Panasonic Energy enters discussions with IndianOil over framework for formation of JV to manufacture cylindrical Li-ion batteries in India
Air taxi companies using NASA OVERFLOW software to predict aircraft noise and aerodynamic performance

Benchmark forecasts Li metal production to be a critical bottleneck for early commercialization of lithium metal battery cells

Global capacity for lithium metal production is insufficient to support the early commercial growth of the lithium metal battery industry, according to Benchmark’s Solid-State and Lithium Metal Forecast.

Such batteries use lithium metal as the anode material. This can significantly increase the capacity of the battery, but requires the use of either a novel liquid or solid-state electrolyte for safe operation.

If all suitable lithium metal produced in 2024 was used for lithium metal batteries, the industry could support five to ten gigawatt-hours (GWh) of cell production. However, much of the lithium metal will be diverted to other industries and, as such, Benchmark forecasts a supply deficit of the metal this year.


To date, battery grade lithium metal demand has been largely driven by the primary battery and aerospace alloy markets. The demand growth that we are seeing today is driven by next-generation, rechargeable lithium metal batteries, and the requirements for these applications are much more strict.

—Rory McNulty, a next-generation technologies analyst at Benchmark

Benchmark assesses global lithium metal production capacity to have been more than 7,500 tonnes per year in 2023, but less than half of that was battery-grade.

China leads in established capacity, accounting for more than 90% of 2023 capacity. This dominance looks set to continue as the country has plans to double its capacity over the next three to five years.

The question that hangs over that Chinese capacity is whether it can deliver for the requirements of next generation battery technologies.

—Rory McNulty

Why is there a deficit? Although lithium metal batteries are a novel technology, developers are increasingly moving from cell development into pilot production and early commercial growth, requiring supply chains to mature with them. Demand for lithium metal batteries is set to exceed 10 GWh by 2026.

As next generation lithium metal batteries have developed from low amp-hour cells to, in some cases, up to 100 amp-hour cells, the market maturity and new demand for lithium metal has increased quite significantly.

—Rory McNulty

The precursor to lithium metal is lithium chloride. Although this can be sourced directly from brine, with several lithium metal producers vertically integrating this process, the majority of brine resources have an unsuitable impurity profile for integration, Benchmark says.

Where direct lithium chloride supply is not available, battery-grade lithium carbonate can instead be converted to lithium chloride, albeit incurring considerable capital expense.

Further, next generation lithium metal batteries require a lithium metal foil for the anode that is significantly thinner than the foils used for primary lithium metal batteries. This pushes the traditional extrusion and rolling processes to their mechanical limits, according to McNulty.

Meeting these requirements is tough, and drives cost up significantly. This technical barrier is a key constraint of the industry and several companies are exploring novel, bottom-up approaches to overcome this challenge.

—Rory McNulty


The comments to this entry are closed.