Advanced Li-ion Battery Technologies 2024-2034: Technologies, Players, Forecasts

The global market for Li-ion battery cells alone is forecast to reach US$380 billion by 2034, driven primarily by demand for battery electric cars and vehicles. Improvements to battery performance and cost are required to ensure widespread deployment of electric vehicles and to enable longer runtime and functionality of electronic devices and tools, leading to strong competition in the development of next-generation Li-ion technologies. This report provides in-depth analysis, trends and developments in advanced and next-generation Li-ion cell materials and designs, including silicon anodes, Li-metal anodes, cathode material and synthesis developments, an introduction to solid-state batteries, amongst other areas of development. Details of the key players and start-ups in each technology space are outlined and addressable markets and forecasts are provided for silicon, Li-metal, and cathode material shares.
Li-ion demand forecast. Source: IDTechEx.
Historically driven by demand for consumer electronic devices, the EV and stationary storage markets have become increasingly important. While numerous battery and energy storage options are becoming available for the stationary energy storage market, the high energy density requirements of electronic and portable devices, and electric cars and vehicles, ensures that Li-ion batteries will remain the dominant battery chemistry. However, improvements are still sought after. For consumer and portable devices, longer run-times and faster charging capabilities are needed to keep up with increasing computing power and offer greater functionality. For the potentially lucrative EV market, longer range, short charging times, and of course lower costs and prices are still key to widespread adoption. The battery electric car market is of course a key target for many battery technology developments, offering the opportunity to supply a market where battery demand is forecast to grow beyond 2700 GWh by 2030. Certainly, the development of advanced and next-generation Li-ion technologies will be critical to various sectors, as well as for battery companies aiming to succeed or maintain their place in the market.
Design schematics of lithium-based cell chemistries. Source: IDTechEx.
New anode materials offer the chance of significantly improved battery performance, particularly energy density and fast charge capability. Two of the most exciting material developments to Li-ion are the development and adoption of silicon anodes and Li-metal anodes, the latter often but not always in conjunction with solid-electrolytes. The excitement stems primarily from the possibility of these anode materials significantly improving energy density, where improvements of 30-40% over current state-of-the-art Li-ion cells are feasible. Enhancements to rate capability, safety, environmental profile, and even cost, are also being highlighted by developers. However, shifting from the use of silicon oxides as an additive to higher weight percentages, and the use of lithium-metal anodes have posed serious problems to battery cycle life and longevity, which has delayed and limited commercial adoption so far. This report covers and analyzes the solutions being developed and provides coverage of the various companies aiming to commercialize their high energy anode materials and designs. The report also provides coverage of high-rate anode materials based on metal oxides such as LTO and niobium anodes.
While new cathode materials are expected to provide improvements over incumbents and direct competitors, they are likely to be relatively small, and unlikely to push the performance envelope of Li-ion batteries significantly. Instead, cathode development can help to optimize and minimize the trade-off inherent in deploying one chemistry over another. Material costs and supply chain concerns also play a critical role in the development of next-generation cathodes materials. For example, companies continue to push nickel content in NMC cathodes to maximize performance and reduce cobalt reliance, LMFP cathodes offer a higher energy density than LFP whilst maintaining a similar cost profile, while Li-Mn-rich cathodes can provide similar energy densities to NMC materials whilst reducing cobalt and nickel content. IDTechEx’s report provides an appraisal of the various next-generation Li-ion cathode materials, highlighting their respective strengths and weaknesses and the value proposition they offer, or could offer, to specific applications and markets.
Cell and battery design
Developments to cell and battery pack design can play a similarly important role in ongoing performance gains. At the cell level, electrode structure, current collector design, electrolyte additives and formulations, and the use of additives such as carbon nanotubes will continue to play a role in maximizing Li-ion performance across various applications. At the pack level, cell-to-pack designs are becoming increasingly popular for electric cars as a means to optimize energy density and are being developed by players such as BYD, CATL, and Tesla, amongst others. More innovative battery management systems and analytics also represents a key route to battery improvement, offering one of only a few ways to improve performance characteristics including energy density, rate capability, lifetime, and safety simultaneously – a feat that is notoriously difficult to achieve.
Current Li-ion materials processing and cell manufacturing is dominated by Asia and China. While the US and Europe in particular are now looking to develop and nurture their own battery supply chains, one route to capturing and domesticating value could be to lead the way in innovation and next-generation technology development. Here, the US and Europe fare slightly better. Looking at start-up companies by geography, as a proxy for innovation, and the US comes out as a leader in next generation technology with the inflation reduction act providing further impetus with the DOE also providing funding via the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to companies and start-ups such as Sila Nano and Group14 Technologies. Europe is also home to a growing battery industry and start-up landscape, though it needs to be noted that development in Asia is likely under-represented given the stronger presence of major battery manufacturers and materials companies. Timelines and production plans from various players across different technology platforms are presented in the report alongside analysis of the cost impact of using new Li-ion materials. The report is complemented with a large number of company profiles covering company involvement in a particular technology.