New energy vehicle battery war! Why did Japan, which is researching and developing with national strength, still lose to China?

Translated from the Headlines (Toutiao 头条新闻)

Author: Big face heart brother (大脸心哥)

With the advent of the information age, people have more and more technological equipment on hand. Of course, the most contacted in our daily life should be mobile phones. With the advancement of technology and integrated design concepts, fast charging The popularity of mobile phones, the improvement of the battery life of mobile phones is also obvious.

Charging for 5 minutes and talking for two hours is not an exaggerated slogan, but now it is a real fact. Now the post-80s or post-90s, for the mobile phones that can open the back cover to replace the battery by themselves, and the very popular back then Universal charging should still be fresh in my memory. Although lithium batteries are small, they play an extremely important role in our lives today.

It can be as small as powering mobile phones to enable people to complete functions such as entertainment and communication, and as large as providing power for cars and driving vehicles to complete our transportation needs. Let us take a look at this lithium that is normal but has an unusual background. Battery.

The history of the development of lithium batteries, which seems to be common but very important

Speaking of lithium batteries, we have to trace the time back to the 19th century. At that time, batteries were definitely a novelty. When the science and technology of the time were studying batteries, they accidentally discovered lithium, which relies on low density and large capacity. And other excellent characteristics, it has become the best choice for battery anode materials.

However, anyone with little chemical knowledge knows that lithium is a very active metal element, and the process of developing lithium batteries is also relatively bumpy. Subject to the very strong activity of lithium, the development of lithium batteries Various accidents occurred in the process, but everything is double-sided, and lithium batteries are no exception.

Because there is a stronger energy ratio in the same volume, European and American experts have not given up on making it a key research object.

For the working principle of the battery, there is a very detailed explanation in the high school chemistry textbook. The battery is essentially a carrier of energy conversion and a device for chemical energy to complete the conversion of electrical energy. The metal element lithium undergoes oxidation and reduction in the electrolyte. The reaction becomes lithium ions, and the negatively charged electrons move toward the positive electrode, thus generating electrical energy.

Everyone knows that any advanced technology is given priority to the military industry, and will gradually open to the civilian market after the technology matures. The same is true for lithium batteries, a very common object in everyone’s daily lives. In 1913, two American scientists, Lewis and Case, Began to focus on studying energy storage devices composed of lithium for the military but did not find an electrolyte that can stably react with lithium, and there has been not much progress in research for many years.

It was not until 45 years later, in 1958, that an experiment gave lithium batteries a rapid development opportunity. That year, in Harris at the University of California, Berkeley, scientists unexpectedly discovered in the experiment that the electrolyte is very Unstable metal lithium, however, will produce a passivation layer in the organic ester solution, and at the same time, it will be accompanied by the phenomenon of ion transmission. After learning this news, NASA immediately launched the project research.

Of course, this has also become part of the American aviation plan, and in the follow-up time the research and development of lithium batteries have been successful, but our scientists are not only satisfied with the status quo but continue to carry out technological breakthroughs on lithium batteries and electrolytes. , Trying to make a higher energy density battery, a popular explanation is that it is smaller in size but longer in use.

Japan takes the lead in the lithium battery industry, quickly becoming the industry leader

When the time came to 1970, we still have to sigh. Japan’s high-precision technology research and development speed in 1970, as one of the pillars of Japan’s industry in 1970, was completed in about the same time as the US military. Development of a new type of cathode material fluoride for lithium batteries.

This can be said to be a considerable breakthrough in the entire history of lithium battery research and development. Five years later, Japan’s Sanyo Corporation once again completed a breakthrough in lithium battery cathode materials, and the commercial manganese dioxide battery was officially born.

You can understand that scientists are geniuses who are not satisfied with the status quo. From the beginning of lithium battery research and development to 1975, the goal of research and development has always been mainly on disposable batteries. After the completion of this primary goal, scientists have set their sights on It can be charged on rechargeable lithium batteries that can be used repeatedly.

Friends who understand the history of fax machines and touch-tone phones will certainly be familiar with Bell Labs in the United States, but this laboratory still has a lot of research results, and lithium batteries happen to be one of them.

At the end of the 1960s, Bell Laboratories accidentally discovered during electrochemical experiments that sulfur or iodine in the binary sulfide can be reversible under the condition of low-depth battery discharge.

Regarding this discovery, the Stanford research team and ExxonMobil in the United States have conducted in-depth studies. Although they successfully completed a lithium aluminum alloy secondary lithium battery in the later period, the safety of this battery was very large due to technical limitations at the time. The hidden dangers came to an end after a flash in the pan

With the passage of time and the development of technology in related industries, in the 1980s, many companies made considerable progress in the research and development of electrode materials and electrolytes for lithium batteries, which also promoted the rapid development of secondary lithium batteries. In 1987, a company called Moli Energy in Canada completed the marketization of secondary lithium battery products first.

Although profitable, the safety of this battery is not guaranteed. Frequent fires and explosions have once again made people aware of the more important safety issue of secondary lithium batteries in addition to energy density. Although Moli Energy The battery was eventually recalled, due to corresponding reasons, it was eventually acquired by the Japanese Electric Co., Ltd., which is what we often call NEC.

At this stall, Sony, which has always been known as black technology, has directly marketed a safer and more usable lithium-ion battery. Since the positive electrode of the lithium-ion battery uses lithium cobalt oxide, the lithium-ion battery is also known as lithium cobalt oxide battery, with very high battery density, more charge and discharge times, and excellent safety, the commercialization of lithium cobalt oxide battery has achieved great success.

Because Japanese companies took the lead in completing R&D and commercialization operations, Japan became the dominant player in the lithium battery market at that time. In 2000, Japan’s lithium battery also reached its peak, occupying 93% of the global lithium battery market. , And Japan’s Sanyo, Panasonic, and Sony are also leading companies in the lithium battery industry in Japan, and they can be said to have a glorious moment.

In the face of market dividends, the sudden emergence of South Korea and China broke the previous dominance of Japan

Looking at Japan’s use of lithium batteries to make a lot of money in the international market, as only South Korea in the semiconductor industry could compete with Japan at that time, how could it watch Japan as a money printing machine and earn money in the market? The profit is huge, so it cut off enough horsepower to start the research and development of lithium batteries and seize the lithium battery market.

With the strong support of the Korean government, the three giants of Samsung SDI, LG Chem, and SK first dig out the walls for the sophisticated researchers of Japanese companies and then purchase lower-priced raw materials from China. In the past few years, South Korea’s lithium battery industry has developed rapidly.

When the time came to 2010, the international market was even more resistant to courtesy. South Korea’s ability to seize the market is very strong, with 39% market share and Japan’s 43% market share, which can be said to be on par..

However, at that time, Chinese companies were still slightly behind in the R&D capabilities of lithium batteries, so they chose to become Japanese and Korean companies’ foundries, and they did start in-depth research on battery technology, such as BYD, which we are very familiar with.

Wise men always say that opportunities are reserved for those who are prepared. It is true that the wise men never deceived me. Japan’s madness in the lithium battery industry did not last long. Everyone knows that the largest downstream market for lithium batteries is in the field of electronic products. In 2005, Japan The market for consumer electronics products represented by brands has taken a sharp turn. Many Japanese brands we are familiar with have withdrawn from the market.

At the same time, with China’s entry into WTO, the focus of global consumer electronics manufacturing is gradually shifting to China. The lack of resources can only rely on the import of raw materials, which keeps the cost of Japanese lithium batteries high. Under such a double blow, Chinese companies have Ushered in an opportunity.

Thanks to years of foundry experience, as well as domestic innovations and breakthroughs in battery production technology, lithium batteries produced in China, have a lower price while ensuring the same quality, plus the relocation of global consumer electronics manufacturing centers. It is also this opportunity for companies such as BYD to firmly seize the opportunity to complete the industry supporting facilities while ensuring quality and price, and quickly seize the international lithium battery consumer market.

Seizing the dividends of new energy vehicles, power batteries have become China’s most advantageous counter-attack weapon

It is said that good things come together after entering the new millennium. Due to a series of problems such as environmental pollution and energy crisis, car companies in various countries have also formulated their ideas for new energy vehicles. Vehicles are driven by other forms of energy.

In this regard, most car companies have chosen electric-driven new energy models. However, Japan, which is also a major car country, maybe leaning forward. It has not chosen most car companies and chose the direction of research and development of pure electric new energy. , But opened up a new route for hydrogen fuel cells.

In theory and national conditions, Japan’s research and development of hydrogen fuel cells as the power of new energy vehicles are indeed better. If lithium batteries are storage devices, then hydrogen fuel cells are more like power stations for lithium battery energy storage. From a theoretical point of view, as long as the hydrogen fuel cell can ensure that hydrogen and air can react, and the water in the reaction can be taken away, the hydrogen fuel cell can always produce electricity, which is tantamount to the existence of a perpetual motion machine.

From an objective point of view, hydrogen fuel cells are indeed better than lithium batteries, especially after the leak and shutdown of the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan, Japan’s power shortage problem are also urgently needed to be resolved, and the emergence of hydrogen fuel cells is indeed true for Japan. It is of great benefit.

However, it takes time to break down technical barriers for any new technology, and hydrogen fuel cells are no exception. In addition, the complicated process of hydrogen fuel cells makes R&D more difficult. The vision is good, but The actual operation difficulty is indeed very large.

China does not have much advantage in the international development of traditional fuel vehicles. Of course, this has a lot to do with the late start of China’s auto industry. Now, China naturally cannot let the opportunities of new energy vehicles pass. After all, everyone They are on the same starting line, and there is no priority, and the research and development of the power battery as a pure electric new energy vehicle has become the focus of the focus.

With the benefits of new energy subsidies and the “whitelist” of power lithium batteries, China’s research and development and manufacturing of power batteries for new energy vehicles have reached the world’s leading level after several years of technology accumulation.

A large number of enterprises have sprung up rapidly under the east wind of the country. I think everyone should be no stranger to such big factories as BYD and CATL. CATL has completed the absorption of ATL technology and focused on power battery systems, The R&D of the energy storage system and ternary lithium battery is the most important three-electric system for new energy vehicles.

In addition to ensuring the R&D and production of traditional lithium batteries, BYD has also increased its in-depth cultivation of lithium iron phosphate battery technology. In this context, South Korea, which is the king of the veteran lithium battery system, and Japan’s performance in power batteries is not satisfactory, especially in Japan. Due to the different research and development directions, many companies even directly package and sell their battery business, and Japan is no longer visible. It dominated the international market of lithium batteries that year.

With the popularity of new energy vehicles, various car companies are also actively developing green channels for new energy electric vehicles under their brands. Many car companies have directly announced that they have abandoned the research and development of internal combustion engines. The global production of new energy vehicles is also increasing. Rapid growth, and as a new energy vehicle power battery market, it is also growing rapidly.

The scale of the entire global lithium battery market has already exceeded the US$45 billion control, and according to incomplete statistics, it is still growing steadily at a growth rate of 9% every year. In terms of power batteries, China relies on technology, quality, and price. Such advantages rank first in the world with a 45% share of the international market. Such achievements are indeed worthy of our pride.

According to the report on global battery manufacturing companies issued by the British authoritative research institution Benchmark in 2020, we can understand that there are only 6 companies in the world that produce power batteries for new energy vehicles and meet the first-level standards, except for these 6 companies. We are more familiar with the Ningde era, Panasonic Tesla, LG Chem, Samsung SDI, Vision AESC, and SKI.

Among them, China’s CATL and Vision AESC not only occupy a considerable market share but also master more advanced technologies such as batteries and electronic control. In the international market, we can also speak with confidence that China Batteries are the slogan of the leaders in the global battery industry.

Without ever-victorious generals, if you want to keep winning, you can only make breakthroughs, innovations, and progress.

Of course, there are no permanent generals in the world. In Japan, where the lithium battery industry was once dominated, isn’t it the same as everyone else? This is the best lesson for Chinese companies that are developing well now. Of course, for China’s lithium batteries The rapid development of the industry also requires the support and protection of the state.

Without the tens of billions of financial support each year, and without the precise control of the “Power Battery White Paper”, China’s lithium battery industry may not be able to develop so fast, and it has completed self-evolution and surpassing in a short period of time.

When children grow up, they will finally leave the protection of their parents. The same is true for China’s lithium battery industry. The state’s support will come to an end by the end of 2022. At that time, in such a fiercely competitive market environment, if you don’t make progress, you will regress. With the guarantee of technology, better products can be brought to allow companies to take root in the international lithium battery market.

Of course, China’s current achievements in the international lithium battery market can be described as quite outstanding. However, as a world power and a world power, China is not lying on the books of merit. We don’t know. There are still such a group of people working hard for the innovation of lithium battery production technology.

Among them, Professor Liquan Chen, who is an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, is a typical representative of them. Now, Mr. Chen, who is now old, has completed the research and development of a new type of nano-silicon lithium battery. Under the condition that the volume remains unchanged and the safety remains unchanged, however, it has brought 5 times the capacity of traditional lithium batteries, and Professor Li Hong, who is an apprentice of Chen Lao in terms of solid-state batteries, also did not live up to Chen Lao’s expectations. He has completed the development and design of 300 (kw/g) solid-state batteries. The work has also entered the experimental stage.

Judging from the results of the current test, the same new energy vehicle’s cruising range can be doubled. This is definitely a very gratifying result. Solid-state batteries are the current development trend of power batteries because they have very good prospects. , There are more than 50 companies and institutions in the world that are engaged in the research and development of solid-state batteries, and companies in China, including Ningde Times, Guoxuan High-Tech, and Honeycomb Power, have all shown good results. According to the news, or in the near future, China’s new energy vehicles will also be replaced with solid-state batteries with stronger endurance.

In terms of lithium battery development and research, China not only pays attention to high-end batteries but also focuses on high-end batteries. It is also blooming in other areas. Hu Yong, also an apprentice of Chen Lao and now a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, has been committed to sodium ions. The research and development of batteries, and China is also an international leader in the research and development of sodium-ion batteries. The biggest advantage of sodium-ion electronics is lower cost. Although the energy density is not as good as that of lithium batteries, it does not require high energy in civilian fields. This is undoubtedly a very good product, and low-cost and high-quality products are also preferred by the people.

In the process of development of anything, there is no ever-victorious general. Everyone will come to a short-term peak, but then it is more necessary to work harder instead of enjoying the beautiful scenery at the peak. The decline of the Japanese lithium battery industry is The best example, this can be said to be the best wake-up call for China’s lithium battery industry. Here we also hope that China’s technology in the lithium battery industry will develop faster and better. We will not only be the world’s lithium battery As a leader in the battery industry, but we must also be the world’s No.1 in the lithium battery industry.