News – UK – Battery Storage: Not All Lithium Is Created Equal, And It’s Not All About Lithium Stockhead


If you haven’t lived under a rock, you will likely know that battery storage is an ever growing sector with mining companies involved with essential goods all feeling hot and bothered

The growth is being used by the increased demand for batteries in electric vehicles (EV) and stationary storage systems

In its Global EV Outlook 2020, the International Energy Agency stated that in the scenario of the specified guidelines, which takes into account existing government guidelines, the global capacity of the EV battery is increased from around 170 gigawatt hours (GWh) per year to 1.5 terawatt hours ( TWh) per year in 2030

In the context of the sustainable development scenario, which is fully compatible with the Paris Agreement, which aims to keep the rise in the global average temperature well below 2 degrees Celsius, this value rises to 3 TWh

Stationary usage is also expected to increase, as IDTechEx estimates an average annual growth rate of 38 percent between 2021 and 2031 on a cumulative installed energy capacity of more than 1 TWh

This is due to the need to adopt energy storage systems to ensure that electricity is constantly available to consumers as renewable energies make up a larger part of the energy mix

No discussion of battery storage can avoid delving into the different types of batteries that are currently used and developed

Lithium cobalt oxide batteries (LCO) – also the original lithium ion chemistry – have a cobalt oxide cathode and a graphite carbon anode, which gives them a high specific energy that they can use for cell phones, laptops and Making digital cameras popular

However, this chemistry has a relatively short lifespan (that is why your phone’s battery always seems to lose capacity so quickly), poor thermal stability, and limited load capacity or specific power

Meanwhile, lithium manganese oxide (LMO) offers high thermal stability, increased safety, fast charging and discharging, although both cycle and calendar life are limited

While its capacity is about a third less than that of lithium cobalt oxide, it is often mixed with lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC) to improve specific energy and extend lifespan

This combination is widely used for electric vehicles, with the former providing the initial thrust when accelerating while the latter is responsible for long range

NMC itself is preferred for power tools, e-bikes, and other electric drives, although its exact properties may vary depending on the mix of nickel and manganese used

The popularity of battery storage is growing thanks to the balance between lower cost and good performance

Lithium iron phosphate (LFP) offers a high current rating, a long service life, good thermal stability and increased safety

However, it has a lower specific energy compared to LCO and a higher self-discharge compared to other lithium batteries

Other lithium-based chemicals include lithium-nickel-cobalt-alumina and lithium titanate along with solid state lithium ions and lithium sulfur

Vanadium redox flow batteries (VRFB) have been around for some time and are generally considered to be safer, more scalable, and more durable than their lithium counterparts

However, the need for electrolyte storage tanks means that they are bulky and have a poor energy-to-volume ratio, making them suitable only for stationary applications

Zinc-air fuel cells use zinc and oxygen to store energy and can be manufactured without rare or expensive materials, while sodium-sulfur batteries are already used in large applications worldwide

Sodium-sulfur batteries last longer than lithium-ion batteries, although there are risks associated with handling sodium (notorious for its reaction with water) and sulfur

Fluoride has also been touted as another alternative to lithium and has the potential to last eight times longer. However, recently a liquid electrolyte that can be used at room temperature has been developed

In January 2021, the company reached an agreement with a Chinese manufacturer to appoint a local designer for the prototype of a residential VRFB for the Australian market

In addition, VRFBs were ordered from Singapore’s V-Flow Tech for a regional private customer as well as for the Beverley Caravan Park in WA

The VSPC subsidiary of Lithium Australia (ASX: LIT) develops, produces and supplies cathode formulations for lithium-ion batteries and other high-purity high-performance metal oxides

The company also has a 50 percent stake in Soluna Australia, which manufactures battery storage systems for residential and industrial applications

Redflow (ASX: RFX) is a developer of zinc bromine flow batteries with a daily deep discharge capacity of 100 percent and a high energy density compared to lead-acid batteries

The company has already sold a 60-battery system to a WA-based food supply supplier that shows how the large-scale battery design can be adapted to meet larger industrial requirements

Novonix (ASX: NVX), while a little too big to be considered a small cap, offers lithium-ion battery material development, equipment, and services in more than 14 countries

In February, the company partnered with Emera Technologies to develop and manufacture energy storage systems that target market opportunities in North America

25th February 2021 | Nick Sundich

24 February 2021 | Mike Cooper

22 February 2021 | Mike Cooper

Stockhead provides factual information when there is a reasonable likelihood of doubt
The information is not intended to contain a recommendation or opinion on any financial product

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News – GB – Battery storage: Not all lithium is created equal and it is not just about lithium – Stockhead
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