Boron and Lithium in EVs: The Perfect Pair

:: Wednesday, February 7, 2024 :: Posted By Allen Zheng

As we transition to a decarbonized world, sourcing high-quality raw materials is critical to manufacturing products that will help us achieve our collective net zero emissions target.

Lithium and boron are two elements that already serve major roles in producing one lower-carbon product: Electric vehicles (EVs).

Boron and lithium in EV batteries

Deposits of lithium and borates are commonly found near each other.

And, inside an EV, boron and lithium’s close ties help improve the function of the battery pack, a crucial component that stores energy and powers the motor.

Almost all EVs use lithium-ion batteries because of their exceptional electrochemical properties and energy efficiency. They have a high power-to-weight ratio and longer lifespan. The type of lithium-ion battery is commonly characterized by the chemistry of cathode, typically either nickel manganese cobalt (NMC) or lithium iron phosphate (LFP).

Several EV battery components benefit from boron compounds. As an additive, boron can be used in components such as electrolyte, anodes, and cathodes.

In a recent literature review, we found that boron can improve battery life, performance, and the lifecycle management of lithium-ion batteries. There is growing interest in the use of boron compounds both from an academic and commercial perspective.

Additional uses: Boron in EVs

For decades, we’ve produced refined borate products that support several automotive applications and functions. Like their legacy combustion engine counterparts, EVs continue to leverage boron’s unique properties to advance a less carbon intensive mode of transportation.

In car accidents where airbags are deployed, electronic sensors activate a mixture of boron and potassium nitrate powder in the airbag, inflating them immediately.

Electrical components
The polymeric materials in EVs (wires and cables) and the charging connectors used to recharge EV batteries, have an inherent flammability risk. Therefore, borates are an important additive to boost the efficacy of fire-retardant formulations.

Aluminum and steel alloys used in car bodies and frames benefit from the strength-enhancing and anti-corrosion properties of borates. Additionally, plastics and polymers reinforced by glass fiber containing boron can be used to make plastic body panels and EV components.

Boron improves the performance of automotive fluids that are vital to well-functioning EVs, including:

  • Engine coolants to regulate temperature of EV components
  • Brake fluids to increase boiling point, which prevents loss of braking power

Headlights and displays
Borosilicate glass is found in car headlights and infotainment displays, even windshield resulting in better durability and scratch-resistance.

Interior components
EV manufacturers add borates to carpets and upholstery to reduce the risk of fire and slow the spread of flames in the unlikely chance of a fire.

Some EVs with regenerative braking systems have neodymium (NdFeB) magnets, where boron lends stability and strength.

Material origin matters

For more than 150 years, people have associated the U.S. Borax name with quality.

As a materials partner, we have technical teams with research-backed expertise and a product stewardship team that stays on top of evolving regulations.

Through product development, we are finding better ways to help EV manufacturers overcome challenges with our industrial grade boric acid, Optibor® TG and also new battery-grade borate product, Optibor BQ.

Contact our technical team with questions about how you can use U.S. Borax borates—and Rio Tinto lithium—in your process.




U.S. Borax, part of Rio Tinto, is a global leader in the supply and science of borates—naturally-occurring minerals containing boron and other elements. We are 1,000 people serving 650 customers with more than 1,800 delivery locations globally. We supply around 30% of the world’s need for refined borates from our world-class mine in Boron, California, about 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles.  Learn more about Rio Tinto.

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