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Beyond Li-ion Batteries: Present and Future Li-ion Technology Challengers

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couv flyer battery

Which technologies can surpass Li-ion batteries, and for which applications?

Good news: battery demand is growing significantly. What is the beachhead for challengers to Li-ion battery technology?

Li-ion technology is a kind of universal battery technology. The parameters of various Li-ion chemistries can well satisfy most customer requirements for a large variety of applications including portable electronics, electric and hybrid electric vehicles (EV/HEV), and stationary battery energy storage. Demand for Li-ion batteries is ever-growing, driven especially by electric mobility (xEV) applications, and the market will reach $88B by 2025.

This report focuses on “Li-ion challengers”, i.e. the technologies with the potential to “challenge” Li-ion batteries in terms of performance, cost, etc.

To this end, there is a relatively large variety of different battery technologies, some at the R&D stage and some already in commercial production. This report analyzes in detail the following technologies: sodium-sulfur (NAS), lithium-sulfur (Li-S), sodium-ion (Na-ion), magnesium-ion (Mg-ion), lithium-air (Li-air), zinc-air and flow batteries, and lithium-ion capacitors (LIC).The energy storage market for these technologies reached $121M in 2015. According to Yole Développement’s estimates, the market value for Li-ion challengers will reach $357M by 2025, with a 2015 - 2025 CAGR of 11.4%.

The majority of demand for present Li-ion battery technology challengers will come via utility-size stationary battery energy storage. Emerging battery technologies will find applications first in niche market segments with special requirements, namely in terms of energy density and safety: unmanned aerial vehicles, defense, etc.

Future Li-ion challengers (i.e. technologies currently at the R&D stage) must overcome formidable technology challenges in order to achieve better performance/cost than Li-ion batteries. In the short-term, lithium-sulfur technology is considered the best candidate to reach sufficient technology maturity for wider commercial deployment.

2015 2025 market value of Li ion battery technology challengers 

Access the market via optimized company strategy and business models

Lithium-ion battery cell supply is already well-consolidated. Three leading companies (Panasonic, LG Chem, and Samsung SDI) continue to cement their position as cell suppliers by building new production facilities and developing new supply partnerships with EV/HEV manufacturers.

To oppose the established Li-ion industry, challengers pursue different strategies. The safest approach involves companies focusing on one specific technology part which can be applicable in different battery chemistries (i.e. stabilization of lithium-metal electrode).

Oxis Energy’s initial focus is on niche markets where high energy density is a priority (unmanned aerial vehicles, defense). The goal is to obtain the necessary income for funding further improvement of Oxis’ lithium-sulfur battery technology and achieve a cycle life that is satisfactory for other applications. EnSync Energy Systems (formerly ZBB Energy) has changed from a flow battery supplier to a micro-grid solution provider. Other companies are focused on partnerships with utility companies as a means of developing demonstration projects and gaining visibility + customer confidence before developing high-volume production capacities.

Most companies developing future battery technologies are not planning to produce batteries independently (considered too risky), and instead are looking for a big company interested in a partnership or a technology license.

The big Li-ion players’ positioning regarding Li-ion technology challengers could be affected by the arrival of new players from the EV/HEV industry. Indeed, novel battery technologies are a strong focus of automotive OEMs (i.e. Toyota) and Tier1 companies (i.e. Bosch).

Overview of lithium sulfur battery players and their relationships 

Opportunities: seeking high energy density, safety, and lower cost

So what are the “sweet spots” where Li-ion technology challengers can successfully compete with Li-ion? In this report, different Li-ion battery parameters are closely analyzed, and three key parameters are identified as the most important: energy density, cost, and safety.

Li-air batteries and lithium-sulfur batteries are best-positioned to leverage the potential for higher energy density (in Wh/kg), while magnesium-ion, sodium-ion, zinc-air, and flow-batteries have better potential for enhanced safety and lower costs.

At short-term, lithium-sulfur technology is best positioned to reach a high energy density of 300 Wh/kg in commercial cells. This is especially critical for certain niche applications, portable electronics, and e-mobility applications. Li-air has potential for even higher energy density because it uses a fundamentally different technique for energy storage. However, daunting technology challenges are associated with oxygen separation and battery design.

Battery safety is important, as shown in the past by the consequences of the “burning laptops” with SONY batteries, and recently-reported Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phone incidents. As such, Li-ion battery improvement and research of novel, safer battery technologies is high priority.

The current high cost for emerging technologies is not relevant to future costs when produced by automated high-volume processes, but it is crucial to demonstrate the compatibility of the developed process and cell design with an industrial automated manufacturing approach. Also, a higher price could be acceptable in some niche markets if the battery provides better performance and safety.

Positioning of Li ion battery technology challengers 

Objectives of the Report

This report’s objectives are to:

  • Provide an overview of the advanced battery market covering the three main application segments: consumer, electric mobility, stationary energy storage
  • Illustrate the  strong, consistently-growing market potential for battery players in the energy storage business
  • Offer  deep insight into present Li-ion chemistries and their future applicative potential
  • Identify present and future advanced battery chemistries
  • Deliver an overview of Li-ion battery supply chains and the developers of current and future battery chemistries (Li-ion challengers). Provide company profiles for key companies
  • Furnish an overview of present Li-ion battery technology challengers, their advantages, challenges, main applications, and key developers/ suppliers
  • Show an overview of future Li-ion battery technology challengers, their advantages, challenges, main applications, and key developers
  • Explain the needs of the different battery markets and analyze the added-values brought by Li-ion battery challengers
  • Analyze the drivers and technology challenges for battery makers, and provide a market forecast for advanced battery chemistries




Table of contents

Introduction 8


Executive summary 9


Advanced battery applications 33

> Portable electronics                
> Electric mobility
> Stationary battery energy storage            

Lithium-ion battery market            66

> Li-ion battery cell costs
> 2015 - 2025 lithium-ion battery market for portable electronics, e-mobility, stationary storage and battery market (GWh/y)


Li-ion battery technologies            75

> Key messages
> Battery cell components and materials used
> Why focus on Li-ion batteries?
> Characteristics of today’s main battery technologies
> Li-ion battery vs. other battery types
> Li-ion battery chemistries
> Energy density of different Li-ion battery chemistries
> Which Li-ion battery type for which application?
> C-rate: energy cell vs. power cell
Lithium polymer battery
> Battery cell formats: cylindrical, prismatic, and pouch
> 20700 cylindrical cell format
> From battery cell to battery system
Battery cell vs. battery module vs. battery pack
> Battery pack vs. battery system
> How ancillary components impact battery pack characteristics
> What is the ideal approach today: a new cell or better ancillary devices?
> Battery pack - a multicomponent, multidisciplinary system
> Why is battery development driven by EV/HEV?
> Battery sizes and applications
> Li-ion battery history
> Li-ion battery technology maturity for  main applications


Analysis of the main factors for Li-ion battery challengers    102

> Where is the “sweet spot” for new battery technologies?
> What are the limitations/weak points of Li-ion batteries?
> How can advanced batteries compete with lithium-ion technologies?
> Main factors  for Li-ion battery challengers
   - Technology maturity
   - Higher energy density
   - Higher energy density - Li-ion does not give it up!
   - Lower cost
   - Higher safety
> LIB incidents can result in severe human and financial consequences            
> How to make batteries safer?
   - Fast charging
> Lower dependence on scarce material
   - Lower environmental impact
   - Cycle life
   - Power density
   - Others
   - Which battery characteristics are most important for customers?


Comparative analysis of present and future Li-ion challengers 134

> 2015-2025 market for Li-ion technology challengers (MWh and $M)


Li-ion battery supply chain              153

Focus on solid-state batteries 164

> Solid-state battery principle and battery structure
> Solid-state battery: bulk battery vs. microbattery
> Why solid-state battery?
> Challenges of solid-state batteries
> Toyota EV/HEV battery development roadmap - solid-state battery
> Solid-state battery actors and their relationships - overview

Present Li-ion battery challengers            176

> Sodium-sulfur (NAS) battery
> Sodium-sulfur battery principle
> Advantages and drawbacks of sodium-sulfur batteries
> Sodium-sulfur battery applications
> Sodium-sulfur battery companies
> NAS battery market potential


Flow batteries 191

> Flow battery principle
> Classification of flow batteries
> Advantages and drawbacks of flow batteries
> Flow battery applications
> Flow battery products - energy capacity vs. power capacity
> Flow battery players
> Flow battery market potential


Aqueous sodium-ion battery           207

> Sodium-ion battery types
> Advantages and drawbacks of aqueous sodium-ion batteries
> Example of an aqueous sodium-ion battery - Aquion Energy’s battery
> Applications for aqueous sodium-ion batteries
> Aqueous sodium-ion battery players


Zinc-air battery             216

> Zinc-air battery principle
> Advantages and drawbacks of zinc-air batteries
> Zinc hybrid cathode battery from EOS Energy, and  Zinc-air battery from Fluidic Energy
> Commercial batteries from EOS Energy, and their pricing
> Zinc-air battery players


Lithium-ion  capacitor             228

> Lithium-ion capacitor principle
> Why lithium-ion capacitor?
> Main challenges for lithium-ion capacitor
> Comparison of electric double-layer capacitor, Li-ion capacitor, and Li-ion battery
> Li-Ion capacitor as a primary and secondary power source
> Lithium-ion capacitor players


Future Li-ion challengers             247

Lithium-sulfur battery 250

> Lithium-sulfur battery principle
> Why lithium-sulfur batteries?
> Main challenges for lithium-sulfur batteries
> Lithium-sulfur battery applications
> Overview of lithium-sulfur battery players and their relationships
> Li-S battery - market potential


Organic-electrolyte sodium-ion battery     266

> Sodium-ion battery types
> Advantages and drawbacks of organic-electrolyte sodium-ion batteries
> Organic-electrolyte sodium-ion battery cell format, and energy density achieved
> Organic-electrolyte sodium-ion battery players


Magnesium battery          275

> Magnesium battery principle and characteristics
> Advantages and drawbacks of magnesium batteries
> Magnesium battery electrolyte and cathode challenges
> Magnesium battery applications
> What is the real potential of magnesium batteries?
> Magnesium battery players and their relationships


Lithium-air battery       284

> Lithium-air battery principle
> Why lithium-air batteries?
> Main challenges of lithium-air batteries
> Lithium-air battery players
> Lithium-air battery applications


Conclusion 293

Appendix - Company profiles   296 - 320

Companies cited

 Aquion Energy
 Asahi Kasei
 EnSync Energy Systems
 Fluidic Energy
 Fraunhofer IWS
 GE Energy
 GS Yuasa
 JM Energy
 JSR Micro
 LG Chem
 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
 Mitsubishi Electric
 NEC Corporation
 NEI Corporation
 NGK Insulators
 NOMS Technologies














 Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL)
 Oxis Energy
 Pellion Technology
 Planar Energy
 Primus Power
 Rongke Power
 Samsung SDI
 Schneider Electric
 Sion Power
 SK Innovation
 Solid Power
 Sumitomo Electric
 Taiyo Yuden
 Tokyo University of Science
 VIONX Energy
 ViZn Energy
 ZAF Energy Systems
 And more







































  • 2015 - 2025 market (in MWh and $M) for Lithium-ion batteries in portable, automotive, and stationary energy storage applications
  • 2015 - 2025 market (in MWh and $M) for Li-ion present and future technology challengers (present technologies and technologies at the R&D stage in 2016)
  • Deep insight into Li-ion battery’s weak points which could enable business opportunities for other technologies
  • Detailed analysis of advantages, drawbacks, applications, and supply chain for present and future Li-ion battery challengers
  • Analysis of new applications that could drive new technology adoption
  • Company profiles