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Do lithium batteries need cobalt?

Jun. 01, 2022

Do lithium batteries need cobalt?

Lithium batteries are composed of manganese, nickel and several other metals. However, cobalt is one of the key components used in lithium batteries. It is used to provide fast charging, long-lasting battery life. It is also used as the cathode material in most lithium batteries. This cathode provides a high level of lithium insertion that contributes to a large amount of energy storage. These are used in cameras, laptops and cell phones.

What is the chemistry of cobalt?

George Brandt discovered cobalt in 1737 to provide high speed rechargeable batteries. It is vital to understand the reason behind it. The basic answer is its chemical properties. Cobalt is a lustrous, hard, silvery-white, hard ferromagnetic brittle element. It has physical properties similar to those of nickel and iron. Cobalt is a member of group 9 of the periodic table with an atomic mass of 27. It can form many compounds because it remains chemically active. It is also unaffected by water and becomes stable when in contact with air. One of the fundamental characteristics of cobalt is that it can also be magnetized. Cobalt is also used in electroplating because of its hardness and corrosion-resistant properties.

What are the advantages and limitations of cobalt-free lithium batteries?

The significant difference between lithium and cobalt-free lithium batteries is the energy density they provide. Some examples of cobalt-free lithium batteries are lithium iron phosphate (LFP), lithium titanate (LTO), lithium manganate (LMO), etc. Cobalt-free batteries offer low energy density. Cobalt-free lithium batteries have limited use, for example in electric vehicles. The huge demand for cobalt leads to its scarcity. The price of cobalt is increasing due to its high demand and low supply.

The following are some of the advantages of cobalt-free lithium batteries.

Reduced scarcity of cobalt

There is a worrying shortage of cobalt due to the automotive industry's excessive use of cobalt as its utility. If cobalt-free lithium batteries enter the market, then we can also transfer their services to various other fields. Such as the healthcare and medical industries. About 50% of the cobalt produced worldwide is used in battery manufacturing. Technology has been our savior. While considering the threatening supply of cobalt, technology can save us. For example, Tesla and Panasonic are developing batteries that contain no or less cobalt.


Cobalt prices down

With the strong demand for cobalt batteries, the cost of cobalt is alarming. If cobalt-free batteries enter the market, then the price of cobalt is manageable.

Improved mining conditions

If the excessive use of cobalt is stopped, the mining conditions for cobalt will improve dramatically.

Low cost of cobalt-free batteries

Cobalt-containing batteries are expensive because they are also in high demand. Cobalt-free batteries, on the other hand, have a low price structure

Some of the disadvantages of cobalt-free batteries are listed below.

Low energy density

Since cobalt helps to improve the performance of the battery, cobalt-free batteries will provide low energy in any device. This can cause the device to run out at a very young age. If the battery frequently produces low energy, the efficiency of the device will be reduced.

Low charging speed

Cobalt helps the battery to charge faster. Using a cobalt-free battery will recharge the device from time to time.

Not easily available

There is a shortage of cobalt-free batteries on the market. Due to scarcity, battery manufacturers cannot produce cobalt-free batteries.

Chance of explosion

Along with cobalt, several other metals are mixed in the battery, such as iron, nickel and manganese. If all these metals are heated together, there is a risk of explosion.

In conclusion, it is necessary to explore the advantages and disadvantages of both before deciding to use cobalt or cobalt-free batteries. The points and information listed above show the chemistry of cobalt and the need for cobalt in lithium-based batteries. They also reflect the use of cobalt and the harm it causes to the environment. Cobalt batteries are expensive. In contrast, cobalt-free batteries tend to be inexpensive, which is a major advantage of using these batteries. With the widespread use of cobalt in batteries, the one-day supply of cobalt is likely to decrease. Several attempts are underway worldwide to provide alternatives to cobalt-free batteries.