Samsung SDI has increased the nickel content of the cathodes of its battery cells with NCA (nickel-cobalt-aluminum oxide) chemistry for electric cars. This should not only increase the energy density, but also lower the cost compared to cells with higher cobalt content.
As the battery maker announced at the InterBattery show in South Korea, cylindrical cells with a nickel content of 91% (up from 88% previously) are already being produced. The information comes from Chang Hyuk, executive vice president and head of research at Samsung SDI. In the long run, the nickel content could reach up to 94%, Chang said.
As Inside electric vehicles reports that the 88% version was first used in cylindrical cells for power tools in 2015, before being later also used in batteries for electric cars. According to the Korean portal The elec, the 88% of cells would have been installed for the first time in 2018, which could refer to the first in electric cars.
The new cells containing 91% nickel in the cathode would have a volumetric energy density of 670 Wh / l. The report does not say in what format the round cells will be constructed.
In NCA cathode prism cells, the nickel content is now 88%. Like the new round cells, they are already in production and are expected to have an energy density of 630 Wh / l. The report does not specify in which format the NCA cathode prism cells will be integrated. In a new unspecified SUV model, this battery is expected to provide a range of 620 kilometers.
Considering the time it took for Samsung SDI to get the round cells from 88% nickel to 91%, this stage of prism cell development could also take several years.
However, the Korean company is probably also working on other technologies, one of which could not only reduce the cobalt content, but eliminate it altogether. They are said to be NMx cathodes, which only rely on the oxide of nickel and manganese. Chinese cell maker SVOLT already offers cobalt-free NMx cells, but nothing is currently known about the differences or similarities with SVOLT and Samsung SDI’s approach.
According to Chang, Samsung SDI has already produced several hundred kilograms of NMx cathode material. While a high nickel content improves energy density and therefore vehicle range, a higher manganese content lowers costs. The price of nickel has already risen sharply, and manganese oxide is also more common.
In addition, Samsung SDI would work on the production of dry electrodes. This production process is faster and cheaper. Tesla wants to use it for its 4680 cells, the know-how comes from the acquisition of Maxwell. According to Chang, Samsung SDI should already be able to produce “relatively large electrodes” using the dry process. As soon as the last challenges are resolved, the company can commercialize the technology.
insideevs.com, thelec.com, pushevs.com