The electric-vehicle revolution, driven by the necessity to decarbonize personal transportation to meet global targets for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, is set to change the automotive industry radically. Consequently, demand for lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles (EV) is rising rapidly. Global installed battery storage capacity is forecast to expand by 30-40% annually in the next five years — a trend that is likely to continue. It’s expected to reach 9,300 gigawatt hours (GWh) by 2030, which translates to a scale-up of about 20 times from 2020 levels.
Lithium-ion batteries manufacturing capacity
With the rise of electromobility and the consequent increase in EV manufacturing, the market for lithium-ion batteries has seen consistently high growth rates. For that reason, developing domestic battery supply chains, including battery manufacturing capacity, is becoming increasingly important as countries strive to shift away from gasoline vehicles to electric mobility. China is by far the leader in the battery race in 2022 with about 80% (about 558 GWh capacity) of global lithium-ion battery manufacturing capacity, followed by United States with only 6%, or 44 GWh (Source: S&P Global Market Intelligence). European countries collectively make up for 68 GWh, or around 10% of global battery manufacturing.
Heading toward zero emission goals the global lithium-ion manufacturing capacity is expected to more than double by 2025. While China is expected to come out on top, with estimated capacity around 65% worldwide, European countries are massively ramping up battery production. For instance, Germany’s capacity is projected to rise to 164 GWh, representing a 15-fold increase in just four years. It’s important to point out that the battery industry is evolving rapidly, and current estimates could change due to economic or political circumstances. However, it’s clear that both battery demand and manufacturing capacity are set to grow.
Analytical requirements in quality control and monitoring
There are three main components of a battery: two terminals made of different chemicals (typically metals), the anode and the cathode; and the electrolyte, which separates these terminals. The electrolyte is a chemical medium that allows the flow of electrical charge between the cathode and anode. Increases in battery performance requires the development of new battery components as well as understanding and addressing the mechanisms that result in performance degradation with repeated charging and discharging cycles. Battery manufacturers must not only deliver consistent overall quality, but they must also deliver it throughout the manufacturing process. Quality needs to be monitored at every stage from raw materials through to cell assembly to maintain production efficiency and minimize waste. Likewise, development of new battery materials must ascertain all the critical parameters that could affect battery performance throughout the entire manufacturing process. The infographic below provides a great overview of the solutions for physical, chemical and structural analysis of cathode, anode, electrolyte and separator material and structure.
Overview of the solutions for physical, chemical and structural analysis of cathode, anode, electrolyte and separator material and structure.
Benefits of each analytical technique
Evaluation of batteries and battery components requires a variety of analytical methods that study materials and component surfaces at various scales. In this section I would like to briefly highlight the benefits of various analytical techniques, including:
- mass spectrometry, as ICP-OES & ICP-MS, GC-MS, IC-MS
- X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS)
- electron microscopy (SEM & TEM)
- molecular spectroscopy, as FTIR, Raman and NIR
- micro-computed tomography (microCT)
- nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR)
- X-ray diffraction, X-ray fluorescence
- rheometry, viscometry, and extrusion.
Elemental composition and impurity analysis of battery material
Deviations in chemical composition or impurities in electrode materials can significantly affect final battery performance. For this reason, chemical composition and elemental impurity analysis are an integral part of the battery manufacturing process. The often-used inductively coupled plasma (ICP) as optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES) or mass s… is one of the most accurate and reliable tools to measure elemental composition and impurity analysis of cathode and anode material, as well as impurities in the electrolyte down to ppt level. Another way to analyze elemental composition and detect impurities is through X-ray fluorescence (XRF) solutions.
Structural analysis of battery components
By combining analytical techniques such as micro-computed tomography (microCT), scanning and transmission electron microscopy (SEM and TEM), DualBeam (focused ion beam SEM; FIB-SEM), Raman spectroscopy, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), and advanced 3D visualization and analysis software, researchers can obtain the critical structural and chemical information they need to build better batteries. With this multimodal information at multiple length scales, researchers can learn fundamental properties of the battery as it changes throughout its lifetime, leading to major breakthroughs in battery design. These details could range from how different components fail as the battery is used to how lithium migrates between electrodes. Find out more on our Battery technology research enhanced with electron microscopy and spectroscopy.
Lithium-ion battery recycling – an emerging field of concern
Growing numbers of electric vehicles and stationary storage capacities present a serious waste-management challenge for recyclers at end-of-life. This waste presents a number of serious challenges of scale. Nevertheless, spent batteries may also present an opportunity to recover strategic elements and critical materials for key components in electric-vehicle manufacture. Elements and materials contained in electric-vehicle batteries are not available in many nations and access to resources is crucial in ensuring a stable supply chain. Recycled lithium-ion batteries from electric vehicles will therefore provide a valuable secondary source of materials. The recycling process is far from simple, however. This Nature publication, “Recycling lithium-ion batteries from electric vehicles,” nicely highlights challenges in lithium-ion battery recycling.