By Battery Power Online Staff
January 21, 2022 | We invited members of the Battery Power Online vendor community to offer insights and predictions for the coming year. While each focused on their own industry segment of course, themes included expected continuation of supply chain issues, but growth in US battery manufacturing, and continued updates to chemistries and preferred battery materials. Here are their full trends and predictions.
Francis Wang, CEO at NanoGraf
The battery supply chain crisis will extend through 2022. In 2022, Asia’s dominant position as the world’s leader in the lithium-ion supply chain will continue, but it is expected that Asian suppliers across the value chain will be challenged with supply chain constraints. Just how long and wide-reaching the bottlenecks persist may very well depend on the impact of the Omicron variant.
A real-world example of the supply chain crisis is Murata. One of the largest battery manufacturers in Japan reported it isn’t able to even make enough cells for its own internal use. Furthermore, Murata is struggling to be profitable in the midst of record sales, due largely to inflated air freight costs and shortage of cargo ships. Beyond this, it is expected that Europe and North American policymakers will need to reset expectations on just how fast local battery supply chains will come online, as everything from raw materials to manufacturing equipment is delayed.
There will be meaningful growth in US manufacturing. One of the positive outcomes from the battery supply chain shortages will be the push to onshore supply to North America. Biden’s infrastructure bill, which allocates $6B in funds to the Department of Energy (DOE) for domestic battery supply chain manufacturing, will begin awarding projects in late Q3 2022. NanoGraf is not waiting for the DOE awards, as we will be opening a new silicon anode manufacturing facility in the first half of 2022. We are making the necessary investments to help build a US supply chain with homegrown silicon anode technology that has demonstrated world-class capabilities in an 800 Wh/L 18650 cylindrical cell for military applications. We’re one of a few companies with leading silicon anode technology being scaled to a material production level of 35 T/Y in support of applications from consumer products, military, and electric mobility
EV battery cost will emerge as the primary consideration over range. Increasing battery demand, global inflation and a struggling supply chain may move prices higher and highlight EV cost challenges. OEMs are rapidly recognizing that mainstream EV adoption is more a question of cost than range. I expect to see a shift in 2022 to fundamentally cheaper battery materials like lithium iron phosphate (LFP) and even natural graphite.
Gaetan Borgers, Chief Commercial Officer at Nexeon Ltd.
- The performance benefits of silicon anode materials has now been clearly identified as a key enabler for improvements in Li-ion batteries, hence commercialization will follow more quickly.
- Manufacturing of silicon material will ramp up now that every automotive OEM has Si technology in their short-term roadmap.
- With the increased energy density and faster charging of batteries, and the potential redesign of the battery, there will be acceleration in adoption of EV technology in larger vehicles and new applications e.g. utility trucks.
- Improved battery performance addresses issues of range anxiety. This occurs through weight reduction for the same energy available. Silicon is also an enabler for fast charging, which is a major driver for the automotive industry.
- Blending techniques/formulations between silicon and graphite are now better understood, and this enables silicon to be gradually included in all batteries.
- Silicon enables cost reductions across the entire supply chain. Not only direct material costs, but also of all direct and indirect costs, including a better CAPEX utilization.
- Silicon’s energy density can also be an enabler for lower CO2 footprint, a subject of increasing importance for the EV market.
Ed Spears, technical marketing manager at Eaton
The shift from lead-acid to lithium: For an industry that hadn’t experienced much change in decades, there has been a significant transition recently which will continue in 2022. In UPS applications, lithium-ion batteries have advanced to the forefront in terms of preference – particularly for larger applications. Right now, about 60% of our large UPSs are being specified with lithium composition and we expect that trend to continue growing into next year.
UPS as a generator alternative for long-runtime applications: In 2022, we expect to see more companies deploy UPSs with longer battery runtimes as a standalone backup power solution instead of using traditional generators. In the case of a power event, IT teams now have the capability to shift critical data to other unaffected facilities – which allows for less runtime requirement overall. Increasing costs and regulatory restrictions on generators are also driving this transition as factors like diesel emissions and audible levels can lead to steep penalties.
Going outdoors with deployments: We anticipate more data centers will be moving their UPS and battery applications to outdoor environments thanks to the footprint it saves for data center and IT teams. Since temperature regulation is still something to consider with these configurations, we also expect to see trends in liquid cooling become more prevalent as a strategy to remove the cost and maintenance of running an HVAC system.
Advancement of chemistry alternatives: As demand for lithium-ion increases, advancement will continue with the chemistry makeup of these solutions. Next year, we’ll see the shift from nickel cobalt (MNC) to lithium-phosphate (LFP) compositions grow thanks to the higher density and lower cost benefits that LFP offers for applications like UPSs and vehicles. Developments are also happening with technology surrounding lithium titanate, solid electrolyte and others that will be exciting to monitor as IT teams grow more familiar with varying battery chemistries.