Lamborghini Patents MIT’s Cobalt-Free EV Battery Design

Lamborghini, the Italian luxury carmaker, is known for its high-performance and stylish vehicles. But the company is also looking ahead to the future of mobility, where electric cars are expected to dominate the market. That’s why Lamborghini has licensed a patent on a new battery technology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that could offer a more sustainable and cost-effective way to power electric cars.

The problem with cobalt

Most electric cars today use lithium-ion batteries, which rely on cobalt as a key component of the cathode, the positive electrode where electricity is generated. Cobalt is a metal that offers high stability and energy density, meaning it can store a lot of energy in a small space. However, cobalt also has significant drawbacks. It is a scarce and expensive metal, whose price can fluctuate dramatically depending on supply and demand. Moreover, much of the world’s cobalt reserves are located in politically unstable countries, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, where cobalt mining is often associated with human rights violations, environmental damage, and corruption.

As the demand for electric cars grows, so does the need for cobalt, which could lead to more social and environmental problems, as well as higher costs for consumers and manufacturers. According to a report by BloombergNEF, global demand for cobalt could increase by 14 times by 2030, driven by the electrification of transport.

The solution: organic materials

To address this challenge, researchers from MIT, led by Mircea Dinca, the W.M. Keck Professor of Energy, have designed a new battery material that could offer a more sustainable, cobalt-free way to power electric cars. The new material is based on organic molecules, which are abundant, cheap, and easy to synthesize. The researchers developed a battery cathode based on many layers of TAQ, an organic small molecule that contains three fused hexagonal rings. These layers can extend outward in every direction, forming a structure similar to graphite. Within the molecules are chemical groups called quinones, which are the electron reservoirs, and amines, which help the material to form strong hydrogen bonds.

The researchers showed that this material can conduct electricity at similar rates as cobalt batteries. The new battery also has comparable storage capacity and can be charged up faster than cobalt batteries. The study was published in the journal ACS Central Science .

“This material is already competitive with incumbent technologies, and it can save a lot of the cost and pain and environmental issues related to mining the metals that currently go into batteries,” Dinca said in a press release.

Lamborghini’s interest

Lamborghini has been collaborating with MIT since 2017, when they announced a partnership to develop new technologies for super sports cars. One of the projects they have been working on is the development of supercapacitors, which are devices that can store and release large amounts of energy quickly. Supercapacitors could complement or replace batteries in electric cars, offering faster charging and longer lifespan.

As part of this collaboration, Lamborghini has licensed the patent on the new organic battery technology from MIT. The company plans to use this technology to power its future electric models, such as the Terzo Millennio concept car, which was unveiled in 2017 as a vision for the next generation of super sports cars.

“Lamborghini is always looking for innovative solutions to shape the future of mobility,” said Maurizio Reggiani, Chief Technical Officer of Automobili Lamborghini. “We believe that this new battery technology could be a game-changer for our electric vehicles, as it could offer higher performance, lower costs, and lower environmental impact.”

The company has not revealed when it will launch its first electric car using the new battery technology, but it has stated that it aims to reduce its carbon footprint by 50% by 2025.

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