Most batteries have a positive end made of graphite and a negative end, or cathode, made of a combination of lithium, cobalt, and oxygen.
New battery research is exploring alternative materials such as manganese and iron, which form a “rocksalt” structure that resembles table salt. While rocksalt cathodes are already in use, they currently do not have the same high energy density as cobalt or nickel. The increasing demand for electric vehicles, which require nearly 1,000 times more cobalt than a phone, has caused the price of cobalt to quadruple in the past two years. This has led researchers and companies to seek alternatives to cobalt, as it is expensive and primarily sourced from mines in the Democratic Republic of the Congo where safety is not a priority.
The Congo produces 70% of the world's cobalt, an essential part of the lithium-ion batteries that give electric vehicles the range and durability needed. Cobalt mines often collapse. Remember this image next time you hear John Kerry say “climate justice.”— Mike (@Doranimated) March 26, 2023