CBMM says exports of niobium oxide up more than 500% since 2019 due to battery demand

As the world leader in the production and sales of niobium products, Brazil-based CBMM has seen a surge of more than 500% in its exports of niobium oxide to meet increasing demand for new applications in cathodes of batteries for electric cars since 2019.

New battery chemistries that combine a significant increase in the autonomy of electric cars with a reduction or even elimination of cobalt, due to the use of Niobium oxide in the cathode active materials, are in the final stages of development in Asia. The company expects sales of niobium oxide for use in cathodes to reach 1,000 tonnes in 2024, when the new batteries should start entering the market.

“Niobium is used as a doping or coating to increase thermal and structural stability in cathode active materials. They have chemistries with high nickel or high manganese and low cobalt content, and those completely free of nickel and cobalt, improving performance, safety and durability of batteries.” says Dr Robson Monteiro, senior market development specialist at CBMM

The new batteries with niobium applied to the cathode are aimed mainly to the passenger car segment of the market. The application of niobium oxide in cathodes, combined with a high nickel formulation, enhances the autonomy of electric vehicles, as it significantly increases energy storage capacity in batteries. It also contributes to making the batteries lighter and smaller, with a more sustainable use of materials.

The solution reduces the costs as the addition of niobium varies from 0.5 to 1% and allows the replacement of cobalt with nickel, which is cheaper and more accessible to producers.

CBMM has been investing in product development research and niobium technology for more than 67 years, with an R&D budget that currently amounts to $50 million a year. It currently has over 40 partnerships with companies manufacturing batteries and universities involved in research in the area.

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