NMC vs LFP – Let’s talk about it.

Chemistry symbols on blackboard
7th August 2020

ARTICLE UPDATED – new issues and concerns for LFP – see notice from Clean Energy Council here.

LG Chem has recently dismissed claims about a blaze that injured four firefighters at their Arizona Public Service facility back in April 2019. http://www.energystoragejournal.com/lg-chem-rejects-report-that-blames-arizona-battery-explosion-on-thermal-runaway/?wp-linkindex=3&utm_campaign=Energy_Storage_Journal_Bulletin_No_77&utm_content=energystoragejournal-magazine.com&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Batteries_International

In the report that followed, it states that failure of an internal battery cell caused thermal runaway and the ensuing fire. 

There has been frequent industry talk about NMC vs LFP, but with worrying stories about safety and thermal runaway, surely LFP must be the overall winner when it comes to home or business battery storage?

Battery Chemistry – NMC vs LFP

Let’s talk about the fundamentals and what they mean to the general public. NMC stands for Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt oxide and LFP stands for Lithium Iron Phosphate.

So, now we have the official introductions in the bag, let’s focus on the differences between the two and why, in our opinion, LFP is the better option for home battery storage alongside your Solar PV.

What is an NMC battery?

In short, NMC batteries offer a combination of Nickel, Manganese and Cobalt. They are sometimes known as Lithium Manganese Cobalt Oxide batteries.

NMC batteries have a high specific energy or power. This limitation of either ‘energy’ or ‘power’ makes them more common for use in power tools or electric vehicles.

Generally speaking, although both types are part of the Lithium Iron family. However, when people are comparing NMC against LFP, they are usually referring to the cathode material in the battery itself. 

The material used within the cathode material can dramatically affect cost, performance and life. Cobalt is very costly, Lithium even more so. Cathode costs aside, which offers the best all round application? We’re looking at cost, safety and lifetime performance. Read on and make your own mind up.

What about LFP?

LFP batteries use Phosphate as a cathode material. A huge factor that makes LFP stand out is the long-life cycle. Many manufacturers like Soltaro, offer 10 years for LFP batteries. Generally seen as the better choice for ‘stationery’ applications, such as battery storage or mobile phones.

LFP batteries are more stable then NMC because of the additional of aluminium. They operate at a much lower temperature approx. -4.4 degrees C to 70 degree Celsius. This broad temperature variation is wider than most other battery chemical compositions, making it the perfect choice for most homes or businesses.

LFP batteries can also stand high voltage use for extended periods of time. This translates to high thermal stability. The lower the thermal stability, the higher the risk of electric shortages and possibly fires, much like that at LG Chem.

Safety is such an important consideration at any time. You need the reassurance that anything you add to your home or business is rigorously tested with the chemistry to back up any ‘marketing’ claims.

This debate continues to rage amongst industry experts and is likely to continue for some time. That said, for solar battery storage, LFP is widely considered the better choice and is why so many of the top tier battery manufacturers are now choosing this chemistry for their energy storage products.

Got more questions about battery storage? Visit our FAQ section by clicking here or visit our jargon buster by clicking here.

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