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[Battery Japan 2019] New Highlights for Battery Materials and Niche Applications

published: 2019-05-07 15:58

According to EnergyTrend’s survey at Battery Japan in 2019, battery material prices have gradually slowed down over the last half year. Besides, due to the rise of Chinese material suppliers, the price gap between lithium-ion batteries and lead-acid batteries has become smaller, and recently there have been more demands on the lithium-ion battery market. In addition, solid state battery was also the focus of the exhibition. It is expected that small battery will be the mainstream in the next three years.

Material Development

In order to meet the target of battery system price below USD 200/kWh, Si-C composite anode material and Ni-rich cathode material have been adopted since 2019 to drive down prices. In the future, Li metal and Li-S batteries will be introduced. Thus, the focus of lithium-ion batteries in recent years has been on the introduction of cathode and anode materials, and other materials have also increased performance (figure I).

Foiltec is mainly engaged in aluminium electrolytic capacitor industry and has recently approached the production of aluminium foil. Rather than laserdrill, Foiltec produces hole through chemical corrosion, and the special design can allow cell’s thermal conductivity and compacted density to get better performance. This new type of aluminium foil is mostly used in application for power battery. The thickness is about 20-40μm, and the tensile strength is about 2.5kg/cm. Huayi demonstrated LMFP from Dow Chemical Company, which can improve the safety of by blended NCM material. Currently, pilot production (1000 tons/year) can be achieved, and NCM material also has the same scale.

King Plastic mainly provides aluminum plastic film. The current production capacity is about 1.2 million square meters/month. It approaches both consumer electronics (thickness: 70-110μm) and application for power (thickness: 150-200μm). In the future, surface cooling technology will be introduced in order to improve the safety of polymer cell. The intensity of segregation for the material will also increase to 0.45 N/15mm to meet the demanding requirements of the vehicle application.

Formosa Plastics Group showcased 48V, 84Ah battery modules, which form 52kWh energy storage system. Besides, Nanya Technology Corporation’s electrolyte product was demonstrated. Currently, it focuses on Taiwanese and Chinese markets. Copper foil is the new product of Nanya Technology Corporation. The production capacity in 1H19 is about 75 tons. In response to the growth of market demand, it is expected that it will continue to expand to more than 200 tons in 2H19. Formosa Plastics Group’s energy density of lithium iron phosphate will gradually increase from 135mAh/g to 156mAh/g in order to maintain the price competitiveness of cell.

Solid State Battery

In terms of solid state battery (figure II), Hitz also presented its own solid state battery application development goals at the exhibition. In 2019, coin cell (140mAh) development is expected to be the mainstream. Charge and discharge speeds are suitable for low c-rate (charge/discharge speed: 0.1C/1C). The application area will initially focus on aerospace, medical and IOT-related niche market. It isn’t until 2023 that the mass production of automotive solid-state batteries will be conducted and widely used in vehicles with high cruise duration. By then, the market segment for these vehicles will be separated from that of the general lithium-ion battery vehicles.

FDK presented thin type battery and solid state battery at this exhibition. For thin type battery, currently its main application is credit card. Primary battery is the mainstream. Fast charging function (2C) is provided, and in the future, wireless charging will be combined with. For solid state battery, it is still dominated by miniature dimensions (4X2X2mm, 140μAh). The product is characterized by the fact that it doesn’t require BMS and can be used in parallel, but the mass production plan isn’t clear yet.

Other Niche Applications

Maxell also published a series of battery systems in drone. For small drone, there will be a 6 serial 23.1V system, which will focus on drone and spraying pesticides (5L). For large drone, there will be a 12 serial 44.4V system, which will focus on topographic survey accompanying by laser system, handling transportation and spraying pesticides (10L). It is worth mentioning that PowerOak has successfully approached the Japanese market. With its emphasis on quality, it has gradually found new blue ocean in markets such as energy storage and camping backup power supplies in Japan. PowerOak is one of the few special cases in which the current Chinese assembly plant has successfully established itself in the Japanese market.

(Author: EnergyTrend Senior Research Manager Duff Lu)

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