Jul 16, 2020

The Trend of High Nickel Is Obvious When Cathode Material Supplements Shortboard

The number of new energy vehicles has a great effect on the demand for EV batteries. According to the planning of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the ownership of the domestic new energy vehicle will reach 5 million by 2020 with the sales of 2 million, accounting for about 12% of the total sales. It is estimated that the demand for EV batteries will reach 90GWh in 2020 based on the average energy consumption of 45kWh.

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The Cathode Material Is the Key to Improving the Energy Density of The Power Battery

The cathode material is currently the most critical raw material in lithium batteries, which determines the core performance of the battery in terms of capacity, life, and others. Therefore, the cathode material is the most important sub-link of the battery, accounting for about 40% of the cost of lithium battery cells %, 13%-15% of the total power battery cost.

At present, the specific capacity of the positive electrode is 150-160mAh/g, while the negative electrode of graphite has reached the level of 330-340mAh/g. According to the barrel effect, the shortcoming of the EV battery is the positive electrode. Therefore, increasing the specific capacity of the positive electrode is essential to improve the energy density of the entire cell, which can significantly reduce the amount of materials used in the power battery to reduce the cost.

The positive electrode material mainly provides lithium ions for the battery. The lithium-ion of the positive electrode material is detached to the negative electrode during charging, and the lithium-ion returns to the positive electrode through the electrolyte during discharge, generating a potential difference in the positive electrode and the negative electrode to form an operating voltage.

Industrial Chain of Cathode Material

The upstream of the positive electrode industry chain is mainly some mineral resources as raw materials, some conductive agents, and binders as auxiliary materials; the downstream is battery cells, in addition to power batteries used in new energy vehicles, it is also used in consumer electronics and energy storage.

Different Cathode Materials Used in Various Application Fields Have Different Strengths

There are many types of positive electrode materials, mainly including lithium iron phosphate, lithium manganate, and ternary lithium, of which ternary lithium is divided into nickel cobalt manganese NCM and nickel cobalt aluminum NCA, in which nickel cobalt manganese ternary batteries are based on the relative proportion of each element It can be subdivided into NCM333, NCM523, and NCM622, and NCM811.

The main advantages of LMO materials are rich raw material resources, low cost, and good battery safety, used in Japanese electric vehicles early. But their main disadvantages are the low specific energy of the battery and the poor cycle stability, which has been rarely used in EV batteries.

LFP material is the earliest technology route for power batteries used in the development of new energy vehicles in my country. Its main advantages are abundant raw material resources, low cost, good battery safety, and good cycle performance, but with a low specific energy.

The specific naming of ternary materials is usually based on the relative content of elements. Compared with cathode materials such as lithium iron phosphate and lithium manganese oxide, the application of ternary materials can effectively improve the energy density of battery cells and increase the cruising range of electric vehicles.

Ternary Materials Has Become the Most Popular in the Current Market

The subsidy policy standard before 2016 is not energy density. Lithium iron phosphate cathodes with low specific energy but good safety performance have developed rapidly. However, with the subsidy and double integral policies also beginning to pay more attention to energy density, the most important technical indicators of lithium-ion batteries are specific energy and cycle performance. The higher the specific energy, the lower the material cost per unit energy. The longer the cycle life, the lower the actual cost of the battery. Therefore, the ternary material has developed rapidly, and it is currently the main cathode material for passenger car power batteries.

Data show that the output of new energy vehicles in February this year was 11,921, of which 11,283 were passenger cars, accounting for 95%. Among the installed battery capacity of passenger cars, ternary batteries accounted for 97.33%.

With the increasing demand for cathode materials in the downstream field, ternary cathode materials are expected to continue to grow. It is estimated that the shipment of ternary cathode materials will reach 1.5 million tons in 2025, and the growth rate in 2019-2021 will be 44%, 22%, and 26%.

In the industrialization path of ternary cathode materials ranges from NCM111, NCM523, NCM622 to NCM811, the trend of increasing nickel and reducing cobalt is obvious, where the current commercial application of NCM811 has matured.

It is expected that by 2020, the energy density of EV battery cells will reach 350Wh/kg, and the cost will fall below 0.6 yuan/Wh; by 2025, the specific energy of EV battery cells will reach 400Wh/kg, and the cost will drop to 0.5 yuan/Wh; by 2030, the specific energy of power battery cells reached 500Wh/kg, and the cost dropped to 0.4 yuan/Wh.

At present, lithium iron phosphate is limited by the performance and technology of the material, and the energy density of the battery core cannot meet the requirements of 300Wh/kg or even 350Wh/kg in 2020. The energy density of the current mainstream in ternary batteries of NCM523 and NCM622 can reach 160-200Wh/kg and 220-230wh/kg, while NCM811 energy density can reach more than 280wh/kg, compared with NCM523 and NCM633 energy density increased by 18% And 12%. To achieve the goal of 2020, choosing the high energy density NCM811 technology route as the cathode material is the best choice for most car companies.

We believe that in the future, new energy vehicles will mainly rely on the ternary high-nickel technology route. In the medium and long term, high-nickel cathode materials will become the mainstream of application. Among them, NCM811 is expected to usher in a market outbreak in the pursuit of endurance.

In the first 10 months of 2019, the domestic installed capacity of NCM811 was 2.88GWh, a year-on-year increase of 37335.81%. The installed battery companies are mainly CATL, whose main supplier of NCM811 is Ningbo Ronbay. In 2018, NCM811 of Ningbo Ronbay sold 5,926 tons, accounting for 74% of the domestic market share. It is estimated that the domestic application of NCM811 in ternary cathode materials is expected to reach 17% in 2020 and 45% in 2025.


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