Lithium ternary batteries: are they safe?

Lithium-ion batteries have become a ubiquitous energy source in modern technology. These rechargeable batteries can be found in electronic devices, electric vehicles, and renewable energy systems. However, the safety of these batteries is a concern due to the risk of overheating, catching fire, or exploding. Lithium iron phosphate (LFP) and ternary lithium batteries are two popular types of lithium-ion batteries, but they differ in terms of safety.

The Importance of Battery Management System (BMS)

Before diving into the comparison, it’s important to note that the existence of a Battery Management System (BMS) is crucial in ensuring the safety of both types of batteries. The BMS protects the batteries from overcharging, overdischarging, and extreme temperatures, among other factors, to improve their performance, longevity, and safety. Users should also avoid using ternary lithium batteries in high-temperature environments.

Lithium ternary batteries: are they safe?

Ternary Lithium Batteries

Ternary lithium batteries contain nickel, cobalt, and manganese in their cathode. With an increase in nickel content, the probability of lithium and nickel mixing increases rapidly. This results in Li+ disintercalation becoming difficult, reducing the specific capacity and cycling properties of the material. The unstable proportion of Ni3+ in the material also increases with higher nickel content, leading to a higher tendency to react with moisture and carbon dioxide in the air. This exacerbates the loss of specific capacity and cycling performance. The names of ternary lithium batteries are derived from their cathode materials, just like LiFePO4 batteries. A ternary lithium battery has three kinds of metal materials on its cathode: nickel(Ni), cobalt(Co), and manganese(Mn), and their ratio can be adjusted according to actual needs. Depending on the ratio of three metal materials, there are different compound materials, such as 1:1:1, 5:2:3, and 8:1:1. We call ternary lithium batteries because the materials of compounds are fixed.

Why we use Ni, Co and Mn these three kinds of metal in ternary lithium battery ?

It is difficult for Ni–Nickel to oxidize in air at room temperature because it is chemically active. Material with Ni ions has a higher volumetric energy density

At room temperature, cobalt does not react with water and is stable in humid air. The cost of cobalt is relatively high. Material laminar structure is stabilized, impedance value is reduced, conductivity and cycling performance are improved by coions.

Manganese is stable and does not easily oxidize or reduce. Material safety and stability are improved with Mn ions.

Safety Concerns with Ternary Lithium Batteries

Ternary lithium batteries are vulnerable to overheating or catching fire when damaged or abused, especially in high-powered applications like electric vehicles. These batteries have a lower thermal runaway temperature compared to LFP batteries, making them more susceptible to catching fire at high temperatures.

Lithium ternary batteries: are they safe?

Lithium Iron Phosphate Batteries

Lithium iron phosphate batteries use lithium iron phosphate as their cathode material, making them more stable and safer than ternary lithium batteries. The P-O chemical bond of lithium iron phosphate is relatively stable, decomposing only at very high temperatures of 700-800 degrees Celsius. Even if the battery is deformed or damaged, oxygen molecules will not be released, preventing violent combustion.

Lithium ternary batteries: are they safe?

Safety Advantages of Lithium Iron Phosphate Batteries

LFP batteries offer several safety advantages over ternary lithium batteries. They are less prone to overheating and catching fire, making them a safer choice for a wide range of applications. LFP batteries have a higher thermal runaway temperature, which means they can withstand higher temperatures without catching fire. They are also more resistant to physical damage due to the steel encapsulation of the cells, making them more durable than ternary lithium batteries. Lastly, LFP batteries have a longer lifespan and are more stable, leading to fewer capacity losses with each charge/discharge cycle.

Lithium ternary batteries: are they safe?

Applications for Lithium Iron Phosphate Batteries

Due to their safety and durability, LFP batteries are increasingly being used in applications that require a high level of safety, such as electric vehicles, cordless tools, and medical devices. LFP batteries are less likely to overheat or be damaged by physical contact, making them a more reliable choice in high-drain applications.


In summary, while both LFP and ternary lithium batteries are popular types of lithium-ion batteries, they differ in terms of safety. Ternary lithium batteries have a higher risk of overheating and catching fire, while LFP batteries offer greater safety, durability, and longevity. As the demand for safer and more reliable batteries increases, the use of LFP batteries is expected to grow across various industries.


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