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Lithium Batteries: Markets and Materials

NEW YORK, Oct. 17, 2013 — /PRNewswire/ — announces that a new market research report is available in its catalogue:

Lithium Batteries: Markets and Materials


Originally, the term “battery” referred to a number of individual electrochemical cells; therefore, a single cell, like the familiar cylindrical flashlight power source, was not considered a battery at all. Now a battery refers to any electrochemical storage mechanism.

A battery has five components: two active elements (a cathode and an anode), a separator, an electrolyte medium for carrying ions between the reactants through the separator, and a container. One reactant or electrode has a net negative charge and is called the anode. In lithium batteries, the anode material is lithium, or in a few cases, a lithium-aluminum alloy. In some cases, the anode is metallic lithium; in other instances, including lithium-ion cells, the anode consists of an ionic lithium compound. The other reactant electrode, with a positive charge, is called the cathode. The cathode usually is a metallic compound. The electrolyte is usually similar to the cathode to promote ion transfer. Finally, the battery is contained in a case that provides dimensional stability and a positive and negative electrode or battery cap for discharging (or recharging) the cell. A number of separate electrochemical cells are combined within the same case to create a battery.

Until about 25 years ago, the battery market was seen as mature, with demand closely related to sales of either automobiles or various consumer products. Since then, improved lithium batteries have helped spark a dramatic change in this relationship. Just as lithium batteries replaced nickel-based and primary batteries for many applications, traditional lithium-ion battery designs are beginning to be replaced by advanced lithium-ion chemistries like lithium phosphate, lithium-iron phosphate, lithium-sulfur, and lithium-polymer systems.

Lithium batteries were developed in the 1960s and were first commercialized in the early 1970s, but did not receive wide consumer use until 1981. There are now six commercial and developmental lithium battery types, nearly 30 commercialized electrode couples, and more than 1,000 specific designs. The latest generation of lithium batteries includes very large cells suitable for powering vehicles or storing significant amounts of utility power as well as very small thin-film cells capable of powering micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS).

In fact, improved lithium batteries have allowed the commercialization of entire new classes of portable products, including laptop computers, cellular phones, and tablet computers. Lithium batteries have now been used in commercial plug-in electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) and are slowly gaining acceptance.

During the 1990s, lithium batteries posted double-digit growth. Between 2000 and 2005, there was a period of steady sales or incremental growth (as opposed to the double-digit growth of the 1990s). Lithium battery sales then picked up through the 2008 financial crash. As prices fell, this was especially true for unit sales. In mid-2008, sales and market value plummeted due to the global recession. The market slowly improved in late 2012 and early 1013 and further growth depends on the overall economy as well as the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) and lithium battery PHEV market.

Lithium batteries are linked to serious failure modes, including incidents where they set portable computers on fire, where EV batteries caused vehicles to burn, and where the Dreamliner civil aircraft fleet was grounded due to overheating.

New designs and better quality-controlled improved external control systems reduce these risks but give pause to some designers and open the door to competing energy-storage systems.With this background in mind, this study summarizes the global primary and secondary lithium battery markets. This provides the basis for a detailed analysis of global lithium battery material technology and markets.


The lithium battery industry has largely stabilized from the “exciting” period of 2008 through 2011. During that pivotal period, the U.S. kicked off several unprecedented (and expensive) lithium battery and electric vehicle subsidies, the number of well-funded lithium battery companies skyrocketed, several new giant lithium battery-using consumer products were introduced—and then the global recession threatened to wash away all these gains.• First, several of lithium batteries’ largest and highest growth markets entered a period of retraction. Even as “must-have” portable products, like smart phones (initially iPhones but then equally popular competitors) and then the whole tablet approach to portable computing and entertainment grew in popularity, battery-powered laptop and cell phone sales fell.• Meanwhile the newly elected administration of President Barack Obama announced plans to fund billions of dollars in U.S. lithium battery development. The administration canceled billions of dollars’ worth of funding for Bush-era fuel-cell-and hydrogen-power-vehicle development funding. The Obama administration also implemented new Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) fuel-efficiency standards that will provide a significant incentive for wider HEV and EV use. By 2012 the results were coming in and they were not universally encouraging. Several high profile, well-funded lithium battery makers, lithium battery material producers, and electric vehicle makers were bankrupt or even ceased operation. Some of these subsidized companies were sold to non-U.S. firms. Two leading would-be plug-in sources (GM and Chrysler) filed for bankruptcy. At the same time, gasoline prices peaked and fell from a high of more than $4 per gallon to less than $2 per gallon, then stabilized between $2 and $3 a gallon.• Due to global recessionary forces and some safety issues, hybrid vehicle sales faltered, then stabilized, and then resumed robust growth – not with lithium batteries in most cases. In fact, there are major concerns about the future of developmental plug-in EVs.• In 2008 and 2009, there were significant concerns about whether there were enough lithium reserves to meet lithium battery demand. By 2012 and 2013, this has turned out to be a non-issue. This is partially due to lower than predicted demand and partially because of a number of “emerging” producers that are beginning to develop lithium reserves in China, Canada, Australia, and elsewhere (from Wyoming to Ireland). Meanwhile, the Bolivian government is negotiating with several companies from several nations with the aim of developing the vast Bolivian lithium salt deposits.• Even though U.S. and European lithium battery manufacturing is underway, most lithium batteries are still currently manufactured in Japan, South Korea, or China. Lithium battery material companies include South American, U.S., and Canadian companies. Most lithium salts currently come from Chile, but Bolivia has vast reserves that could soon be developed. Lithium battery research and development (R&D) takes place worldwide, but especially in the Far East, the U.S., Europe (especially France), and Canada. At the same time, there are more and more multinational lithium battery partnerships, including partnerships between U.S. and European or Far Eastern companies.

None of these developments were considered likely in 2008 and 2009. Previous forecasts and analyses either did not consider them or treated them as relatively unlikely pessimistic or optimistic scenarios. This BCC Research study is based on a new consensus: Is the period of uncertainty over and will the lithium battery markets continue to stabilize? Answering those questions is the reason for doing this study.


This report begins with a discussion of primary and secondary lithium battery technologies and markets.

The following lithium battery markets are analyzed:• Portable products- Computing, communications, and multifunctional- Tools- Others• Medical products- Implantable- Not implantable• Stationary applications- Computer memory preservation- Uninterruptible power supplies- Load leveling and alternative energy storage• Military/Aerospace- Primary- Secondary- Developmental• Automotive and motive power- Industrial electric vehicles (traction)- Plug-ins and hybrid vehicle motive power (EVs and HEVs)- Automotive securityThe report then concentrates on lithium battery materials:• Electrode materials and active elements- Aluminum – Cobalt compounds- Conductive polymers- Copper compounds- Electrolytic manganese dioxide- Halogens- Fullerenes- Inorganic carbon – Lithium metal and compounds- Nickel metal and compounds- Rare earth compounds- Sulfur compounds- Vanadium compounds• Lithium battery electrolytes• Battery separators

These market sectors are defined, leading global companies are identified, and the markets analyzed (including a 5-year market projection).

Lithium battery companies are identified and profiled. Each profile includes points of contact and a discussion of structure, description, and activity.


Throughout the report, past market data are expressed in current U.S. dollars, and estimates and projections are in constant 2013 U.S. dollars. Historic markets (2008), current (projected 2013), and the projected market for 2018 are provided. Most market summaries are based on a consensus scenario for wholesale (producer) prices that assumes no unanticipated technical advances and no unexpected legislation. When appropriate, pessimistic, consensus, and optimistic market scenarios characterize several developmental markets. Totals are rounded to the nearest million dollars. When appropriate, information from previously published sources is identified to allow a more detailed examination by clients.INTENDED AUDIENCE

This report provides a unique analysis of the global lithium battery and associated materials market, and will be of interest to manufacturers and users of these batteries. This report will be especially useful to material miners, compounders, and fabricators. It also will be valuable to those involved in battery development and marketing, as well as those offering competing power sources. BCC Research wishes to thank those companies, government agencies, and university researchers that contributed information for this report.INFORMATION SOURCES

This report’s author prepared these studies as well. Although many segments of the industry are well documented, much of this information is based on informed estimates or predictions, not hard facts. The distinction between these estimates and hard facts can be vital, and wherever possible, sources are identified.ANALYST CREDENTIALS

This report’s project analyst, Donald Saxman, was a long-time editor of BCC Research’s monthly Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Progress and Battery & EV Technology News. He has founded several other BCC newsletters and has more than 25 years of experience in market analysis, technical writing, and newsletter editing. Since 1983, he has operated as a technical market consultant and subcontractor to BCC Research, and in this capacity, he has prepared more than 70 focused market analyses. His previous experience includes supervision of a quality-control laboratory at a major secondary lead refinery, experience as an analytical chemist at a hazardous waste testing service, product assurance manager for a space station life support system project, and an information technology business analyst and project manager. Mr. Saxman has an extensive network of unique and valuable contacts throughout the energy and chemistry industries. He is directly responsible for the creation of tens of millions of dollars worth of successful proposals, including Fortune 500, federal government, and state government proposals involving energy, aerospace, and financial industries.REPORT HIGHLIGHTS

This report provides:

• An overview of the market for lithium batteries and materials.

• Analyses of market trends, with data from 2012, estimates for 2013, and projection of compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for the period 2013 to 2018.

• Details about the six commercial and developmental lithium battery types, nearly 30 commercialized electrode couples, and more than 1,000 specific designs.

• Coverage of the global primary and secondary markets that provides the basis for a detailed analysis of lithium battery materials technology.

• Identification of the following sectors: Portable products, medical products, implantable, not implantable, stationary applications, military/aerospace, and automotive and motive power; and in materials, electrode materials and active elements, lithium battery electrolytes, and battery separators.


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