Developing Spain’s first cobalt-free lithium battery for electric vehicles

In a major advancement for electric mobility, our partners in COBRA have developed Spain’s first large-format cobalt-free lithium-ion battery prototype for electric vehicles. This development marks a crucial stride towards producing batteries that are not only environmentally friendlier, but ready to compete in the global market.

Why cobalt-free batteries?

Cobalt makes batteries work with greater durability and faster charging cycles, but it is a scarce, expensive, and toxic metal.

– Jordi Jacas Biendicho, Senior Researcher at IREC and COBRA Project Coordinator

Enhancing the durability of lithium-ion batteries and extending battery life, cobalt is currently a critical material for powering electric vehicles efficiently. But its extraction has damaging consequences across the world:

Social impact: Around 70% of the world’s cobalt supply comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where mining practices have been linked to severe human rights abuses, including child labour and hazardous working conditions. Health risks associated with cobalt mining and processing also raise concerns. Workers in these industries face potential respiratory issues and other long-term health problems, adding to the ethical complexities of using cobalt in batteries.

Environmental impact: cobalt mining can lead to soil erosion, water pollution, and the destruction of ecosystems. Such environmental degradation contradicts the objectives of the energy transition, which aims to minimise ecological harm. 

Economic impact: The global cobalt supply chain is highly concentrated in a few countries, making it vulnerable to political instability, trade restrictions, and price fluctuations. This reliance on a limited supply chain can impede the scalability and reliability of cobalt-dependent technologies, like EV batteries. 

Since 2020, the COBRA project has been one of Europe’s leading alliances for next-generation cobalt-free batteries. Supported by Bax & Company, the European-wide consortium of 18 industry and academic organisations has strived to eliminate cobalt from the manufacturing process of electric vehicle (EV) batteries. 

Co-funded with nearly twelve million euros from the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 program, the alliance is advancing research and development for a safer, more sustainable battery value chain.

COBRA makes a breakthrough with Spain’s first cobalt-free EV battery

Earlier this month, COBRA achieved a major breakthrough for automotive batteries. Led by partner IREC, the consortium successfully developed Spain’s first cobalt-free lithium-ion battery. The new cobalt-free lithium battery prototype is currently in the pre-commercial phase and rated between levels 5 and 6 on the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) scale.

In line with Europe’s sustainability and recycling standards, the COBRA partners have innovated new electrode formulations using recycled silicon from photovoltaic panels. Jordi highlights that they are already achieving a recycling rate “of between 90 and 95% for the components that make up the cell” while enhancing the safety and sustainability of the entire value chain.

The innovation-based design will integrate a new control system that features wireless communication capabilities, advanced sensors, and sophisticated algorithms. These enhancements are crucial for increasing the safety of the batteries, enabling them to detect changes in temperature and potential gas leaks, as well as improve the overall efficiency of the battery.

You can read the full press release on this development here.

Bringing batteries closer to market with industry and policy insights

Since the formation of COBRA, our battery specialists have contributed 19 market intelligence reports, sharing their insights across the whole battery value chain.

Implementing new battery technologies inevitably brings a whole host of complexities, and market intelligence plays a critical role in ensuring these innovations remain relevant and impactful over the long term. 

From new anode technologies and cathode materials, to the impact of the EU’s forthcoming battery regulation, our team has covered a vast number of key technical, policy and market developments influencing the electric vehicle battery landscape.


In the fast-moving battery landscape, our COBRA market intelligence reports keep you up to date with the most sought-after topics in the industry, such as novel material developments, second-life applications and solid-state batteries

– Maarten Buysse, Battery Circularity Innovation Consultant

As well as our key role in providing market intelligence to the COBRA consortium, we are leading the dissemination and exploitation of the project’s results, to ensure the impressive developments of our partners can live up to their potential impact.

Talk to our battery experts

Our battery specialists work with leading research institutes, suppliers, OEMs, recyclers, and solution providers, helping them navigate the demands of an increasingly circular battery value chain. Get in touch and let’s find out how we can collaborate.

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