Chinese Electric Vehicles (EV) battery manufacturer SVOLT has unveiled a cobalt-free battery pack at the Chengdu Motor Show in China. The company now claims to be the first to create a cobalt-free battery that has reached series production, although other battery manufacturers have claimed similar production achievements.

Most of today’s electric vehicles use lithium-ion batteries, which require cobalt during their production and operation. That’s because cobalt is crucial for boosting energy density and battery life, as it keeps the structure of lithium ions stable.

SVOLT, which is a spinoff of Great Wall Motors --- China's largest producer of sport-utility vehicles and pick-up trucks, claims to have spent several years on cobalt-free R&D technology and has invested more than 500 million yuan ($77.25 million) in R&D funding, more than 1,200 R&D personnel, and 120 materials and battery experts. The company now claims to have successfully developed cobalt-free cathode material, cobalt-free cell and Pack and achieved series production.

According to a press release from SVOLT, the manufacturer unveiled what it calls “the world’s first cobalt-free battery pack to reach series production.”

SVOLT cobalt-free Pack

The press release further states that SVOLT cobalt-free Pack assembled in vehicles uses standard platform MEB modules, aerospace-grade thermal insulation materials, and has a lightweight design. 

"The Pack has passed comprehensive performance tests and safety tests, and test data such as thermal runaway far exceeds national standard requirements. Cobalt-free Pack can reach a total of 82.5KWh of electricity, energy density of 170Wh/kg , and the range of more than 600 kilometers under normal temperature conditions. It also has solid performance including 0-100 km/h acceleration in under 5 seconds, IP67 waterproof rating, as well as high energy retention, and fast heating speed in low temperature conditions," the release further said.

The release states that in addition to reaching series production, SVOLT’s cobalt-free battery pack has been successfully implemented in the ORA Cherry Cat EV under the Great Wall Motors umbrella.

Why Cobalt-Free is Essential ?

Cobalt is one of the most expensive raw materials in the EV production process, EV companies will be able to lower the cost of their electric vehicles by up to a third.

Besides being expensive, Cobalt compounds poses serious threat to climate as well Cobalt compounds are hazardous air pollutants and were identified as toxic air contaminants. While electric vehicle batteries do use cobalt, the largest use of cobalt comes from the portable consumer electronics industry. The first generation of EV batteries contained 33% cobalt in cathodes, while current commercial cathodes in EV batteries contain 15-20% cobalt, and industry is actively developing 10% cobalt cathodes.

Elon Musk promoted EV company Tesla's Model 3 sedans currently made at the automaker's plant in China use nickel-manganese-cobalt — or NMC — batteries. But Tesla will reportedly making some cars with cheaper, cobalt-free batteries in next few year.

Japan's Panasonic, a major battery supplier to Tesla, unveiled earlier this year, its new lithium-ion cells that contain less than 5% cobalt. Panasonic plans to further reduce that percentage to zero in the next two to three years, which is challenging from a manufacturing perspective but is worth the effort for both economic and environmental reasons.

Another Japanese automaker, Nissan Motor, intends to start using cobalt-free EV batteries by the mid-2020s, according to Nikkei.


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