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Lithium iron phosphate battery positioning
- Mar 05, 2018 -

LFP began to rise in the United States in 2003. This wave of rapid popularization in China in 2004, the research and industrialization of LFP around the international climax in 2008, but by 2010 the United States LFP research and industrialization began to cool down It's In China, due to the "jet lag" between China and the United States, the domestic LFP boom began to cool down gradually after A123 went bankrupt in late 2012.

    LFP, once the hot, ugly material in the land of China, can be a "magical piece of gold", and I believe many people now have very complicated feelings about it. After experiencing the ups and downs, where the  domestic LFP industry move towards ? This is a question worthy of thinking . 

    In discussing the development of LFP, we must first define the positioning of LFP. Only the general direction of the accurate, the entire LFP industry chain to the healthy development. What are the advantages of LFP? Many people will say that low-cost, good safety and long cycle life. In my opinion, the advantages of LFP only a little long life cycle, the other two are paradoxical. Then the disadvantage of LFP? Also in the author's opinion, LFP biggest drawback is the low energy density, as to what low conductivity, low density are not the decisive factor.

So I ask the reader here to think about lithium-ion battery relative to other basic advantages of the secondary battery is what? I personally think that the most prominent advantage of lithium is the high energy density and long cycle life, which is determined by the nature of the embedded response characteristics.

    We can not insist on lithium battery safety and rate and temperature performance than the advantages of water-based secondary batteries, which is also based on the inherent characteristics of embedded systems based on organic reactions.

    What I want to emphasize here is that the most fundamental reason for the so-called "safety" of LFP batteries relished by Chinese people lies in their low energy density, which is well understood from the simplest law of conservation of energy and the "safety" of LFP batteries. It is only relative.

    Therefore, the development of lithium is the "Yangzhang" and "avoid shortcomings," the same issue, but the first is to ensure that "Yangzong" high energy density and long cycle life is the most fundamental "Gang" lithium. If this is clear, then it is easy to understand that neither olivine nor spinel positive material can shake the dominance of layered materials (LCO, NCM and NCA), the underlying reason being that only the layered material is simultaneously Have the most basic characteristics of high energy density and long cycle life.

    In general, LFP cells do not meet the energy densities required for PHEVs and EVs (pure electric vehicles), and LFP cells can only be used on HEVs. Many domestic lithium battery industry colleagues on the lithium iron phosphate battery applications in pure electric vehicles have great expectations, in fact most of the domestic pure electric vehicles are powered by LFP battery. There are many factors, but I want to emphasize here is that LFP battery is impossible for pure electric vehicles, which is already the consensus of the international electric car industry, which is the most fundamental reason for bankruptcy A123 one.

    For HEV, LMO, LFP and ternary materials are all available, each with their own individual characteristics. After a brief analysis, we can see that in the future electric car market, LFP is nothing but NCM and LMO in the HEV hybrid market, one-third of the world only. I personally think that full mixing is technically feasible, but at this stage LFP batteries for micro-hybrid and shallow mixing more feasible. Starting / stopping power for cars / motorcycles is also a larger market, but the technology threshold in this area is higher (low-temperature performance to pass), manufacturers are also faced with how to further improve the price-competitive pressure with lead-acid. HEV applications require the use of nano-LFP production of high-power batteries, to meet its low temperature and rate performance requirements.

    In addition to HEV electric car applications, I believe that electric bicycles is also a larger LFP battery potential applications. Now 90% of electric bicycles are lead-acid batteries, in terms of the affordability of consumers, the cost of lithium is still too high. But whether it is environmental protection or performance point of view, lithium batteries will replace lead-acid batteries, this is only a matter of time. But unfortunately, almost no domestic lithium iron phosphate electric bike products available.

    The reason, I personally think that this is mainly because L F P in the country has been a myth, I feel that they are "tall", is designed to do high-end electric cars, of course, disdain to do "low-end" electric bicycles. However, I personally think that China just needs to develop L F P electric bicycles. On the one hand, China's national conditions require, on the other hand, it also accumulates experience and technology for the development of large power batteries. In the field of electric bicycles, LFP batteries will face competition from LMOs. However, I personally think that LFP batteries have more technical advantages, but how to reduce costs is still the primary issue. For electric bicycles, the energy density of the battery is more important, which requires the use of spherical micron-sized LFP material to improve electrode compaction density.

    The past two years, the domestic application of LFP batteries in the energy storage hype uproar. In the field of energy storage, lead-acid is still the world now. However, due to the low energy density of lead-acid and cycle life, coupled with environmental considerations, the proportion will certainly be slowly reduced, but it takes a long time to achieve. At present, there are mainly three new batteries are more promising for energy storage areas, namely, flow batteries, sodium sulfur batteries and lithium-ion batteries. These batteries have their own advantages and disadvantages, I will not discuss in detail here.

    The author personally believes that the current domestic LFP battery for energy storage is basically still government behavior, mainly to digest the electric car "boom" and bring a lot of LFP materials and battery overcapacity, to put it bluntly, that is, for the past ten Years because of lithium iron phosphate battery technology line policy mistakes pay. However, in my opinion, there are still economic and technical difficulties in large-scale commercial applications of LFP batteries in energy storage.

    LFP battery current price can not compete with lead acid, such as lead-acid ex-factory price of about 0.5-0.6 yuan / Wh, and LFP current ex-factory price is generally around 1.5-2.0 yuan / Wh, and the product quality can not fully meet The actual use requirements, so at present several LFP battery energy storage projects are government demonstration projects.

    LFP batteries also need to be improved technically, such as the consistency of the battery in the megawatt-class group will be very prominent, seriously reducing the service life and security risks, the other high-temperature floating LFP battery performance is a big challenge . The author is optimistic about the expected LFP battery storage in the field of large-scale commercial applications, I am afraid still have to at least more than five years time.

    In the traditional 3C and power tools such emphasis on energy density in the field, LFP almost no possibility of application. So I think, LFP short-term or should focus on HEV hybrid electric vehicles, electric bicycles and start / start-stop power supply applications in the medium to long term can enter the field of storage batteries. I personally predict that by 2020 LFP can occupy 15% of the global cathode material market share, it has been quite good results.

    After experiencing the ups and downs, the market confidence in LFP materials and LFP battery has undoubtedly been hit hard. So I personally think that the current LFP business model is likely to have a great change in order to reverse the current decline. Currently, there are more than 100 LFP material enterprises registered in China, with about 30 or so actual production capacity, and the actual capacity utilization rate is less than 10%.

    According to statistics, in 2013 the actual output of domestic LFP material is about 5000-6000 tons, of which some of the power battery companies such as BYD materials are self-sufficient, accounting for nearly half of the market. The remaining 23,000 tons by the domestic dozens of materials companies divided, on average, each may not 100 tons. Even the introduction of one of the smallest automation lines means that nearly 80% of capacity can be idle.

    Therefore, I believe that the depth of domestic LFP industry shuffling is inevitable, the future will eventually survive LFP material enterprises will not exceed 10, and production capacity will be highly concentrated to two or three manufacturers. Personally, I believe that the development of LFP industry in China now requires one or two leaders that can integrate the entire LFP industry chain, from LFP material production to LFP batteries manufacturing to Pack and BMS until the end applications (electric vehicles, electric bicycles or energy storage Wait). Otherwise, the production of LFP material market where? Who made the LFP battery sold?

    Although I agree that the whole industry chain is not necessarily able to reduce the overall cost in order to maximize profits, but given the special situation currently facing the domestic LFP industry, I believe that only the leader with a complete industrial chain in order to LFP commercial risk control To the lowest. The only way to reverse the current decline in LFP and lead the LFP industry on the road to healthy development.

    In my opinion, BYD, Wanxiang A123 and ZTE faction are all moving in this direction, but they still need to be bigger and stronger. I hope China LFP industry as soon as possible, ushered in the development of LFP spring.