It’s a typical Monday morning in 2040. You wake up, turn on the light – linked to your city’s renewable battery-powered grid, of course – grab your smartphone, and continue browsing cheap electric-motorized flight deals for your next holiday. Because you left your device charging overnight, you now have enough juice for the week ahead.

After a smooth drive to work in your electric car (which self-charged en route), you sit back and hook up to your company’s digitized platform powered by the sun’s rays alone.

It points to a bright future for battery manufacturers. Deloitte expects global electric vehicle (EV) sales alone to reach 21 million units by 2030 (up from 2 million in 2018). Meanwhile, the US Energy Information Agency forecasts domestic utility-scale battery energy storage capacity to more than double during 2020-2022.

Add to this a thriving global smartphone market (currently 380 million sales a year and counting) and it all paints a fairly pretty picture. Indeed, research firm Mordor Intelligence projects the global battery market to grow at a CAGR of 12.3% between 2020 and 2025.

These are all big ‘ifs’, though. Forecasting future demand is one thing; turning these opportunities into reality is a different challenge altogether and can only happen if battery technology continues advancing over the decades ahead.

Manufacturing the future

Battery manufacturers have a critical role to play: the batteries of the future will need to be safer, longer-lasting and more energy-dense, not to mention quicker and easier to charge. To keep up with the pace of demand, developers will also need to get their products to market faster, meaning shortened R&D and product testing cycles.

This is where technology comes in. Solutions such as X-ray diffraction (XRD) can track, in real-time, the physical and chemical changes that occur in batteries throughout charging and discharging cycles.

Particle size and shape of powdered materials, that are used to make battery cathodes and anodes, are key factors in driving the long-term performance and the extra-fast charging that are needed to make electric vehicles and renewable energy storage viable. Laser diffraction is emerging as a highly effective particle size analysis solution, as well as automated imaging technology to analyze particle shapes.

At Malvern Panalytical, by helping manufacturers to unlock exciting new technologies via our range of physical, chemical, and structural analysis solutions, we are playing our part in shaping the battery industry of the future. Solutions from our Empyrean and Aeris (for XRD), Mastersizer (for particle size), Morphologi 4 (for particle size and shape)  are becoming industry-standard tools designed to ensure quality control while accelerating development.

While much can change over the next 20 years, in a world of growing populations and transitioning energy and mobility systems, battery demand is showing no signs of slowing. The future is happening; the only question is can manufacturers keep up…

Coming up in our Materials Talks series, we’ll explore how we are supporting battery research to achieve these developments.

Want to know how our solutions can enable up-to-date battery manufacturing? Why not contact one of our experts? Or, if you enjoyed this blog, make sure to read our other battery research stories which we’ve listed for your convenience in this blog: Our top 2020 battery stories.