Skip to main content

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

Abstract

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.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6

Abbreviations

1,4-DB:

1,4-Dichlorobenzene

BMS:

Battery management systems

C:

Graphite

C-A:

Graphite anode

CO2 :

Carbon dioxide

DoD:

Depth of discharge

EVs:

Electric vehicles

FDP:

Fossil depletion potential

Fe:

Iron

FEP:

Freshwater and marine eutrophication

FU:

Functional unit

GWP:

Global warming potential

HTP:

Human toxicity potential

kg eq:

Kilograms equivalents

LCA:

Life cycle assessment

LFP:

LiFePO4

LFP-Li:

Battery with LiFePO4 cathode and lithium metal anode

Li:

Lithium metal

Li-A:

Lithium metal anode

LIBs:

Lithium-ion batteries

Li–O2 :

Lithium–air battery cells

Li–S:

Lithium–sulphur battery

LNCM:

0.5Li2MnO3·0.5LiNi0.44Co0.25Mn0.31O2

MDP:

Metal depletion potential

MEP:

Marine eutrophication potential

N:

Nitrogen

N/P ratio:

Capacity ratio of the negative electrode to the positive electrode

NCM:

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

NCM-C:

Lithium-ion battery pack with NCM cathode and graphite anode

NCM-Li:

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

NCM-SiNWs:

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

P:

Phosphor

PM10:

Particulate matter less than 10 μm in diameter

PMF:

Particulate matter formation

SiNWs:

Silicon nanowires

SiNW-A:

Silicon nanowire anode

SO2 :

Sulphur dioxide

TAP:

Terrestrial acidification potential

References

  1. Andre D, Hain H, Lamp P, Maglia F, Stiaszny B (2017) Future high-energy density anode materials from an automotive application perspective. J Mater Chem A 5:17174–17198. https://doi.org/10.1039/c7ta03108d

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. Chan CK, Peng H, Liu G, McIlwrath K, Zhang XF, Huggins RA, Cui Y (2008) High-performance lithium battery anodes using silicon nanowires. Nat Nanotechnol 3:31–35. https://doi.org/10.1038/nnano.2007.411

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Cho S, Jang HY, Jung I, Liu LC, Park S (2017) Synthesis of embossing Si nanomesh and its application as an anode for lithium ion batteries. J Power Sources 362:270–277. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpowsour.2017.07.048

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. Deng YL, Li JY, Li TH, Gao XF, Yuan C (2017) Life cycle assessment of lithium sulphur battery for electric vehicles. J Power Sources 343:284–295. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpowsour.2017.01.036

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Dunn JB, Gaines L, M. B, Sullivan J, Wang M (2014) Material and energy flows in the materials production, assembly, and end-of-life stages of the automotive lithium-ion battery life cycle. Argonne National Laboratory. https://greet.es.anl.gov/publication-lib-lca. Accessed on 5 Oct 2017

  6. Dunn JB, Gaines L, Kelly JC, James C, Gallagher KG (2015) The significance of Li-ion batteries in electric vehicle life-cycle energy and emissions and recycling’s role in its reduction. Energy Environ Sci 8:158–168. https://doi.org/10.1039/c4ee03029j

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. Ecoinvent 3.3. http://www.ecoinvent.org/database. Accessed on 10 Sept 2017

  8. Ellingsen LAW, Majeau-Bettez G, Singh B, Srivastava AK, Valoen LO, Stromman AH (2014) Life cycle assessment of a lithium-ion battery vehicle pack. J Ind Ecol 18:113–124. https://doi.org/10.1111/jiec.12072

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Ellingsen LAW, Majeau-Bettez G, Stromman AH (2015) The significance of Li-ion batteries in electric vehicle life-cycle energy and emissions and recycling’s role in its reduction in energy and environmental science. J Ind Ecol 19:518–519. https://doi.org/10.1111/jiec.12309

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Huijbregts MAJ et al (2017) ReCiPe2016: a harmonised life cycle impact assessment method at midpoint and endpoint level. Int J Life Cycle Assess 22:138–147. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11367-016-1246-y

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. ISO 14040 (2006) Environmental management—life cycle assessment—principles and framework. International Organization of Standardization, Geneva

    Google Scholar 

  12. Kang KS et al (2014) Effect of additives on electrochemical performance of lithium nickel cobalt manganese oxide at high temperature. J Power Sources 253:48–54. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpowsour.2013.12.024

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  13. Kushnir D, Sanden BA (2011) Multi-level energy analysis of emerging technologies: a case study in new materials for lithium ion batteries. J Clean Prod 19:1405–1416. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2011.05.006

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  14. Lastoskie CM, Dai Q (2015) Comparative life cycle assessment of laminated and vacuum vapour-deposited thin film solid-state batteries. J Clean Prod 91:158–169. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2014.12.003

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  15. Li BB, Gao XF, Li JY, Yuan C (2014) Life cycle environmental impact of high-capacity lithium ion battery with silicon nanowires anode for electric vehicles. Environ Sci Technol 48:3047–3055. https://doi.org/10.1021/es4037786

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  16. Li NW, Yin YX, Yang CP, Guo YG (2016) An artificial solid electrolyte interphase layer for stable lithium metal anodes. Adv Mater 28:1853–1858. https://doi.org/10.1002/adma.201504526

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  17. Liu S, Xiong L, He C (2014) Long cycle life lithium ion battery with lithium nickel cobalt manganese oxide (NCM) cathode. J Power Sources 261:285–291. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpowsour.2014.03.083

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  18. Majeau-Bettez G, Hawkins TR, Stromman AH (2011) Life cycle environmental assessment of lithium-ion and nickel metal hydride batteries for plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles. Environ Sci Technol 45:5454. https://doi.org/10.1021/es2015082

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  19. Manthiram A (2017) An outlook on lithium ion battery technology. ACS Central Sci 3:1063–1069. https://doi.org/10.1021/acscentsci.7b00288

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  20. Martha R, Nagaraja HS (2017) Effect of current density and electrochemical cycling on physical properties of silicon nanowires as anode for lithium ion battery. Mater Charact 129:24–30. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.matchar.2017.04.001

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  21. Matheys J, Timmermans JM, Van Mierlo J, Meyer S, Van den Bossche P (2009) Comparison of the environmental impact of five electric vehicle battery technologies using LCA. Int J Sust Manuf 1:318–329

    Google Scholar 

  22. OpenLCA. http://www.openlca.org/. Accessed on 11 Sept 2017

  23. Peters J, Buchholz D, Passerini S, Weil M (2016) Life cycle assessment of sodium-ion batteries. Energy Environ Sci 9:1744–1751. https://doi.org/10.1039/c6ee00640j

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  24. Peters JF, Baumann M, Zimmermann B, Braun J, Weil M (2017) The environmental impact of Li-Ion batteries and the role of key parameters—a review. Renew Sustain Energy Rev 67:491–506. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rser.2016.08.039

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  25. Wang D, Zhang W, Zheng W, Cui X, Rojo T, Zhang Q (2017) Towards high-safe lithium metal anodes: suppressing lithium dendrites via tuning surface energy. Adv Sci (Weinh) 4:1600168. https://doi.org/10.1002/advs.201600168

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  26. Wu JY, Liu P, Hu YS, Li H (2016) Calculation on energy densities of lithium ion batteries and metallic lithium ion batteries. Energy Storage Sci Technol 5:443–453

    Google Scholar 

  27. Ye H, Xin S, Yin YX, Li JY, Guo YG, Wan LJ (2017a) Stable Li plating/stripping electrochemistry realized by a hybrid Li reservoir in spherical carbon granules with 3D conducting skeletons. J Am Chem Soc 139:5916–5922. https://doi.org/10.1021/jacs.7b01763

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  28. Ye H et al (2017b) Synergism of Al-containing solid electrolyte interphase layer and Al-based colloidal particles for stable lithium anode. Nano Energy 36:411–417. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nanoen.2017.04.056

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  29. Yu YJ, Chen B, Huang K, Wang X, Wang D (2014) Environmental impact assessment and end-of-life treatment policy analysis for Li-ion batteries and Ni–MH batteries. Int J Environ Res Pub He 11:3185–3198. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph110303185

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  30. Zackrisson M (2016) Life cycle assessment of long life lithium electrode for electric vehicle batteries http://ri.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1131667/FULLTEXT01.pdf. Accessed on 17 Oct 2017

  31. Zackrisson M, Fransson K, Hildenbrand J, Lampic G, O’Dwyer C (2016) Life cycle assessment of lithium-air battery cells. J Clean Prod 135:299–311. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2016.06.104

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  32. Zhang CF, Yang P, Dai X, Xiong X, Zhan J, Zhang YL (2009) Synthesis of LiNi1/3Co1/3Mn1/3O2 cathode material via oxalate precursor. T Nonferrous Met Soc 19:635–641. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1003-6326(08)60325-8

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  33. Zhang R, Li NW, Cheng XB, Yin YX, Zhang Q, Guo YG (2017) Advanced micro/nanostructures for lithium metal anodes. Adv Sci (Weinh) 4:1600445. https://doi.org/10.1002/advs.201600445

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  34. Zuo TT, Wu XW, Yang CP, Yin YX, Ye H, Li NW, Guo YG (2017) Graphitized carbon fibers as multifunctional 3D current collectors for high areal capacity Li anodes. Adv Mater. https://doi.org/10.1002/adma.201700389

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

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.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Zheshan Wu.

Electronic supplementary material

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

Supplementary material 1 (XLSX 17 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Wu, Z., Kong, D. Comparative life cycle assessment of lithium-ion batteries with lithium metal, silicon nanowire, and graphite anodes. Clean Techn Environ Policy 20, 1233–1244 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10098-018-1548-9

Download citation

Keywords

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