SK Innovation will begin to mass produce an EV battery capable of running 450 km per charge for the first time in the world. The mileage of the upcoming battery is more than 100 km better than the EV batteries that have been developed so far. The reason is that SK Innovation has succeeded in enhancing the portion of nickel in a battery to a maximum of 80 percent.
The feat makes it possible to drive an EV the 428 kms between Seoul and Busan on a single charge, bringing EVs one step closer to being a practical option for motorists.
Lee John-ha, head of the Cell Development Office of SK Innovation Battery Research Institute, said in an interview on Aug. 30 that SK Innovation became the first company to mass produce a mid- and large-sized battery by mixing up nickel, cobalt and manganese at a ratio of 8:1:1.
The company plans to mass produce energy storage systems (ESS) in December and employ the technology to produce EV batteries later next year.
The much-discussed topic of EV batteries usually focuses on how far motorists can drive on one charge, and how they could secure price-unit competitiveness. To this end, their goal is increasing the nickel content in cathode and lowering the cobalt concentration percentage.
The more nickel content, the higher the energy concentration. A drop in the concentration of cobalt, a precious chemical element whose prices have surged due to a drop in global production, is conducive to lowering unit prices for EV batteries.
Spot prices of cobalt traded on the London Metal Exchange skyrocketed from $25,750 per ton last August 135 percent to $60,500 on Aug. 25, according to Bloomberg.
Global automakers are lowering battery delivery prices to expand the spread of EVs since they account for about 40 percent of the EV price tag. Korean battery makers the likes of LG Chem, Samsung SDI, and SK Innovation have been scrambling to ramp up R&D activities to develop batteries capable of lowering the portion of cobalt and enhancing power performances.
LG Chem and Samsung SDI have so far produced the MCM811 battery, a small-size cylinder-type one, using nickel, cobalt and manganese. The battery is in use for such devices as notebook PCs and electric bicycles.
The secret of SK Innovation’s success in mass producing the mid- and large-size NCM811 ahead of its front-runners LG Chem and Samsung SDI is the former’s securing the world’s top separation membrane technology. SK Innovation ranks 2nd in the world in terms of ceramic coating separation membrane technology, following only Asahi Kasei Corp.
Automakers initially doubted the development of the NCM88 battery for EVs, and they were thrilled to have the technology tested and certified, Lee said.
EVs outfitted with the latest NCM811 battery are capable of going 100 km further than counterparts that are fitted with the conventional NCM622 battery per charge.