Recipe for Today's Battery Materials: Long Range and Life, Affordability

In order to thrive in today's economy there are many things an electric vehicle must have. A long battery range, affordability, and extended life cycle are among them.

BASF has extensive experience working with high nickel cathode materials, which have higher energy storage and longer life cycle capabilities. Along with cost improvements in battery pack construction and battery management systems, the use of nickel cathode materials also provides an opportunity for automakers to reduce costs. Major auto OEMs are now able to take advantage of emerging technology to create more capable batteries to meet the growing needs of the EV market.

"We have not only the expertise, but the passion and the drive to bring these technologies to life."

To support this trend, BASF recently announced a joint venture with TODA KOGYO CORP. to develop cathode active materials for lithium-ion batteries in Japan. The joint venture is focused on research, development and production of Nickel Cobalt Aluminum Oxide (NCA), Lithium Manganese Oxide (LMO) and Nickel Cobalt Manganese (NCM).

"On the cathode side, we're creating the materials and working with customers in our application technology centers, along with some anode materials that are being commercialized right now, to help us improve cycle life and performance," said Ralph Wise, director of special projects and systems development at BASF. "After a few acquisitions, we're in a very good position to be able to offer a wide variety of chemistries to cover the entire spectrum of battery materials."

There are two things going on in the industry right now - the battery technology is getting so good that OEMs are trying to increase the driving range of full battery EVs and the battery costs have significantly decreased in the last couple of years.

Therefore, mass marketing a full battery EV in a price between $30,000 - $40,000 makes sense and thus, creates a whole new product approach for OEMs. Recipe for Today's Battery Materials: Long Range and Life, Affordability

While some OEMs are pursuing the full battery EV, others are opting for start-stop systems that help reduce fuel use and emissions.

Start-stop systems automatically shut off the engine when the car is idle and restart when the driver's foot leaves the brake. When the engine is off, the vehicle's electrical systems use energy from an advanced lead-acid battery rather than the engine. Start-stop systems can significantly improve if the lead acid battery is replaced with lithium ion, due to a high dynamic charge acceptance requirement.  Lithium ion can be used in either 12 or 48 V start-stop systems, meaning more design options for the OEM. Some of the high nickel materials used in lithium ion have good power density and fast kinetics. Battery electric vehicles need high energy whereas start-stop systems need high power.

"We offer all of these solutions because we recognize there are different requirements. OEMs all want to pursue different strategies and that's our job to help automakers and their suppliers achieve them," Wise said.

"Although there is a lot of excitement and enthusiasm, we know there is still a ways to go," Wise said. "We have not only the expertise, but the passion and the drive to bring these technologies to life."