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The current address of the K battery revealed by the battery authority…

We should not be complacent just because Korea’s cell technology has taken the lead in recent years.
The current battery industry is a battlefield where fierce competition continues.
Since finished car companies are just now in the trend of finalizing vendor companies,
there is a high possibility that the place that is winning right now will continue its momentum for a while.
We must not miss this opportunity to seize victory.

The recent view of the battery industry, which has emerged as a national strategic industry, is half of concern and half of expectation. Although it is considered the world’s best in cell technology and is experiencing a boom, there are also research results that show that the future prospects are not so bright considering China, which has put the volume at the forefront.

The need for strategy revision in the rapidly changing international situation is also mentioned. As the United States and the European Union compete in the supply chain by advocating the Inflation Reduction Act ( IRA ) and the Core Raw Materials Act ( CRMA ), respectively, K-Battery is in a situation where it has to satisfy ‘de-China’ and ‘eco-friendly’ at the same time.

In response, Kyung-yoon Jeong, head of the Korea Institute of Science and Technology ( KIST ) Energy Storage Research Center, suggested △internalization of materials and raw materials through diversification of the supply chain △development of next-generation batteries and training of human resources through technology research △replenishment of government policies and resolution of diplomatic issues. Center Director Chung is an authority in the field of batteries, currently leading the KIST Energy Storage Research Center and serving as the chairman of the Secondary Battery Subcommittee of the Korean Electrochemical Society. 

He specifically emphasized the application of refining technology through eco-friendly methods in supply chain diversification, and the expansion of competitiveness in the material sector in technology research.

In addition, he suggested that in competition with the biggest rival Chinese companies, “we need to keep a close eye on it with a different feeling than now.” “There are rumors that China has designated batteries as a key industry. For example, in the case of CATL in China , the number of employees has increased from 20,000 to 40,000 in a few years, which is a huge number. It is proof that a huge amount of money and manpower is being invested in the battery industry in China,” said Chung.

Below is a Q&A with the head of the center.

The supply chain of raw materials must be secured through eco-friendly construction methods and dispersed factories

– The supply chain war between the US and Europe over batteries is intensifying. What does this global situation mean for Korean battery companies

? First, let’s look at the US IRA . Simply put, ‘exclusion from China’ is the key to the bill, so if it is used well, it can be an opportunity for Korean companies. European CRMAs differ from IRAs in that they are less intense in excluding China, but they have one thing in common in that they aim to stabilize production and supply of raw materials in the region .

In the end, the problem lies in how we deal with the current situation in which we depend on China for a significant portion of materials and raw materials. According to market data, China currently occupies more than 50% of the four core materials of batteries, anode materials, cathode materials, electrolytes, and separators. In addition, in the field of raw materials that make them, China accounts for up to 80% of the global market. Therefore, diversification and internalization of materials and raw material suppliers can be an opportunity for us as well. 

– It is said that the reason for the high dependence on China for raw materials is the environmental problem in the refining sector. 

▲ Yes. Greenhouse gas is behind China’s large share of the raw material supply chain market. This was possible because China did not pay much attention to environmental issues, whereas most developed countries are reluctant to do so because a lot of greenhouse gases are emitted during refining. In response, domestic companies recently announced their policy to purchase foreign salt lakes and produce raw materials directly.

However, it is unlikely that it will be refined in the same way as China. I understand that the company plans to proceed in the direction of reducing greenhouse gas emissions as much as possible by developing eco-friendly construction methods. It is also important to expand the raw material supply chain by distributing refineries in several countries. Even if it is not a situation such as an IRA , it is not desirable to be too dependent on a specific country, so the problem must be addressed. 

– According to a report from Columbia University in the United States on the 8th (local time), ‘Even if the United States introduces an IRA and pours enormous subsidies, batteries will find it difficult to escape the shadow of China for the next 10 years’ . How do you look at it

▲ Although the concept of ‘completely deviating’ is ambiguous, it may not be easy for the US to stop using Chinese battery materials and raw materials at all for 10 years. This is because finished car companies place orders with battery companies for electric vehicles that will soon be supplied and make pre-contracts, and it is quite difficult to meet this supply. If China is excluded, the only remaining country is Korea.

Japan’s Panasonic exists, but this year’s market share is found to be maintained or decreased compared to last year, so the situation does not seem to be the same as before. Then, in the end, what remains is Korea, and since we do not sell batteries only to the United States, it may be difficult to perfectly match the pouring volume. However, it cannot be ruled out that Korean companies will expand their North American lines in the future to cover demand.

‘All-solid-state battery’ 2025 is over… Small batteries will come out first

– It seems that technological competitiveness is the most important to win in the mid- to long-term. Recently, a hot topic in the industry at home and abroad is the all-solid-state battery, which is called the ‘dream battery’. To explain the characteristics of an all-solid-state battery

▲ To explain the lithium ion battery first, there is a separator to prevent direct contact between the positive and negative electrodes of the battery. If the gap is filled with a liquid called electrolyte, it becomes a path for lithium ion transfer. In the past, a water-based electrolyte was used as an electrolyte, but recently, an organic system has been applied. As the organic type was used, the voltage increased, but it also had the disadvantage that it could catch fire. This is because it is a flammable organic solvent. So what was proposed is an all-solid-state battery. Instead of electrolyte, it is to put solid among non-flammable things. In the sense that everything is solid, ‘jeon’ is added. 

– What kind of advanced technology is required for each company to focus on research and development

? In the very past, it was also a universal position that ions do not move in solids. However, since it was recently discovered that ion transport also occurs in solids, the technology has been continuously improved. Haven’t gotten high enough yet. More research is needed on how to increase the lifespan of batteries and how to improve the workability of solid electrolytes. 

– When will all-solid-state batteries be developed? And what products will it come out with?

▲ Japanese Toyota, which holds the most related patents, announced plans to mass-produce electric vehicles equipped with solid-state batteries in 2025, but it seems to have been delayed. Korean battery companies, which felt threatened by the Toyota declaration, also declared mass production of all-solid-state batteries around 2025. Personally, I think it will take a little longer than their target time. In addition, it seems highly likely that small batteries, which will be applied to power tools and home appliance motors, will be released first rather than batteries for electric vehicles. 

– Once the all-solid-state battery is released, it will be difficult for other battery types to survive in the market

▲ and it will not matter. The market for batteries with similar performance and characteristics to all-solid-state batteries will shrink somewhat, but so far, the new battery has never made the rest of the battery disappear. A typical example is a lead-acid battery. The lead-acid battery was developed in 1859. This is the battery you see when you open the bonnet of the car. Afterwards, lithium-ion batteries were developed in 1991, and the demand for them increased rapidly, saying that they were ‘batteries with the best performance’. This was because internal combustion engine vehicles require the engine to always start and the headlights to be turned on, reliability and price are the most important, and the outstanding performance and high price of lithium-ion batteries are a burden. 

– If so, is there a possibility that the entire battery market will rather grow after the release of all-solid-state batteries?

▲ Yes. As a result, it is clear that the market for the battery industry will gradually expand rapidly from the past to the present and future, and if a new entity such as an all-solid-state battery emerges from it, it is highly likely to spread while finding applications suitable for its characteristics. Since all-solid-state batteries and lithium-ion batteries have quite similar characteristics, they will be partially replaced, but it will take a considerable amount of time until that happens.

Korea leads the way in cell technology, but needs to improve material technology

– Domestic companies started research for commercialization of LFP . What should be the meaning of Korean companies entering the market

? From that point of view, increasing the energy density of the battery was the key, and it was advantageous to set the line with a suitable NCM series battery. For this reason, Korea has continued R&D to improve performance. On the other hand, China focused on LFP because it has a price advantage . According to recent market data, LFP is expected to account for 10-15% of the EV market by 2030. It’s not a small scale, but it means it’s not a major one either. In this current situation, it is natural for Korean companies to focus on NCM , and it seems desirable to continue developing LFP as a follow-up. You don’t know what kind of breakthrough technology will suddenly come out in LFP , so it is always necessary to keep an eye on it to some extent.

LFP : A battery using lithium, phosphoric acid, and iron. Iron ( Fe ) and phosphorus (P), which are the main materials, are cheap and plentiful, so there is a price advantage. The chemical structure is also stable, so the risk of ignition and explosion can be easily lowered, so the technical difficulty is low. 

NCM: Lithium-ion batteries mainly produced by three Korean battery companies. It is also called a ‘three-component battery’ by using a ‘positive active material that combines three materials’ such as nickel, cobalt, and manganese. It is classified as a more advanced technology because it has higher energy density than LFP .
▷Related article: ‘Excluding cobalt and adding ○○’ Battery performance is this (April 16)

– When looking at electric vehicle batteries in terms of ‘performance vs price’, the attractiveness of the price part is increasing recently. What is the reason

? Recently, however, major automobile producing and consuming countries are showing signs of reducing electric vehicle purchase subsidies. In other words, the barriers to purchasing existing electric vehicles are getting higher. Accordingly, there is a movement by finished car companies to increase the penetration rate and take the market leadership through low-cost small electric vehicles.

It seems that the time has come for consumers to want to buy an electric car at a reasonable price. Then, even if the mileage per charge is a bit short, it is time for cheap electric vehicles to gain popularity. In that respect, LFP ‘s competitiveness may have become stronger. However, LFP and NCM will not compete in the same space. Theoretically LFP is NCMThe disadvantages that the energy density cannot be higher and that it is vulnerable to low temperatures are fatal. Therefore, it is thought that the future EV battery market will be dominated by NCM and LFP .

– What is the current level of K

-battery technology? Until a while ago, Japan was ranked first토토사이트, but since then, the industry in Japan is in an atmosphere of decline. However, when it comes to materials, the story is different. Looking at the overall material, we need to think more about whether Korea can confidently claim to be the leader. In particular, related technologies such as anode materials, electrolytes, and separators still need to be improved. 

– Then, is it safe to say that Korea has the upper hand in technology competition with China

? However, it is necessary to keep a close eye on China in the future with a different feeling than now. Although certain information is not open due to the nature of China, there are rumors that it has designated batteries as a key industry in China. For example, in the case of CATL in China , the number of employees has increased from 20,000 to nearly 40,000 in a few years. This is a staggering amount. This proves that a huge amount of money and manpower is being invested in the battery industry in China. 

– The way K Battery should go in the future 

▲ First of all, you shouldn’t be complacent just because you’ve been at the forefront for the past few years. The current battery industry is a battlefield where fierce competition continues. Since finished car companies are just now in the trend of finalizing vendor companies, it is highly likely that the place that is winning now will continue its momentum for a while. We must not miss this opportunity to seize victory. It is also necessary to internalize the technology.

Usually, battery giants give a kind of recipe to material suppliers to receive necessary materials through their own research, but now most battery giants are receiving materials from China. This means that the recipe was eventually given to the Chinese supplier, and through this part, there is an aspect that China’s technology has improved. Finally, the role of government is also important. While striving to nurture high-quality human resources for next-generation battery technology, it is necessary to actively step forward with a will to resolve policy issues related to batteries and diplomatic issues between countries. 

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