Lithium-Cobalt Batteries: Powering the EV Revolution
Countries across the globe are working towards a greener future and electric vehicles (EVs) are a key piece of the puzzle.
In fact, the EV revolution is well underway, rising from 17,000 electric cars in 2010 to 7.2 million in 2019—a 423x increase in less than a decade. At the same time, we often take for granted the variety of materials that make modern technology work. Going electric requires the use of strategic minerals, especially cobalt.
Today’s infographic comes to us from Fuse Cobalt and looks into how the cobalt in lithium batteries makes the difference for powerful and reliable battery technology.
Edging Over the Competition: The Lithium-Cobalt Combination
There are five primary lithium battery combinations for EVs, each with pros and cons:
- Lithium Nickel Cobalt Aluminum (NCA)
- Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt (NMC)
- Lithium Manganese Oxide (LMO)
- Lithium Titanate (LTO)
- Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP)
From the plethora of lithium-ion battery compositions, EV manufacturers prefer the lithium-cobalt combination. As a result, NCA and NMC batteries are the most prevalent in EVs.
|NCA batteries||NMC batteries|
|Offer high specific energy and power|
Allow EVs to travel farther
|Offer a similar caliber of performance|
|Use less cobalt, making them less expensive|
More prone to overheating
|Use more cobalt, making them more expensive
Higher overall safety
|Commonly found in Tesla EVs||Commonly found in Nissan, Chevrolet, and BMW EVs|
The low energy density and power of the other batteries make them impractical for long-range EVs—and it’s partially due to the lack of cobalt.
When it comes to powering EVs, lithium-cobalt batteries are unmatched. Specific properties of cobalt make them stand out from the rest:
- High energy density
- Thermal stability
- High specific power
- Low self-discharge rate
- Low weight
Not only do lithium-cobalt batteries allow EVs to travel farther, but they also improve safety and sustainability.
Cobalt: The Stable Battery Element
Cobalt’s high energy density allows batteries to pack more energy in smaller spaces, making them lightweight and powerful at the same time. In addition, its ability to withstand high temperatures increases the safety and reliability of EVs.
Furthermore, cobalt increases the longevity of batteries and remains highly recyclable, promoting a more sustainable battery supply chain.
Despite its advantages, EV manufacturers are making efforts to reduce the cobalt content of their batteries for various reasons associated with its supply chain:
- Cobalt is a by-product of nickel and copper mining, which makes it harder to obtain.
- Cobalt is expensive, at US$33,000/tonne—more than twice the price of nickel.
- The general public associates cobalt mining in the Congo with child labor, tough conditions, and corruption.
Although cobalt may be associated with unethical mining practices, it still remains essential to EV manufacturers—as demonstrated by Tesla’s agreement to buy 6,000 tonnes of cobalt annually from mining giant Glencore.
Combating Cobalt’s Ethical Concerns
EV manufacturers and miners have joined forces with organizations that are making efforts to alleviate the ethical issues associated with cobalt mining. These include:
- Fair Cobalt Alliance
- Responsible Minerals Initiative
- Responsible Cobalt Initiative
- Clean Cobalt Initiative
As these initiatives progress, we may see a future with ethically mined cobalt in EV batteries, including cobalt mined in more jurisdictions outside of the DRC.
For the time being, it’s interesting to see how lithium-cobalt batteries power up an EV.
Breaking Down a Lithium-Cobalt Battery
Lithium-Cobalt batteries have three key components:
- The cathode is an electrode that carries a positive charge, and is made of lithium metal oxide combinations of cobalt, nickel, manganese, iron, and aluminum.
- The anode is an electrode that carries a negative charge, usually made of graphite.
- The electrolyte is a lithium salt in liquid or gel form, and allows the ions to flow from the cathode to the anode (and vice versa).
How it Works
When the battery is charged, lithium ions flow via the electrolyte from the cathode to the anode, where they are stored for usage. Simultaneously, electrons pass through an external circuit and are collected in the anode through a negative current collector.
When the battery is generating an electric current (i.e. discharging), the ions flow via the electrolyte from the anode to the cathode, and the electrons reverse direction along the external circuit, powering up the EV.
The composition of the cathode largely determines battery performance. For EV batteries, this is where the lithium-cobalt combination plays a crucial role.
The EV market could experience colossal growth over the next decade, but it faces several roadblocks. At present, EV charging infrastructure is expensive and not as convenient as the local gas station—and lithium-cobalt batteries could help overcome this obstacle.
Battery Storage: The Future of EV Charging Stations?
There are the two ways to charge an electric vehicle battery:
- Alternating Current (AC) chargers provide an alternating current, which periodically reverses direction.
- Direct Current (DC) fast chargers provide direct current that moves only in one direction.
But there’s a catch.
EV batteries can only store energy in the form of direct current. To charge an EV battery, the onboard charger must convert the alternating current from AC chargers into direct current, increasing charging times substantially.
Today, EV chargers are available in three different types:
|Type of Charger||Description||Max energy drawn per hour||Charge time
(60-kWH EV battery)
|Alternating Current (AC) Level 1||Charge via a 120-volt AC plug||1.4kW||2,400 minutes|
|Alternating Current (AC) Level 2||Charge via a 240-volt AC plug||7.2kW||500 minutes|
|Direct Current (DC)||Charge EVs rapidly, but are more expensive to install and use||50-350kW||Range between 10-75 minutes|
Meanwhile, several roadblocks still discourage EV buyers, from the lack of charging infrastructure to long charging times.
Stationary battery storage could be the solution.
Stationary Battery Storage: Solving the EV Charging Enigma
Charged batteries can provide EVs with direct current without drawing power from the grid during times of high demand. This can significantly reduce the demand charges of electricity, which account for a large portion of a charging station’s electricity bill.
The highest rate of electricity usage at a particular time determines the demand charges, separate from the cost of actual energy consumed. In other words, demand charges can be astronomical at times when multiple vehicles are charged via power from the grid.
Stationary battery storage systems could be charged from the grid at times of low demand, and used to provide direct current to vehicles during times of high demand.
As a result, this could dramatically reduce charging times as well as the cost of electricity.
Enabling Stationary Battery Storage
Developing stationary battery storage systems on a large scale is expensive. Lithium-cobalt batteries could mitigate these costs through their recyclability.
Unless damaged beyond repair, recycling companies can refurbish lithium-cobalt battery packs for a second life as stationary storage systems.
Re-using batteries promotes a circular economy and reduces waste, pollution, and costs. Not only would this improve charging infrastructure, but it would also create a more sustainable supply chain for EV batteries.
Lithium-Cobalt Batteries: Here to Stay
Despite efforts to reduce the cobalt contents in batteries, the lithium-cobalt combination remains the optimal technology for EV batteries.
Growth is imminent in the EV market, and lithium-cobalt batteries could take center stage in improving both vehicle performance, and charging infrastructure.
Investing in Core Cybersecurity Technology
How is the growing cybersecurity market evolving? This graphic highlights the core technology developments and market growth underway.
Investing in Core Cybersecurity Technology
The world has become increasingly more digital—with everything from customer data and employee services to entire businesses living on servers—and in recent years cybercrime has become a constant threat.
After large-scale breaches in government organisations around the world and huge public companies like Sony, cybersecurity is being taken more seriously. And since 2016, the U.S. has seen at least 1,000 data breaches every single year, exposing billions more records.
But in a field where new exploits are just around the corner, and with COVID-19 driving more employees and services remote than ever before, the need for better cybersecurity technology and investment has reached critical importance.
This infographic from eToro highlights developments in the cybersecurity market and how they affect companies, consumers, and investors.
The Cybersecurity Landscape
No person or organisation is immune to cybercrime, but some are targeted more frequently.
Across businesses, cybercriminals look for exploits in sectors with either the most to lose in terms of financials or data, or they target sectors with the least protection.
Unsurprisingly, the top industry targeted by cybercrime in 2020 was financial services. But cybercriminals also focused on manufacturing, energy, and retail—industries forced to quickly shift to digital channels because of the pandemic, but without the time to adapt and safeguard.
|Top Industries Targeted by Cybercrime||% Targeted (2020)|
Though targeting is inconsistent across industries, financial impact is significant across the board.
In Europe, the average annual cost inflicted by cybercrime for affected organisations in 2019 ranged from $8 million in Italy to $13 million in Germany. In the U.S., the average annual cost of cybercrime was over $27 million.
|Organisation Base Country||Average Annual Cost of Cybercrime (2019)|
But in terms of volume, the most common cybersecurity threat is faced by individuals instead of companies. In addition to being a common target for cybercriminals attempting to access company data, consumers faced four times as many attacks as enterprises in 2019.
The Future Cybersecurity Need
The growth of cybercrime activity and adjacent cybersecurity investment over the last few decades was already impressive, but a post-COVID world puts the digital market front and center.
In the U.S., the cybersecurity market was valued at $156.5 billion in 2019, with more than half of the market focused on services over software and hardware. In 2027, the market is estimated to be worth $326.4 billion, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10%, with the focus remaining the same.
The driver of software and hardware usage is consistent with more aspects of business and personal life digitising, but growth in services is aligned with the uncertainty of future cybersecurity issues.
Winning the Fight Against Cybercrime
Cybersecurity and cybercrime grow and build off each other in a never-ending cycle, driving a need for increased investment alongside them.
The Cybersecurity Technology Cycle:
- Increased cyber operations incidents: Cybersecurity operations incidents increase as a result of the overwhelming burden of complexity.
- Add technology: Vendors pitch new technology as the solution to cyber operations incidents.
- Add people and process: New technology requires more people and processes.
- Operational complexity increases: Interactions between technology, processes and people increase geometrically.
- Loss of process visibility and control: Fog of uncertainty develops, old management systems are overwhelmed.
- Poor human performance: Technology and process complexity decrease cybersecurity effectiveness.
- Repeat 1)
As new devices and software come online, old methods used by cybercriminals for infiltration or data gathering are replaced with new ones.
In 2019, the most commonly used initial access methods were phishing (31%), scan & exploit (30%) and unauthorised credential usage (29%), with compromise of mobile devices only accounting for 2%. With more work going offline and onto personal devices post-pandemic, and increasingly so post-digitisation, those numbers are likely to fluctuate.
That’s why the cybersecurity market is expected to keep growing in importance and size over the coming decade. An increasingly digital world is putting more risk online as well, and as many companies have learned the hard way, cybersecurity is a core technology worth investing in.
How Can Investors Take Part?
eToro’s CyberSecurity CopyPortfolio* gives investors direct access to the growing cybersecurity market.
Curated by experienced and proven investment teams, the thematic portfolio offers exposure to a broad range of developers and companies invested in cybersecurity, with no management fees.
*Your capital is at risk.
CopyPortfolios is a portfolio management product, provided by eToro Europe Ltd., which is authorised and regulated by the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission.
CopyPortfolios should not be considered as exchange traded funds, nor as hedge funds.
Canada’s Gold Exploration Frontier: The Abitibi Greenstone Belt
The Abitibi greenstone belt has produced more than 200 million ounces of gold since 1901. Learn more about the Abitibi belt’s history, mining activity, and potential for discovery in this infographic.
The Abitibi: Canada’s Largest Gold District
Canada is home to many great gold districts, but none come close to the Abitibi greenstone belt.
Having produced over 200 million ounces of gold since 1901, the Abitibi belt has etched its place as Canada’s largest gold district. Today, the region is bustling with exploration activity and hosts three of the country’s largest gold mines.
The above infographic from Maple Gold Mines showcases what makes the Abitibi a prolific gold district, from its history and geology to current activity and the potential for discovery.
The Abitibi Greenstone Belt: Remarkable Geology and History
Over 2.6 billion years ago, the Earth’s natural processes of creation and destruction resulted in the formation of metal-rich volcanic rocks and deformation zones that comprise the Abitibi greenstone belt.
The Abitibi belt hosts several economically viable deposits of gold, silver, zinc, iron, copper, and other base metals. The types of deposits found there include gold-rich quartz-carbonate veins, copper porphyries, and volcanogenic massive sulfide (VMS) deposits.
Since mining began in the early 1900s, more than 124 mines have been set up in the Abitibi, and at least 15 of these have yielded over 3.5 million ounces of gold. What’s more, the total gold content of the belt, including past production and current reserves and resources, exceeds 300 million ounces.
The majority of the Abitibi’s rich gold deposits lie along fault lines in major deformation zones such as the Cadillac-Larder Lake zone and the Destor-Porcupine zone. These deposits are the foundations of gold camps that boast historical production numbers in excess of 10 million ounces of gold.
Despite a mining history that spans over 100 years, the Abitibi belt remains an active mining region with plenty of potential for new discoveries.
Mining Activity and the Potential for Discovery
With one end in Wawa, Ontario, and the other in Chibougamau, Quebec, the Abitibi’s location spans two jurisdictions that offer various advantages for mining companies.
Ontario and Quebec are two of Canada’s top mining jurisdictions with 2019 exploration expenditures of $432.4 million and $496.7 million, respectively. Mining companies in the Abitibi benefit not only from its rich resource endowment but also from the infrastructure, skilled workforces, and mining-friendly policies in its jurisdictions.
In fact, the Abitibi has produced around $12 billion in mining M&A transactions since 2013.
|Year||Buyer/Investor||Target||Value (US$, millions)|
|2014||Yamana Gold, Agnico Eagle||Osisko Mining||$3,600|
|2014||Osisko Gold Royalties||Virginia Mines||$424|
|2015||Kirkland Lake Gold||St. Andrew Goldfields||$134|
|2016||Tahoe Resources||Lake Shore Gold||$538|
|2017||Alamos Gold||Richmont Mines Ltd||$764|
|2017||Eldorado Gold||Integra Gold||$432|
|2017||Osisko Gold Royalties||Orion Mine Finance*||$864|
|2018||Bonterra Resources||Metanor Resources||$60|
|2019||Kirkland Lake Gold||Detour Lake||$3,700|
|2020||Yamana Gold||Monarch Gold*||$114|
|2021||Eldorado Gold||QMX Gold||$105|
*Osisko Gold Royalties bought a portfolio of royalties from Orion Mine Finance and Yamana Gold bought two properties from Monarch Gold.
Back in 2014, Yamana Gold and Agnico Eagle each bought a 50% stake in Osisko Mining for a total of $3.6 billion to own Osisko’s flagship Canadian Malartic Mine, Canada’s largest gold mine. In a similarly-sized transaction in 2019, Kirkland Lake Gold acquired the Detour Lake mine—the second-largest gold mine in the country, for $3.7 billion. Both of these mines share a common home—the Abitibi greenstone belt.
The Legacy Continues
The Abitibi belt remains a hub for mining activity with Canada’s largest gold mines and 28 exploration projects on the hunt for precious metals and the next wave of M&A transactions.
With its rich history, remarkable geology, and plenty of gold left to discover, the Abitibi greenstone belt’s legacy as one of the world’s most important gold districts will continue.
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