Lithium Batteries: Materials and Markets

Published - Aug 2001| Analyst - Donald Saxman| Code - FCB028B
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Report Highlights

  • The U.S. lithium battery market is estimated at $1.9 billion in 2001.
  • Growing at an average annual rate (AAGR) of 9%, the market is expected to reach nearly $3 billion in 2006.
  • Secondary batteries dominate the market. Sales are estimated at $1.6 billion in 2001, and are likely to rise at an AAGR of 10.1% to $2.6 billion in 2006.
  • Primary batteries make up a small portion of sales—$0.3 billion in 2001—and are expected to grow at an AAGR of only 2.5% to $0.4 billion in 2006.
  • Growth for the market as a whole through 2011 is expected to average 10.3% per year, with secondary batteries, at an AAGR of 11.4%, to lead the way once again.


Until 10 years ago, the U.S. battery market was considered mature, with demand closely related to sales of either automobiles or various consumer products. Since then, improved lithium batteries have helped spark a dramatic change in this relationship.

Lithium batteries, developed in the 1960s, were first commercialized in the early 1970s, but did not receive wide consumer use until 1981. There now are six commercial and developmental lithium battery types, nearly 30 commercialized electrode couples, and more than 1,000 specific designs.

Improved lithium batteries (along with high-performance nickel-based approaches) are allowing the commercialization of entire new classes of portable products, including laptop computers and cellular phones. Lithium batteries have been used in prototype electric vehicles (EVs) and eventually may be commercialized to provide automobile power or to supplement internal combustion or fuel cell power in hybrid vehicles.

Despite the explosive growth of the last five years, U.S. lithium sales should continue double-digit growth. Further, an increasing share of these batteries will be manufactured in the U.S. With this in mind, this timely BCC study summarizes the U.S. primary and secondary lithium battery markets. This provides the basis for a detailed analysis of U.S. lithium battery material technology and markets.

Since many lithium batteries currently are manufactured in Japan, most leading lithium material companies are concentrated in the Far East. As more U.S. companies begin to manufacture lithium batteries, they will have to develop domestic material sources. This shift from Far East to U.S. sources will accelerate as the value of the lithium battery market grows. This will be a significant opportunity for companies that now produce lithium battery chemicals for applications other than batteries.


Coverage includes:


  • products in such applications as portable, medical, stationary, military/aerospace, automotive and motive power
  • materials such as lithium, copper, nickel, cobalt, aluminum, sulfur, vanadium, rare earth, inorganic carbon, conductive polymer, halogen and electrolytic manganese dioxide metals and compounds, and electrolytes and separators
  • market analysis including five- and 10-year market predictions
  • profiles of lithium battery companies.



This report is based on a literature review, patent examination, and discussions with commercial and government sources. Throughout the report, past market data is expressed in current dollars, and estimates and predictions in constant 2001 dollars. Historic markets and predicted markets for 2006 and 2010 are provided. Most market summaries are based on a consensus scenario that assumes no unanticipated technical advances and no unexpected legislation. Pessimistic, consensus, and optimistic market scenarios characterize the electric vehicle and utility load leveling markets. Totals are rounded to the nearest million dollars. When appropriate, information from previously published sources is identified to allow a more detailed examination by clients.


Market assumptions used in this report include those based on updates of material from BCC studies GB-184, Portable Battery Powered Products and GB-197, Large and Advanced Battery Technology and Markets. This report's author prepared these studies as well. Although many segments of the industry are well documented, much of this information is based on estimates, not hard facts. The distinction between these estimates and hard facts can be vital, and wherever possible, sources are identified. The BCC monthly newsletter Battery/EV Technology News provides a valuable secondary source.


Donald Saxman, the project analyst for this report, was a long-time editor of the BCC monthly Battery/EV Technology News and founded several other BCC newsletters. Saxman has more than 18 years' experience in market analysis, technical writing, and newsletter editing. Since 1983, he has operated as a technical market consultant and subcontractor to BCC. Previous experience includes supervision of a quality control laboratory at a major secondary lead refinery, work as an analytical chemist at a hazardous waste testing service, product assurance manager for a space station life support system project, and as an information technology analyst and project manager.

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