South Korea's Cosmo AM&T is developing EV batteries with a nickel content of 80% or higher in joint efforts with Samsung SDI and LG Chem, respectively, according to industry sources on July 11.
If successful, Cosmo could be supplying both battery makers, they added.
With an aim to mass produce by 2021, Cosmo has begun working on NCMA battery anode materials with a nickel content of 92% and some aluminum, with an energy density of 228mAh/g. By next year, it will try to raise the nickel content to at least 88% with an energy density of 220mAh/g. The firm has already developed a NCM811 battery with nickel content of 83% and energy density of 210mAh/g.
Samsung SDI and LG Chem – currently each supplied by LandF and Umicore, have been looking for high-functioning EV batteries for a while now, especially after seeing another local supplier EcoProBM supplying NCM811 cells to their rival SK Innovation. EcoProBM is building a new factory in Pohang to ramp up production.
High-nickel anode materials are a major component in highly functional electric vehicle batteries. By raising the energy density, cars can be driven longer on a single charge. And because it uses less cobalt, it’s also less costly.
A downside is that the increased nickel content makes it more prone to explosions. To address this problem, Cosmo has added a special coating around the nickel. It created its own material for this, and smoothed it down for higher quality.
SK Innovation will soon be the first in the world to commercialize NCM 9½½, which is at the core of next generation battery technologies. Some industry sources believe it would be jointly developing with EcoProBM.
If this really is the case, Cosmo needs to hurry and mass produce NCM811 first, then try to turn the tide with NCMA.
So far, Cosmo has been focused on lithium cobalt oxide anode materials used in high-cobalt, small-sized batteries. But with cobalt prices climbing and the EV market growing, the need for NCM anode materials is becoming bigger. This year, when it adds more production lines for NCM, it will begin competing against EcoProBM in earnest.
Anode materials take up the largest portion in terms of prices among the top four battery materials including cathode materials and separators. Market research firm SNE Research said that last year, that the markets for NCM523 and NCM622 in EV batteries grew 577.4% and 136.4%, respectively.
SNE also said that by 2021, NCM523 and NCM622 will be the main stream. After that, NCM811 and NCMA will see bigger demand.
The Elec is South Korea’s No.1 tech news platform.