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Automotive, new energy sectors drive Li-ion battery & pack R&D

Lithium-ion battery
Minmax’s LIC18650-2200 7S1P model incorporates a battery management system and a protection circuit module.
Suppliers are developing more models for electric bikes and vehicles, solar power systems and smart grids.

An expanding application market is sustaining R&D and production of Li-ion batteries and packs in China. Makers are working on more power variants for electric bikes and vehicles, solar power systems and smart grids, and aiming to replace NiMH and NiCd counterparts in power tools. They are also strengthening the line’s traditionally strong mobile electronics base amid competition with Li-polymer units.

Suppliers are focusing development efforts on positive electrode materials, which include LiCoO₂, ternary compounds mainly LiCoxNiyMnzO₂, and LiMn₂O₄ and LiFePO₄. The first two account for 43 and 38 percent of output, respectively. LiMn₂O₄ and LiFePO₄ have 11 and 8 percent shares.

In coming years, enterprises will emphasize the use of LiMn₂O₄ and LiFePO₄ for power storage, and ternary inputs for consumer electronic products. HNZ Power Solution Co. utilizes LiCoO₂ and ternary materials in more than 95 percent of its yield. Shenzhen Headway Technology Co. Ltd plans to release more LiFePO₄ kinds.

By 2015, China’s production capacity for power Li-ion batteries is forecast to hit 3.9 billion Ah, driven by a boom in demand. In anticipation, HNZ will boost R&D on the type with 8 to 20Ah capacity mainly for electric bikes. Shenzhen Headway, meanwhile, has introduced models for electric bikes and EVs.

Globally, the output share of power kinds will climb to 50 percent during the same period from its current level at less than 20 percent. This is based on the projected annual growth rate surpassing 20 percent.

Adoption in electric bikes will surge to about 30 percent from 3 percent in 2011. The automotive sector, including EVs and hybrid units or HEVs, is seen to replace mobile phones and notebook PCs as the major demand catalyst. It is expected to push the Li-ion battery market for this application to $9.6 billion by 2015, according to TechNavio.


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