Resource depletion of a Lithium ion battery cell technology

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Lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) are the dominating storage technology for electric vehicles (EVs). Different types of LIBs, using diverse cathode materials are available in the market, such as LiMn2O4, Li(Ni1/3Co1/3Mn1/3)O2. The cathodes contain a wide range of raw materials (RMs), among which e.g. cobalt is in the 2017 list of CRMs for the Europe Union (EU). CRMs are both of high economic importance for the EU, and vulnerable to supply security. In the last years, the increasing demand of LIBs has triggered a growing interest in the need to ensure the security and the sustainability of the supply of the CRMs used in LIBs and in general in EVs. In this context, lithium rich layered oxides from the class xLi2MnO3-(1− x)LiMO2 (M=Ni, Co, Mn), known as LMO – NCM, have drawn attention as cathode material due to their high discharge capacity and lower cobalt content, compared with the Ni-Co-Mn cathodes (NMC). In this context, the authors carried out a Life Cycle Assessment of an 11.4 kWh LMO-NMC battery cells useable in Plug-in EVs with the following main goals: to assess the impact on the mineral, fossil and renewable resources depletion (MFRRD); to estimate the requirement of CRMs; to identify the contribution of each cell component to the MFRRD; to compare the LMO-NMC LIB cell technology with an NMC cell technology available in the literature, with reference to the MFRRD and CRMs requirement. The LMO-NMC battery cell technology is modelled as 0.5LiMnO2 – 0.5Li (Ni1/3Co1/3Mn1/3)O2, using both primary and secondary data. The cells of the 11.4 kWh LMO-NMC battery are selected as functional unit. The system boundaries include RMs supply, manufacturing, transports and infrastructures. The results show that the LMO-NMC cells have an impact on MFRRD of 0.34 kg Sbeq. The relevant share of MFRRD (34%) is caused by the cobalt sulphate production used in the cathode. Of the 27 CRMs for the EU, the analysis shows the relevance of only two of them: cobalt and barite. From the comparison with the NMC cell, carried out with reference to 1 kWh of nominal capacity, results that the MFRRD impact and the cobalt requirement of the LMO-NMC technology is lower, respectively, of a percentage equal to -4.4% and -29% than those of the NMC. The results indicate that the LMO-NMC cell could be a suitable technology to meet the demand of the EV market as it involves a lower impact on MFRRD and a lower consume of CRMs compared to the NMC cell.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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