Driving Sustainable Futures
July 23, 2021
Powering the Future of Sustainable Batteries
By: David Zhengjun Zhu, Li-ion Battery Project Manager
The future of sustainable energy storage and generation lies, in many ways, with advancements we’re making today with high-efficiency lithium-ion batteries. It’s a high growth market that has seen an 18% annual growth rate from 2016 to 2020, and we’re expecting the next five years will accelerate to around 27% – propelled largely by the electrification of automobiles. And the trend isn't isolated; there is global demand backing the rising demand for electric vehicle (EV) batteries – with EVs representing over 15% of new car sales in Europe as of May 2021 and further illustrated by U.S. President Biden’s recent proposal to invest more than $170 billion USD to entice more Americans to adopt EVs.
Small Component, Big Impact
At Trinseo, our role in this rapidly expanding marketplace is centered around improving the longevity, efficiency, and performance of batteries through advancements in latex binders. In fact, we have more than 70 years’ experience in styrene-butadiene latex research, development, and production, and have translated this expertise into developing binders for improved battery kinetics in Li-ion battery applications. These include battery applications for Energy Stationary Storage (ESS), 3C (specifically for computers, communication, and consumer applications), and Electrical Vehicle batteries for the automotive industry.
As an often overlooked but critical component in driving the future of lithium-ion batteries, styrene-butadiene latex binders compose less than 1% of the total weight of a lithium-ion battery and yet they account for some of a battery’s most essential functions. The binder’s purpose is to enable the adhesion of anode active materials (graphite and SiOx) and conductivity agent powder together and onto the current collector in a Li-ion battery. If this fails, it directly impacts the productivity of the battery’s anode. When the binder is performing properly, it can help to ensure battery lifespan, enable repeated and fast-charging capabilities, and it helps enable low temperature performance. They also control the ionic conductivity, chemical resistance, impedance, and recharging characteristics that have a significant impact on the battery’s life cycle.
The Future of Sustainable Batteries
As we look to the future of batteries, there are many promising initiatives and technologies on the horizon that will expand the sustainability of lithium-ion batteries. At Trinseo, we’re exploring opportunities to extend battery life by increasing the durability of our binders in the electrolyte environment of a battery and to improve its mechanical strength in the face of expansion and shrinking associated with charge and discharge of the battery. Beyond our walls, there are many sustainability-focused advancements underway for Li-ion batteries, including recapturing natural resources (e.g., minerals and metals) from the batteries that can be used in new applications and reusing end-of-life EV batteries, which typically still boast 80% battery capacity and can be repurposed for other applications like energy storage.
Together, these efforts will continue to drive the battery industry forward and expand its sustainability. And at Trinseo, we’ll support these efforts by zeroing in on optimizing the performance properties of latex binders, so that every component – even the most small – contributes positively toward the longevity, durability, and capacity of the sustainable batteries of the future.