Volvo Cars uses blockchain to trace EV cobalt

Volvo Cars is set to globally trace cobalt used in its batteries by applying blockchain technology.

Following the company’s move into fully electric car production with the XC40 Recharge, the company is to address one of the more controversial issues with EVs – the source of the materials used in the batteries.

Traceability of raw materials used in the production of lithium-ion batteries, such as cobalt, is required as some supplies may not have been sourced responsibly. Blockchain technology, which establishes a transparent and reliable shared data network, significantly boosts transparency of the raw material supply chain because the information about the material’s origin cannot be changed undetected.

Volvo Cars has now reached an agreement with its two global battery suppliers, CATL of China will work with technology firms Circulor and Oracle to operate the blockchain technology across its supply chain following a successful pilot earlier this summer, while the Responsible Sourcing Blockchain Network (RSBN), together with responsible sourcing specialists RCS Global and IBM, is rolling out the technology in LG Chem’s supply chain.

“We have always been committed to an ethical supply chain for our raw materials,” said Martina Buchhauser, head of procurement at Volvo Cars. “With blockchain technology, we can take the next step towards ensuring full traceability of our supply chain and minimising any related risks, in close collaboration with our suppliers.”

In this particular case, data in the blockchain includes the cobalt’s origin, attributes such as weight and size, the chain of custody and information establishing that participant’s behaviour is consistent with OECD supply chain guidelines. This approach helps create trust between participants along a supply chain.

Last month, Volvo Cars also launched an ambitious climate plan, which includes a radical reduction of carbon emissions by 40 per cent per vehicle by 2025, as well as a continued commitment to ethical business across its entire operations and supply chain.

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