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TNO - The quest for the next-generation cobalt free battery

Most Lithium-ion batteries contain cobalt which has some major concerns regarding toxicity, environment, health, and a questionable or unethical supply chain. Batteries have been recognized as one of the main solutions to decarbonize transport. A battery-electric vehicle can produce 50% less CO2 emissions over its lifetime than an average EU oil or diesel vehicle today. The global market is expected to reach 125 million electric vehicles (EV) by 2030 with an increase in battery production capacity, for which Li-ion technology will likely remain the preferred choice for the next decade.

“This growing market and the knowledge that the vast majority of these EVs use cobalt-based lithium-ion batteries express the need for research into minimizing the negative impacts on the environment and society of this market”, TNO says in a statement. “The involvement of several leading organizations for battery manufacturing ensures easy adaptation to production lines and scale-up to contribute to a higher market adoption while helping to strengthen Europe’s position in the field.”

The quest for a cobalt-free battery for use in electric vehicles has received extra support from the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 program. The COBRA (CObalt-free Batteries for FutuRe Automotive Applications) project has been awarded an 11.8M euro grant to develop next-generation cobalt-free batteries. The project started earlier this year and will run until January 2024. The Dutch research organization TNO participates in COBRA by validating battery cell improvements and developing control algorithms for battery packs.

COBRA partners say they aim to develop a novel cobalt-free Lithium-ion battery technology while maintaining the high energy/power-density and lifetime performance we know from cobalt-based lithium-ion batteries. The proposed Li-ion battery technology will be demonstrated at TRL6 (battery pack) and validated on an automotive electric vehicle testbed.