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Global patent activity shows growing interest in solid-state lithium-ion batteries

Mon, 11/29/2021 - 14:20 -- Paul Crompton

Japan is leading the world in solid-state lithium-ion battery development, at least according to the latest figures regarding patent filing from intellectual property firm Appleyard Lees.

Data-to-date research shows Japan filed the highest number of new patents in 2020, followed by China, the US and South Korea. 

European countries are lagging behind, with Germany having the highest number of filings but still underperforming when compared to the leading market players, according to Appleyards. 

The full dataset for 2020 is not yet available, however data from two years ago showed solid-state battery patent applications have grown exponentially since 2013, peaking at around 600 new applications in 2019.

The claims were made in Appleyard’s ‘Inside Green Innovation: Progress Report 2021’.

The report stated: “It’s important to note that although the number of yearly, new filings for solid-state batteries is still significantly lower than those for lithium-ion batteries, the former should soon surpass the latter. 

“Arguably, this may have already happened in jurisdictions outside China. This reflects its potential as a key innovation, particularly for EV markets.” 

Assignees of applications for solid state batteries include car manufacturers such as Toyota, Honda and Hyundai, which have filed new patent applications in recent years. 

Companies such as Japanese electronics manufacturers Murata MFG Japan, TDK and battery maker FDK are also filing solid-state applications. 

The most rapid growth in recent years has come from Chinese automotive supplier and battery cell manufacturer Svolt Energy Tech, which established its European production site in Germany in 2019. 

Overall, Svolt has filed over 550 patents worldwide, indicating its ambition to be a key player in the EV market. 

Lithium-ion battery applications

The report noted the recent top patent filers for lithium-ion batteries within China are major players in the automobile industry, with Hefei Guoxuan, Ningde Amperex Technology Ltd. and BYD subsidiaries manufacturing battery products suitable for vehicles and their electronic management systems.

Outside China, German engineering and technology firm Robert Bosch is a key assignee for lithium-ion technologies, consistently filing among the largest numbers of priority filings each year in the past ten years, according to the report.

As in China, car manufacturers are notable applicants, and include: General Motors (US), Toyota (Japan) and BMW (Germany). 

The report noted: “Even among the largest assignees, filing numbers have remained relatively low in recent years. It’s unclear whether the notable dip from 2020 onwards is due to an incomplete dataset or if R&D has been affected by supply chain and manufacturing issues.” 

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