Samsung SDI has started the production of cylinder batteries that use cathode with over 91% nickel, a company executive said on Wednesday.
Speaking at the InterBattery 2021 industry event in Seoul, Samsung SDI executive vice president and head of research Chang Hyuk said the company was currently manufacturing cylinder batteries that use NCA(nickel, cobalt and aluminum) oxide cathode with 91% nickel.
The South Korean battery maker also recently started the production of prismatic batteries with NCA cathodes with 88% nickel, Chang said.
This is the first time Samsung SDI is publicly saying that it was manufacturing 91% high-nickel cylinder battery.
Cathode accounts for 40% of the cost of battery, making it a key material.
Higher amount of nickel in cathode means higher energy density, which will make battery travel longer distance per charge.
Samsung SDI increased the amount of nickel in its cylinder and prismatic batteries every two to three years.
For example, the company applied 88% nickel in its cylinder batteries for the first time in 2018.
This amount is now being applied to prismatic batteries this year. Therefore, it is highly likely that prismatic batteries with 91% nickel will start production around 2023.
Samsung SDI is planning to increase the portion of nickel in cathode to up to 94% in the long-term.
The company was also developing cathode with high amounts of manganese to save costs.
Compared to nickel, manganese is cheaper, more reliable and have larger reserves.
Chang said Samsung SDI has begun reviewing NMx (nickel manganese oxide) cathode by synthesizing hundreds of kilograms of them.
The company was also developing a dry electrode process, where solvents are not used. This allows equipment to be shorter and foregoes the drying process in battery production, leading to higher productivity. Tesla has acquired Maxwell to acquire this technology.
Chang said Samsung SDI can currently make a relatively large electrode using the dry process. Once it resolves the resistance characteristic, the company will be able to commercializes the technology, the executive said.