Prime Mover Magazine

Nikola pioneers breakthrough battery technology

Alternative transport technology start-up, Nikola, has reported a breakthrough in regard to battery range technology using what it describes as a freestanding self-supported electrode with cathode that has four times the energy density of lithium-ion.

The new type of battery, which is still in the prototype stage, can allow for up to 800 miles between charges for battery electric trucks with a 40 per cent weight reduction and 50 per cent lower cost.

Hydrogen-electric fuel cell trucks can anticipate a range extension of up to 1,000 miles.

According to Nikola, the cell enables for more energy storage being as it is the first battery to remove binder material and current collectors.

With a reported energy density of 1,000 watts-hours per kilogram on the material level and 500 Wh/kg on the production cell level, the technology according to Nikola is designed to operate in existing vehicle conditions and tests cycling the cells over 2,000 times.

The company also claims it will reduce vehicle fire risk by passing nail penetration standards.

"This is the biggest advancement we have seen in the battery world," said Trevor Milton, CEO, 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."

Earlier this month, Nikola announced its intentions to establish a world-class battery engineering team to help bring the new battery to pre-production.

Conventional lithium-ion cells contain elements that are toxic and expensive, the new technology, however, is expected to cost 50 per cent less than lithium-ion and will have a positive impact on the earth’s resources, landfills and recycling plants.

The new cell technology will be easy to recycle as it is more environmentally friendly.

Due to the impact this technology will have on society and emissions, Nikola has taken an unprecedented position to share the intellectual property (IP) with other OEMs, even competitors, that contribute to the Nikola IP license and new consortium. 

“Nikola is in discussions with customers for truck orders that could fill production slots for more than ten years and propel Nikola to become the top truck manufacturer in the world in terms of revenue," Milton said.

"Now the question is why not share it with the world?”

Nikola will show the batteries charging and discharging in front of the crowd at Nikola World 2020.

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