Lithium Batteries: Markets and Materials

Published - Oct 2009| Analyst - Donald Saxman| Code - FCB028E
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Report Highlights

  • Overall sales in the lithium battery market were worth $9 billion in 2008, and decreased to $8.6 billion in 2009. By 2014, sales are projected to increase to $9.9 billion, for a 5-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.8%.
  • The largest segment in the market, the secondary, was valued at $7.9 billion in 2008. This is expected to decrease to $7.5 billion in 2009, and is projected to reach more than $8.6 billion in 2014, for a 5-year CAGR of 2.9%.
  • Sales in the primary lithium battery segment were worth $1.1 billion in 2008, and were to remain flat in 2009. By 2014, they are projected to increase to $1.3 billion, for a 5-year CAGR of 2.7%.

INTRODUCTION 

STUDY GOALS AND OBJECTIVES

Originally, the term “battery” referred to a number of individual electrochemical cells; therefore, a single cell, like the familiar cylindrical flashlight power source, was not considered a battery at all. Now, a battery refers to any electrochemical storage mechanism.

A battery has five components: two active elements (a cathode and an anode), a separator, and an electrolyte medium for carrying ions between the reactants through the separator and a container. One reactant or electrode has a net negative charge and is called the anode. In lithium batteries, the anode material is lithium, or in a few cases, a lithium–aluminum alloy. In some cases, the anode is metallic lithium; in other instances, including lithium–ion cells, the anode consists of an ionic lithium compound. The other reactant electrode, with a positive charge, is called the cathode. The cathode usually is a metallic compound. The electrolyte is usually similar to the cathode to promote ion transfer. Finally, the battery is contained in a case that provides dimensional stability and a positive and negative electrode or battery cap for discharging (or recharging) the cell. A number of separate electrochemical cells are combined within the same case to create a battery.
 
Until about 20 years ago, the battery market was seen as 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. Just as lithium batteries replaced nickel–based and primary batteries for many applications, traditional lithium–ion battery designs are beginning to be replaced by advanced lithium–ion chemistries like lithium phosphate, lithium–iron phosphate, lithium–sulfur, and lithium–polymer systems. 
 
Lithium batteries were first developed in the 1960s and were first commercialized in the early 1970s, but did not receive wide consumer use until 1981. There are now six commercial and developmental lithium battery types, nearly 30 commercialized electrode couples, and more than 1,000 specific designs. The latest generation of lithium batteries includes very large cells suitable for powering vehicles or storing significant amounts of utility power as well as very small thin–film cells capable of powering micro–electromechanical systems (MEMS).
 
In fact, improved lithium batteries have allowed the commercialization of entire new classes of portable products, including laptop computers, cellular phones, and portable music players. Lithium batteries have been used in prototype and precommercial, plug–in electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), and eventually may be commercialized to provide automobile starting power, or to supplement internal combustion for fuel–cell power in next generation fuel–cell vehicles (FEVs). 
 
During the 1990s, lithium batteries posted double–digit growth. Between 2000 and 2005, there was a period of steady sales or incremental growth (as opposed to the double–digit growth of the 1990s). Lithium battery sales then picked up through 2008. As prices fell, this was especially true for unit sales. Since mid–2008, sales and market value have plummeted due to the global recession.
 
Lithium batteries are linked to serious failure modes, including now–notorious incidents during which they set portable computers on fire. In at least one reported case, a meltdown occurred in an airliner; although a catastrophe was averted, it was a close call. New designs and better quality control reduce this risk but give pause to some designers and open the door to competing energy–storage systems.
 
With this background in mind, this study summarizes the global primary and secondary lithium battery markets. This provides the basis for a detailed analysis of global lithium battery material technology and markets.
 
REASONS FOR DOING THE STUDY
 
The second half of 2008 and the first half of 2009 were the most significant months in the history of lithium batteries. 
 
  • First, several of lithium batteries’ largest and highest growth markets entered a period of retraction. Even as “must–have” portable products, like iPhones, grew in popularity, battery–powered laptop and cell phone sales fell.  
  • This was due to global recessionary forces, including unemployment, difficulty obtaining consumer credit, and lower commercial demand. At the same time, gasoline prices peaked and fell from a high of more than $4 per gallon to less than $2 per gallon. Combined with the recession, this resulted in deeply lower demand for fuel–efficient vehicles, especially hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs). There were major concerns about the future of developmental plug–in EVs. Two leading would–be plug–in sources (GM and Chrysler) filed for bankruptcy. 
  • On the other hand, government intervention more than offset some of these issues, especially for the early–stage U.S. lithium battery industry. First, the newly elected administration of President Barack Obama announced plans to fund billions of dollars in U.S. lithium battery development. Next, the administration canceled billions of dollars’ worth of funding for Bush–era fuel–cell– and hydrogen–power–vehicle development funding. This has not yet affected non–U.S. fuel–cell–vehicle development and, indeed, several U.S. manufacturers of fuel cell vehicles have vowed to continue.   However, it certainly helped reduce the impact of one of the lithium–battery–powered vehicle’s greatest competitors. The Obama administration also implemented new CAFE fuel–efficiency standards that will provide a significant incentive for wider HEV and EV use. Finally, the U.S is working toward an industrial policy to help reduce the effects of global warming. 
  • Meanwhile, the Bolivian government is negotiating with several companies from several nations with the aim of developing the vast Bolivian lithium salt deposits. If this results in working mines, any anticipated global demand would be satisfied. Meanwhile, other lithium resources are preparing to come on line. The possibility that widely commercialized lithium EV batteries would create a lithium battery shortage now seems unlikely. 
  • Since most lithium batteries are currently manufactured in Japan or China, many leading lithium battery companies are concentrated in the Far East. Lithium battery material companies include South American, U.S., and Canadian companies. Most lithium salts currently come from Chile, but Bolivia has vast reserves that could soon be developed. Lithium battery research and development takes place worldwide, but especially in the Far East, the United States, Europe (especially France), and Canada. In 2008 and 2009, there has been an aggressive move toward the wide commercialization of large–vehicle–size, lithium–ion cells. Even without government incentives, U.S. companies were preparing to manufacture and/or assemble large numbers of lithium batteries. Now, U.S. companies are proposing lithium battery projects worth billions of dollars. At the same time, there are more and more multinational lithium battery partnerships, including partnerships between U.S. and European or Far Eastern companies.r Doing the Study (Continued)
None of these developments were considered likely in early 2008. Previous forecasts and analyses did not consider them or treated them as relatively unlikely pessimistic or optimistic scenarios. 
 
This BCC Research study is based on the new consensus.
 
SCOPE OF THE REPORT
 
This report begins with a discussion of primary and secondary lithium battery technologies and markets. 
 
The following lithium battery markets are analyzed:
 
·          Portable products
Computing
Communications
Tools
Others
 
·          Medical products
Implantable
Not implantable
 
·          Stationary applications
Computer memory preservation
Uninterruptible power supplies
 
·          Military/Aerospace
Primary
Secondary
Developmental
 
·          Automotive and motive power
Industrial electric vehicles (traction)
Plug–ins and hybrid vehicle motive power (EVs and HEVs)
Automotive starting, lighting, and ignition
Automotive security
 
The report then concentrates on lithium battery materials:
 
·          Electrode materials and active elements
Aluminum metal
Cobalt compounds
Conductive polymers
Copper compounds
Electrolytic manganese dioxide
Halogens
Fullerenes
Inorganic carbon
Lithium metal and compounds
Nickel metal and compounds
Rare earth compounds
Sulfur compounds
Vanadium compounds
 
·          Lithium battery electrolytes
 
·          Battery separators
 
These market sectors are defined, leading global companies are identified, and the markets analyzed (including a 5–year market projection). 
 
Lithium battery companies are identified and profiled. Each profile includes points of contact and a discussion of structure, description, and activity.
 
METHODOLOGY
 
This report is based on both primary and secondary research methodologies, including literature reviews, patent examinations, and discussions with commercial and government sources. Throughout the report, past market data is expressed in current dollars, and estimates and projections are in constant 2009 dollars. Historic markets and the projected market for 2014 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 several developmental markets. Totals are rounded to the nearest million dollars.  
 
This publication provides informative material of a professional nature. It does not constitute managerial, legal, or accounting advice, nor should it serve as a corporate policy guide or an endorsement of any given product or company. The information is intended to be as accurate as possible at the time it was written and was undertaken on a best–effort basis. The views expressed are those of the author’s and they do not make any warranty, expressed or implied, for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of the information, or for the interpretation of data or its use by others. Projections involve risks and uncertainties and are not limited to, but include, technical risks associated with technology development, government regulatory approvals, and access to capital. The author assumes no responsibility for any losses or damages that might result due to reliance on this material. 

INTENDED AUDIENCE
 
This report provides a unique analysis of the global lithium battery and associated materials market, and will be of interest to manufacturers and users of these batteries. This report will be especially useful to material miners, compounders, and fabricators. It also will be valuable to those involved in battery development and marketing, as well as those offering competing power sources. BCC Research wishes to thank those companies, government agencies, and university researchers that contributed information for this report.
  
INFORMATION SOURCES
 
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 informed estimates or predictions, not hard facts. The distinction between these estimates and hard facts can be vital, and wherever possible, sources are identified. 
 
ANALYST CREDENTIALS
 
This report’s project analyst, Donald Saxman, is a long–time editor of BCC Research’s monthly Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Progress and Fuel Cell Industry Progress. He has founded several other BCC newsletters and has more than 25 years of experience in market analysis, technical writing, and newsletter editing. Since 1983, he has operated as a technical market consultant and subcontractor to BCC Research, and in this capacity, he has prepared more than 70 focused market analyses. His previous experience includes supervision of a quality–control laboratory at a major secondary lead refinery, experience as an analytical chemist at a hazardous waste testing service, product assurance manager for a space station life support system project, and an information technology business analyst and project manager. Mr. Saxman has an extensive network of unique and valuable contacts throughout the energy and chemistry industries. He is directly responsible for the creation of tens of millions of dollars worth of successful proposals, including Fortune 500, federal government, and state government proposals involving energy, aerospace, and financial industries.
 
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DISCLAIMER
 
The information developed in this report is intended to be as reliable as possible at the time of publication and of a professional nature. This information does not constitute managerial, legal, or accounting advice; nor should it serve as a corporate policy guide, laboratory manual, or an endorsement of any product, as much of the information is speculative in nature. The author assumes no responsibility for any loss or damage that might result from reliance on the reported information or its use.

Table of Contents & Pricing

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Published - Jul-2007| Analyst - Donald Saxman| Code - FCB028D

Report Highlights

  • The U.S. lithium battery material market was worth more than $3.4 billion in 2000 and grew to over than $5.6 billion in 2006. To put this in perspective, BCC estimates that the entire U.S. battery market was worth nearly $33 billion in 2006 (much of this for lead-acid automotive batteries).
  • Nonrechargeable (primary) lithium batteries were worth $975 million in 2006 and the world market should grow to a projected $1.2 billion (constant 2006 dollars) in 2012, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.7%.
  • The rechargeable secondary lithium battery market was approximately $4.6 billion in 2006 but should grow to more than $6.3 billion by 2012, (CAGR) of 5.6%.

Published - Sep-2004| Analyst - Donald Saxman| Code - FCB028C

Report Highlights

  • The U.S. lithium battery material market grew to more than $2 billion in 2003. Rising at an average annual growth rate (AAGR) of 4.7%, this market will reach $2.7 billion in 2009.
  • Put into perspective, the entire U.S. battery market will be worth more than $13 billion in 2004 (much of this for lead-acid automotive batteries).
  • Nonrechargeable (primary) lithium batteries were worth $312 million in 2002 and the U.S. market should grow to a predicted $522 million in 2009, at an AAGR of 5.7%.
  • The rechargeable secondary lithium battery market was approximately $1,410 million in 2002 but should grow to more than $2.1 billion by 2009.

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

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.

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