Regulators’ Mad-Dash on Clean Air Boosts Li-Ion Appeal

Government and city regulators around the world are ensuring the dubious carbon-footprint of lithium-ion battery technology will be over-looked in the near term.

In Frost & Sullivan’s report, Global Li-ion Battery Materials Market, Forecast to 2026, estimates that the global market for these battery materials will register a robust double-digit growth rate by 2026.  It acknowledges that the major driving factor is regulation over city clean air and CO2 targets, especially in the European, Asia and Pacific regions, are forcing automakers to focus heavily on this battery type.

It says that while the market is making significant strides toward developing alternatives to Li-ion batteries for BEVs, wide-scale commercial adoption is expected to commence only by the second half of the decade. Thus the Li-ion battery materials market is forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 13.0%, reaching $36.56Bn by 2026 from $15.49Bn in 2019.

This will come as depressing news for those concerned over climate change as highlighted in our interview with technology consultants Capgemini Invent where lithium-ion’s comparatively large carbon foot-print in commissioning and sparse ability to have its components recycled, could accelerate global warming until alternatives are brought to market.

Gautam Rashingkar, Frost & Sullivan’s industry analyst, chemicals, materials and nutrition, said: “Ever-tightening emission standards, coupled with government policies incentivizing EV production, are increasingly driving multi-billion dollar investments toward automotive electrification infrastructure, especially in Europe and APAC. This is creating significant growth avenues for battery materials market participants. The quest toward packing in high-energy densities to facilitate maximum possible driving ranges, while focusing on reducing overall battery costs, continues to be the key factor driving development, adoption, and wide-scale use of specific battery materials.”

He added the ever-increasing push for high-energy-density batteries is expected to impact the selection and use of individual battery materials, and there is a growing preference for high-nickel-content cathode materials partial replacement of graphite with silicon composites in anodes, and an increasing demand for thinner, high-thermal-resistance separators. Also, battery manufacturers are increasingly incorporating functional additives in electrolytes.

However, there are signs that more manufacturers are trying to address the technology’s downsides and taking steps to mitigate them. Rashingkar concluded: “Furthermore, with rapid expansion in battery manufacturing infrastructure, participants across the value chain are mandating ethical sourcing of raw materials, reduction in the use of critical materials, and developing processes and infrastructure for recycling and end-of-life management for Li-ion batteries, especially in Europe.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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