Is a home battery safe?
Not all (home) batteries have the same chemical composition. The chemistry of the battery determines its technical specifications and, consequently, its application. The chemistry of battery cells used in cars, for example, is not the same as that of the battery cells in a home battery.
Different functions are expected from these cells. The batteries of an electric car have to charge, discharge and be light. The battery of a mobile phone has to have a high specific energy (light) and usually does not have to last long. A home battery must above all be safe and have a long life.
Because safety is paramount for AlphaESS, only the extremely safe Lithium Iron Phosphate, also known as LiFePO4 or LFP, was chosen for these home batteries. This chemical composition makes the cells safe and non-flammable even in extreme conditions. This means that you can pierce the battery or cause a short circuit without any problem and it will not catch fire. The AlphaESS home battery is therefore extremely safe.
What is the difference between a lead-acid battery and a Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) battery?
Lead batteries are cheaper but have some major disadvantages compared to lithium batteries. You can only discharge them halfway, which means that your battery capacity has to be twice as big. In addition, they are three to four times heavier and take up much more space. In recent years lithium-ion technology has undergone a gigantic evolution in terms of capacity and price, as a result of which the LCC (Life Cycle Cost) has become much more favourable than for lead-acid batteries.
AlphaESS only uses Lithium Iron Phosphate cells. These are much safer than the lithium batteries used in cars, for example. The chemical composition of the battery cells makes overheating due to so-called thermal runaway virtually impossible. This makes the cells safe and non-flammable even in extreme conditions. Lithium Iron Phosphate cells also have a very good life span. They are slightly heavier and less compact, but this is usually not a problem in a domestic situation. An additional advantage is that the Lithium Iron Phosphate cells do not contain any cobalt.
Are AlphaESS home batteries recyclable?
The disposal and recycling of batteries continues to place a heavy burden on the environment. Some lead-acid batteries are safely recycled to recover lead and other materials, but many lead-acid batteries still end up in landfills, especially in developing countries.
AlphaESS uses only Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) for its battery cells. Because the electrodes in LFP batteries are made from non-toxic materials, they pose a much smaller threat to the environment than lead-acid batteries. They can also be recycled to reuse the materials of the electrodes, wiring, and casings. Some of these materials can be used in new lithium batteries. At the moment there are already LiFePO4 batteries available that contain recycled materials.
Due to the long lifespan of LFP batteries, there are still a lot of batteries in use, so the recycling processes are obviously still in their infancy. As more lithium batteries reach the end of their useful life, recycling will naturally become more efficient and therefore cheaper as engineers continue to improve the processes to recover the materials.