Having the best ingredients does not always equate to making the perfect meal. Give them to an average Joe and a three-star Michelin chef, and you’ll see what we mean. The same now applies to batteries after Wangda Li Steven Lee, and Arumugam Manthiram developed a cobalt-free battery. The Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin researchers just rearranged nickel, manganese, and aluminum.
This new combination of these metals allowed these scientists to distribute then ions more evenly on the cathodes. With that, they achieved a high-energy battery that not only dismisses cobalt but also does not suffer from low cycle life and reduced rate capacity.
These characteristics are common in cells with a high content of nickel. Now you have a hint about why Elon Musk promised a long-term contract to any mining company able to deliver lots of it in an environmentally friendly way.
The study was published at Advanced Materials, and the test cells achieved more than 1,000 cycles, which would prove that they can last much more than previous prototypes with a lot of nickel.
The process that led to this unique combination of these three metals is allegedly “immediately scalable.” The researchers even formed a startup called TexPower to get this tech to the market as soon as possible.
Cobalt is the most expensive component of current batteries, with a price of around $28,500 per ton. Considering that, the new arrangement of nickel, manganese, and aluminum may allow for cheaper and more powerful batteries – as long as mining companies manage to deliver as much nickel as Tesla and other companies already demand.