Clean Technologies and Environmental Policy

, Volume 20, Issue 6, pp 1233–1244 | Cite as

Comparative life cycle assessment of lithium-ion batteries with lithium metal, silicon nanowire, and graphite anodes

  • Zheshan WuEmail author
  • Defei Kong
Original Paper


Lithium metal and silicon nanowires, with higher specific capacity than graphite, are the most promising alternative advanced anode materials for use in next-generation batteries. By comparing three batteries designed, respectively, with a lithium metal anode, a silicon nanowire anode, and a graphite anode, the authors strive to analyse the life cycle of different negative electrodes with different specific capacities and compare their cradle-to-gate environmental impacts. This paper finds that a higher specific capacity of the negative material causes lower environmental impact of the same battery. The battery with a lithium metal anode has a lower environmental impact than the battery with a graphite anode. Surprisingly, although the silicon nanowire anode has a higher specific energy than graphite, the production of a battery with silicon nanowires causes a higher environmental impact than the production of a battery with graphite. In fact, the high specific energy of silicon nanowires can decrease the environmental impact of a battery with silicon nanowires, but silicon nanowire preparation causes extremely high emissions. Therefore, batteries with lithium metal anodes are the most environmentally friendly lithium-ion batteries. Batteries with lithium metal anodes could be the next generation of environmentally friendly batteries for electric vehicles.


Lithium metal anode Silicon nanowire anode Environmental impact assessment Specific energy Lithium-ion battery 





Battery management systems




Graphite anode


Carbon dioxide


Depth of discharge


Electric vehicles


Fossil depletion potential




Freshwater and marine eutrophication


Functional unit


Global warming potential


Human toxicity potential

kg eq

Kilograms equivalents


Life cycle assessment




Battery with LiFePO4 cathode and lithium metal anode


Lithium metal


Lithium metal anode


Lithium-ion batteries


Lithium–air battery cells


Lithium–sulphur battery




Metal depletion potential


Marine eutrophication potential



N/P ratio

Capacity ratio of the negative electrode to the positive electrode


Lithium nickel cobalt manganese oxide, LiNi1/3Mn1/3Co1/3O2


Lithium-ion battery pack with NCM cathode and graphite anode


Lithium-ion battery pack with NCM cathode and lithium metal anode


Lithium-ion battery pack with NCM cathode and silicon nanowire anode




Particulate matter less than 10 μm in diameter


Particulate matter formation


Silicon nanowires


Silicon nanowire anode


Sulphur dioxide


Terrestrial acidification potential



We are very grateful to Professor Xiaoming Ma for helpful discussions, to the editor and reviewers for their valuable comments, and to Qinhong Luo for his valuable help with plotting the data. We would like to thank James Ding and Lianyi Quan for helping the researchers to check grammar errors.

Supplementary material

10098_2018_1548_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (17 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (XLSX 17 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory for Urban Habitat Environmental Science and Technology, School of Environment and EnergyPeking University Shenzhen Graduate SchoolShenzhenChina
  2. 2.School of Advanced MaterialsPeking University Shenzhen Graduate SchoolShenzhenChina

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