The post-cobalt era of lithium batteries The soaring prices of raw materials have led to the evolution of new technologies in ba

 Tesla's battery supplier, Panasonic recently announced that they are developing cobalt does not require batteries. Researchers who have developed cobalt-free batteries are also helping Panasonic.

      In 1980, Oxford invented the first lithium-ion rechargeable battery that required cobalt. Experiments have shown that cobalt has a very high energy density and is particularly suitable for batteries that require small amounts of energy but require large amounts of energy.

      To date, most commercial lithium-ion batteries use cobalt, but it is expensive. To this end, it has spawned a black chain of interests: for a long time, there have been human rights violations in the Republic of the Congo, including the employment of child labor mining. Electronic equipment and electric car companies are reluctant to pay large sums of money for manufacturing and are not willing to participate in local human rights exploitation, so they are gradually reducing the amount of cobalt used in their batteries. Tesla's battery supplier Panasonic recently announced that they are developing batteries that do not require cobalt.



       The battery has a negative electrode material, usually graphite, and a positive electrode material, a composite of lithium, cobalt and oxygen. In an electric vehicle battery pack, the negative electrode material portion often contains more nickel component than the electronic product, which reduces the use of cobalt, but brings higher processing costs and is more likely to cause fire on the aircraft. - For example, the battery in Samsung Note 7 is that the electrons on the outer track of the cobalt atom are distributed in pairs, which means that it is small and dense, and is easy to form a layer.

       A new generation of battery researchers are turning to research on materials such as manganese and iron. Unlike layered structures, these elements form a "rocksalt" structure. Anodes containing rock salt have been used in some devices, but current rock salt structures have not yet had the same high energy density as cobalt or nickel.



      Researchers and companies are ready for alternatives. “Because cobalt is expensive, the company tries not to use it in battery manufacturing,” says Goodenough, a professor of engineering at the University of Texas. In the past two years, the price of cobalt has quadrupled. At this stage, portable electronic devices use most of the cobalt on the market, and the demand for cobalt in future electric vehicle battery packs will be nearly 1,000 times higher than that of mobile phones. As the global warming warms, more and more people are replacing internal combustion engine-driven cars with electric vehicles. Although this is a good thing for the earth, it has actually pushed up the price of cobalt.

      In addition to batteries with stratified and rock salt structures, researchers are developing solid-state batteries. Such batteries may require more lithium, but not necessarily cobalt, and are much safer than existing lithium-ion batteries. Automotive companies such as BMW, Toyota, and Honda are studying the batteries, but Olivetti believes the technology will not meet market demand in 2025. Prior to this, the company will try to reduce the use of cobalt-containing batteries. Companies such as Apple and Samsung have joined the Responsible Cobalt Initiative program, which promises to improve environmental pollution and adverse social impacts during cobalt production. Recently, Apple has begun to purchase cobalt directly from the miners to ensure that the cobalt suppliers' production safety conditions meet industry requirements.

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