Superior “green” electrode materials for secondary batteries: through the footprint family indicators to analyze their environmental friendliness

  • Haohui Wu
  • Yuan Gong
  • Yajuan YuEmail author
  • Kai Huang
  • Lei Wang
Research Article


As secondary batteries are becoming the popular production of industry, especial for lithium ion batteries (LIBs), the degree of environmental friendliness will gather increasing attention to their products of the whole life cycle. The research combines the life cycle assessment (LCA) and footprint family definition to establish a framework to calculate the footprint family of secondary battery materials. Through the method, we calculated the values of carbon footprint, water footprint, and ecological footprint about this eight kinds of secondary cathode battery materials with Ni-MH, Li1.2Ni0.2Mn0.6O2/C, LiNi1/3Co1/3Mn1/3O2/C, LiNi0.8Co0.2O2/C, LiFePO4/C, LiFe0.98Mn0.02PO4/C, FeF3(H2O)3/C, and NaFePO4/C. When comparing and analyzing their values in each footprint, it can summarize the evaluation method for some secondary batteries by footprint indicators and construct the evaluation system. Through the comprehensive evaluation of footprint family system, the NaFePO4/C battery gets the best performance of three main footprints when combining 1 kg of cathode materials, while Ni-MH is opposite. Hence, among these eight batteries environmental impacts evaluation, the NaFePO4/C battery is regarded as the superior “green” battery, albeit the current application is restricted because of the synthesis limitation on large scale and energy density of storage. In LIBs comparison, the FeF3(H2O)3 material shows its characteristics of environmental friendliness, which is expected to be a greener battery material of LIB. In conventional LIBs, the iron-containing cathode materials show lower environmental burden than ternary cathode materials. We can reduce environmental impacts through developing new advanced materials and reducing the content of high sensitivity element in raw materials.


Secondary cathode battery materials LIBs LCA Footprint family Element analysis Environmental friendliness 



Carbon footprint


Ecological footprint


Life cycle assessment


Lithium ion phosphate battery


Lithium manganese oxide battery


Nickel cobalt and manganese composite material battery


Water footprint


Element contribution sensitivity


Greenhouse gas


lithium cobalt oxide battery


Lithium ion batteries


Lithium nickel oxide battery


Sodium-ion batteries


Funding information

(1) The National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 51474033) and (2) the Beijing Natural Science Foundation (No. 9172012).

Supplementary material

11356_2019_6865_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (87 kb)
ESM 1 (XLSX 86 kb)


  1. Ajanovic A, Haas R (2018) Electric vehicles: solution or new problem? Environ Dev Sustain 20:7–22. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alanbari MA, Alazzawi HQ, Al-Ansari N, Knutsson S (2015) Application of SimaPro7 on Al-Hilla City Sewerage Network, Iraq. Engineering 07:224–229. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Avdeev M, Mohamed Z, Ling CD, Lu J, Tamaru M, Yamada A, Barpanda P (2013) Magnetic structures of NaFePO4 maricite and triphylite polymorphs for sodium-ion batteries. Inorg Chem 52:8685–8693. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Borucke M, Moore D, Cranston G, Gracey K, Iha K, Larson J, Lazarus E, Morales JC, Wackernagel M, Galli A (2013) Accounting for demand and supply of the biosphere's regenerative capacity: The the National Footprint Accounts’ underlying methodology and framework. Ecol Indic 24:518–533. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cano ZP, Banham D, Ye S, Hintennach A, Lu J, Fowler M, Chen Z (2018) Batteries and fuel cells for emerging electric vehicle markets. Nat Energy 3:279–289. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chapagain AK, Hoekstra AY (2002) Virtual water trade: a quantification of virtual water flows between nations in relation to international crop trade. 11:835–855Google Scholar
  7. Cusenza MA, Bobba S, Ardente F, Cellura M, Di Persio F (2019) Energy and environmental assessment of a traction lithium-ion battery pack for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. J Clean Prod 215:634–649. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Deng Y, Li J, Li T, Gao X, Yuan C (2017) Life cycle assessment of lithium sulfur battery for electric vehicles. J Power Sources 343:284–295. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Ehrlich PR (1982) Human carrying capacity, extinctions, and nature reserves. Bioscience 32:331–333CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Fang K, Heijungs R (2015) Investigating the inventory and characterization aspects of footprinting methods: lessons for the classification and integration of footprints. J Clean Prod 108:1028–1036. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Fang K, Heijungs R, de Snoo GR (2014) Theoretical exploration for the combination of the ecological, energy, carbon, and water footprints: overview of a footprint family. Ecol Indic 36:508–518. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Fang K, Sciences IOE, L. University (2015) Footprint family: concept, classification, theoretical framework and integrated pattern. Acta Ecol Sin 35:1647–1659Google Scholar
  13. Frischknecht R, Jungbluth N, Althaus H.-J, Hischier R, Doka G, Bauer C, Dones R, Nemecek T, Hellweg S and Humbert S (2007) Implementation of life cycle impact assessment methods. Data v2. 0 (2007). Ecoinvent report No. 3, Ecoinvent Centre.Google Scholar
  14. Galli A, Wiedmann T, Ercin E, Knoblauch D, Ewing B, Giljum S (2012) Integrating ecological, carbon and water footprint into a “footprint family” of indicators: definition and role in tracking human pressure on the planet. Ecol Indic 16:100–112. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gao XP, Wang Y, Lu ZW, Hu WK, Wu F, Song DY, Shen PW (2004) Preparation and electrochemical hydrogen storage of the nanocrystalline LaMg12 Alloy with Ni powders. Chem Mater 16:2515–2517. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Garcia J, Millet D, Tonnelier P, Richet S, Chenouard R (2017) A novel approach for global environmental performance evaluation of electric batteries for hybrid vehicles. J Clean Prod 156:406–417. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gong Y, Yu Y, Huang K, Hu J, Li C (2018) Evaluation of lithium-ion batteries through the simultaneous consideration of environmental, economic and electrochemical performance indicators. J Clean Prod 170:915–923. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gu M, Genc A, Belharouak I, Wang D, Amine K, Thevuthasan S, Baer DR, Zhang J-G, Browning ND, Liu J, Wang C (2013) Nanoscale phase separation, cation ordering, and surface chemistry in pristine Li1.2Ni0.2Mn0.6O2 for Li-ion batteries. Chem Mater 25:2319–2326. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hammond GP, Hazeldine T (2015) Indicative energy technology assessment of advanced rechargeable batteries. Appl Energy 138:559–571. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hashem AMA, Abdel-Ghany AE, Eid AE, Trottier J, Zaghib K, Mauger A, Julien CM (2011) Study of the surface modification of LiNi1/3Co1/3Mn1/3O2 cathode material for lithium ion battery. J Power Sources 196:8632–8637. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Helbig C, Bradshaw AM, Wietschel L, Thorenz A, Tuma A (2018) Supply risks associated with lithium-ion battery materials. J Clean Prod 172:274–286. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hitchcock K, Panko J (2012) Incorporating chemical footprint reporting into social responsibility reporting. Integr Environ Assess Manag 8:386CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Iso ISO (1997) ISO 14040. Environmental management - life cycle assessment - principles and framework (ISO 14040:2006). International Standard IsoGoogle Scholar
  24. Kalhammer FR, Kalifornien ARB (2007) Status and prospects for zero emissions vehicle technology: report of the ARB independent expert panel 2007. Board, State of California Air ResourcesGoogle Scholar
  25. Kim J, Seo D-H, Kim H, Park I, Yoo J-K, Jung S-K, Park Y-U, Goddard Iii WA, Kang K (2015) Unexpected discovery of low-cost maricite NaFePO4 as a high-performance electrode for Na-ion batteries. Energy Environ Sci 8:540–545. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kong L, Li X, Liao X, Young K (2019) A BCC-C14 alloy suitable for EV application of Ni/MH battery. Int J Hydrog Energy. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Kosova NV, Podugolnikov VR, Devyatkina ET, Slobodyuk AB (2014) Structure and electrochemistry of NaFePO4 and Na2FePO4F cathode materials prepared via mechanochemical route. Mater Res Bull 60:849–857. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Lathuillière MJ, Bulle C, Johnson MSJGEC (2018) A contribution to harmonize water footprint assessments. Glob Environ Chang 53:252–264. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Lei CH, Bareño J, Wen JG, Petrov I, Kang SH, Abraham DP (2008) Local structure and composition studies of Li1.2Ni0.2Mn0.6O2 by analytical electron microscopy. J Power Sources 178:422–433. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Li D-C, Muta T, Zhang L-Q, Yoshio M, Noguchi H (2004) Effect of synthesis method on the electrochemical performance of LiNi1/3Mn1/3Co1/3O2. J Power Sources 132:150–155. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Li H, Richter G, Maier J (2010a) Reversible formation and decomposition of LiF clusters using transition metal fluorides as precursors and their application in rechargeable Li batteries. Adv Mater 15:736–739CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Li L, Ge J, Chen R, Wu F, Chen S, Zhang X (2010b) Environmental friendly leaching reagent for cobalt and lithium recovery from spent lithium-ion batteries. Waste Manag 30:2615–2621. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Lin Y, Zeng B, Lin Y, Li X, Zhao G, Zhou T, Lai H, Huang Z (2012) Electrochemical properties of carbon-coated LiFePO4 and LiFe0.98Mn0.02PO4 cathode materials synthesized by solid-state reaction. Rare Metals 31:145–149. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Liu Y, Pan H, Gao M, Wang Q (2011) Advanced hydrogen storage alloys for Ni/MH rechargeable batteries. J Mater Chem 21:4743–4755. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Liu L, Guo H, Zhou M, Wei Q, Yang Z, Shu H, Yang X, Tan J, Yan Z, Wang X (2013) A comparison among FeF 3 ·3H 2 O, FeF 3 ·0.33H 2 O and FeF 3 cathode materials for lithium ion batteries: structural, electrochemical, and mechanism studies. J Power Sources 238:501–515CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Luo B, Zhi L (2015) Design and construction of three dimensional graphene-based composites for lithium ion battery applications. Energy Environ Sci 8:456–477. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. MacNeil D, Lu Z, Dahn JRJJ o TES (2002) Structure and electrochemistry of Li [Ni x Co1− 2x Mn x] O 2 (0⩽ x⩽ 1/2). J Electrochem Soc 149:A1332–A1336CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Majeau-Bettez G, Hawkins TR, Stromman AH (2011) Life cycle environmental assessment of lithium-ion and nickel metal hydride batteries for plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles. Environ Sci Technol 45:4548–4554. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Meng J, Guo H, Niu C, Zhao Y, Xu L, Li Q, Mai L (2017) Advances in structure and property optimizations of battery electrode materials. Joule 1:522–547. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Mishra A, Mehta A, Basu S, Malode SJ, Shetti NP, Shukla SS, Nadagouda MN, Aminabhavi TM (2018) Electrode materials for lithium-ion batteries. Mater Sci Energy Tech 1:182–187. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Mostert C, Ostrander B, Bringezu S, Kneiske TM (2018) Comparing electrical energy storage technologies regarding their material and carbon footprint. Energies 11. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Ohzuku T, Brodd RJ (2007) An overview of positive-electrode materials for advanced lithium-ion batteries. J Power Sources 174:449–456. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Ohzuku T, Makimura YJCL (2001) Layered lithium insertion material of LiCo1/3Ni1/3Mn1/3O2 for lithium-ion batteries. Chem Lett 30:642–643CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Oh S-M, Myung S-T, Hassoun J, Scrosati B, Sun Y-K (2012) Reversible NaFePO4 electrode for sodium secondary batteries. Electrochemistry Communications 22:149–152. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Olivetti EA, Ceder G, Gaustad GG, Fu X (2017) Lithium-ion battery supply chain considerations: analysis of potential bottlenecks in critical metals. Joule 1:229–243. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Patricio J, Kalmykova Y, Berg PE, Rosado L, Aberg H (2015) Primary and secondary battery consumption trends in Sweden 1996-2013: method development and detailed accounting by battery type. Waste Manag 39:236–245. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Peters JF, Weil M (2017) Aqueous hybrid ion batteries - an environmentally friendly alternative for stationary energy storage? J Power Sources 364:258–265. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Peters J, Buchholz D, Passerini S, Weil M (2016) Life cycle assessment of sodium-ion batteries. Energy Environ Sci 9:1744–1751. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Peters JF, Baumann M, Zimmermann B, Braun J, Weil M (2017) The environmental impact of Li-Ion batteries and the role of key parameters – a review. Renew Sust Energ Rev 67:491–506. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Pfister S, Koehler A, Hellweg S (2009) Assessing the environmental impacts of freshwater consumption in LCA. Environ Sci Technol 43:4098–4104CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Prosini PP, Zane D, Pasquali M (2001) Improved electrochemical performance of a LiFePO4-based composite cathode. Electrochim Acta 46:3517–3523. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Qin SP, Chun-Sheng HU, Zhang YM, Wang YY, Dong WX, Xiao-Xin LI (2011) Advances in nitrogen footprint research. Chin J Eco-Agric 2:040Google Scholar
  53. Report IFA (2007) IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, synthesis report: summary for policymakers. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate ChangeGoogle Scholar
  54. Smith G, McMasters J and Pendlington D (2003) Agri-biodiversity indicators: the view from unilever sustainable agriculture initiative. Agriculture and biodiversity: developing indicators for policy analysis 206.Google Scholar
  55. Solarin SA (2019) Convergence in CO 2 emissions, carbon footprint and ecological footprint: evidence from OECD countries. Environ Sci Pollut Res Int 26:6167–6181. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Sun Q (2017) Research on the influencing factors of reverse logistics carbon footprint under sustainable development. Environ Sci Pollut Res Int 24:22790–22798. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Sun, Y., C. Ouyang, Z. Wang, X. Huang and L. J. J. o. t. E. S. Chen (2004) Effect of Co content on rate performance of LiMn0. 5− x Co2x Ni0. 5− x O 2 cathode materials for lithium-ion batteries. 151:A504-A508.Google Scholar
  58. Swain B (2017) Recovery and recycling of lithium: a review. Sep Purif Technol 172:388–403. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Symeonidou S, Vagiona D (2018) The role of the water footprint in the context of green marketing. Environ Sci Pollut Res Int 25:26837–26849. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Teramoto S, Ozawa A, Nakamura K (2017) Secondary battery cell, battery pack, and power consumption device. Patents, GoogleGoogle Scholar
  61. Wackernagel M (1994) Ecological footprint and appropriated carrying capacity: a tool for planning toward sustainability. University of British ColumbiaGoogle Scholar
  62. Wang C, Chen B, Yu Y, Wang Y, Zhang W (2017a) Carbon footprint analysis of lithium ion secondary battery industry: two case studies from China. J Clean Prod 163:241–251. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Wang Y, Yu Y, Huang K, Chen B, Deng W, Yao Y (2017b) Quantifying the environmental impact of a Li-rich high-capacity cathode material in electric vehicles via life cycle assessment. Environ Sci Pollut Res Int 24:1251–1260. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Wang B, Han Y, Wang X, Bahlawane N, Pan H, Yan M, Jiang Y (2018a) Prussian Blue analogs for rechargeable batteries. iScience 3:110–133. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Wang P, Li W, Kara S (2018b) Dynamic life cycle quantification of metallic elements and their circularity, efficiency, and leakages. J Clean Prod 174:1492–1502. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Wang, L., H. Wu, Y. Hu, Y. Yu and K. Huang (2019a) Environmental sustainability assessment of typical cathode materials of lithium-ion battery based on three LCA approaches. 7:83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Wang Y, Li Y, Mao SS, Ye D, Liu W, Guo R, Feng Z, Kong J, Xie J (2019b) N-doped porous hard-carbon derived from recycled separators for efficient lithium-ion and sodium-ion batteries. Sustain Energy Fuels 3:717–722. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Wiedmann T, Minx J (2009) A definition of 'carbon footprint. J R Soc Med 92:193–195Google Scholar
  69. Wu, F. (2009) Progress in R&D of second battery materials. Materials ChinaGoogle Scholar
  70. Wu S-h, Yang CW (2005) Preparation of LiNi0.8Co0.2O2-based cathode materials for lithium batteries by a co-precipitation method. J Power Sources 146:270–274. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Xiang X, Zhang K, Chen J (2015) Recent advances and prospects of cathode materials for sodium-ion batteries. Adv Mater 27:5343–5364. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Xu J, Lee DH, Meng YS (2013) Recent advances in sodium intercalation positive electrode materials for sodium ion batteries. Funct Mater Lett 06:1330001. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Xu X, Chen S, Shui M, Xu L, Zheng W, Shu J, Cheng L, Feng L, Ren Y (2014) One step solid state synthesis of FeF3·0.33H2O/C nano-composite as cathode material for lithium-ion batteries. Ceram Int 40:3145–3148. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Zhang H (2019) Polyanionic cathode materials for sodium-ion batteries. Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT).Google Scholar
  75. Zhang Y, Huang K, Yu Y, Yang B (2017) Mapping of water footprint research: a bibliometric analysis during 2006–2015. J Clean Prod 149:70–79. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Zhu Y, Xu Y, Liu Y, Luo C, Wang C (2013) Comparison of electrochemical performances of olivine NaFePO4 in sodium-ion batteries and olivine LiFePO4 in lithium-ion batteries. Nanoscale 5:780–787. CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Haohui Wu
    • 1
  • Yuan Gong
    • 2
  • Yajuan Yu
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Kai Huang
    • 3
    • 4
  • Lei Wang
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Materials Science & EngineeringBeijing Institute of TechnologyBeijingChina
  2. 2.Metallurgical Industry Planning and Research InstituteBeijingChina
  3. 3.School for Environment and SustainabilityUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  4. 4.College of Environmental Science and EngineeringBeijing Forestry UniversityBeijingChina

Personalised recommendations