Most advanced battery cells available

Tesla battery cell

In this article we’ll see who is using the most advanced battery chemistries and what’s coming soon.

Currently, most important advancements are being made at the cathode level, by increasing the nickel while reducing the cobalt content it’s possible to get cheaper and higher density battery cells.

 

LG Chem

Interview with LG Chem CFO Chung Ho-Young (translated by Google):

 

Q) This is a question about medium and large batteries. I am wondering how the NCM811 next generation battery development is proceeding. 
A) Batteries using NCM 811 cathode materials are mass-produced for electric buses. Third-generation batteries are a major direction of development to increase energy density, reduce cost, and improve charging performance. For this purpose, the nickel content is basically increased, the specific gravity of cobalt is reduced from the viewpoint of cost, and the artificial graphite is applied for rapid charging.

Q) Is NCM 811 also applicable to cylindrical type and pouch type? 
A) The 811 is cylindrical and the pouch is 622 main. In the case of pouch type, we plan to go to 712 in the future. NCMA is the medium- and long-term goal. In NCMA, cobalt content is less than 10%, and it is planned to be mass-produced by 2020.

Q) When is NCM 712 mass production? 
A) Let me briefly talk about the development roadmap. In 622, 70% of nickel, 10% of cobalt and 20% of manganese go to 712. NCMA adds alumina to the NCM, bringing the nickel content close to 90%. 622 is in production, and 712 is actively developing for mass production in two to three years.

 

Summing up, currently LG Chem produces NCM 811 battery cells only in cylindrical format and for electric buses. Pouch cells used in most electric cars remain NCM 622 – until they get replaced by NCM 712 or NCMA chemistries. I was wrong when I previously assumed that LG Chem would produce the NCM 811 cells in pouch format – just like SK innovation.

 

SK innovation

This battery cell maker is set to start mass production of NCM 811 battery cells for electric cars in August. Previously, I thought that the Mercedes EQC electric SUV would be the first electric car to get them, but it seems that Kia Niro EV will have that honor.

The South Korean newspaper etnews reports that while the Hyundai Kona Electric will get NCM 622 battery cells from LG Chem, the Kia Niro EV will get NCM 811 battery cells from SK innovation. While the NCM 622 cells have higher power density, the NCM 811 battery cells have higher energy density and lower cost.

 

Tesla/Panasonic

Recently, Tesla wrote this:

“Cells used in Model 3 are the highest energy density cells used in any electric vehicle. We have achieved this by significantly reducing cobalt content per battery pack while increasing nickel content and still maintaining superior thermal stability. The cobalt content of our Nickel-Cobalt-Aluminum cathode chemistry is already lower than next-generation cathodes that will be made by other cell producers with a Nickel-Manganese-Cobalt ratio of 8:1:1. As a result, even with its battery, the gross weight of Model 3 is on par with its gasoline-powered counterparts.”

 

Considering that Tesla used Panasonic NCA battery cells in the Tesla Model S and X, the NCAM/NCMA chemistry was the next logical step in evolution. What’s impressive is that this is the battery chemistry that LG Chem only expects to start producing in 2020… With a cathode made with almost no cobalt (less than 10 %), I wouldn’t be surprised if the kWh cost for Tesla is already below 100 euros at the battery pack level.

 

Summing up, Tesla/Panasonic seems to be the most successful group in increasing energy density, while at the same time reducing costs. The formula currently followed by every cell maker is simple: increase the nickel and reduce the cobalt content of cathodes. The hard/risky part is doing it and still have a stable cathode in the longer run. Tesla’s close partnership with Panasonic allows the company to be more bold with the battery cells produced at the Gigafactory.

On the other hand, LG Chem is playing safe and is currently testing the NCM 811 battery cells only in small fleets (electric buses).

 

Anyway, it will be interesting to know more about the Kia Niro EV battery (SK innovation NCM 811) and how it compares to the Hyundai Kona EV (LG Chem NCM 622).

 

 

More info:

http://sejongdata.co.kr/archives/22357

http://www.ioniqforum.com/forum/234-hyundai-ioniq-electric-ev/28793-new-battery-layout-motor-components-hyundai-kia-electric-vehicles.html

http://www.etnews.com/20180309000211

http://www.etnews.com/20180502000200

http://www.etnews.com/20180503000261

Pedro Lima

I grew up on a tough neighborhood and am not a privileged guy, my true nature is violent, even if I try to hide it because I'm not proud of it. I try to overcome my violent nature by learning more about geeky things like batteries, but I'm far from being an expert and don't pretend to be one. I also graduated in Sociology, to learn more about others and pacify myself.

This Post Has 24 Comments

  1. I was almost positive that I read the Kona EV will have 811 batteries

    1. I though it would be, but the latest battery specs say otherwise. Too much weight to be a NCM 811 battery.

  2. Thanks for the article. I’m looking for a clarification on the differences between the 622 and 811 cells:

    For the same overall capacity, such as 64kwh, one made with 622 cells would be able to supply more power to the motor, but would be heavier, use more space, and cost more. A 64 kwh battery made with 811 cells would not be able to supply as much power to the motor, but would be lighter and smaller. Am I correct in thinking this way?

    Do you think there will be a difference in cycle life between the 622 and the 811? Will the 811 batteries need a better TMS?

    I thought Tesla originally went with NCA because of the higher power density, and compensated for cycle life by making the batteries bigger and using a TMS. Turns out their batteries are quite long lived anyway.

    1. “For the same overall capacity, such as 64kwh, one made with 622 cells would be able to supply more power to the motor, but would be heavier, use more space, and cost more. A 64 kwh battery made with 811 cells would not be able to supply as much power to the motor, but would be lighter and smaller. Am I correct in thinking this way?” – Yes.

      “Do you think there will be a difference in cycle life between the 622 and the 811? Will the 811 batteries need a better TMS?” – It’s still too early to tell the life cycle. Yes, with higher nickel content the cathodes lose thermal stability, hence the need of better TMS.

      “I thought Tesla originally went with NCA because of the higher power density, and compensated for cycle life by making the batteries bigger and using a TMS. Turns out their batteries are quite long lived anyway.” – NCA is known for great energy density, the power density isn’t that great. However, since Tesla cars have such big batteries, they can provide high power as well.

      1. Ah ok, thanks. I got the Tesla one mixed up.

  3. “Considering that Tesla used Panasonic NCA battery cells in the Tesla Model S and X, the NCAM/NCMA chemistry was the next logical step in evolution”
    I do not understand from Tesla statements that they are producing NCAM batteries. They are just steady decreasing cobalt content of NCA chemistry.
    Regarding LG Chem it looks looks like they are at 220wh/cell level – confirmed by both Kona (288 cells 64 kWh) and audi e tron (432 cells – 95 kWh). And those are 622 cells.
    It was reported that 622->811 transition increase energy density by 25%. How much do You think can transition to 712 offer? Or do you think that this recent increase on density(60 to 64 kWh/pack) results from slow increases in nickel content that are already done – that is we are already in like 65-15-20 NCM chemistry?

    1. To decrease the content of cobalt in NCA they had to replace it with something else. Nickel gives more density and manganese adds stability. I think that Tesla/Panasonic added both. But of course only they know for sure.

      The NCM 712 (less nickel, but more manganese) will definitely be less energy dense, but more stable than NCM 811, by how much I don’t know yet. LG Chem seems to be playing safe, which is understandable, they have so many customers that a bad battery would make them go bankrupt.

      Maybe they already started to add more nickel, but the slight energy density increase could also be achieved just by rearranging the battery pack and using lighter materials for the battery case and modules.

  4. Does anyone have any bet when we can expect to see the first solid state batteries? And what may we expect from them?

    1. A bet you say? 🙂 I would not bet much on this but my personal expectation is that around 2020 we will se some high-end niche application(military drones?), some two years more before first smartphone application and around 2025 they will be pretty widespread in consumer electronics. Cars closer to 2030 – after manufacturing costs are low enough. One should take into account that by then a lot will be achieved in liquid/gel li-ion, and solid state will have to be better and cheaper than those.

      1. Henrik Fisker from Fisker Inc claims that his company will release the Fisker Emotion by the end of 2020 with a solid state battery, but he seems to be the only one with that kind of claims.

  5. I’m curious if you have any more info about the Ioniq battery. The seem to be charging with 3C, and what chemistry did they use for that?

    1. I agree, that would be interesting to know. The Ioniq is pretty new, but are there any reports about the battery health after years of DC charging?

      1. Pedro, can you tell us any information about what type of battery the Hyundai Ioniq uses?

      2. I’ve never seen official battery specs of the Hyundai IONIQ Electric where the battery chemistry is stated, therefore I can only speculate on it by looking at its characteristics.

        I think it can be a NCM 622 cathode (with improved electrolyte for better thermal stability) or – more likely – a NCM 523 (less nickel and more manganese). The more I think about it, I think it’s the last option.

        “LG Chem has also developed the LiNi0.5Co0.2Mn0.3O2 (NCM 523) material, which has some adjustments to the compositions that make NCM.”

        http://www.sneresearch.com/_new/eng/sub/sub1/sub1_01_view.php?mode=show&id=947&sub_cat=2

    2. In fact Ioniq real world charging rate peaks at 2.3C. There are exist many videos which shows that the charging current never exceed 180 A and so 70 kW peak. (The Ioniq full capacity is rumored to be 30.5 kWh).

      Interesting is to look at new Kona batteries where the smaller 39.4 kWh battery have the same charging power 100 kW as the bigger 64 kWh one. That means that smaller batery has the same 2.3C charge rate as actual Ioniq battery, but the 64 kWh battery is then charging only at 1.5C. So the bigger battery probably use different type of cells, otherwise I do not see the marketing reason why it should not be capable to charge at 150 kW.

      1. Is 100 kW achievable rate confirmed? That would be pretty good if true!

    3. Magnus H: Kona seems to have significantly bigger battery box than Ioniq and so i think it should be reasonable approach to use exactly the same cells as they used in Ioniq for smaller 39.2 kWh battery. If Hyundai also states 39.2 kWh as usable capacity (I do not have any proof for that) then the real capacity should be 10% more (the same as in Ioniq) with 43 kWh. And with the current Ioniq charge rate of 2.3C it can be actually achievable 100kW peak charging power. So I think it is technologically possible.

  6. SolidEnergy sells small quantities of their 450 What/kg cells for drones and other projects. They are”kind of” solid state – lithium metal anode with a dial-layer electrolyte. One layer is solid, the other looks to be conventional solvent-in-salt.

  7. > I was wrong when I previously assumed that LG Chem would produce the NCM 811 cells in pouch format

    Kudos for stating an error so clearly. Error is unavoidable, and clear corrections are the best way to minimize the damage. The effect of this admission, at least on me, is to view you with increased credibility and integrity, not less.

    I’m very surprised about the KONA/Niro news. Both cars have the same rated capacities to offer and the same power levels IIRC. With a fairly small number (in the hundreds) of pouch cells, they’d have to modify the cell size, not just the number of cells, to land at exactly the same 39.2 and 64.6 (or whatever it was – but the same number to the first decimal place) kWh capacities..? And that surely would be a strange thing to do since they could otherwise share manufacturing process and equipment.

    It is of course odd to state capacity so precisely in the first place. It varies from pack to pack a bit, anyway. Maybe Hyundai wanted people to assume it was the same components? Maybe the rumor is false and they really get the same batteries?? I don’t know what to think of this.

    As for Tesla/Panasonic, I wonder why they chose such a different path and seemingly have a two-year advantage over LG. Presumably the battery know-how came from the Panasonic side, but the company is reportedly struggling due to the debt it has racked up by investing in its venture with Tesla. If they are doing much better than others on cost and producing a better product, shouldn’t they have an easy time raising capital to take advantage of their lead?

    1. Thanks Terawatt.

      Considering that Hyundai and Kia are stating usable battery capacities and not total, they can easily make them equal by adjusting the BMS.

      As for Tesla I think that it only has to solve some production quality problems – that are expected in a young carmaker – before becoming an established premium automaker.

    2. On the Tesla/Panasonic lead question I think that Tesla was willing to take some risks other automakers weren’t willing to take – namely to relay heavely on battery cooling, and use more volatile NCA chemistry. Tesla has – for EV maker – relatively high fires rate – less than ICE car makers – but higher than other EV makers. Tesla seems to be more confident about they tech, or simply has less to risk than – say – Nissan. Although the second argument may not be entirely true – should we learn about same serious mistake in Tesla design – spillover to other Musks bussineses migt be significant.

  8. Pedro, could you detail the steps Tesla’s taken over the years please?
    My understanding is:

    Roadster – NCA/C, 18650
    Model S 85 – new cell material ratio?
    Model S 90 – NCA/Si-C, 18650
    Model S 100 – pack refinements?
    Model 3 – NCA/Si-C, 2170

    So, silicon in the anode for the 90. Unknown ratio of NCA in all models. New cell size for the Model 3. Is there anything else we know? And as you very reasonably expect additional manganese (NMCA) to be the next logical step, any idea when that could happen, or if it already has on the 3?

    1. I think that you sum it up well, most advancements were made by adding silicon to the graphite anode mixture and battery pack adjustments.

      The only thing we know for sure is that Tesla/Panasonic increased the amount of nickel in the Model 3’s cells. However, since NCA is already a very unstable chemistry (hence the need of complex TMS), I don’t see how they managed to do it without adding manganese to stabilize the cathode, unless they did ALD coating.

      https://www.targray.com/li-ion-battery/ald-coating

      https://www.nature.com/articles/srep26532

      https://www.h2fc-fair.com/hm16/images/forum/pdf/04thursday/1120.pdf

  9. How about prismatic cells? They should solve security problems, too.

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