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Why Lithium Is the Future of Automotive Batteries & Why That Impact Will Be Bigger Than Expected

If you approach the subject of batteries from a broader sense, you’ll have heard in your day to day life people complaining that batteries these days are too expensive, are poor, run out quickly, take too long to charge.

Whether this refers to a car battery, forklift battery or even your phone battery, we take for granted how many things we use that depend on battery energy.


Whilst this is a fair criticism and within the society we live in where we want everything yesterday, these comments are understandable. A natural step in a tech-heavy world, changes are now coming into play that combat these issues. This new development in the market has been pipped as the solution for better batteries that will lead to the electrification of not just cars but also trucks, buses and increasingly air and sea transport. So, what is the solution you ask? Lithium.


Lithium is quite unique as a material in that it is very light with the lowest reduction potential of any chemical element which allows batteries based on lithium to have unbeatable performance. The other advantage is that there is lots of lithium out there, some 400 years of output according to the US Geological Survey. 


The most popular type of lithium battery is the lithium-ion battery which because of its unmatchable combination of higher energy and power density has become the rechargeable battery of choice for power tools, mobile phones, laptops and increasingly electrical vehicles.


There are currently five major types of lithium-ion battery chemistry: LPF, NMC, NCA, LMO and LCO. NMC is the battery that is deemed of having the most potential use for the automotive industry, due to its high performance, low cost and safety benefits. This battery has been rolled out already into the warehousing sector with the lithium-ion forklift battery becoming the desired battery of choice due to its enhanced performance.


The good news though is that lithium-ion batteries costs are likely to fall another 50% by 2020 to $100/kWh while at the same time energy density should increase by 20% which will help bring the range of the average electric vehicle (EV) towards 500km.


At the same time, this should be enough to ensure cost parity with the internal combustion engine (ICE) car which will, in turn, give the market for EVs a huge boost. And with growing competition particularly between America, Europe, China and Japan driving innovation at breathtaking speeds, it may not be that long before many of the breakthroughs mentioned above come to market.

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Tags: Battery, Electric, Lithium, Vehicles

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