Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scenario 2050: Lithium and cobalt might not suffice

15.03.2018

With the increased significance of lithium-ion batteries, the pressure on the availabiltity of relevant ressources rises -- publication in Nature Reviews Materials

Lithium and cobalt are fundamental components of present lithium-ion batteries. Analysis by researchers at the Helmholtz Institute Ulm (HIU) of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) shows that the availability of both elements could become seriously critical. Cobalt-free battery technologies, including post-lithium technologies based on non-critical elements such as sodium, but also magnesium, zinc, calcium and aluminium, represent possibilities to avoid this criticality in the long term. These results are presented in Nature Reviews Materials.


These are regions with highly concentrated reserves: the 'lithium triangle' in South America and, for cobalt, the Copperbelt in Central Africa.

Illustration: Nature Reviews Materials ©Macmillan Publishers Limited

Besides lithium as charge carrier, cobalt is a fundamental component of the cathode in present lithium-ion batteries (LIBs), determining the high energy and power density as well as the long lifetime. However, as outlined in the article by Dr. Christoph Vaalma et al., this element is suffering from scarcity and toxicity issues. "In general, the rapidly growing market penetration of LIBs for electromobility applications, such as fully electric cars, will lead to an increasing demand for raw materials, especially with respect to lithium and cobalt", says Professor Stefano Passerini, who supervised the study together with Dr. Daniel Buchholz at the Helmholtz Institute Ulm.

Their scenario-based analysis until 2050 for various applications of batteries shows that the shortage and price increase of cobalt are likely to occur, since the cobalt demand by batteries might be twice as high as the today's identified reserves. In contrast, today's identified lithium reserves are expected to be much less strained, but the production will have to be strongly upscaled (possibly more than ten times, depending on the scenario) to match the future demand. However, both elements additionally suffer from strong geographical concentration, moreover in countries which are reported to be less politically stable. According to the researchers, this gives rise to strong concerns about a possible shortage and associated price increase of LIBs in the near future. "It is therefore indispensable to expand the research activities towards alternative battery technologies in order to decrease these risks and reduce the pressure on cobalt and lithium reserves", says Daniel Buchholz. Stefano Passerini, HIU deputy director, emphasises: "Post-lithium systems are especially appealing for electromobility and stationary applications. This is why it is both very important and urgent to unlock their potential and develop these innovative, high-energy batteries towards market maturity".

These results are further confirmed by the global scenario for battery applications in the field of electromobility until the year 2050, recently developed at HIU and published as book chapter. "The future availability of cobalt for the mass production of LIBs has to be classified as very critical, which is also evident from the price increase of cobalt higher than 120% within one year (2016-2017)", HIU system analyst Dr. Marcel Weil points out. In addition, the establishment of a battery economy with a high rate of recycling would certainly be imperative to decrease the pressure on critical materials.

Both studies highlight the importance of new battery technologies based on low-cost, abundant and, at best, non-toxic elements, demonstrating the importance of their further development in order to decrease the pressure on critical resources. To address this need, KIT and University of Ulm joined their efforts in the proposal for a Cluster of Excellence Energy Storage Beyond Lithium: New Storage Concepts For A Sustainable Future, focusing on the development of sodium-ion, magnesium-ion and other batteries based on abundant materials. The Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg (ZSW) and the Justus-Liebig University Gießen are also involved in these efforts.

###

References:

C. Vaalma, D. Buchholz, M. Weil and S. Passerini "A cost and resource analysis of sodium-ion batteries" Nat. Rev. Mater. 3, 18013 (2018): https://www.nature.com/articles/natrevmats201813 (with subscription); http://rdcu.be/IWu1 (read-only version)

M. Weil, S-. Ziemann, J. Peters: "The Issue of Metal Resources in Li-Ion Batteries for Electric vehicles." in: "Behaviour of Lithium-ion Batteries in Electric Vehicles." Amsterdam, Netherlands: Elsevier 2018

About the Helmholtz Institute Ulm (HIU)

The HIU was established in January 2011 by KIT, member of the Helmholtz Association, in cooperation with Ulm University. With the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg (ZSW), two other renowned institutions are involved in the HIU as associated partners. The international team of about 110 scientists at HIU works on the development of future energy storage systems for stationary and mobile use.

More about the KIT Energy Center: http://www.energy.kit.edu

Further material:

Paper in Nature Reviews Materials: http://rdcu.be/IWu1

Press Contact:

Margarete Lehné, Deputy Press Officer
Phone: 49-721-608-21157
margarete.lehne@kit.edu

Anna Sebastian, HIU Public relations
Phone: 49-731-50-34013
E-Mail: anna.sebastian@kit.edu

Being „The Research University in the Helmholtz-Association", KIT creates and imparts knowledge for the society and the environment. It is the objective to make significant contributions to the global challenges in the fields of energy, mobility and information. For this, about 9,300 employees cooperate in a broad range of disciplines in natural sciences, engineering sciences, economics, and the humanities and social sciences. KIT prepares its 26,000 students for responsible tasks in society, industry, and science by offering research-based study programs. Innovation efforts at KIT build a bridge between important scientific findings and their application for the benefit of society, economic prosperity, and the preservation of our natural basis of life.

KIT - The Research University in the Helmholtz Association

Since 2010, the KIT has been certified as a family-friendly university.

This press release is available on the internet at http://www.kit.edu.

Media Contact

Monika Landgraf
presse@kit.edu
49-721-608-47414

 @KITKarlsruhe

http://www.kit.edu/index.php 

 

Monika Landgraf | EurekAlert!

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht A materials scientist’s dream come true
21.08.2018 | Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

nachricht Novel sensors could enable smarter textiles
17.08.2018 | University of Delaware

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: It’s All in the Mix: Jülich Researchers are Developing Fast-Charging Solid-State Batteries

There are currently great hopes for solid-state batteries. They contain no liquid parts that could leak or catch fire. For this reason, they do not require cooling and are considered to be much safer, more reliable, and longer lasting than traditional lithium-ion batteries. Jülich scientists have now introduced a new concept that allows currents up to ten times greater during charging and discharging than previously described in the literature. The improvement was achieved by a “clever” choice of materials with a focus on consistently good compatibility. All components were made from phosphate compounds, which are well matched both chemically and mechanically.

The low current is considered one of the biggest hurdles in the development of solid-state batteries. It is the reason why the batteries take a relatively long...

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Air pollution leads to cardiovascular diseases

21.08.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Researchers target protein that protects bacteria's DNA 'recipes'

21.08.2018 | Life Sciences

A paper battery powered by bacteria

21.08.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>