UBCO has announced a global development partnership with Chemix, a cutting-edge artificial intelligence (AI)-powered battery developer, to commercialize sustainable, ultra-safe and high-energy cobalt-free (Co-free) lithium-ion battery technology. This first-to-market high-energy Co-free cylindrical cell will replace UBCO’s existing reliance on alternative nickel cobalt manganese (NCM) and nickel cobalt aluminum (NCA) chemistries without compromising the experience of UBCO’s products.
Until now, cobalt has been a key ingredient in stabilizing high-energy battery chemistries. However, cobalt is a rare-earth mineral primarily mined adjacent to regions of the world that are considered conflict areas. The demand for this toxic ingredient has resulted in eutrophication, increased greenhouse gas emissions and unethical mining practices. Existing Co-free battery chemistries, such as those based on iron, do not have sufficient energy density for high-performance, long-range vehicles. In joint partnership, UBCO and Chemix have cracked the code to create the first, high-energy-density, Co-free cylindrical battery, adding to UBCO’s sustainable electric adventure vehicle (EAV) experience.
“We at UBCO believe there’s a lot that can be done in making sustainable transportation even more of a no-brainer, especially as it pertains to climate change,” said Colin Godby, chief product officer for UBCO. “Our partnership with Chemix is a critical step for our company to apply advanced battery technology in a pragmatic way. We are delivering positive impact quickly, and this partnership will help to provide a solution to three huge challenges in the industry by increasing battery energy density, reducing likelihood of thermal runaway, and enabling a cleaner supply chain. For UBCO, it’s really exciting to think that our customers’ riding adventures will be powered by an environmental footprint that’s smaller than ever before.”
The process to eliminate cobalt from existing battery chemistries without compromising performance is not straightforward. Historically, any type of battery innovation has been notorious for requiring long development cycles due to the sheer volume of possible experimental designs and the time-consuming nature of battery testing.
“Chemix is using AI to develop battery chemistries similar to how AI has been applied to speed up drug development,” said Dr. Kaixiang Lin, CEO and co-founder of Chemix. “We have developed a powerful AI process that automatically screens and suggests new materials for testing, that dramatically accelerates the process of developing new battery designs. You can think of this as battery R&D [research and development] on autopilot.”
Chemix’s AI-driven development approach also provides UBCO increased control and transparency over the battery development process and the resulting battery performance. This enables UBCO to dictate the battery requirements they need to design the optimal vehicle, instead of designing their vehicle around what’s available from off-the-shelf battery solutions.
Research and development based on high-energy 18650 and 21700 format cells has already started. The initial focus will be on designing first-to-market, high-energy, Co-free cylindrical cells for UBCO’s upcoming premium performance trail models. This technology will be rapidly scalable to quickly meet the large demand from UBCO’s foundational 2X2 and planned 4X4 models. Both parties also look forward to extending the partnership to exploration of battery re-purposing, as well as battery pack health management, to leverage the full capability of Chemix’s data-centric approach.
Building on global capital funding in 2021, UBCO’s investors, including TPK, GD1 and Nuance, are committed to allowing the brand to expand on environmental, social and governance (ESG) values by investing in such areas as alternative cell chemistries. With deep experience in manufacturing supply chains and ESG investments, investors will continue to play a vital role in UBCO’s efforts to provide environmentally friendly battery options to the forefront. For more information please visit www.ubcobikes.com.