CATL achieves 304 Wh/kg in new battery cells

CATL: pouch vs prismatic battery cells

Last year I wrote an article about CATL’s goal of introducing NCM 811 battery cells in 2019, but unfortunately the company wasn’t ready to make that information public and I had to make that article private just a few hours after releasing it.

However, it’s now public, CATL has just announced that it has created a battery cell sample with an energy density of 304 Wh/kg, which represents a major improvement from NCM 523 battery cells that have been used by CATL since 2017.

 

CATL’s NCM 523 battery cells (available since 2017):

  • Prismatic format: 235 Wh/kg and 570 Wh/L
  • Pouch format: 250 Wh/kg and 530 Wh/L

 

CATL’s NCM 811 battery cells with impressive energy density:

  • Prismatic format: 270 Wh/kg and 660 Wh/L
  • Pouch format: 300 Wh/kg and 700 Wh/L

 

NCM811 vs NCM523 cycle life

 

For example the electric car BMW i3 uses 120 Ah prismatic battery cells from Samsung SDI with an estimated energy density of 449 Wh/L, which means that the BMW i3 could have a 62,3 kWh battery pack from CATL with the same size.

However, it’s the pouch format that’s more popular and used by electric cars such as the Renault ZOE or the Nissan LEAF. For example the LG Chem pouch battery cells used in the Renault ZOE have an energy density of 505 Wh/L, which means that it could get a 59,3 kWh battery pack from CATL with the same size. Furthermore, the Nissan LEAF could get a 56,6 kWh battery pack from CATL with the same size.

 

Below we can see what’s next on the roadmap.

CATL Energy Density Development Roadmap

 

As we can see, there will be two generations of NCM 811 battery cells.

While the first generation NCM 811 battery cells will have common anodes made with graphite, the second generation will get anodes made with graphite mixed with a bit of silicon to increase energy density. The battery cell sample with an energy density of 304 Wh/kg belongs to the second generation – and is probably still a year away from mass production.

However, the first generation is ready and there are already at least two electric cars confirmed to get it in the coming months. They are the upcoming Chinese electric cars NIO ES6 and the GAC Aion S.

 

GAC Aion S powered by CATL NCM 811 battery cells

 

Anyway, considering that the PEUGEOT e-208, DS 3 CROSSBACK E-Tense, Opel e-Corsa and the Volkswagen ID 3 (Neo) will have battery packs made with CATL cells, they might be the first European electric cars to get NCM 811 battery cells.

In the case of the PSA electric cars we already know that the 50 kWh battery packs will be liquid cooled and be able to fast charge from 0 to 80 percent in 30 minutes – at 100 kW DC fast chargers.

The other contestant is the Mercedes-Benz EQC, which is expected to get NCM 811 battery cells from SK innovation later this year.

 

 

More info:

http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/201903/20/WS5c921ba0a3104842260b1a79.html

This Post Has 29 Comments

  1. You don’t produce a lot of articles but when you do write, we know we’re in for a treat. Meanwhile, famous sites like Insideves are probably writing about kittens locked in a Tesla or something. What a world.

    1. Haha awesome comment! Agreed!

    2. Lol, great comment Ricardo.

    3. Well done. Indeed, Insideevs and a few notable others have turned very tabloid-y and hype stuff with no substance

    4. Totally agree with that comment. PushEv provides probably the highest quality content among EV/Battery websites.

  2. Tesla is already at 330 wh/kg in its model 3 packs on cell level. But I guess on pack level these batteries could be in par with model 3.

    1. The ~330 Wh/kg for the Model 3 2170s was based on a speculative capacity of 6 Ah.

      The production cells are closer to 4.8 Ah, and the density is 247 Wh/kg.
      https://cleantechnica.com/2019/01/28/tesla-model-3-battery-pack-cell-teardown-highlights-performance-improvements/

      Tesla’s cell density is good, but not especially higher than other manufacturers. Tesla’s battery pack density is one of the best, especially considering the excellent thermal cooling system and high level of integration.

      The real area where Tesla leads is being able to produce a HUGE number of cells and packs at an affordable cost. Kona / e-Niro / Soul / Taycan will all be very limited by battery supply, and greedy dealers will probably apply significant “market adjustments” to the vehicles.

      1. I checked the Chinese article Pedro linked to, and it says that the 304 wh/kg is for a sample cell, but CATL can now mass produce cells with a density of 240 wh/kg. This is a little ambiguous, so I’m looking foward to Pedro finishing this article, as it sounds like he has info that’s not in the linked article.

        I’m not sure, but maybe the numbers they’re referring to mean just the pouch for the 304, and for the full prismatic cell for the 240?

    2. Tesla batteries have an energy density of 100000000Wh/kg. They keep it under 300, just not to shame the others. 😛

  3. Very nice news Pedro. I like a lot the stimated zoe battery pack. 59kwh usable. I think the zoe 1.5. The one build in 2019 soon will have similar kwh 59-61 kwh real. So Does it mean LG has similar cells? Or zoe 1.5 will only have 55kwh real perhaps?

    1. I think that the Renault ZOE Néo will adopt the same strategy of the Nissan LEAF e-Plus and move from 192 to 288 battery cells (96s3p). The cathode remains NCM 622, but the anode gets a bit more silicon added to the graphite mixture to increase energy density. Last year LG Chem said that NCM 712 was still 2-3 years away.

  4. Density is getting to the point where it needs to be.
    Increasing density doesn’t necessarily mean you should stuff 60KWh of batteries in to a car which previously had 40KWh.
    The Zoe has a battery pack running the length of the underside of the cabin which means the car is taller than it otherwise would need to be. With these developments we are getting within touching distance of compact cars having a battery pack which fits under the rear seat base and luggage area resulting in less tall cars with lighter battery packs and simpler construction. A lighter, less tall EV would need less KWh of battery and would enter the mainstream killing off ICE compact cars.
    The new Renault Clio is about 12cm lower than a Zoe with much better aerodynamics because the Zoe has to fit batteries under the body. The Zoe range which is already at 300km is compromised because it is heavy and it has the aerodynamics of a brick thanks to the batteries underneath. Address those two issues and you get another 50km of range out of thin air (sic) which is as free as the air we breath(double sic)

    1. Cars are likely to keep increasing capacity for a while yet. Just like in solar panels, there are innovations in manufacturing that reduce the cost but not the size. This makes it tempting to design cars for larger batteries.

      The Chevrolet Bolt is a standout though with a large battery in a small car. It may have reached the peak battery size to car size ratio. Will the customers really pay for 80 or 90 kWh in a small car? Perhaps, but they would probably put their money in a bigger car instead.

      1. some of us need cars with a smaller footprint as we live in older European cities.

  5. Hello Pedro,
    I have a question to diagrams: NCM811 vs NCM523 cycle life
    What is really the difference at load cycles, is the NCM811 really better for longer life times?
    Special I will use a battery car with not much km (10.000) per year, but I will it use many years,
    so calendary aging is for my case very important.
    Ok, I see on the left side 1C at NCM811 vs 0.5C at NCM532, this has influence of load time and fast charging,
    but both reach 80% after 1800 times.
    And on the right side with 45deg. I see no really difference, both reach 80% after nearly 1200 vs.1300 times
    May can you explain a little bit, thanks so much

    1. Hi Martin.

      Let’s compare the comparable and focus on the graphs on the right.
      For the same capacity degradation the NCM 523 delivers 12 % more cycles when compared to the NCM 811 (1.400 vs 1.250 cycles), however NCM 811 has 32 % better energy density (700 vs 530 Wh/L). Therefore, you’ll get more range even on the longer run with a NCM 811 battery pack than you would with a same sized NCM 523 battery.

      Having this said, if you really want to avoid future problems with the battery, Hyundai offers “Lifetime Electric Battery Warranty”.

      https://insideevs.com/electric-cars-ev-best-warranties/

      1. Hi Pedro, so what you’re saying is, as long as the car with 811 batteries has the same volume as the 532 version, this will last longer? So instead of a 28kwh 532, if it has a 37 kWh 811 battery then you’ll get more Km out of it over time.

        Also, if someone is considering keeping an EV for a long time, they should allow for degradation to make sure the vehicle still fits their use case over time. Then again though, almost all of the EVs coming out now will work with normal daily driving even with some degradation, and the charging networks will get expanded a lot over the next 5 years so that trips will still be doable too.

      2. Yeah, plus the latter will still have more capacity after losing 20% than the former had when new! So we need not worry too much about the cycle loss as long as the new chemistry is used to increase capacity.

        It would however be an issue making a 30 kWh pack out of this NCM811 chemistry.

      3. Ok, thanks Pedro and Terawatt.

  6. Hello Pedro,
    Hello Marcel,
    thanks for your comments and answers. ok, I understand now that I get more cycles from a NCM 811 because of more capacity/energy density. And thanks also for the link to the warranties. I see here also the Kia Niro EV (e-niro),
    that have also long warranties (10 years) and this car fits for us as a family.
    And do you know if the e-Niro has the NCM811 ?
    I wrote in the articel that the ID3 (Neo) will have battery packs made with CATL cells, they might be the first European electric cars to get NCM 811 battery cells. But you are not sure, only a assumption, right?
    And I know that liquid-cooled is a must to protect the battery for calendary aging, that is for me very important.

    1. Hi Martin, the Kia e-Niro still uses NCM 622. The first electric car to get the NCM 811 battery cells from SK Innovation is probably the Mercedes-Benz EQC.

      Yes, I assume the cells in the Volkswagen ID 3 will be NCM 811 since some electric cars in China will get them this year, but I’m not 100 % sure.

      Furthermore look at these road-maps below.

      https://pushevs.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/advances-in-battery-technology-will-improve-range-weight-and-costs-by-volkswagen.png.webp

      https://pushevs.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/battery-costs-roadmap-by-volkswagen.png.webp

      Battery pack cost below 100 € per kWh and battery cell energy density at 700 Wh/L can only be achieved with NCM 811 battery cells.

    2. Hi Martin, the e-Niro is high on my list as well, it looks like a great EV. I’ll be replacing my 2017 Leaf, but I’m moving to SE Asia for 3 years, so I’m guessing when I get back to Canada in 2022 I’ll also be looking at the Model Y, the VW ID Crozz, and whatever Leaf version is available then. Oh and maybe the Volvo XC40 if it’s price competitive with the others.

  7. Your Comment Here…

    Excellent article as always. Thanks Pedro.

  8. Thanks Pedro. Excellent in depth article as always.

  9. Great article, thanks! I’d like to ask you (or anybody, for that matter) to comment on something I have been thinking aobut:
    How do you think availability of raw materials affects which batteries are going to be used? Here’s what I mean: According to McKinsey (https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/metals-and-mining/our-insights/lithium-and-cobalt-a-tale-of-two-commodities), Lithiumhydroxide is needed for NMC 811 batteries, and is more easily obtained from “rocks” (Spondumene). Lithium production from brine on the other hand results in Lithiumcarbonate.

    Now, as Germany appears to source Li from Bolivia (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-germany-bolivia-lithium/germany-secures-access-to-vast-lithium-deposit-in-bolivia-idUSKBN1OB206), where Lithium is only available as brine, can I conclude that it would be unreasonable (or too expensive or too energy intensive) to produce NMC 811 batteries in Germany (CATL?)? This would lead me to think, VW would not be using NMC 811 at all!
    Or do I overestimate the cost (money, energy, environment) of converting Li-carbonate to Li-hydroxide?

    1. Hi Landphil, I wouldn’t be too worried about that Germany/Bolivia deal. It’s many years out even if it ever gets developed. It’s also not impossible to produce lithium hydroxide from brine, it’s just another processing step. Also, note that there are at least two hard rock projects in Europe and several more in West Africa which could easily find their way to Europe if anyone built a hydroxide plant. But of course, for that to be viable you’d have to have the intermediate plants in place as well and those aren’t really there either at the moment. It’s much more likely for an NMC811 battery producer in Germany to buy intermediates from China or whatever country would be producing it at that time…

      1. Thanks, Matt!

Leave a Reply