Lithium Iron Phosphate Gaines Popularity for EV Battery Choice Using Less & Cheaper Minerals

posted by  
Filed under Automotive, EV News, News

The increasing demand for affordable electric vehicles (EVs) has led to the growing popularity of lithium iron phosphate (LFP) as the preferred choice for EV batteries. LFP, a chemical compound known for its environmental and geopolitical advantages, has seen advancements in technology that have narrowed the performance gap with other commonly used materials like nickel and cobalt.

Tesla, a leading player in the EV industry, embraced LFP two years ago, sparking renewed interest in the United States. Several domestic and international manufacturers have committed over $14 billion to establish new production facilities for LFP batteries in the country. Toyota Motor and Hyundai Motor, two of the world’s largest automakers, have recently announced plans to equip their future vehicles with LFP batteries, although their intentions for the U.S. market have not been disclosed.

The appeal of LFP stems from its lower cost compared to cobalt and nickel, along with the advantage of sourcing all the necessary minerals from within North America. This leads to reduced transportation costs and a more secure supply chain. Stanley Whittingham, a professor at Binghamton University and a Nobel laureate, highlights these benefits and mentions that the addition of manganese in LFP cells has allowed them to store more energy, providing EVs with a range of up to 450 miles (724 km) on a single charge.

Michigan-based Our Next Energy, currently constructing a $1.6 billion battery manufacturing complex, advocates for LFP due to its abundance, sustainability, and reduced risk of fire. The company’s founder and CEO, Mujeeb Ijaz, asserts that LFP cells can match the range of cobalt cells without any compromises. Tesla, along with other automakers, aims to offer lower-priced EVs in markets outside of China. Utilizing LFP batteries is expected to help achieve this goal, according to experts.

Ford Motor plans to establish a $3.5 billion LFP cell manufacturing plant in Michigan, leveraging technology licensed from China’s CATL, the largest EV battery maker globally. Ford’s objective is to reduce cell costs to under $70 per kilowatt-hour, as compared to the current cost of over $100/kWh for NCM cells. While over 90% of LFP materials and components still originate from China, the increasing adoption of LFP by EV manufacturers like Tesla and Hyundai suggests that these companies are not ready to disengage from Chinese suppliers.

Lukasz Bednarski, an expert in batteries, suggests that automakers’ interest in developing lower-priced EVs is a driving factor behind the rising popularity of LFP. He believes that LFP provides satisfactory performance at a lower cost, making it an attractive option for middle-class consumers. Bednarski also mentions the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which incentivizes the development of the entire battery supply chain without favoring any particular chemistry, including LFP.

Investment in LFP manufacturing facilities in the United States is not limited to domestic companies like Ford, ONE, and General Motors. Battery manufacturers from Norway, Israel, South Korea, and even China have committed to building LFP production facilities in the U.S., some of which will be used for large-scale energy storage systems rather than vehicles.

Whittingham highlights that LFP was initially invented and commercialized in the U.S. before Chinese companies such as BYD and CATL quickly improved and deployed the technology primarily in EVs. He suggests that due to its ongoing cost advantage over NCM, LFP should be widely adopted in grid storage systems and lower-cost vehicles.

Source: Reuters


You May Also Like


Automotive Manufacturers & Categories