Scientific publication

Environmental Life Cycle Impacts of Automotive Batteries Based on a Literature Review

Publication from Life
Zukunftsfähige Energiesysteme und Lebensstile

Christian Aichberger, Gerfried Jungmeier

Energies 2020, 13(23) , 12/2020


We compiled 50 publications from the years 2005–2020 about life cycle assessment (LCA) of Li-ion batteries to assess the environmental effects of production, use, and end of life for application in electric vehicles. Investigated LCAs showed for the production of a battery pack per kWh battery capacity a median of 280 kWh/kWh_bc (25%-quantile–75%-quantile: 200–500 kWh/kWh_bc) for the primary energy consumption and a median of 120 kg CO2-eq/kWh_bc (25%-quantile–75%-quantile: 70–175 kg CO2-eq/kWh_bc) for greenhouse gas emissions. We expect results for current batteries to be in the lower range. Over the lifetime of an electric vehicle, these emissions relate to 20 g CO2-eq/km (25%-quantile–75%-quantile: 10–50 g CO2-eq/km). Considering recycling processes, greenhouse gas savings outweigh the negative environmental impacts of recycling and can reduce the life cycle greenhouse gas emissions by a median value of 20 kg CO2-eq/kWh_bc (25%-quantile–75%-quantile: 5–29 kg CO2-eq/kWh_bc). Overall, many LCA results overestimated the environmental impact of cell manufacturing, due to the assessments of relatively small or underutilized production facilities. Material emissions, like from mining and especially processing from metals and the cathode paste, could have been underestimated, due to process-based assumptions and non-regionalized primary data. Second-life applications were often not considered.

Keywords: LCA, electric vehicle, battery, literature review