According to Lux Research, the lithium-ion battery market has reached over $10 billion, due to the fact that they dominate the battery industries of portable devices such as electric vehicles, laptop computers, tablet PCs, cellphones, and almost everything else except cordless phones and car starter batteries.
Lux Research says, however, that the next generation of batteries, including solid-state, lithium-air, lithium-sulfur, and zinc-air could become mainstream and possibly undercut the cost of conventional lithium-ion batteries after 2024. Their potential, due to up to 10 times better energy density, Nonetheless, lithium-ion battery manufacturers still have plenty of time to profit.
These other battery technologies are at an early stage of development, but they are impressive in some ways, which is why Toyota, the most successful hybrid car manufacturer, is betting on at least one of them working out, and IBM and BASF also have their money on some of these alternative technologies.
As is clear from this report, the funding provided for lithium-ion research and development is not just important to electric vehicles, but also to almost all portable electronics. Even the military relies on some of these electronics to communicate and call for rescue.
While these new battery technologies are in the early stages of their development and are hence too cost-prohibitive, they are expected to make their debut in “cost-insensitive” military applications.
As mentioned above, the next-generation battery technologies mentioned above are expected to attain the same price as today’s lithium-ion batteries in 2024. “By 2030, most battery cells will drop in nominal cost to below $200/kWh on the cell level,” Lux writes.
But how much lithium-ion batteries will come down in price is still uncertain. Lithium-ion batteries cost up to $1,000/kWh a handful of years ago! And Lux Research’s $409/kWh figure for today may actually be out of date already. We have heard rates much lower than that floating around in recent months.
Startups PolyPlus, Sion Power, and Oxis Energy are three leaders emerging in the battery industry, which, according to Lux Research, have made significant technical headway. “PolyPlus, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, has developed a coating for protected lithium electrodes in Li-air and Li-S. Sion Power, backed by BASF, and Oxis Energy, financed by Sasol New Energy, own proprietary organic and polymer electrolytes for Li-S.”
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