Image from Wikimedia Commons (public domain).

An important thing we like to keep in mind at Fēnix is that all batteries aren’t the same. While a battery cell’s ability to hold energy, charge fast, and last a long time get most of the press, there are other factors we have to keep in mind. One of the most important is where the battery’s components come from.

A recent piece in Greentech Media illustrates this well. While many like to focus on the cobalt and lithium mining in battery production, one of the most common components in battery cells is graphite, like you’d find in the common #2 pencil we all grew up with in school.

While graphite is a great substitute for toxic lead in pencils, it has much more important properties in batteries. Graphite is very conductive, and its layered composition allows it to work very well with lithium ion to store energy.

Greentech points out:

This is the crux of the emissions issue: Graphite is only produced by crushing and then roasting a mined product or as a byproduct of coal mining or oil refining…

These two types of graphite, natural and synthetic, compete in the battery anode materials market; the split of demand was around 50:50 in 2018.

Synthetic graphite is the higher-cost option for anode material, but its higher purity makes it preferable for use in premium batteries. Most battery anode producers use a blend of synthetic and natural materials, balancing costs and performance. But increasingly, the lower electrical resistances and greater consistency offered by synthetic have resulted in advanced technologies, such as NCA and NMC 811, coming to use more synthetic graphite.

They go on to point out that the demand for synthetic graphite (that comes from fossil fuel production) is only projected to go up in the next few years, as advanced battery technology needs it.

While there are limits to what we can do when making our battery packs, we do keep the environment in mind and try to do our best in that regard. We take the cleanliness and decency in our supply chains seriously, and strive to not only do our best in that regard but continue to improve going forward.

We will be announcing a new recycling partnership in the next few days, with this partnership Fēnix Power will be able to recycle 100% of the batteries we take out of service!