Lithium-ion batteries are facing a boosting demand nowadays, due to rising interest in new energy vehicles and electronic devices. The main raw materials for producing lithium batteries is besides cathode materials, separators, and electrolyte, anode materials. To be more specific, anode materials are accounting for about 5% to 15% of costs for lithium batteries. Furthermore, the manufacturing of the anode materials is highly concentrated in Japan and China, due to technologically advantages in Japan and raw material cost advantages in China. Hence, these two Asian countries are sharing a market share of 95% worldwide.
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One of the raw materials, that can be used to build li-ion batteries is titanium. The resulting lithium titanate batteries are attributed with a fast recharging ability under the cost of losing inherent voltage, compared to other kinds of li-ion batteries.
This new emerging high-end market in China offers a huge opportunity for TiO2 suppliers, besides the traditional coating industry.
Rising market trend
One unmistakable sign to back up the growing trend of lithium titanate batteries in China can be found in the actions of China’s TiO2 manufacturers. To start with the far biggest supplier of TiO2, Lomon Billions, the company has already shown investments into the lithium titanate battery industry in July 2016 by strengthening the cooperation with Allightec, a company from Taiwan dealing with advanced graphene powder mass production techniques.
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The fields of cooperation between these two companies comprise Functional TiO2 (including but not limited to photocatalytic TiO2, electroconductive TiO2 and thermoconductive TiO2), functional zirconium structural members, microwave absorbing coating materials with aerospace applications, and function modification of lithium titanate.
Other Chinese li-ion battery manufacturers, which showed investments in the production of lithium titanate batteries, are Beijing WKW Automotive Parts and HK Battery Technology. In addition to that, CITIC Guoan MGL and BTR Energy have both expanded their lithium titanate capacity.
The promising investments of China’s manufacturers result of the great potential in energy storage cells markets. The benefits of energy storage cells, compared to traditional batteries, lays in the long-life duration, lower production costs, and a safe use. Lithium titanate batteries are able to last up to 30 years, which is about fourth times the duration of phosphoric acid iron batteries.
Lithium titanate battery
Lithium-Titanate is a more radical design that replaces the graphite in the anode with titanate material. The advantages of this anode material lays in the tremendously large surface area of its nano crystals, which can reach up to 100 square meters per gramme, compared to 3 square meters of standard carbon anodes. This structure enables the very fast charge and recharges abilities of this material.
Other benefits can be found in the long-life duration and the low-temperature discharge characteristics. These safety reasons are especially important in the industry uses for energy storage.
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The main disadvantage of lithium titanate batteries consists in the low voltage capability and the resulting lower energy density.
The current use of these batteries is mainly in electric vehicles and energy storage. The fast charging capability makes this battery to a preferred energy supplier for electric buses, which can even charge at passenger pick-up stops. The high safety guarantee also increases the use in mobile phones and medical devices.
Notably, lithium titanate batteries at present account for approximately 5% of the market share of batteries used for new energy vehicles. Looking at the area of passenger vehicles, the share has reached 3% with other non-dominant batteries. In China, domestic use of lithium titanate batteries is just in the beginning. However, the future of this industry is depending on several factors including technological development, state policies and consumption changes of the new energy vehicle in China.
About the article
The information for this article is based on the China Li-ion Battery E-News Newsletter, a monthly issued market report with real insights in China’s market, company, and political trends.
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