Nikola hints at new commercial vehicle battery technology

November 21, 2019 //By Nick Flaherty
Nikola says it is developing an alternative to lithium ion battery technology for 2020 that has a record energy density of 1.1kWh/kg and is 40 percent lighter
Nikola says it is developing an alternative to lithium ion battery technology for 2020 that has a record energy density of 1.1kWh/kg and is 40 percent lighter

Electric vehicle developer Nikola is claiming to have acquired technology for a battery cell that has a record energy density of 1.1kWh/kg and 500Wh/kg on the production cell level.

The Nikola prototype cell is the first battery that removes binder material and current collectors, using a free standing cathode to provide more energy storage within the cell. It is also expected to pass nail penetration standards, thus reducing potential vehicle fires. The technology was developed by a team of 20 researchers and engineers that Nikola intends to acquire, but will not give more details until next year. The company says it will license the technology widely across the industry.

Many different materials are being investigated to boost battery performance, from silicon anodes in lithium-ion battery cells all the way to calcium and fluoride ions for completely different battery cell designs.  

The increase in energy density from the Nikola technology would increase the range of current EV passenger cars from 300 miles up to 600 miles with little or no increase to battery size and weight, and boost the performance of Nikola's electric trucks. The technology is also designed to operate in existing vehicle conditions and still has acceptable end-of-life performance after 2000 charging cycles.

The company says the cell technology is environmentally friendly and easy to recycle, avoiding toxic and expensive materials in current lithium-ion cells, but again will not give more details until the second half of 2020. The new cell is also 40 percent lighter than a lithium ion cell.

“This is the biggest advancement we have seen in the battery world,” said Trevor Milton, CEO of the Nikola Motor Company. “We are not talking about small improvements; we are talking about doubling your cell phone battery capacity. We are talking about doubling the range of BEVs and hydrogen-electric vehicles around the world."

Next: Nikola to license battery IP 


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