EPA: Life-Cycle Assessment of Nanoscale Technology: Lithium-ion Bateries for Electric Cars

April 30, 2013

The Design for the Environment (DfE) Program from the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics have formed a partnership with the National Risk Management Research Laboratory in EPA's Office of Research and Development to conduct a screening-level .

The Lithium-ion Batteries and Nanotechnology for Electric Vehicles Partnership's main goal is to help companies make informed environmental choices in regards to process and materials in view of the rapidly evolving market for electric vehicles.

The Partnership's LCA focused on lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery technologies as well as a next generation battery component (anode) which uses single-walled carbon nanotube technology (SWCNT).

Although a study of this nature has not been conducted in the past, the LCA study will help improve the environmental profile of lithium-ion batteries in the growing electric or plug-in vehicle industry. The LCA used primary data from both manufacturers of lithium-ion batteries as well as their recyclers.

The results of the LCA will help determine current as well as future impacts lithium-ion batteries may have on the environment, and how companies can still improve on the advanced-vehicle industry while maintaining a sense of environmental responsibility. Furthermore, the LCA results will provide insight into the potential public health risks through the life cycle of these products.

The study further identifies environmental improvement opportunities while suggesting design changes that will lessen the usage of toxic materials while increasing energy efficiency.

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