Abstract: This review considers key parameters for affordable Li-ion battery (LIB) – powered electric transportation, such as mineral abundance for active material synthesis, raw materials’ processing cost, cell performance characteristics, cell energy density, and the cost of cell manufacturing. We analyze the scarcity of cobalt (Co) and nickel (Ni) resources available for intercalation-type LIB cathode materials, estimate the demands for these metals by transportation and other industries and discuss risk factors for their price increase within the next two decades. We further contrast performance and estimated costs of LIBs based on intercalation materials, such as lithium nickel cobalt manganese oxide (NCM), lithium nickel cobalt aluminum oxide (NCA), lithium iron phosphate (LFP) and other oxide-based cathodes and carbonaceous anodes, with those of LIBs based on conversion-type active materials, such as lithium sulfide (Li2S) and lithium fluoride/iron (Fe) and copper (Cu)-based cathodes and silicon (Si)-based anodes. Our analyses of industry data suggest that in the long-term the LIB price will be dominated by cost of the cathode materials. In addition, the cost contributions of manufacturing, overhead and inactive materials will be reversely proportional to the cell energy density. As such, we expect that to-be developed energy-dense conversion-type LIBs should be able to reach the $30–40/kWh by around 2040–2050, while the intercalation-type LIBs will likely be 60% more expensive and sensitive to the Ni price variations. By analyzing the availability and costs of lithium (Li), sulfur (S), Si, fluorine (F), Fe and Cu we conclude that the lower cost, broader accessibility, much greater abundance, and improved health and safety aspects of employing conversion-type chemistries should warrant dedication of substantial efforts in their development. Furthermore, we predict that based on pure economics, the widespread introduction of zero carbon-emission transportation and sustainable energy sources is inevitable and independent on the winning LIB chemistry.

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DOI: 10.1016/j.mattod.2020.09.027