US demand to reach $6 billion in 2017
US demand for battery and fuel cell materials is expected to rise more than four percent annually through 2017 to $6.0 billion. Growing motor vehicle production, as well as the motor vehicle industry’s increasing adoption of advanced energy storage technologies to meet government fuel efficiency mandates, will support growth in battery material demand, particularly for polymers and chemicals. Though rising from a much smaller base, fuel cell material demand will rise at a rapid double-digit pace due to the increasing adoption of fuel cells in electrical generation and industrial/motive power applications. However, even faster gains will be limited by the fuel cell industry’s continuing efforts to reduce costs, including through the adoption of less expensive and more efficient alternatives.
Polymer & chemical materials to see above-average growth
The motor vehicle industry’s ongoing efforts to meet increasingly stringent fuel efficiency requirements through the more widespread adoption of alternatives to the traditional flooded lead-acid battery will begin to be felt by the battery material industry over the forecast period. The rising adoption of rechargeable lithiumion batteries in hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and electric vehicles will help drive above average growth in polymer and chemical battery material demand as vehicle manufacturers ramp up domestic production of these batteries to supply their North American operations. In addition, the increasing adoption of startstop ignition technology will lead to the expanded usage of advanced glass mat (AGM) lead-acid batteries, boosting demand for more specialty materials such as glass fibers. More broadly, the ongoing rebound in US motor vehicle production will increase lead-acid battery shipments, which will be the primary driver of rising battery material demand overall.
Fuel cells to post doubledigit annual growth
Robust global demand for fuel cells as alternatives in electricity generation and industrial and motive power applications will support the rapid expansion of the US fuel cell industry, and drive doubledigit growth in fuel cell material demand through 2017. All material types will benefit, though industry efforts to find alternative electrode catalyst materials will limit faster advances in fuel cell metal demand. Even faster growth in fuel cell material demand over the long term will reflect the penetration of fuel cells in motor vehicle and portable device applications.
Performance additive, catalyst materials to pace gains
Among functional categories for battery and fuel cell materials, the most rapid gains will be for performance additive and catalyst materials, and for electrolytes. Growth will be driven by the ongoing need to improve battery durability and performance, as well as by surging demand for fuel cells, most of which use expensive platinum catalysts. Active materials and electrodes are the leading outlet for materials, but are expected to lag overall market increases in demand through 2017. Battery current collectors are expected to grow at the slowest pace of any function in the 2012-2017 period, as manufacturers continue to increase cost reduction efforts.