Solid-state and polymer batteries 2019 to 2029: Technology, patents, forecasts 

May 31st, 2019, Published in Articles: Energize

A typical commercial battery cell usually consists of cathode, anode, separator and electrolyte. One of the most successful commercial batteries is the lithium-ion technology, which has been commercialised since 1991. However, their worldwide success and diffusion in consumer electronics and, more recently, electric vehicles (EV) cannot hide their limitations in terms of safety, performance, form factor, and cost due to the underlying technology.  

A new report on batteries for automotive and industrial applications, including energy storage, has been produced by IDTechEx. This is an introduction to the report. Read more at: 

Most current lithium-ion (Li-ion) technologies employ liquid electrolyte, with lithium salts such as LiPF6, LiBF4 or LiClO4 in an organic solvent. However, the solid electrolyte interface (SEI), which is caused as a result of the de-composition of the electrolyte at the negative electrode, limits the effective conductance. Furthermore, liquid electrolyte needs expensive membranes to separate the cathode and anode, as well as an impermeable casing to avoid leakage. Therefore, the size and design freedom for these batteries are constrained. Furthermore, liquid electrolytes have safety and health issues as they use flammable and corrosive liquids. Samsung’s Firegate has particularly highlighted the risks that even large companies incur when flammable liquid electrolytes are used.  

Solid-state electrolytes have the potential to address all of those aspects, particularly in the electric vehicle, wearable, and drone markets. Their first application was in the 1970s as primary batteries for pacemakers, where a sheet of Li metal is placed in contact with solid iodine. The two materials behave like a short-circuited cell and their reaction leads to the formation of a lithium iodide (LiI) layer at their interface. After the LiI layer has formed, a very small, constant current can still flow from the lithium anode to the iodine cathode for several years.  

In 2011, researchers from Toyota and the Tokyo Institute of Technology claimed the discovery of a sulphide-base material that has the same ionic conductivity of a liquid electrolyte, something unthinkable up to a decade ago. Five years later, they were able to double that value, thus making solid-state electrolytes appealing also for high power applications and fast charging. This and other innovations have fuelled research and investments into new categories of materials that can triple current Li-ion energy densities. In solid-state batteries, both the electrodes and the electrolytes are solid state.  

Solid-state electrolyte normally behaves as the separator as well, allowing down-scaling due to the elimination of certain components (e.g. separator and casing). Therefore, they can potentially be made thinner, flexible, and contain more energy per unit weight than conventional Li-ion. In addition, the removal of liquid electrolytes can be an avenue for safer, long-lasting batteries as they are more resistant to changes in temperature and physical damages occurred during usage. Solid state batteries can handle more charge/discharge cycles before degradation, promising a longer life time. With a battery market currently dominated by Asian companies, European and US firms are striving to win this arms race that might, in their view, shift added value away from Japan, China, and South Korea.  

Different material selection and change of manufacturing procedures show an indication of reshuffle of the battery supply chain. From both technology and business point of view, development of solid-state battery has formed part of the next generation battery strategy. It has become a global game with regional interests and governmental supports.  

This report covers the solid-state electrolyte industry by giving a 10-year forecast till 2029 in terms of numbers of devices sold, capacity production and market size, predicted to reach over US$25-billion. A special focus is made on winning chemistries, with a full analysis of the eight inorganic solid electrolytes and of organic polymer electrolytes. This is complemented with a unique IP landscape analysis that identifies what chemistry the main companies are working on, and how research and development in that space has evolved during the last five years. 

Additionally, the report covers the manufacturing challenges related to solid electrolytes and how large companies (Toyota, Toshiba, etc.) try to address those limitations, as well as research progress and activities of important players. A study of lithium metal as a strategic resource is also presented, highlighting the strategic distribution of this material around the world and the role it will play in solid-state batteries. Some chemistries will be quite lithium-hungry and put a strain on mining companies worldwide. Finally, over 20 different companies are compared and ranked in terms of their technology and manufacturing readiness, with a watch list and a score comparison. 

Read more at: 

Contact Annick Garrington, IDTechEx, 





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