January 7th, 2021 by Tina Casey With millions of zero emission cars set to hit the streets over the next few years, the race is on to find a formula for lithium-ion electric vehicle batteries that ditches cobalt in favor of more abundant, less expensive materials. A nice boost in performance would help, but can you really have your EV battery cake and it it, too? A team of US researchers apparently thinks so.
What’s The Problem With Using Cobalt In Electric Vehicle Batteries?
Although outgoing (finally) President Trump has postured himself as a champion of fossil fuels, during his tenure, the US Department of Energy ramped up its EV battery programs with the aim of integrating millions more zero emission vehicles into the national economy in the near future. That’s not such great news for petroleum stakeholders, but hey, the last four years have been kind of crazy for everyone.
Where were we? Oh right, eliminating cobalt from electric vehicle batteries. The Energy Department has been casting about for ways to eliminate cobalt from new electric vehicle batteries, and it firmed up that commitment in 2019 when it issued a new plan for next-generation EV batteries.
The 2019 plan zeroes right in on cobalt, which the Energy Department has identified as a critical material that is at highest risk for supply chain issues.
“Cobalt is one of the most common materials found in lithium-ion battery cathodes and plays an important role in stabilizing the cathode while the battery is in operation,” explains the Energy Department, while noting that “The Democratic Republic of Congo supplies nearly 58% of the world’s cobalt and 80% of that supply goes to China.”
“China is the world’s leading producer of refined cobalt and a leading supplier of cobalt imports to the United States,” the agency adds.