Exploring Lithium-Ion Battery Types for ESS

Stéphane Melançon, a battery expert and electric enthusiast from Laserax in the US, chatted about the features of different lithium-ion tech and how we can compare them.

Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries weren’t always a top pick. They were often skipped over because they cost a lot. For a long time, lead-acid batteries took the lead in the Energy Storage Systems (ESS) market. They were more dependable and cost less.

Battery makers, electric car producers, and energy giants like LG Chem and Panasonic have put billions into researching energy fixes. This includes battery tech and ways to make them. They did it to keep up with the huge want for Li-ion batteries. This has made ESS Li-ion batteries cheaper and bigger in size, letting them grab a bigger piece of a growing market pie.

In this article, we’ll dive into six main types of Li-ion batteries. We’ll look at their potential in ESS, what makes a good battery for ESS, and the part other energy sources play.

Exploring Lithium-Ion Battery Types for ESS

1. A Deep Dive into Lithium-Ion Battery Types

1.1 Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP)

LFP batteries are top dogs in the ESS world. They’re a cleaner option because LFP uses iron. Compared to cobalt and nickel, iron’s a greener pick. Iron’s also cheaper and easier to find, which drops costs. Making them costs less too.

Tesla’s head honcho, Elon Musk, thinks all fixed storage items will shift to LFP battery chemistry.

LFPs don’t pack as much power for their size. But, this isn’t a big deal for ESS like it is for electric cars, since ESS can spread out more. Sure, LFP batteries weigh more, but that’s just an install issue. They’re also safer with less risk of overheating and last longer with 2,000 to 5,000 cycles. MANLY Battery is professional battery supplier and offer higher performance and safer LiFePO4 battery. Experience the longevity of our batteries, boasting 8,000 cycles and backed by a decade-long warranty.

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Exploring Lithium-Ion Battery Types for ESS

1.2 Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt (NMC)

NMC batteries are a lithium-ion favorite for good reasons. They’re power-packed and are safer when it comes to overheating.

But, they don’t last as long as LFPs, usually between 1,000 to 2,000 cycles.

They also need cobalt and nickel. These are pricier and not so eco-friendly. There are worries about running out of these minerals, which could jack up costs and limit supply.

1.3 Lithium Nickel Cobalt Aluminum (NCA)

NCA batteries are kind of like NMCs but with key twists. They store more energy for their size but can overheat easier. Like NMCs, they last around 1,000 to 2,000 cycles and need cobalt and nickel.

1.4 Lithium Manganese Oxide (LMO)

LMOs lost their cool quick. They’re like LFPs but don’t last as long, usually just 500-800 cycles.

They cost a tad less to make than LFPs, but their shorter life jacks up long-term costs.

LMOs charge up fast, have solid power, and work well even when it’s hot. They’re mostly in portable tools, medical gear, and some electric cars.

1.5 Lithium Cobalt Oxide (LCO)

LCOs are among the first lithium-ion types. They’re common in laptops and phones with low power needs. They’re great for light setups without needing a lot of power since they keep energy flowing for a while.

But, LCOs have a short life, usually 500 to 1,000 cycles, and can’t handle heat. That’s why they’re a no-go for ESS.

1.6 Lithium Titanate (LTO)

LTOs are the long-livers, with up to 10,000 cycles and pollute less than most other batteries. They juice up quick, but that might not be a must-have for ESS.

They don’t store a lot of energy for their size, making them pricey. For instance, while other batteries store 120 to 500 watt-hours per kilo, LTOs do about 50 to 80.

2. Key Factors to Maximize ESS Battery Output

2.1 High Cycle Count:

Different batteries have varied lifespans based on how many charge and discharge cycles they can complete before showing significant performance loss. Modern EV batteries last longer. Typical car manufacturer battery warranties are around eight years or 100,000 miles, but it largely depends on the type of battery used for storage.

Energy storage systems need a high cycle life as they operate continually, charging and discharging. Battery capacity decreases with each charge and discharge cycle. When a lithium-ion battery can only retain 70% to 80% of its capacity, it’s reached its lifespan. The best lithium-ion batteries can function for up to 10,000 cycles, while the lower-end ones last about 500 cycles.

2.2 Peak Power:

Energy storage systems need to support surges in power demand as they’re used to meet energy needs during peak grid demand times.

Energy demands aren’t consistent, but ESS can shift charging times to when energy is cheaper or more available. By storing energy during low-demand times and releasing it when needed, costs can be significantly reduced.

2.3 Low Production Cost:

Energy storage systems require a lot of batteries to meet energy demands. For instance, the amount of energy used per hour is measured in megawatt-hours (MWh). For EV batteries, it’s in kilowatt-hours (kWh). That’s a difference of 1,000 times!

Given the sheer number of batteries needed for ESS, pricier battery tech isn’t economically viable.

Exploring Lithium-Ion Battery Types for ESS

3. Addressing the Concern of Thermal Runaway in Batteries

Thermal runaway remains a pressing concern. When lithium-ion batteries reach an uncontrolled self-heating state, they may cause fires, smoke, and the ejection of gases, particulates, and shrapnel.

Different types of lithium-ion batteries exhibit thermal runaway at varied temperatures. For instance, NCA, NMC, and LCO are types of lithium-ion batteries that have a risk of thermal runaway at lower temperatures. LFP batteries are the safest.

4. Why ESS Doesn’t Sweat Over Battery Dimensions and Heft

Unlike electric vehicles, where weight and size need careful management, these factors aren’t vital in the operation of Energy Storage Systems (ESS). This is because these devices are typically housed in containers or storage units.

The cost of land for installing ESS is usually minimal, making the battery size a minor factor in the overall expense. Weight isn’t a concern as it doesn’t influence battery performance as it does in electric vehicles.

5. ESS and LFP Batteries: Crucial for the Future of Alternative Energy

The demand for electricity is skyrocketing. In fact, McKinsey predicts that by 2050, global electricity consumption will double. Everything we use requires power, and electric vehicles add to the grid’s burden.

Traditional forms of energy like nuclear, hydroelectric, and coal are insufficient to meet the escalating demand. Many countries face significant regulatory hurdles and construction constraints. Even if these can be cleared, infrastructure could take a decade or longer to establish.

Alternative energy sources like wind and solar, with simpler requirements and growing public support, can typically be set up more swiftly. The International Energy Agency (IEA) underscores the surge in clean energy, anticipating a one-third capacity increase between 2022 and 2023.

While alternative energies could play a pivotal role in our future, they’re weather-dependent. They can’t produce power consistently, necessitating ESS to store energy, meet peak demand cycles, and deliver power during adverse weather conditions.

Energy storage systems can also flatten power peaks, enhancing power plant efficiency. They aid in supplying more consistent and stable electricity, prolonging the lifespan of power plants.

All these indicate that Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) batteries are a promising choice for the future. LFP offers a high lifecycle, low production costs, and minimal risk of thermal runaway, making them ideal for ESS requirements.

Recently, LMFP batteries, an LFP variant with manganese as a cathode component, have emerged, exhibiting strong performance in electric vehicles. Given their production costs, this new battery chemistry could be a competitive solution for energy storage systems.