Alternate battery technology vendor ecosystem growing rapidly
Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables expects other flavours of NMC chemistry, including 532 (5 parts nickel, 3 parts manganese, and 2 parts cobalt) and 622 (6 parts nickel, 2 parts manganese, and 2 parts cobalt) to start gaining market share by 2019.
This is despite NMC 111 (consisting of equal parts of nickel, manganese and cobalt) being the dominant lithium-ion battery chemistry in the electric vehicle (EV) market today, according to report 'The Future of Lithium-Ion Batteries: Demand, Technologies and Investments'.
Some battery vendors are already reported to be using 532 in their EV battery packs. NMC 811 (8 parts nickel, 1 part manganese, and 1 part cobalt) utilises 75% less cobalt than does NMC 111. It will start to pick up market share and eventually will make up the majority of the EV market by 2025. Not only does this battery chemistry ease the supply constraints and ethical concerns arising from high cobalt use, it also provides far superior energy density over the traditional NMC 111 chemistry and thereby reduces overall materials costs.
Another promising technology is the solid-state battery, which offers a much higher energy density and helps to overcome some of the other issues with current liquid-electrolyte-based lithium-ion batteries, such as flammability and cycle life.
The first half of 2018 has already seen approximately $400 million investments in solid-state battery companies and other automotive giants like Toyota (in 2017) and Mercedes Benz (in July 2018) are making strides through their ongoing work on solid-state batteries. As this technology matures, Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables expects solid-state devices to achieve commercial viability post-2025 and make up the majority of the EV battery technology mix by 2030.
Next-generation anodes, which replace graphite with silicon or lithium, are also currently under development. The use of silicon in anodes helps improve battery capacity by at least 20%.
Vendors such as Sila Nanotechnologies have partnered with BMW to launch silicon-anode-based EV batteries by 2023. Lithium anodes have extremely high energy densities, around 400 Wh/kg, but the problem of dendrite growth has held back their adoption. Solid-state architectures may help overcome this challenge in the future.
Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables Director Energy Storage, Ravi Manghani, said: "As more electric vehicles enter the market, technology vendors must achieve a delicate balance. On the one hand, automotive OEMs want cheaper and lighter batteries and on the other hand, there are inherent limitations on lithium, cobalt and nickel supplies. This creates an interesting opportunity for new technology start-ups that are working on advanced solutions, ranging from new anodes and cathodes to recycling or repurposing batteries. In the coming years, these alternatives will increasingly play a bigger role."