Analysis of innovative rechargeable battery technologies 2019

Rechargeable batteries, largely encompassing secondary electrochemical cells, have a profound role in multiple industries and hold the potential to become a disrupting element for future infrastructures. The market of rechargeable batteries is rapidly expanding, fueled by the growing utilization of secondary cells in portable electronic devices, electric mobility solutions, grid energy storage and also a growing use within the general industry. This survey brings you the 2019 comparative progress map of innovative rechargeable battery technologies, aiming to take on conventional Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries, as well as the updated development and commercialization status of each technology.

The landscape of rechargeable battery technologies has changed a lot over more than a century long era of batteries. However, the mainstream rechargeable battery technology has remained the same - the conventional lead-acid battery. Only towards the end of the 20th century another technology with superior specific energy capacity and longer lifetime allowed the emergence of mobile devices: this was Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) in late 1980s. Shortly after that, the Lithium-ion (Li-ion) technology became commercialized, entering the market in 1991. During the 1990s, both NiMH and Li-ion manufacturing had been aggressively expanded. However,  by the early 2000s, the Li-ion technology emerged as the winner of this competition.

Interestingly, the lead-acid battery is still the most dominant technology in the field, ruling over the automotive sector via a low cost lead-acid accumulator installed in most internal combustion cars and being the most widespread solution for off-grid energy storage in remote areas. Standard lead-acid batteries are utilized in the automotive sector, while deep cycle lead-acid batteries for storage applications are divided into flooded (FLA) and valve-regulated (VRLA) batteries, which consist of Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) and Gel (GEL) types.

The Li-ion technology is an undisputed leader of the mobile device world, increasingly penetrating the automotive sector as the key component of plug-in electric vehicles, and begins its first steps in the new segment of distributed grid energy storage. Li-ion technology is expected to surpass lead-acid in terms of manufactured capacity during the 2020s and become the most dominant battery type. Though there are several variants of the Li-ion technology on the market, the most common one is based on Lithium Cobalt Oxide (LCO) cathode electrodes with Lithium salts as electrolyte and carbon as an anode, which altogether require a considerable amount of Lithium metal per cell. Other Li-ion technologies such as Lithium Manganese Oxide (LMO), Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP), Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt (Li-NMC or simply NMC), Lithium Nickel Cobalt Aluminum Oxide (Li-NCA or simply NCA), Lithium Titanate (LTO) and recently Lithium Sulfur (Li-S) are not principally different in this sense, with some variance of Lithium-containing cathodes and electrolytes coupled with a number of anode types achieving slightly differing power and specific density figures. As such, the growth of the Li-ion industry would require a parallel expansion of mining and processing enterprises – mainly targeted on producing high-grade Lithium carbonate and to a lesser degree on Lithium chlorate and Lithium hydroxide.

NiMH technology is now the third most utilized rechargeable battery solution, used by several electric vehicle manufacturers and still embedded in numerous mobile devices. Several other rechargeable (secondary) battery technologies are commercialized, but are not considered competitive for mainstream applications. Those niche technologies include the outdated Nickel-Cadmium (NiCd) and rarely utilized Sodium-based molten salt, Silver-Zinc (AgZn), Potassium-ion (K-ion) and Sodium-ion (Na-ion) battery technologies.

Despite the seeming dominance of lead-acid, Li-ion and NiMH technologies, there are quite several developments ongoing in the front line of battery commercialization. First of all, the technologies are getting way better: lead-acid modifications are commercialized towards better battery versions for the low-tier battery products, while Li-ion technologies are pushing the upper boundaries of specific capacity and gaining a lower cost. In addition, novel Lithium-based and other alternative technologies are promising to significantly surpass conventional Li-ion characteristics by modifying electrodes and/or electrolyte - among those Lithium-Sulfur (LiS), solid state Lithium and others. This survey brings you the 2019 comparative progress map of innovative rechargeable battery technologies, aiming compete with conventional Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries, as well as the updated development and commercialization status of each technology.

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