Traction batteries are a key factor in the environmental sustainability of electric mobility and, therefore, it is necessary to evaluate their environmental performance to allow a comprehensive sustainability assessment of electric mobility. This article presents an environmental assessment of a lithium-ion traction battery for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, characterized by a composite cathode material of lithium manganese oxide (LiMn2O4) and lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide Li(NixCoyMn1-x-y)O2. Composite cathode material is an emerging technology that promises to combine the merits of several active materials into a hybrid electrode to optimize performance and reduce costs. In this study, the environmental assessment of one battery pack (with a nominal capacity of 11.4 kWh able to be used for about 140,000 km of driving) is carried out by using the Life Cycle Assessment methodology consistent with ISO 14040. The system boundaries are the battery production, the operation phase and recycling at the end of life, including the recovery of various material fractions. The composite cathode technology examined besides a good compromise between the higher and the lower performance of NMC and LMO cathodes, can present good environmental performances. The results of the analysis show that the manufacturing phase is relevant to all assessed impact categories (contribution higher than 60%). With regard to electricity losses due to battery efficiency and battery transport, the contribution to the use phase impact of battery efficiency is larger than that of battery transport. Recycling the battery pack contributes less than 11% to all of the assessed impact categories, with the exception of freshwater ecotoxicity (60% of the life cycle impact). The environmental credits related to the recovery of valuable materials (e.g. cobalt and nickel sulphates) and other metal fractions (e.g. aluminium and steel) are particularly relevant to impact categories such as marine eutrophication, human toxicity and abiotic resource depletion. The main innovations of this article are that (1) it presents the first bill of materials of a lithium-ion battery cell for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles with a composite cathode active material; (2) it describes one of the first applications of the life cycle assessment to a lithium-ion battery pack for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles with a composite cathode active material with the aim of identifying the “hot spots” of this technology and providing useful information to battery manufacturers on potentially improving its environmental sustainability; (3) it evaluates the impacts associated with the use phase based on primary data about the battery pack's lifetime, in terms of kilometres driven; and (4) it models the end-of-life phase of the battery components through processes specifically created for or adapted to the case study.
|Numero di pagine||16|
|Rivista||JOURNAL OF CLEANER PRODUCTION|
|Stato di pubblicazione||Published - 2019|
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