Innovation and competition in Li-ion battery manufacturing intensifies

By ID TechEX. Published at Aug 20, 2020, in Features

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.

Read: Vulcan achieves impressive lithium recovery rates

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.

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