EV Battery Startup ONE To Start Producing “Alternatives” to Nickel-Cobalt EV Batteries in Late 2022
Better batteries for electric cars (EVs) may soon be installed in future vehicles.
Michigan-based energy storage solutions company Our Next Energy, Inc. (ONE) recently announced it had closed a US$25 million fundraising round to develop and manufacture an advanced battery for EVs.
The investors include Assembly Ventures, BMW iVentures, Singapore-based Flex Ltd., ONE's strategic partner, Volta Energy Technologies and Bill Gates's Breakthrough Energy Ventures, which led the fundraising round.
The company demonstrated its two flagship technologies to the investors that could either help EVs go farther than they usually could or be less at risk from causing a thermal runaway situation.
The Aries battery pack uses a Structural Cell-to-Pack architecture to avoid thermal runaway and increase an EV's range while reducing its cost. This reduction is due to the battery pack not relying on the nickel-cobalt supply chain.
The architecture uses Lithium-Iron-Phosphate (LFP), a more stable but less powerful mix than the nickel-based batteries EV manufacturers use today.
Mujeeb Ijaz, ONE's founder and CEO, said that ONE is offering an "alternative" in its batteries because EV manufacturers consider the nickel-cobalt mix the only way to provide end customers range on their EV.
The Aries battery pack is set to go into production at the end of 2022.
On the other hand, the Gemini battery pack uses ONE's proprietary energy management system and chemistry in a dual battery range extender architecture. This architecture allows the battery to significantly improve an EV's range and cost to a point beyond what the Aries battery pack can do. ONE calculates that the Gemini battery pack will allow EVs to travel more than 750 miles (1207 kilometres) on a single charge.
Breakthrough Energy Ventures's transportation team lead, Libby Wayman, thought that ONE was "ahead of the curve". She said that the company's development of their batteries are "the beginning of a trend where people will look to alternative chemistries to achieve energy density, safety, supply-chain optionality and supply-chain redundancy".
Jim Greenberger, executive director of NAATBatt, a non-profit trade association for advanced technology in North America, said to Bloomberg that automakers are looking at using the cell-to-pack approach to get more power out of LFP batteries as the price of nickel climbs. He also added that if the nickel crisis never comes, automakers wouldn't consider the LFP chemistry as it is not as powerful as the nickel-cobalt mix.
"But if nickel prices do prove volatile, or automakers don't want to take the risk of nickel proving volatile, you may see more people using LFP technologies," Greenberger said.
The price of nickel, cobalt, lithium and other minerals crucial to the production of EV batteries saw an "explosive" increase in 2021. This increase is due to the surge in demand as most of the world's countries turn to EVs as their primary mode of transportation, a lack of new mining projects and supply constraints fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Stuart Burns, founder and editor-at-large of Metal Miner, a metal procurement platform, said that the price increase could slow the transition from international combustion engine vehicles to EVs in the short to medium term.
"In the short term, the elevated metal prices are going to really hamper battery manufacturers' ability to continue to get cost reductions to their end-users and to their original equipment manufacturers," Burns said.
Written by John Paul Joaquin