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Nikola Corporation to unveil novel battery cell technology; 500 Wh/kg on production cell

Nikola Corporation said that it has developed a new battery that has a record energy density of 1,100 Wh kg-1 on the material level and 500 Wh kg-1 on the production cell level—including casing, terminals and separator—more than double current lithium-ion battery cells. The Nikola prototype cell eliminates binder material and current collectors, enabling more energy storage within the cell. It is also expected to pass nail penetration standards, thus reducing potential vehicle fires.

Nikola said that this free-standing electrode automotive battery will deliver a 40% reduction in weight compared to lithium-ion cells and a 50% material cost reduction per kWh compared to lithium-ion batteries. Cycling the cells more than 2,000 times has shown what Nikola called “acceptable” end-of-life performance.

Projected benefits of the technology applied to Nikola’s trucks are:

  • Nikola’s battery electric trucks could drive 800 miles fully loaded between charges.

  • Nikola trucks could weigh 5,000 lbs. less than the competition if same battery size was kept.

  • Nikola’s hydrogen-electric fuel cell trucks could surpass 1,000 miles between stops and top off in 15 minutes.

Nikola will share the intellectual property (IP) with other OEMs, even competitors, that contribute to the Nikola IP license and a new consortium.

We are not talking about small improvements; we are talking about doubling your cell phone battery capacity. We are talking about doubling the range of BEVs and hydrogen-electric vehicles around the world. Nikola is in discussions with customers for truck orders that could fill production slots for more than ten years and propel Nikola to become the top truck manufacturer in the world in terms of revenue. Now the question is why not share it with the world?

—Trevor Milton, CEO, Nikola Motor Company

Nikola said it will show the batteries charging and discharging in front of the crowd at Nikola World. The date of Nikola World will be announced soon but is expected to be fall of 2020.

Nikola said that its new cell technology is environmentally friendly and easy to recycle. While conventional lithium-ion cells contain elements that are toxic and expensive, the new technology will have a positive impact on the earth’s resources, landfills and recycling plants, the company said.

This month, Nikola entered into a letter of intent to acquire a world-class battery engineering team to help bring the new battery to pre-production. Through this acquisition, Nikola will add 15 PhDs and five master’s degree team members.

Due to confidentiality and security reasons, additional details of the acquisition will not be disclosed until Nikola World 2020.

Nikola’s Motor Company’s commercial truck product portfolio includes the Nikola Two, Nikola Tre and Nikola One.



I'm skeptical.

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One should be skeptical until this is verified by third parties and demonstrated at Nikola World 2020. Is this possible? Maybe.
This is the world’s first free-standing electrode automotive battery, all other commercial batteries have slurry coated electrodes. That would be an outstanding accomplishment.
The battery does not use Nickel or Cobalt and has an energy density up to 1,100 watt-hours per kg on a material level and 500 watt-hours per kg on a production cell level. This probably means a Conversion Cathode and most likely Sulfur. If it uses Sulfur, it must avoid dissolution of Li-polysulphides into the electrolyte or the capacity will fade (certainly not last "2000 cycles").
There is one example that might fit these specs, check out "A free-standing reduced graphene oxide aerogel as supporting electrode in a fluorine-free Li2S8 catholyte Li-S battery."
We will wait and see how this develops.


eliminates binder material and current collectors...
If a team came up with this why would they sell it to them?


Not even a hint of the battery chemistry and apparently it will magiically not need long term testing.

Looks like they have taken a leaf from Musk's playbook - I would think their capital raise is not going well, so they promise the moon as a 'stretch target'

It’s rational to be skeptical. But the timeline on reserving judgement is short:

“Nikola said it will show the batteries charging and discharging in front of the crowd at Nikola World. The date of Nikola World ... is expected to be fall of 2020.”

So in a year we’ll know. Nikola has beaten everyone to the punch or they have not.

Even if they have not, it’s a fait accompli by someone by 2025. So much money being poured into solving this problem and relentless progress occurring. Someone will throw the 500W/kg punch.

Interesting that Nikola is touting battery breakthrough progress when they originally staked their reputation on being able to build a hydrogen highway.

Synergistic to be sure, but at $100/kW and 500wh/kg, H2 becomes superfluous.

$30k for a 900 lb battery which yields 300 mile range for a Class 8 Semi would create an instant market for all-electric trucks.


The only guess I have, it is the battery company 24M.

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It is intriguing to guess just who this "a world-class battery engineering team" is. It probably is not an established battery company. Also, it would help if that same team had done extensive research into Hydrogen production and/or H2 Fuel Cell technology. We only know that this is a binder free, free-standing electrode automotive battery.
There is a team led by Dr. Yang Yang at the NanoScience Technology Center, University of Central Florida that fits this description. One of their recent papers is on NiS2/FeS Holey Film as Freestanding Electrode for High‐Performance Lithium Battery , this uses a freestanding NiSx porous film as a binder-free electrode. We will just need to follow Nikola Motors for more informtion.

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Update on the Nikola battery from Forbes : Trevor Milton tells Forbes those gains come from eliminating costly metals such as nickel, cobalt and magnesium, use of a “free-standing electrode” and a “whole different type of chemical, with a lithium component.” The article also says that the new cell was developed by a specific university lab Nikola was involved with from an early stage and “locked up all the IP," and Forbes quotes that some experts believe it is Lithium-Sulfur.
One place to look would be the University of Utah where Nikola Motors Chief Engineer attended and has developed a novel natural nanoclay halloysite filled Solid Polymer Lithium-Sulfur battery. Halloysite is a natural nanotube material that is a unique Utah resource.

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