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A Big No on Cobalt Mine Extraction by Child Labor; the US to Research and Develop Cobalt-Free and Low-Nickel Li-Ion Batteries

published: 2023-07-05 9:30

Cobalt, a common raw material for cathodes of li-ion batteries, is often implicated with excavation by illegal child labor and human rights. Scientists are also dedicated in building cobalt-free li-ion batteries due to the excessive centralization of the supply chain, where scientist from the US have recently proposed a solution that comprises of a new generation battery that comes with fewer controversies.

Huolin Xin, Professor of physics and astronomy at the University of California Irvine, commented that nickel, despite no concerns on child labor, has to also be minimized in consumption for batteries to adopt the cobalt-free approach due to the large utilization of nickel metals for the production of li-ion batteries, as well as the constantly rising cost of metals.

The research team believes that this is the first study on low-nickel development. The team had previously proposed a new solution that completely removes cobalt, which however, requires a large amount of nickel for the formula. They then developed the “complex concentration and doping” technology in the span of three years, which resembles adjustments of seasonings in recipes, and managed to alter key chemical formulae of li-ion batteries.

Xin commented that this particular doping technology replaces cobalt metals within commercial li-ion batteries with nickel, and the improvement of nickel efficiency from doping also achieves production of EV batteries with a lower level of nickel. The team believes that the new technology is likely to transform the entire li-ion battery industry, where some EVs have started planning to adopt and replicate its study.

Xin revealed that it is necessary for additional EV manufacturers to express their interests in low-nickel batteries, which would once again qualify this technology through extra safety tests.

 (Cover photo source: shutterstock)

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