Three-element lithium battery is expected to be low in cobalt

Date:2018-11-30
Summary:

Due to the detection of excessive radioactive uranium i […]

Due to the detection of excessive radioactive uranium in the ore, international mining giant Glencore may decide to suspend its cobalt mine exports in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (hereinafter referred to as Congo (Gold)), resulting in a rebound in international cobalt prices. The IHSMarkit market consultancy predicts that this will lead to a rapid rebound in battery raw material prices by around 30%.

In recent years, as the global electric vehicle market continues to heat up, the demand for ternary lithium batteries has increased significantly. Cobalt is one of the important cathode materials in ternary lithium batteries, but resources are scarce and prices have been rising since 2017. On the one hand, the price of cobalt is rising, on the other hand, subsidies are gradually fading, and the high-nickel and low-cobalt cathode materials of ternary lithium batteries have become an inevitable development trend. Following the development of low-cobalt batteries by Matsushita and Tesla, chemical giants BASF and Johnson Matthey recently said that a new battery technology can significantly reduce cobalt content.

Cobalt price rises, ship supply is difficult to guarantee

After Glencore announced that its cobalt mine in Congo (Golden) was suspended for export due to high uranium content, Kay's macro research company immediately released a report predicting that this will make cobalt prices reach ton per ton in mid-2019. Ten thousand U.S. dollars.

An analyst at Kaitou Macro pointed out: "In view of the progress of this incident, we are raising short-term forecasts for cobalt prices. By the middle of next year, the cobalt market will be more tight than we expected." Prices will rise further and will reach $80,000 per ton by the end of 2020, mainly due to the increase in battery demand.

So far this year, Glencore has produced a total of 25,700 tons of cobalt at its mine in Congo (Kinshasa). In July of this year, the company said that it expects to reach 40,000 tons per year by the end of the first quarter of 2019. This figure accounts for one-third of the world's total output. Cobalt produced in the Democratic Republic of the Congo accounts for more than 60% of global production, and this proportion will continue to rise in the next five years.

Reducing the cobalt content of the ternary battery will help reduce the dependence on the Congo (gold) cobalt mine. The political situation in the Congo (DRC) is turbulent, and there are business ethics issues such as the illegal use of child labor and the harsh working environment of mining. It also makes multinational companies have a headache, including car manufacturers such as BMW and Volkswagen Group, which have business contacts and business relationships with the local area. . At present, the supply chain of the above-mentioned multinational corporations is being strictly examined by domestic regulatory authorities.

From 20% to 10% to 4%

As new energy vehicles are in the ascendant in many parts of the world, the purchase price of cobalt has risen and become a constraint for the development of new energy vehicles. A number of automakers and battery companies are developing new technologies to try to reduce the proportion of cobalt in ternary lithium battery materials.

At present, the ratio of nickel-cobalt-manganese/aluminum in the ternary lithium battery cathode material is 5:2:3 or 6:2:2. Insiders pointed out that the proportion of nickel-cobalt-manganese/aluminum in the future ternary lithium battery cathode material will develop in the direction of 8:1:1.

Recently, Kenner Sahin, a Ph.D. and technology entrepreneur at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said that he and his research and development team have developed innovative technologies for lithium-ion batteries that can reduce the amount of cobalt in lithium-ion batteries. The new material he invented reduced the proportion of cobalt in the positive electrode of lithium batteries from nearly 20% to 4%, which drastically reduced the cost of electric vehicles.

According to Kenner Sahin, its lithium-ion battery technology can improve the performance of electric vehicles in the next few years. The main feature of the above technological innovations is the reduction of the use of cobalt, thus reducing costs and