The Power Battery Is Advancing Into The Cobalt-Free Era

- May 21, 2020-

The Power Battery is Advancing into the "cobalt-free" Era

Recently, CATL Chairman Zeng Yuqun's statement about "cobalt-free batteries being developed" once again exploded the industry's discussion about cobalt-free batteries. Previously, there were reports that Tesla planned to introduce a new low-cost, long-life battery in the Model 3 electric vehicle produced in China. This new battery was jointly developed by Tesla and the CATL. Many insiders put the two pieces of news together and concluded that Tesla and CATL will jointly release new cobalt-free batteries. If the guess is true, it will mark the formal advancement of the power battery into the "cobalt-free" era, which will undoubtedly make the leader of the lithium battery leader in the CATL more stable and lock the victory in advance.

Power battery car manufacturers are competing in the field of cobalt-free batteries

When talking about "cobalt-free", we must first know that there is a line of contention for mainstream power batteries: one is lithium iron phosphate batteries, and the other is ternary lithium batteries. The former has good safety and low cost; the latter has high energy density and endurance Strong. If divided according to whether it contains cobalt, the former contains no cobalt and the latter contains cobalt. Obviously, "cobalt-free" is for ternary lithium batteries. From Honeycomb Energy launched the first cobalt-free battery, this year Tesla reached cooperation with the CATL on the supply of "cobalt-free" batteries, and then the blade battery of BYD was born and the "cobalt-free" battery developed by the CATL mentioned above News, "cobalt-free" has also become an important topic in the field of power battery technology in the near future.

Analysis | Power batteries are advancing into the "cobalt-free" era.

The "decobalization" of the ternary lithium power battery, in the final analysis, still has to solve the problem of battery cost. As we all know, the ternary lithium battery is called "ternary polymer lithium battery", which refers to the positive electrode material using nickel cobalt lithium manganese oxide (NCM) or nickel cobalt lithium aluminate (NCA) ternary positive electrode lithium battery. Among them, the cobalt element, which is mainly used to stabilize the layer structure of the material and improve the material cycle and rate performance, is an indispensable precious metal in the ternary battery. However, the price fluctuation of cobalt has greatly affected the price of ternary materials, because more than half of the global cobalt is produced in Congo (DRC), and the excessive concentration of resources has also exacerbated the vulnerability of the global cobalt supply chain. This year, as the overseas epidemic continued to deteriorate, Congo ’s embargo measures and social unrest have exacerbated concerns about cobalt mine production. At the same time, Zambia, South Africa and other countries have imposed border embargo policies on the transportation of cobalt raw materials. Congo is expected to be in the second quarter (Gold) and South Africa's exports of cobalt raw materials will decline significantly, which will have an adverse impact on the domestic import of cobalt raw materials in the third quarter.

Solving the cost problem can solve the stumbling block for the development of the new energy vehicle market. After reducing the proportion and content of cobalt, the ternary lithium battery will reduce the cost of the entire vehicle accordingly. The impact of cobalt price fluctuations on the company will also be weakened. The change of the leader from active to passive will help promote the development of the new energy vehicle market.

Although "cobalt-free" is the development direction of ternary power battery technology, leading companies will not hesitate to invest heavily in technology for the future, but the author believes that there is still a long way to go before truly "cobalt-free". Because as of now, there is no material that can replace the stabilizing effect of cobalt. The current power battery can only reduce the amount of cobalt as much as possible, and it will not be possible to completely remove cobalt in the next two or three years. In fact, more companies are deploying nickel-cobalt-manganese-aluminum quaternary lithium batteries. This technical route is ushering in the "second spring" at the moment of retreat. Cui Dongshu, Secretary General of the Passenger Car Market Information Joint Committee, believes that the subsidies for new energy vehicles will gradually change the direction of operation of new energy vehicle companies, abandon the pursuit of higher energy density batteries in some models, and use relatively cheaper phosphoric acid. Lithium iron batteries to reduce costs.

The competition on the route is always accompanied by several joys and sorrows. One "go to cobalt" and one "cobalt-free"; one sexy and one skinny; although there are differences in the routes of leading enterprises and different ways of playing, they have to fight with bayonets in the front of the market. Large amounts of gold, silver and silver have been invested in research and development. The route is important, the result is more important, and ultimately the same way will be the same: accept the market verification.