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MONTREAL, QC, June 23, 2020 – Lithium-ion batteries have become the most widely used technology by automakers for electric vehicles. Over the years, many factors have propelled this technology to the forefront, such as its power-to-weight ratio, high energy density and low self-discharge. However, did you know that today there are many different types of lithium-ion batteries used in our electric vehicles? Indeed, batteries can vary in energy density, weight, voltage or chemistry. These characteristics will later affect their capacity in terms of range and power but also their cost for car manufacturers. Since batteries represent a significant share of the cost of EVs, this will inevitably affect the price of EVs for consumers.

In industry, lithium-ion batteries are generally classified by their cathode chemical composition. Today, the most commonly found chemistries in electric vehicles are: NMC, NCA, LFP and LMO. But what do these letters mean? They refer to the materials used in the cathode (the positive electrode) of the batteries. These materials include nickel, manganese, cobalt, aluminum, iron and phosphate.

So where is the lithium? At discharged state, lithium is found in the cathode structure.  Lithium is located in the liquid electrolyte of the battery where its ions can move from the cathode to the anode (negative electrode) during charge and vice-versa during discharge. So, a fully charged battery will have a great fraction of its lithium found in the anode structure.

How does the chemistry of my battery affect my vehicle? In general, nickel-based batteries such as NMC and NCA offer superior performance. These chemistries are used by many automakers such as Tesla, Volkswagen, BMW, Audi and GM for its Bolt model. However, these batteries are more expensive to produce due to the higher costs of cobalt and nickel. On the other hand, LFP and LMO batteries may be less efficient but are more stable and cheaper to produce.

Another important aspect to consider is the energy. Throughout the years, the energy in KWh found in EV batteries has been steadily increasing in order to offer more range and power to consumers. The energy can vary from 30 KWh to close to 100 KWh for Tesla, Porsche and Audi for example. Moreover, the battery cells are usually used in three forms when assembled in a battery pack. The first one is cylindrical (18650) as shown in the picture above and the two others are prismatic and pouch cells.

Recycling technologies must take all these characteristics into account in order to process all types of batteries. One of the key differentiators of the Lithion process is that, regardless the type of your lithium-ion battery when it reaches its end-of-life, our process will be able to recycle it sustainably. To learn more about our technology