Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Next-gen batteries eye slice of $10 billion Li-ion market

USA: Mobile energy storage is critical for everything from the phones and computers we carry, to the soldiers and weapons that protect us – and even to the cars we drive.

While lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries have established themselves as the leading technology today, exotic ideas such as lithium-air, lithium-sulfur, solid-state and zinc-air batteries offer up to 10 times better energy density. However, most are at early stages of development and none will attain parity with the Li-ion before 2024.

“The next generation of batteries remains mostly in research labs, undergoing fundamental development, and technologies led by Li-air, Li-S, and solid-state are still not yet ready for prime time,” said Cosmin Laslau, Lux research analyst and the lead author of the report titled, “Beyond Lithium-Ion: A Roadmap for Next-Generation Batteries.”

“However, customers will ultimately require the top-shelf performance that only technologies beyond Li-ion can provide – and leading companies like BASF, Toyota, and IBM are placing large and early bets,” added Laslau.

Lux Research analysts assessed the next-generation batteries, dispelling hype and identifying obstacles, and built a next-generation energy storage roadmap. Among their findings:

A roadmap for adoption. Cost-insensitive military applications will provide the entry point for next-generation batteries around 2020, while consumer electronics will follow a little later with significant adoption of solid-state batteries. However, next-generation batteries will face cost and technology hurdles in transportation.

Cost parity in a decade. Next-generation batteries will become cost-competitive with Li-ion in 2024. Solid-state batteries will take until 2021 to reach $409/kWh, the current cost for Li-ion batteries. By 2030, most battery cells will drop in nominal cost to below $200/kWh on the cell level.

Three early leaders emerging. Start-ups PolyPlus, Sion Power, and Oxis Energy have received ample funding and made 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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