According to an article published in Advanced Energy Materials by researchers at the DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), cobalt is currently the most expensive cathode material used in lithium-ion batteries.
The DOE says cobalt accounts for about a quarter of the cost of a typical battery, and was the most expensive cathode material in batteries between 2010 and 2021—climbing to $40 per pound in 2018.
Battery producers are looking to move away from the high cost and price volatility of cobalt. The ORNL researchers outlined the potential of some cobalt-free cathodes in their article, including layered, spinel, olivine and disordered rock-salt systems.
After reviewing these alternatives, the researchers write, “despite the promising performance of these Co-free cathodes, scale-up and manufacturing bottlenecks associated with these materials must also be addressed to enable widespread adoption in commercial batteries.”