Learn the key feature of each Li-ion in a summary table.

The term lithium-ion points to a family of batteries that shares similarities, but the chemistries can vary greatly. Li-cobalt, Li-manganese, NMC and Li-aluminum are similar in that they deliver high capacity and are used in portable applications. Li-phosphate and Li-titanate have lower voltages and have less capacity, but are very durable. These batteries are mainly found in wheeled and stationary uses. Table 1 summarizes the characteristics of major Li-ion batteries.

Chemistry Lithium Cobalt Oxide Lithium Manganese Oxide Lithium Nickel Manganese Oxide Lithium Iron Phosphate Lithium Nickel Cobalt Aluminum Oxide Lithium Titanate Oxide
Short form Li-cobalt Li-manganese NMC Li-phosphate Li-aluminum Li-titanate
Abbreviation LiCoO2
LiNiCoAlO2 (NCA) Li2TiO3 (common)
Nominal voltage 3.60V 3.70V (3.80V) 3.60V (3.70V) 3.20, 3.30V 3.60V 2.40V
Full charge 4.20V 4.20V 4.20V (or higher) 3.65V 4.20V 2.85V
Full discharge 3.00V 3.00V 3.00V 2.50V 3.00V 1.80V
Minimal voltage 2.50V 2.50V 2.50V 2.00V 2.50V 1.50V (est.)
Specific Energy 150–200Wh/kg 100–150Wh/kg 150–220Wh/kg 90–120Wh/kg 200-260Wh/kg 70–80Wh/kg
Charge rate 0.7–1C (3h) 0.7–1C (3h) 0.7–1C (3h) 1C (3h) 1C 1C (5C max)
Discharge rate 1C (1h) 1C, 10C possible 1–2C 1C (25C pule) 1C 10C possible
Cycle life (ideal) 500–1000 300–700 1000–2000 1000–2000 500 3,000–7,000
Thermal runaway 150°C (higher when empty) 250°C (higher when empty) 210°C(higher when empty) 270°C (safe at full charge) 150°C (higher when empty) One of safest
Li-ion batteries
Maintenance Keep cool; store partially charged; prevent full charge cycles, use moderate charge and discharge currents
Packaging (typical) 18650, prismatic and pouch cell prismatic 18650, prismatic and pouch cell 26650, prismatic 18650 prismatic
History 1991 (Sony) 1996 2008 1996 1999 2008
Applications Mobile phones, tablets, laptops, cameras Power tools, medical devices, powertrains E-bikes, medical devices, EVs, industrial Stationary with high currents and endurance Medical, industrial,
EV (Tesla)
UPS, EV, solar street lighting
Comments High energy, limited power. Market share has stabilized. High power, less capacity; safer than Li-cobalt; often mixed with NMC to improve performance. High capacity and high power. Market share is increasing. Also NCM, CMN, MNC, MCN Flat discharge voltage, high power low capacity, very safe; elevated self-discharge. Highest capacity with moderate power. Similar to Li-cobalt. Long life, fast charge, wide temperature range and safe. Low capacity, expensive.

Table 1: Summary of most common lithium-ion based batteries.