At the 2021 consumer electronics show (CES), electronics maker Panasonic said it would work on developing lithium-ion batteries that do not use cobalt. Cobalt is a rare metal and its price is high, so it has become a major obstacle to the cost of electric vehicle batteries. Panasonic plans to reduce the use of cobalt from less than 5% to zero in the next few years.
The average content of cobalt in the earth's crust is 0.001% (mass). Nearly 100 cobalt minerals are known in nature, but there are no separate cobalt minerals, so the output is rare and expensive. Most of the global cobalt production comes from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Zambia. Because cobalt does not participate in electrochemical reaction, reducing cobalt content while high nickel is a good way to increase battery energy density and reduce battery cost. Therefore, under the premise of the consensus on the high nickel system, mainstream power battery companies, including Panasonic, LG and Ningde Times, are trying to reduce the utilization rate of cobalt.
As Panasonic's long-time battery supplier, Tesla has previously announced plans to reduce the use of cobalt to zero. Michael Moskowitz (Michael Moskowitz), head of Panasonic's North American operations, said Panasonic would work with Redwood Materials, a start-up focused on battery recycling in electric vehicles, to recycle battery materials. The founder of Redwood Materials is J.B.Straubel, the former chief technology officer of Tesla.
According to the data, a total of about 2.21 million new energy vehicles were sold worldwide in 2019, an increase of 10 per cent over the same period last year, of which pure electric vehicles accounted for 74 per cent, up 5 per cent from the previous year. In the context of the growing demand for electric vehicles, how to promote sales while reducing costs is a common topic of concern in the whole industry chain. One of the main reasons for the high cost of power batteries is the raw materials of batteries. The prices of lithium and cobalt materials are so volatile that even the most commonly used lithium-ion batteries are still expensive. In the future, low-cobalt and cobalt-free batteries will become the research and development direction of the next generation of power batteries.