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Lithium iron phosphate battery
Energy/weight 90–110 Wh/kg (320–400 J/g)
Energy/size 220 Wh/L (790 kJ/L)
Power/weight >3 W/g
Energy/consumer-price US$0.40–2.00/Wh (US$0.11–0.56/kJ)
Time durability >10 years
Cycle durability 2,000 cycles
Nominal cell voltage 3.3 V

The lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4, or LFP) battery is a type of rechargeable battery, specifically a lithium ion battery, which uses LiFePO4 as a cathode material.



LiFePO4 was discovered by John Goodenough's research group at the University of Texas in 1996,[1][2] as a cathode material for rechargeable lithium batteries. Because of its low cost, non-toxicity, the high abundance of iron, its excellent thermal stability, safety characteristics, good electrochemical performance, and high specific capacity (170 mA·h/g, or 610 C/g) it gained some market acceptance.[3][4]

The key barrier to commercialization was its intrinsically low electrical conductivity. This problem, however, was then overcome partly by reducing the particle size and effectively coating the LiFePO4 particles with conductive materials such as carbon, and partly by employing the doping[3] approaches developed by Yet-Ming Chiang and his coworkers at MIT using cations of materials such as aluminum, niobium, and zirconium. It was later shown that most of the conductivity improvement was due to the presence of nanoscopic carbon originating from organic precursors.[5] Products using the carbonized and doped nanophosphate materials developed by Chiang are now in high volume mass production by A123Systems and other companies,[citation needed] and are used in industrial products by major corporations including Black and Decker's DeWalt brand, General Motors' Chevrolet Volt, Daimler, Cessna and BAE Systems.

Most lithium-ion batteries (Li-ion) used in consumer electronics products are lithium cobalt oxide batteries (LiCoO2). Other varieties of lithium-ion batteries include lithium-manganese oxide (LiMn2O4) and lithium-nickel oxide (LiNiO2). The batteries are named after the material used for their cathodes; the anodes are generally made of carbon and a wide variety of electrolytes are used.

Advantages and disadvantages

The LiFePO4 battery uses a lithium-ion-derived chemistry and shares many of its advantages and disadvantages with other lithium ion battery chemistries. The key advantages for LiFePO4 when compared with LiCoO2 are improved safety through higher resistance to thermal runaway, longer cycle and calendar life,[citation needed] higher current or peak-power rating,[6] and use of iron and phosphate which have lower environmental impact than cobalt. Cost may be a major difference as well, but, that cannot be verified until the cells are more widely used in the marketplace.[citation needed]

LFP batteries have some drawbacks:

  1. The specific energy (energy/volume) of a new LFP battery is somewhat lower than that of a new LiCoO2 battery. Battery manufacturers across the world are currently working to find ways to maximize the energy storage performance and reduce size & weight.[7]
  2. Brand new LFPs have been found to fail prematurely if they are deep cycled (discharged below 33% level) too early. A break-in period of 20 charging cycles is currently recommended by some distributors.[citation needed]
  3. Rapid charging will shorten lithium-ion battery (including LFP) life-span when compared to traditional trickle charging.[citation needed]
  4. Many brands of LFP's have a low discharge rate compared with lead-acid or LiCoO2. Since discharge rate is a percentage of battery capacity this can be overcome by using a larger battery (more ampère-hours).

While LiFePO4 cells have lower voltage and energy density than LiCoO2 Li-ion cells, this disadvantage is offset over time by the slower rate of capacity loss (aka greater calendar-life) of LiFePO4 when compared with other lithium-ion battery chemistries (such as LiCoO2 cobalt or LiMn2O4 manganese spinel based lithium-ion polymer batteries or lithium-ion batteries).[8][9] For example:

  • After one year of use, a LiFePO4 cell typically has approximately the same energy density as a LiCoO2 Li-ion cell.
  • Beyond one year of use, a LiFePO4 cell is likely to have higher energy density than a LiCoO2 Li-ion cell due to the differences in their respective calendar-lives.


  • Cell voltage = min. discharge voltage = 2.8 V. Working voltage = 3.0V–3.3 V. Max. charge voltage = 3.6 V.
  • Volumetric energy density = 220 Wh/dm³ (790 kJ/dm³)
  • Gravimetric energy density = >90 Wh/kg[10] (>320 J/g)
  • 100% DOD cycle life (number of cycles to 80% of original capacity) = 2,000–7,000 [11]
  • Cathode composition (weight)
    • 90% C-LiFePO4, grade Phos-Dev-12
    • 5% Carbon EBN-10-10 (superior graphite)
    • 5% PVDF
  • Cell Configuration
  • Experimental conditions:
    • Room temperature
    • Voltage limits: 2.5–4.2 V
    • Charge: C/4 up to 4.2 V, then potentiostatic at 4.2 V until I < C/24


LiFePO4 is an intrinsically safer cathode material than LiCoO2 and manganese spinel. The Fe-P-O bond is stronger than the Co-O bond, so that when abused, (short-circuited, overheated, etc.) the oxygen atoms are much harder to remove. This stabilization of the redox energies also helps fast ion migration. Only under extreme heating (generally over 800 °C) does breakdown occur and this bond stability greatly reduces the risk of thermal runaway when compared with LiCoO2.

As lithium migrates out of the cathode in a LiCoO2 cell, the CoO2 undergoes non-linear expansion that affects the structural integrity of the cell. The fully lithiated and unlithiated states of LiFePO4 are structurally similar which means that LiFePO4 cells are more structurally stable than LiCoO2 cells.

No lithium remains in the cathode of a fully charged LiFePO4 cell—in a LiCoO2 cell, approximately 50% remains in the cathode. LiFePO4 is highly resilient during oxygen loss, which typically results in an exothermic reaction in other lithium cells.[4]


LFP batteries were featured on the November 5, 2008 episode of Prototype This!. They were used as the power source for a hexapod (walking) vehicle. Lithium Technology Corp. announced in May 2007, that they had developed a new Lithium Iron Phosphate battery with cells large enough for use in hybrid cars, claiming they are "the largest cells of their kind in the world."[12]. While they may be large enough for such uses, there remain limitations to the use of this particular Lithium battery technology which may make their use contraindicated. See Advantage and Disadvantages above for details.

Thundersky LiFePO4 batteries have become the most popular lithium-ion batteries used in hobbyist electric vehicle (EV) conversions since they are relatively inexpensive and easily obtainable from retail sources.

This battery is used in the electric cars made by Aptera[13] and QUICC.[14]

This type of battery technology is used on the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) project.[15]

Killacycle, the worlds fastest electric motorcycle, uses lithium iron phosphate batteries.

Segway Personal Transporters advanced from a 10 mile range to a 24 mile range with Valence Lithium Phosphate technology.[citation needed]

OLPC batteries are manufactured by BYD Company of Shenzhen, China, the world's largest producer of Li-ion batteries. BYD, also a car manufacturer, plans to use its Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries to power its PHEV, the F3DM and F6DM (Dual Mode), which will be the first commercial dual-mode electric car in the world. It plans to mass produce the cars in 2009.[16]

LFP batteries are gaining popularity now in the world of hobby-grade R/C, due to the benefits over the ever-popular LiPo batteries. They can be recharged much faster and for more cycles, are not prone to catching fire or exploding while recharging, and are more robust than the LiPo type.

LFP batteries are used by electric vehicles manufacturer Smith Electric Vehicles to power its products.

Notable manufacturers

See also


  1. ^ "LiFePO4: A Novel Cathode Material for Rechargeable Batteries", A.K. Padhi, K.S. Nanjundaswamy, J.B. Goodenough, Electrochimical Society Meeting Abstracts, 96-1, May, 1996, pp 73
  2. ^ Phospho-olivines as positive-electrode materials for rechargeable lithium batteries", A.K. Padhi, K.S. Nanjundaswamy and J.B. Goodenough, J. Electrochem. Soc., 144, 1188-1194 (1997).. 
  3. ^ a b "Bigger, Cheaper, Safer Batteries: New material charges up lithium-ion battery work".
  4. ^ a b Building safer Li ion batteries.
  5. ^ N. Ravet, A. Abouimrane, and M. Armand, Nat. Mater., 2, 702 ~2003. 
  6. ^ A Better Battery? The Lithium Ion Cell Gets Supercharged, Adam Hadhazy , Scientific American, 2009-03-11.
  7. ^ Guo, Y.; Hu, J.; Wan, L. Nanostructured Materials for Electrochemical Energy Conversion and Storage Devices. Adv Mater 2008, 20, 2878-2887
  8. ^ A123Systems "...Current test projecting excellent calendar life: 17% impedance growth and 23% capacity loss in 15 [fifteen!] years at 100% SOC, 60 deg. C..."
  9. ^ How to prolong lithium-based batteries "...The speed by which lithium-ion ages is governed by temperature and state-of-charge. Figure 1 illustrates the capacity loss as a function of these two parameters...
    • 25 °C...[100% state of charge]...80% after 1 year
    • 40 °C...[100% state of charge]...65% after 1 year
  10. ^ [1]
  11. ^ [2]
  12. ^ "Next Generation Battery Technology Makes Hybrid and Electric Vehicles a Reality".
  13. ^ "Aptera unveils full specs for its flagship 2e".
  14. ^ "QUICC electric vehicles".
  15. ^ "Laptop With a Mission Widens Its Audience". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-10-04.  LiFePO4 used in OLPC
  16. ^ a b China Daily 2008-12-16 08:13 "BYD zooms past Toyota, GM in electric car race"


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