Lithium-ion is “likely to remain the technology of choice” for electric vehicle (EV) batteries over the next decade— but “minimum standards” should govern material supplies and recycling, says a new study.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) report, Global EV Outlook 2018, said “clearly defined and respected norms and requirements for traceability are needed” across the batteries supply chain, after the global stock of EVs climbed from one million in 2015 to more than three million in 2017.
“Regulators can play an important role in setting minimum standards related to labour and environmental conditions, and in developing effective instruments to ensure that they are properly enforced,” the report said.
And the report said regulatory frameworks should not only target the EV battery materials supply chain, “but also the end-of-life and material recycling processes”— to reduce recycling costs and “maximise the residual value of batteries at the end of their useful life”.
The next generation of LIBs entering the mass production market around 2025 is expected to have low cobalt content, high energy density and NMC 811 cathodes, the report said.
Citing research by the Brussels-based industry-oriented Energy Materials Industrial Research Initiative, the report said: “Silicon can be added in small quantities to the graphite anode to increase energy density by up to 50% while electrolyte salts able to withstand higher voltages will also contribute to better performance.”
In the 2025-30 period, Li-ion technology “might be overtaken by other battery designs that boast higher theoretical energy densities as well as lower theoretical costs”, such as Li-air and Li-S batteries, the report said.
“However, their technology readiness level is very low, practical performance has yet to be tested and the performance advantage over lithium-ion is still unproven.”
The full IEA report is online.