The Nikkei reports that Nissan Motor Co. has nearly completed development of a lithium-ion battery using a lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide cathode (NMC). The new system, which will reportedly offer almost double the capacity of Nissan/AESC’s current manganese spinel cell, is supposedly slated for deployment in electric vehicles in 2015.
Nissan is raising capacity by improving the positive electrode, specifically, using nickel and cobalt, not only manganese. The new battery can store about twice as much electricity as batteries with positive electrodes made only from manganese. It is robust enough for practical use, able to withstand 1,000 or so charge cycles.
Nissan estimates that the battery will cost about the same as conventional lithium ion ones to produce, as it contains only a small amount of cobalt, a relatively expensive metal.
Nickel Manganese Cobalt oxide materials have attracted a great deal of interest due to the potential higher capacity. As one example, Argonne Labs in the US has done quite a bit of work with the NMC family over the past years, and has licensed some of its formulations to Toda Kyogo in Japan in 2008 (earlier post) and to BASF (earlier post).
In some formulations, the Argonne NMC materials can provide an initial capacity of > 250 mAh g-1 when discharged between 5 and 2.0V and a rechargeable capacity of up to 250 mAh g-1 over the same window. By contrast, the practical capacity of conventional cobalt oxide electrodes is approximately 140 mAh g-1. Spinel LiMn2O4 and olivine LiFePO4, while more thermally and structurally stable than the cobalt oxides, deliver relatively low practical capacities above 3V in a lithium cell—typically 100-120 mAh g-1.
In another partnership deal announced earlier this year, 3M entered into a strategic relationship and an agreement with China-based Amperex Technologies Ltd. (ATL) that will expand the use of nickel-manganese-cobalt (NMC) cathode materials in lithium-ion batteries targeted at consumer electronics and automotive applications. (Earlier post.)
Other companies working with NMC materials include Panasonic, Sanyo, Hitachi, GS Yuasa, Samsung, EnerDel, Kokam, Evonik/Litarion, Enax, and Imara.