• How Are Lithium NMC Batteries Made?

Biofuel Industry News

How Are Lithium NMC Batteries Made?

Nov 03 2022

From handheld power tools to electric bikes and scooters, Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide (NMC) batteries boast excellent stability and energy density. Individual cells offer long life cycles, which has seen NMC technology gain popularity for high-load energy storage systems (ESS) applications.   

Want to know more about how these powerhouses are made? Below, we take a closer look at the technology behind NMC batteries:

A chemical cocktail

NMC batteries are named after the chemical cocktail used to create the cathode.  It’s made up of nickel, manganese and cobalt, a combination that gives NMC batteries their impressive energy storage capacity. Ratios are typically 1-1-1 which balances out the cost of raw materials. Some manufacturers use a 5-3-2 nickel/cobalt/manganese ratio to build NMC batteries.

While nickel is a chemical element with high specific energy, it doesn’t perform well when it comes to stability. In comparison, manganese is stable and forms spinel structures to lower internal resistance but has mediocre specific energy. Combining the two metals allows battery manufacturers to take advantage of desirable properties like good stability and high specific energy, while balancing out the negative characteristics.

A new generation of NMC batteries

At the University of Cambridge, researchers have developed a novel method to track the movement of lithium ions in NMC batteries, with a goal to improve overall capacity and performance. The research was published in the journal Joule, with the team explaining how insight into degradation mechanisms could help improve the range and charge times of electric vehicles (EV) batteries. Ultimately, this could help fast-track the transition to a zero-carbon economy.

“Our model provides insights into the range over which lithium-ion diffusion in NMC varies during the early stages of charging,” says Dr Shrinidhi Pandurangi, co-first author of the study. “Our model predicted lithium distributions accurately and captured the degree of heterogeneity observed in experiments. These predictions are key to understanding other battery degradation mechanisms such as particle fracture,” adds Pandurangi, who holds a Research Associate role in the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge.

“This is the first time that this non-uniformity in lithium storage has been directly observed in individual particles,” explains Alice Merryweather, co-first author of the study. “Real time techniques like ours are essential to capture this while the battery is cycling.”

The advent of ‘smart’ batteries

NMC batteries aren’t the only technology making waves in the energy sector. Find out more about other types of batteries and the state-of-the-art sensors being used to track key parameters like voltage, current, charge level and state of health in ‘What Are Smart Battery Cells? Definition, Applications & Advantages’

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