Solid-state batteries could reduce the carbon footprint of electric vehicle batteries by up to 39%, according to a study commissioned by European environmental NGO Transport & Environment (T&E) from Minviro, a company specializing in raw material life-cycle analysis, which compared emerging solid-state technology to current battery chemistries.
Solid state technology uses solid ceramic material instead of liquid electrolytes to carry electric current, also making the batteries lighter, faster to charge and eventually cheaper. Battery manufacturers forecast that solid-state batteries will be used in EVs in the second half of the decade.
A solid-state battery, which stores more energy with less materials, can reduce the already decreasing carbon footprint of an electric car battery by a further 24%, the study finds. The analysis compares a NMC-811 solid-state battery, which is one of the most promising chemistries being developed, to current lithium-ion technology.
The research also finds the new technology can reduce the climate impact of batteries even further—by up to 39% compared to current lithium batteries —if solid-state batteries are made using the most sustainably sourced materials.
New mining methods, including extracting lithium from geothermal wells, have significantly lower climate impacts than more commonly used sources such as lithium from hard rock mined in Australia and refined in China.
Solid-state batteries could require up to 35% more lithium than the current lithium ion technology, but far less graphite and cobalt are used. T&E said that requirements in the EU’s proposed Batteries Regulation for lithium to be sourced responsibly—in terms of environmental and social impacts—and recycled are a no regrets policy that will ensure there is enough supply for solid-state batteries.
MEPs and EU governments are currently negotiating the final text of the new Battery Regulation. T&E is calling on lawmakers to ensure the legislation incentivizes the production of batteries with a lower carbon footprint, and increases lithium recycling targets to 70% in 2025 and 90% in 2030— higher than what the EU Commission has proposed. They must also ensure companies are required to protect human rights and the environment in all stages of battery production.
R. Pell and J. J. Lindsay (2022) “Comparative Life Cycle Assessment Study Of Solid State And Lithium-Ion Batteries For Electric Vehicle Application In Europe”