Who is robbing the quaternary lithium battery market?
Frequent electric vehicle fire accidents have put the safety of ternary lithium batteries into question. In recent years, the industry has begun to continuously explore new batteries with safety, higher energy density, and lower cost.
In 2016, Hanyang University in South Korea and LG Chem, a local power battery company in South Korea (renamed LG New Energy), jointly proposed a new battery concept:
NCMA quaternary battery.
NCMA quaternary battery refers to a battery that uses nickel, cobalt, manganese, and aluminum as the positive electrode. Compared with ternary lithium batteries, the two biggest advantages of quaternary lithium batteries are:
Higher safety and lower cost.
Public information shows that LG New Energy’s quaternary lithium battery is based on the ternary lithium battery, and uses aluminum (AI) to partially replace cobalt, thereby reducing The amount of cobalt used in lithium batteries.
Cobalt is a rare and toxic element, which determines the charge and discharge speed and efficiency of the battery, and also prolongs the life of the battery. Its importance is self-evident.
However, since nearly two-thirds of the world’s cobalt comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa, and is generally used as a by-product of nickel or copper, its mining costs are high. The price of cobalt at the stage exceeds 260,000/ton, while the price of aluminum is only 16,000/ton. The price difference between the two is clear at a glance.
Tim Grewe, Director of General Motors Battery Engineering and Electrification Strategy, expressed great recognition for the quaternary lithium battery very early:
'While ensuring performance and endurance, the cobalt content in the battery is reduced by 70%. This is a further step towards low-cost batteries.'
Another one The advantage is higher security. In power battery materials, the higher the nickel content, the greater the probability of dendrite generation during high-rate charging and discharging, and the worse the stability and safety. This problem has been plagued by high-nickel ternary lithium.
Nickel determines the energy density of the battery, which is the key to improving the cruising range. The pursuit of high energy density blindly makes it difficult to guarantee safety. The combination of a quaternary lithium battery and a graphite negative electrode with an increased silicon-carbon layer may solve this thorny problem to a certain extent.
A few days ago, LG New Energy announced that it has developed an NCMA quaternary lithium battery using nickel, cobalt, manganese, and aluminum as the cathode material. The content has been increased to 90%, and the cobalt content has been reduced to less than 5%. A single charge can provide at least 600 kilometers of cruising range.
According to the plan, LG New Energy will start mass production of NCMA quaternary batteries in the second quarter of next year, and will start to supply Tesla in the second half of the year, mainly to special Sla's plant in China is expected to be used in China-made Model Y and next-generation electric vehicle models.
This also means that LG New Energy takes the lead in the large-scale commercialization of quaternary lithium batteries.
In August of this year, foreign media reported that the NCMA battery Ru0026D and mass production plans of General Motors and LG Chem are also expected to be advanced to next year. The former is planning to be launched next year. The two electric vehicles are equipped with NCMA batteries, and the latter is also making necessary preparations for mass production of NCMA batteries.
SKI also stated previously that it has commercialized the world’s first NCM9 battery developed by it with a nickel content of 90%. Ford Motor of the United States plans to release the F-150 in 2023. Electric pickup trucks are expected to land on the market with this battery.
It is understood that the NCM9 battery developed by SKI, while increasing the nickel content to 90%, also reduces the cobalt content to 5%, increasing the range of electric vehicles to 700 kilometers, and reduced the charging time, the important thing is that the cost is greatly reduced.
Domestic power battery companies are also constantly studying the feasibility of quaternary batteries.
In 2019, Honeycomb Energy released 'stacked era' products including cobalt-free material batteries and NCMA quaternary material batteries.
On the 'Honeycomb Battery Day' held on December 2 this year, Honeycomb Energy stated that the company's quaternary NCMA positive electrode material can improve the safety and achieve the same 811 battery has comparable energy density. In addition, due to the decline in the proportion of nickel used in quaternary materials, the cost is further reduced.
GEM also stated when answering investors’ questions earlier that the company has completed the NCMA quaternary precursor mass production technical reserve and is ready for mass production. The company developed NCMA Quaternary precursor materials have been certified by customers at the ton level.
On December 8, Huayou New Energy Technology (Quzhou) Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of Huayou Cobalt, has an annual output of 50,000 tons of high nickel type power battery ternary precursor project The groundbreaking ceremony was held.
From the perspective of reducing cobalt content and improving battery performance, NCMA quaternary lithium batteries with high nickel and low cobalt are considered by many to be one of the future development trends. But judging from the current technological progress, no company has been able to achieve large-scale mass production of NCMA quaternary batteries.
It should be known that the mass production process of quaternary lithium batteries is more complicated than that of ternary lithium batteries. NCMA not only has higher requirements on the production environment, but also has high corrosion resistance and Accuracy is also a great test. As for how long it will take to achieve the actual effect of reducing costs and increasing efficiency, it remains to be seen.
However, once the quaternary battery with excellent performance is officially put on the market, it will surely make new energy vehicles more competitive in the future. LG New Energy has taken the lead in making breakthroughs and mass production, so it can naturally seize the technological high ground first and compete for a larger market share.