IoT energy storage takes shape: its flexible, printed and thin

IoT energy storage takes shape: its flexible, printed and thin

Market news |
By Julien Happich

“These applications often require new form factors and designs that traditional battery technologies simply cannot provide”, she notes, explaining why the likes of Apple, Samsung, LG, STMicroelectronics and TDK are all becoming increasingly involved.
From its most recent industry forecast “Flexible, Printed and Thin Film Batteries 2016-2026: Technologies, Markets and Players“, IDTechEx Research expects this resurgent industry to grow from a small market base today to become a $470m industry in 2026, where nothing would look like today.

“In fact, we forecast that the market in 2026 will look nothing like the market today: everything will have changed including the end-users, winning technologies, manufacturing process and dominant suppliers”, the analyst writes.
Giving some examples, the report introduction mentions Oakridge Global Energy Solutions, moving into full production of is energy storage products. The publicly traded company will ramp up and install more than 2.6 Gigawatt-hours of production capacity in its Brevard County, Florida facilities to manufacture electrodes, and cells. The company has also announced its new corporate image, branding and media communications tools in conjunction with its ramp up in January 2016.

As part of the plan, the company has decided to fully utilize the many patents developed and owned by the company in thin-film solid-state batteries. Oakridge Global Energy Solutions acquired Oak Ridge Micro-Energy Inc. in 2002 to further develop and commercialize the rechargeable thin-film solid-state lithium battery technology initially licensed from ORNL.

The company claimed to complete the last phase of pre-production prototyping in early 2016 and will be ready for final product and manufacturing in early 2017.

Meanwhile, TDK plans to double its investment on thin-film battery business. The company has been working on battery-free energy harvesting solutions for wearable devices, wireless sensor networks (WSN), etc. At the same time, TDK plans to spend over 100 billion yen ($841 million) between the fiscal years of 2015 and 2017 to ramp up production of lithium-ion batteries since the company forecasts that the demand for thin-film battery products will grow in notebook PCs, robots and smartphones applications.

Therefore, TDK has decided to double its investment (note: the company has already invested less than 50 billion yen in its Li-ion battery business during the previous three-year period). TDK also hopes to catch up with stronger global competitors especially those in South Korea via the investment.

Flexible batteries: a must have for the big players

Even earlier, STMicroelectronics has started limited production of thin-film solid-state lithium batteries. Showa Denko Packaging announced its invention combining current collectors and packaging to enable battery flexibility and thickness reduction. Apple, Samsung and LG also showed their contributions to make flexible batteries for wearable devices. Indeed, Samsung is already using its curved battery in its own Gear Fit wristband.


Applications of batteries with new form and structural factors. (Source: IDTechEx)

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