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Development trend of cathode materials for lithium batteries in 2019: high nickel content is the key to future technical requirements.

Development trend of cathode materials for lithium batteries in 2019: high nickel content is the key to future technical requirements.

Jun 26,2019

1. Classification and development of cathode materials for lithium batteries


The lithium battery is mainly composed of a positive electrode material, a negative electrode material, a separator, an electrolyte, and a battery case. The positive electrode material is the decisive factor for the electrochemical performance of the lithium battery, which directly determines the energy density and safety of the battery, thereby affecting the overall performance of the battery. In addition, since the proportion of the positive electrode material in the cost of the lithium battery material is 30-40%, the cost directly determines the overall cost of the battery, so the positive electrode material plays an important role in the lithium battery and directly leads the lithium. The development of the battery industry. Lithium batteries are generally classified according to the cathode material system, and can be classified into various technical routes such as lithium cobaltate, lithium manganate, lithium iron phosphate, and ternary materials.


Based on the drive of the downstream application market, lithium battery cathode materials have undergone three stages of development. The first stage is driven by consumer batteries, and the positive electrode material is represented by lithium cobalt oxide. In the second stage, with the new energy vehicle market, lithium iron phosphate grows rapidly; in the third stage, the demand for new energy passenger cars is long. Driven by national policies, ternary materials have become the dominant market demand.


2.lithium battery cathode material market status and competition pattern


Benefiting from the growth of new energy vehicle production and sales and the growth of power battery demand, the shipment of key materials for lithium batteries has increased to varying degrees. In 2018, the shipment of lithium battery cathode materials was 275,000 tons, up 28.5% year-on-year.


The price of cathode materials has decreased since 2018. The price of lithium iron phosphate in cathode materials decreased by 41.76% to 49,500 yuan/ton from the beginning of 2018. The price of NCM523 decreased by 29.41% from the beginning of 2018 to 150 million yuan/ton, compared with 2018. The annual peak (240,000 yuan / ton) fell 37.50%.

In 2018, China's total shipments of cathode materials were 275,000 tons, up 28.5% year-on-year. Among them, Shanshan Energy's cathode materials shipments were 21,100 tons, up 21.26% year-on-year, and the market share dropped from 8.37% to 7.67%. The ranking slips to second place.


3. Market Status and Competitive Pattern of Ternary Cathode Materials


The power battery is divided into ternary materials, lithium iron phosphate, lithium cobalt oxide, and lithium manganate batteries according to different cathode materials.


Lithium iron phosphate is currently the safest cathode material for lithium-ion batteries. In the early stages of the development of new energy vehicles, lithium iron phosphate batteries were used as energy storage devices. However, with the update of subsidy policy standards and the gradual increase in consumer demand for new energy vehicles, most new energy passenger vehicles have now turned to ternary material batteries.

At present, the industry's mainstream NCM models include four models 333, 523, 622 and 811. The ternary cathode material mainly increases the energy density by increasing the nickel content, the upper limit of the charging voltage and the compaction density. The high nickel positive electrode generally refers to a material type in which the relative content of nickel is above 0.6 (inclusive).


Data Display:

In 2018, the market size of China's NCM ternary cathode materials reached 23 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 33.72%. The market size market of China's NCM ternary cathode materials has shown rapid growth, mainly benefiting from the rapid development of domestic automotive power batteries, low-cobalt 3C batteries, power tools, electric bicycles and other application markets, driving the NCM ternary cathode material market. The demand continues to grow.

From 2013 to 2018, the number of domestic ternary materials enterprises showed an increasing trend year by year. By the end of 2018, there were 83 ternary materials enterprises in China. At the same time, major cathode materials companies have developed high-nickel ternary materials, expanded production capacity and laid out ternary materials. Precursors to enhance competitiveness.

Since 2017, the number of ternary materials companies in China has slowed down. Most enterprises have been deeply ploughed in their respective segments, but the overall industry concentration has not shown a clear trend.


At present, the industry's competitive landscape is relatively fragmented. The main competitors in the ternary cathode material market include Dangsheng Technology, Shanshan Energy, Zhenhua New Materials, and Long-Term Lithium. In the high-nickel field, Rongbai Technology is the world leader.

The total production capacity of domestic mainstream manufacturers' ternary materials has exceeded 140,000 tons/year, but the overall dispersion of the positive electrode materials market pattern is relatively high. By 2018, the total domestic ternary materials production capacity was 336,700 tons, an increase of 129,300 tons compared with 2017. Incremental from Hunan Shanshan, Beijing Dangsheng, Tianjin Bamo, Xiamen Xiamen Tungsten, Jingmen Greenmei, Ningbo Rongbai, Guizhou Zhenhua, Sichuan Keoneng, Jiangsu Xiangying, Sinochem Hebei, Hunan Bangpu, Yibin Lithium Bao and other enterprises.

In addition, the domestic mainstream manufacturers' high nickel material production capacity has exceeded 50,000 tons, and the large-scale expansion plans of mainstream manufacturers since then are mainly aimed at high-nickel ternary materials, of which NCM811 and NCA expansion plans are mostly.


4.Lithium battery cathode material development trend.    


The future market of ternary cathode materials is broad. China will add 2 million new vehicles by 2020 and add 7 million new energy vehicles by 2025. In 2020, the average number of new energy vehicles will be 50KWh per vehicle. By 2025, the average number of new energy vehicles will be 70KWh per vehicle. The ternary installed capacity is calculated according to 70%, and the ternary material demand per watt hour is calculated according to 1.5-2g. 


From 3C to power, product technology barriers have increased sharply. Technical barriers are high, product recycling and safety need to be improved; understanding and solutions to the inherent mechanisms of these shortcomings of high-nickel materials not only involve the ability of the materials themselves to meet the technical requirements of high-energy-density batteries, but further The relevant strategies for high-nickel materials in large-scale production and battery product applications are determined. The composition of several elements is still being adjusted and explored; it is necessary to weigh the cost, yield, performance and other factors before marketing.

Taking into account both the performance indicators and the cost of optimizing the product, it is decided that the future technology upgrade of the ternary cathode material is fast, and the high-nickel ternary cathode material needs to open the road from the three links of process, equipment and upstream and downstream supply chain. The high nickel content of the element is the only way to limit resources and energy density. At present, the proven reserves of crustal cobalt metal are only about 7 million tons, and the annual output is about 120,000 tons. Obviously, it is difficult to meet the demand for lithium battery supply for new energy vehicles in terms of total reserves and annual supply. High dependency.

At present, the domestic high-nickel material capacity is about 50,000 tons, and the actual release value is less than 50,000 tons. In addition, the high-nickel production line of most high-end product manufacturers is still supplying NCM523 products, and the actual supply is available. Further shrinking, even if the manufacturer's new capacity is being continuously released, it will take time to build a new capacity, so by 2020, high-nickel materials are in a state of tight supply and demand.

In addition, in the case of high-nickel materials, the current policy has a slight slowdown in energy density, and the emphasis on safety has been further improved. Therefore, the development focus of high-nickel materials may be biased toward NCM622, NCM811 in a short period of time. And the NCA's footsteps are temporarily slowing down, but in view of the demand side for the pursuit of high driving range and car lightweight, the long-term trend of high nickel is unchanged.


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