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Lithium-ion battery


Technology Description

Lithium-ion (Li-ion) is the dominant battery technology for electric vehicle applications and portable electronics. The anode is typically composed of graphite, and various cathode chemistries coexist (the most common being the nickel-based chemistries - lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC) and lithium nickel cobalt aluminium oxide (NCA), or lithium iron phosphate (LFP)). Within NMC cathodes, the elements can be found in various proportions. These range, for example, from NMC333, with equal shares of Ni, Mn and Co, to NMC811, with composition ratios of Ni, Mn, and Co of 8:1:1, with a current trend towards moving to lower cobalt content and higher nickel content. Li-ion is already a fairly mature technology and is undergoing rapid cost decreases. Current (2023) sales weighted average cost is around 150 USD/kWh at pack level. The best energy density of this technology is generally around 200-250 Wh/kg at the cell level, but the combination of high nickel cathodes, cell to pack arrangements and silicon in the anode may bring energy density up over 300 Wh/kg. For LFP the current best energy density at cell level is around 130-180 Wh/kg. The energy density difference between NMC and LFP can be however partly overcome thanks to better LFP cells arrangement at the battery pack level (e.g., cell-to-pack). Interest in LFP chemistries came back strongly during 2022 thanks to increased energy density at the battery pack level combined with lower cost and lower reliance on critical minerals. Battery re-use (e.g., second-life applications, for instance for energy storage) and/or recycling technologies and policies will be essential to ensure that batteries contribute to sustainability goals.

Relevance for Net Zero

Li-ion batteries are the dominant battery technology in the automotive sector today, but will likely be complemented and substituted by newer technologies from 2030 onwards (without the "next-generation", more energy-dense technologies covered elsewhere in this guide, prospects for significant battery cost decline and large-scale BEV adoption may be reduced and hence electrification will proceed less rapidly).

Key Countries

China, Korea, Sweden, Japan, Finland, United States

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