“No-cobalt” batteries from SK Innovation

source: SK Innovation

SK Innovation is developing a high-nickel electric vehicle (EV) battery with a nickel content of 98%.

According to industry sources SK Innovation has established a roadmap for next-generation batteries with a significantly higher nickel content by 2030. It is characterized by hardly using any cobalt. In the long run, products that do not use cobalt at all are expected to be introduced.

Currently, the nickel content of the NCM811 (nickel, cobalt, manganese ratio 8:1:1) battery mass-produced by SK Innovation is in the low 80%. The NCM9½½ (nickel, cobalt, manganese specific gravity 9:0.5:0.5) battery is 88%. The goal is to increase it to 98% by 2030.

In accordance with the requirements of automakers, nickel capacity is expected to be adjusted to 90%. NCM9½½ battery is scheduled for mass production in 2023.

Nickel and cobalt are one of the main materials for batteries. Cobalt has negative connotations related to artisanal mining and supplu chain which is at times unstable.

High-nickel batteries are essential, not optional. Recently, CATL in China supplied the NCM811 battery for its BMW electric SUV iX3. LG Chem started mass production of NCM712 (nickel, cobalt, manganese ratio 7:1:2) batteries at the Wrocław plant in Poland in May. Next year, it plans to make nickel, cobalt, manganese, and aluminum (NCMA) batteries with more than 80% nickel. Production takes place through UltiumSells, a joint venture with General Motors (GM).

Samsung SDI plans to produce’Gen5′, a nickel-cobalt-aluminum (NCA) battery with more than 80% nickel content at its Goed plant in Hungary. Small-scale production begins as early as the end of the year. Full-scale mass production is expected to take place next year.

An industry official said, “CATL has announced that it will develop a battery that does not use nickel, but it will take a considerable time to verify performance and stability. High nickel batteries have no choice but to lead the market for at least 10 years.”