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  • Li-Ion Battery High Energy Anode Innovation & Patent Review - 2019-07-03

  • This review discusses different options evaluated by key lithium-ion battery industry players to synthesize high energy negative electrode materials and corresponding electrodes, according to a machine learning-supported analysis of global patent filings.
  • Comprehension of the high energy negative electrode decision tree allows for identification of promising future R&D directions that have not yet been explored.
  • For example, the decision tree for nano-Si synthetic processes illustrates the variation of approaches chosen by different companies:
    • wet ball milling
    • wet etching
    • conversion of SiO2 aerogel to Si
    • Si CVD (silane gas)
    • formation of gaseous Si in ICP plasma, followed by quenching
    • ultrasonication
    • heat treatment of TiS2
    • deep reactive ion etching
  • The preview can be downloaded here (PDF).
  • Li-Ion Battery High Energy Cathode Innovation & Patent Review - 2019-04-27

  • In our most recent review, we have identified a shift in patenting activity from NMC (nickel-manganese-cobalt) to NCA (nickel-cobalt-aluminum) by key cathode material producers. We attribute this shift to chemical phenomena that make it easier to reduce or eliminate cobalt in NCA as compared to NMC.
  • We have plotted the NCA and NMC supply chains and identified stark differences in the number of involved players.
  • The NCA supply chain includes a limited number of players that have mastered the production and use of NCA in automotive and stationary energy storage applications despite its lower chemical stability as compared to NMC. When additional players master the know-how related to NCA, this supply chain will likely expand.
  • The NMC supply chain includes a large number of players with more fluid relationships as compared to the NCA supply chain. The rate of expansion of the NMC supply chain depends on the availability of cobalt.
  • The preview can be downloaded here (PDF).
  • Battery Japan Conference Recap - 2019-03-07

  • The conference adjacent to Battery Japan in Tokyo once again provided excellent insights into ongoing R&D activities and market developments, thanks to simultaneous translations from Japanese to English.
  • Mr. Hideo Takeshita from B3 Corp. explained how market growth for Li-ion batteries continues in mobile/IT and xEV applications, while the ESS (stationary energy storage systems) market is growing as well, albeit from a smaller base. Li-ion batteries are starting to encroach on lead-acid batteries in automotive SLI (starting, lighting, ignition) and UPS (uninterruptible power supply) battery applications.
  • Both Mr. Takeshita and Mr. Yosikazu Watanabe from Tukushi Shigen Consul (TSC) do not believe lithium & cobalt supply will pose an insurmountable supply risk as the Li-ion battery industry grows further, because there are many new mining projects that will lead to increased lithium supply, and because cobalt content in cathode materials has already dropped to 5% for NCA (nickel-cobalt-aluminum) and to 15% for NCM (nickel-cobalt-manganese) materials.
  • A further highlight was the presentation by Dr. Shinji Nakanishi from the Advanced Material Engineering Division of Toyota, who illustrated how they modify interfaces in solid-state batteries with the help of advanced surface treatment processes. These processes can be applied to materials in bulk powder form rather than at device level. This leads to high process throughput at large scale and manageable costs. Solid electrolyte particles are deposited using a liquid coating process in the presence of a binder, which again, as a rule is more efficient and robust than powder compression & sintering in devices.
  • Toyota expects a higher energy density for solid-state batteries, but a low power density as compared to Li-ion batteries based on liquid electrolytes. Although high power densities are achievable with solid-state batteries, there are likely negative effects on longevity upon applying high currents (crack formation). The presentation by Toyota together with the targeted acquisition of Maxwell Technologies by Tesla supports our prediction from 2018 that supercapacitors will be combined with solid-state batteries in automotive and ESS systems.
  • Solid-State Li-Ion Battery Innovation & Patent Review - 2019-01-22

  • Stemming from increased safety and energy storage per weight requirements, solid-state batteries are being employed in applications of increasing size, according to the ‘Solid-State Lithium-Ion Battery Innovation & Patent Review’ by b-science.net LLC.
  • Prominent innovators include Bolloré/Blue Solutions, BMW, FDK/Fujitsu, Hyundai/Kia, Ionic Materials, Medtronic, Murata Manufacturing, ProLogium, QuantumScape, TDK/ATL, Toyota, Volkswagen and others.
  • Research Highlights

    Among 8 suppliers that will offer solid-state batteries in 2019, the application focus moves from micro-scale (e.g. sensors) to small scale electronics applications (e.g. notebook batteries), driven by increased safety requirements. Despite the urgent need for higher driving range at lower costs in the automotive sector, it will still take more than 5 years until automotive solid-state batteries will be market-ready because of challenging longevity and fast charge/discharge requirements.
  • Patent Analysis Reveals Technology Risks

    A machine learning-supported analysis of patent portfolios by key players reveals the challenge of achieving higher energy storage per weight without increased technology risks. Some companies base their efforts on electrolytes with high lithium conductivities that however release toxic gases upon contact with water. Others employ less hazardous electrolytes that are more difficult to process and less Li-ion conductive, leading to performance challenges. A limited number of players has filed well-rounded patent portfolios that employ a multitude of inventions to balance performance, safety, raw material sourcing and process up-scaling risks.
  • The preview can be downloaded here (PDF).
  • Battery Technology Show in London - 2018-11-13

  • Louis Brasington from the Cleantech Group has written an excellent recap of the roundtable discussion we joined at the Battery Technology Show in London. Promising technologies and startup companies are highlighted.
  • The Battery Show North America - 2018-09-15

  • Booth visitors from battery, automotive & aerospace companies have been very interested in our energy storage innovation & patent review & in our ML-based patent search tools.
  • It has been recognised that currently 'hot technologies' with wide trade press coverage - such as the adoption of solid-state batteries - have been well visible in the patent literature since before 2014.
  • Even newer technologies - such as Li-sulfur / Li metal containing batteries - are already investigated intensively according to our patent literature studies while the trade press is largely silent about these topics.
  • Supercapacitors Innovation & Patent Review - 2018-09-07

  • The supercapacitor module contains IP radar diagrams for 109 companies or alliances.
  • Correlations between capacitor type (EDLC, asymmetric & symmetric hybrid capacitors) and application type are identified.
    A gradual shift in patenting activity towards symmetric hybrid capacitors has occured, while substantial improvements in energy density are claimed for EDLC cells.
  • 82 technology stacks have been identified for 51 companies or alliances, which represent an assembly of patent families that likely define a current or future product (material, cell or module).
  • >70 links to company product pages are provided.
  • The strategic discussion explains why the combined adoption of supercapacitors with solid-state Li-ion batteries is a likely future scenario.
  • To get a free preview, please register on our site.
  • seif impact academy - 2018-03-23

  • During the next five months, we will participate in the Zurich-based seif Impact Academy, which supports impact enterprises during the growth phase. Our coach is an IT security executive from the Swiss financial services industry.
  • Making technology less manipulative - 2018-03-09

  • In this thought-provoking Stanford Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders presentation, Tristan Harris (Time Well Spent) explains how Internet businesses that finance themselves through advertising employ machine learning techniques to attract users to spend as much time as possible on their site.
  • According to Tristan, if a user pays for a service on the Internet, the interests between the user and the service provider are better aligned towards solving a problem within the shortest time possible.
  • As it is our purpose to facilitate energy storage research, our target is that users spend as little time as necessary on our site to increase innovation productivity. Consequently, it is our intention to finance ourselves through user contributions rather than through advertising.
  • A new era for energy politics - 2018-02-02

  • At this insightful panel discussion at the World Economic Forum Meeting in Davos, it became apparent how a number of simultaneous technological, economic and political developments have generated an irreversible trend towards an electrified energy landscape based predominantly on solar power and electrochemical energy storage.
  • 1) Solar power has become the most competitive way to produce electricity in most areas and allows addressing the issues of climate change, air pollution, energy independence, and economic competitiveness.
  • 2) The electrification of automotive transport is the only feasible way to address inner city pollution. Because this problem is most acute in emerging countries, these countries are leading investments into next generation industries that will push fossil technologies into niche applications across the globe.
  • 3) Digital technologies accelerate these trends and allow for additional efficiency gains.
  • Commercialization of battery materials - 2017-11-12

  • A recently published article by Prof. Vinayak Dravid from Northwestern University and coworkers very nicely illustrates the challenges of converting battery-related inventions demonstrated at the R&D bench level to real life applications. A systematic framework is proposed based on observations from the pharmaceutical industry. Because battery performance is typically limited by interface effects, it is important to emphasize that the more different material combinations are tested at each successive technology readiness level, the higher the likelyhood that a battery material will be incorporated into a real life system.
  • Which metals are used in batteries? - 2017-09-03

  • Our database allows us to answer this question in a convenient and forward-looking manner. A keyword search (title or abstract) in patents published this year shows that in 41% of metal- or metaloid-related patents, lithium is mentioned. Lead follows with 11%.

    metal type in batteries

    Silicon is ranked third with 6%. The graph below demonstrates that silicon is patented much more frequently in batteries nowadays as compared to the years 2001 and 2010. A further analysis aided by machine learning models that identify relevancy with respect to Li-ion battery cathodes and anodes shows that a good part of the reason why silicon is mentioned more often is its relevancy with respect to negative electrodes of Li-ion batteries. A relevancy score of 30 (100: highly relevant, 30: relevant, 0: not relevant) has been used as a cut-off in the graphs below.
    Although aluminum is also relevant to Li-ion battery electrodes (especially cathodes), it is patented more often in other contexts in the battery field, such as packaging.
    For nickel and iron, an increase in patenting activity can be observed and these metals remain highly relevant to Li-ion battery cathodes.

    trend metal type in batteries Si, Al, Ni, Fe

    An increasing number of patents can also be observed for copper, but not specifically in relation to Li-ion battery electrodes.
    Manganese and cobalt are confirmed to be of very high relevance for Li-ion battery cathodes, which is the context in which they are typically patented in batteries.
    On a relative basis, zinc is being patented less frequently in relation to batteries as compared to the year 2001, and its relevance with respect to Li-ion battery electrodes remains low.

    trend metal type in batteries Cu, Mn, Co, Zn