Toshiba, a Japanese electronics company, has created an innovative cobalt-free battery that could potentially result in more affordable and sustainable electric vehicles (EVs). The battery is pictured above.

World leaders have embraced EVs as an essential tool in the fight against climate change. 16 nations will require all new cars to be electric by 2035 or earlier.

However, the commonly used lithium-ion batteries in EVs face certain challenges. One significant issue is that their cathodes contain cobalt, a rare and expensive metal that is often obtained through environmentally damaging practices.

Some EV manufacturers, including Tesla, employ batteries with cathodes made of a different material. These batteries are known as “lithium iron phosphate” (LFP) batteries. However, LFP batteries offer lower energy densities, resulting in slower charge times and reduced driving range.

To address these concerns, Toshiba has developed a new EV battery with no cobalt. The Toshiba battery’s cathode is made of nickel manganese oxide (LNMO).

During testing, a prototype of the LNMO battery achieved an 80% charge in just 5 minutes. An LFP battery cell required 20 minutes to reach the same level, according to Freethink.

LNMO batteries have typically had shorter lifespans than conventional batteries. This is because the cathode surface oxidizes the battery electrolyte. This oxidation reaction causes the electrolyte to break down and turn into a gas.

Toshiba modified the cathode surface in an attempt to stop the oxidation reaction. The test results indicate that Toshiba achieved its goal.

After 6,000 charge/discharge cycles, the LNMO battery retained 80% or more of its initial capacity. By comparison, the LFP cell was depleted after only 3,000 cycles.

Toshiba aims to commercialize the LNMO battery starting in 2028. It will initially use the battery in smaller products like power tools. The company will then develop larger batteries for EVs.

Image Source: Toshiba