With the rise in production of lithium-ion batteries, projected to soar over the next decade from about 700 GWh in 2022 to around 4.7 TWh by 2030, batteries are poised to play an even larger part of our lives. But what will happen when these batteries reach the end of their usable life?
At Electra, our mission is to maximize the full potential of battery power to enable electric mobility to take us further. So, let’s discuss a few best practices to help extend the life of our batteries and the devices they power.
Reasons to Maximize Your Battery's Life
As users of many lithium-ion battery-powered products (cell phones, laptops, etc.), we clearly understand the benefits of maximizing their useful life. Avoiding the hassle of having to charge your battery-powered devices is one obvious reason. Having to replace products that rely on integrated batteries is another, more expensive, reason to implement battery health best practices.
In a study from the University of Michigan's Center for Sustainable Systems, study senior author Greg Keoleian notes even more reasons to consider your battery's current state of health and state of charge.
"By minimizing exposure to the conditions that accelerate degradation, batteries can last longer. And this has a positive environmental impact, as battery production is a source of greenhouse gas emissions and many other pollutants," said Keoleian.
"Additionally, there are significant financial incentives for users to avoid adverse conditions, as the cost of lithium-ion batteries can range from 5% to over 50% of a product's cost."
Primary Forms of Battery Aging And Degradation
So what are the conditions that accelerate battery degradation? And what can we do to slow this degradation?
The University of Michigan conducted battery research focusing on the aging of electric vehicle (EV) batteries. Two main types of degradation were considered: capacity fade and power fade.
Capacity fade refers to a decrease in the amount of energy that can be stored in the battery over time, affecting the EV's range and energy consumption. Power fade, on the other hand, refers to an increase in the battery's internal resistance, which reduces the rate at which energy can be transferred in and out of the battery. This impacts the overall driving performance, including acceleration, gradeability, and charging speed.
What Factors Degrade EV Batteries
Several factors contribute to the degradation of EV batteries. One factor is the loss of lithium inventory (LLI) due to a chemical reaction that occurs when lithium ions are removed from circulation. Another factor is the loss of active material (LAM) in the battery's electrodes, which reduces the sites for lithium ions to attach to. Both LLI and LAM can lead to capacity fade and power fade, but you can help slow these reactions by following some simple guidelines for optimal EV battery health.
How to Maximize Your EV's Battery Life
There are some very simple ways to protect your EV's overall battery performance and battery life, which hinge on avoiding extremes and maintaining power consistency.
1. Avoid temperature extremes, both high and low, when using, charging, or storing lithium-ion batteries.
High temperatures can accelerate degradation of almost every battery component and can lead to significant safety risks, including fire or explosions. Nearly all EV manufacturers warn about high temperature exposure in their owner manuals, advising owners to park in the shade.
It is suggested that the vehicle remain plugged in during hot weather, thereby allowing the battery cooling system to run as needed. However, if a battery is noticeably hot while charging, it should be unplugged.
Equally as important is minimizing any exposure to low temperatures, especially when charging a battery. The battery's performance and ability to charge efficiently can be inhibited in either extreme. Plugging in the vehicle is therefore also recommended in cold weather, so the battery heating system can run.
2. Minimize the amount of time the battery spends at either 100% or 0% charge.
Just as temperature extremes are detrimental to a battery's overall state of health, so are extreme states of charge. Both extremely high and low SoCs stress batteries. Using a partial charge resolves this; charge the battery to 80% SoC, instead of 100% every time. If that's not possible, it is important to unplug the device as soon as it reaches 100%.
3. Avoid battery degradation by regulating the battery charges. Use fast charging only when it is needed.
Using fast chargers may be convenient and necessary at times, but it will degrade a lithium-ion battery more quickly than Level 2 charging. Discharging a battery too quickly also leads to degradation, so be mindful about driving habits that can negatively impact the future of your vehicle.
Sustainability and Performance
When all of these precautions are taken, the performance of your EV battery is more likely to meet manufacturer expectations of lifetime.
And in regards to sustainability, even when the battery has reached the end of its useful life for an EV, there is still an opportunity to utilize its energy storage capacity and remaining useful life (RUL) for other applications. Electra Vehicles, Inc. is working to enhance battery data accuracy, including efforts to more accurately track battery SoH and SoC over its lifetime.
Learn more about Electra's patented technology and how it can help empower your EV's battery performance!