GM is experimenting with silicon-rich and lithium metal anodes, solid state and high voltage electrolytes, and dry processing of electrodes for its next generation of Ultium batteries, due around 2025.
The competition to fine-tune proprietary technology to cut electric vehicle battery costs is replacing horsepower wars as the battleground for deciding the industry’s winners and losers.
GM has said it aims to reduce battery cell cost to well under $100 per kilowatt-hour by 2025, compared with more than $150/kW today. GM executives also have said the company expects its future EV batteries to last for a million miles or more, with driving ranges of 500-600 miles (805 to 965 km) between charges.
That battery, which will be used in new GM electric vehicles such as the Hummer EV and Cadillac Lyriq, uses graphite-based anodes, nickel-cobalt-manganese-aluminum (NCMA) cathodes and liquid electrolyte.
GM said “the supply chain is going to explode” with demand for cobalt, nickel and other metals as GM and competitors ramp up EV production over the next five years.
The cost of the rechargeable lithium-ion batteries used for phones, laptops, and cars has fallen dramatically over the last three decades, and has been a major driver of the rapid growth of those technologies. But attempting to quantify that cost decline has produced ambiguous and conflicting results that have hampered attempts to project the technology’s future or devise useful policies and research priorities.
Now, MIT researchers have carried out an exhaustive analysis of the studies that have looked at the decline in the prices these batteries, which are the dominant rechargeable technology in today’s world. The new study looks back over three decades, including analyzing the original underlying datasets and documents whenever possible, to arrive at a clear picture of the technology’s trajectory.
The researchers found that the cost of these batteries has dropped by 97 percent since they were first commercially introduced in 1991. This rate of improvement is much faster than many analysts had claimed and is comparable to that of solar photovoltaic panels, which some had considered to be an exceptional case.
As a key component of battery cathode chemistry in many existing and upcoming electric vehicles (EVs), nickel will remain an important metal to watch in the coming decade, market analyst Fitch Solutions maintains in its latest industry report.
Impact of EV battery manufacturing on nickel consumption and now expects nickel demand for EV battery manufacturing to experience an annual average growth rate of 29% over 2021-2030, outpacing both lithium and cobalt demand, the analyst says.
The analyst also maintains the underlying assumption that NMC 811 cathodes will rise to 80.0% of NMC market share by 2027, which will effectively raise the average nickel content from 34.6kg to 44.5kg for each NMC cathode produced.
Automakers such as BMW, Hyundai and Renault use the NMC chemistry in their vehicles.
NMC cathodes once featured equal proportions of nickel, manganese, and cobalt, a blend called NMC 111. Over time, battery makers have increased nickel and reduced cobalt, using thermal management systems and electronics that regulate charging and discharging to reduce degradation of the cathode material. The latest generation of this formulation, with an 8:1:1 ratio of nickel to manganese to cobalt.
The European Union’s efforts to ethically source a key battery metal face headwinds that could make it more expensive for automakers to go electric.
“If, as proposed by the European Commission, due diligence on cobalt supply chain will be mandatory for batteries sold in the EU markets in the near future, the demand for responsibly sourced cobalt will increase rapidly,” the study prepared by the EU’s Joint Research Centre said.
But those “ambitious requirements might currently be too difficult,” according to an assessment prepared by researchers advising the European Commission. The report, which will be published by Elsevier Ltd.’s Resources Policy journal in June, suggests a tightening market for responsibly-sourced cobalt.
By 2030, EU economies need to secure more than 64,000 tons of ethically-sourced cobalt beyond existingsupply-chain constraints, a volume of metal worth around $3.2 billion at current prices, to fuel the transition to electric vehicles. The run on the metal’s price is prompting mining companies to seek new reserves from Australia to the deep sea.
(Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm on Tuesday said the United States needs to boost domestic production of the minerals used to make electric vehicles, so long as it is done sustainably.
Granholm also suggested coal miners – who have been affected by falling demand from the power-generation sector – could transition to digging for EV metals.
“Having (coal workers) mine for critical materials is a natural shift for them,” said Granholm, a former Michigan governor who was confirmed last month as secretary.
Australia’s BHP Group Ltd. is moving its exploration headquarters for nickel and copper — two metals expected to see increased future demand because of electric vehicle industry growth — to Toronto.
The company’s announcement Wednesday comes after a BHP subsidiary Rio Algom Ltd. struck a partnership in August with Canadian junior Midland Exploration Inc. to fund nickel exploration in northern Quebec.
Indonesia laid down its plans to have a complete battery production line onshore, with a state-owned holding firm to be set up by June.
The country has drafted an “end-to-end development” plan that would see four state firms supplying nickel ore, processing nickel sulfate and cobalt sulfate, and then producing cathodes and batteries, Agus Tjahajana, who heads the task force on electric-vehicle development, said in a Thursday seminar.
Resource-rich Indonesia, home to a quarter of the world’s nickel reserves, has set its sights on moving up the supply chain to become a global hub for battery-making. The surge in demand for batteries, used to power everything from mobile phones to electric vehicles, has become a tailwind for Southeast Asia’s largest economy as it seeks a way out of a recession.
Nickel tumbled after a major Chinese producer’s unexpected plan to add supply eased concerns about a structural deficit for the material that Elon Musk has said is the biggest concern for Tesla Inc. batteries.
Nickel is critical to the world’s clean-energy transition.
Tsingshan Holding Group Co., the world’s top stainless steel producer, will soon start supplying nickel matte to Chinese battery material producers and plans to expand its nickel investments in Indonesia. Matte is an intermediate product made from concentrate that can be further processed into battery-grade chemicals.
Put aside the trade and technology wars. The next race for global political and economic supremacy will focus on climate.
That’s according to Bank of America Corp.s’ research group, which said climate change will be this decade’s most important theme, just as technology underpinned economic growth during the past decade. China has spent twice as much as the U.S. on climate action, said Haim Israel, the bank’s head of global thematic investing research, in a report Monday.
“We believe climate strategies offer a route to global supremacy,” he said. “Whether through regulation, limits on exports, tariffs or significant investments, we believe the U.S. and China will do whatever it takes to take the lead on climate action.”
The economic impact of climate change could reach $69 trillion this century, and investments in the energy transition need to increase to $4 trillion a year, Israel said. That will lead to more than $100 billion a year in research and development.
Bank of America estimates that the potential market capitalization for companies tackling climate to be about $6 trillion across things like renewables, electric vehicles, and environmental, social and governance. China dominates EVs and batteries, while Europe excels in renewables, the report says.
The researchers employed surface chemical characterization as a strategy for identifying and minimizing residual hydroxide and carbonate impurities from the synthesis of NCA (nickel, cobalt, aluminum) nanoparticles. They realized the LIB cathode surfaces first needed to be prepared by suitable annealing, a process by which the cathode nanoparticles are heated to remove surface impurities, and then locked into the desirable structures with an atomically thin graphene coating.
The graphene-coated NCA nanoparticles, which were formulated into LIB cathodes, showed superlative electrochemical properties, including low impedance, high rate performance, high volumetric energy and power densities, and long cycling lifetimes. The graphene coating also acted as a barrier between the electrode surface and the electrolyte, which further improved cell lifetime.