Reports about the danger of lithium-ion batteries seem to be everywhere these days. According to recent coverage, lithium-ion batteries found in iPhones, hoverboards, cars, automated homes and other electronics seem to be spontaneously catching fire.
However, these news reports don’t make a distinction between the types of lithium-ion batteries or mention that not all lithium-ion batteries pose a threat of fire danger.
It is true! In fact, the chemistry and compounds that makeup lithium-ion batteries have different chemical compositions and properties that determine the batteries’ reactivity.
Lithium-Ion Battery Compounds:
- LCO – Lithium Cobalt Oxide
- NMC – Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide
- LMO – Lithium Manganese Oxide (which often contains cobalt)
- NCA – Lithium Nickel Cobalt Aluminum Oxide
- LFP – Lithium Iron Phosphate
Cobalt is the dangerous compound, not lithium!
When the reactive chemicals of cobalt are expressed, it leads to overheating, fire and thermal runaway. Lithium (Li) is not the compound that presents a current hazard.
What are Lithium-Ion Batteries with Cobalt used for?
Typically, cobalt-based Li chemistries are found in electronics like phones, laptops, digital cameras and electronic cards. Even Tesla Motors uses cobalt-based batteries.
What’s amazing to know, is that cobalt-based lithium-ion batteries naturally create heat whether or not they’re being activated by hot energy – which is why they have a higher potential for thermal runaway. They’re just extremely, naturally combustive. Lithium-ion battery makers that include Cobalt and Manganese have taken the proper steps to mitigate risk by using cooling procedures to help ventilate the hot air. Although, these ventilation systems may help reduce the risk they’re not 100 percent responsive in eliminating the problem.
Cobalt also is a highly toxic element and can pose a toxic risk at every point along the product pipeline. From the beginning of the element’s extraction through manufacturing and disposal, the battery poses a risk to the environment and living things.
Cobalt miners — who in some cases are young children who are forced into child labor – are exposed to toxic chemicals and metals that can cause many problems like birth defects and more. Individuals who work in the factories of cobalt production are also at risk and are exposed to various lung diseases that affect the upper respiratory tract.
Why Lithium Iron Phosphate is the Best Lithium-Ion Batteries on the Market
Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries contain no cobalt. These batteries generate little heat on their own, pose no risk of thermal runaway or fire, are environmentally benign and don’t pose a toxic risk to humans or other living things.
Because the batteries don’t generate heat, you can also install them without ventilation, cooling or thermal monitoring systems – which saves space and cost.
If you’re seeking a safer lithium-ion battery option for commercial, home and mobile storage, LFP is the answer — including the full SimpliPhi LFP product line. SimpliPhi’s non-toxic LFP chemistry is paired with industry-leading efficiency and reliability backed by a 10,000-cycle warranty.
Remember, when choosing your energy storage solution, think carefully about the chemistry and be sure to choose a battery you can live with.