New EU Battery Law: A Lithium Battery Game-Changer?

The “EU Battery and Waste Battery Regulations” (called the “New Battery Law”) started on August 17. This law will change how batteries are designed, made, and recycled in the EU.

A big focus is the “battery passport” information. The Global Battery Alliance (GBA) said a battery passport has four parts: battery details, material details, ESG (environmental, social, governance) info, and data sources. Will this information challenge battery design copyrights?

The battery passport will also change battery design. What will EU battery designs look like? Will they be different or the same? Companies will need new designs to meet challenges and find opportunities.

The battery passport also has info about making batteries. Is this a challenge or an opportunity for battery makers? How can companies help battery businesses reduce their carbon footprint? This is a big topic right now.

New EU Battery Law: A Lithium Battery Game-Changer?

Impact of the New Battery Law on Battery Design

Will the battery passport’s required disclosures challenge the intellectual property protection of battery designs?

According to several pilot test cases from the Global Battery Alliance (GBA), some details related to battery pack and individual cell designs have been revealed. This includes the energy rating of the entire battery pack and the quality of key metals used.

However, looking at these three pilot cases, the disclosed information is similar to what battery companies currently share with automakers. The GBA’s battery passport doesn’t mandate the release of highly confidential details, such as the trace amounts of metals added or unique manufacturing processes. Thus, the current scope of the battery passport disclosures won’t impact the intellectual property rights of battery companies.

Exploring the Wide Range of Battery Cycle Lives: Power vs. Storage

Battery cycle life is a hot topic. In the pilot cases of the battery passport, Tesla is one of the few companies that disclosed its battery cycle life. However, its disclosed figures are relatively low, especially when compared to some domestic car companies and even lower than those for storage batteries.

In reality, cycle lives for both power batteries and storage batteries can vary widely. A typical car recharges twice a week and lasts about 10 years. This doesn’t require a battery to have over 5,000 cycle lives.

In contrast, storage batteries within a 10 or even 20-year warranty need to achieve close to 7,000 to 12,000 cycles. These wide life ranges are influenced by battery construction, materials used, and key processes.

Many businesses face pressure, especially in the storage battery sector. The competitive storage market pushes companies to innovate for low-cost, long-life battery cells. As a result, we see some high cycle life figures on the market, sometimes even up to 14,000 cycles. Yet, many businesses find a gap between lab-observed life and user expectations.

Regarding why some companies choose not to disclose cycle life or other performance data: first, there are no mandatory rules yet; second, it may depend on how the battery passport is promoted within the business. To address this, new solutions have emerged in long-life battery design and manufacturing.

There are now formulations aimed at long life for storage batteries. These help increase the cycle life from a common 2,000-3,000 to around 5,000-6,000 typical for iron-lithium. New electrolytes, additives, and lithium salts also provide more design and manufacturing possibilities, including new additive use, material choices, and process improvements.

In this, modeling simulation plays a vital role in long-life battery R&D. Modern battery models can simulate internal aging mechanisms, predicting the impact of materials, formulas, designs, and manufacturing on life.

Moreover, appropriate modeling can reduce the need for lengthy multi-cycle testing, speeding up battery R&D targeting life metrics and thus significantly shortening the R&D cycle.

In summary, the issue of battery cycle life covers a wide range of applications for power and storage batteries, unlike singular application needs, resulting in a wide range of cycle lives. As companies face competition and market pressures, seeking solutions for long-life, low-cost batteries becomes key. Modeling and simulation methods play a crucial role, accelerating the battery R&D process.

New EU Battery Law: A Lithium Battery Game-Changer?

What new requirements will the application of the battery passport place on battery design?

The battery passport mandates the disclosure of information on a battery’s materials, energy, lifespan, and more, posing several challenges during the design phase. To achieve goals like extended vehicle range, there’s a need to boost battery energy density within weight and capacity constraints, which remains a primary concern for companies. Simultaneously, the use of eco-friendly materials and cost reduction are crucial design factors. Innovations such as cobalt-free technologies have become emblematic of industry advancements.

The European Battery Act has garnered significant attention, emphasizing the importance of local material recycling and the sustainability of batteries. This has repercussions on battery material choices and manufacturing processes, with sustainability considerations spanning the battery’s entire lifecycle. Given the extended lifecycle of batteries, from design, manufacturing, repeated usage, to eventual disassembly and recycling, sustainability is key. Aspects like welding and adhesive within the battery are not dismantle-friendly, suggesting that designs oriented toward easier recycling will necessitate design changes.

Beyond just performance and cost, contemporary enterprises must also prioritize sustainability as a crucial metric. The introduction of the battery passport will enhance the transparency of cell design, spurring industry collaboration and knowledge-sharing. This holistic approach to design will take into account energy efficiency, environmental impact, material sourcing, and lifecycle management to realize a more sustainable battery design.

Will the cell design configuration in the European market trend towards diversification or become more standardized?

There has long been debate over cell configurations in the battery sector, especially concerning large batteries. Discussions frequently revolve around the Unified Cell concept or the 46 system. The energy storage battery realm has been relatively consistent, with most batteries adopting a square wound hard-shell system, notably the 71173 standard.

However, when it comes to power batteries, there’s more notable diversity in configurations. Power battery designs range from square wound, pouch, blade, to cylindrical shapes, each distinct in form. While the square wound configuration remains dominant, the other three have their own merits. Specifically, the larger cylindrical configurations, like the 46 series, have continually expanded from sizes like 80, 95, 120, etc., with individual battery capacities growing from 3Ah to well over 30Ah. This configuration has gained popularity in the European market, with some vehicle manufacturers supporting power battery businesses in developing large cylindrical designs.

The appeal of the large cylindrical design primarily rests on two factors: Firstly, it capitalizes on the efficiency of the winding production method; secondly, using this cylindrical structure allows for better control over factors like silicon content and the effects of high volume expansion materials on internal stresses.

On the market, various configurations advance side by side. Even though some Western companies, such as Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz, made early investments in Chinese power battery businesses, a clear dominant configuration has yet to emerge. While some businesses opt for the pouch configuration, others lean towards larger cylindrical designs. Some even introduced the Unified Cell concept, which presents a uniform exterior but varied internal constructions. This approach can decrease production diversity, concerning aspects like electrode winding, casing, mechanical components, and so forth.

In conclusion, the selection of battery configurations remains in flux, with no clear front-runner currently. Similar to the Chinese market, this “letting the bullets fly” situation exists in the European market. The investments Western companies are making in Chinese battery businesses and their developmental strategies for configuration selection indicate that the market hasn’t reached a definitive consensus.

What changes can businesses make in R&D to address new challenges and seize new opportunities?

The future development of the power battery industry will primarily revolve around the two major themes of cost reduction and efficiency enhancement. It’s not merely about transitioning from zero to one; it’s more about evolving from one to a hundred – all about refining and speeding up on an established foundation. China leads the way in this aspect, with its battery industry now in a phase characterized by massive volume, decelerated growth, yet still vibrant and of high quality.

This implies that the significant volume of the battery industry will maintain steady growth for some time. In this phase, accelerated development and cost reduction are crucial for a company’s destiny.

In this context, intelligent technologies will bring revolutionary changes to battery design and manufacturing. Traditional battery design methods often involve diversified sampling and testing processes, leading to significant wastage in terms of battery materials, labor, and time.

Is there a new battery design method, along with relevant tools, that can dramatically shorten design cycles – reducing them from the traditional span of a year or two to just a few weeks or months? Similar challenges exist in battery manufacturing. Issues like product yield, energy consumption, emissions, and others must be addressed. Even when exploring new configurations, such as the large cylindrical battery’s terminal welding or the elongated electrode blades, these problems persist.

Hence, new intelligent design and manufacturing techniques are vital to overcoming these challenges. From a design perspective, smart technologies can significantly reduce design cycles and minimize waste. On the manufacturing front, intelligent methods can optimize factory management, boost production efficiency, reduce energy consumption and emissions, and even move towards greener, carbon-neutral factory goals.

In summary, as China’s battery industry approaches a phase of high-quality development, smart technologies will serve as powerful tools for businesses to achieve accelerated growth and cost reductions. The introduction of these technologies will have a positive impact in the realms of battery design and manufacturing, pushing the industry towards greater efficiency and sustainability.

Impact of the New Battery Law on Battery Manufacturing

Battery Passport’s Role in Manufacturing: Challenges or Opportunities?

The newly issued battery passport regulations, which pertain to battery labeling and manufacturing information, present both opportunities and challenges. The implementation of the battery passport aids in standardizing the entire battery manufacturing, usage, and recycling process, elevating its regularity and efficiency. This initiative aids in monitoring various parameters during battery usage, thereby enhancing battery quality. This will have a positive impact on the standardization and development of the entire industry.

Carbon Emissions in Different Stages of Battery Production: Is There a Significant Difference?

The distribution of carbon emissions is relatively balanced between the initial, middle, and final stages. Energy consumption, involved in the entire manufacturing process, such as heating, cooling, and processes like electrolyte injection, all consume energy. The continuity of the battery manufacturing process, from material design to the production process, requires energy management. Therefore, improving the carbon footprint requires collaborative efforts from both battery materials and manufacturing technology.

Technological Pathways to Reducing Carbon Footprint

Manufacturing technology has a significant impact on the carbon footprint, especially concerning improvements in manufacturing processes and procedures. In the short term, energy consumption can be reduced by refining manufacturing processes and workflows. In the long run, improvements must start from the design and material system of the battery, optimizing the entire manufacturing process. For example, by altering and optimizing the battery material system, the energy consumed during manufacturing can be reduced, subsequently improving the carbon footprint.

Role and Assistance of Lithium Battery Equipment Companies

From the perspective of lithium battery manufacturers, equipment plays a pivotal role as both executor and regulator in the battery manufacturing process. Through digital control and the establishment of a data system, equipment can help manufacturers optimize the manufacturing process, enhance quality, and also address the challenges brought about by the new battery passport regulations.