The US electric car manufacturer Tesla has been building its Tesla factory, also known as Gigafactory IV or Giga Berlin-Brandenburg, in Grünheide, Brandenburg, since 2020.
To date, Tesla has not received a final construction permit and is basing its construction projects on preliminary permits. Accordingly, Tesla had to openly re-open the application documents due to a major change to its original construction plans.
This is shown by Tesla Giga Berlin’s documents on battery production.
The reason for this is the decision to now also manufacture battery cells and battery packs in the Tesla factory in Brandenburg.
The new documents can be viewed on site in the branch office of the State Office for the Environment in Frankfurt (Oder), the Office Spreenhagen, the city of Erkner and the Oder-Spree district in Beeskow and can also be found on the Internet.
A lot of information such as costs of the batteries, materials used and photos of the operational processes are blacked out because Tesla is afraid of industrial espionage and obviously does not want to disclose any company secrets.
Nevertheless, based on the documents, you can at least roughly read how Tesla intends to manufacture its battery cells and battery packs. One possible conclusion could be: Tesla may be planning to manufacture cobalt-free batteries in Grünheide.
Let’s for a moment consider Tesla’s secrecy around Giga Berlin’s battery factory and its chemistry.
At this point in time, this is only an assumption based on the process description for cell production that Tesla submitted.
Here the company describes both the manufacture of the battery packs and the manufacture of the battery cells. Tesla therefore not only wants to build batteries in Grünheide for the e-cars manufactured there, but also manufacture them for various locations around the world.
These will be classic lithium-ion cells. Graphite and silicon are found in the anode coating, which is no surprise. But things get interesting with the cathode.
So, is Tesla building batteries without cobalt in Berlin?
Tesla has blackened all fabrics here. Compounds such as lithium and cobalt would normally be used here. Tesla has already set new industrial standards here in the past because the company has managed to reduce the cobalt content to below five percent with its battery partner Panasonic.
Cobalt for batteries - both in electric vehicles and in smartphones and laptops - comes for the most part from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The production is controversial because there are repeated allegations that cobalt is extracted illegally, especially in small mines, and under very risky conditions for workers.
That is why Tesla is trying to keep the cobalt content of its batteries so low and on Battery Day in September 2020 the company announced that it would in future be producing batteries entirely without cobalt.
That speaks for a new type of Tesla battery
"The blackening of the components for the batteries in the documents for the Tesla factory in Brandenburg could be an indication that Tesla could develop its cobalt-free battery here for the first time - especially because Tesla has completely blacked out all cathode materials here, even those that which were previously publicly known," reports Basic Thinking.
The fact that Tesla would like to send the batteries from Grünheide to other locations also speaks in favor of the battery without cobalt, although the company actually mainly produces its batteries in the gigafactory in Nevada and recently also in Shanghai.
So Tesla already has two battery production sites in or around its factory locations.
Thus, if the Grünheide batteries were the typical Tesla batteries, it would theoretically not be necessary to send these batteries to other locations.
So, Tesla factory with battery without cobalt? The carmaker is keeping a low profile on that.
Of course, it is also possible that Tesla did not want to make the composition of the batteries public at this point. The fact that Tesla will build its self-developed batteries without cobalt for the first time in Grünheide is therefore initially only a guess.
Tesla has not yet responded to a request from BASIC thinking about this. So we'll have to wait and see. Of course, this only applies if the construction of the Tesla factory is really finally approved. Interested parties can view the re-issued Tesla documents until July 17, 2021.
Well, friends, let me know your thoughts please on Tesla’s cobalt-free battery efforts at Giga Berlin. Do you think Tela will make 4680 batteries at Giga Berlin with cobalt-free content? Like the LFP, but 4680 size?
Armen Hareyan is the founder and the Editor in Chief of Torque News. He founded TorqueNews.com in 2010, which since then has been publishing expert news and analysis about the automotive industry. He can be reached at Torque News Twitter, Facebok, Linkedin and Youtube.