Lithium ion battery cathode materials industry development in China
Definition and classification of lithium ion battery cathode materials
Lithium ion battery is a new type of battery that can be recharged and discharged for many times and recycled. Lithium ion intercalated compounds are used as cathode and anode material. The lithium ion battery cathode materials are the decisive factor of its electrochemical performance, and plays a leading role in the energy density and safety performance of the battery.
At present, the lithium ion battery cathode materials successfully developed and applied mainly include:
● Lithium cobalate (LCO)
● Lithium iron phosphate (LFP)
● Lithium manganate (LMO)
● Ternary material lithium nickel cobalt manganate (NCM)
● Lithium nickel cobalt aluminate (NCA)
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Analysis of industrial chain
The cathode material is the most critical raw material for lithium ion batteries. The upstream of the lithium ion battery cathode materials are lithium, cobalt, nickel and other mineral raw materials, which are combined with conductive agents, adhesives and other precursors.
After a certain process, the precursor can be synthesized into a cathode material, which can be used in different fields.
The lithium ion battery cathode materials are the decisive factors of the electrochemical performance of lithium battery, plays a leading role in the energy density and safety performance of the battery, and the cost of the cathode material accounts for a high proportion.
At present, the global mainstream lithium ion battery cathode materials include lithium cobalate, lithium manganate, lithium iron phosphate and ternary materials.
The downstream lithium battery manufacturing field is mainly divided into power lithium battery, consumer lithium battery and energy storage lithium battery, which are ultimately used in new energy vehicles, mobile phones, portable computers and power storage stations.
At present, lithium, cobalt, nickel, manganese, iron and other metal resources are the main raw materials of lithium battery cathode, and auxiliary materials such as conductive agent and adhesive are also the main raw materials of lithium ion battery cathode materials. There are
Industry development history
From the perspective of manufacturing technology of lithium ion battery cathode materials, before 2006, China mainly used the high-temperature phase solid method for large-scale production of cathode materials. After 2006, China developed the controlled crystallization/solid phase reaction process.
With the controlled crystallization preparation precursor as the technical core, the performance of the material structure was optimized from four aspects. At present, this technology has become the mainstream production technology process in the global lithium ion battery cathode materials industry.
From the perspective of the product development history of cathode materials, driven by the downstream application market, lithium ion battery cathode materials have gone through three stages of development:
● The first stage is driven by consumer batteries, with lithium cobalate as the representative cathode material;
● In the second stage, with the high volume of new energy vehicle market, lithium iron phosphate grows rapidly;
● In the third stage, driven by the demand and policy of new energy passenger vehicles for long mileage, ternary materials have become the dominant market demand.
Industrial policy development
From the perspective of the policy environment of lithium ion battery cathode materials, in recent years, China has issued a number of policies to encourage the development of the lithium battery industry, and relevant industry standards have been issued. In the future, the development of China’s lithium ion battery cathode materials industry will be gradually standardized.
With the continuous implementation of incentive policies in new energy vehicles, energy storage and other fields, the demand of China’s lithium battery industry chain will further increase, and the development prospect of lithium ion battery cathode materials industry will be broad.
Industry development status
According to data, from 2017 to 2021, the output value of China’s lithium ion battery cathode materials industry was growing. In 2021, the output value of lithium battery cathode materials in China was 141.91 billion RMB, with a year-on-year growth of 123.1%.
Based on the shipment volume and average price of each subdivided product of China’s lithium battery cathode material industry, the sales scale of China’s lithium battery cathode material industry continued to rise from 2017 to 2021. In 2021, the sales scale of lithium ion battery cathode materials reached 151.6 billion RMB, with a year-on-year growth of 147.71%.
From the perspective of the subdivided products of positive materials for lithium batteries in China, lithium cobalate accounted for 9.8% of the shipment structure of positive materials for lithium batteries in 2021.
Lithium manganate accounted for 9.65% of the shipment structure of positive materials for lithium batteries in 2021, ternary materials accounted for 38.06% of the shipment structure of positive materials for lithium batteries in 2021, and lithium iron phosphate accounted for the largest proportion, 42.49%.
Lithium cobalate market
Lithium cobalate is mainly used in 3C electronic field due to its advantages of high magnification performance, high working voltage and high compaction density. From 2017 to 2021, the output of lithium cobalate continued to grow, with an average annual growth rate of 23.9%.
In 2021, China’s lithium cobalate output reached a new high of 101000 tons. From January to June 2022, China’s lithium cobalate output was 39600 tons.
Lithium manganate market
From 2017 to 2021, China’s lithium manganate output showed an overall growth trend, with an average annual growth rate of 28.4%. In 2021, the output was 111100 tons, reaching a new height, with a year-on-year growth of 29.8%. From January to June 2022, the output of lithium manganate in China was 32100 tons.
Lithium iron phosphate market
Lithium iron phosphate material has become one of the main development directions of lithium ion battery cathode materials industry in the future due to its good safety performance, large specific capacity, high temperature characteristics, excellent cycling performance, non-toxic and pollution-free characteristics.
From 2017 to 2021, the output of lithium iron phosphate in China showed an increase, and reached 459100 tons in 2021, creating a new high, with a year-on-year growth of 223.3%. From January to June 2022, the output of lithium iron phosphate in China was 384700 tons. Here are the top 20 lithium iron phosphate cathode material companies in China in 2022.
Ternary material market
According to the difference of nickel content, the energy density of the current mainstream ternary cathode materials in the industry increases with the increase of nickel content. It can be divided into:
● Low nickel
● Medium nickel
● Medium high nickel
● High nickel
At present, NCM523 is the most important ternary material in China. In view of its advantages in comprehensive performance, safety, cost and other aspects, it is expected that NCM523 will maintain its leading position in the production and marketing of ternary materials in the coming years.
In 2017-2021, the output of ternary materials in China showed an upward trend. In 2021, the output of ternary materials in China was 440500 tons, up 109.8% year on year. From January to June 2022, the output of lithium iron phosphate in China was 263800 tons.
The advantages of ternary materials are mainly reflected in high specific capacity, good cycling performance, low preparation cost and good safety performance. Because of these advantages, ternary materials are one of the most promising lithium ion battery cathode materials to replace lithium cobalate.