Lithium battery-- LFP Vs NMC
The terms NMC and LFP have been popular recently, as the two different types of batteries vie for prominence. These are not new technologies that differ from lithium-ion batteries. In fact, LFP and NMC are two different subchemicals in lithium ion batteries. But how much do you know about LFP and NMC? Answers to LFP vs NMC are all in this article!
What is an NMC battery?
In short, NMC batteries offer a combination of nickel, manganese, and cobalt. They are sometimes called lithium manganese cobalt oxide batteries.
NMC batteries have very high specific energy or power. This limitation of “energy” or “power” makes them more commonly used in power tools or electric cars.
In general, though, both types are part of the lithium iron family. However, when people compare NMC to LFP, they are usually referring to the cathode material of the battery itself.
The materials used in cathode materials can significantly affect cost, performance and life. Cobalt is expensive, and lithium is even more so. Cathodic cost aside, which offers the best overall application? We are looking at cost, safety and lifetime performance. Read on and make your own ideas.
What is LFP?
LFP batteries use phosphate as a cathode material. An important factor that makes LFP stand out is its long life cycle. Many manufacturers (such as Soltaro) offer LFP batteries with a life of 10 years. Often seen as a better choice for “stationery” applications, such as battery storage or mobile phones.
The LFP battery is more stable than the NMC due to the addition of aluminum. They operate at roughly much lower temperatures. -4.4 c to 70 C. This wide range of temperature variations is more extensive than most other battery chemistry, making it a perfect choice for most homes or businesses.
The LFP battery can also withstand high voltage for long periods of time. This translates into high thermal stability. The lower the thermal stability, the higher the risk of power shortages and fires, as LG Chem did.
Safety is such an important consideration at all times. You need to make sure that anything you add to your home or business goes through rigorous chemical testing to back up any “marketing” claims.
The debate continues to rage among industry experts, and is likely to continue for some time. That said, LFP is widely considered a better choice for solar cell storage, which is why many top battery manufacturers now choose this chemical for their energy storage products.
LFP Vs NMC: What are the difference?
In general, NMCS are known for their high energy density, which means the same number of batteries will produce more power. From our perspective, when we integrate hardware and software for a project, this difference affects our shell design and cost. Depending on the battery, I think the housing cost of the LFP (construction, cooling, safety, electrical BOS components, etc.) is about 1.2-1.5 times higher than the NMC. LFP is known as more stable chemistry, which means the temperature threshold for thermal runaway (or fire) is higher than NCM. We saw this firsthand when testing the battery for the UL9540a certification. But there are also many similarities between LFP and NMC. Round-trip efficiency is similar, as are common factors that affect battery performance, such as temperature and C rate (the rate at which a battery is charged or discharged).
LFP Vs NMC: How to choose to right one for you?
Commercially, the initial capex of LFP batteries is usually priced more competitively than that of NMCS. I’ll summarize it here. LFP is about 20-30% cheaper in DOLLARS per kilowatt-hour, but system integration costs tend to be only about 5-15% cheaper at the beginning of the entire system life cycle. Capex based on end of life (EOL) is complicated. There really needs to be a product-by-product or even project-by-project assessment of bike and calendar performance, warranty/guarantee, ease of enhancement, etc. – no clear answer.
Operationally, we like the LFP’s looser operating conditions — a wider temperature range than the NMC, and no need for reefer containers for transportation. In addition, LFP battery products generally support up to 1C operation, while NMC must use power battery, 2H or 4H different battery use battery, to support 1C rate (1 hour) application, the cost is higher. LFP batteries degrade faster in the first six months. If the project is large and needs to be delivered/debugged within a few months, this can cause confusion and problems as the first shipment of batteries may be relegated to, for example, 98% or 96% of the health of the last shipment of batteries.
We believe it is important that the awareness of NMC products and companies remains higher among customers and investors. But leading LFP batteries and companies have been catching up. Once the product is approved, customers can often easily adopt a new platform from the same company.
As manufacturer, regarding LFP vs NMC, we are happy to see these two technologies competing against each other. It will promote the health of the industry, which is good news for customers. And most ESS customers are willing to use both technologies together. They will choose one or the other not because of technology differences, but based on overall life cycle costs, and they will continue to make decisions as the industry advances and as new technologies come to market.