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Publisher DOI: 10.1007/s11367-023-02134-4
Title: Comparative sustainability assessment of lithium-ion, lithium-sulfur, and all-solid-state traction batteries
Language: English
Authors: Popien, Jan Linus 
Thies, Christian  
Barke, Alexander 
Spengler, Thomas Stefan 
Issue Date: 1-Mar-2023
Publisher: Springer
Source: The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment (2023) (in press)
Abstract (english): 
Traction batteries are a key component for the performance and cost of electric vehicles. While they enable emission-free driving, their supply chains are associated with environmental and socio-economic impacts. Hence, the advancement of batteries increasingly focuses on sustainability next to technical performance. However, due to different system definitions, comparing the results of sustainability assessments is difficult. Therefore, a sustainability assessment of different batteries on a common basis considering the three sustainability dimensions is needed.
This paper investigates the sustainability of current and prospective traction battery technologies for electric vehicles. It provides a common base for the comparison of the predominant lithium-ion batteries with new technologies such as lithium-sulfur and all-solid-state batteries regarding the environmental and socio-economic impacts in their supply chain. A life cycle sustainability assessment of ten battery types is carried out using a cradle-to-gate perspective and consistent system boundaries. Four environmental impact categories (climate change, human toxicity, mineral resource depletion, photochemical oxidant formation), one economic performance indicator (total battery cost), and three social risk categories (child labor, corruption, forced labor) are analyzed.
The assessment results indicate that the new battery technologies are not only favorable in terms of technical performance but also have the potential to reduce environmental impacts, costs, and social risks. This holds particularly for the lithium-sulfur battery with solid electrolyte. The environmental benefits are even amplified with a higher share of renewable energy for component and battery production. Nevertheless, hotspots related to the high energy demand of production and the supply chain of the active materials remain.
This article emphasizes the need to evaluate different battery technologies on a common basis to ensure comparability of the results and to derive reliable recommendations. The results indicate that the lithium-sulfur battery with solid electrolyte is preferable since this battery has the best indicator scores for all impact categories investigated. However, all-solid-state batteries are still under development so that no conclusive recommendation can be made, but further development of these battery technologies appears promising.
DOI: 10.15480/882.4983
ISSN: 1614-7502
Journal: The international journal of life cycle assessment 
Institute: Resilient and Sustainable Operations and Supply Chain Management W-EXK1 
Document Type: Article
Funded by: Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF) 
Peer Reviewed: Yes
License: CC BY 4.0 (Attribution) CC BY 4.0 (Attribution)
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