Breaking Down Battery Types.
Over the last decade, engineers have intensified their efforts on maximizing the amount of energy that lithium batteries can store, charge and discharge quickly, while also minimizing battery size and weight. As a result, we’ve seen three dominant battery chemistries applied in powering EVs: Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP), Nickel-Manganese-Cobalt (NCM) and Nickel-Cobalt-Aluminum (NCA). While the amount of lithium used is in a fairly tight range, between 11-17%, the mix of other materials in the cathode can vary significantly.
LFP: Made of lithium, iron and phosphate, the iron phosphate typically accounts for over 80% of the make-up of the cathode.
NMC: Made of lithium, nickel, manganese, and cobalt. Within the NMC family of batteries, the percentages of nickel, manganese and cobalt can vary and are currently supported by the designations, 111, 532, 622 and 811, representing the different percentage ratios of each component in the battery. As the percentage of nickel increases, so does the demand for lithium hydroxide.
NCA: Made of lithium, nickel, and cobalt, it has the highest concentration of nickel, around 73%, as compared to NMC battery formulations where the nickel component ranges from 30% to 70%. Solid State: On the horizon is the potential commercialization of the solid-state lithium-ion battery. Today’s lithium-ion batteries rely on a liquid electrolyte to carry lithium ions between an anode (the negative electrode) made of graphite, and a cathode (the positive electrode), which can be made of the previously identified materials. The promise of a solid-state lithium metal battery is that you can swap out that graphite anode for one made of pure lithium and do away with the liquid electrolyte in favor of a solid one. This would dramatically increase the energy density of the battery.