Non-Cobalt Batteries for Electric Car in The Future

MIT researchers have developed an innovative lithium-ion battery material that could redefine how electric cars are powered, introducing a sustainable alternative to cobalt. This groundbreaking discovery is not just a technological advance but a significant Chemical News in the world of materials science and electric vehicles.

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Alternatives to cobalt

The traditional cobalt-based batteries, commonly found in electric vehicles, pose financial, environmental, and social challenges. In response, MIT’s latest research introduces a lithium-ion battery with an organic-based cathode, steering away from the conventional use of cobalt or nickel.

Published in the journal ACS Central Science, the study reveals compelling findings. The organic cathode, a composition of layers of TAQ (bis-tetraaminobenzoquinone), demonstrates comparable conductivity and storage capacity to cobalt batteries. Moreover, it outperforms in terms of charging speed, presenting a promising alternative for the future of electric cars.

“I think this material could have a big impact because it works really well,” notes Mircea Dincă, the W.M. Keck Professor of Energy at MIT. “It is already competitive with incumbent technologies, and it can save a lot of the cost and pain and environmental issues related to mining the metals that currently go into batteries.”

The organic material, characterized by layers of TAQ, showcases remarkable stability and insolubility. Unlike some organic battery materials that degrade due to dissolution in the battery electrolyte, this material surpasses 2,000 charge cycles with minimal degradation, offering a sustainable and durable solution.

To enhance stability and adhesion to the battery’s current collector, researchers introduced filler materials like cellulose and rubber. These fillers, making up less than one-tenth of the overall cathode composite, play a crucial role in preventing cathode cracking during the charging process, thus extending the battery’s lifespan.

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Cost Efficient Product

The research not only presents an eco-friendly alternative to cobalt-containing batteries but also introduces cost efficiency. With the primary materials commercially available and estimated assembly costs one-third to one-half less than traditional cobalt batteries, this discovery holds promise for a more sustainable and economical future.

As the patent on this groundbreaking technology is licensed by Lamborghini, MIT’s ongoing commitment to alternative battery materials continues. The researchers are exploring possibilities beyond lithium, considering sodium or magnesium as potential replacements, which are both more affordable and abundant.

In summary, MIT’s latest development is not just a leap forward in electric vehicle technology but a significant Chemical News breakthrough, shaping the landscape of sustainable energy solutions.

Source : Tianyang Chen et al, A Layered Organic Cathode for High-Energy, Fast-Charging, and Long-Lasting Li-Ion Batteries, ACS Central Science (2024). DOI: 10.1021/acscentsci.3c01478