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DOE awards $2.5M to UCSD team for work on cobalt-free cathode materials

The US Department of Energy awarded $2.5 million to a team led by the University of California San Diego for battery research in advanced vehicle technologies. The project is one of 42 projects totaling $80 million of investment from the DOE (earlier post) announced earlier this month.

The project is aimed at developing cobalt-free cathode materials for next-generation lithium-ion batteries. Shirley Meng, a professor of nanoengineering and the director of the Sustainable Power and Energy Center at UC San Diego, is the lead investigator on the project. The team includes ultracapacitor manufacturer Maxwell Technologies.

The work builds on a study published recently in the journal Materials Today, in which Meng’s team collaborated with researchers led by Kang Xu at Army Research Lab to develop a lithium-ion battery electrolyte that performs well throughout a wider voltage range than other lithium-ion battery electrolytes.

The new electrolyte can withstand more than 4.8V—others decompose at voltage levels below this—making it the first one to be compatible with both a graphite anode and a high-voltage cathode material, LNMO spinel (lithium, nickel, manganese and oxygen), especially at elevated temperatures (55 C).

The findings bring researchers a step closer to designing lithium-ion battery materials that operate at high voltage levels, an attribute that is crucial for batteries used in electric vehicles.

Meng and her team are collaborating with Maxwell Technologies to combine the synergy between this novel electrolyte with advanced dry coated thick LNMO spinel cathodes to ultimately industrialize a completely cobalt-free, high energy density lithium-ion battery for electric vehicles.


  • Judith Alvarado, Marshall A. Schroeder, Minghao Zhang, Oleg Borodin, Eric Gobrogge, Marco Olguin, Michael S. Ding, Mallory Gobet, Steve Greenbaum, Ying Shirley Meng, Kang Xu (2018) “A carbonate-free, sulfone-based electrolyte for high-voltage Li-ion batteries,” Materials Today, Volume 21, Issue 4, Pages 341-353 doi: 10.1016/j.mattod.2018.02.005


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