Cobalt, a key battery material, is often sourced in problematic ways — Volvo wants to change that with technology.
Electric vehicles promise zero tailpipe emissions, but there are dirtier factors that are easily forgotten. Batteries require rare-earth materials and, sometimes, suppliers don’t source them in the most responsible way. Volvo, on Wednesday, detailed how it will start to change that.
Any cobalt Volvo uses for its electric-car batteries will be tied to blockchain technology, thus starting a digital ledger to keep tabs on where and how suppliers sourced the material. Both of the Swedish luxury brand’s battery suppliers, LG Chem of South Korea and CATL of China, agreed to implementing the blockchain to trace cobalt sourcing.
For those in need of a blockchain crash course , here you go: Blockchains are digital ledgers that cannot be changed without alerting another party. The records are linked to each other via written code. Along a supply chain, like cobalt for batteries, suppliers will create records of transactions that also create a set of data-recording rules. Those who are part of the blockchain can independently verify any transaction and tampering is theoretically impossible.