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Argonne: China Making “Vast Progress” in Li-Ion Manufacturing Technology

China is making “vast progress” in lithium-ion battery manufacturing technology, according to a review published earlier this year by Argonne National Laboratory under the sponsorship of the US Department of Energy’s Office of Vehicle Technologies (OVT).

The scope of the study, by Pandit G. Patil, was (1) to determine the state of the art and current production of lithium-ion batteries in China and (2) to develop recommendations for DOE with respect to battery benchmarking and testing of candidate batteries for use in hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

China is the largest country in the world, and its economy is growing rapidly. Because of the demand for world oil supplies, the United States is interested in the capabilities of Chinese manufacturers of motor vehicles to produce and use state-of-the-art, energy-efficient vehicles.

Although there are significant issues of competitive concern, there are also reasons to hope that multiple nations will have the ability to produce high-quality, interchangeable battery packs for future plug-in hybrid vehicles. The Chinese government is developing its industry and universities to carry out the research and development (R&D) in lithium-ion battery technology for portable and electric vehicle applications. An estimated 400 organizations in China are involved in battery development or manufacturing; however, manufacturers of lithium-ion batteries represent an unknown fraction of this total.

Among the findings of the report on the state of the Li-ion industry in China are:

  • From 2001 to 2004, the number of battery companies in China increased from 455 to 613; accordingly, the number of employees in those industries also increased from 140,000 in 2001 to 250,000 in 2004. The total output reached 63.416 billion Yuan ($8.1 billion) in 2004, which is an increase of 52.58% over 2001.

  • In the past three to four years, companies outside of the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) have been bringing advanced battery technologies to the PRC and setting up partnerships and/or joint ventures to manufacture batteries for these and other applications (such as electric bikes, EVs, and HEVs) to take advantage of low labor cost and incentives provided by the Chinese government. Companies in the PRC are very aggressive in developing manufacturing processes for the batteries export market.

  • The sales of large-scale companies in the battery industry was 59.818 billion Yuan ($7.65 billion) in 2004—an increase of 52.85% in comparison with 2003, an increase of 105.32% in comparison with 2002, and an increase of 160.93% in comparison with 2001.

    This growth is attributed to the growth of large companies. In the last four years, the debt-to-asset ratio of China’s battery industry has been fluctuating between 54 and 59%. The most commonly used battery industry standards in China for testing and evaluating battery technologies are those from the International Electrical Commission (IEC).

  • Along with the rapid growth of lithium-ion battery manufacturers in China, companies like the BYD Company Limited; Tianjin Lishen Battery Joint- Stock Co., Ltd.; Shenzhen BAK Battery Co., Ltd.; and Shenzhen B&K Technology Co., Ltd., are increasing their share of the market. In 2004, the domestic and overseas markets for lithium-ion batteries were flourishing—the export volume was 189 million units, with an increase of 16.3% in sales. As a result of the rapid increase in domestic demand, the import volume of lithium-ion batteries was 550 million units, with an increase of 23.43% in sales in 2004.

  • At present, Chinese lithium-ion battery manufacturing companies are relatively well developed. Such manufacturers as the BYD Company Limited; Shenzhen BAK Battery Co., Ltd.; and Shenzhen B&K Technology Co., Ltd., enjoy a large share of the global battery market.

  • During 2003–2004, the Chinese lithium-ion battery industry developed dramatically. The production of cobalt acid lithium and nickel acid lithium and the invention of new manufacturing techniques to extract lithium from salty lakes will drastically reduce the need to import anode materials for lithium batteries from abroad.

  • Most Chinese companies are producing lithium-ion batteries for portable applications. Large companies have undertaken research and development with the help of joint ventures and/or partnerships with companies from Japan, Europe, and the United States. These companies, which include BYD Company Limited; EMB; GBP; Suzhou Phylion Battery Co., Ltd.; Xingheng; Tianjin Lantian; Tianjin Lishen Battery Joint-Stock Co., Ltd.; Beijing Green Power; and CITIC Guoan MGL, are developing lithium-ion batteries for e-bike, EV, and HEV applications—with particular focus on EVs and e-bikes. E-bikes have been by far the most successful battery electric vehicle application in history, with an estimated cumulative production of ~30 million by 2007.

  • Lithium resources are abundant in China. As of 2000, China was the second largest producer of lithium in the world, and in 2004, it produced 18,000 metric tons.

  • The rechargeable lithium battery is a new technology in the energy field supported greatly by the Chinese government. Since the initiation of China’s “863 Program” in 1987, the Ministry of Science and Technology has organized the research and development of the key materials and technologies for NiMH and lithium-ion batteries. These batteries are produced on a large scale, particularly for export.

  • In its new five-year plan (2006–2010), the Chinese government outlines steps to boost efficiency and reduce pollution. A number of clear targets for increasing energy efficiency are set (e.g., to increase total energy efficiency by 20% and to achieve an energy mix of at least 20% renewable energy by 2020).

On the whole, the PRC is making vast progress in manufacturing lithium-ion battery technology. The government has a national program in place to attract foreign companies to set up joint ventures and/or partnerships with Chinese companies. The Chinese government offers large incentives to Chinese companies that produce batteries for export. The Chinese government also gives Chinese-owned companies additional incentives to conduct research and provides capital for manufacturing lithium-ion batteries for all applications.

Specific companies and organizations highlighted in the report include:

  • CITIC Guoan MGL. MGL is China’s largest manufacturer of the conventional cathode material LiCoO2, and it will be the first to market the new cathode materials LiMn2O4 and LiCoO0.2Ni0.8O2.

    MGL emphasizes quality control, and has passed the certification of both New and Hi-Tech Enterprise standards and IS09001:2000. With its own synthesis method, MGL claims it produces cathode materials of superior performance and reliability in an environmentally friendly way.

    Besides cathode materials, MGL also produces lithium-ion secondary batteries of high energy density and high capacity for power and energy storage—the capacity ranges from several ampere-hours to several hundred ampere-hours. As China’s first power battery manufacturer, MGL leads in marketing high-capacity lithium-ion secondary batteries, which are used in the Beijing Municipality’s trial electric bus fleet.

  • Tianjin Lishen Battery Joint-Stock Co., Ltd., was established in 1998. Lishen has a capitalization of 600 million Ren Min Bi (RMB) ($80.00 million), and a total investment of 1.5 billion RMB ($200.00 million). The production of lithium cells is completely automatic—representing the most automated production line for lithium-ion batteries in China. The production equipment is imported from Japan.

  • Suzhou Phylion Battery Co., Ltd., is a battery technology corporation set up by Legend Capital Co., Ltd.; the Institute of Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences; and Chengdu Diao Group. Suzhou Phylion Battery Co., Ltd., has 82 million RMB ($10.93 million) and a staff of more than 400. The company specializes in manufacturing and selling lithium-ion cells with high capacity and current. Its technology is primarily used in defense, electric bicycles, lighting, portable electronics, medical equipment, and battery-operated tools.

  • Tianjin Institute of Power Sources. Established in 1985, the institute is one of the two national laboratories involved in battery testing and evaluation activities and programs. It is considered the largest, most comprehensive, most authoritative, independent quality-testing center for chemical and physical power sources.

  • Tongji University, School of Automotive Engineering. Tongji University has world-class facilities to integrate advanced batteries and fuel cells in vehicles and to conduct basic and applied research for the automotive industry. These testing capabilities cover research, testing, and evaluation. The school is collaborating research with lithium battery development companies, fuel cell development companies, and domestic and foreign automobile companies.

  • GRINM. The General Research Institute for Nonferrous Metals (GRINM) is the largest research and development (R&D) institution in the field of nonferrous metals industry in China. GRINM is conducting basic research on the materials needs and requirements for high-energy and high-power lithium-ion battery technology.

    GRINM has focused on nanotechnology and LiMn2O4 materials for the cathode, graphite for the anode, and PC+DC+DMC+1m LiPF6 liquid electrolyte and polypropylene/polyethylene/polypropylene separator for the development of a lithium-ion battery cell. GRINM developed all materials in-house except for the separator, which GRINM imports from Japan and the United States.

Patil concludes the review with recommendations for a morethoroughh first-hand review by the DOE, and to make arrangements for benchmarking Chinese battery technology in the United States.

Chinese companies have expressed a strong interest in making battery technology available for benchmarking. The timing is right, and interest in working with the United States is very strong.

Resources

Comments

Neil

And while the Chinese government can see the future and get this process moving our government is doing what?

ejj

If the Chinese want to be the next EEStor, but actually create a product that lives up to its claims, fantastic! Viva high global energy prices! Stop looking for government to provide all the answers Neil.

Lad

The future is in BEVs and Solar Power. Looks like China is stealing the march in manufacturing the battery components for the BEVs; I wonder what they are doing in the area of solar panels?

Lulu

I think most US government's energy research gets dumped into hydrogen research, due to the Oil lobby. Another chunk goes into corn Ethanol research, due to the Agro-lobby. Argonne has a battery research program, but it's a small project.

Neil

ejj: I don't expect government to come up with all the answers. I'd just like my government (Canada) to at least get out of the way. They've been making the adoption of EVs as awkward as they can. I guess that's what you get when the PM is from Alberta.

Lad

%Neal:
Canada doesn't have a lock on getting in the way of high tech progress; witness the last seven and a half years of the Cheney/Bush energy policy in the U.S.

Our government is being run by big industry and their lobbying firms with very few people with guts in power to take the government back for the people. Where are our statesmen? Are they all on the way to the bank to deposit their lobbying money?

The Chinese government knows that fossil fuel cars are just not going to become available for all the Chinese who want cars, the world does not produce that much oil.

The most obvious solution is to get the electric car into production, and to make electricity from renewable sources. I'm happy to see them doing it, and hope our western governments catch on soon ...

Cervus

The Chinese have just about everyone beat wen it comes to manufacturing costs. There's only one Li-ion battery producer in the US that I know of. The weaker dollar is about the only thing supporting our remaining manufacturing at this point. With much of the economy tanking, that sector is only barely contracting.

HarveyD

Neil:

An excellent question. Let's see the answers.

ejj:

Good governance may be required to solve the energy problems. China may become the world leader in the production of advanced batteries, PHEVs and BEVs. Will USA continue to produce more gas guzzlers or close more car factories?

Lad:

A very good question. We could assume that China will also become a leader in PV Panels lower cost production. They certainly seem to have cornered future advanced batteries production.

Questions:

Will USA's next administration have the will and guts to change the Oil- Corn Ethanol- ICE vehicles status quo?

If not, USA may have to bid goodbye to the future electrified car industry as it did for HDTV, Digital Camera, PCs, Rail Equipment, printers, etc etc.

USA and Canada are in great need of forward looking administrtions.

Axil

In its new five-year plan (2006–2010), the Chinese government outlines steps to boost efficiency and reduce pollution. A number of clear targets for increasing energy efficiency are set (e.g., to increase total energy efficiency by 20% and to achieve an energy mix of at least 20% renewable energy by 2020).

My eyes have been open wide in the last few days as I watch China’s response to the recent massive 7.8 magnitude quake in the south-western Chinese province of Sichuan. It’s hard to believe how fast so many stricken people are cared for so quickly. This is in stark contract to what happened during the U.S response to Katrina. With this demonstration of Chinese organization and efficiency in mind, I have no doubt that the Chinese will meet or exceed the goals of this five-year plan. The U.S. better get on the stick, if they want to stay in the global race.

MG

China is led by engineers, US by lawyers.

Almost all leading Chinese figures are trained engineers, including their curent PM (a geologist).

That can explain Chinese vision, and the lack of it in US.

US politics seem to be much more about lobbying than looking forward as a nation (and at same time waging wars and imposing sanctions all the time last 60 yrs against anybody who disagrees with them and wants to remain independent).

Tagamet

No one here has heard about the GM Volt? Nov, 2010 should be an exciting time. American made, American fueled.
Now all the people who have STILL not gotten over the EV1 can post their hatred.

Cervus

Considering the deaths in the tens of thousands, and the thousands of collapsed schools, I'm not sure we want to emulate China.

I honestly don't care if China is led by engineers. The political oppression in that country negates any positives they may have on other fronts.

Snark

"We could assume that China will also become a leader in PV Panels lower cost production."

Why assume? They're already lowering costs by the time-honored technique of polluting the hell out of everything with silicon tetrachloride.

swen

Sure they are. It costs less to steal technology
than to brainstorm it.

For all the bad things people say about our kids
not being as good at Math or Science, remember that
technology is born in the United States. Unfortunately,
there is a lag in the *use* of technology here.
Usually, we invent it, and the other countries actually
*use* it. Everything we invent, usually they steal, then improve, and then actually use.

For instance, Mobile Telephones; most of the technology
started here, but I rarely saw anyone using cell
phones in the United States some years ago. When I
went to poor Indonesia, everyone (literally) was on
a cell phone. I thought, "How backward we are".

For instance, e-Books -- we invented the e-Book. Asia
took the e-Book, improved the e-Book, and actually
uses the e-Book in their schools. Here, the kids still
lug 70# of books to school, hurting their backs.

We talk about making alternative fuels and alternative
vehicles (U.S. automakers produce flex-fuel vehicles for foreign consumption), but we lag behind while Brazil, Argentina, and even lowly Pakistan have more options than we do, having cars that run on CNG,
ethanol, and methanol. China is even creating a
Methanol Economy while we twiddle our thumbs.

There's no excuse.

Axil

@Cervus

Considering the deaths in the tens of thousands, and the thousands of collapsed schools, I'm not sure we want to emulate China

Obviously, it was an earth quake that did the damage and took the lives (i.e. Mother Nature) not any individual or group in China.

I would hope for a Chinese like emergency response to the “Big One” in California or Saint Louis from FEMA. From past experience, I doubt that we will get it.


I honestly don't care if China is led by engineers. The political oppression in that country negates any positives they may have on other fronts

The Chinese governing framework looks like it headed for the tradition corporate governance structure. What better government for a capitalist society. (PS: not that I approve either!)

@Swen

There's no excuse.

Innovation follows capital, which is currently controlled by “Big Money” and multinational corporations. Nether have an interest in the welfare of the U.S.

If we are smart we would put the hammer down on these people while we still have leverage.

mahonj

It does not really matter who develops decent battery technology, as long as it gets developed and rolled out across the world.
The Chinese auto companies are newer and probably have less attachment to ICEs, it may be easier for them to move to EVs of whatever kind.
If they can figure out a way of preventing people from having huge commutes, they could probably sell BEVs earlier than the US due to shorter range requirements.

It appears that the way out of fossil fueled transport is electric, so lets get on with it.

We may also see a lot of 2 wheeled ebikes and escooters which would makes sense in hot, crowded cities. The Chinese could go straight from pbikes to ebikes, skipping 4 wheeled vehicles. (or they might not).
The lure of a car (safety, comfort, isolation) is very strong - you have to spend quite a bit of time in traffic jams before 2 wheeled vehicles become attractive again.

thomas

IMHO, China's Li-Ion manufacturing technology has been 'vastly' exaggerated by the authors of the study so as to jolt our nationalism.

doggydogworld

This looks like a 3 year old study. Data from 2004 and future references to the five year plan starting in 2006.

The earthquake vs. Katrina comparison is a little silly. First, all disasters are different. Second, a month after the quake thousands of Chinese victims are still living in tent cities. Katrina response was screwed up for a few days, but even those who disobeyed the mandatory evacuation order were under roof (mostly motels and mobile homes) within a week or so.

Michael

Axil,

The reason so many died in the quake was due to corrupt Communist bureaucrats allowing buildings under code. Thousands died that did not need to. I find it amazing how quick people demonize our country but give a pass to corrupt communism.

And the reason so many people were in trouble in New Orleans were due to corrupt democrat leaders of the state at the time and Mr. "chocolate" himself in Nawlins. They blew it. The governer was caught on tape in studio admitting she did not call up the national guard in time! This is why she was blown out of the office by a new, young Republican Governor. Who has immmediately established some of the strictest guidelines now in the nation for ending Louisiana corruption. The problem with New Orleans was Louisiana Democrat politics as usual especially in the south. I know, I grew up and lived there most my life.

If Bush had not insisted to the Governor and Mayor to declare Mandatory Evacuation there may have beem hundreds of thousands lost to Katrina. They were going to make it voluntary! This is how stupid they were in their assesments. They thought it was going to be like other hurricanes. This is why the Mayor put the thousands into the Superdome. Everyone has short memories. But the last time they all high fived each other for using the Superdome. Well, they blew it this time around. The Governor had not put the National Guard on alert for large enough disaster coverage! She admitted it, in studio, not realizing she was caught on tape.

Get your facts straight. Try reading something beside the Commie Times.

China is a third world country with essentially slave workers making pennies a day. The only reason they ever began to make it is due to President Nixon opening trade and the subsequent trade deals since then with all administrations following the historic agreements. Another words, America is responsible for jumpstarting China's economy and it runs today because of trade agreements. We did it to avoid another cold war. That two nations with large trade would not go to war, but see each other as a beneficial relation.

China imprisons, tortures and oppresses their people by the millions. You have not a clue what you are talking about. And yes, as Cervus said, they steal our technology every chance they get. From high tech to Hollywood, where moguls scream at lost profits for every counterfeit CD, or Software program stolen. Google, Yahoo, etc., all screen and shut out any web site, news site, etc., that is not approved by the Communist Party of China.

Tianaman Square was a brutal shutdown and murder of people seeking freedom. Having the Olympics in China is like 1936 Germany all over again in many ways.

And last but not least, the American government has helped Indonesia after the tsunami, China now with earthquake support and in Burma - when the totalitarian government finally allowed some shipments in.

Now, ask a question. Why is Argonne verifying all of this? Because there is a symbiotic relationship between our two countries and business. We depend upon each other. Most people here do not want factory jobs without high pay that causes higher cost that cannot compete with the pennies made a day by Chinese labor.

I'll leave it to you to solve the worlds problems via trade or possible isolation of America. American companies had to move offshore due to highest corporate tax rates and high labor cost. It is that simple. They could no longer compete with imports. All the little toys you love to play with are made on the cheap by poor chinese just for you Axil.

One day, the people of china will demand freedom. There will be another revolution and they will demand accountability by their corrupt leaders. Today their rivers and streams are so polluted it is dangerous to be in them, much less drink the water.

This has been a reality check to bogus propaganda.

Mindless Flag Waver

USA! USA! We're Number One! USA! USA!

shigley

Amen, Michael! Has everyone been asleep for the past 35 years, or are they just too young to remember the oil crisis of the seventies? The handwriting was on the wall then, and yet, every administration, and congress, Democrat and Republican, went their merry way as usual with the same old political games and finger-pointing, voting themselves outragious benefits, running a perpetual reelection campaign and courting special interest. As an example of their ineptitude: a committee once called a movie star to testify about the plight of the farmers just because she had played a part of a farmers wife in a movie, leaving one to believe that they had completely lost their sanity.
As for China, their military will soon be on par with ours, and will probably surpass us if we're not vigilant. Remember, Communism by any other stripe is still communism, albiet with a capitalist slant in China's case.

Axil

@Michael


The reason so many died in the quake was due to corrupt Communist bureaucrats allowing buildings under code. Thousands died that did not need to

I concede this: It was the earthquake and Communist bureaucrats.


I find it amazing how quick people demonize our country but give a pass to corrupt communism

I did not give a pass to communism. I only remarked on the efficiency of the earthquake recovery effort.

I do not demonize our country. I only place blame on the Army Corps of Engineers for the NO levee failure.

Remember, the catastrophic failure of the flood protection in New Orleans prompted immediate review of the Army Corps of Engineers since that agency has by congressional mandate ‘sole responsibility’ for design and construction of the flood protection.

In general, our infrastructure is in poor shape which will result in many more NO like tragedies in the future.

They blew it.

All levels of government failed here: Democrat and Republican, local state and federal; FEMA included.

Get your facts straight. Try reading something beside the Commie Times.

My news comes from ABC, CBS, CNN…. I can’t get the Commie Times.
Didn’t they go out of business?

China is a third world …… beneficial relation.

I don’t contest this interpretation of history.

They steal our technology every chance they get.

When I lived in DC, they told me to lock my door. They steal thinks there too.


Now, ask a question. Why is Argonne …… pennies made a day by Chinese labor.

Conceded: Cheap labor is a downside for rich countries caused by globalization.

I'll leave it to you to solve the worlds problems via trade or possible isolation of America.

To be honest, solving the worlds problem is over my head. If the US government or the United Nations can’t do it, how can I.

All the little toys you love to play with are made on the cheap by poor chinese just for you Axil.

I’m sorry to say that I can’t afford those cheap toys anymore. My money is increasing going towards gas.

This has been a reality check to bogus propaganda.

You got me on the “corrupt Communist bureaucrats”. Now, did I deserve all that tongue lashing. I don't think so.

But don't fail to let me know if there’s anything else I screwed up on.


Healthy Breaze

So...we need to get reliable supplies of Lithium ore. that which doesn't come from China mostly comes from Chile, Argentina and Australia. We're gonna need a lot.

We're also going to need to use lithium reaaaaaally efficiently. We've got to slice the bologna very thin for each given amount of charge storage.

Photovolatics won't have much manual labor inputs, so we should be able to produce them in the US if we want.

We sure could use some leapfrog innovations that are hard to copy.

Roger Pham

The take-home message here is beware of complacency.

The Chinese empire existed thousands of years before the arrival of the Greek, the Roman, Ottoman, Persian empires, and much later Western Europeans. The word "China" came from the Chinese's own "Chung Gua" meaning "The center of enlightment/innovation."

However, complacency set in, as the Chinese regarded other people around as "barbarians" and closed their door for adaptation of innovations abroad. Out of arrogance, they ignored Westerners' advancements in science and technology in the 1600-1700's, and paid a very dear price of centuries of humiliation, poverty, famine, and social unrest.

The Japanese were much quicker to adapt Westerners' technologies, and simply swapped out what cultural and technological knowledge they've learned from China over thousands of years, and in place, adopting Western's influence and technology. The result is a century of prosperity and advancement ahead of their former master, the Chinese.

For nearly half a century, I've seen complacency started to set its foot in America...Wake up, America! China is no longer an impoverished third-world country with just sweat shops and barbaric abusers of human rights, just as the Western Europeans were not barbarians as the Chinese has thought them to be in the 1600's.

When will be America's next Sputnik, Manhattan and Appollo programs?

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