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Two versions of SVOLT NMX cobalt-free cells now available for order

SVOLT Energy Technology Co., Ltd., a spin-off from China’s Great Wall Motors, announced its cobalt-free battery cells in 2019. (Earlier post.) The first cell variants can now be ordered.

Globally, SVOLT is initially offering two sizes of the innovative nickel-manganese battery cells (NMX). These do not require the heavy metal cobalt, which is otherwise used to thermally stabilize high-nickel battery cells (NCM). Serial production of the new products is scheduled to start in June 2021 at the factory in Jintan, China. By the end of 2023, the new batteries may also be produced at the planned factory in Saarland, Germany. (Earlier post.)

Among other variants, cobalt-free NMX battery cells with 115Ah and an energy density of 245 Wh/kg can now be ordered in MEB format (33.4 x 220 x 102.5 mm). Their voltage is 3.74V and their capacity is 430 Wh. This means that the 115Ah variant of the NMX battery from SVOLT achieves an effectively usable capacity of 396 Wh. This cell variant is expected to be available from the second quarter of 2021.

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A cobalt-free cell variant with 226Ah and an energy density of 240 Wh/kg can also be ordered and is expected to be available from the fourth quarter of 2021. The 226Ah version is SVOLT’s own cell format L6 (21.5 x 574 x 118 mm). L-cells are long battery cells in a thin prismatic design with electrodes and degassing valves positioned at the sides.

SVOLT_NMX_115Ah_001-2048x1152

SVOLT’s cobalt-free NMX cells are not only significantly more sustainable, they are also around 5% less expensive than classic high-nickel batteries. This is made possible due to the reduced nickel content to the complete elimination of the heavy metal cobalt. These factors make the battery cells particularly suitable for the broad middle-range market. At the same time, SVOLT’s products achieve an energy density that is just 5% below that of comparable NCM battery cells.

The new battery cells consist of 75% nickel and 25% manganese and are stabilized by using doping and coating processes developed by SVOLT. NMX cells achieve higher thermal stability and overall safety than NCM cells.

With this new technology, SVOLT has also succeeded in significantly improving the life cycle and the calendar life of NMX cells compared to conventional NCM battery cells. This means more than 2,500 charging cycles, among other benefits. The company developed a special cathode material, based on a single crystal with a wafer-thin surface coating (nano-coating), consisting of only a few hundred molecules to achieve a long-lived cobalt–free NMX battery cell.

Using this single crystal approach, SVOLT reduces one of the main causes of ageing in electric vehicle batteries: the formation of micro-cracks and fractures in the active cathode material and thus wear on the cell. At the same time, the coating, which is only a few nanometers thick, protects the surface of the used cathode material against secondary reactions with the electrolyte. In this way, SVOLT significantly slows down cell ageing in its NMX battery cells.

NMX has a layered structure like LCO/NCM/NCA cathode materials, and from a technology perspective, the core competencies of SVOLT’s cobalt-free cathode materials lie in five specific areas, notes Roskill:

  • Optimized element composition: an optimized elemental ratio of nickel to manganese is found (3:1)

  • Multi-doping: two to three elements are added to increase the electronic and ionic conductivity of cathode materials, enhance the structural stability and safety

  • Nano-sized surface coating: metal oxide coatings are fabricated on the cathode materials to suppress the side reactions between the cathode surface and the organic liquid electrolyte, improving the cathode’s structural and chemical stability during cycling

  • High-quality precursor materials: the particle size, morphology and strength of precursor materials are carefully controlled as the properties of cathode materials are largely dependent on those of precursor materials

  • Single-crystal technology: single-crystal cathode materials are used to improve the cycle life performance of Li-ion batteries

The two NMX cell sizes from SVOLT can now be ordered worldwide. Additional NMX cell variants are planned in the near future.

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