop the battery from blowing up.
Earlier this year American car giant Tesla and Japanese battery maker Panasonic came out and said they would eventually eliminate cobalt from their products.
Cobalt is expected to be in short supply until at least 2025.
Ninety-eight per cent of the world’s cobalt is the by-product of nickel and copper production and 60 per cent comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has been blacklisted by end-users over ethical issues surrounding the mining of the commodity.
Many thought the substitution of cobalt was still years away, but according to C4V, it could be producing prototypes for customers out of the New York facility by as early as the second quarter of next year.
“C4V has taken a commercial approach in its development process for its next-generation product,” president Shailesh Upreti said.
“C4V’s new solid state battery is drop-in ready, reducing disruption on the manufacturing floor, whilst reducing production cost and increasing production quality.
“C4V continues to work closely with our strategic partners, including Magnis, as well as our established supply chain partners to bring C4V’s latest innovation to market.”
So if they aren’t using cobalt to keep the battery stable, what are they using?
Essentially, it is like a “framework” that holds in the different chemistries and enables them to have better stability, according to Magnis.
However, the company would not reveal the details of exactly what was used to do that.
The prototype solid state battery demonstrated in New York has volumetric capacities of 380 watt-hours per kilogram (Wh/kg) and 700 watt-hours per litre (Wh/L).
But that is expected to increase to 400Wh/kg and 750 Wh/L through optimisation over the coming months.
C4V says its solid state battery will be capable of delivering a 70 per cent increase in range for electric vehicles compared to other batteries.
This means an electric car with a 400km range will be able to run 680km on the same single charge.
“This is one of the world’s first solid state batteries to be produced,” Magnis chairman Frank Poullas said.
“Volkswagen Group recently invested $US100 Million into US-Based QuantumScape which is yet to publicly produce a prototype and is targeting solid state battery production in 2025.
“The investment by Volkswagen valued QuantumScape at over $US1 billion.
“Our technology continues to gain serious interest and we look forward to announcing further developments in the coming quarters.”