Lithium 101

Learn more about the lithium industry, from lithium extraction to the production of lithium-ion batteries

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Demand for lithium-ion batteries is growing at an exciting rate, driven in large part by increasing global demand for electric vehicles, mobile devices and grid storage. We see these as important markets, intended to improve our quality of life by reducing air pollution, promoting electronic mobility, enabling portable medical devices and advancing renewable energy. And at the heart of it all is lithium.

Why lithium? 

Lithium exhibits unique characteristics that are difficult to replicate with competing battery materials. For example, lithium-ion batteries enable higher energy density (i.e., the amount of energy stored per unit volume or mass) and specific power (i.e., the ability to provide a power burst) than competing battery technologies. In other words, lithium is light, but is able to store large amounts of energy. As such, it has become the battery technology of choice to power our future.

Are lithium-ion batteries safe?

In the media, we’ve read that lithium-ion batteries powering certain mobile devices have caught fire. However, battery failures such as these are extremely rare events. For example, out of the approximately 1,590,000 Samsung Galaxy Note 7 devices on the market, there were only 115 reported incidents (0.01%) reported between August 2016, when the phone was released, and October 2016, when the phone was recalled.

Battery failures of this nature are also very rare in the transportation industry. According to the National Fire Protection Association, there are approximately 230,000 reported vehicle fires is the US each year for all vehicle types (i.e., gas, diesel, electric, etc.). Given that Americans drive approximately 3 trillion miles per year, this equates to approximately 1 fire for every 13 million miles driven. When we examine just Tesla electric vehicle fires, which received significant press in 2016, the number drops to one fire for every 100 million miles driven

Lithium-ion battery failures can occur for a number of reasons, but it typically happens when a defect in the battery causes the electrolyte, a flammable solvent, to catch fire. To minimize these defects, lithium-ion battery manufactures are improving their manufacturing methods and implementing more robust control systems to monitor battery performance and proactively detect when a defect or issue arises. 

Despite this recent press coverage, lithium-ion batteries remain one of the safest, most efficient energy storage technologies available on the market.

Where can I find more information about lithium-ion batteries? 

For additional information on lithium-ion batteries, including how the industry is advancing battery technology, please visit the following websites:

Last Updated: 12/13/2016 3:30:55 PM