According to a report published by IDTechEx, Li-ion batteries are starting to near their performance ceiling. Trade-offs are having to be made to increase energy density with the use of high nickel cathodes and high capacity anodes plagued by safety and life cycle problems.
Innovation into new electrolyte formulations are likely to play a key role in stabilizing these materials and IDTechEx finds that the number of patent applications made regarding electrolytes for Li-ion batteries from in 2018, the latest year of complete data, compared to 2010, was 270% higher.
Delving into the trends being seen in patent applications and filings can provide insight into the key areas of innovation in Li-ion batteries and the areas of development favored by key players, helping to provide insight into how Li-ion technology can continue to improve.
Solid-state batteries are a key development for energy storage with the potential to improve several key metrics, including energy density and safety. However, the technology may still be some way-off mass-market commercialization and developments are still required to improve their cost, rate capability and manufacturability. IDTechEx have covered solid-state technology for a number of years.
Nevertheless, liquid electrolytes are still a key area of development with additives potentially playing a decisive role in commercializing new anode and cathode materials, including silicon anodes and high-nickel NMC. This can be seen in the patent data, where IDTechEx find that 47% of Li-ion electrolyte patent applications since 2011 were regarding electrolyte additives.
While there is rightly a considerable amount of interest and hype around solid-state electrolytes, the sustained high volume of patent applications on additives for organic electrolytes suggests they will maintain a key role in Li-ion for years to come.