Nickel, Stainless Steel and the Li-Ion Battery

The UK government has committed to a strict plan to reduce the country's greenhouse gas emissions to almost nil by 2050. Aimed at tackling the ever-growing spectre of climate change, the plan encompasses many aspects, a major one of which is the continued development of electric cars.

stainless steel

Cars powered by electricity need batteries capable of holding enough charge for long enough to make sure that an electric car can rival or outperform a vehicle run on standard fossil fuels. In the continuing quest to make better, lighter, longer-lasting batteries, the importance of nickel to the world market increases: nickel is a vital element in the manufacture of lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries.

Using nickel in batteries is certainly nothing new: NiCD (nickel cadmium) and NiMH (nickel metal hydride) rechargeable batteries have been around for decades. Developments in digital camera and power tool technology revealed the potential for portable devices of all kinds and, by the mid 1990s, NiMH batteries were being used in Toyota Prius vehicles.

The smartphone revolution sealed the fate of Li-ion batteries as the future of powering mobile devices from communication tools to fully-functional vehicles. The technology of nickel-containing batteries continues to improve, ensuring their continued presence and growing importance in energy storage systems.

Around 8-10% of all the stainless steel produced worldwide is made using nickel and so the market price of these two crucial commodities is closely related. As demand for nickel increases, so too will its price on the world market: this in turn has an upward effect on the price of stainless steel. If supply is unable to meet demand, world shortages of nickel will further drive up prices.

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