Leading South Korean battery maker Samsung SDI will more widely apply high-powered cathodes based on nickel-cobalt-aluminum materials to its cylindrical flat top batteries to carve out a larger slice of the electric vehicle market.
Industry sources said on June 17 that the Samsung unit will proactively apply NCA materials to 21700 spec cylindrical batteries that the firm has been mass producing since last year. NCA cathodes help improve energy efficiency, while at the same time cutting costs.
Samsung SDI is currently in talks to supply the flat top batteries to Chinese electric car maker Xiaopeng – dubbed as China’s Tesla – and Chongqing Jinkang New Energy Automobile. It has already sealed a deal with Jaguar Motors.
The Samsung affiliate is also seeking to more widely apply the batteries to electric tools, gardening tools and electric bicycles.
Industry sources believe Samsung SDI will be supplying more partners in the future, especially since Tesla’s Model 3 uses 21700 flat top batteries. “Samsung SDI will produce more 21700 flat top batteries this year,” said one industry watcher. “The growing demand will trigger more supplies of NCA materials,” said one market watcher.
On a monthly-basis, Samsung SDI supplies an estimated 8 million cells of the 21700 flat top batteries, according to market research firms.
NCA cathodes have been used in its 18650 spec cylindrical batteries since 2005. Nickel content is currently at around 88%. This indicates the batteries have higher energy density than even pouch type batteries that have an NCM811 content of 80%.
Higher nickel content means higher energy density and better energy efficiency to allow EVs to travel longer distances. Manufacturing costs also go down since the batteries uses less rare materials such as cobalt.
The NCA cathodes are applied to Samsung SDI’s square-shaped batteries as well. They use a hybrid material that’s a mix of NCM and NCA. The NCM ratio is 6:2:2, while that for NCA is 8:1.5:0.5. The NCA materials for both cylindrical and square batteries are provided by EcoProBM.
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