Sat. Sep 23rd, 2023
    New Roadmap Reveals Future of Alternative Battery Technologies

    A roadmap developed by Fraunhofer ISI outlines the trajectory of alternative battery technologies up to 2045. The report examines the advantages, potential applications, markets, and supply chains for various battery technologies, as well as Europe’s position and the costs associated with scaling up production. It also highlights areas of action for the European Union (EU) and Germany in terms of technological sovereignty. The research was conducted as part of the BMBF accompanying research BEMA II.

    Currently, lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) dominate the market due to their versatility in electric vehicles, stationary and mobile devices. Global demand for LIBs is expected to reach nearly one TWh in 2023, driven by the increasing adoption of electric vehicles. However, questions of geopolitical dependencies and technological sovereignty have raised concerns about the future of battery ecosystems. Germany and Europe face challenges such as reducing reliance on raw materials, securing access to battery cells and supply chains, minimizing resource consumption, and establishing a recycling economy.

    To address these issues, Fraunhofer ISI analyzed alternative battery technologies, including metal-ion, metal-sulfur, metal-air, and redox flow batteries. These technologies offer potential for greater sustainability, lower costs, and reduced resource consumption. However, they may also have drawbacks such as lower energy density and lower technological maturity. Sodium-ion batteries are poised for widespread commercialization in mobile applications, while lithium-sulfur batteries could be used in larger drones and electric aircraft in the future. Redox flow batteries, saltwater batteries, and sodium-sulfur high-temperature batteries are also gaining relevance in stationary applications.

    Alternative battery technologies could help reduce dependence on raw materials, as many of them require fewer critical resources compared to LIBs. However, the production and supply of lithium, nickel, and cobalt will remain critical in the next 5 to 10 years due to the lack of large application areas and markets for the alternative technologies.

    Europe is positioned well in certain alternative battery technologies, such as redox flow batteries, lithium-air batteries, and aluminum-ion batteries. However, countries like Japan and China still lead in these areas. The EU has displayed dynamic growth rates for some alternative battery technologies, but LIBs still hold the largest market share.

    To fully realize the potential of alternative battery technologies, political support is crucial. Incentives for the industry, especially in the early stages when market development is uncertain, can encourage investment and innovation. A holistic approach that considers the entire supply chain, basic research, patents, production processes, resource security, and end-user perspectives is necessary. However, this approach is costly and risky, and must be applied selectively to key technologies. Regular screening processes and criteria for funding termination are vital in this regard.

    While LIBs will continue to dominate the market, selected alternative battery technologies offer opportunities to reduce reliance on raw materials, production, and delivery dependencies in specific markets and applications. These technologies contribute to the overall sustainability and resilience of the battery industry.

    – Fraunhofer ISI (provided article)