A new study by the Technical University of Munich (TUM) shows that the number of patent applications for electrochemical energy storage technology has risen sharply in recent years, most of which are based on lithium.
The report "Monitoring the Innovation of Electrochemical Energy Storage Technology: A Patent-Based Method" provides a differentiated analysis that analyzes what energy storage technologies are feasible in the export of fossil fuel energy. It also made a sober assessment of the development of battery energy storage in the United States and Europe, pointing out that Western companies "are economically lagging behind because the number of patents filed by Asian companies has increased significantly.
The report pointed out that since wind energy and solar energy are intermittent energy sources, if renewable energy is used to produce a large amount of electricity in the future, the excess energy must be stored during the production period to compensate for fluctuations.
Now, a number of different electrochemical technologies are competing to meet these rising demands.
The report states that understanding what technology is the subject of more intensive development activities and will enter the market in the near future. It is of strategic importance for all stakeholders in the energy sector, whether it comes from industry, politics or science. .
Because the company does not easily disclose its R&D activities, TUM researchers analyzed worldwide patent applications related to electrochemical energy storage from 1991 to 2011 as part of a large-scale interdisciplinary project on battery energy storage.
Research shows that from 2006 to 2011, the number of new patent families each year, that is, patent applications and patent groups for similar or equivalent inventions, including applications from different countries, increased by 110%. In 2006, approximately 2,800 developments were filed for intellectual property rights. In 2011, this number has been increased to 5900 applications.
Simon C. Müller, a physicist and economist, Chairman of Strategy and Organization of the TUM School of Management, said: “Given these investments, we can think that new electrochemical energy storage technologies will be ready to enter the market in the near future and will be better than existing ones. The product is more cost-effective."
The researchers found that so far, most of the patent applications have been filed by the developers of lithium-ion batteries: in 2011, there were 4,900 new patent families. In fact, the number of applications in this field has experienced a single decline in 2007 and has been showing a steep upward trend since 2008. Prior to this, many suppliers had to withdraw their products due to safety issues.
Müller said: "Obviously, concerns about the inability of lithium-ion batteries to be sufficiently safe have disappeared. In addition, new patent applications are cited more times by new patent families than other technologies-this is a sign of quality, indicating They have played a certain role in the continued development of technology."
In terms of the number of patent applications, the battery ranked second, with only about 580 new patent families in 2011. Researchers have also noticed that the number of patents for redox flow batteries has recently increased significantly. Although the level is not high, the energy storage chemical compounds are used in liquid form. From 2009 to 2011, the number of applications more than doubled, from 90 to 200. The number of new patent families for alkaline batteries has dropped slightly to 240, while sodium-sulfur technology has always played a marginal role, with only 20 applications.
Müller added: "The field of lithium batteries is very dynamic, and we will soon reach a point where we can see the self-multiplier effect. As long as the technical and economic data is good enough, R&D activities will attract more investment, and thus a stronger lead. ."