A consortium of scientists in the US is researching a new battery material – disordered rock salt (DRX). The scientists think it could pave the way for replacing internal combustion engine vehicles with electric vehicles (EVs) at a faster rate.
The DRX Consortium, led by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, is focused on making DRX cathodes from manganese or titanium. These metals are more abundant and cheaper than nickel or cobalt. Lithium batteries made with DRX cathodes could safeguard the auto industry from supply constraints, the scientists believe.
“DRX cathodes can be made with almost any transition metal instead of nickel and cobalt. That versatility is key if we want to replace gasoline vehicles with electric vehicles,” said Gerbrand Ceder, Berkeley Lab faculty senior scientist and principal investigator.
He is co-leading the consortium with fellow battery scientist Guoying Chen at Berkeley Lab.
The grouping has approximately 50 scientists from Berkeley Lab, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of California at Santa Barbara.
It was awarded $20 million from the Vehicle Technologies Office of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. It is being paid in $5 million yearly increments until 2025.
Ceder said: “The lithium-ion battery is a really good energy storage technology, but to stay relevant, it will need to grow toward higher production of multiple terawatt hours per year. Without DRX, lithium-ion batteries would require enormous amounts of nickel and cobalt if we stay with current technologies.”
Chen said: “DRX could be the go-to material for battery cathodes. We already have the advantage of cost and resources. Now all we have to do is improve performance.”