Chinese battery maker Gotion High-Tech plans to nearly double the energy density of lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries by 2030, which in turn could double the range of electric vehicles and significantly change competition in the battery sector.
Gotion High-Tech is known for its low-cost LFP batteries, which are used in the $4,500 Hongguang Mini EV from SAIC-GM-Wuling Automobile. Cheng Qian, executive vice president of Gotion High-Tech, told Nikkei Asia that the company will eventually increase the energy density of LFP batteries to 300 Wh/kg. The energy density of standard LFP batteries is about 160 Wh/kg.
The high energy density helps to reduce the operating costs of an electric vehicle by increasing driving range and reducing the overall load on the battery. Cheng said the company will eventually be able to achieve 300 Wh/kg “by improving the performance of the materials in both the positive and negative electrodes.”
It is worth noting that Gotion uses silicon in the negative electrode materials instead of graphite. Silicon can improve the energy density of lithium ions compared to graphite by about 11 times. But silicon reduces the amount of energy after the first charge cycle, and Gotion solved this problem by adding lithium ions to the electrodes.
Lithium metal, which has a higher energy density than silicon, is used in some negative electrodes but causes crystal-like growths to form on the negative electrode. This build-up, called detritus, reduces the performance and life of the battery.
The addition of manganese to positive electrode materials also helps overcome the relatively low energy density associated with silicon. One reason for the low energy density of previous LFP batteries is that the battery voltage was only 3.2V. However, the addition of manganese increased the voltage by about 15%.
The first to use the new batteries could be Volkswagen, which is the largest shareholder of Gotion High-Tech with a share of approximately 26%. Volkswagen plans to manufacture its own LFP batteries in Germany in 2025 with the help of Gotion, aiming to sell electric vehicles with a range of more than 400 km at a price of 20,000 euros.