Our Next Energy - ONE - is back in the news. Last time the company installed an experimental battery in the Tesla Model S and drove it nonstop for 752 miles (1,210 km) on one charge. It achieved that range thanks to an experimental battery with much higher energy density. Even more impressively, the car was driven on the public roads in the middle of winter. Later on they a new trial saw the Tesla strapped to a dyno and running it at 55 mph for a staggering 882 miles - 1,419 km.
ONE attracted enough attention with those stunts and now BMW iVentures stepped in and together with a few other companies invested $25 million to help the brand new company develop its technology further with a view of scaling up. There are hundreds of companies showing different battery technologies but only a handful so far managed to bring the ideas out of the lab and onto the street.BMW and ONE partnering on the "dual-chemistry" battery development
BMW dedicated its latest iX model as a development vehicle which is having a dual-chemistry battery installed for further real life testing. Both BMW and ONE confirmed the testing will commence towards the end of this year.
What is the Dual-Chemistry battery that ONE calls the Gemini? The battery pack is split into two separate portions. The first part is called “Traction” and it uses LFP cathode chemistry with a lower energy density than what we usually get from batteries based on cobalt, manganese, aluminum or nickel. LFP batteries are beginning to be installed in entry models and slowly making their way through the range since they are much cheaper and, with recent developments, have few disadvantages. Tesla, GM, BYD and a few other companies are already using this chemistry to lower the costs and reliance on rare earth materials.
The second part of the battery is the “Long Range” part that uses high energy density chemistry that is developed in-house by ONE. The battery uses mainly manganese with small amounts of cobalt and nickel. There is no anode in this chemistry - it uses a bare copper current collector instead, a design that is known as “anode free”.Gemini battery
The energy is drawn from each part of the battery depending on the circumstances. For most of normal driving the “Traction” part is responsible for feeding the electric motors but when more energy is required for rapid acceleration or high speed driving then the “Long Range” part takes over. That way the stress on LFP battery cells is reduced and their deterioration is avoided.
The partnership with BMW is preparing ONE to become an OEM supplier which will need a lot of work from the company. Initially the test battery that goes into the iX will be manufactured between 4 separate suppliers but ONE is planning to bring the manufacturing under its own roof eventually. Now the company only has to prove that its battery can deliver the promised range - this will be a huge step towards safer and more sustainable EV battery technology, one that uses a “conflict-free” supply chain and relies less on rare earth materials.New battery promises 600 miles of range for the BMW iX
For us consumers it means there is another product on the way that within a few years will reach the showrooms and it will make owning the EV far less of a headache and far more a real alternative for fossil fuels.