Winning the Global Battery Arms Race
Part 2: A Method for U.S. Leadership
The first post in this series examined the National Blueprint for Lithium Batteries, 2021–2030, published by the Federal Consortium for Advanced Batteries (FCAB) in June 2021. It states, “Successful domestic production and reliable supply chains in both markets [commercial and national defense] will be imperative for our country’s economic competitiveness and security.”
China recognized the importance of establishing a Li-ion cell manufacturing base a decade ago. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), China increased its Li-ion cell production capacity from 9 gigawatt hours (GWh) in 2010 to 145 GWh in 2017. The graphic at left (from Benchmark Mineral Intelligence and included in the FCAB Blueprint) shows the dominance of China as of March 2021.
The Blueprint states, “The worldwide lithium-battery market is expected to grow by a factor of 5 to 10 in the next decade.” To meet the increased demand, global manufacturing capacity is projected to grow from 747 Gigawatt-hours (GWh) in 2020 to 2,492 GWh in 2025, as shown in the graphic at right (also from Benchmark Mineral Intelligence and included in the FCAB Blueprint).
What must the U.S. do over the next five years to compete successfully with China and Europe in battery development and production?
The Blueprint presents a holistic approach to the development of a sustainable domestic supply chain with goals at each major juncture from raw materials to end-of-life recycling and reuse.
The third goal of the Blueprint is specific to development, production, and commercialization: “Stimulate the U.S. electrode, cell, and pack manufacturing sectors.” Near-term objectives (by 2025) include:
• Promote the development of novel cell designs that reduce processing time, enable faster cell assembly, and decrease formation costs.
• Dedicate resources to expedite the scale-up and commercialization of novel technologies and manufacturing techniques.
• Develop a federal policy framework for supporting U.S. companies manufacturing of electrodes, cells, and packs domestically and that encourage demand growth for lithium-ion batteries.
These are clear descriptions of what to do, but how should they be done?
In December 2019, Dr. George Crabtree, Director, Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR), Argonne National Laboratory, penned an article, “What Should the United States Do to Regain Leadership in Lithium-ion Battery Manufacturing?” He asserts that the U.S. can achieve a competitive or even a leading position in Li-ion battery manufacturing with the right technology and production process. He identifies a silicon-anode that significantly increases the energy density of lithium-ion batteries, but qualifies that, “the anode material must contain a significant amount of silicon, as much as 50% or more.” He also says the advanced battery technology, “should be capable of being ‘dropped in’ to the current Li-ion battery manufacturing process.”
At Enovix, we’ve achieved a step-change increase in energy density through our innovative 3D cell architecture that enables the use of silicon as the only active lithium cycling material in the anode. We’ve coupled this with an equally innovative ‘drop-in’ 3D cell assembly process that leverages most of today’s standard lithium-ion battery manufacturing techniques.
In the next post, we’ll take a closer look at our achievements in core technology and cell design. If you want to take a sneak peak, watch this video that describes our novel 3D cell architecture.