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Advanced Batteries & Energy Storage Research
Posted on April 23, 2024 by  & 

IDTechEx Experts Discuss Battery Technologies

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Advanced Batteries and Sustainability - IDTechEx Experts Discuss Battery Technologies
 
Energy is a universally familiar concept, but how it is stored may not be. Battery innovation underpins many sectors, including electric vehicles, sustainability, and renewable energy. In a recent episode of their technology podcast 'Tomorrow's Tech with IDTechEx', IDTechEx energy experts discussed the various uses for batteries, with Research Director Dr Alex Holland explaining how the market is set for greater success in the near future, with innovation in battery technology set to play a key role in this success.
 
Electric Vehicles
 
Electric vehicle cost, range, charging times, and performance more generally, are all factors heavily affected by the battery inside the car. Electric vehicles have been up and coming since the 2010s, but it's battery technology that largely made this possible. While regulatory pressure and climate change acted as drivers for the market, with combustion engines being huge contributors to global warming and greenhouse gases, newly developed batteries have unlocked the potential for EVs to succeed. As batteries have developed to become more energy-dense with faster charging while being safer and cheaper to manufacture, they have become the perfect fit for the high demand of electric vehicles.
 
 
Battery Advancements
 
Cell designs and materials used in battery manufacturing are consistently evolving within the sector. Silicon anode materials replacing graphite within batteries is a successful innovation that can improve vehicle range and fast charging capabilities. This is due to the fact that silicon has a much higher capacity to store lithium compared to graphite. A small amount of silicon is already added to graphite in some batteries and the next generation of silicon materials and cell designs are currently being developed to enable a higher percentage to be used in the anode. Companies are advertising longer run times and faster charging as key benefits, benefitting not only electric vehicles but also household devices, power tools, and electronic devices.
 
Solid-state batteries are on the horizon to replace liquid electrolytes, removing the highly flammable liquid material commonly used in the industry, making batteries a lot safer. Longer run times and longer ranges for electric vehicles can also be achieved with solid electrolytes, as they can also allow the use of more energy-dense materials such as lithium metal, which replace the typically used graphite. For more in-depth analysis, see IDTechEx's report "Solid-State and Polymer Batteries 2023-2033: Technology, Forecasts, Players".
 
 
Challenges with solid-state batteries remain, such as maintaining contact between cell components and low manufacturing costs, but with the increased safety and potential for improved energy density, many automotive manufacturers consider it a key technology of the future.
 
As smartphones increase in capacity with the incorporation of AI and better data connectivity, battery energy density will become even more important. Where a smartphone's full charge could currently last one day, in the future, companies could be looking at doubling that capacity with the use of new silicon or lithium metal materials, although commercial deployment will take time.
 
Renewable Energy
 
Pumped-hydro-energy storage has been a reliable source of renewable power and energy storage capacity for electricity grids for a long time, but a relative scarcity of suitable geographical sites has opened a window for batteries and other alternative energy storage technologies. Li-ion batteries are being used as an alternative to pumped-hydro and can be charged up from solar or wind power, storing energy at times of high electricity demand or excess production to limit curtailment.
 
When the wind doesn't blow, and the sun doesn't shine, batteries provide a more reliable source of energy to make up for the intermittency of nature. In the case of a natural disaster and for improved grid capabilities for self-sufficient energy, batteries will play a huge role. IDTechEx predicts the stationary energy storage market to grow at a faster rate than the electric vehicle sector due to its critical role in electricity grid and energy decarbonization, as well as its growth from a much lower base.
 
 
There is lots of space for innovation within this sector of alternative battery chemistries and energy storage technologies which includes various flow battery chemistries, zinc-air or iron-air batteries, or compressed-air energy storage systems, amongst various other technologies. The benefit of these systems often stems from their ability to scale energy storage capacity more easily than in Li-ion batteries. For example, where Li-ion batteries are contained within a single cell, redox flow batteries can keep the power generation and energy storage components separate as storage capacity is contained within the electrolyte, which is then flowed through an electrochemical cell to generate power. This allows energy capacity to be increased simply by increasing the size of the storage tanks and the electrolyte contained within them, offering the possibility of lower cost energy storage capacity.
 
Sustainability
 
Transparency within the supply chain is imperative within the battery industry so customers can make sure energy is being stored as cleanly as possible and with minimized waste. Mining of materials, including cobalt, lithium, nickel, and graphite, is known to come with social and environmental issues, but with the battery industry being aware of this issue, efforts are being made to make improvements.
 
 
Batteries supplied to the European Union will start to require greater due diligence of supply chains, including information on carbon footprints, with the potential of a penalty upon failing to meet this standard. For grid-scale batteries, alternative technologies can play an important role in diversifying supply chains and utilizing more abundant materials. Large-scale batteries and grid batteries are key factors in environmental efforts to reduce CO2 emissions.
 
Innovation is a great buzzword within the battery industry, with many future possibilities for new designs and deviations from current materials for use in electric vehicles, consumer electronics, power tools, and electricity grid markets.
 
Dr Holland states that there is an understanding that the industry should move forward with some caution, as the bar for safety and development is high, but that companies are always on the lookout for new ideas. The future of battery technology is set to be one of success and diversification, with companies offering varying solutions for higher-performing, more sustainable, and lower-cost batteries. For more information, visit IDTechEx's latest report, "Advanced Li-ion Battery Technologies 2024-2034: Technologies, Players, Forecasts", or for the full portfolio of battery and energy storage-related research, see www.IDTechEx.com/Research/ES.
 
 
New episodes of 'Tomorrow's Tech by IDTechEx' are released monthly, with host Dr Tess Skyrme interviewing an array of industry experts from IDTechEx, offering listeners accessible insights into a range of technology innovations. See more at www.IDTechEx.com/Podcast.
 
About IDTechEx
 
IDTechEx provides trusted independent research on emerging technologies and their markets. Since 1999, we have been helping our clients to understand new technologies, their supply chains, market requirements, opportunities and forecasts. For more information, contact research@IDTechEx.com or visit www.IDTechEx.com.

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Posted on: April 23, 2024

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