• How Are Lithium NCA Batteries Used?

Measurement and Testing

How Are Lithium NCA Batteries Used?

Nov 05 2022

Embraced by EV giants like Tesla, Lithium Nickel Cobalt Aluminum Oxide (NCA) batteries boast excellent energy density and voltage. Compared to other batteries they charge at lightning-fast speed, making them ideal for powering electric vehicles. Below, we take a closer look at how NCA batteries are used and what’s next for the industry:

Powering electric cars

Currently, Tesla uses NCA batteries in high-performance versions of the Model S, Model 3, Model Y and Model X. NCA technology is considered an upgrade as it increases the range and slashes charge times. Samsung is another tech company harnessing the benefits of NCA batteries for EVs. Last year, the company announced plans to increase the nickel content of its cylindrical NCA battery cathodes to 91%. This cell chemistry modification is designed to boost energy density and reduce cobalt concentrations, which is a more expensive material. Eventually, nickel concentrations could rise to 94% to unlock further benefits.

Power grid applications

NCA batteries have high specific energy, which means they can hold a large amount of energy, relative to their weight. This makes them ideal for high-load applications like power grid energy storage.

Other applications for NCA batteries

EVs currently fuel demand for NCA batteries. That said, the technology is also used for other applications such as powering medical devices and cordless vacuum cleaners.  

The downsides of NCA batteries

While NCA batteries offer a myriad of benefits, they’re not perfect. The high cost of raw materials like nickel and cobalt makes NCA batteries expensive to manufacture. Sourcing these materials from countries such as China, Indonesia and Australia can also lead to supply chain issues.

Dr Richard Kim, an analyst at S&P Global Mobility warns this could create issues as demand for battery materials soars. “We have identified a total of 28 extraction sources of battery-grade nickel over the coming 12 years to serve the light passenger-vehicle market, located in 15 countries worldwide," says Kim, Associate Director of the company’s Auto Battery Industry Research Group. “However, the supply base for the upstream material processing steps and formation of the fundamental battery cell cathode chemistries presents a challenging lack of geographic diversity.”

The ongoing relevance of combustion engines

Despite an uptake in EV ownership over the past few years, there’s still a lot of progress to be made before electric cars dominate roads. Until then, combustion engines will continue to get passengers from A to B. Moving forward, flow measurement technologies will continue to play a critical role in the oil and gas industry. Find out more about the latest technology in ‘Delivering trusted engineering excellence for bespoke flow solutions’.

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