most environmentally friendly and socially responsible battery types/manufacturers

newcaledonia

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USA
I have been following various reports about social injustices and negative environmental impacts from the mining of lithium and nickel as used in the production of batteries for electric cars. Here, for example, is the most recent example: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/30/...w-caledonia.html?referringSource=articleShare. There are a lot of others where that came from, and I have also noticed some discussion of these issues on ebike sites, related particularly to the use of cobalt in ebike batteries. This interview was especially good on the recycling issue: https://www.singletracks.com/mtb-tr...-other-mtb-gadgets-we-asked-a-battery-expert/.

I am in the market for an ebike. It is important to me to buy an ebike made from materials that are the most environmentally friendly possible, and that are sourced in socially responsible ways. My understanding is that cobalt in particular scores low on these criteria (owing in part to human rights abuses connected with the mining of cobalt in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is one of the major sources of cobalt), but lithium and nickel also have their issues. If possible, I would like to avoid an ebike that uses Nickel Manganese Cobalt (NMC) or Lithium Cobalt Oxide (LCO) batteries, and would prefer one that uses Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) batteries instead. Does anyone know which ebike batteries are better than others when it comes to these issues? Are there any ebike manufacturers that do a particularly good job on this front?

Thank you in advance for any feedback. If you represent or are affiliated with an ebike or battery manufacturer or seller in some way, I welcome and grateful for your comments, but would appreciate it if you could identify yourself as such in any responses.
 
If you represent or are affiliated with an ebike or battery manufacturer or seller in some way,

As an E-bike startup owner, I am deeply passionate about this.
In fact, one of the goals with Zen Electric Bikes is to support the kids affected by Cobalt mining in DRC and I mentioned it here: https://electricbikereview.com/forums/threads/why-zen.33723/
This slide below is actually straight from our investor presentation. So, you can see I am quite focused on helping these unfortunate people in DRC.
Because of OMICRON, I have not been able to get VISA to Africa but I will travel there in 2022.


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As a battery researcher who works with some of the leading scientists in the field, I can tell you, the topic is a lot more complicated than what it looks like.
If you did not know all iPhones and MacBooks use LCO (Lithium cobalt oxide) as the cathode and they consume a substantial amount of Co from DRC. So, does that mean we stop using iPhones and MacBooks?

One of the reasons, JB Straubel (the former CTO of Tesla) is getting into Cathode production itself, instead of just recycling is the impact it would have on the US auto industry.
Currently, materials are mined and shipped all over the world before it reaches an EV, so it is a huge waste of energy and it is not sustainable.

LFP production is not super clean either. Because of a tricky patent situation, LFP production was outsourced to Asia in the early 2000s and now it is coming back to the west.
Tesla and VW will be using a higher-grade LFP in their base models. This would work for an EV but in the case of an E-bike, the bike would be unnecessarily heavy to get an appreciable range. You're looking at ~8 lbs penalty and changes to the BMS/ display to account for the voltage changes in the LFP chemistry. Most E-bike controllers and displays are tuned for a certain voltage range. LFP batteries are very common for scooters in China.
Some of the NCA and NMC chemistries use only < 10% Cobalt compared to other variants.

In my opinion, if you can make the battery long as long as possible, that would make a big difference. Instead of recycling a pack after 3-4 years, if you can use it for 8 years, that would be socially responsible.
As of now, it is impossible to find a decent LFP battery pack that doesn't look like a brick wrapped in a shrink wrap and without shoddy build quality.
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Many thanks Ravi for this very informative response. I was not aware of the cobalt in my Apple products. I will be following the progress of your startup with great interest and wish you all success in making it to the DRC in 2022 and more generally with your venture.
 
I'm sorry. It's just not an 8 lb penalty. I use 6 AH cells but they are lower voltage. If you take 16 of them, you get pack that is fully charged at 58 volts or so. So it's a higher voltage than a 48 volt pack, and the LFP holds the voltage better. So there are more watts or watt hours, but you have more cells. The LFP is the same voltage range as a 14s standard cell, so that controller contention is rubbish, since most controllers work on 48/52.

My cells weight 5 ounces. So 32 are 16s2p, and 160 ounces, which is 10 pounds. I can configure the cells to fit all kinds of cases or saddlebags. I don't know what the case weighs but the 10 pounds is not 8 kgs, not even close. They are all ugly, they are all shoddy. Great. I'm a DIYer. I do what works.

If LFP is safer, and Tesla is going with LFP, then it is a safer pack and you should acknowedge that. If you think they are heavier than they are, what am I supposed to do? If you think all the packs are ugly, same deal.

Finally, if you are the science guy, do a run down test with your chemistry versus LFP. With LFP, you start with a higher voltage. It holds the voltage longer. What is the true wh capacity of your pack versus mine? The LFP is a better pack. I don't want to swap stories of 8 year olds mining cobalt. We are going headlong into this EV stuff and there are enormous problems. I think you should have a more comprehensive set of facts at your fingertips before you weigh in on this. Your LFP info is simply bad.
 
I understand this is about batteries. I personally cannot control the sourcing of those raw materials. There are a couple of other related Green issues I would like to address. 1) There are plenty of great bikes that are not yet electric that have sequestered carbon and materials. These bikes can be made electric and preform as well as new bikes. It is recycling cycling. I do this every week. 2) Much lighter weight motors which are much more efficient are coming. These have printed stators. They do not have copper coils and are 1 tenth the weight and materials for the same power. This means that we will be able to get the same range but will be using smaller, lighter batteries; using less materials.
Here is a bike that I made electric last week for a green member of my town City Counsel that takes a car off the road and carries 220Kg on the rear rack and one that has sequestered carbon and materials since 1972. It runs-side-by side with $7500 new bikes. Its 3.05 pound battery fits in the water bottle cage.
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My thoughts on this are that people all over the world are stuck with doing bad things to survive. As bad as that is the alternative for them is probably worse.
 
My thoughts on this are that people all over the world are stuck with doing bad things to survive. As bad as that is the alternative for them is probably worse.
It's one thing to buy an iphone, another to buy a huge SUV or truck with the biggest battery you can get. There is something of a choice there.
 
The LFP is the same voltage range as a 14s standard cell, so that controller contention is rubbish, since most controllers work on 48/52.

Without insulting your rudimentary knowledge, I am going to explain why the voltage profile would be an issue. So, I hope readers can benefit from this thread.
Most E-bike displays are tuned to read a certain voltage and then show appropriate % as the state of charge or "tank capacity".

Typical Li-ion cells (NCA or NMC) have an S-shaped profile and most protocols are optimized for that. What goes into modeling SOC and battery parameters, I have attached a scientific paper where they modeled LG-HG2 cell.
Notice, to get a typical 48V, you need 16S using LFP and 13S using NCA.

The LFP holds ~3.4V steadily like a long plateau and suddenly drops down. So, the controller + display protocols should be tuned accordingly. Otherwise, you read 90% full for long a time, and suddenly, your pack dies and no more output. Some hobbyists might use voltage to read the state of charge, but this would not fly for regular customers.
You need LFP specific BMS and protocols. This is not a big deal. There are 100's of Chinese companies making these BMS. Most Chinese LFP cells have low energy density and only come in prismatic format. Cylindrical LFP cells are available and their volumetric energy density is not any better.


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I can not emphasize how difficult it is to fit a 48V,15Ah LFP into a regular E-bike because of the low volumetric efficiency of LFP and weight penalty.
It would be at least ~8 lbs of a weight penalty for the same capacity.
Now, why would Tesla or VW use NMC for their mid-tier and top-tier vehicles? Well, you can make NMC and NCA as safe as LFP and make the vehicle lighter.
This is why SOC modeling is different for LFP vs NMC and you can see the snippet below. You may read the full paper and I have attached it for reference if anyone is interested.



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It's one thing to buy an iphone, another to buy a huge SUV or truck with the biggest battery you can get. There is something of a choice there.
Yes. Such as the 1,000Hp Hummer. It is much better to go around the line of SUVs waiting in line to drop of kid's by having them on the back of your recycled cargo bike. And without being stuck at lights and in traffic gridlock. A 1,000Hp Hummer would take 1/2 hour to cross my town. An electric bike takes less than 10 minutes and does not require looking for a parking spot and occupying that valuable real estate. If you wanted to evacuate a city during a crisis would you be more likely to succeed in a Hummer or an electric bike? Think of the foot print and overall impact. What about crushing pavement and creating potholes?
 
Creating a new post is one thing. When it is launched then it cannot be controlled. This is not just about batteries, which are important, total foot print also matters. Let's minimize this footprint in ways we can do today. Now. And each day.
 

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I understand this is about batteries. I personally cannot control the sourcing of those raw materials. There are a couple of other related Green issues I would like to address. 1) There are plenty of great bikes that are not yet electric that have sequestered carbon and materials. These bikes can be made electric and preform as well as new bikes. It is recycling cycling. I do this every week. 2) Much lighter weight motors which are much more efficient are coming. These have printed stators. They do not have copper coils and are 1 tenth the weight and materials for the same power. This means that we will be able to get the same range but will be using smaller, lighter batteries; using less materials.
Here is a bike that I made electric last week for a green member of my town City Counsel that takes a car off the road and carries 220Kg on the rear rack and one that has sequestered carbon and materials since 1972. It runs-side-by side with $7500 new bikes. Its 3.05 pound battery fits in the water bottle cage.
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those look nice — what do you mean by “sequestered carbon and materials” and could you recommend a good light weight, efficient ebike kit? would something like this be what you have in mind? https://www.fthpower.com/products/b...tor-kit-with-battery?utm_source=pocket_mylist
 
those look nice — what do you mean by “sequestered carbon and materials” and could you recommend a good light weight, efficient ebike kit? would something like this be what you have in mind? https://www.fthpower.com/products/b...tor-kit-with-battery?utm_source=pocket_mylist
I initially used those. Then I moved toward lower weight torque sensor motors with much more feel and better performance with less. The Zen garden of less. Here is the bike I took on this ride today. Less is so much more. Look for the lack of ugly wires and connectors. Less! Better! Get a lightweight bike on Craigslist. Or use your existing favorite.
 

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I initially used those. Then I moved toward lower weight torque sensor motors with much more feel and better performance with less. The Zen garden of less. Here is the bike I took on this ride today. Less is so much more. Look for the lack of ugly wires and connectors. Less! Better! Get a lightweight bike on Craigslist. Or use your existing favorite.
nice — but how do i do this?! do you do these conversions yourself for a fee?
 
nice — but how do i do this?! do you do these conversions yourself for a fee?
I am North of the Golden Gate in California and only work locally for a fee. But if you want to view photos for ideas you can see PedalUma.com. Each build is different. Small batteries with high quality cells that are low and at the center of the bike, make all the difference.
 
I understand this is about batteries. I personally cannot control the sourcing of those raw materials. There are a couple of other related Green issues I would like to address. 1) There are plenty of great bikes that are not yet electric that have sequestered carbon and materials. These bikes can be made electric and preform as well as new bikes. It is recycling cycling. I do this every week. 2) Much lighter weight motors which are much more efficient are coming. These have printed stators. They do not have copper coils and are 1 tenth the weight and materials for the same power. This means that we will be able to get the same range but will be using smaller, lighter batteries; using less materials.
Here is a bike that I made electric last week for a green member of my town City Counsel that takes a car off the road and carries 220Kg on the rear rack and one that has sequestered carbon and materials since 1972. It runs-side-by side with $7500 new bikes. Its 3.05 pound battery fits in the water bottle cage.
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You are simply a 'mage" and a breath of fresh air can you give a link to the new motors?
 
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