Current Status of Environmental, Health, and Safety Issues of Lithium Ion Electric Vehicle Batteries

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


Lithium ion batteries are mid-to long-term candidates for propelling electric vehicles. In theory, lithium-based batteries can achieve a higher energy density than systems using other elements. In addition, the lithium ion system is less reactive and more reliable than present lithium metal systems and has possible performance advantages over some lithium solid polymer electrolyte batteries.Understanding the environmental, health, and safety issues associated with these batteries is an important step toward their commercialization. Analysts at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory studied these issues, and their findings are presented in this report. They reviewed a system that uses lithium intercalation compounds for the positive and negative electrodes and an organic liquidand a lithium salt for the electrolyte. The study considered cell chemistry, materials selection, intrinsic material hazards, mitigation of those hazards, environmental requirements, pollution control options, and shipping requirements. Some possible lithium ion battery materials were found to be toxic or carcinogenic. The report recommends further research on the hazards of possible chemicalreactions in lithium ion batteries. However, the report states that cells and batteries designed to be reliable and durable will likely mitigate material hazards as well. Analysts suggest that minimizing waste during manufacturing and at the end of the battery life could reduce the burden of environmental compliance. In addition, they discuss various regulatory options for shipping lithium ionbatteries.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages58
StatePublished - 1995

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-463-7673


  • electric vehicle battery
  • environmental health and safety
  • lithium ion battery


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