Nation set to dominate lithium-ion cell market


Between 2020 and 2025, China will dominate the lithium-ion battery supply chain in the world, a new report said.

Japan and South Korea were market leaders for much of the previous decade. But, according to the report from BloombergNEF, a research firm, China has already surpassed them.

China's success came on the back of its huge (72 gigawatt-hours) domestic battery demand, control of 80 percent of refining of the world's raw materials, 77 percent of the world's cell capacity and 60 percent of the world's component manufacturing.

According to BNEF, Japan and South Korea ranked second and third, respectively, this year. While both countries are leaders in battery and component manufacturing, they do not have the same influence in raw material refining and mining as China.

James Frith, BNEF's head of energy storage, said, "China's dominance of the industry is to be expected given its huge investments and the policies the country has implemented over the past decade. Chinese manufacturers have come from nothing to being world-leading in less than 10 years."

Based on refined demand, lithium-ion battery can be divided into power lithium-ion battery, energy storage lithium-ion battery and consumption lithium-ion battery.

With the development of the new energy industry and the rapid growth of the new energy vehicle sector, industry experts estimated that power lithium-ion battery will experience robust growth.

Data from the Power Battery Application Branch of China Industrial Association of Power Sources showed that in 2019, the accumulative installed capacity for China's NEV power lithium-ion battery was 62.2 GWh, up 9.3 percent year-on-year. There were 79 power lithiumion battery manufacturers in the sector, 13 fewer than the level in 2018, demonstrating a more intensified industry reshuffle.

However, Frith said that the next decade will be particularly interesting as Europe and the United States try to create their own battery champions to challenge Asian incumbents who are already building capacity in both places.

As EV demand grows there is an increasing need for cell manufacturing facilities close to automotive production. This has led to a boom in European cell plants, and the rest of the supply chain is also slowly making its way to Europe.

According to BNEF, if the US were to increase its investment in raw materials and promote EV adoption, it could overtake Japan and China to be No 1 in global lithium-ion battery supply chain in 2025.

To enhance competitiveness in the global lithium-ion battery supply chain, Chinese manufacturers are stepping up efforts.

In March, BYD unveiled its sub-brand FinDreams, which is supported by five subsidiaries. FinDreams Battery Co Ltd, one of the five subsidiaries, specializes in power battery manufacturing. The independent system offers the subsidiary with more autonomy to produce power battery.

According to FinDreams Battery, currently, it owns more than 4,000 research personnel and over 3,000 patents. In March, it launched a new blade-shaped lithium-ion phosphate battery. Industry experts said that the product, which features long life, high safety and high mileage, will help redefine industry standards and promote sustainable development of the industry.

The company said that in the future, leading enterprises in the power lithium-ion battery sector are expected to achieve better development in industry competition. To increase its global competitiveness, it will pay close attention to technology advancement and launch more advanced technologies and product solutions.

In terms of production capacity, currently, it owns battery production bases in Chongqing, Shenzhen and Huizhou in Guangdong province and Xining in Qinghai province.

Its yearly battery production capacity reached 60 GWh. The company has the ability to quickly respond to market demand and increase production capacity. With the growth of battery demand in the new energy sector, it will appropriately expand the scale of power battery production capacity in a timely manner, the company said.

Zhang Xiang, an automobile analyst at the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, said that to maintain the competitiveness in the global market, Chinese lithium-ion battery manufacturers must step out of the domestic market and go global.

"In the first half of this year, China's growth rate of NEV sales slowed down, while that in the European market caught up. This is because the Chinese government has cut the NEV purchasing subsidy while the European government has increased the subsidy," he said.

Data from the Brussels-based European Automobile Manufacturers' Association showed that in the first half of this year, the NEV sales in the European market grew 52 percent year-on-year to 403,300 units.

"There are vast business opportunities in the European NEV market. China's production capacity for lithium-ion battery is excessive, and the only way to solve the problem is to go global. Chinese lithiumion battery has the advantage of low cost and high mileage, which offers it the advantage in global competition," Zhang said.

Roadmap plots course of China's auto industry

Roadmap plots course of China's auto industry

Annual production, sales of new energy vehicles to vastly increase by 2035

The annual sales of energy-saving and new energy vehicles is estimated to account for 50 percent of the country's total by 2035, according to an updated technology roadmap launched by the China Society of Automotive Engineers on Tuesday.

The updated technology roadmap, or the Technology Roadmap for Energy Saving and New Energy Vehicles 2.0, reveals that by 2035, the annual production and sales in China's automobile industry will be dramatically improved, and safety, efficiency, convenience, economy and going green will become the main upgrading directions in travel.

At that time, gasoline-powered passenger vehicles will be converted to hybrids, as NEVs will become the mainstream, said Li Jun, director-general of the China Society of Automotive Engineers.

The new technology roadmap also proposes overall goals for China's automobile industry by 2035, which include that the industry will realize electrification transformation; intelligent connected vehicle technologies will be mature and widely applied; a concerted, efficient, safe and controllable automobile industry chain will be formed; an intelligent mobility system comprising travel, energy and urban development will be established; the mechanism of technological innovation will be improved.

According to the upgraded technology roadmap, by 2035, the annual sales of electric vehicles will account for more than 95 percent of all NEVs in China.

From 2030-35, hydrogen and other fuel-cell vehicles will have a wide application, and the number of such vehicles will reach about 1 million.

In 2025, 2030 and 2035, the average fuel consumption of new cars including NEVs will reach 4.6, 3.2 and 2.0 liters per 100 kilometers, respectively. The average fuel consumption of new cars excluding NEVs will reach 5.6, 4.8 and 4.0 liters per 100 km.

High-level autonomous vehicles will enter the market by 2025, and will be widely used on highways by 2030. And by 2035, autonomous vehicles are expected to be able to run with other vehicles on the same road.

In terms of power battery technology, the technology roadmap states that by 2035, China's power battery technology will be in a leading position in the world, and a complete, independent and controllable power battery industry chain will be formed.

It is estimated that by 2035, the number of slow charging piles will total more than 150 million, comprising private and public ones. And the public fast charging poles will reach 1.46 million units, serving more than 150 million vehicles.

At the same time, battery swapping will be widely used in the urban mobility service industry, which includes taxis and online car-hailing.

By 2035, it is expected that the lightweight index of fuel-powered passenger vehicles will be reduced by 25 percent, and that of electric passenger vehicles by 35 percent.

According to Li, by 2035, China's automobile industry will realize an independent and controllable industry chain, complete intelligent industrial transformation and will have an enhanced innovation capability.

Meanwhile, a policy system conducive to low-carbon and intelligent development will be formed for the country's automobile industry, and a comprehensive talent system will be established.

New cobalt-free lithium-ion battery reduces costs without sacrificing performance (2)

New cobalt-free lithium-ion battery reduces costs without sacrificing performance

For decades, researchers have looked for ways to eliminate cobalt from the high-energy batteries that power electronic devices, due to its high cost and the human rights ramifications of its mining. But past attempts haven't lived up to the performance standards of batteries with cobalt.

Researchers from the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin say they've cracked the code to a cobalt-free high-energy lithium-ion battery, eliminating the cobalt and opening the door to reducing the costs of producing batteries while boosting performance in some ways. The team reported a new class of cathodes -- the electrode in a battery where all the cobalt typically resides -- anchored by high nickel content. The cathode in their study is 89% nickel. Manganese and aluminum make up the other key elements.

More nickel in a battery means it can store more energy. That increased energy density can lead to longer battery life for a phone or greater range for an electric vehicle with each charge.

The findings appeared this month in the journal Advanced Materials. The paper was written by Arumugam Manthiram, a professor in the Walker Department of Mechanical Engineering and director of the Texas Materials Institute, Ph.D. student Steven Lee and Ph.D. graduate Wangda Li.

Typically, increased energy density leads to trade-offs, such as a shorter cycle life -- the number of times a battery can be charged and discharged before it loses efficiency and can no longer be fully charged. Eliminating cobalt usually slows down the kinetic response of a battery and leads to lower rate capability -- how quickly the cathode can be charged or discharged. However, the researchers said they've overcome the short cycle life and poor rate capability problems through finding an optimal combination of metals and ensuring an even distribution of their ions.

Most cathodes for lithium-ion batteries use combinations of metal ions, such as nickel-manganese-cobalt (NMC) or nickel-cobalt-aluminum (NCA). Cathodes can make up roughly half of the materials costs for the entire battery, with cobalt being the priciest element. At a price of approximately $28,500 per ton, it is more expensive than nickel, manganese and aluminum combined, and it makes up 10% to 30% of most lithium-ion battery cathodes.

"Cobalt is the least abundant and most expensive component in battery cathodes," Manthiram said. "And we are completely eliminating it."

The key to the researchers' breakthrough can be found at the atomic level. During synthesis, they were able to ensure the ions of the various metals remained evenly distributed across the crystal structure in the cathode. When these ions bunch up, performance degrades, and that problem has plagued previous cobalt-free, high-energy batteries, Manthiram said. By keeping the ions evenly distributed, the researchers were able to avoid performance loss.

"Our goal is to use only abundant and affordable metals to replace cobalt while maintaining the performance and safety," Li said, "and to leverage industrial synthesis processes that are immediately scalable."

Manthiram, Li and former postdoctoral researcher Evan Erickson worked with UT's Office of Technology Commercialization to form a startup called TexPower to bring the technology to market. The researchers have received grants from the U.S. Department of Energy, which has sought to decrease dependency on imports for key battery materials.

Industry has jumped on the cobalt-free push -- most notably an effort from Tesla to eliminate the material from the batteries that power its electric vehicles. With large government organizations and private companies focused on reducing dependence on cobalt, it's no surprise that this pursuit has become competitive. The researchers said they have avoided problems that hindered other attempts at cobalt-free, high-energy batteries with innovations on the right combination of materials and the precise control of their distribution.

"We are increasing the energy density and lowering the cost without sacrificing cycle life," Manthiram said. "This means longer driving distances for electric vehicles and better battery life for laptops and cellphones."


Source:University of Texas at Austin

Summary:Researchers say they've cracked the code to a cobalt-free high-energy lithium-ion battery, eliminating the cobalt and opening the door to reducing the costs of producing batteries while boosting performance in some ways.

New anode material could lead to safer fast-charging batteries

  Scientists at UC San Diego have discovered a new anode material that enables lithium-ion batteries to be safely recharged within minutes for thousands of cycles. Known as a disordered rocksalt, the new anode is made up of earth-abundant lithium, vanadium and oxygen atoms arranged in a similar way as ordinary kitchen table salt, but randomly. It is promising for commercial applications where both high energy density and high power are desired, such as electric cars, vacuum cleaners or drills.

Read more ...

Top 3 Standards for Lithium Battery Safety Testing

Lithium batteries are among the most commonly used energy storage units in today’s electronic devices. While they present distinct performance advantages in comparison to other battery chemistries, lithium batteries also present distinct safety concerns that must be addressed to ensure safety for end-product users.

For small lithium batteries, there are three standards that our Battery Lab tests to most often:

  • UN/DOT 38.3 5th Edition, Amendment 1 – Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods
  • IEC 62133-2:2017 – Safety requirements for portable sealed secondary lithium cells, and for batteries made from them, for use in portable applications – Part 2: Lithium systems
  • UL 2054 2nd Edition – Household and Commercial Batteries

Following is a quick overview of each one.

UN/DOT 38.3
Want to ship a lithium battery almost anywhere in the world by air, vessel, rail, or truck?  Unless you want to be extremely restricted in your options for transporting your batteries (ground transport as Class 9 Hazardous Goods), you will need to certify that your batteries have passed UN/DOT 38.3.

Found in many countries’ shipment of dangerous goods regulations, this standard is relevant for the transportation safety of all lithium metal and lithium ion cells and batteries

UN/DOT 38.3 is a self-certify standard but because of potential liability issues, most companies choose to use a third party test lab like MET Labs.

UN 38.3 presents a combination of significant environmental, mechanical, and electrical stresses, in sequence (T1-T5):

  • T1 – Altitude Simulation (Primary and Secondary Cells and Batteries)
  • T2 – Thermal Test (Primary and Secondary Cells and Batteries)
  • T3 – Vibration (Primary and Secondary Cells and Batteries)
  • T4 – Shock (Primary and Secondary Cells and Batteries)
  • T5 – External Short Circuit (Primary and Secondary Cells and Batteries)
  • T6 – Impact (Primary and Secondary Cells)
  • T7 – Overcharge (Secondary Batteries)
  • T8 – Forced Discharge (Primary and Secondary Cells)

Some tests are easier to pass than others.  The altitude test is the easiest. The vibration test, on the other hand, is intense and long-running: 3 hours in each of the three cardinal planes.  And the T1-T5 sequence typically has a negative cumulative effect.

IEC 62133
Mandated by many IEC end-device standards, IEC 62133 is the de facto standard for international compliance.  UN 38.3 transportation testing (see previous section) is an integral requirement, but does not need to be repeated.

The standard includes four tests:

  • 2.2 Molded Case Stress
  • 3.2 External Short Circuit
  • 3.3 Free Fall
  • 3.6 Overcharging of Battery

Compared to the requirements of UN 38.3, these tests are relatively easy to pass.

UL 2054
Compliance with the requirements of UL 2054 is mandated by a number of U.S. end device standards. It is a challenging standard involving roughly double the number of tests found in the UN or IEC requirements:

  • 7 electrical tests
  • 4 mechanical tests
  • 4 battery enclosure tests
  • 1 fire exposure test
  • 2 environmental tests

With the inclusion of single faults and worst-case operation, the electrical tests are the most challenging.  The abusive overcharge test is the most difficult given the overvoltage conditions applied to the faulted pack.  Abnormal charge, forced discharge, and two short circuit tests also involve significant risk of failure.

For lithium batteries, UL 2054 defers all component cell level testing to UL 1642.  Warning: Not all labs will accept another NRTL’s test results. For example, when testing a battery to UL 2054, MET Labs will accept another NRTL’s cell level UL 1642 test data and apply it to the UL 2054 testing. This saves the client time and money. We recommend avoiding NRTLs that don’t follow this client-friendly practice.

The future of UL 2054 is cloudy. UL has released the first edition of UL 62133, which is fully harmonized with IEC 62133, 2nd Edition. UL 2054 and UL 62133 essentially compete for the same test space although their requirements are quite different. The timing of UL 62133 adoption is still unfolding, but it is expected to have an impact on the future role of UL 2054 as an important U.S. compliance standard.

In addition to these three standards, MET is increasingly seeing a demand for testing to IEEE 1625 and 1725 for CTIA battery certification.  MET is a CTIA Authorized Test Lab that offers full scope CTIA-accredited battery testing and certification services for these standards.

Not sure what standard applies to your batteries?  Contact us for quick and easy answers.


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