BEV Race Car to Debut ‘Breakthrough’ Cathode Batteries

A prototype racing car will be the host for a ‘breakthrough’ in automotive battery technology to be showcased at the COP26 climate conference in the UK this month.

The first full-size lithium-ion battery cells featuring Johnson Matthey’s eLNO cathode technology are being installed in the car was designed and engineered in partnership with the Envision Virgin Racing team and being produced and assembled by Delta Cosworth. Its eLNO battery pack is a family of nickel-rich cathode materials that claims to safely allow batteries to perform better and charge more quickly while retaining a battery lifetime.

The car, believed to be the world’s first two-seater electric racer, is expected to demonstrate the performance capabilities of eLNO-equipped battery cells.

Johnson Matthey claims its customizable family of nickel-rich cathode materials will meet specific battery performance requirements for individual electric vehicle platforms. It claims the batteries enables have about 20% greater energy density compared to today’s typical NMC cathode material technology.

Scientists at the company have enhanced the chemistry of the cathode material using a proprietary stabilizer package and surface modification, engineering the cathode material down to the atomic level. This enables the use of high nickel contents for increased driving range, as well as a reduction in the level of cobalt present, to sustain cycle life and stability.

Already in pilot production and being trialed by customers, eLNO will be supplied to customers in Europe from two new production facilities. The first facility in Poland is under construction and will be completed in 2022, for commercial production in 2024. A second plant is also planned in Finland. These facilities will operate sustainably as part of Johnson Matthey’s commitment to overcoming climate change, circular manufacturing, and the responsible sourcing of materials.

The battery cells were developed and produced by EAS Batteries. The German specialist battery manufacturer is the first in Europe to produce large battery cells for an automotive application that feature nickel-rich eLNO cathode chemistry. The cylindrical 602030-format cells were manufactured using an almost dry coating process, which claims a far lower carbon footprint than typical wet coating, with a non-toxic solvent and less solvent waste than typical cell production processes.

Christian Gϋnther, battery materials sector chief executive at Johnson Matthey, said: “Our eLNO technology will provide a step-change in battery energy density for electric vehicles going on sale in just a few years’ time. It therefore supports the industry’s commitment to fighting climate change.”

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