News just in that Panasonic is planning for a totally new battery system. Currently the company supplies batteries for Tesla and is a partner in the carmaker’s Gigafactory battery plant in Nevada. Panasonic just announced that it is engineering ways to decrease the cobalt content of its batteries. The company says it has set a target eventually to use no cobalt in its batteries.
“We have already cut down cobalt usage substantially,” Kenji Tamura, who is in charge of Panasonic’s automotive battery business, said at a meeting with analysts, according to Reuters. “We are aiming to achieve zero usage in the near future, and development is underway.”
Last week, Panasonic said that it had increased the nickel content of its batteries while significantly reducing the cobalt content, maintaining superior thermal stability and “achieving the highest energy density,”
Other types of lithium-ion batteries, including lithium-manganese spinel and lithium nickel cobalt aluminum oxide, use less cobalt, while still other chemistries such as lithium-iron phosphate may not require cobalt. Battery makers are trying to balance the batteries’ power output and energy storage against stability, safety, and lifespan as they adjust their chemical balance.
Teams of scientists and venture capitalists from the U.S. and Japan are working to develop solid-state lithium batteries, which would primarily benefit cars and trucks. Ultimately, solid-state lithium batteries may not require cobalt at all, but so far their production processes and costs are unproven.