IBM's new battery cell chemistry sees heavy metals like cobalt and nickel replaced with something much more abundant.
Mercedes-Benz could hardly be called a "leader" in the electric vehicle space, having just one pure EV to its name: the Mercedes-Benz EQC 400 4MATIC. It's a premium, 400-horsepower electric crossover that puts luxury above efficiency, and that - to be clear - hasn't actually launched yet in the US. Nonetheless, Mercedes very much wants to be competitive in the EV space, with plans to expand its pure-electric EQ lineup from zero to ten models by 2022.
Now, it turns out Mercedes-Benz could gain a competitive edge with its future electric vehicle endeavors; the automaker has partnered with IBM Research to help that company get a revolutionary new battery cell chemistry ready for public consumption.
In a release, IBM laid out the advantages its new battery chemistry has proven capable of delivering over today's best lithium-ion battery cells: lower cost, faster charging, high energy and power densities, and superb energy efficiency with low electrolyte flammability.
This is accomplished, IBM says, by replacing the cobalt, nickel, and other heavy metals in conventional lithium-ion packs with proprietary materials extracted from sea water. Doing away with heavy metals has the added benefit of sidestepping some of the environmental and humanitarian concerns that come with esp. cobalt mining and use, and sourcing the materials from sea water instead of mines could contribute to substantially lower material costs.
It's important here to note here that while power density is higher than in a typical lithium-ion battery pack, energy density is not. It's the latter metric that relates directly to driving range, so we shouldn't expect IBM's new battery cell chemistry to net any gains in that regard. That said, the cell chemistry's higher power density should allow it to discharge - and more importantly, recharge - energy more quickly than with a li-ion battery.
It's unclear if, when, and how Mercedes-Benz might start deploying IBM's revolutionary new battery cell chemistry into its EQ-branded electric vehicles, but with its cheaper cost and faster recharge times, it could give Mercedes a leg up while the industry awaits the arrival of commercial solid-state battery technology.