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



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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How EV Adoption Will Impact Oil Consumption (2015-2025P)

How much oil is saved by adding electric vehicles into the mix? We look at data from 2015 to 2025P for different types of EVs.



The EV Impact on Oil Consumption

As the world moves towards the electrification of the transportation sector, demand for oil will be replaced by demand for electricity.

To highlight the EV impact on oil consumption, the above infographic shows how much oil has been and will be saved every day between 2015 and 2025 by various types of electric vehicles, according to BloombergNEF.

How Much Oil Do Electric Vehicles Save?

A standard combustion engine passenger vehicle in the U.S. uses about 10 barrels of oil equivalent (BOE) per year. A motorcycle uses 1, a Class 8 truck about 244, and a bus uses more than 276 BOEs per year.

When these vehicles become electrified, the oil their combustion engine counterparts would have used is no longer needed, displacing oil demand with electricity.

Since 2015, two and three-wheeled vehicles, such as mopeds, scooters, and motorcycles, have accounted for most of the oil saved from EVs on a global scale. With a wide adoption in Asia specifically, these vehicles displaced the demand for almost 675,000 barrels of oil per day in 2015. By 2021, this number had quickly grown to 1 million barrels per day.

Let’s take a look at the daily displacement of oil demand by EV segment.

Number of barrels saved per day, 2015Number of barrels saved per day, 2025P
Electric Passenger Vehicles8,600 886,700
Electric Commercial Vehicles0145,000
Electric Buses 43,100333,800
Electric Two & Three-Wheelers674,3001,100,000
Total Oil Barrels Per Day726,0002,465,500

Today, while work is being done in the commercial vehicle segment, very few large trucks on the road are electric—however, this is expected to change by 2025.

Meanwile, electric passenger vehicles have shown the biggest growth in adoption since 2015.

In 2022, the electric car market experienced exponential growth, with sales exceeding 10 million cars. The market is expected to continue its strong growth throughout 2023 and beyond, eventually coming to save a predicted 886,700 barrels of oil per day in 2025.

From Gas to Electric

While the world shifts from fossil fuels to electricity, BloombergNEF predicts that the decline in oil demand does not necessarily equate to a drop in oil prices.

In the event that investments in new supply capacity decrease more rapidly than demand, oil prices could still remain unstable and high.

The shift toward electrification, however, will likely have other implications.

While most of us associate electric vehicles with lower emissions, it’s good to consider that they are only as sustainable as the electricity used to charge them. The shift toward electrification, then, presents an incredible opportunity to meet the growing demand for electricity with clean energy sources, such as wind, solar and nuclear power.

The shift away from fossil fuels in road transport will also require expanded infrastructure. EV charging stations, expanded transmission capacity, and battery storage will likely all be key to supporting the wide-scale transition from gas to electricity.

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Graphite: An Essential Material in the Battery Supply Chain

Graphite represents almost 50% of the materials needed for batteries by weight, no matter the chemistry.



Graphite: An Essential Material in the Battery Supply Chain

The demand for lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries has skyrocketed in recent years due to the increasing popularity of electric vehicles (EVs) and renewable energy storage systems.

What many people don’t realize, however, is that the key component of these batteries is not just lithium, but also graphite.

Graphite represents almost 50% of the materials needed for batteries by weight, regardless of the chemistry. In Li-ion batteries specifically, graphite makes up the anode, which is the negative electrode responsible for storing and releasing electrons during the charging and discharging process.

To explore just how essential graphite is in the battery supply chain, this infographic sponsored by Northern Graphite dives into how the anode of a Li-ion battery is made.

What is Graphite?

Graphite is a naturally occurring form of carbon that is used in a wide range of industrial applications, including in synthetic diamonds, EV Li-ion batteries, pencils, lubricants, and semiconductor substrates.

It is stable, high-performing, and reusable. While it comes in many different grades and forms, battery-grade graphite falls into one of two classes: natural or synthetic.

Natural graphite is produced by mining naturally occurring mineral deposits. This method produces only one to two kilograms of CO2 emissions per kilogram of graphite.

Synthetic graphite, on the other hand, is produced by the treatment of petroleum coke and coal tar, producing nearly 5 kg of CO2 per kilogram of graphite along with other harmful emissions such as sulfur oxide and nitrogen oxide.

A Closer Look: How Graphite Turns into a Li-ion Battery Anode

The battery anode production process is composed of four overarching steps. These are:

  1. Mining
  2. Shaping
  3. Purifying
  4. Coating

Each of these stages results in various forms of graphite with different end-uses.

For instance, the micronized graphite that results from the shaping process can be used in plastic additives. On the other hand, only coated spherical purified graphite that went through all four of the above stages can be used in EV Li-ion batteries.

The Graphite Supply Chain

Despite its growing use in the energy transition all around the world, around 70% of the world’s graphite currently comes from China.

With scarce alternatives to be used in batteries, however, achieving supply security in North America is crucial, and it is using more environmentally friendly approaches to graphite processing.

With a lower environmental footprint and lower production costs, natural graphite serves as the anode material for a greener future.

Click here to learn more about how Northern Graphite plans to build the largest Battery Anode Material (BAM) plant in North America.

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