6 Chemical Types of Lithium-ion Batteries that You Can Choose From

Chemical Types of Lithium-ion Batteries
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Since the invention and commercialization of batteries in the 1970s, lithium-ion batteries have evolved from supplying power to small and electronic devices to supplying electricity to trucks weighing up to 60 tons, making the market mature and important.

The policies and businesses of governments around the world are promoting its development, making lithium-ion batteries (also known as lithium-ion batteries) not only provide less emissions than generators that use non renewable energy, but also come with lower costs and more energy options.
After decades of testing, various electrochemical configurations have emerged, each with its unique characteristics and attribute advantages, suitable for products in different industries.
In this article, six different types of lithium-ion battery chemistry will be introduced, which I believe will be helpful to you.

1.What are the existing types of batteries in solar panel systems?

When discussing solar panel systems, the main types of batteries on the market are lead-acid batteries and lithium-ion batteries. The former has a relatively low price, but a larger volume and an expected service life generally between 2 and 5 years.

Although lithium-ion batteries are more expensive than lead-acid batteries, their performance is more stable and their expected lifespan is longer (10 to 12 years), making them gradually becoming the most popular material in the market.

In addition, there are other chemical types of batteries that occupy an intermediate position in efficiency and cost, and they also have their own markets due to different perspectives and application needs.
For example, nickel cadmium batteries can store energy at low temperatures, but their density is low, so they cannot store a large amount of energy. Compared to the aforementioned batteries, nickel hydrogen batteries have higher storage capacity and lower maintenance costs compared to the previous years, and will also be favored by the market.

Lithium energy is an active and hot research field, and currently the most popular battery chemicals include:
Lithium nickel manganese cobalt (LiNixMnyCozO2 or NMC)
Lithium nickel cobalt aluminum oxide (LiNiCoAlO2 or NCA)
Lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4 or LFP)
Lithium cobalt oxide (LiCoO2 or LCO)
Lithium manganese oxide (LiMn2O4 or LMO)
Lithium titanate (Li2TiO3 or LTO)
Although these are all lithium batteries, there are different differences between them.

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2.Chemical Types of Lithium-ion Batteries

To analyze and understand the chemical types of lithium-ion batteries, first understand the relevant evaluation terms, which will help you understand the concepts and make better comparisons.

2.0.1 Specific energy

Operating time capacity, expressed in kilowatt hours per kilogram.

2.0.2 Specific power

Conveying capacity under high current, expressed in watts per kilogram。

2.0.3 Security

Judging based on the temperature threshold of thermal runaway

2.0.4 Performance

Capacity, voltage, and resistance also indicate battery performance at different temperatures.

2.0.5 Service Life

The total usage time of the complete charge discharge cycles of the battery.

2.0.6 Investment cost

The cost of raw materials, assembly components, and labor technology investment.

2.1 Lithium cobalt oxide (LiCoO2 or LCO)

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  • High specific energy (energy density)
  • Limited specific power
  • Low security
  • Short service life

Lithium cobalt oxide batteries, also known as lithium cobalt oxide or lithium-ion cobalt batteries, have been known since 1991. Lithium cobalt oxide can form a high specific energy battery chemical composition, with graphite carbon as the anode and cobalt oxide as the cathode, and a layered structure that facilitates ion movement.

The nominal voltage is 3.7V and the energy density is 150 to 180Wh/kg.
This high specific energy but low specific power performance means that it can be delivered to low-power loads for a long time, so LCO batteries are commonly used in smartphones, tablets, and laptops.
However, this type of chemical battery has a lower safety score, especially in terms of thermal stability, as high strength can cause the battery to overheat and increase the risk of thermal runaway.

Therefore, coupled with its shorter lifespan and charging cycle, LCO batteries are no longer the most popular choice as various industries invest in other more cost-effective battery technologies.
Meanwhile, there is a special reason that cobalt mining involves human rights violations. The Democratic Republic of Congo supplies nearly 70% of the world’s cobalt raw materials.

However, there are no labor laws or safety regulations for manual (small-scale) mining operations within the cobalt mining project in the second largest country in Africa. The high-risk manual mining, the employment of child labor during the mining process, and poor working conditions have earned the cobalt mining industry the title of “blood battery”.
Cobalt free lithium-ion batteries can help us utilize battery materials that are ethical to humans.

2.2 Lithium manganese oxide (LiMn2O4 or LMO)

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  • Enhance security
  • High thermal stability
  • Limited cycle life
  • Medium specific energy
  • Moderate power ratio

LMO batteries are commonly referred to as lithium manganese oxide, lithium ion manganese, and manganese spinel, and have been known since 1996. Its structure forms a three-dimensional spinel structure or lithium manganese oxide cathode crystal framework.

The spinel structure can improve the current movement and ion flow trajectory, reduce internal resistance, and improve safety and stability.
The lithium manganese design has maximized the battery’s lifespan, safety, and specific power. Due to the chemical composition of hybrid batteries that can prolong battery life and improve battery specific energy, many electric vehicles such as BMW i3 and Nissan Leaf have chosen the LMO-NMC combination. The LMO component provides high current during acceleration, while NMC increases driving range.

2.3 Lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4 or LFP)

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  • High security
  • High specific power
  • Long cycle life
  • Low specific energy

Lithium iron phosphate is a type of LiFePO4 or LFP battery, and the discovery of phosphate as a cathode material has driven the development of rechargeable lithium batteries.

After decades of development and application, it has now become a popular material.
LFP batteries are mainly used for energy storage and other applications that require high safety, high power, and long lifespan. The nominal voltage of LiFePO4 batteries is lower, resulting in lower specific energy than cobalt lithium-ion batteries.
Although the energy density of this battery’s chemical composition is slightly lower (3.2V/Cell), it has a long service life, lower cost, and is safer.

It can even withstand very large temperature differences, making it popular in industries with high loads and harsh environments. It has good electrochemical performance and greater tolerance to overcharging of batteries, and is also popular in equipment used in high durability fixed locations.
The advancement of battery chemistry technology has made it an inevitable step for traditional batteries to be replaced. For example, lithium phosphate batteries can replace lead-acid starter batteries – lithium phosphate batteries work well when four batteries are connected in series, producing a voltage equal to the voltage generated by six lead-acid batteries connected in series.

This also reflects the excellent performance and economic viability of LiFePO4 batteries.

2.4 Lithium nickel manganese cobalt (LiNixMnyCozO2 or NMC)

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  • High specific power
  • High specific energy
  • High security
  • Medium cost
  • Overall good performance

Lithium nickel manganese cobalt is one of the leading chemical materials in the battery market among other materials. Batteries, also known as NMC, NCM, etc., can be used as energy batteries or power batteries.
NMC battery is one of the most successful nickel manganese cobalt lithium-ion cathode combination battery products.

On the basis of lower production costs, it can also provide high specific energy and has good safety. About 2000 charging cycles prove that it also has excellent service life.
Its nominal voltage is 3.6V and energy density is 150-220Wh/kg, making it a high-quality choice in the electric vehicle industry. Combining the advantages of nickel (high specific energy) and manganese (forming spinel structures to achieve low internal resistance), NMC batteries are widely used in industries such as electric bicycles, electric vehicles, and medical equipment.

NMC also has the lowest self heating rate among the six configurations, and its lightweight, small size, and strong energy storage capacity make it one of the ideal choices for manufacturers.

The chemical composition of NMC can be configured to contain different amounts. The NMC formula typically consists of 33% nickel, 33% manganese, and 33% cobalt. Cobalt is becoming increasingly expensive and difficult to sustain procurement, as the world is pushing to minimize the use of cobalt.

So the unique combination of 1-1-1 makes NMC batteries a good choice because of their low cobalt content and lower raw material costs. Therefore, it is a popular choice in industries that rely on frequent cycles for widespread applications, such as large-scale production of batteries in automobiles and energy storage systems (ESS).
Other successful combination structures in market applications are NMC811 and NMC622, and the NMC series is constantly growing to adapt to the electrochemical systems of NMC mixed lithium ions in the market.

2.5 Lithium nickel cobalt aluminum oxide (LiNiCoAlO2 or NCA)

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  • High specific energy
  • Long service life
  • Excellent power and performance
  • Cost and safety are relatively poor compared to others

Lithium nickel cobalt aluminum oxide (NCA) batteries have similarities with NMC in that they have high specific energy and good specific power data. In a study comparing the specific energy of lead based, nickel based, and lithium based systems, it was found that lithium aluminum (NCA) has the highest specific energy, and NCA has a high cycle life of over 2000 charging cycles.
The energy density of 200-260Wh/kg and the nominal voltage of 3.6V make NCA an ideal choice for power systems, although this chemical composition requires more attention to safety issues and is costly.

Because NCA batteries achieve higher stability by adding aluminum, but in battery chemical materials, the higher the nickel content, the higher the specific energy, and the poorer the battery stability. Therefore, NCA batteries need to take more safety measures to ensure battery quality and user safety.
NCA can deliver relatively large currents for a long time and maintain high charging rates for fast charging. The configured batteries can be used for high-performance electric vehicles or heavy-duty off road electric vehicles (OHEVs), making NCA a candidate material for electric vehicle power systems.

2.6 Lithium titanate (Li2TiO3 or LTO)

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  • Excellent security
  • Fast charging
  • Long service life
  • Low specific energy

Since entering the market in 2008, lithium titanate batteries have been one of the safest lithium-ion batteries with excellent performance, such as thermal stability at high temperatures and high discharge current (10 times the rated capacity).

The charging cycle is about 15000 times, and the service life is longer than that of lithium iron phosphate.
In LTO batteries, lithium titanate replaces the graphite in the anode, while lithium manganese oxide or NMC acts as the cathode material. Compared with traditional cobalt mixed lithium ion batteries, lithium titanate batteries have zero strain characteristics, and will not form SEI (solid electrolyte interface) film or lithium coating during low temperature charging and rapid charging, ensuring its reaction efficiency.

Lithium titanate has good specific power and performance over a wide temperature range, but its two main disadvantages are production cost and lower specific power compared to other types of data.
LTO has been used in aerospace and military equipment, as well as solar energy applications, and there is still room for further development in this battery chemistry.


As John B. Goodenough once said, “Science is an international language.”. It is precisely this language that will continue to promote innovation, and innovative technology has led to the continuous development and vitality of the global lithium-ion battery market.

Battery manufacturers are continuously investing in the research and development of lithium-ion batteries to unleash the potential of new types of lithium-ion batteries. Here are only six popular chemical types of lithium-ion batteries, and I believe you will have a deeper understanding after reading them.
LCO batteries are the most commonly used batteries in portable electronic devices.

LMO batteries provide higher current than LCO batteries, and NMC has become the main cathode chemical for many applications due to its lower cost compared to other cobalt based batteries. LTO batteries charge faster, while LFP batteries are very stable and safe even when fully charged. NCA performs well in high load applications and has a long battery life, making it an ideal choice for electric vehicle manufacturers.
It can be said that they each have their own strengths and distinct characteristics, and their application scenarios are also different. Lithium ion batteries are one of the widely used rechargeable batteries in the current market and currently dominate the secondary battery market.

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And there is still greater and broader development space in the battery market, such as the research and development of sodium ion batteries, which is one of the top ten emerging technologies in the chemical field in 2022.

Professor Xia Hui from Nanjing University of Technology in China, in collaboration with domestic and foreign teams, has made significant progress in the research of manganese based cathode materials, which is also a promising future battery market for the editor.
Just as human history is constantly being created, technological innovation is also constantly updating, and we can continue to pay attention to the development of batteries together.

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