Panasonic Developing Cobalt-Free Battery for Tesla

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Panasonic is planning to make cobalt-free batteries for Tesla’s electric vehicles within the next two or three years. Photo: Nikkei Asia

Cobalt is a hot commodity in the world of electric vehicle (EV) batteries, but problems arise when we look at the mineral’s mining practices, hence the need for the recently-formed Fair Cobalt Alliance.

As cobalt mining sites continue to run the risk of a number of human rights violations, companies like Tesla and Panasonic are looking to take a different approach than just sustainably mining the mineral – rule out cobalt in EV batteries altogether.

On Wednesday, during an online session at CES, Shawn Watanabe, Panasonic Japan’s head of energy technology and manufacturing said the company would be able to build a “cobalt-free, high energy-density cell” for use in EVs just “two or three years from now,” as reported by Nikkei Asia.

Cobalt has traditionally been used in the cathode of lithium-ion EV batteries, which used to be entirely made of cobalt. Now, Panasonic has managed to reduce the cobalt content to just five percent, and the company’s not done yet.

Since Panasonic’s first contract with Tesla in 2014, the company has signed numerous battery deals with the automaker. Currently, Panasonic has a standing pricing contract for at least the next three years – and if Panasonic can remove cobalt completely from the process, Tesla may elect to keep them around a lot longer.

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