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Friday, Sep 22, 2023
Mugglehead Magazine
Alternative investment news based in Vancouver, B.C.


UC Irvine develops cobalt-free lithium-ion batteries utilizing low quantities of nickel

The grim reality of cobalt mining in the Congo has been receiving significant attention in recent days

UC Irvine develops cobalt-free lithium-ion batteries utilizing low quantities of nickel
UC Irvine professor of physics and astronomy Huolin Xin, study lead. Photo via UC Irvine

A team of scientists at the University of California Irvine has created a new efficient lithium-ion battery that has been attracting attention from electric vehicle companies.

The newly developed battery announced on Thursday requires no cobalt and substitutes the metal for a low quantity of nickel. The team of researchers had previously been able to replace cobalt with nickel in batteries but had not been able to do so with a small amount of it until now, marking a breakthrough in their research.

The team spent the past three years devising a process called “complex concentrated doping” to accomplish this feat and believe their discovery could significantly reduce or even eliminate the need for cobalt. The metal is used for electric vehicle batteries and has been receiving attention in the media due to questionable working conditions and child labour involved with mining the element in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The team’s findings were published in the journal Nature Energy on Monday and Xin says electric vehicle companies have already been showing an interest in the findings and want to validate the technique through safety tests.

“Nickel doesn’t have child labour issues,” said Huolin Xin, a professor of physics and astronomy at UC Irvine who led the team of scientists that made the discovery, adding that it could potentially usher in a new era of less controversial lithium-ion batteries and that the “doping” process also enhanced the nickel’s efficiency.

Read more: UC San Diego researchers grow high-performance lithium crystals

Read more: University of Sydney creates battery superior to lithium-ion

In an episode of The Joe Rogan Experience podcast at the end of last year, a renowned human rights researcher described the current situation with cobalt mining in the Central African country.

“Throughout the whole history of slavery, going back centuries, never in human history has there been more suffering that generated more profit linked to the lives of more people around the world than what’s happening in the Congo right now,” said Siddharth Kara, an author, activist and lecturer at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

Kara published a book last year entitled Cobalt Red: How the Blood of the Congo Powers our Lives.

The news also follows the United States Department of Defense announcing a US$15 million deal with the U.S. subsidiary of Australia’s Jervois Global Ltd (ASX: JRV) on Thursday to help secure a greater domestic supply of cobalt through new drill programs for the element in Idaho.

Nickel is currently worth $13.73 per pound and cobalt is valued at $17.30. The value of cobalt has dropped significantly since the beginning of the year when it was worth approximately $31.50.


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