What is a lithium-ion battery
(rechargeable battery)?
How to solve problems in manufacturing Process
and prevent raw material losses?

What is a lithium-ion battery
(rechargeable battery)?

Battery that can be recharged and used over and over again is called secondary battery. Among them, lithium-ion secondary batteries have the highest energy density, making them compact and high-capacity batteries.
By moving lithium ions between positive and negative electrode materials, charging and discharging can be performed many times.
Lithium-ion batteries are widely used in a variety of electronic devices and transportation equipment, such as mobile phones/smartphones, laptop computers, and electric vehicles, because they are generally small and lightweight, yet can store large amounts of energy.

In addition, lithium-ion batteries are capable of supplying a stable voltage, enabling rapid charging and discharging, and are characterized by a long service life.
However, they must be handled and managed properly because there is a risk of heat generation and ignition due to mishandling or charging methods.

■Contribution and Impact on Society
1. sustainable energy 
  Lithium-ion batteries are rechargeable and can efficiently store electricity from renewable energy sources (e.g., solar and wind) from renewable energy sources (solar, wind, etc.). This promotes use of sustainable energy and contributes to reduction of energy dependence on fossil fuels.

2. Evolution of electronic devices
  The high energy density and light weight of lithium-ion batteries have greatly improved performance of electronic devices such as cell phones, notebook computers, and tablets. The high energy density and light weight of lithium-ion batteries contribute significantly to performance of electronic devices such as mobile phones, notebook PCs, and tablets. Lithium-ion batteries are also widely used to power machinery such as power tools, robots, and drones. They are also widely used as a power source for power tools, robots, drones, and other machinery, and are driving technological innovation in these fields.

3. Proliferation of electric vehicles
  Lithium-ion batteries are used as main power source in electric vehicles (EVs). Widespread use of EVs is attracting attention as an alternative means of reducing environmental impact. emissions and noise reduction, and is expected to improve sustainability of transportation.

4. Energy Storage Technology
  Lithium-ion batteries are also used as energy storage systems (ESS). ESS can also be used to store energy from renewable energy sources such as solar. The amount of electricity generated by renewable energies such as solar and wind power fluctuates with time of day, so energy storage is necessary to ensure a stable supply of electricity. Energy storage is necessary to ensure a stable supply of electricity.
ESS using lithium-ion batteries can be used as an energy storage system (ESS). ESS using lithium-ion batteries play a role in efficiently utilizing renewable energy and improving the stability of the power grid.

The widespread use of lithium-ion batteries has brought many societal benefits, including increased energy efficiency, reduced environmental impact, and growth of new industries. However, in manufacture of lithium-ion batteries and waste disposal, attention must also be paid to supply of materials and their environmental impact. Development of sustainable lithium-ion batteries and advances in recycling technology are critical to maximizing their contribution and impact on society.

Types and features of secondary batteries


Storage battery Advantages Very good stability and relatively low price
Disadvantages Performance gradually decreases in proportion to frequency of use, and lifespan is short.
Use Automobile batteries, backup power batteries, etc.
Nickel battery Advantages High energy density, resistant to overcharging and overdischarging
Disadvantages Amount of natural discharge is large, and electric capacity decreases even if it is not used.
Use Power tools, emergency power supplies, etc.
Lithium ion battery Advantages They have the highest energy density among storage batteries, can be made smaller, and have a relatively long lifespan.
Disadvantages Expensive compared to lead acid batteries
Use Portable electronic equipment, hybrid car applications, etc.
Sodium ion battery Advantages Storage battery that operates at a high temperature of around 300℃. Approximately 1/3 more compact than lead acid batteries. No self-discharge, high charging and discharging efficiency
Disadvantages Expensive compared to lithium-ion batteries
Use Large scale power storage

 

In terms of battery production over the past five years, ratio of primary batteries to secondary batteries is approximately 6:4, with temporary batteries being larger.
When it comes to secondary batteries alone, nickel metal hydride batteries and lithium ion batteries account for approximately 100%, with ratio being 3:7, with lithium ion batteries having a larger share.
In terms of total value, ratio of primary to secondary batteries is about 1:9, with secondary batteries dominating, and lithium-ion batteries account for half of the total value throughout.
This is largely due to their widespread use in batteries for smartphones and other mobile devices and hybrid vehicles.

What are materials of lithium-ion batteries?

The main materials used in the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries are positive electrode active material, negative electrode active material, electrolyzed water, and separator.
Inside a lithium-ion battery, charging and discharging occur as lithium ions move back and forth between positive and negative electrodes via electrolyzed water. Cathode materials typically include single or composite metal oxides of cobalt, nickel, and manganese, as well as iron phosphate-based materials. Carbon-based materials (graphite) and alloy-based materials are used for anode materials.

What are reserves of materials used in lithium-ion batteries?

Demand for lithium-ion batteries, which can be recharged and used repeatedly, is expected to continue to grow as they are used in mobile phones, mobile devices, computers, and hybrid cars.
We will check whether there is enough raw material for production volume of lithium-ion batteries by focusing on main materials.
 

Source: https://www.nirs.qst.go.jp/db/anzendb/NORMDB/PDF/36.pdf


Cathode material


■Cobalt
World reserves: Approximately 7 million tons
By country: Congo (49%), Australia (20%), Cuba (14%), Zambia (3.9%)
World production of cobalt ore: Production increased from 25,700 tons in 1999 to 62,300 tons in 2007.
This increase reflects strong worldwide demand for lithium-ion batteries, especially in China and Japan.
As the most balanced cathode material, it has been the main cathode material used in the past, but due to cobalt being an expensive material and its price fluctuating widely, there has been a lot of development of other materials recently.

■Nickel
World reserves: Approximately 89 million tons (approximately 2 million tons are mined annually)
By country: Indonesia, Philippines, Brazil, Cuba, New Caledonia
These deposits and mines are mainly located in areas near the equator; Production from this type of deposit has steadily increased in recent decades. Sulfide ore deposits are located in South Africa, Russia and Canada. Australia is rich in both sulphide and laterite ore deposits.
■Manganese
World reserves: approximately 460 million tons
By country: Ukraine (30%), South Africa (22%), Australia (14%), India (12.2%), Gabon (4.3%)
In Japan, There were many manganese mines, but production ceased in 1986. Major mines include Noda Tamagawa Mine in Iwate Prefecture, Oe Mine, Kamikuni Mine, Inakura Ishi Mine, and Ishizaki Mine in Hokkaido, and Hama Yokogawa Mine in Nagano Prefecture.

Anode materials


Carbon materials are the main anode materials, with natural graphite, artificial graphite, hard carbon, and MCMB (mesophase microspheres) being the main materials in demand.

Advantages of using carbon materials for anode
(1) Carbon material absorbs lithium, so metallic lithium is essentially absent in the battery, making it safe.
(2) High capacity can be obtained due to the large amount of lithium absorbed.

Global production of anode materials (anode active materials) is expected to reach approximately 200,000 tons in 2018, with sales of approximately 230 billion yen.
Graphite, hard carbon, soft carbon, lithium titanate (Li4Ti5O12), alloys, and other materials are used as anode materials.
About 90% of the current anode material market consists of graphite-based materials, which are used in almost all applications, including mobile devices as well as in-vehicle and stationary applications, but as battery applications diversify, various anode materials are being developed.
Anode materials have a significant impact on important parameters such as battery energy density and output characteristics, cycle characteristics, as well as temperature characteristics and safety.

Graphite-based materials can be classified into natural graphite and artificial graphite. Natural graphite is produced by crushing mined natural graphite ore and treating it with hydrofluoric acid after flotation beneficiation to increase graphite purity.
Artificial graphite is produced by firing coke mixed with pitch and tar at 2,800-3,600°C as raw materials.
Natural graphite powder costs 500-1,000 yen/kg, while artificial graphite powder costs 1,000-2,000 yen/kg, with natural graphite being less expensive.
Natural graphite contains many distorted particles, and the electrolyte is easily decomposed during charging, resulting in a large irreversible capacity of the battery. Therefore, countermeasures are taken by coating the surface of natural graphite with artificial graphite, which has excellent decomposition resistance, to granulate the graphite.
Although graphite is a material with an excellent balance of energy density, cycle characteristics, and output characteristics, it has the disadvantage that it is difficult to operate stably in low and high temperature environments, so temperature control of batteries is important.

Problems in manufacturing process of lithium-ion batteries

Dust collectors are often used to remove dust on lithium ion production lines.
However, at one manufacturer's factory, more than 9 tons of raw materials were leaking uncollected every month from dust collectors at all factories due to installation errors and deterioration after filter cloths were replaced. This resulted in a loss of approximately 27 million yen per month for the company, and also led to air pollution problems.
How to solve the problems?
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