Today we visited some of the A123 (a subsidiary of the Wanxiang group) facilities that manufacture lithium iron batteries. The batteries are typically used for hybrid and electric cars, but can also be used for… well, anything that might need a cell battery. We even got to see some prototype batteries for use in BMWs being made!
Prior to this visit I did have limited, basic knowledge of how a battery works. Put together an an anode, a cathode, and an electrolyte, the electrons freak out looking for personal space (much like I am craving now right now), and bang, you have a charge, time to party! (I am sure I am oversimplifying this process and missing some steps, but you get my point) After today’s tours however, I have a much more intimate knowledge not only of the mechanisms through which these specific battery cells work, but also of how they are created.
I learned that the cathodes contain cobalt! Which explains (one reason) why cars containing these kinds of batteries are so much more expensive than their traditional, combustion engine-only counterparts! I do not know exactly how expensive cobalt is, (actually, that’s a lie, a quick google search, courtesy of NordVPN, tells me that a pound of cobalt will run you $12.47USD as of July 12, 2019 SOURCE:
http://www.infomine.com/investment/metal-prices/cobalt/1-week/ ) but I know it is notoriously pricey due to what I am guessing is its extremely high demand. So, what this means, and a fun fact: cathodes are the most expensive component of these lithium iron batteries.
With all of the extra knowledge I have learned today about batteries and their manufacturing process, I am hoping to win some arguments over the dinner table with my electrical engineer genius of a brother.