Given the high impacts associated with the early stages of the lithium-ion battery lifecycle, including extraction and processing of materials, the case has been made for ensuring that materials are high performing and that the useful lifetime of lithium-ion batteries is extended for as long as possible. Whole systems techno-economics and environmental assessments of the battery lifecycle have tended to focus on the early stages of the lifecycle and on the component materials, but rarely account for battery degradation, under the typical conditions of a given application.
Our work focuses on modelling the use phase and strategies for extending the useful life, particularly for the battery’s first life use in electric vehicles. PyBaMM is a flexible modelling framework developed by the Faraday Institution’s Multiscale Modelling consortium, which includes state-of-the-art, physics-based models to accurately predict battery cell behaviour over its lifetime. Coupling these models into whole systems techno-economics and life cycle assessment tools can help to determine the overall sustainability and cost of different technologies, to identify optimum usage, appropriate mitigation systems and to match the right chemistry for a particular application. This enables us to assess a range of engineering solutions applied to battery packs for extending their lifetime, such as thermal management, from a holistic point of view, so that their value and suitability for extending lifetime can be quantitatively demonstrated. In this lecture, I will introduce the importance of assessing sustainability holistically and present the results of our research, applied to specialised automotive applications for batteries.