The market for Lithium-ion batteries was 67GWh in 2016 and expected to increase in 2019 to 75GWh, which is an increase from the 5.7GWh a decade ago in the United States. The growth is due to the increased demand for the Li-Ion battery fueled by the ever-expanding areas of applications and the tremendous profits gained over the years. From the early 1990s to 2010, the battery market was dominated with the portable electronic consumers. However, the field of application expounded with the introduction of smartphones and mobile phones. More recently, the acceleration of the growth is based on the urge to revolutionize the automotive industry venturing in clean energy for their products such as powertrains and electric cars. The need for clean energy and control of cobalt overexploitation, which results in environmental degradation, has facilitated the process of power innovation. The increased demand for sustainable batteries has led to advancements in technologies aimed at efficiency while escalating the supply chain risks.

Battery Technologies

Battery technologies have resulted in the invention of super-batteries with distinctive lives and performance. The major factors that have driven the technological integration in the battery sector are the need for reliable performance and efficiency. The efficiency is the measure of battery life by the type of application. The reliability is the power it supplies in a certain time. Due to the invention of portable power consumers such as mobile phones and iPads, the need for longer lasting batteries emerge. The embedding of battery technologies in automotive sectors also enhances further research on reliable energy sources. The electric cars and the electric trains demand powerful batteries able to sustain their performance over a period. Therefore, battery technological revolution tends to optimize the life and battery power to achieve better performance (Scrosati, Jürgen and Werner p.67).

Over the years, battery technological revolution has transpired all over the world. Researchers have invested in studies aimed at improving the performance of the batteries by charging in seconds and lasting for months. Surrey University has indulged in the production of energy and storage through contact. Their main idea is to generate power through contact between two elements and harvesting. The harvested power is stored and used later. The University of California has also invented the gold nanowire batteries. The batteries are 1000 times smaller than the human hair and withstand 200,000 times recharging without indication of degradation. The cracked nanowire batteries never die. Other battery technologies include the Grabat graphene batteries, which give the electronic cars a driving range of 500 miles without a recharge. The University of Rice has invented a laser-made micro-super-capacitators technology. The battery can recharge 50 times more than the current super-capacitators and discharge slower too. These technologies are aimed at improving the performance of batteries (Pistoia p.45).

Supply Chain Risk

The increased demand for better performing batteries results into overexploitation of cobalt affecting the rates of supply. The extraction escalates the exposure to environmental hazards. Overexploitation also leads to increased air pollution resulting from wastewater drainage into the rivers. Currently, considering these factors, the government of Congo has decided to shut down the Katanga Cobalt mines leading to low supply (Eichstaed p.43). Shutting down the mines renders people jobless leading to low living standards with raised cost of living. According to (Eichstaed p.56) the cost of living in Congo is 147% higher than in the United States. Since machines need batteries to operate, the government may have divided opinion on reinstating such mining activities considering their adverse effects on the environment. Therefore, the major Cobalt supply chain risk is overexploitation in contrary to the mining policies especially in Congo (Huggins p.23).

In conclusion, the demand for lithium-ion batteries has increased the in the United States in the past decade. Battery technologies aim at producing super-batteries with high-performance power and prolonged lives. The battery industry has undergone numerous technological revolution leading to the introduction of batteries such as the Grabat graphene batteries, which provides 500 miles drive for electronic cars without a recharge. The significant Cobalt supply chain risk is the overexploitation in contrary with the government policies, such as in Congo, leading to environmental degradation.

SOURCES

Scrosati, Bruno, Jürgen Garche, and Werner Tillmetz. Advances in Battery Technologies for Electric Vehicles. , 2015. Internet resource.

Pistoia, G. Lithium-ion Batteries: Advances and Applications. , 2014. Internet resource.

Huggins, Robert A. Advanced Batteries: Materials Science Aspects. New York: Springer, 2015. Internet resource.

Eichstaedt, Peter. Consuming the Congo: War and Conflict Minerals in the World’s Deadliest Place. Chicago: Lawrence Hill Books, 2018. Internet resource.