Lithium nickel manganese cobalt
(NMC 811 or NCM)


Lithium nickel manganese cobalt (NMC 811 or NCM) as active cathode material in lithium-ion batteries (LIBs)

Batteries with NMC cathodes are the most successful lithium-ion systems currently being installed in the current (2023) generation of environmentally friendly electric cars. Like LMS systems, NMC systems can be designed for high electrical power or high capacity. NMC-based batteries have therefore already been used in demonstration flights with battery-powered electric aircraft. However, start-up companies claim to manufacture NMC 811 free high-energy-density batteries for large air vehicles and electric flight.

For example, there are 18650 cells that are designed for moderate charging conditions and have capacities of 2,800 mAh. They deliver currents between 4 and 5 A. However, the same cell type can also be optimized for particularly high, continuous discharge currents of 20 A. However, it then only offers a capacity of around 2,000 mAh. In combination with silicon-based anodes, the capacities could be increased to very high levels, but these are still associated with shorter lifetimes and poorer charging performance. However, many scientific projects are working on eliminating these disadvantages.

NMC cathodes offer a good compromise between good overall electrochemical performance, high-energy densities and cost. The specific energy density is better than LFP, LMO and LCO. Discharge rate (power per time) is better than LCO cathodes, but not better than LFP cathodes.

Lowering of the cobalt content from NMC 622 to NMC 811

Before 2017, battery manufacturers mainly relied on an NMC battery with equal proportions (NMC 111) of nickel, cobalt and manganese (in a ratio of 1:1:1) with 33% cobalt and 33% nickel content. The nickel and cobalt content in the cathode was constantly optimized.

Increase of nickel content to NMC 811

A higher nickel content in NMC 811 increases the capacity and energy of the cathode, offers the advantage of providing more energy in the batteries over long distances, and makes the batteries lighter in weight.

However, the lifetime of these batteries is still problematic in production (since NMC 811 is less stable) and is associated with higher costs. In addition, the lower cobalt content also leads to lower lifetime and cycle stability.

Capacity fade NMC 811 v NMC old
Comparison NMC 811, NMC 622, NMC 833, NMC 532. Change of cobalt and nickel content has an effect on the capacity and stability of the NMC battery.

High-nickel layered oxide (NMC 811 and NCA) materials will continue to be important, and major cathode manufacturers are looking to move toward 90+% NMC and NCA in a bid to further reduce cobalt content and increase capacity, if only marginally. Difficulties remain in ensuring safety and longevity of these materials. s.

While reducing cobalt content can help reduce material costs and limit exposure to potentially problematically sourced cobalt, a push to limit reliance on cobalt and nickel will increase reliance on Asia, with the majority of lfp production controlled by Asian companies and fewer plans for LFP production outside the country. This would be contrary to the aims and objectives of governments and players in Europe and North America. In 2022, Chinese companies were responsible for at least 50% of sales of Li-ion cells, cathode and anode materials, electrolytes, separators, and copper current collectors.

However, there are promising alternatives to NMC and NCM for as the next generation rechargeable batteries. Some start-up companies demonstrate NMC 811 free high-energy-density profiles for electric flight and large UAV. A promising alternative to NMC 811 batteries is the Lithium-Sulfur Battery. However, this gravimetric energy-density battery wonder is still under development.

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