A lithium-ion battery is a type of rechargeable battery in which lithium ions move from the negative electrode (cathode) to the positive electrode (anode) during discharge and back when charging. Layered oxides containing cobalt and nickel are the most studied materials for lithium-ion batteries. They show a high stability in the high-voltage range but cobalt has limited availability in nature and is toxic, which is a tremendous drawback for mass manufacturing. Mixtures of cobalt, nickel, and manganese are often used to combine the best properties and minimise the drawbacks (Reference: Materials and Processing for Lithium-ion Batteries by
Claus Daniel). Today, cobalt is frequently being substituted out partially with nickel due to the supply chain concerns.
It doesn’t really matter whether Lithium ion is the perfect way of making a battery. The important thing is that the large volumes at which it is currently being produced is increasingly driving costs down the cost curve. The target set mainly by car manufacturers such as Tesla is sub-US$250/kWh by 2020. Tesla is looking for its cells to be about US$100/kWh by the turn of the century. Competing car manufacturers such as BYD, a Chinese electric bus and car manufacturer, a core holding of Warren Buffet, are targeting similar performance. Innov8 energy offer BYD lithium ion batteries. BYD will be producing millions of inexpensive and low specification battery driven autos, further increasing the volumes of cells that are required and pushing the cost down to previously unprecedented level.
In 2009 Deutsche Bank reported the cost of lithium ion batteries as $650 per kWh to halve to $325 by 2020. However, Tesla and Nissan were already achieving costs in 2014 of around $300 per kWh. In October 2015, GM announced its individual cells were costing $145 per kWh (Reference: “The switch by Chris Goodall”).