Oak Ridge Research Next Generation Cathode Free Lithium Ion Batteries

Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers have developed a new family of cathodes with the potential to replace the costly cobalt-based cathodes typically found in today’s lithium-ion batteries that power electric vehicles and consumer electronics.

The new class called NFA, which stands for nickel-, iron- and aluminum-based cathode, is a derivative of lithium nickelate and can be used to make the positive electrode of a lithium-ion battery. These novel cathodes are designed to be fast charging, energy dense, cost effective, and longer-lasting.

With the rise in the production of portable electronics and electric vehicles throughout the world, lithium-ion batteries are in high demand. According to Ilias Belharouak, ORNL’s scientist leading the NFA research and development, more than 100 million electric vehicles are anticipated to be on the road by 2030. Cobalt is a metal currently needed for the cathode which makes up the significant portion of a lithium-ion battery’s cost.

Advanced Materials – Lithium Iron Aluminum Nickelate, LiNixFeyAlzO2—New Sustainable Cathodes for Next‐Generation Cobalt‐Free Li‐Ion Batteries


In recent years, cobalt has become a critical constraint on the supply chain of the Li‐ion battery industry. With the ever‐increasing projections for electric vehicles, the dependency of current Li‐ion batteries on the ever‐fluctuating cobalt prices poses serious environmental and sustainability issues. To address these challenges, a new class of cobalt‐free materials with general formula of LiNixFeyAlzO2 (x + y + z = 1), termed as the lithium iron aluminum nickelate (NFA) class of cathodes, is introduced. These cobalt‐free materials are synthesized using the sol–gel process to explore their compositional landscape by varying aluminum and iron. These NFA variants are characterized using electron microscopy, neutron and X‐ray diffraction, and Mössbauer and X‐ray photoelectron spectroscopy to investigate their morphological, physical, and crystal‐structure properties. Operando experiments by X‐ray diffraction, Mössbauer spectroscopy, and galvanostatic intermittent titration have been also used to study the crystallographic transitions, electrochemical activity, and Li‐ion diffusivity upon lithium removal and uptake in the NFA cathodes. NFA compositions yield specific capacities of ≈200 mAh g−1, demonstrating reasonable rate capability and cycling stability with ≈80% capacity retention after 100 charge/discharge cycles. While this is an early stage of research, the potential that these cathodes could have as viable candidates in next‐generation cobalt‐free lithium‐ion batteries is highlighted here.

SOURCES- Advanced Materials, ORNL
Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com

12 thoughts on “Oak Ridge Research Next Generation Cathode Free Lithium Ion Batteries”

  1. This former truck driver says you had me at three motor all wheel drive and no shifting. But yeah, a fast charge time is perhaps the biggest hurdle, although a sudden surge in fuel cell tech for distance driving would create some shifts in the direction of the disruption. See previous articles about creating solar overcapacity.

  2. I would assume the electrolyte portion of the aqueous solution will be far easier to mass produce (that seawater for instance), but have no idea about the bottlenecks the other parts of the battery would go through (anode, etc.).  If that 3D zinc-manganese nano alloy anode can be printed fast, with what they have in mind, that takes care of that part.  It looks like they have their eye on the ball to keep things cheap (some relationship to better mass production, but maybe not and they are intent on testing other anodes by the look of it), so we’ll see.

  3. I read the article. Nothing is said about ease of manufacturing. I wonder how these types of aqueous batteries could be massed produced compared the mass producing Li Ion batteries?

  4. Fast charging is a key technology change in these. But if you review the archives NBF has scores of articles like these where it doesn't work as good as the press release. So, keeping my hopes restrained.

  5. Well, Elon Musk seems to think there is a shortage of nickel, but maybe he's thinking on too large a scale an nobody else does.

  6. It’s gets rid of a somewhat expensive material component that’s sourced from a not so reliable part of the globe. Cheap and local grown. That appeases every side.

  7. Brian, these are "cobalt free", not "cathode free".

    This looks like good progress, assuming these new cathodes work as well as the old, cobalt-based ones. There's hardly any shortage of iron, aluminum, and nickel. Nice.

  8. As expected, the powerful market force of economy of scale causes a pile of money being thrown at increasing the performance of batteries. Once obtained, these efficiencies don't go away. They just get cheaper to reproduce over time.

    This will drive down the cost of batteries while raising their performance. This will make battery vehicles even more attractive to buyers and cause more money to flow into R&D. It could be years or decades before the technology curve plateaus out.

    We went decades with improvements to computer processors and Moore's Law is still not dying so easily.

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