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With Only 2 Percent Lithium Inside, Why Are They Called Lithium-Ion Batteries?

Lithium-ion batteries have come to dominate electrical energy storage. But what materials make them tick?

Kevin Clemens

May 4, 2021

10 Slides


We call them lithium-ion batteries, but there is actually very little of the element lithium inside the batteries that power laptops, cell phones, electric vehicles (EVs), and power grids. Less than 2% by weight of a lithium-ion battery comes from the lithium, which is in an ionic non-metallic form.

In fact, lithium-ion batteries are made up of a complex arrangement of highly refined materials. Each plays an important role in the energy storage capacity, performance, and safety of a lithium-ion battery pack. Using  Volkswagen data on the percentage of various materials by weight, let’s look pull apart a typical commercial NMC (nickel-manganese-cobalt) lithium-ion battery and see what we find.

Kevin Clemens is a Senior Editor with Battery Technology.

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