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Electric vehicles based on lithium-ion batteries (LIB) have seen rapid growth over the past decade as they are viewed as a cleaner alternative to conventional fossil-fuel burning vehicles, especially for local pollutant (nitrogen oxides [NOx], sulfur oxides [SOx], and particulate matter with diameters less than 2.5 and 10 μm [PM2.5 and PM10]) and CO2 emissions. However, LIBs are known to have their own energy and environmental challenges. This study focuses on LIBs made of lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC), since they currently dominate the United States (US) and global automotive markets and will continue to do so into the foreseeable future. The effects of globalized production of NMC, especially LiNi1/3Mn1/3Co1/3O2 (NMC111), are examined, considering the potential regional variability at several important stages of production. This study explores regional effects of alumina reduction and nickel refining, along with the production of NMC cathode, battery cells, and battery management systems. Of primary concern is how production of these battery materials and components in different parts of the world may impact the battery’s life cycle pollutant emissions and total energy and water consumption. Since energy sources for heat and electricity generation are subject to great regional variation, we anticipated significant variability in the energy and emissions associated with LIB production. We configured Argonne National Laboratory’s Greenhouse gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy use in Transportation (GREET®) model as the basis for this study with key input data from several world regions. In particular, the study examined LIB production in the US, China, Japan, South Korea, and Europe, with details of supply chains and the electrical grid in these regions. Results indicate that 27-kWh automotive NMC111 LIBs produced via a European-dominant supply chain generate 65 kg CO2e/kWh, while those produced via a Chinese-dominant supply chain generate 100 kg CO2e/kWh. Further, there are significant regional differences for local pollutants associated with LIB, especially SOx emissions related to nickel production. We find that no single regional supply chain outperforms all others in every evaluation metric, but the data indicate that supply chains powered by renewable electricity provide the greatest emission reduction potential.
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ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Globally regional life cycle analysis of automotive
lithium-ion nickel manganese cobalt batteries
Jarod C. Kelly
1
&Qiang Dai
1
&Michael Wang
1
Received: 17 April 2019 /Accepted: 13 May 2019/
#The Author(s) 2019, corrected Publication, May 2020
Abstract
Electric vehicles based on lithium-ion batteries (LIB) have seen rapid growth over the past decade
as they are viewed as a cleaner alternative to conventional fossil-fuel burning vehicles, especially
for local pollutant (nitrogen oxides [NOx], sulfur oxides [SOx], and particulate matter with
diameters less than 2.5 and 10 μm[PM
2.5 and PM10]) and CO2emissions. However, LIBs are
known to have their own energy and environmental challenges. This study focuses on LIBs made
of lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC), since they currently dominate the United States
(US) and global automotive markets and will continue to do so into the foreseeable future. The
effects of globalized production of NMC, especially LiNi1/3Mn1/3Co1/3O2(NMC111), are exam-
ined, considering the potential regional variability at several important stages of production. This
study explores regional effects of alumina reduction and nickel refining, along with the production
of NMC cathode, battery cells, and battery management systems. Of primary concern is how
production of these battery materials and components in different parts of the world may impact
the batterys life cycle pollutant emissions and total energy and water consumption. Since energy
sources for heat and electricity generation are subject to great regional variation, we anticipated
significant variability in the energy and emissions associated with LIB production. We configured
Argonne National Laboratorys Greenhouse gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy use in
Transportation (GREET®) model as the basis for this study with key input data from several
world regions. In particular, the study examined LIB production in the US, China, Japan, South
Korea, and Europe, with details of supply chains and the electrical grid in these regions. Results
indicate that 27-kWh automotive NMC111 LIBs produced via a European-dominant supply chain
generate 65 kg CO2e/kWh, while those produced via a Chinese-dominant supply chain generate
100kgCO
2e/kWh. Further, there are significant regional differences for local pollutants associ-
ated with LIB, especially SOxemissions related to nickel production. We find that no single
regional supply chain outperforms all others in every evaluation metric, but the data indicate that
supply chains powered by renewable electricity provide the greatest emission reduction potential.
Keywords Lithium ion battery .Life cycle assessment .Automotive .Supply chain
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11027-019-09869-2
*Jarod C. Kelly
jckelly@anl.gov
1
Argonne National Laboratory, 9700 South Cass Avenue, Lemont, IL 60439, USA
Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change (2020) 25:371396
Published online: 28 August2019
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1 Introduction
Vehicles that use lithium-ion batteries (LIB) either exclusively, as in the case of battery electric
vehicles (BEVs), or in combination with a conventional engine, as in the case of plug-in hybrid
electric vehicles (PHEV), have experienced rapid growth over the past decade (International
Energy Agency 2018). Efforts to increase their use, stemming from numerous worldwide
government policies, suggest that this growth will likely continue (Stephens et al. 2018). The
impetus for this movement is the potential for these vehicles to reduce both local pollutants
such as nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur oxides (SOx), and particulate matter with diameters less
than 2.5 and 10 μm(PM
2.5 and PM10), which have adverse human health effects, and CO2,for
which many countries have set reduction targets. Despite the potential use-phase energy and
emission reductions afforded by electric vehicles (EV) reported in literature (Notter et al. 2010;
Faria et al. 2013; Hawkins et al. 2013; Bauer et al. 2015; Elgowainy et al. 2016), previous life
cycle analyses (LCAs) of LIBs have found LIB manufacturing and its pertinent upstream
processes to be associated with substantial energy and environmental impacts (Majeau-Bettez
et al. 2011; Ellingsen et al. 2014; Kim et al. 2016). In addition to energy and air pollutant
emission effects, LIB manufacturing is associated with water consumption that can have
important regional differences in both its absolute quantity and the relative stress that it
imposes on a localized water system. Water consumption is highly influenced by regional
electricity production profiles (Lee et al. 2018).
We recently identified two LIB constituentsthe active cathode material and aluminum
together with energy use for cell assembly as key contributors to the cradle-to-gate energy and
environmental impacts of LIBs. Moreover, we found that the LCA results for LIB depend to a
large extent on the battery supply chain. The high energy demands for producing battery
materials and constructing the cells make the energy and environmental impacts susceptible to
electricity mix and heat sources, as well as battery material mining and refining activities,
which exhibit considerable variations across geographic regions (Dai et al. Submitted).
The regional variations in EVs have been explored in previous LCA studies (Onat et al.
2015; Peterson et al. 2011;Nealeretal.2015; Holland et al. 2016). However, these studies
focused on the electric grid that powers the EVs over their use-phase. The regional variations
in LIB manufacturing and upstream material mining and refining processes, and their impact
on LIB LCA, remain to be understood. Although many of the battery materials are global
commodities, the raw materials are usually sourced from different countries (Olivetti et al.
2017). In addition, LIBs are currently manufactured in dozens of plants scattered throughout
Asia, America, and Europe, while a handful of LIB factories with production capacities greater
than 5 GWh per year are expected to be built in China, South Korea, Hungary, Poland, and
Sweden (Lutsey et al. 2018). As the world ramps up LIB production, the global LIB supply
chain is likely to become more dynamic and geographically diverse. Understanding the global
regionalism of LIB manufacturing and its effect on battery LCA is therefore crucial to
sustainable battery supply chain development and EV deployment.
In this article, we explore the supply chain of automotive LIB production based on the
LiNi1/3Mn1/3Co1/3O2(NMC111) chemistry, because it is currently the most widely used in
passenger EVs on the global market (Pillot 2018). According to Pillot, NMC accounted for
30% of the global cathode material demand for LIB for all applications in 2017 with a
concentration in the automotive market, and NMC111 accounted for about 50% of the
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NMC demand. We examine the energy and environmental effects of production in regions
where the NMC111 LIB and pertinent upstream materials are currently or planned to be made.
In addition, for some production stages, we examine the effects of individual technologies such
as electricity produced exclusively from coal, hydropower, or other renewable sources. We
also consider CF4and C2F6emissions in aluminum production and the effect of energy sources
in cell assembly. From a regional perspective, we evaluate LIB production in the United States
(US), China, Japan, South Korea, and Europe with details of supply chains and electrical grids
in these regions.
2 Methodology and basis
This study uses the Greenhouse gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy use in Transportation
(GREET®) model to determine the effect of changes to the regional conditions of battery
production on the energy and environmental impacts of batteries. In particular, the study
considered multiple electrical grid profiles for the production stages of several materials. The
materials and stages in question are presented in Fig. 1, and the scenario parameters are
provided in Table 3in the Appendix to this report. The materials and stages were chosen on the
basis of their known influence on LIB energy and environmental impacts. Here, the baseline
conditions are consistent with the 2018 release of GREET (see Table 3for description).
GREET is a processed-based LCA model used for the calculation of the energy, water
consumption, and air pollutant emissions associated with fuel and material production (Wang
1999; Argonne National Laboratory 2018c). The boundaries for calculation extend from raw
material extraction, through processing, refining, and manufacture, to use and end-of-life.
GREET has extensive coverage of fuel production including models for petroleum products,
natural gas, coal, and more. It combines those fuel models with energy conversion technology
models, such as industrial boilers, natural gas combined cycle generators, and many more, to
determine the associated combustion emissions. It contains life cycle inventories for dozens of
materials, such as steel, aluminum, copper, etc., which include the energy and process
emissions associated with each stage of production. Its historical focus has been environmental
evaluations of the transportation sector. The model has been used extensively to determine the
life cycle energy and environmental effects of vehicle technologies, from well-to-wheels for
Fig. 1 Battery materials and stages under consideration in the present study
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fuels and from mine to disposal for materials. For its material LCA methodology, it uses a
recycled content methodology, meaning that it has separate models of virgin and recycled
materials and evaluates a product based on its content of each material type, it does not provide
a recycling credit to the product at its end of its life.
The GREET model (Argonne National Laboratory 2018c) currently uses a US-centric
material and production supply chain for NMC111, so this was modified to account for the
globally regional variability of production for nickel, aluminum, cobalt sulfate, NMC111,
battery cell assembly, and the battery management system (BMS). This was done by accessing
the GREET processes for each of the noted materials or products and modifying the under-
lying calculations to utilize different electricity grid profiles, process emissions assumptions,
and energy source profiles, depending upon the process. The following sections describe the
conditions considered along with the impetus for that consideration.
For a 27-kWh battery produced using conditions from the default GREET model param-
eters for the NMC111 chemistry: Figure 2shows the total life cycle energy per kWh, Figure 3
shows the life cycle GHG emissions, and Table 1gives the material composition. These
indicate that nickel, cobalt, and aluminum materials along with NMC111 powder production,
BMS production, and cell assembly are all important considerations when evaluating the
regional ramifications of automotive NMC111 LIB production. Figure 4depicts the SOx
emissions associated with the same production conditions, thus highlighting that one must
consider multiple environmental categories to evaluate the performance of battery production.
Clearly, some processes can have extremely influential effects on specific emissions while not
belying that effect based on energy alone. The nickel-related emissions in this scenario are
high because of emissions associated with nickel refining from sulfide ores. Note that the
Othercategory in Fig. 2and elsewhere consists of all materials from Table 1aside from
active cathode, wrought aluminum, and BMS. Within that category, the graphite comprises the
plurality of the greenhouse gas (GHG) burden (47% of Other), while copper (22%) and the
electrolyte LiPF6(12%) are also important contributors. Graphite production has high energy
Fig. 2 Total life-cycle energy associated with the production of NMC111 LIB using the baseline GREET2018
conditions
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requirements, but not as high as cell assembly or BMS/aluminum/NMC111 powder produc-
tion, so we do not examine its potential variation.
2.1 Nickel
Nickel is used in the cathode material for NMC111, typically sourced as nickel sulfate, which
itself is produced from refined nickel. Nickel production is an energy-intensive process. It is
composed of several stages that can be roughly classified as mining, beneficiation, primary
extraction, and refining. These are the stage definitions within GREET, but the true nickel
production process contains many stages within each of the broader classifications provided
above. GREET uses these broad classifications to describe the energy and material require-
ments into and emissions out of each stage. GREET can then determine the total energy and
Fig. 3 Total life cycle GHG emissions associated with the production of NMC111 LIB using the baseline
GREET2018 conditions
Table 1 NMC111 LIB (27 kWh) material composition (Argonne National Laboratory 2018b)
Material Mass (kg per battery)
Active material 47.49
Graphite/carbon 29.71
Binder 4.06
Copper 22.14
Wrought aluminum 45.01
Electrolyte: LiPF63.04
Ethylene carbonate 8.50
Dimethyl carbonate 8.50
Polypropylene 2.08
Polyethylene 0.68
Polyethylene terephthalate 0.39
Steel 1.17
Thermal insulation 0.92
Glycol 8.12
Electronic parts (BMS) 6.90
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material inputs of nickel production, and return the total pollutant emissions generated and
water consumed.
Nickel is derived from either sulfide or laterite ores (Mudd 2010). Sulfide ores present
pollutant challenges because they can form sulfur dioxide, a precursor to acid rain. As such,
most nickel production pathways that use sulfide ores capture the sulfur dioxide emissions to
produce sulfuric acid, thereby reducing the potential for sulfur dioxide release to the atmo-
sphere and acid rain pollution. Practices worldwide vary in their sulfur capture approaches.
Nickel refining is the stage of production most likely to release sulfur dioxide. It is the most
energy-intensive stage in the production process because of the high temperatures required.
These energy demands are met by natural gas in most production facilities (approximately
66%), while coal, diesel, and electricity comprise 12%, 11%, and 11%, respectively, of
production energy in refining (Benavides et al. 2015).
In this study, the refining process was varied from the GREET default, which considers a
US import-weighted average (which can be used as a proxy for global nickel refining) profile
for electricity production and sulfur dioxide emissions. The modified version considered nickel
refining in four study areas: worldwide, Canada, Russia, and China. The GREET2018 default
was used as the baseline. We examined Canada because that countrys refining practices are
highly regulated and the sulfur there is converted to sulfuric acid. Russia was considered on the
basis of its particularly high sulfur dioxide release profiles for nickel refining. We examined
China due to its global market presence and assumed that it captures sulfur for sulfuric acid.
Worldwide, the largest class I nickel refining regions are China, Russia, and Canada by
production volume. Russia and Canada together represent 35% of the market and comprise
a significant share of the US market. China represents 22% of the global market share but is
not highly represented in the US. Canada and Russia represent important boundary scenarios
(U.S. Geological Survey and McRae 2018).
We varied both the electricity profile assumed for the refining stage of nickel production
and the sulfur dioxide emissions for that stage. Table 4presents the assumed electricity
profiles. Table 5presents the sulfur dioxide emissions associated with the refining stage for
the three profiles, based on Benavides et al. (2015).
Fig. 4 Life cycle SOxemissions associated with the production of NMC111 LIB using the baseline GREET2018
conditions
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2.2 Aluminum
An NMC111 automotive battery is nearly 24% aluminum by weight; GREET assumes that
this aluminum is in wrought form (as opposed to cast). The aluminum is largely used in the
packaging of the battery, the cathode current collector, and the thermal management system.
Aluminum production is highly energy intensive, especially in its high electricity consumption
for the reduction of alumina. This large consumption of electricity represents both a challenge
and an opportunity from an energy and environmental perspective. Reducing required energy
inputs is always beneficial for a materials life cycle environmental performance (assuming the
same energy source is used). However, since electricity is a flexible energy carrier that can be
generated from multiple sources, the energy and environmental profile of aluminum produced
using electricity sourced from different electrical grids can vary significantly (Colett et al.
2015; McMillan and Keoleian 2009). For example, aluminum produced from coal-based
electricity is associated with more CO2emissions than aluminum produced from low-
emissions electricity such as hydroelectric, solar, and wind power. In addition to the electricity
source, alumina reduction can also be associated with the production of CF4and C2F6,which
are both potent greenhouse gases (Dai et al. 2015). The released amount of these two gasses
assumed within the GREET model is based on industry reporting; however, it is feasible that
these gases can be abated.
In this study, we considered aluminum obtained from six different sources and scenarios
where CF4and C2F6were either released or abated. The electricity profiles considered are
shown in Table 3and were selected based on their regional variations. The baseline for
GREET uses electricity grid profiles for aluminum smelters in North America. North Amer-
ican and European aluminum production consumes significant amounts of hydroelectric
power, resulting in low GHG emissions. We also considered aluminum production in China,
Japan, and South Korea using the electricity grid profiles noted in Table 4, and for electrical
grids powered only by hydroelectric power or renewable electricity (solar and wind). China is
the leading producer of aluminum, with 54% of global primary aluminum production in 2016;
Canada was third with 5.5%, European countries combined to represent 6.3%, and the US
produced 1.4%. Neither Japan nor Korea are major global aluminum producers. Data for
European, Chinese, and Korean aluminum electricity profiles were derived from World
Aluminum (World Aluminum 2018), while Japanese data were derived from the Japanese
Aluminum Association (Japan Aluminum Association 2014), and the U.S. profile is based on
GREET (Argonne National Laboratory 2018c). For Korean aluminum, we used the world
production average from World Aluminum, because data for Koreas production and import
profiles were not available.
2.3 Cobalt sulfate
Cobalt sulfate is a precursor in the production of the NMC111 cathode material. Cobalt is
largely mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo, then concentrated and converted into
crude Co (OH)2, and subsequently converted into various cobalt-containing chemicals, such as
CoSO4. The final conversion process, into CoSO4, is very energy intensive, and largely occurs
in China. GREEET2018 assumes that this conversion occurs in China and is powered by
electricity from the Chinese national grid (2018). However, the actual electricity profile for
CoSO4conversion may differ substantially from that of the national grid. Additionally, other
countries may become notable CoSO4producers to guard against supply disruption as they
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ramp up LIB production. Therefore, we considered the production of CoSO4in the US and
China, and electrical grids entirely from coal (a worst-caseCO2scenario), from solar or wind
power (a best-caseCO2scenario), or from hydroelectric power. Solar and wind power do not
have water consumption impacts, but the hydroelectric power scenario does, through evapora-
tion from the water body surface. These conditions are presented in Table 3, and the associated
electrical grid profiles are in Table 4. Since the cobalt chemicals market is so dominated by
China at present, we only examined its possible production in the US as a case study.
2.4 NMC111
This study examined NMC111 as the active cathode material for the LIBs. While much of the
energy and pollutant emissions associated with NMC111 is contributed by the manufacture of
its constituent material, the NMC111 powder synthesis process is also an important contrib-
utor. NMC111 production consists of several stages of mixing and calcination that are all
powered by electricity. These stages are combined in GREET to identify a single quantity of
electricity that is consumed per mass of NMC111 production. In GREEET2018, NMC111 is
assumed to be produced in the U.S. However, much of the worlds NMC, in its various
chemical combinations (111, 532, 622, 811), is produced in China and Korea. Japan and
Europe are also important current and future production markets for NMC111. Therefore, we
modeled NMC111 production in each of these countries, and also modeled production using
electrical grids composed of only coal-powered plants, only solar- and wind-powered plants,
and only hydroelectric power plants. Table 4lists the electrical power assumptions.
2.5 Cell assembly
Cell assembly is a major energy consumer in the battery manufacturing process. It consists of
electrode production, cell stacking, current collector welding, cell encasement, electrolyte
filling, and cell closure (Dai et al. 2017). Each of these steps occurs within a dry room to
prevent the electrolyte salt, LiPF6, from reacting with water (Ahmed et al. 2016a). The moisture
content of the air cannot exceed 100 ppmv, which requires substantial heating, cooling (for
condensation), and circulation of the air. Researchers have identified the dry room as a major
contributor to the total LIB manufacturing energy requirement in previous LIB LCA studies
(Dunn et al. 2015; Ellingsen et al. 2014; Dai et al. 2017). Wood III et al. indicated that energy
use in LIB manufacturing is dominated by cathode drying and N-methylpyrrolidone (NMP)
recovery, in addition to cell wetting and formation (Wood et al. 2015). Ahmed et al. determined
that cathode drying, NMP recovery, and dry room operation are major drivers of LIB
manufacturing energy demand (Ahmed et al. 2016a,2016b). Dai et al. compiled a life cycle
inventory for LIB manufacturing based on real-world data to further understand the influence of
each manufacturing stage on total energy inputs to the battery (Dai et al. 2017). They confirmed
that these dry room activities associated with cell production, along with cathode drying, are
important contributors to the total energy consumed in the production of LIB.
In this study, we used the GREET2018 baseline assumptions for total energy consumption
in the cell assembly process. In its base configuration, that process consumes 82.4% natural
gas (for steam generation) and 17.6% electricity. The basis for the electricity generation of this
process in GREEET2018 is the US (i.e., the cell is manufactured in the US). We considered
variations in the electrical grid for several different geographic regions (US, China, Japan,
Korea, and Europe) and specific grid energy sources (coal, solar and wind, and hydroelectric
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power). In addition, since electricity can be used in place of natural gas for heat in this process,
we also considered a scenario where all energy for this process was from electricity, to observe
the total effects on energy consumption and emissions. Those conditions are summarized in
Table 3, and the associated electrical grid profiles are in Table 4.
2.6 Battery management system
In GREEET2018, the BMS includes other electronic parts which are modeled as a circuit
board and semiconductor (Argonne National Laboratory 2018a). In GREET2018s baseline
conditions, the BMS production occurs in the US and constitutes 9.1% of the LIBslifecycle
energy consumption. Here, we examined the effects of BMS production in the US, China,
Japan, Korea, and Europe, and scenarios when electricity was sourced from coal only, solar
and wind only, or hydroelectric power only, as detailed in Table 3.
3Results
Our LCA for NMC111 LIB used many different scenarios and considered multiple supply
chains that span several different global regions. Figure 5presents the life cycle GHG
emissions associated with the production of one 27-kWh NMC111 LIB on a per-kWh basis,
while Figs. 6and 7show the life cycle SOxemissions and water consumption for the same.
The four scenarios depicted are, from left to right, a best case, a GREET2018 baseline, a
currently dominant supply chain, and a worst case. Table 3(boundary examination scenario)
shows the parameters for these scenarios. We observed that the best-case scenario produced
substantially less GHG and SOxemissions than the worst-case scenario. The best case: (1)
used Canadian refined nickel; (2) did not release CF4or C2F6during aluminum production,
which was produced via hydroelectric power; (3) used renewable electricity during cell
production; and (4) used renewable electricity for all other noted pathways. The worst case:
(1) used Russian-based nickel production; (2) released CF4or C2F6for aluminum produced in
China; (3) used coal-based electricity during cell production; and (4) sourced electricity for the
other noted pathways from coal.
Fig. 5 GHG emissions associated with NMC111 LIB production via different supply chains
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We also observed that the GREET2018 baseline, which is largely US-centric, produced
significantly less GHG emissions, and nearly the same quantity of SOxemissions as the
currently dominant supply chain, which is largely based on Chinese production; however, that
GREET2018 baseline consumed significantly more water due to GREETs default alumina
reduction assumptions about hydroelectric power (81.1% of the electricity mix). Note that the
Othercategory is composed of additional battery components not parametrically evaluated
here and uses standard GREET assumptions for its LCA. Other Cathodeconsists of upstream
materials, including manganese sulfate (MnSO4), sodium hydroxide (NaOH), and ammonium
hydroxide (NH4OH), and processing energy for NMC111 precursor and powder production.
3.1 Country-specific supply chains
We evaluated the production of NMC111 batteries considering the supply chains of the US,
China, South Korea, Japan, and Europe. Regionalized (country/region-specific) conditions
were used for the production parameters. However, some production parameters were not
Fig. 6 SOxemissions associated with NMC111 LIB production via different supply chains
Fig. 7 Water consumption associated with NMC111 LIB production via different supply chains
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regionally specific in this analysis. In particular, CoSO4production occurred in China due to
Chinese market dominance in this materials production. Table 3(individual country scenario)
details the parameters for each scenario.
Figure 8shows GHG emission levels associated with production of NMC111 LIB in the
noted countries, while Fig. 9shows water consumption, Fig. 10 NOxemissions, and Fig. 11
SOxemissions. Production in the US and Europe tended to have the lowest GHG emissions,
mainly due to the lower GHG intensity of their electrical grids. This was most pronounced in
the aluminum, NMC (other cathode), and assembly stages. On the other hand, we observed
that the US and European reliance on aluminum whose electricity source was hydroelectric
power had a dramatic impact on the LIBs water consumption when produced in those regions
versus others. Next, we observed that the Japanese electricity profile suggested it could
produce LIB with significantly more NOxemissions than the other production regions due
to its comparative reliance on petroleum for electricity generation (13.4%). Finally, we
observed that SOxemissions in China, Japan, and South Korea were much lower than in their
US and European counterparts, which derived from assumptions regarding the nickel supply
chain. For the US and Europe, we assumed the GREET default, which contains Russian
nickel, which is known for high SOxemissions. Chinese nickel was assumed for the other
regions and did not have the same assumptions regarding SOx.
3.2 Regional nickel production
Nickel production was examined due to its potential impacts on overall SOxemissions. These
emissions are the product of ore type, namely sulfide ores as opposed to laterite ores, and nickel
refining practices (i.e., whether SO2is captured and turned into sulfuric acid). Figure 12 shows the
energy, air emissions, and water consumption associated with NMC111 LIB production with
nickel sourced from the baseline (GREET), Canada, Russia, and China. These results are
presented as a percentage relative to the GREET baseline condition. We observed that most
categories of interest were roughly equal to the baseline battery condition, yet Russian-sourced
nickel increased the batterystotalSO
xemissions by 121% (914 vs. 2017 g SOx/kWh of battery).
This result is striking because there are many industry solutions worldwide that facilitate SOx
reduction, and, here we saw the most dramatic difference in regional production practices for any
Fig. 8 GHG emissions associated with NMC111 LIB production in five countries
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individual aspect of LIB production. Further, if we zoom in to just the effects of nickel production
(Fig. 13), Russian nickel had 300% the SOxemissions as the baseline, while Canadian and
Chinese nickel had 8% of the baseline. Note that the baseline condition was the US import-
weighted nickel profile, which contains about one-third Russian nickel (Benavides et al. 2015).
3.3 Regional aluminum production
Aluminum smelting is energy intensive and has the potential to release CF4and C2F6,which
are potent GHGs. We considered the influence of smelting electricity and CF4and C2F6
abatement on energy, emissions, and water consumption for the conditions outlined in Table 3
(alumina reduction, CF4/C2F6scenarios). The results of the CF4/C2F6analysis showed a 1.3%
reduction in the GHG emissions for NMC111 LIB. For aluminum alone, this corresponded
with an 8% reduction in GHG emissions per kg of aluminum. The grid-specific results are
presentedinFig.14, from which we observe that aluminum production in most regions outside
of the baseline (North American aluminum conditions) indicated a significant reduction in
Fig. 9 Water consumption associated with NMC111 LIB production in five countries
Fig. 10 NOxemissions associated with NMC111 LIB production in five countries
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water consumption. The aluminum profile for the US is heavily influenced by hydroelectric
power, while, outside of Europe, which is also hydroelectric intensive (61.7% of grid mix),
aluminum-production electricity profiles are less hydroelectric reliant. We used aluminum-
specific electric grid profiles as specified in Table 4.
To help orient the reader, we further explain Fig. 14 since it is similar to several of the figures
later in the text. In these figures, data may appear to be presented as a histogram, but this is not
the case. Each bar represents our GREET-based estimate of that materials impact on the burden
category noted if produced using the grid mix noted in comparison to the baseline. So, each bar
represents a difference from the baseline considering regional production. This provides insight
into that materials production variance but is limited by the scope of this study. GREET does
not have inventory variability or uncertainty for materials, this analysis explores that variability
for the specific processes and grid mixes noted and presents them throughout the results.
Fig. 11 SOxemissions associated with NMC111 LIB production in five countries
Fig. 12 Energy consumption, emissions, and water consumption associated with production of NMC111 LIB
considering nickel produced under baseline conditions and in Russia, Canada, and China
Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change (2020) 25:371396 383
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3.4 Regional cobalt sulfate production
The variation in cobalt sulfate production considered for this LCA used the scenarios in Table 3
(CoSO4scenario): electricity profiles for the baseline condition (US), renewable electricity
(solar and wind power), hydroelectric power, and coal-based electricity. The influence of cobalt
sulfate production on the LIB was relatively small in each category examined. No categorical
difference was greater than 2.5% for the LIB. Isolating cobalt production showed that water
consumption increased by 12% on a per-kg CoSO4basis for a hydroelectric power grid
compared with the baseline, and GHG emissions decreased by 10% for the renewable-based
Fig. 13 Energy consumption, emissions, and water consumption associated with production of nickel produced
under baseline conditions and in Russia, Canada, and China
Fig. 14 Energy, emissions, and water consumption associated with the production of NMC111 LIB considering
production of aluminum in a baseline condition, in four geographic regions, and with two different electrical
energy sources
Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change (2020) 25:371396
384
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and hydroelectric gridprofiles and increased by 10% for a coal-based electricitygrid. The effect
of CoSO4production on the LIB was small compared with the rest of the battery constituents.
3.5 Regional NMC111 production
For NMC111, we varied only the production location (electricity profile), as shown in Table 3
(NMC scenario). The use of hydroelectric power had an outsized effect on water consumption
in NMC111 production compared with the baseline scenario. It represented a nearly 300%
increase in water consumption for NMC production alone and a 25% increase for the total
battery. These trends were also true for the cell assembly and BMS scenarios, but their
magnitudes were different. We can see these isolated effects of NMC111 cathode powder
production in Fig. 15, and its effects on the entire battery in Fig. 16.
3.6 Cell assembly
The analysis for cell production was the same as for NMC cathode powder production in terms
of electrical grids considered. However, in addition to the baseline energy source mix (82.4%
natural gas, 17.6% electricity), we also considered an energy source of 100% electricity. The
total battery effects considered different electrical grid profiles, as shown in Table 3(cell
assembly location scenario and cell assembly location and fuel mix scenario). Results that only
vary the cell location from the baseline are shown in Fig. 17, while those varying the cell
location with 100% electricity are shown in Fig. 18. We observed that the effects of the grid
changes were as anticipated, where those characterized by more fossil fuel produced more
emissions than the baseline, though not in strictly uniform ways due to the varying emissions
intensities of each grid. Further, we observed that the effect of using 100% electricity for cell
production made the effects observed in Fig. 17 more pronounced (i.e., energy, emissions, or
water consumption were increased or decreased more than in the base energy condition).
Fig. 15 Energy, emissions and water consumption associated with the production of NMC111 cathode powder
under baseline conditions, in four geographic regions, and with three different electrical energy sources
Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change (2020) 25:371396 385
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3.7 Battery management system
In Fig. 19, we present results of the BMS scenario analysis on the total battery considering
different geographic regions and different electricity sources. These results mirrored closely
those of NMC111 cathode powder production. As expected, they indicated that using electrical
Fig. 16 Energy, emissions, and water consumption associated with the production of NMC111 LIB considering
production of NMC111 cathode powder under baseline conditions, in four geographic regions, and with three
different electrical energy sources
Fig. 17 Energy, emissions, and water consumption associated with the production of NMC111 LIB considering
cell production, using 82.4% natural gas and 17.6% electricity under baseline conditions, in four geographic
regions, and with three different electrical energy sources
Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change (2020) 25:371396
386
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grids that rely exclusively on hydroelectricity, renewable electricity, or coal electricity yielded
the most pronounced results for either increased or decreased performance compared with the
baseline condition. All of the regional electrical grids were some combination of fossil fuels
(including coal), renewable, and hydroelectric resources. Thus, they all performed somewhere
between those boundary conditions.
Fig. 18 Energy, emissions, and water consumption associated with the production of NMC111 LIB considering
cell production, using 100% electricity under baseline conditions, in four geographic regions, and with three
different electrical energy sources
Fig. 19 Energy, emissions, and water consumption associated with the production of NMC111 LIB considering
BMS production under baseline conditions, in four geographic regions, and with three different energy sources
Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change (2020) 25:371396 387
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3.8 Summary
Table 2shows the minimum and maximum variation of each parameter compared with the
baseline condition. Nickel refining, alumina reduction, and cell assembly were the most
impactful stages of production on the total LIB within each energy and environmental
category, but their impacts were not always within the same category.
4 Discussion and conclusions
We investigated the effect that several production parameters have on the life cycle energy,
emissions, and water consumption of NMC111 LIBs for electric vehicles. Results are present-
ed on a per-kWh basis, but the battery examined had a capacity of 27 kWh and it should not be
assumed that the per-kWh results can be used to scale for other batteries in a linear fashion. We
considered battery component production in several different regions of the world with a focus
on the electricity profiles for those locations. We additionally considered production of some
components in single-energy-source electrical grids (renewable, hydroelectric, and coal) to
observe certain boundary limits.
In this study, we identified the alumina reduction, nickel refining, and cell assembly
stages as particularly influential for certain categories of the life cycle inventory. Alu-
mina reduction via the Hall-Héroult process consumes a significant amount of electrical
energy. Since aluminum comprised 24% of the LIB mass studied here, it is not surprising
that it played an important role in the total LCA effects. Changes to the electrical grid
responsible for reducing alumina can dramatically increase or decrease total energy and
emissions, though we note that the effect of limiting CF4and C2F6did not have a
pronounced effect on the overall reduction in battery GHG emissions. Using hydroelec-
tric power for alumina reduction, as is common in North America due to its low cost, had
a large effect on the life cycle water consumption of the battery. And, in fact, hydro-
electric power dramatically reduced pollutant emissions but substantially increased total
water consumption for many of the investigated scenarios. Renewable electricity (from
solar and wind sources) facilitated the same emissions reduction while not consuming
water in the process.
Nickel is a major constituent of the active cathode material, but its most important
contribution to the life-cycle effects was its potential for SOxemissions. This is an issue for
Russian-produced nickel, but it does not represent an inherent impediment of nickel, in
general. While nickel can be obtained from sulfide ores, there are sufficient and effective
technological approaches for capturing SO2emissions and converting them into sulfuric acid,
as is done in most other major nickel-producing regions.
Cell assembly accounts for 18% of the LIB life cycle energy in the baseline scenario.
Much of the energy in that baseline scenario is composed of natural gas for steam (82.4%),
while the remainder is electricity. We considered several regional and energy source
conditions for electricity, in addition to considering scenarios wherein all energy was
sourced from electricity. We found that changes to the assembly grid mix from the baseline
(US) condition could increase the batterys GHG emissions by 14% (China) or reduce it by
9% (Europe) if all assembly energy was electric. If the electricity was 100% renewable, the
reduction was 29% from the baseline condition. However, a coal-only electricity grid
increased GHG emissions by 31%.
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Table 2 Summary of scenario results for minimum and maximum effects of each production stage within energy and emissions categories
Category Energy (% Δ)Water(%Δ) NOx (% Δ)PM10(%Δ)PM2.5(%Δ)SOx(%Δ) GHG (% Δ)
Min Max Min Max Min Max Min Max Min Max Min Max Min Max
Nickel refining 0.5 0.3 1.0 1.3 0.9 0.0 0.2 0.2 0.3 0.2 55.0 120.7 0.9 1.0
Alumina production 2.4 10.9 44.2 9.2 2.1 8.9 1.1 5.6 1.3 6.5 0.9 5.0 5.5 25.7
CF4/C2F6 abatement 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.3 0.0
CoSO4production 0.5 0.2 0.7 2.0 0.5 0.1 0.3 0.1 0.3 0.1 0.2 0.1 1.2 0.5
NMC111 production 4.0 3.6 4.2 24.2 4.0 7.5 1.5 3.0 1.9 2.5 1.2 2.2 8.5 9.3
Cell assembly 2.7 2.4 2.8 16.2 2.7 5.0 1.0 2.0 1.3 1.7 0.8 1.5 5.7 6.3
Cell assembly (electric) 13.6 12.1 14.1 81.8 14.8 27.8 5.4 11.0 7.0 9.4 4.4 8.2 28.5 31.4
BMS production 3.2 2.9 3.4 19.6 3.2 6.0 1.2 2.4 1.5 2.1 1.0 1.8 6.9 7.6
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The primary findings from this study indicate that there are important regional
effects associated with the total life cycle energy, emissions, and water consumption
of LIB NMC111 production. The baseline scenario of the GREET2018 model considers
a US-dominant supply chain. Other global supply chains can yield very different results
within the life cycle categories evaluated. NMC111 batteries produced in China with a
Chinese-dominant supply chain would increase GHG emissions by 36%, yet they
would reduce water consumption by 26%. NMC111 batteries produced in Europe with
a European-dominant supply chain would reduce both GHG emissions and water
consumptionby9%.
Within the current supply chain, we found no avenue that reduced all life cycle
categories. If a truly 100% renewable grid (without hydroelectric power) could be identi-
fied and utilized for all process stages, that would have the most profound impact and
would serve as the proverbial silver bullet.However, alumina reduction relies heavily on
hydroelectric power or coal power in most parts of the world due to price and stability.
The European battery supply chain was the best region-specific supply chain examined, yet
even that presented 7% and 5% increases in PM10 and PM2.5 emissions, respectively. The
most salient recommendation for achieving improved life cycle performance is to utilize
electricity grids that have substantial production from renewable resources, aside from
hydroelectric, and to migrate cell assembly processes from natural gas to electricity (in
those renewable electricity grids).
Near-term trends highlight that many countries and regions are making major
investments in their battery production capacities. Lutsey et al. reported that LIBs
are currently produced in diffuse plants scattered throughout Asia, America, and
Europe, and that a small number of large LIB factories (> 5 GWh/year production)
are expected in China, South Korea, Hungary, Poland, and Sweden (2018). We
anticipate that with continued production, more efficient plant design and energy
conservation measures manufacturers may be capable of achieving some energy
reduction. The trend for energy production worldwide is away from fossil fuels and
toward renewable sources, and China has major ongoing efforts toward pollutant
reduction. This all indicates that the near-term supply chain for automotive LIB
NMC111 production will likely be associated with lessening energy consumption
and pollutant emission profiles.
Decision makers and other stakeholders concerned about the energy, water consumption,
and air pollutant burdens associated with the LIB in their supply chain can take several steps to
reduce those burdens. First, where possible, electricity from renewable sources should be used
to the extent possible, since renewable electricity can drastically reduce the pollutant emissions
from processes with high electricity usage. Next, they can identify and prioritize material
producers and material production locations that abide by strong air quality environmental
regulations to factor environmental burdens into their supply chain purchase decisions. Finally,
they can use the information presented here to align their supply chain activities with their
environmental goals.
Acknowledgements We would like to thank David Howell and Samuel Gillard from the Vehicle Technologies
Office of the U.S. Department of Energys Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy for their support.
Funding information This study was supported by the Vehicle Technologies Office of the U.S. Department of
Energys Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy under Contract Number DE-AC02-06CH11357.
Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change (2020) 25:371396
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Appendix
Table 3 Scenario parameters
Scenarios Scenario conditions Nickel
refining
location
Aluminum
reduction
location
Aluminum
reduction
w/wo CF4
and C2F6
CoSO4
production
location
NMC
production
location
Cell
production
location
Cell fuel mix BMS
production
location
Boundary examination Best case Canada Renewable No Renewable Renewable Renewable All electric Renewable
GREET2018 Baseline GREET GREET Yes China U.S. U .S. Bas e U.S.
Dominant Supply Chain GREET China AL Yes China China China Base China
Worst Case Russia China AL Yes Coal Coal Coal All Electric Coal
Individual Country U.S. GREET GREET Yes China U.S. U.S. Base U.S.
China China China AL Yes China China China Base China
Japan China Japan AL Yes China Japan Japan Base Japan
Korea China Korea AL Yes China Korea Korea Base Korea
Europe GREET EU AL Yes China Europe Europe Base Europe
Nickel refining Baseline GREET GREET Yes China U.S. U.S. Base U.S.
Russia Russia GREET Yes China U.S. U.S. Base U.S.
Canada Canada GREET Yes China U.S. U.S. Base U.S.
China China GREET Yes China U.S. U.S. Base U.S.
Alumina reduction Baseline GREET GREET Yes China U.S. U.S. Base U.S.
China GREET China AL Yes China U.S. U.S. Base U.S.
Japan GREET Japan AL Yes China U.S. U.S. Base U.S.
Korea GREET Korea AL Yes China U.S. U.S. Base U.S.
Europe GREET EU AL Yes China U.S. U.S. Base U.S.
Renewable GREET Renewable Yes China U.S. U.S. Base U.S.
Hydro GREET Hydro Yes China U.S. U.S. Base U.S.
CF4/C2F6Yes GREET GREET Yes China U.S. U.S. Base U.S.
No GREET GREET No China U.S. U.S. Base U.S.
CoSO4production Baseline GREET GREET Yes China U.S. U.S. Base U.S.
U.S. GREET GREET Yes U.S. U.S. U.S. Base U.S.
Renewable GREET GREET Yes Renewable U.S. U.S. Base U.S.
Hydro GREET GREET Yes Hydro U.S. U.S. Base U.S.
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Table 3 (continued)
Scenarios Scenario conditions Nickel
refining
location
Aluminum
reduction
location
Aluminum
reduction
w/wo CF4
and C2F6
CoSO4
production
location
NMC
production
location
Cell
production
location
Cell fuel mix BMS
production
location
Coal GREET GREET Yes Coal U.S. U.S. Base U.S.
NMC111 production Baseline GREET GREET Yes China U.S. U.S. Base U.S.
China GREET GREET Yes China China U.S. Base U.S.
Japan GREET GREET Yes China Japan U.S. Base U.S.
Korea GREET GREET Yes China Korea U.S. Base U.S.
Europe GREET GREET Yes China Europe U.S. Base U.S.
Renewable GREET GREET Yes China Renewable U.S. Base U.S.
Hydro GREET GREET Yes China Hydro U.S. Base U.S.
Coal GREET GREET Yes China Coal U.S. Base U.S.
Cell assembly location Baseline GREET GREET Yes China U.S. U.S. Base U.S.
China GREET GREET Yes China U.S. China Base U.S.
Japan GREET GREET Yes China U.S. Japan Base U.S.
Korea GREET GREET Yes China U.S. Korea Base U.S.
Europe GREET GREET Yes China U.S. Europe Base U.S.
Renewable GREET GREET Yes China U.S. Renewable Base U.S.
Hydro GREET GREET Yes China U.S. Hydro Base U.S.
Coal GREET GREET Yes China U.S. Coal Base U.S.
Cell assembly location
and fuel mix
Baseline GREET GREET Yes China U.S. U.S. All Electric U.S.
China GREET GREET Yes China U.S. China All Electric U.S.
Japan GREET GREET Yes China U.S. Japan All Electric U.S.
Korea GREET GREET Yes China U.S. Korea All Electric U.S.
Europe GREET GREET Yes China U.S. Europe All Electric U.S.
Renewable GREET GREET Yes China U.S. Renewable All Electric U.S.
Hydro GREET GREET Yes China U.S. Hydro All Electric U.S.
Coal GREET GREET Yes China U.S. Coal All Electric U.S.
BMS production Baseline GREET GREET Yes China U.S. U.S. Base U.S.
China GREET GREET Yes China U.S. U.S. Base China
Japan GREET GREET Yes China U.S. U.S. Base Japan
Korea GREET GREET Yes China U.S. U.S. Base Korea
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Table 3 (continued)
Scenarios Scenario conditions Nickel
refining
location
Aluminum
reduction
location
Aluminum
reduction
w/wo CF4
and C2F6
CoSO4
production
location
NMC
production
location
Cell
production
location
Cell fuel mix BMS
production
location
Europe GREET GREET Yes China U.S. U.S. Base Europe
Renewable GREET GREET Yes China U.S. U.S. Base Renewable
Hydro GREET GREET Yes China U.S. U.S. Base Hydro
Coal GREET GREET Yes China U.S. U.S. Base Coal
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Table 4 Electricity grid profiles
Fuel type U.S. Canada China Japan Russia Coal Hydro Renewable KoreaaEuropebGREET (N.A.
aluminum)
EU
aluminumd
China
aluminumd
Japan
aluminume
Korea
aluminumd
Petroleum 0.5% 1.1% 0.2% 13.4% 2.6% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 3.0% 0.1% 0.0% 1.4% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
NG 29.8% 10.6% 2.5% 33.7% 49.1% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 22.0% 20.5% 4.1% 1.8% 0.0% 9.8% 9.5%
Coal 32.7% 10.0% 70.1% 27.6% 15.8% 100.0% 0.0% 0.0% 40.0% 21.5% 14.3% 6.0% 90.0% 43.0% 61.9%
Biomass 0.1% 1.4% 0.9% 2.8% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 6.3% 0.5% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Nuclear 20.6% 15.0% 2.9% 12.3% 16.6% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 30.0% 26.6% 0.0% 9.5% 0.0% 0.1% 0.1%
Hydro 7.7% 60.0% 19.3% 8.3% 15.6% 0.0% 100.0% 0.0% 1.0% 9.5% 81.1% 61.7% 10.0% 47.1% 25.3%
Others 8.6% 1.9% 4.1% 1.9% 0.3% 0.0% 0.0% 100.0% 4.0% 15.5% 0.0% 19.6% 0.0% 0.0% 3.1%
T&D loss 4.9% 5.0% 5.0% 6.0% 10.0% 4.9% 4.9% 4.9% 3.4% c 6.4% c 4.9% 6.4% c 5.0% 6.0% 5.0%
*Unless otherwise noted, data are from GREET2018 (Argonne National Laboratory 2018c)
aU.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) (2018)
bAgora Energiewende and Sandbag (2018)
cInternational Energy Agency n.d.
dWorld Aluminum (2018)
eJapan Aluminum Association (2014)
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... For example, some studies do not trace the mining, extraction, and transportation of battery raw materials; (2) The sources of LCI in different studies are quite different, leading to obvious differences in LCA; (3) GHG emissions are closely related to the production location, which is caused by the distribution of minerals (closely associated with transportation) and the difference in the energy mix. Obviously, shifting the battery production to areas rich in renewable energy resources can help reduce energy consumption and GHG emissions [14,84]. In addition, GHG emissions are closely related to the battery material system. ...
... Table 5 lists GHG emissions at each stage of battery production. It can be seen that cathode production is the main contributor to GHG emissions, and the main source is the mining and extraction of the upstream raw materials, such as alumina reduction, nickel refining [84]. Moreover, battery assembly is an energy-consuming process [266], and its GHG emissions are relatively large and need to be considered. ...
Article
Lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) are the ideal energy storage device for electric vehicles, and their environmental, economic, and resource risks assessment are urgent issues. Therefore, the life cycle assessment (LCA) of LIBs in the entire lifespan is becoming a hotspot. This study first reviews the basic framework and types, standards and methods, and technical challenges of LCA. Then, the cradle-to-cradle LCA framework for LIBs is constructed, and the technical route of LCA in the stages of battery production, usage, secondary utilization, and material recycling are analyzed in detail. Finally, the carbon footprint in the battery production and recycling stages is conducted under the current and future energy mixes. The results show that battery production significantly impacts the environment and resources, and battery materials recycling and remanufacturing present considerable environmental and economic values. Moreover, the greening of electricity is critical to reducing carbon emissions during the battery life cycle.
... It should also be highlighted that upstream activities of battery material production as well as cell manufacturing consume a great deal of energy and therefore the energy supply as well as the consequent environmental impacts of such processes depends on the electricity mix and heat sources (Kelly et al., 2020). For some battery materials, the required energy for mining, or other upgrading processes (e.g. ...
... The other issue with the manufacturing is the high amount of energy needed for this stage and its consequent environmental impacts. Recent LCA reports show that the manufacturing stage is the main contributors to the life cycle energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of LIBs (Ciez and Whitacre, 2019;Dai et al., 2019a;Kelly et al., 2020). This means that when considering cradle to gate emissions, LIB manufacturing could lead to higher GHG emissions of a battery electric vehicle compared to that of an internal combustion engine (Kawamoto et al., 2019;Kim et al., 2016). ...
Article
Lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) play a key role in advancing electromobility. With an increasing trend in the demand for LIBs, the sustainability prospect of LIBs lifecycle faces many challenges that require proactive approaches. There are various sustainability challenges and risks across the supply and value chains of LIBs from mining, material supplies to Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), users to final disposal. Risks are for example the increased raw material demands as well as some economic risks due to price increment or political instabilities in some countries within the raw material supply chain. Despite the promising research efforts on the performance metrics of LIBs and advancing the technology, the research on the various aspects of sustainability of LIBs and its life cycle are still in its infancy and require closer attention. As the editorial of the Special Issue on sustainable supply and value chains of EV batteries, this article presents some of the most pressing challenges of EV LIBs across the different stages of its life cycle. It covers issues from supply and demand of the battery raw materials, battery manufacturing, use, and end-of-life treatments. Within this context the reported findings of some 20 different research teams from across the globe, the state-of-the-art, technical or policy gaps in EV LIBs research and development are presented, as well as market instruments such as innovative business models, and governmental interventions like subsidies or regulations. We grouped the materials presented into five main themes (1) EV and LIB materials demand projections (2) EV LIBs international trade risk (3) EV battery regulation and adoption (4) EV LIBs life cycle assessment (5) and EV LIBs reverse logistics. We conclude by discussing some future research challenges such as the need for more reliable and applicable prediction models that use accurate data on EV stock and end-of-life EVs. Finally, we argue that more collaboration between academia, manufactures, OEMs and the battery recycling industry is needed to implement successful circular economy strategies to achieve environmentally friendly, flexible and cost-efficient battery supplies, use and recycling processes.
... 60 Occorre, inoltre, considerare l'impatto ambientale associato all'intero ciclo vita (LCA) dei sistemi di accumulo elettrochimici. Studi LCA recenti condotti su diverse tipologie di batterie a ioni di litio impiegate nei veicoli elettrici (Aichberger & Jungmeier, 2020), evidenziano consistenti valori emissivi di GHG variabili tra 70-175 (e più probabilmente 70-100, se prodotte su larga scala, (Kelly et al., 2019) kg CO 2 eq per kWh di energia accumulabile. Nell'ipotesi di un corretto riciclo dei materiali o del riutilizzo delle stesse batterie per altre applicazioni e in ottica di decarbonizzazione del settore industriale, è possibile conseguire una riduzione delle emissioni per un valore medio di 20 kg CO 2 eq/kWh o meno al 2050. ...
... Battery-powered vehicles (BEV) are seen as a promising way to reduce the environmental impact during the use stage (IEA, 2021). While in most recent publications, BEV show advantages over internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEV) in regard to climate change (Cox et al., 2018;Ellingsen, 2016;Esser et al., 2021;Hall and Lutsey, 2018;Hawkins et al., 2013;Helmers et al., 2020;Notter et al., 2010;Puig-Samper Naranjo et al., 2021), the production and supply chain of the battery cells remain an environmental hot-spot due to more complex and energy-intensive processes Emilsson and Dahllöf, 2019;Kallitsis et al., 2020;Kelly et al., 2019;Romare and Dahllöf, 2017;Sun et al., 2020;Yin et al., 2019). Electrification thus shifts emissions within the life cycle from the use stage to the production stage (including material extraction). ...
Article
The production of battery materials has been identified as the main contributor to the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of lithium-ion batteries for automotive applications. Graphite manufacturing is characterized by energy intense production processes (including extraction), mainly being operated in China with low energy prices and a relatively high GHG emission intensity of electricity generation. Industrial scale primary data related to the production of battery materials lacks transparency and remains scarce in general. In particular, life cycle inventory datasets related to the extraction, refining and coating of graphite as anode material for lithium-ion batteries are incomplete, out of date and hardly representative for today's battery applications. Nevertheless, primary life cycle inventory data of battery materials like graphite, produced on an industrial scale are crucial for a robust evaluation of batteries for electric vehicles, material sourcing and development of robust decarbonization strategies. This paper addresses this issue by first providing a comprehensive overview of the existing graphite datasets and their original sources, and outlining the reasons for wide variations of reported environmental impact results. Furthermore, this paper aims at closing existing data gaps by providing transparent primary data from a Chinese graphite producer from 2019 and assessing the environmental impacts (cradle-to-gate) in form of a life cycle assessment (LCA) for a vertically integrated graphite production. The life cycle inventory covers material, water, energy flows and direct emissions associated with the production of natural graphite anode material for an automotive battery application and associated transport activities along the supply chain. The results of the LCA show that the production of 1000 kg of natural graphite anode material has a global warming potential (GWP) of approximately 9616 kg CO2eq. The subsequent uncertainty analysis in the form of a Monte-Carlo-Analysis with 10000 runs reveals that the 95% confidence interval is in the range between 9297 and 9940 kg CO2eq. This value is more than four times higher than the reported GWP of battery-grade graphite in the ecoinvent database version 3.7.1.
... In addition, Dai et al. (2019) noted that the impacts may change significantly depending on where the batteries are produced and where the materials are sourced. Thus, Kelly et al. (2020) emphasized how the production of battery materials and components in different regions of the world affects the battery life cycle, pollutant emissions, total energy consumption, and water consumption. In particular, they examined LIB production in the US, China, Japan, South Korea, and Europe, with details of supply chains and the electrical grid in these regions. ...
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The automotive industry is currently on the verge of electrical transition, and the environmental performance of electric vehicles (EVs) is of great concern. To assess the environmental performance of EVs scientifically and accurately, we reviewed the life cycle environmental impacts of EVs and compared them with those of internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEVs). Considering that the battery is the core component of EVs, we further summarise the environmental impacts of battery production, use, secondary utilisation, recycling, and remanufacturing. The results showed that the environmental impact of EVs in the production phase is higher than that of ICEVs due to battery manufacturing. EVs in the use phase obtained a better overall image than ICEVs, although this largely depended on the share of clean energy generation. In the recycling phase, repurposing and remanufacturing retired batteries are helpful in improving the environmental benefits of EVs. Over the entire life cycle, EVs have the potential to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and fossil energy consumption; however, they have higher impacts than ICEVs in terms of metal and mineral consumption and human toxicity potential. In summary, optimising the power structure, upgrading battery technology, and improving the recycling efficiency are of great significance for the large-scale promotion of EVs, closed-loop production of batteries, and sustainable development of the resources, environment, and economy.
... 7,8 Previous ELCAs have found that EVs offer lower GHG emissions per mile than conventional, internal combustion engine vehicles, even when accounting for the environmental burdens (particularly GHG emissions) associated with lithium-ion battery production. 6,7,35 However, cobalt mining-a key part of the battery supply chain-is known to have adverse environmental impacts beyond GHG emissions at the mining site, [36][37][38][39][40] such as water pollution and soil degradation; such outcomes have only been quantified in detail in a handful of ELCAs. 41,42 Over half of the world's cobalt comes from the Katanga region of the DRC, which comprises four smaller provinces including Lualaba Province, where we conducted fieldwork. ...
Article
Full-text available
Evaluating the human health and well-being effects of emerging technologies is essential. Yet, data to support rigorous evaluation of these effects through social life cycle assessment (S-LCA) are lacking, especially at local or regional rather than national scales. As a consequence, technologies and policies that use emerging technologies may drive inequality and detract from quality of life even if environmental life cycle assessments point to likely environmental benefits. Therefore, this Perspective describes our exploratory fieldwork in cobalt mining communities in Lualaba Province, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), to identify barriers to and opportunities for collecting better data for conducting S-LCA. Our recommendations apply to the S-LCA of cobalt mining and other systems and, overall, enable more holistic evaluations of emerging technologies' effects on social well-being that are insufficiently robust for use in policy.
Article
Full-text available
Facing increasingly severe climate change, countries and regions around the world are actively promoting the electrification of the transportation sector and encouraging the use of electric vehicles (EVs) to replace traditional internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEVs). However, the consumption of energy, resources, and power during battery production and use results in EVs not being as low-carbon as we expect. Therefore, the carbon emissions of batteries should be fully considered when promoting EVs. In this context, we systematically reviewed the life cycle carbon footprint of batteries. Specifically, the carbon emissions of batteries in the production, use, secondary utilization, and recycling phases are summarized, and the main influencing factors of carbon emissions in different stages are analyzed. Furthermore, the relevant suggestions for reducing the life cycle carbon footprint of batteries are proposed, which provides guidance for the large-scale deployment of EVs, reducing transportation carbon emissions, achieving carbon neutrality, and sustainable development of energy, environment, and economy.
Article
Battery raw materials have been identified as one of the main contributors to the overall environmental impact of batteries, however the primary data related to their production remains scarce and is subjected to high uncertainty. In particular, the commercial life cycle inventory datasets related to refining and processing of graphite as an anode material for lithium ion batteries are subjected to in-transparency and are difficult to be traced back. The existing Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) studies on traction batteries make use of these old and partly incomplete graphite datasets without consideration of underlying uncertainties and their effects on the overall environmental impacts. This paper addresses this issue by providing a comprehensive overview of the conventional graphite production processes, a summary of existing graphite datasets, along with their sources and presenting the underlying reasons for the major deviations. Subsequently, the quality of nine different Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) graphite datasets is discussed based on evaluation performed according to EPA data quality guidelines, whereby data gaps are identified and datasets are ranked according to an established data quality rating (DQR) methodology. Furthermore, the paper provides a common base for LCA results of existing graphite production datasets which were remodeled and assessed in Brightway2 (BW2) using background data from a ecoinvent. The results of DQR and LCA reveal major discrepancies in the datasets for the production of battery grade graphite. A Monte Carlo (MC) analysis is also provided to identify uncertainties stemming from technospheric flows, generating result bandwidths. A subsequent case study on state of the art lithium ion battery cell is also presented revealing that the choice of a certain graphite dataset could have a significant impact on the overall LCA results of a battery. The study highlights the need of the graphite datasets to receive more attention in the future.
Article
The batteries in electric vehicles can account for one-third of their production greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions; thus, it is important to understand how these batteries' environmental performance is affected by both the battery's chemistry and production location. In this study, we examined how transitioning to higher‑nickel, lower-cobalt, and high-performance automotive lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC) lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) from the base NMC111 would influence the environmental impacts of LIB production. Transitioning from NMC111 cathodes to cathodes with higher nickel and lower cobalt contents results in a potential increase in the energy density (i.e., increased driving range) of the batteries and is thus favored in the industry. This study utilized the Greenhouse gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy use in Technology (GREET) life-cycle assessment model to conduct the environmental analysis by focusing on the differences among global regions with respect to production conditions (electricity grid, mineral extraction methods, etc.) and examining them on the basis of a set of scenarios for current production conditions to better understand how regional supply-chain variations impact environmental performance. The environmental impact of the transition relative to the GREET baseline conditions was such that the GHG emission levels for NMC532, NMC622, and NMC811 showed reductions of 0.3%, 5.3%, and 7.5%, respectively, relative to NMC111, while the SOx emission levels increased significantly—by 130%, 130%, and 142%, respectively—relative to NMC111. These increases in the SOx emissions levels were correlated with increasing nickel content and were due to the production pathway of the nickel precursor. Through further scenario analysis, we showed that lower SOx emission levels could be attained when the nickel precursor was produced exclusively from mixed hydroxide precipitate (MHP) instead of Class I nickel—although this change resulted in higher GHG emission levels with the current MHP supply chain. Regional variability of the electricity grid profiles also influenced the environmental impacts of LIB production. The use of hydro-powered electricity resulted in reduced GHG emissions levels; however, water consumption levels increased compared to the baseline conditions. Among other scenarios, we also investigated the best- and worst-case-scenario supply chains based on GHG emission levels. In this case, the best-case scenario is the scenario with the lowest GHG emissions, while the worst has the highest. For the NMC811 LIB, the GREET baseline, currently dominant, and worst-case-scenario supply chains showed GHG emission levels of 121%, 173%, and 347%, respectively, relative to the best-case-scenario supply chain. This study highlights the sensitivity of an LIB's life-cycle environmental performance to its supply chain, thereby suggesting a path toward improving the battery's environmental performance, namely, supply-chain decarbonization.
Article
Worldwide sales of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) have been steadily increasing for several years and now account for several million vehicles, resulting in a high use of lithium-ion batteries (LIBs). It is then required to assess the real environmental impact of these LIBs and to avoid environmental impacts' transfers. Life cycle assessment (LCA) methodology seems the most appropriate framework as it is a multi-stages and environmental multi-criteria ISO methodology. However, many studies exist on this subject and no consensus is emerging on a common environmental value of LIB's production. To fill this gap and properly assess the environmental consequences of a massive electrification deployment, this study performs a qualitative and a quantitative review of more than 500 LCA studies referring to LIBs' production for BEVs. 377 observations for seven selected variables among more than 80 surveyed variables are presented and meta-analysis (MA) methodology is used to compare the final 32 selected studies. After many statistical tests and 8 finalists selected, we find that the global warming potential (GWP) impact of mobile LIBs' production can be explained by a reduced parametrized model containing four information: the geographical location of the corresponding author, the cell design of the battery, the battery specific energy, and the manufacturing energy. This allows a generic and systematic approach to assess GWP impacts of LIBs production. We also propose recommendations for LCA practitioners to harmonize LIBs' environmental assessments and save time for further analysis.
Article
Full-text available
In light of the increasing penetration of electric vehicles (EVs) in the global vehicle market, understanding the environmental impacts of lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) that characterize the EVs is key to sustainable EV deployment. This study analyzes the cradle-to-gate total energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, SOx, NOx, PM10 emissions, and water consumption associated with current industrial production of lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC) batteries, with the battery life cycle analysis (LCA) module in the Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy Use in Transportation (GREET) model, which was recently updated with primary data collected from large-scale commercial battery material producers and automotive LIB manufacturers. The results show that active cathode material, aluminum, and energy use for cell production are the major contributors to the energy and environmental impacts of NMC batteries. However, this study also notes that the impacts could change significantly, depending on where in the world the battery is produced, and where the materials are sourced. In an effort to harmonize existing LCAs of automotive LIBs and guide future research, this study also lays out differences in life cycle inventories (LCIs) for key battery materials among existing LIB LCA studies, and identifies knowledge gaps.
Technical Report
Full-text available
This white paper provides a detailed assessment of light-duty electric vehicle sales and manufacturing, including the associated battery production and its suppliers. We analyze where electric vehicle models are being assembled and where their battery cells are being produced, and compare that to where the consumer markets are developing. We also investigate underlying policies that have supported the industrial and market developments to date. In so doing, this work assesses the status of the major electric vehicle markets through 2017, while also identifying policy opportunities for accelerating the transition to electric.
Article
This article presents a cradle-to-grave (C2G) assessment of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and costs for current (2015) and future (2025–2030) light-duty vehicles. The analysis addressed both fuel cycle and vehicle manufacturing cycle for the following vehicle types: gasoline and diesel internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEVs), flex fuel vehicles, compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles, hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs), battery electric vehicles (BEVs), and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). Gasoline ICEVs using current technology have C2G emissions of ~450 gCO2e/mi (grams of carbon dioxide equivalents per mile), while C2G emissions from HEVs, PHEVs, H2 FCEVs, and BEVs range from 300–350 gCO2e/mi. Future vehicle efficiency gains are expected to reduce emissions to ~350 gCO2/mi for ICEVs and ~250 gCO2e/mi for HEVs, PHEVs, FCEVs and BEVs. Utilizing low-carbon fuel pathways yields GHG reductions more than double those achieved by vehicle efficiency gains alone. Levelized costs of driving (LCDs) are in the range $0.25–$1.00/mi depending on timeframe and vehicle-fuel technology. In all cases, vehicle cost represents the major (60–90%) contribution to LCDs. Currently, HEV and PHEV petroleum-fueled vehicles provide the most attractive cost in terms of avoided carbon emissions, although they offer lower potential GHG reductions. The ranges of LCD and cost of avoided carbon are narrower for the future technology pathways, reflecting the expected economic competitiveness of these alternative vehicles and fuels.
Article
Sustained growth in lithium-ion battery (LIB) demand within the transportation sector (and the electricity sector) motivates detailed investigations of whether future raw materials supply will reconcile with resulting material requirements for these batteries. We track the metal content associated with compounds used in LIBs. We find that most of the key constituents, including manganese, nickel, and natural graphite, have sufficient supply to meet the anticipated increase in demand for LIBs. There may be challenges in rapidly scaling the use of materials associated with lithium and cobalt in the short term. Due to long battery lifetimes and multiple end uses, recycling is unlikely to provide significant short-term supply. There are risks associated with the geopolitical concentrations of these elements, particularly for cobalt. The lessons revealed in this work can be relevant to other industries in which the rapid growth of a materials-dependent technology disrupts the global supply of those materials.
Article
Water is an essential resource for most electric power generation technologies. Thermal power plants typically require a large amount of cooling water whose evaporation is regarded to be consumed. Hydropower plants result in evaporative water loss from the large surface areas of the storing reservoirs. This study estimated the regional water consumption factors (WCFs) for thermal and hydro electricity generation in the United States, because the WCFs of these power plants vary by region and water supply and demand balance are of concern in many regions. For hydropower, total WCFs were calculated using a reservoir’s surface area, state-level water evaporation, and background evapotranspiration. Then, for a multipurpose reservoir, a fraction of its WCF was allocated to hydropower generation based on the share of the economic valuation of hydroelectricity among benefits from all purposes of the reservoir. For thermal power plants, the variations in WCFs by type of cooling technology, prime mover technology, and by region were addressed. The results show that WCFs for electricity generation vary significantly by region. The generation-weighted average WCFs of thermoelectricity and hydropower are 1.25 (range of 0.18–2.0) and 16.8 (range of 0.67–1194) L/kWh, respectively, and the generation-weighted average WCF by the U.S. generation mix in 2015 is estimated at 2.18 L/kWh.
Article
We combine a theoretical discrete-choice model of vehicle purchases, an econometric analysis of electricity emissions, and the AP2 air pollution model to estimate the geographic variation in the environmental benefits from driving electric vehicles. The second-best electric vehicle purchase subsidy ranges from $2,785 in California to -$4,964 in North Dakota, with a mean of -$1,095. Ninety percent of local environmental externalities from driving electric vehicles in one state are exported to others, implying they may be subsidized locally, even when the environmental benefits are negative overall. Geographically differentiated subsidies can reduce deadweight loss, but only modestly.
Article
The manufacture of lithium ion batteries requires some processing steps to be carried out in a dry room, where the moisture content should remain below 100 parts per million. The design and operation of such a dry room adds to the cost of the battery. This paper studied the humidity management of the air to and from the dry room to understand the impact of design and operating parameters on the energy demand and the cost contribution towards the battery manufacturing cost. The study was conducted with the help of a process model for a dry room with a volume of 16,000 cubic meters. For a defined base case scenario it was found that the dry room operation has an energy demand of approximately 400 kW. The paper explores some tradeoffs in design and operating parameters by looking at the humidity reduction by quenching the make-up air vs. at the desiccant wheel, and the impact of the heat recovery from the desiccant regeneration cycle.
Article
We report the first cradle-to-gate emissions assessment for a mass-produced battery in a commercial battery electric vehicle (BEV); the lithium-ion battery pack used in the Ford Focus BEV. The assessment was based on the bill of materials and primary data from the battery industry, i.e., energy and materials input data from the battery cell and pack supplier. Cradle-to-gate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for the 24 kWh Ford Focus lithium-ion battery are 3.4 metric tonnes of CO2-eq. (140 kg CO2-eq. per kWh or 11 kg CO2-eq. per kg of battery). Cell manufacturing is the key contributor accounting for 45% of the GHG emissions. We review published studies of GHG emissions associated with battery production to compare and contrast with our results. Extending the system boundary to include the entire vehicle we estimate a 39% increase in the cradle-to-gate GHG emissions of the Focus BEV compared to the Focus internal combustion engine vehicle (ICEV), which falls within the range of literature estimates of 27-63% increases for hypothetical non-production BEVs. Our results reduce the uncertainties associated with assessment of BEV battery production, serve to identify opportunities to reduce emissions, and confirm previous assessments that BEVs have great potential to reduce GHG emissions and provide local emission free mobility.
Article
Successful deployment of electric vehicles requires maturity of the manufacturing process to reduce the cost of the lithium ion battery (LIB) pack. Drying the coated cathode layer and subsequent recovery of the solvent for recycle is a vital step in the lithium ion battery manufacturing plant and offers significant potential for cost reduction. A spreadsheet model of the drying and recovery of the solvent, is used to study the energy demand of this step and its contribution towards the cost of the battery pack. The base case scenario indicates that the drying and recovery process imposes an energy demand of ∼10 kWh per kg of the solvent n-methyl pyrrolidone (NMP), and is almost 45 times the heat needed to vaporize the NMP. For a plant producing 100 K battery packs per year for 10 kWh plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEV), the energy demand is ∼5900 kW and the process contributes $107 or 3.4% to the cost of the battery pack. The cost of drying and recovery is equivalent to $1.12 per kg of NMP recovered, saving $2.08 per kg in replacement purchase.