Lithium Ion Batteries: Past and Present Scenario
Initially the automotive market has taken environmental regulation as a big threat to the business rather than considering it as an opportunity for greater good. But now every car maker is focusing on low carbon vehicles initiative by adopting electric vehicles. The growth of electric vehicle is supported by battery and charging technologies.
The portable electronics has given us enough evidence for batteries, it related challenges and opportunities. The most important parameters before selecting any battery technologies are energy capacity, charge and discharge rate, cycle life and thermal runaway. Thermal runaway is the most important phenomenon because it represents the battery and vehicle safety. Various manufacturers are giving utmost importance to the thermal runaway. Furthermore, it is also important to consider right lithium chemistry such as lithium iron phosphate, lithium cobalt oxide and others for different electric vehicles. We have considered different electric vehicles and their requirement for battery technology. In future, electric vehicle market is expected to witness lot of improvement in lithium-ion batteries and its chemistries such as lithium iron phosphate, lithium cobalt oxide and others.
HEV: In an HEV, the battery is frequently recharged while driving and only a small amount of energy is stored to boost the vehicle’s acceleration. Batteries employed in HEVs have an approximately 300,000-cycle lifetime. Thus, with respect to its cycle lifetime and operational responsibilities, HEVs require high P/E ratio, that is, in the range of 15 to 20.
PHEV: In PHEVs, large capacity batteries are employed. Batteries are employed to power electric motors and cover short distances. Once the stored energy from the battery is depleted, the battery adopts the functionality of an HEV vehicle battery. Thus, the batteries deployed in PHEVs need both energy as well as power density. This further results in medium P/E ratio i.e. in the range of 3 to 15.
BEV: A BEV is equipped with an electric motor. To cover longer distances, batteries with higher energy capacity and lower power density are required. Thus, BEVs require batteries with low P/E ratio and deep cycle durability.
Due to the growing electric vehicle market, the demand for lithium has surged significantly. The required level of lithium production is way too low as compared to the demand for batteries. This has further increased the lithium prices dramatically. The prices are expected to reduce in 2019 with increase in Lithium production.
The increasing demand for Lithium Ion such as lithium iron phosphate, lithium cobalt oxide and others can be witnessed from across the OEMs due to high energy density and increased power per mass battery unit, allowing the development of batteries with reduced weight and dimensions at competitive prices. Moreover, with the increasing demand and economies of scale key players such as Tesla are building manufacturing units which can produce 105 GWh of lithium.
The major players in the electric vehicles market such as Panasonic, LG Chem, Samsung SDI, Lishen, CATL, and Tesla are planning to increase their current production capacity and increase investments in research and development.
The battery accounts for a major part of the electric vehicle cost. With the declining battery cost, the adoption rate of electric vehicles is anticipated to incline. Majority of the OEMs are trying to reduce the cost similar to that of the ICE based vehicles, which would address a major challenge in the adoption of the electric vehicles.