Well done on completing the second week!
Here are the key ideas that you must take away from this week:
The core element of a battery is the cell and the operating principles are the same regardless of the shape and size of the batteries. The cell is a complex object and is comprised of three main successive layers that form a so-called jelly-roll or stack. The main layers are the cathode, the anode and the polymer separator. The jelly-roll or stack is inserted into either a metallic can or into a polymer and metallic pouch. Lithium is a critical element of a lithium-ion battery but is not sufficient as it represents only around 9% of the cell mass.
The supply chain of a lithium-ion battery involves the mining and refining of the metals, chemical reactions of the various metals to form the active material, mixing with additives and forming electrodes and, the battery recycling. A very important thing to consider is the available resources of the raw materials and where they come from. The two most discussed raw materials are lithium and cobalt. Lithium is mostly mined out of the ABC triangle and the resources are enough to sustain the energy transition. On the other hand, cobalt is a specific and comparably limited resource and most of the known resources are located in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The production process is built upon three main different businesses: material synthesis, cell manufacturing and system assembly business. There are several steps within the manufacturing process of lithium-ion batteries such as active material preparation, electrodes manufacturing, cell assembly and formation and assembly of the system. All businesses are not as intensive regarding capital investment requirements.
The lithium-ion battery industry started in the early 90s within the portable electronics market with an annual production of 200 MWh/year. The compound annual growth rate of lithium-ion volume, between 2010 and 2016, was about 25% per year. Until 2017, the annual production has grown exponentially up to around 164 GWh/year and the industry is steadily growing at a high pace.
In the next module, we will focus on a particular industry sector: underground mining. Maybe you have not associated heavy duty machines with batteries before, but next week, we will discuss how electrification of mines can actually enable a circular economy!