Helped by a $4M grant from the Canadian federal government, Vancouver upstart Nano One has developed and patented a process that decreases the cost and improves the performance of Li-ion batteries. If the technique proves itself feasible on a large scale, we could see electric vehicles with more range and energy storage systems with higher capacities, all with a lower price tag.
After in-house proof of concept and third party validation, Nano One recently completed construction of a large-scale pilot plant. According to project manager Robin Sweeny, "The pilot will showcase Nano One’s patented technology, simulate full-scale production of cathode materials for the electric vehicle market, and initiate commercial scale-up opportunities with strategic interests."
Making the cathode is one of the most expensive parts of Li-ion battery manufacturing since the lithium, nickel, manganese, and cobalt blend requires a multi-stage process that takes several days and enormous amounts of heat. Nano One's patented process combines the elements chemically rather than mechanically, producing the cathode material in hours using considerably less energy. The method also allows manufacturers to use low-cost lithium carbonate instead of the pricier lithium hydroxide that's currently used by most battery producers.
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