The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a draft life-cycle assessment of lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles and the nanotechnology under development “to increase the energy capacity and marketability of these battery systems.” The assessment encourages researchers to find ways to reduce the energy needed to make single-walled carbon nanotubes, under development as a battery component. It evaluated three battery types and one component designed for use in the batteries: (i) lithium-manganese oxide batteries for electric vehicle and plug-in electric vehicles, (ii) lithiumion- phosphate batteries for electric vehicles and plug-in electric vehicles, (iii) lithium-nickel-cobalt-manganese-oxide batteries for electric vehicles, and (iv) single-walled carbon nanotube anodes (the ion-entry electrode of a battery) that are being developed for next-generation lithium-ion batteries.  

The assessment identifies several methods for improving the profile of lithiumion batteries, including reducing the amount of cobalt and nickel used because of their toxicity, reducing the percentage of metals used in the batteries generally, incorporating recycled aluminum and other material into the batteries, and using a solvent-free manufacturing process. EPA will accept comments on the draft assessment until June 30, 2012