I recently shared my thoughts on the impact of latex binders on the growing investment in lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries in an article for Adhesives & Sealants Magazine. The following is a summary of this piece.
The electric vehicle (EV) market is witnessing exponential growth, projected at a CAGR of approximately 26%. In turn, Li-ion batteries are rising in market demand as an integral part of this technology. Despite progress in the field, we have noted that the increase in capacity by weight, a critical factor to increase the reach of EV, has slowed over the past three years. This creates a unique opportunity to refine Li-ion battery components and enhance performance. Part of the solution to this challenge lies with binder adhesives, like those made by Trinseo.
Li-ion batteries represent a high growth market that has seen an 18% annual growth rate from 2016 to 2020. Over the next five years, we expect the growth to accelerate to nearly 27%, driven largely by the demand for EV.
Li-ion batteries are the most common battery type used in EV. They are preferred for electric vehicles, because they have higher energy density compared to lead-acid and nickel-metal alternatives. These batteries have four main components: a positive electrode (cathode), a negative electrode (anode), a liquid electrolyte that helps ions move between the electrodes, and a separator to keep the electrodes from coming in direct contact with each other and to prevent short-circuits and fires.
An often overlooked but critical component of Li-ion batteries is the styrene-butadiene latex binder. Composing less than 1% of the total weight of a Li-ion battery, latex binders support overall functionality and enhance performance properties.
The main role of latex binders, like Trinseo’s VOLTABOND binders, is to bind the graphite and conductivity agent powder together and onto the copper current collector in a Li-ion battery. When choosing a binder, there are multiple factors to consider. The binder must be capable of performing a number of tasks – adhere and bind particles while also withstanding extreme temperatures and harsh conditions in a solvent based medium. The right choice of latex binders is a key to the future of Li-ion battery and hence to the EV.
Today there is a significant need to design and improve the energy consumption of batteries. Researchers at Trinseo are moving quickly to develop a quality, cost-effective solution that will maintain the size and weight of the battery while increasing its capacity and its overall cleanliness. With many EV companies and other materials companies investing in Li-ion battery technology, the industry is unlocking new opportunities.
You can read more about the role of latex binders in the future of EV in my article, “A Look at the Future of Lithium-Ion Batteries and Their Impact on the Electric Vehicle Market.”