The Minespider team participated in the 2022 Battery Technology Conference in Stuttgart, Germany. This two day event encompassed battery research & automotive sector experts, semiconductor and component manufacturers, and battery project developers. The event offered a deeper look into battery technology trends, including the latest developments within the battery supply chain market, projections for the upcoming decade and outlook of the critical raw materials. We decided to share these cutting-edge insights with you!
Global EV market surge & raw materials: alternative raw materials sourcing and vertical integration are crucial to meet the demand.
The increasing demand for electric vehicles (EV) is predominately motivated by phasing out internal combustion vehicles in different countries and increasing funding availability for batteries manufacturers and individuals who stipulate the switch to EVs. Besides that, European countries and the USA are taking steps to localize the production facilities.
However, the move towards widespread EVs and clean energy, also creates demand for the battery raw materials (primarily lithium, nickel, cobalt, and manganese) and encourages more R&D activities within the battery industry in order to tackle some of the most pressing issues, such as:
- Availability of these raw materials and supply chain risks associated with them, especially for materials based on lithium, nickel, and graphite;
- Material dependency; as China is the dominant player and supplier of battery materials in the processing, battery components and the cells assembly processes.
The structure of the battery value chain and dependency from specific regions and suppliers have motivated a widespread development of so-called battery clusters globally, and, in particular, in the EU. Countries are focusing on different parts of the supply chain being the priority for those clusters (for ex. Canada and Brazil focus on raw materials extraction).
The conference presenters agreed that alternative raw materials sourcing and vertical integration are seen as the key to success to ensure a long-term outlook and availability of materials to meet the expected surge in demand for EVs. Also, M&A from the downstream to upstream segment seems to be a way for securing raw materials as well as focusing on recycling facilities.
New battery chemistry and technologies
In an attempt to diversify the dependency on certain raw materials, such as cobalt and nickel, there is a lot of development on the battery chemistry front. New trends and research are taking place, especially on:
- Cathode Active Materials with a higher acceptance of lithium iron phosphate (LFP) are gaining traction compared to lithium-nickel-manganese-cobalt-oxide (NMC), and lithium cobalt (LCO)(due to cost).
- Anode Active Materials. Use of silicon as an alternative to graphite is the subject of ongoing research by various companies.
- New electrolyte chemistries.
- New technologies such as solid-state and sodium-ion batteries were some of the most emphasized promising technologies on the battery side for upcoming years.
The most prevailing battery chemistries seem to be: LFP, NMC, NCA, LCO and LMO.
On the components side, there is a trend of battery management system manufacturers to stress the shift towards 800V systems in order to reduce charging times and spacing within battery packs. Some of the new trends in this segment go towards:
- The developments of sensors to get deep insights into the status of every single battery cell.
- Within each cell, the inclusion of a more specific way to measure State of Health (SoH) data in a way that is compliant with upcoming regulatory demands, and
- The creation of a digital battery twin for better battery prediction and diagnostics.
Fighting the Cost Increase
The battery cost component was a topic for both the material and compliance side.
- Battery materials are getting more expensive due to the current geopolitical situation and wars that create supply chain disruptions. The price increase is predominantly driven by raw materials such as lithium, cobalt and nickel that affect the whole production cycle of a battery. To address cost-related issues, companies are looking into alternative cell chemistries, creating production efficiencies and evaluating the design and the materials used for the battery packs.
- Compliance cost. The upcoming regulations (e.g., EU Battery regulation proposal; US Inflation Reduction Act) will also be a future cost component for companies, especially the ones eligible for the Battery Passport (proposed as part of the upcoming EU Battery Regulation).
How can we help?
At Minespider we work with companies along the battery supply chain and provide traceability for raw materials and products. We use our flagship product, the Battery passport, to help companies communicate their regulatory and carbon footprint information and make sure they comply with any new or upcoming regulations in a fast, efficient and secure way.
For more information on our latest battery project related to the work on a Battery Passport as a part of a wider consortium, please visit our BATRAW announcement.