At present, the new energy automobile industry is in a stage of rapid and stable growth, with obvious demand for the industrial chain and sufficient growth momentum. Electrolyte is one of the most promising and high-quality tracks in various segments of new energy vehicles in 2021, and it is expected to usher in Davis Double Click, with both volume and price. As we all know, as one of the core basic materials of power battery, electrolyte is known as “the blood of lithium battery”. Its function is to conduct electrons between the positive and negative electrodes in the battery, and it is also an important guarantee for lithium ion battery to obtain high voltage, high specific energy and other advantages. The quality of electrolyte directly determines the performance, life and safety of lithium battery, which is a very important subdivision of lithium battery. At present, electrolyte accounts for 8-9% of the cost of power battery, which is the material with the highest proportion of domestic supply.
New material intelligence NMT | lithium battery electrolyte, new “liquid gold”?
Three large pieces of electrolyte
Electrolyte is a manufacturing process of formula synthesis, which is composed of organic solvent, electrolyte lithium salt and additives in proportion. At present, the production of solvent in China 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. At present, the most studied solvents are fluorinated solvents.
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, the solvent accounts for about 30%, the lithium salt accounts for about 40-50%, and the additive accounts 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 lithium mine and lithium salt related company stocks are in the high boom during this period.
Lithium is to the electrolyte, just as silicon is to the solar energy, who has mastered the lithium salt in the electrolyte can indirectly “control” the cost of this part, who is the king of the electrolyte.
The concentration keeps improving the industry prosperity
In recent years, the capacity of China’s lithium-ion battery electrolyte industry has expanded rapidly. With the continuous release of the capacity of leading enterprises in the lithium-ion battery electrolyte industry, enterprises with backward technology and lack of economies of scale in production have been squeezed their profit space and market share. In 2021, China’s top five lithium ion battery electrolyte enterprises accounted for more than 50% of the total shipments.
At the same time, the concentration of the downstream battery industry of lithium ion battery electrolyte has been increasing, and the order scale of the downstream head battery manufacturers has also increased. For example, in the field of power batteries, the installed capacity of domestic power batteries will be about 139.98GWh in 2021, with a year-on-year increase of 128%. In 2021, the total installed capacity of the top 10 enterprises in power battery will be 126.99GWh, accounting for 90.72% of the total installed capacity. The total installed capacity of the top three enterprises, Ningde Times, BYD and China Innovation Airlines, 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 Institute of Economics, the global demand for electrolyte in 2021 will be 610000 tons, and the domestic demand for electrolyte will be 510000 tons. It is estimated that the global demand for electrolyte will reach 1.95 million tons in 2025, and the global demand for electrolyte will reach 2.16 million tons, with CAGR of 37% and 40% respectively in 2021-2025. By 2030, the global demand for electrolyte will reach 5.49 million tons, and the domestic demand will reach 4.94 million tons.
With the promotion of new energy vehicle policy, the popularization of consumer environmental awareness and the rise of new energy vehicles, it will bring huge market opportunities for lithium battery electrolyte industry. In the long run, the industrial chain integration and scale advantages of the industry leaders in the current round of tight supply are prominent, and the market concentration is expected to continue to increase in the future.
Reference source:
1. Pole-channel transaction “Hot Logic Report: Electrolyte”
Xue Xujin: Analysis of the current situation and development trend of lithium battery electrolyte
3. Sohu. com “Downstream application of lithium ion battery electrolyte and industry development trend, market scale and demand prospect”
4 China Research Network “Analysis of the Current Situation and Development Prospect of Lithium Electrolyte Industry in 2022”