New uses vital for nickel battery demand

Paul Boughton

As modern day devices become increasingly sophisticated, there is mounting pressure on battery technologies to keep pace. The growth of portable devices necessitates lightweight, easily chargeable batteries that deliver continuous power supply for long durations.

Incorporating these features, new advanced battery chemistries such as lithium-ion (Li-ion), lithium ion polymer (Li-ion Poly), and lithium sulphur are weaning away demand from traditional nickel cadmium (NiCad) and nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries.
Faced with declining market share, nickel battery manufacturers must undertake immense amount of research and development (R&D) to stay competitive. Investing in R&D is likely to help develop an enhanced nickel battery in terms of chemistry or better form factor.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, World Nickel Battery Markets, reveals that revenue in this market totalled $1767.1 million in 2004 and projects at $1685.8 million in 2011.
The industrial segment is traditionally the largest end-user of NiCad and NiMH batteries and continues to prefer nickel batteries. This is because they are inexpensive, resist abuse, have high discharge rates, and can be used over wide temperature ranges. The recent chemistries though, are not suitable to operate in such conditions.
Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst C R Malavika says: As novel product applications demand miniaturisation along with greater energy density and longer runtimesnickel batteries are being substituted in many medicalmilitaryand telecom applications."
In additionincreasing prices of raw materials are forcing a rise in production costs. While manufacturers need to raise prices to sustain themselvesprice competition from Chinese vendorswho have lower production costslimits their profits.
"Asia Pacificespecially Chinais considered to have a lot of potential in terms of overall growth says Malavika.