In the late afternoon on November 9, 2017, a loud explo- sion occurred at the Orlando airport. Someone shouted, “Shooter!” and the crowd scattered like birds in hunting sea- son. The event that occurred outside of the security area followed the tragic Las Vegas and Texas shootings.
The pandemonium, while not surprising, caused long delays,
many extra hours of work, thousands of unhappy passengers
and millions of dollars of unplanned expense. The loud report?
A lithium-based battery in a camera exploding in a passenger’s
bag. This incident was particularly disruptive, but the FAA reports one lithium ion incident every 10 days involving everything from electronic cigarettes to cargo.
Batteries are powering our lives
Batteries are ubiquitous, but as unseen components in devices,
we do not pay much attention to them. In 1972, the average
home had two battery-operated devices. Today, it is likely that
the average home has at least 30, powering everything from cell
phones to headgear to medical implants.
As we look to the future, batteries are the key to many of the
advanced technologies that we expect will improve our lives,
including electric vehicles, renewable energy, home robots and
artificial intelligence. These batteries will be bigger, store more
energy and have more power than anything we have seen before. Lithium ion batteries are the most important energy storage
component for much of what is coming. Here is a brief snapshot
of its journey as captured for the most popular building block,
the 18650 cell.
The domination of the lithium battery
While pages could be written regarding the lithium ion market,
here are four observations to consider:
I) The current global market for lithium ion batteries is over
$30 billion, and at its current Compound Annual Growth Rate
(CAGR) of 16%, it will double in five years.
II) Lead acid has just passed the $50 billion mark; and is 155
years old. In its early decades, it had many problems that could
only be shared by writing a letter and sending it by pony express.
In contrast, when lithium ion has a problem, the fire can be on
You Tube within seconds.