Ioanna is a writer at TNW. She covers the full spectrum of the European tech ecosystem, with a particular interest in startups, sustainabili Ioanna is a writer at TNW. She covers the full spectrum of the European tech ecosystem, with a particular interest in startups, sustainability, green tech, AI, and EU policy. With a background in the humanities, she has a soft spot for social impact-enabling technologies.
Chinese EV battery manufacturer SVOLT has unveiled what it claims to be the world’s first cobalt-free battery.
At Chengdu Motor Show the company showcased its innovative battery pack inside an Ora Cherry Cat from Chinese automaker Great Wall Motors.
And that’s definitely good news.
Why we need cobalt alternatives
As the world moves towards reducing carbon emissions, demand for electrified transport has been rising.
Most of today’s electric vehicles use lithium-ion batteries, which require cobalt during their production and operation. That’s because cobalt is crucial for boosting energy density and battery life, as it keeps the structure of lithium ions stable.
Unfortunately, cobalt’s value comes with a cost.
For starters, cobalt is a finite resource, while demand for it is rising. According to Cobalt Institute’s latest report, demand for cobalt in lithium-ion batteries, used primarily in portable electronics and electric vehicles, has increased at an annual rate of 10% between 2013 and 2020.
The Institute also predicts a higher rise in cobalt batteries, as its projections show that demand for EVs will see a 30% annual growth by 2025. Therefore, it’s not unreasonable to wonder whether the global cobalt reserves will be sufficient to keep up with the increasing production pace.
What’s more, the precious mineral is largely concentrated in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which accounts for 66% of the global mine supply. Sadly, it is estimated that 20% of the mines in the DRC use mostly child workers.
Finally, scientists, after assessing the life cycle of the cobalt extraction route, have found that using the mineral isn’t 100% green.
Instead, their research suggests that blasting and electricity consumption in cobalt mining is damaging to the environment, while cobalt mining also affects global warming, as it results in carbon dioxide and nitrogen dioxide emissions.
For all the above reasons, many automakers have been trying to cut down on cobalt for their EV batteries.
For instance, Tesla announced during its 2020 Battery Day that it will make cobalt-free electric vehicles. Also last year, GM unveiled its Ultium Battery that uses 70% less cobalt than other current batteries on the market.
Now SVOLT promises a fully cobalt-free battery with a capacity of 82.5KWh, which can deliver a 600km range on a single charge, and can allow a car to accelerate from zero to 60mph in under five seconds.
The company said that its sustainable product is expected to go on sale in China, but hasn’t offered any specific timeline on when that might happen.
Do EVs excite your electrons? Do ebikes get your wheels spinning? Do self-driving cars get you all charged up?
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