Father of the lithium-ion battery Sir John Goodenough has tipped his hat to Chinese EV battery maker and Tesla partner CATL for its new 21C laboratory, saying the advances made at the facility could benefit society significantly
CATL – otherwise known as Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Limited – is the largest maker of electric vehicle batteries globally according to SNE Research as reported by Yonhap News, accounting for 27.9% of the global market with a 32.5GWh annual output.
Battery demand is expected to reach 1.5TWh per year by 2030 according to a recent report by the International Energy Agency, but what type of electric vehicle batteries come to the fore will depend on market needs as well as gains made in battery development.
Other than being a world-leading maker of electric vehicle batteries, CATL has gained a great deal of attention for a deal cut to supply the world’s largest maker of all-electric vehicles, according to Statista – Tesla.
The new lab, in which CATL is investing 3.3 billion RMB ($A678 million) which will be located on an 18 hectare site and will focus on the next generation of batteries as well as new energy conversions systems.
On hearing the news, Goodenough, who was awarded the 2019 Nobel laureate in chemistry for his work on developing lithium-ion batteries, sent his congratulations on 21C Lab’s establishment, which CATL shared in an official announcement.
“As an industry leader in lithium-ion battery technology, advances made by members of the 21C Lab can benefit society significantly,” wrote Goodenough who is currently the chair for the Virginia H. Cockrell Centennial engineering department at the University of Austin, Texas.
“I believe that with the setup of the 21C Lab, CATL can introduce more inventions in battery technology that will allow the world to cut back on our dependence on fossil fuels,” he was quoted as writing.
The news of the 21C laboratory comes after CATL also announced a plan in February to spend 26 billion RMB ($A5.34 billion) to increase its annual EV battery production to 52GWh by 2023, and it is currently building its first battery factory outside China in Germany with a planned annual output of 14GWh, Asia Nikkei reports.
It is understood that CATL’s current deal with Tesla will include its low-cost no-cobalt lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries, for which Tesla recently gained approval to use in its made-in-China Model 3 being built at its Shanghai gigafactory.
CATL has also said it can now make a battery with a lifespan of one million miles (1.6 million km), which it has developed in collaboration with Tesla, which has an exclusive battery research team lead by Dalhousie University’s Jeff Dahn.
Details of the so-called “million-mile battery”, which will likely utilise a nickel-cobalt-aluminium “single crystal” cathode are keenly awaited and are expected to be revealed in Tesla’s upcoming Battery Day, which is now slated for September after several delays.
CATL says the new 21C lab will focus on developing lithium metal batteries, solid-state batteries as well as sodium-ion batteries, and will work towards further commercialisation of its technologies including “developing lithium-ion battery reliability models and non-destructive testing technology”.
The 21C lab will be in operations by the end of 2021, says CATL.
“As a high-tech enterprise, CATL’s development is driven by constant innovation,” said Yuqun (Robin) Zeng, founder and chairman of CATL in a statement.
“21C Lab epitomises our corporate philosophy of innovation, mastering basic skills and unleashing imagination. Supported by the Innovative mechanisms, we have committed ourselves to making further contributions to the development of new energy for human beings.”
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.