Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Asian inventions dominate energy storage systems

20.08.2014

Lithium batteries come out on top in the search for electrochemical energy storage technologies

In recent years, the number of patent applications for electrochemical energy storage technologies has soared. According to a study by the Technische Universität München (TUM), the largest volume of applications by far is submitted by developers of lithium batteries.


Scientists at TUM research new ways to produce lithium-ion-batteries. (Photo: Heddergott / TUM)

The study offers a first differentiated analysis of which energy storage technologies will be viable in the exit from fossil-fuel energy. In this area, European and US companies are falling behind economically, as Asian companies apply for a substantially higher number of patents.

Wind and solar power are inherently intermittent energy sources. If a large amount of electricity is to be produced with renewable energy sources in the future, excess energy will have to be stored during productive periods so that these fluctuations can be compensated for.

... more about:
»Energy »European »Strategy »TUM »battery »energy »technologies

However, existing storage capacities are far from adequate for the purpose. Science and industry are therefore working on new, better technologies. One important focus lies on battery systems that used to be too expensive or unsophisticated to be employed on a large scale. Now, a number of different electrochemical technologies are competing to become the benchmark.

Knowing which technologies are the subject of more intensive development activities and will enter the market in the near future is strategically important to all stakeholders in the energy sector, whether from the industry, political sphere or science. As companies do not readily divulge their R&D activities, economists at the TUM have analyzed worldwide patent applications relating to electrochemical energy storage between 1991 and 2011, as part of a large interdisciplinary project on battery storage. (Applications offer a more up-to-date overview of trends than the granted trade mark rights.)

The study shows that the annual number of new patent families, i.e. groups of patent applications and patents for similar or equivalent inventions (e.g. applications in different countries), rose by 110 per cent from 2006 to 2011. In 2006, applications for intellectual property rights for around 2,800 developments were submitted. In 2011, the figure had already increased to 5,900 applications. “In view of these investments, we can assume that new electrochemical energy storage technologies will be ready for market entry in the near future and will be more cost-effective than the existing products,” says Simon C. Müller, physicist and economist, at the chair for Strategy and Organization.

The lithium segment is very dynamic

The most patent applications by far were filed by developers of lithium batteries: in 2011, there were 4,900 new patent families. Indeed, the curve for application numbers in this segment follows a steep upward trend since 2008, after a single dip in 2007. Before that, several suppliers had had to take back products due to safety issues. “Apparently, fears that lithium batteries cannot be made safe enough have vanished,” says Müller. Moreover, the new patent applications are cited more often than other technologies by newer patent families - a mark of quality which shows that they play a role in the continued development of the technology.

In second place in terms of the number of patent applications filed are lead batteries with only around 580 new patent families in 2011. The scientists noted, however, a recent marked increase, albeit to a low level, for redox flow batteries, in which the energy-storing chemical compounds are used in liquid form: From 2009 until 2011, the number of applications more than doubled from 90 to 200. The number of new patent families for alkaline batteries dropped slightly to 240 and sodium-sulphur technologies played a consistently marginal roll with 20 applications.

“The lithium segment is very dynamic”, according Simon C. Müller. “Quite possibly, we will soon reach a point at which a self-multiplying effect can be seen. As soon as the techno-economic data are good enough, research and development activities will attract more investments, which will generate an even stronger lead.” The fact that lithium batteries are also used in electric cars will only contribute to this development, since batteries will be in demand both in the energy sector and in the automotive industry.

Asian developers submit almost four times as many patent applications as European counterparts

The analysis indicates that Asian companies will dominate the market. In 2011, 2,100 applications for patent families relating to electrochemical energy storage could be attributed to Asian developers; 530 to European, and only 410 to US developers. Despite a high initial figure in 2001, the Asians were thus able to increase their applications by 220 percent; European applications rose by 260 percent and US applications by 70 percent.

If one considers the quality of the portfolio, Asian companies still hold a very dominant position. The scientists used an index that takes both quantitative data and the number of application citations into consideration. According to this index, the top 10 in the lithium batteries segment include eight Japanese and one Korean company, with Fuji in the lead. Only one US company, Valence Technology, is found here. The most successful European institution, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), is only ranked 25th.

“These results raise interesting questions about research policy and development management. Further studies could, for instance, look at which strategies have given certain companies a technological lead in this field, and which lessons may be learned from this by European and US competitors,” says Prof. Isabell M. Welpe, who holds the Chair for Strategy and Organization.

The EEBatt project:
The study is part of the EEBatt project, which focuses on decentralized stationary battery storage for an efficient use of renewable energies and support of grid stability. 14 Chairs for different disciplines at the TUM join their forces with the ZAE Bayern (Bavarian institute for applied energy research) and VARTA Storage GmbH to conduct research. The project is funded by the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Media, Energy and Technology.

Publication:
Mueller, SC, Sandner, PG, and Welpe, IM (2014). Monitoring innovation in electrochemical energy storage technologies: a patent-based approach. Applied Energy, DOI: 10.1016/j.apenergy.2014.06.082


Contact person:
Simon C. Müller, M.Sc.
Technische Universität München
Chair for Strategy and Organization (Prof. Isabell M. Welpe)
Tel.: +49 89 289 24829
simon.mueller@tum.de

Simon Müller | Eurek Alert!
Further information:
http://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/short/article/31747/

Further reports about: Energy European Strategy TUM battery energy technologies

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Researchers develop intelligent handheld robots
27.05.2015 | University of Bristol

nachricht Turn That Defect Upside Down
26.05.2015 | Michigan Technological University

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Advance in regenerative medicine

The only professorship in Germany to date, one master's programme, one laboratory with worldwide unique equipment and the corresponding research results: The University of Würzburg is leading in the field of biofabrication.

Paul Dalton is presently the only professor of biofabrication in Germany. About a year ago, the Australian researcher relocated to the Würzburg department for...

Im Focus: Basel Physicists Develop Efficient Method of Signal Transmission from Nanocomponents

Physicists have developed an innovative method that could enable the efficient use of nanocomponents in electronic circuits. To achieve this, they have developed a layout in which a nanocomponent is connected to two electrical conductors, which uncouple the electrical signal in a highly efficient manner. The scientists at the Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel have published their results in the scientific journal “Nature Communications” together with their colleagues from ETH Zurich.

Electronic components are becoming smaller and smaller. Components measuring just a few nanometers – the size of around ten atoms – are already being produced...

Im Focus: IoT-based Advanced Automobile Parking Navigation System

Development and implementation of an advanced automobile parking navigation platform for parking services

To fulfill the requirements of the industry, PolyU researchers developed the Advanced Automobile Parking Navigation Platform, which includes smart devices,...

Im Focus: First electrical car ferry in the world in operation in Norway now

  • Siemens delivers electric propulsion system and charging stations with lithium-ion batteries charged from hydro power
  • Ferry only uses 150 kilowatt hours (kWh) per route and reduces cost of fuel by 60 percent
  • Milestone on the road to operating emission-free ferries

The world's first electrical car and passenger ferry powered by batteries has entered service in Norway. The ferry only uses 150 kWh per route, which...

Im Focus: Into the ice – RV Polarstern opens the arctic season by setting course for Spitsbergen

On Tuesday, 19 May 2015 the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its home port in Bremerhaven, setting a course for the Arctic. Led by Dr Ilka Peeken from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) a team of 53 researchers from 11 countries will investigate the effects of climate change in the Arctic, from the surface ice floes down to the seafloor.

RV Polarstern will enter the sea-ice zone north of Spitsbergen. Covering two shallow regions on their way to deeper waters, the scientists on board will focus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International symposium: trends in spatial analysis and modelling for a more sustainable land use

20.05.2015 | Event News

15th conference of the International Association of Colloid and Interface Scientists

18.05.2015 | Event News

EHFG 2015: Securing health in Europe. Balancing priorities, sharing responsibilities

12.05.2015 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers develop intelligent handheld robots

27.05.2015 | Power and Electrical Engineering

"Hidden" fragrance compound can cause contact allergy

27.05.2015 | Health and Medicine

Supernovas help 'clean' galaxies

27.05.2015 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>