That depends on the application. “Best” is a relative term. If you you want the most cost-effective batteries, good old lead-acid batteries are the best choice. Lead-acid batteries are also easier to recycle than other batteries. Lithium-ion batteries are much more expensive, but have a larger storage capacity for their size and weight. NiMH batteries are somewhere in-between. Unfortunately, the only NiMH batteries you can obtain for practical purposes are of the D, C, AA and AAA variety because Chevron controls the patent for larger NiMH batteries. Some electric car converters have soldered hundreds of D NiMH batteries together to make something that could power an electric car, but that’s a rather daunting task, so most don’t bother. Li-ion batteries are gradually becoming less expensive, but are still much more expensive than NiMH or Lead-acid.
I just published an article on this very topic.
A Life Cycle Assessment (evaluates the environmental impact of a product from material extraction to disposal) commissioned by Energizer found that the best kind of battery for the environment depends on what product you product you are using. Different product have different battery chemistries that function the best. Visit the website in the citation to select the product you want to put batteries in and it will tell you the best type to use.
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