The Runaway Review

Join Product Manager, JJ Hocken, as he reviews batteries and discusses the advantages and disadvantages of various chemistries impacting the UPS industry.

The Runaway Review

Join Product Manager, JJ Hocken, as he reviews batteries and discusses the advantages and disadvantages of various chemistries impacting the UPS industry.

Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) Battery

UPDATED OCTOBER 10, 2023

 

by J.J. Hocken, Product Manager Batteries & DC Technologies

What is a Lithium Iron Phosphate Battery?

LFP batteries or Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFEPO4) batteries typically use a graphite or carbon electrode with a metallic backing as an anode. The cathode material, as the name implies, is typically some chemical make-up or mix of Lithium Iron Phosphate. Different battery vendors might infuse LFP chemistries with other elements that have more reactive properties to increase power and energy density, but, typically, the core cathode material is still LiFEPO4.

Advantages & Disadvantages of a Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) Battery for UPS

Advantages of the Lithium Iron Phosphate battery chemistry in the UPS industry

 

Reduction in logistic and supply chain complexity and cost with sourcing from more domestically available materials

 

 

Higher ignition point (518°F or 270°C), resulting in lower risk of thermal runaway

 

 

Longer life (typically 12 to 20-year design lifespan)

 

 

Higher cycle life than most other lithium ion chemistries, such as Lithium Manganese Oxide (LMO) and Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide (NMC) 

 

 

May require less ventilation or cooling than some other lithium-ion chemistries

 

 

Less degradation at higher temperatures and charge/discharge rates

 

 

Smaller footprint than traditional VRLA

 

 

Favorable UL9540A testing results (for most LFP battery vendors)

 

 

Design driven safety via stable chemistries, strong high temperature resistance, and can be extinguished with a traditional water sprinkler system

 

Disadvantages of the Lithium Iron Phosphate battery chemistry in the UPS industry

 

 

Lower energy density than some other lithium ion chemistries, such as LMO and NMC

 

 

Reduction in energy and power density in comparison to other lithium-ion chemistries, presenting a trade-off that a client may make to increase the safety of the system

 

 

More expensive as a system: LFP batteries themselves are less expensive but, typically, you need more of them to achieve the same energy density of LMO or NMC batteries

 

Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) Battery Summary

If safety and longevity of the system are the main priorities, the advantages of lithium iron phosphate batteries outweigh the disadvantages.

 

LFP batteries are a very safe and reliable battery chemistry that has a lot of great advantages. In the UPS industry, safety and reliability are strong factors in client design and purchase reasoning. Compared to NMC or LMO battery chemistries, the overall Lithium Iron Phosphate​ battery system footprint may be larger. However, the collective impact on safety and reliability may outweigh footprint and price concerns due to the overall impact NFPA 855, UL9540A, and the local AHJs review of systems have on the industry.

 

While new battery technologies are being routinely introduced in the industry, the LFP battery is still a solid choice for battery design and system implementation. The Lithium Iron Phosphate battery chemistry has proven system integration testing results that many newer alternative technologies just don't have. 

Edited by Nicole Kristof, Digital Marketing Specialist and MarySandra Do, Content Marketing Specialist


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