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Aiways: On the pulse of time: Battery trends for 2023

International Battery Day: Last week’s celebration provided a good opportunity to highlight the achievements in 222 years of battery development and the trends for 2023

During the transition to electromobility, demand for batteries has skyrocketed in key automotive markets worldwide. Projected growth will continue at a very high level, posing several challenges that are clearly reflected in individual trends. To mark International Battery Day, Aiways provides an insight into current battery trends.

“The battery turns 222 years old this year, and it’s remarkable how far technology has come in that time. Thin discs of copper and zinc, separated by cardboard soaked in salt water have shaped the world as we know it today,” explains Dr. Alexander Klose, Executive Vice President Overseas Operations at Aiways. “What Alessandro Volta once invented and was further developed over centuries has made such impressive strides in development over the past few decades that it has revolutionized the way we think about mobile energy storage. And the pace will continue to accelerate.”

By 2030, global demand for batteries is expected to increase by about 30 percent, approaching 4,500 gigawatt hours (GWh) per year, with the battery value chain expected to grow tenfold between 2020 and 2030. Annual sales in the battery manufacturing environment alone are expected to rise to as much as 400 billion Euro.

Trend #1: Performance enhancement of current lithium-ion batteries

Currently, research is developing novel materials and compositions to further improve the energy density of batteries. The ultimate goal is to increase the amount of energy that can be stored in a given battery volume. This will enable the battery to be made more compact and lighter, and thus used more efficiently. Another point of the new development is also aimed at improving the charging and discharging rates of batteries, which will allow faster charging and discharging without sacrificing performance. Modern lithium-nickel-manganese-cobalt-oxide (NMC) batteries, now in their third generation, are more powerful than ever before, despite a steady reduction in the proportions of manganese and cobalt. Substitution of these expensive raw materials nevertheless remains one of the top development goals.

Trend #2: New and cheaper cell chemistries with on-demand performance

For electrically powered vehicles (BEVs) to compete with internal combustion engines (ICEs) without subsidies, the price of battery packs must fall below EUR 100/kWh, compared with the current price of around EUR 130/kWh (as of 2021). Increased demand and global sourcing problems in the recent past have exacerbated the raw material situation. Strategic initiatives to research new chemical and technological solutions have therefore been launched by both manufacturers and suppliers. The research focus is mainly on alternative cathodes that are rich in manganese and do not require cobalt, such as LMFP, NMx and LNMO. Lithium iron phosphate (LFP)-based batteries, on the other hand, have already reached the mass market. Despite their lower energy density, their long service life and significantly lower costs are particularly impressive here. In addition, recent technological advances such as cell-to-pack (CTP), structural battery packs and the use of large-format cells effectively mitigate the disadvantages of LFP’s lower energy density.

Trend #3: Recycling and Second Life

With increasing demand and an aging BEV fleet, the recycling and reuse of batteries is becoming increasingly important. Some countries are already planning regulations for the recycling of used batteries. In this regard, the European Union (EU) is considering requiring 4% of all new lithium batteries manufactured in the EU to be made from recycled materials by 2030. The goal is to increase this percentage to 10% by 2035. To address this challenge, three potential end-of-life battery pathways have emerged. The first and simplest option is to repair damaged batteries for further use. The second option is to use aged batteries in secondary uses, such as grid or home storage. The third option is to use recycled battery materials as feedstock for the production of new batteries. This would reduce the demand pressure on important raw materials and significantly reduce the overall resource footprint of batteries.

Trend #4: Higher voltage levels for shorter charging phases

A limiting factor in the power delivery of electric vehicles, but also in the charging process, is the maximum current flow. It cannot be increased at will due to increasing electrical resistance and rising temperature of the conductive material. A further increase in power is only possible with an increase in voltage. 800-volt battery systems are therefore able to charge at twice the power of 400-volt systems at the same current. On the one hand, this can lead to more comfort on long-distance journeys, but on the other hand it can mean new applications for battery systems with only low current output capability. Solid-state batteries, whose electrolyte is not liquid but consists of solid material, currently still have a very low power density because their ability to transmit currents is limited. A higher voltage level can also provide increased performance here.

The pace of development in the industry is faster than ever before

“The switch to electromobility has unleashed a whole new momentum in the automotive industry: Innovation steps are shorter and development leaps are greater. For this very reason, strategic model planning must be more focused than ever. Only with a flexible platform that can be adapted to new developments can you remain competitive as a brand,” explains Zeeshan Shaikh, Head of the Aiways Technical Center in Munich. “With the step from our Aiways U5 SUV to the Aiways U6 SUV-Coupé, we have shown how changeable our MAS platform is and it will continue to impress as an intelligently developed structure in the future.”

SOURCE: Aiways

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