Chinese battery maker Svolt is planning to launch cobalt-free batteries in June, 2021, people familiar with matter told TheElec.
The battery, to be used in electric vehicles, can travel 880 kilometers with one-charge and cost 15% less than predecessors, they said.
It also had a maximum energy density of 590wh/L, they said, citing Svolt's announcement. It was made with nano-coating and single crystalline cathode technologies. Stacking process __ in which the cathode, separator and anode materials are stacked together was also used, they said.
Cathode, one of the most crucial materials for a battery, that was used for the battery was developed by a Korean engineering team, the people said.
South Korea has designated cathodes that is made using 80% of the total materials in nickel __ or "high nickel" __ as national core technology, protected by local industry laws. Leaking the method is considered a criminal offense with potentially heavy jail terms.
Nickel is a volatile material, but it costs considerably less than cobalt while also having higher energy density. Being able to use more of it in the making of cathode, and safely, is a technology coveted by global battery makers.
LG Chem, Samsung SDI, CATL and Panasonic have just begun to apply what they call NCMA, which mixes nickel, cobalt, manganese and aluminum while nickel accounts for 92% for the cathode __ as well as NCM811, which mixes nickel, cobalt and manganese in an 8 to 1 to 1 ratio, in their productions. None of these vendors have announced cobalt-free technology.
If Svolt’s announcement is true, launching next year will be a world’s first but will also be in violation of Korean laws by the engineers involved, people familiar with the matter said.
The Chinese vendor has set up an office at Pangyo, Gyeonggi Province, South Korea and hired tens of local battery experts, they said, prior to the announcement.
Svolt also introduced Yang-Kook Sun, a professor of energy engineering at South Korea’s Hanyang University and an authority in car batteries, during the announcement, implying he was involved in the development of the battery.
In a call with TheElec, Sun said he didn’t give permission to Svolt to use his pictures, profiles and research history. The professor also said the company has proposed collaboration to him, but he had refused it “on the spot.”
Meanwhile, Svolt is a battery company that spun off from Chinese car maker Great Wall. It recently announced that it was investing 10 billion yuan in building battery factories with an annual production capacity of 20Gwh. They are being built in Beijing, Changzhou and Tianjin. It said it was also planning to invest 2 billion euros in Europe to build battery factories there.