Currently, the new energy vehicle industry is in a stage of rapid and stable growth, with significant demand for the industrial chain and sufficient growth momentum. Electrolyte is one of the most promising high-quality tracks in various segments of new energy vehicles in 2021, and it is expected to usher in the Davis Double Click, with both volume and price rising. As is well known, as one of the core basic materials of power batteries, electrolyte is known as the “blood of lithium batteries.”. Its role is to conduct electrons between the positive and negative electrodes of the battery, and it is also an important guarantee for lithium ion batteries to obtain advantages such as high voltage and high specific energy. The quality of electrolyte directly determines the performance, lifetime, and safety of lithium batteries, which is a very important subdivision of lithium batteries. Currently, electrolyte accounts for 8-9% of the cost of power batteries, making it the highest proportion of materials supplied domestically.
New Material Intelligent NMT | Lithium Battery Electrolyte, New “Liquid Gold”?
Three bulk electrolytes
Electrolyte is a formula synthesis manufacturing process that is composed of a proportional combination of organic solvents, electrolyte lithium salts, and additives. Currently, China’s solvent production capacity has far met the needs of existing batteries, but with the improvement of battery energy density, safety density, and consistency, the capacity needs to be further developed. Currently, the most studied solvent is fluorinated solvent.
Lithium salt is the core component of electrolyte. In the next 10 years, lithium hexafluorophosphate will still be an important lithium salt. Although a lot of lithium salts have been studied to replace lithium hexafluorophosphate, at present, any lithium salt has its fatal defects. In general, lithium hexafluorophosphate has the best performance.
In terms of additives, it can be said that there are no additives in making electrolyte, so with the development of electrolyte including battery functional electrolyte, the research and development of additives is imperative. However, at present, China is still in a state of following. We will follow what kind of additives we study abroad. We should have our own new functional additives.
According to the composition of the electrolyte, solvents account for about 30%, lithium salts account for about 40-50%, and additives account for about 10-30%. It can be seen that the cost of lithium salt accounts for the highest proportion, which is also the main reason why the stocks of lithium mines and lithium salt related companies have been in a high profile during this period.
Lithium is to electrolyte what silicon is to solar energy. Whoever has mastered the lithium salt in the electrolyte can indirectly “control” the cost of this part, and whoever is the king of electrolyte.
Concentration continues to improve industry prosperity
In recent years, the production capacity of lithium ion battery electrolyte industry in China has expanded rapidly. With the continuous release of production capacity of leading enterprises in the lithium ion battery electrolyte industry, the profit space and market share of enterprises with backward technology and insufficient production scale are being squeezed. In 2021, the top five lithium ion battery electrolyte enterprises in China accounted for more than 50% of their shipments.
At the same time, the concentration of the downstream battery industry of lithium ion battery electrolyte has continuously increased, and the order size of downstream head battery manufacturers has also increased. For example, in the field of power batteries, the installed capacity of domestic power batteries in 2021 was approximately 139.98 GWh, a year-on-year increase of 128%. In 2021, the total installed capacity of the top 10 power battery enterprises was 126.99GWh, accounting for 90.72% of the total installed capacity. The total installed capacity of the top three companies, Ningde Times, BYD and Zhongchuang Aviation, will reach 101.49Gwh, accounting for 72.50% of the total installed capacity.
At present, the electrolyte has basically been localized, and its shipment is in direct proportion to the shipment of lithium ion batteries. The export scale of China’s electrolyte is also rising significantly, and the overall price of the industry is rising.
From the perspective of export scale, the export volume of China’s electrolyte market will be 43000 tons in 2020, with a year-on-year increase of 91%. It is expected that the export volume will reach 75000 tons in 2021. Export enterprises mainly include Tianci, New Zebang, Cathay Pacific, etc. The increase of export scale is mainly driven by the increase of shipments of domestic and foreign lithium battery enterprises. The export of electrolyte products covers power electrolyte, energy storage electrolyte and digital electrolyte, of which the power sector accounts for more than 75%.
According to the “White Paper on the Development of Lithium Ion Battery Electrolyte Industry in China (2021)” released by EVTank and Ivy League Economic Research Institute, the global demand for electrolyte in 2021 was 610000 tons, while the domestic demand for electrolyte was 510000 tons It is expected that the global demand for electrolyte will reach 1.95 million tons in 2025, and 2.16 million tons in 2021-2025, with CAGR of 37% and 40% respectively. By 2030, the global demand for electrolyte will reach 5.49 million tons, while the domestic demand will reach 4.94 million tons.
With the promotion of new energy vehicle policies, the popularization of consumer environmental awareness, and the rise of new energy vehicles, it will bring huge market opportunities for the lithium battery electrolyte industry. In the long run, the industry leaders’ industrial chain integration and scale advantages in this round of tight supply are prominent, and the market concentration is expected to continue to increase in the future.