Lithium ion battery cells in rhyno electric scooter

Types of Lithium ion batteries

What to look for in battery? - Types of Lithium-ion batteries: merits and demerits

Future is electric. If you are planning to buy an electric two-wheeler, this quick article may help you to distinguish and choose best product among hundreds of electric scooters available in the market. Battery is the heart of an electric vehicle. Major chunk of cost goes to is its battery and its replacement in future. Buying vehicle without understanding and considering battery type may cost you more in future. Hence, prevention is better than cure!
Lead acid batteries are obsolete. It catered very negative impression of electric vehicles because of frequent failures, shorter life and low power. Lithium-ion is promising battery technology as it provides powerful performance and long life without maintenance. But there are different types of Lithium batteries which consumer should be aware of.
The article is summarized from various credible sources and framed in very simple , ‘to the point’ manner for basic understanding for a consumer.
Why knowing about type of Lithium ion battery is necessary?
  • Different types of Lithium batteries have variation and compromise in basic properties such as battery life, weight, cost, power density, explosion / fire hazard chances. There is no single Lithium battery available which is best in every aspect. User has to decide in which areas one can compromise.
What to compromise? And how?
  • If you want  battery life longer, weight will be little bit higher. (1.5x typically)
  • If you want light weight and cost effective battery, usage life will be shorter (800-1200 charge discharge cycles)
  • If you want fire safe battery, cost & weight will be little bit higher. (8-9% higher cost)
Types of Lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles:
  1. LCO (Lithium Cobalt Oxide)
  2. NCA (Lithium Nickel Cobalt Aluminum Oxide)
  3. NMC (Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide)
  4. LFP (Lithium Iron Phosphate(LiFePO4))
  5. LTO (Lithium Titanate Oxide)
Merits and demerits of each type of battery:
[Energy density by volume and weight is simplified as “weight” and “size” for unit KWH of battery for simple understanding]
1. LCO:
  • Widely used in electronics such as laptops, power banks etc. Mass production makes it cheaper. But it is not as efficient as NMC. Gradually Manufacturers are moving to NMC for better results with lower costs.
  • Widely available
  • Light weight
  • Smaller size
  • Shorter Life
  • Possibility of Fire
2. NCA:
  • Aluminum makes this battery lighter & power dense. It is choice of a popular electric car company Tesla. But at the same time, aluminum is not stable at higher temperatures. Special monitoring systems and cooling systems are required to avoid fire hazard. As per various reports, Tesla is planning to use LFP for safety and cost reasons.
  • Light weight
  • High power
  • High possibility of fire
  • Costlier than others
3. NMC:
  • Better version of LCO. Widely used in current electric two wheelers. Generally this battery lasts up to 3-4 years or 800-1200 cycles if designed and used properly.
  • Light weight
  • Smaller size
  • Fire possibility
  • Relatively shorter life
4. LFP:
  • One of the oldest and safest battery types. Many companies are introducing LFP in upcoming vehicles. With improved cell geometry (32700 cell), weight is considerably reduced in upcoming models. Generally this battery can last up to 7-8 years / 2000-2500 cycles if designed and used properly.
  • Non explosive
  • Longer life
  • Cost effective in longer run
  • Bigger size
  • Higher weight
5. LTO:
  • Safest and very long life battery. But Titanium makes it expensive. But it lasts up to 8-10 years if handled propery which may result in marginal cost saving in longer run. But it reaches up to 200% in cost as compared to LFP or NMC.
  • Very long life
  • Non explosive
  • Fast charge possible
  • Costlier than others
  • Very big size