In the run for more efficient battery sources and bigger capacities, lithium-ion batteries are up there with the best. They are now the go-to for not only everyday electronics but for modern electric cars.
A lithium battery is stable and has a long lifespan for multiple charging. This is also great for electric cars because they are affordable and lightweight.
Although they have a lot of advantages, not all new vehicles use lithium batteries as a power source. There are many types of batteries and power sources that manufacturers are trying out.
Manufacturers are always looking for better battery types in the search for more efficient power sources.
Today, most modern cars have a lithium battery in their hybrid and all-electric vehicle models.
In this article, we are taking a deeper look at how many electric cars actually use lithium batteries.
Here’s the short answer to whether all electric cars use lithium-ion batteries:
Lithium-ion batteries might be the most popular power source for electric vehicles, but EV manufacturers use a wide range of other cell types. Electric cars also use nickel-metal hybrid batteries, lead-acid batteries, ultra-capacitors and a wide range of other battery types, depending on their specific application and other considerations.
What Type of Batteries Are Used in New Electric Cars?
Manufacturers are now spoiled for choice in choosing a power source for their vehicles. Hybrid cars and all-electric cars need an efficient battery source to power the car and all its electronics.
With this in mind, most modern electric car releases will have lithium batteries as a power source. This includes hybrid and all-electric cars that are now in circulation.
Other battery types include nickel-metal hybrid batteries (NiMH), lead-acid batteries, and ultracapacitors. All these types are efficient and safe enough to be used as an alternative source for electric cars.
Nickel-metal hybrid batteries have a long lifespan while also being able to be recharged multiple times. On top of this, nickel-metal hybrid batteries are safe and stable, with a higher power and energy density.
On the other hand, nickel-metal hybrid batteries can be rather expensive to replace. They can also get quite hot during a fast charge.
The charge cycles of a nickel-metal hybrid battery are also limited to a certain point. So this battery type can be recharged a limited number of times.
Lead-acid batteries can be designed to be efficient, safe, and affordable. However, they can be unreliable in extreme weather conditions.
Compared to lithium batteries, lead-acid batteries are not as reliable and so are not the obvious solution for electric cars.
The use of ultra-capacitors in batteries has also been a great advancement for electrical vehicles. They help batteries store and release energy efficiently so that the battery lasts longer.
Using ultra-capacitors and supercapacitors as a sole battery source is not yet advanced enough to be viable. These cannot yet replace the traditional lithium-ion battery.
What Will Replace Lithium Batteries?
There are some inherent problems with using Lithium-ion batteries in electric cars. Sodium batteries are the likeliest to replace lithium batteries.
Sodium is the closest element to lithium and is being developed as a suitable alternative.
Scientists are always at work trying to find better battery sources and improving on the ones available. This trend has grown rapidly because of the growing electric car market.
The past decade has seen scientists and engineers developing sodium as a better battery source. Sodium batteries are cheaper, stable, and more environmentally friendly than their lithium counterparts.
In the auto industry, it is important that the type of battery in the vehicle is safe and can charge fast enough. Lithium-ion batteries check all the right boxes for electrical vehicles.
It is clear that sodium-based batteries are the best alternative for electric vehicles. However, the space and heaviness of other materials such as salt and sodium are serious constraints scientists are working to overcome.
Cars have limited storage space for heavy battery banks. It is important for manufacturers to look for lightweight, small, and powerful alternatives for their models.
Is Lithium Still the Best Option for Car Batteries?
Lithium is still the best option for car batteries, considering its affordability and stability. Lithium still has its drawbacks but may soon be replaced by more efficient battery sources.
Apart from being difficult to recycle lithium batteries, it is also quite expensive to mine the metals in them. These are some of the drawbacks that make finding an alternative battery source even more important.
Solid-state batteries are also being looked into by scientists as a means to curb the drawbacks of lithium. These are the kinds of batteries you’d find in watches and circuit boards, only larger.
A solid-state battery still uses lithium, but the liquid electrolyte in the battery is solid and doesn’t move around. This allows for a more stable movement of lithium ions, resulting in better battery performance.
Lithium batteries are not very new in the industry and, therefore, will be around for a while. This means that lithium batteries are being improved and developed for better performance in electrical cars.
Future Electric Vehicle Batteries
Here are future electric vehicle batteries:
- Cobalt-Free Batteries
- Structural Component Batteries
- Carbon Nanotube Electrodes
- Solid-State Batteries
- Over the Air Ultrasound Charging
- Biological Semiconductors
In the future, batteries will charge quicker and last longer whilst also being inexpensive. This will see the use of such batteries skyrocket in the auto industry.
Will There Be Enough Lithium for Electric Cars?
Lithium is not really scarce, but huge production and mining demands will make it run out faster. Mining the metal for battery production is time-consuming and expensive.
We have enough lithium in our oceans and the earth’s crust. Mining the metals takes a lot of resources and natural resources eventually run out.
As the demand for more electrical vehicles grows, there will be a high demand for more lithium. This is because the auto industry is slowly starting to rely on lithium for making battery sources.
The lithium mining industry is big enough to supply the auto industry with rough lithium.
Projections show that at the current market rate of lithium production, there should be enough for the next couple of years.
Do Tesla Batteries Use Lithium?
Most Tesla cars use lithium-ion batteries even though they are not the same as a traditional lithium battery. The cathode chemistries in Tesla batteries are not the same across the range.
Tesla cars use nickel-cobalt-aluminum (NCA), nickel-cobalt-manganese (NCM), and lithium iron phosphate (LFP). These types all range across the different Tesla models.
Going forward, Tesla will now be using lithium iron phosphate (LFP) in all its standard-range electric vehicles. The LFP cathode in these batteries is relatively cheaper and does not have any cobalt and nickel.
In the earlier models of the Tesla, nickel-cobalt-aluminum (NCA) was used throughout its baseline models. They now incorporate up to three types of batteries in the different models.
Most of the LFP cathode material used in the battery are produced in China. Lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries will eventually overtake their nickel-cobalt-aluminum (NCA) counterparts in Tesla cars.
Tesla is also one of the leading companies researching better and more efficient battery types. This depends on market demand and profit margins for the company.
There is also no indication that Tesla will move away from lithium-based batteries in their cars. This is, of course, until there is a better and more efficient battery that comes along.
Is There a Better Battery Than Lithium-Ion?
Fluoride-based batteries are much better than lithium-based batteries because they last much longer. However, fluoride batteries are still in their infancy and have shown to have poor cyclability.
A rechargeable battery needs to provide power and be charged repeatedly.
The problem with fluoride-based batteries is that they do not last long when discharged repeatedly. This is a drawback for the electric car industry because cars will need to be recharged repeatedly.
Solid-state batteries are also a great idea for the electric car industry. Unfortunately, solid-state batteries are often much heavier and difficult to produce.
Research and tests into improving the efficiency of lithium batteries are showing results. Different materials such as salt, magnesium, iron, or magnesium can yield better results when substituted.
What Happens to the Dead Car Batteries?
It’s a valid concern when wondering where all the dead car batteries that aren’t being used end up. The best way to get rid of batteries is to dispose of and recycle them properly.
Car batteries reach their end of life all the time and they must be disposed of in the right manner. This is for safety and environmental reasons because of the chemicals and toxins inside the battery.
Because of safety and environmental reasons, it is not a good idea for batteries to be stored in waste landfills. This is because most people don’t know how to responsibly handle dead batteries.
There are now companies that can collect and recycle dead batteries that come from cars and electronics. These companies can then store or re-manufacture the batteries back into the battery industry.
Some battery types also have precious or valuable materials that can be reused or sold. This then reduces the mining of natural resources of these materials.
Battery recycling is an important aspect of the automobile industry. The industry is responsible for educating people about the safe disposal and recycling of vehicle batteries.
At the moment, big car industry names such as Tesla, Volvo, and Toyota all have battery recycling programs. These programs are efficient in collecting and recycling dead car batteries.
It’s no secret that the electric vehicle industry is booming and with it comes the question of battery recycling. All the dead batteries that come from cars and electronics must be recycled.
Governments are also introducing rules for the reuse and recycling of battery components.