Lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries have already made China’s CATL the largest supplier of traction batteries for electric vehicles, but not all competitors consider this type of power supply the only alternative to batteries based on nickel and cobalt. Samsung SDI and LG Energy Solution, for example, are preparing to develop cobalt-free lithium batteries.
Tesla’s recent announcement of its intent to switch all basic electric vehicle models to cheaper iron phosphate batteries has somewhat puzzled experts, since such batteries are produced primarily in China and will have to be imported into the United States. Among Korean battery manufacturers, only SK On has announced its readiness to launch iron phosphate batteries. The company is going to independently develop their optimal composition.
As noted Business Korea, Samsung SDI and LG Energy Solution are going to reduce the cost of lithium batteries by eliminating the use of cobalt in their production. According to representatives of LG Energy Solution, iron phosphate batteries, although inexpensive, are inferior to nickel batteries in energy storage density, weight and range when used in electric vehicles. The Korean company is now developing batteries with a new chemical composition that does not imply the use of cobalt and a number of other expensive materials.
Samsung SDI is showing solidarity with LG in this regard by ditching LFP batteries in favor of a cobalt-free alternative. The mining of the latter mineral in the Congo, for example, raises questions from human rights defenders in terms of production ethics, and therefore responsible companies try to either not deal with local suppliers or to reduce the cobalt content of their products.