Innovation and competition in Li-ion battery manufacturing intensifies
A new report, "Li-ion Battery Patent Landscape 2020", released by IDTechEx, provides insight into lithium-ion (Li-ion) innovation and trends.
The report highlights the Growth in the Li-ion market and the significant investments being made into building out capacity for manufacturing Li-ion batteries and their components.
This growth comes on the back of demand for Li-ion batteries.
However, alongside this growth is the fact that current Li-ion batteries are beginning to reach their performance limits, which means any improvements to battery technology could prove lucrative.
It is why we are seeing, competition between battery manufacturers intensify, emphasising the importance of battery R&D and protecting innovation.
Delving into the trends being seen in patent applications and filings can be used as a tool to provide insights into the key areas of innovation in Li-ion batteries, areas of development favoured by key players, and where R&D innovation is taking place.
The recent report from IDTechEx, "Li-ion Battery Patent Landscape 2020", reviews key Li-ion patent topics and trends.
IDTechEx’s search finds that since 2010, the total number of Li-ion patent applications that have been filed has grown by approximately 300%, mirroring the growth in the Li-ion market.
This growth in patent applications has occurred across various technology groups, including NMC/NCA and Li-Mn-rich cathodes, silicon anodes, electrolytes and electrolyte additives, separators and nano-carbon use.
Significant growth in the number of applications per year was seen particularly between 2010-2015 and while all areas covered have seen growth since 2010, the number of patents regarding the use of nano-carbons in Li-ion have seen the most substantial growth over the past 10 years, in line with the growing hype, and recent utilisation, of graphene and carbon nanotubes in Li-ion batteries.
Geographically, Chinese assignees have been particularly active and have been responsible for much of the growth in total Li-ion patent applications over the past 5-10 years. Since 2011, Chinese assignees have responsible for approximately 47% of all patent applications, compared to just 17% during the period 2001-2010.
The above graph illustrates the growing importance of Chinese players in Li-ion development and suggests that beyond their dominance in processing and manufacturing, China may move into a dominant IP position too, especially if assignees start to file outside of China, which tends not to be the case currently.