EPower Fo­cus

A Lithium-ion bat­ter­ies: A look at what’s in store

Electronics Bazaar - - Contents - By Shruti Mishra

The lim­ited avail­abil­ity of non-re­new­able en­ergy re­sources and the high car­bon diox­ide emis­sions from ve­hi­cles have forced the global au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try to look for sus­tain­able mo­bil­ity so­lu­tions. And the in­ven­tion of elec­tri­cal drive tech­nol­ogy is a re­sult of that hunt. One prime seg­ment that di­rectly ben­e­fits from the rapid adop­tion of elec­tri­cal ve­hi­cles is lithium-ion bat­ter­ies. In re­cent times, with the surge in de­mand for elec­tric ve­hi­cles, the rel­e­vance of lithium-ion bat­ter­ies as a source of power has also in­creased man­i­fold.

Lithium-ion bat­ter­ies have at­tracted world­wide at­ten­tion as they have the po­ten­tial to power the ve­hi­cles of the fu­ture. Due to their com­pact size, light weight and high ef­fi­ciency, these bat­ter­ies have quickly re­placed the nick­el­metal hy­dride bat­ter­ies that were be­ing used in elec­tric ve­hi­cles so far.

What’s more, in­dus­tries like tele­com, med­i­cal and con­sumer elec­tron­ics are also mov­ing to­wards lithium-ion bat­ter­ies. These are ideal for heavy duty ap­pli­ca­tions be­cause they are im­mune to high tem­per­a­ture risks, vi­bra­tion and power fluc­tu­a­tions. More im­por­tantly, un­like the con­ven­tional leadacid bat­ter­ies, lithium-ion bat­ter­ies are much more ef­fi­cient and show zero sul­fa­tion. The only down­side of us­ing lithium-ion bat­ter­ies is that they are more ex­pen­sive.

Types of lithium-ion bat­tery con­fig­u­ra­tions

Man­u­fac­tur­ers are de­vel­op­ing an ex­ten­sive port­fo­lio of lithium-ion bat­tery de­signs to cater to the unique needs of each cus­tomer. The three pri­mary lithium-ion bat­tery con­fig­u­ra­tions are listed below.

Cylin­dri­cal cells: This is the most ba­sic and widely used lithium-ion cell shape. Ease of man­u­fac­tur­ing and good me­chan­i­cal sta­bil­ity is the main ad­van­tage of this cell for­mat. This de­sign is en­closed within a sealed can, which can with­stand high in­ter­nal pres­sure. It is also equipped with a re-seal­able vent that re­leases pres­sure dur­ing ex­ces­sive charge. Cylin­dri­cal cells are mostly used in ap­pli­ca­tions that do not de­mand an ul­tra com­pact bat­tery, like bio­med­i­cal in­stru­ments and power tools.

Pris­matic bat­ter­ies: These come in a more ro­bust and eco­nom­i­cal shape. Com­monly known as a bat­tery pack, this con­fig­u­ra­tion holds a large num­ber of cylin­dri­cal lithi­u­mion cells as a sin­gle struc­ture. In this con­fig­u­ra­tion, lithium-ion cell units are ar­ranged in se­ries or in par­al­lel, depend­ing on the re­quired volt­age and cur­rent. One can cus­tomise the

bat­tery pack’s size and di­men­sions as per in­di­vid­ual ca­pac­ity re­quire­ments.

To avoid dam­ag­ing the cells, lithium-ion bat­tery packs are hard-shelled with a strong cas­ing. Be­sides con­sumer elec­tron­ics, these bat­tery packs are also used in wind stor­age, so­lar porta­bles, elec­tric ve­hi­cles, and med­i­cal equip­ment be­cause of their high en­ergy ca­pa­bil­i­ties. One of the great­est ad­van­tages of this for­mat is that it al­lows flex­i­ble de­signs and im­proves space util­i­sa­tion.

The pouch bat­tery: This is a com­par­a­tively new de­sign, which is pack­aged us­ing con­duc­tive mul­ti­layer foils and does not have a rigid con­tainer. The pouch bat­tery de­sign is sim­pler than the cylin­dri­cal cell and more flex­i­ble than the pris­matic bat­tery. Un­like the above two, this bat­tery de­sign elim­i­nates metal en­clo­sures and is just shrink-wrapped. When ex­posed to high hu­mid­ity lev­els and ex­cess heat, the ser­vice life of this bat­tery gets re­duced.

Be­cause of its light weight and flex­i­bil­ity, pouch bat­tery de­signs are mostly used in ap­pli­ca­tions that re­quire ul­tra-thin en­clo­sures, like smart­phones, tablets, mil­i­tary ap­pli­ances, etc.

The mar­ket sce­nario

The ex­perts fore­see that the In­dian mar­ket for lithi­u­mion bat­ter­ies could ex­pe­ri­ence a boom across all sec­tors—con­sumer elec­tron­ics, elec­tric ve­hi­cles (EVs), and the new­est mar­ket seg­ment, en­ergy stor­age.

Ac­cord­ing to a Re­search and Mar­kets re­port ti­tled ‘In­dia’s lithium-ion bat­tery mar­ket 2011-2021’, this mar­ket is pro­jected to grow at a CAGR of over 32 per cent be­tween 2016 and 2021. The in­creas­ing de­mand for per­sonal mo­bil­ity, the adop­tion of por­ta­ble health­care de­vices, and the fo­cus on re­new­able and grid en­ergy ap­pli­ca­tions are all help­ing the lithium-ion mar­ket to ex­pand in In­dia. Be­sides this, strin­gent reg­u­la­tions by the govern­ment to curb the coun­try’s car­bon emis­sions and grow­ing con­sumer in­ter­est in elec­tric ve­hi­cles will fur­ther im­prove the busi­ness land­scape.

Govern­ment ini­tia­tives

Ever since ve­hic­u­lar pol­lu­tion lev­els in In­dia came un­der the ju­di­cial scan­ner, the govern­ment of In­dia has taken var­i­ous mea­sures to pro­mote elec­tric cars. In or­der to achieve its goal of mak­ing In­dia a 100 per cent elec­tric ve­hi­cle na­tion, the govern­ment has asked the In­dian Space Re­search Or­gan­i­sa­tion (ISRO) to share its tech­nol­ogy for man­u­fac­tur­ing lithi­u­mion bat­ter­ies with the pri­vate sec­tor, to en­able its use in elec­tric ve­hi­cles. This move will not only give a ma­jor boost to the new tech­nol­ogy but also slash the cost of lithium-ion bat­ter­ies, which, in turn, can lower the fi­nal cost of the EV it­self.

Also, the re­cent col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween Ja­panese gi­ants - Suzuki Mo­tor Cor­po­ra­tion, Toshiba Cor­po­ra­tion and Denso Cor­po­ra­tion—to start a lithium-ion bat­tery pack joint ven­ture in In­dia, has bol­stered the ‘Make in In­dia’ ini­tia­tive. This tie-up will spur the indige­nous man­u­fac­ture of lithium-ion bat­ter­ies that will au­to­mat­i­cally bring down costs and, hence, in­crease the sales of elec­tric ve­hi­cles in the coun­try.

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