Life cycle assessment (LCA) is increasingly recognized as the proper framework for understanding the environmental impacts of nanotechnologies. In practice, applying LCA to nanotechnology is problematic. The performance, emissions, and inventory data collected at the laboratory scale may not be representative of the commercial scale. Despite the high uncertainty, LCA may guide nascent technologies towards being environmentally beneficial through early identification of leverage points. This research applies novel LCA methods based on laboratory-scale manufacturing data and battery performance modeling to quantify the energy tradeoffs associated with nano-enabled lithium ion batteries. At present, the large energy demands of nanomanufacturing processes make commercial scale application of nano-enabled batteries impracticable. This case study reveals both the challenge and value of applying prospective LCA to nanomaterials.