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Batteries with aqueous electrolyte, without nickel, cobalt or lithium, where is the catch?

Alsym Energy is working on a battery that does not use nickel, cobalt or lithium at the cathode, but uses Manganese oxidewhile the anode is a oxide of a metal other than lithium. As explained by the company, by eliminating them, it avoids the problems associated with the supply and costs of each of these materials. The electrolyte consists mainly of water and does not need to use organic solvents. Non-flammable and non-toxic materials make this battery more environmentally friendly and safersince there is no risk of them igniting and burning.

As explained CleanTechnica that has been in contact with Alsym Energy, this new battery uses materials that come mainly from the United States, Europe and Japan, which allows a supply chain most suitable and controllable in terms of availability and price. In addition, the safer materials, with no risk of overheating, make it possible to eliminate the costs of complex battery cooling and thermal management systemswhich translates into a lower production cost.

Kripa Varanasi, a professor of mechanical engineering at MIT, who has been working with Alsym for five years, explains the new perspective with which the company treats its batteries. “We started exploring other chemistries beyond lithium by looking at other metrics: abundance, low cost, easy to recycle, no supply chain challenges. When the company started testing the new technology, we started to see lithium-like performance.”

As for the interesting technical specifications of a battery such as energy density, charge and discharge cycles that it supports without degradation, performance in cold climates, charging speed or download rates, there is still no official data from the company. Nitin Nohria, a former dean of Harvard Business School who heads the company’s board of business advisers, says that “most companies trying to bring new batteries to market are focused on performance and care little about making it work.” their batteries safer and more profitable”. At this point, he assures that the development team is working to to guarantee that their batteries not only meet performance expectations at a reduced cost, but also avoid most of the supply chain challenges associated with lithium-based technologies. “Alsym batteries are not only sustainable, but the company’s business model is too.”

Alsym Energy battery for electric vehicles without lithium cobalt nickel-interior1
There is still no official data from the company on the technical specifications of a battery that are of interest, such as energy density, charge and discharge cycles that it supports without degradation, performance in cold climates, charging speed or rates. download. Image Alsym Energy via CleanTechnica.

The company estimates that its batteries will cost less than half of current lithium batteries which would help electric vehicles to compete in price with combustion vehicles. The use of non-flammable and non-toxic materials eliminates end-of-life concerns for lithium-ion batteries and makes Alsym batteries easier to recycle.

It also means that Alsym batteries can be manufactured in existing industrial facilitiesIt’s where lithium-ion batteries are made today with little or no modification to the processes. This implies lower operating cost as they do not require dry rooms, fire locks or solvent recovery systems.

Beyond vehicles, the company anticipates that its new battery can be used to economical energy storage applications in areas where there is no access to electricity: “You could hook it up with a solar panel, for example, and store the energy to power a fan, a couple of light bulbs, an internet connection and a small refrigerator,” says Mukesh Chatter CEO of Alsym Energy. “That changes a life.”

In its press release, Alsym Energy announces its association with an automobile manufacturer, market leader in India, to develop its batteries. Once this phase is completed, the agreement includes the delivery of 3 GWh of annual batteries that this manufacturer will use in its products. The company has also entered into discussions with companies in the electric two-wheeler and shipping industry to develop similar partnerships.

Alsym Energy battery for electric vehicles without lithium cobalt nickel-interior2
The development team is working to ensure that the batteries not only meet performance expectations at a reduced cost, but also avoid most of the supply chain challenges associated with lithium-based technologies. Image Alsym Energy via CleanTechnica.

Chatter says his company “wants to provide the world with cost-effective energy storage solutions using advanced, inherently non-flammable battery materials beyond lithium, made from readily available, non-toxic resources. We are excited to work with industry partners to produce the next generation of batteries and validate the innovations that will enable widespread access to clean electricity on a global scale.”

It is therefore about a new technology for which there are still few technical details available to analysts and lacks independent research to back up the company’s claims. But the promise of a low-cost, non-toxic battery that can be made using traditional techniques is very encouraging.

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