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The Six Major Types of Lithium-ion Batteries: A Visual Comparison

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battery technology series part 1 of 2
battery technology series part 2 of 2

types of lithium-ion batteries

The Six Types of Lithium-ion Batteries: A Visual Comparison

Lithium-ion batteries are at the center of the clean energy transition as the key technology powering electric vehicles (EVs) and energy storage systems.

However, there are many types of lithium-ion batteries, each with pros and cons.

The above infographic shows the tradeoffs between the six major lithium-ion cathode technologies based on research by Miao et al. and Battery University. This is the first of two infographics in our Battery Technology Series.

Understanding the Six Main Lithium-ion Technologies

Each of the six different types of lithium-ion batteries has a different chemical composition.

The anodes of most lithium-ion batteries are made from graphite. Typically, the mineral composition of the cathode is what changes, making the difference between battery chemistries.

The cathode material typically contains lithium along with other minerals including nickel, manganese, cobalt, or iron. This composition ultimately determines the battery’s capacity, power, performance, cost, safety, and lifespan.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the six major lithium-ion cathode technologies.

#1: Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide (NMC)

NMC cathodes typically contain large proportions of nickel, which increases the battery’s energy density and allows for longer ranges in EVs. However, high nickel content can make the battery unstable, which is why manganese and cobalt are used to improve thermal stability and safety. Several NMC combinations have seen commercial success, including NMC811 (composed of 80% nickel, 10% manganese, and 10% cobalt), NMC532, and NMC622.

#2: Lithium Nickel Cobalt Aluminum Oxide (NCA)

NCA batteries share nickel-based advantages with NMC, including high energy density and specific power. Instead of manganese, NCA uses aluminum to increase stability. However, NCA cathodes are relatively less safe than other Li-ion technologies, more expensive, and typically only used in high-performance EV models.

#3: Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP)

Due to their use of iron and phosphate instead of nickel and cobalt, LFP batteries are cheaper to make than nickel-based variants. However, they offer lesser specific energy and are more suitable for standard- or short-range EVs. Additionally, LFP is considered one of the safest chemistries and has a long lifespan, enabling its use in energy storage systems.

#4: Lithium Cobalt Oxide (LCO)

Although LCO batteries are highly energy-dense, their drawbacks include a relatively short lifespan, low thermal stability, and limited specific power. Therefore, these batteries are a popular choice for low-load applications like smartphones and laptops, where they can deliver relatively smaller amounts of power for long durations.

#5: Lithium Manganese Oxide (LMO)

Also known as manganese spinel batteries, LMO batteries offer enhanced safety and fast charging and discharging capabilities. In EVs, LMO cathode material is often blended with NMC, where the LMO part provides a high current upon acceleration, and NMC enables longer driving ranges.

#6: Lithium Titanate (LTO)

Unlike the other chemistries above, where the cathode composition makes the difference, LTO batteries use a unique anode surface made of lithium and titanium oxides. These batteries exhibit excellent safety and performance under extreme temperatures but have low capacity and are relatively expensive, limiting their use at scale.

Which Batteries Dominate the EV Market?

Now that we know about the six main types of lithium-ion batteries, which of these dominate the EV market, and how will that change in the future?

To find out, stay tuned for Part 2 of the Battery Technology Series, where we’ll look at the top EV battery chemistries by forecasted market share from 2021 through 2026.

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Electrification

Will Direct Lithium Extraction Disrupt the $90B Lithium Market?

Visual Capitalist and EnergyX explore how direct lithium extraction could disrupt the $90B lithium industry.

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Will Direct Lithium Extraction Disrupt the $90B Lithium Market?

Current lithium extraction and refinement methods are outdated, often harmful to the environment, and ultimately inefficient. So much so that by 2030, lithium demand will outstrip supply by a projected 1.42 million metric tons. But there is a solution: Direct lithium extraction (DLE).

For this graphic, we partnered with EnergyX to try to understand how DLE could help meet global lithium demands and change an industry that is critical to the clean energy transition.

The Lithium Problem

Lithium is crucial to many renewable energy technologies because it is this element that allows EV batteries to react. In fact, it’s so important that projections show the lithium industry growing from $22.2B in 2023 to nearly $90B by 2030.

But even with this incredible growth, as you can see from the table, refined lithium production will need to increase 86.5% over and above current projections.

2022 (million metric tons)2030P (million metric tons)
Lithium Carbonate Demand0.461.21
Lithium Hydroxide Demand0.181.54
Lithium Metal Demand00.22
Lithium Mineral Demand0.070.09
Total Demand0.713.06
Total Supply0.751.64

The Solution: Direct Lithium Extraction

DLE is a process that uses a combination of solvent extraction, membranes, or adsorbents to extract and then refine lithium directly from its source. LiTASTM, the proprietary DLE technology developed by EnergyX, can recover an incredible 300% more lithium per ton than existing processes, making it the perfect tool to help meet lithium demands.

Additionally, LiTASTM can refine lithium at the lowest cost per unit volume directly from brine, an essential step in meeting tomorrow’s lithium demand and manufacturing next-generation batteries, while significantly reducing the footprint left by lithium mining.

Hard Rock MiningUnderground ReservoirsDirect Lithium Extraction
Direct CO2 Emissions15,000 kg5,000 kg3.5 kg
Water Use170 m3469 m334-94 m3
Lithium Recovery Rate58%30-40%90%
Land Use464 m23124 m20.14 m2
Process TimeVariable18 months1-2 days

Providing the World with Lithium

DLE promises to disrupt the outdated lithium industry by improving lithium recovery rates and slashing emissions, helping the world meet the energy demands of tomorrow’s electric vehicles.

EnergyX is on a mission to become a worldwide leader in the sustainable energy transition using groundbreaking direct lithium extraction technology. Don’t miss your chance to join companies like GM and invest in EnergyX to transform the future of renewable energy.

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Electrification

Chart: The $400 Billion Lithium Battery Value Chain

In this graphic, we break down where the $400 billion lithium battery industry will generate revenue in 2030.

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Breaking Down the $400 Billion Battery Value Chain

As the world transitions away from fossil fuels toward a greener future, the lithium battery industry could grow fivefold by 2030. This shift could create over $400 billion in annual revenue opportunities globally.

For this graphic, we partnered with EnergyX to determine how the battery industry could grow by 2030.

Exploring the Battery Value Chain

The lithium battery value chain has many links within it that each generate their own revenue opportunities, these include:

  • Critical Element Production: Involves the mining and refining of materials used in a battery’s construction.
  • Active materials: Creating and developing materials that react electrochemically to allow batteries to charge and discharge.
  • Battery cells: Involves the production of rechargeable elements of a battery.
  • Battery packs: Producing packs containing a series of connected battery cells. Generally, these come in two types: NMC/NMCA, the standard in North America and Europe, and LFP, the standard in China.
  • Recycling: Reusing battery components within new batteries.

But these links aren’t equal, each one is projected to generate different levels of revenue by 2030:

China 🇨🇳Europe 🇪🇺United States 🇺🇸Rest of World 🌍
Total$184B$118B$62B$39B
Critical Element Production$37B$25B$15B$8B
Active Materials$54B$31B$14B$11B
Battery Packs$34B$22B$11B$7B
Battery Cells$53B$37B$20B$11B
Recycling$6B$3B$2B$2B

On the surface, battery cell production may contribute the most revenue to the battery value chain. However, lithium production can generate margins as high as 65%, meaning lithium production has potential to yield large margins.

How Much Lithium Is Available?

Just a few countries hold 81% of the world’s viable lithium. So, supply bottlenecks could slow the growth of the lithium battery industry:

NationViable Lithium Reserves (2023)
Chile 🇨🇱9.3M t
Australia 🇦🇺6.2M t
Argentina 🇦🇷2.7M t
China 🇨🇳2M t
U.S. 🇺🇸1M t
Rest of World 🌍4.9M t

Supplying the World With Batteries

Supplying the world with lithium is critical to the battery value chain and a successful transition from fossil fuels. Players like the U.S. and the EU, with increasingly large and growing lithium needs, will need to maximize local opportunities and work together to meet demand.

EnergyX is on a mission to become a world leader in the global transition to sustainable energy, using cutting-edge direct lithium extraction to help supply the world with lithium.

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