Lithium Market – Snapshot

Lithium, which is a low-density metal is present in the earth’s crust in the amount of 65 ppm (parts per million). Lithium takes part in reactions with both organic and inorganic reactants. Lithium is usually found in the form of compounds with other minerals, usually in igneous rock or brine pools. High-energy density is the unique feature of lithium and due to this property, lithium can store a significant amount of energy in a very limited space. Lithium is primarily used in applications such as energy storage, air treatment, greases and lubricants, and glasses and ceramics. Examples of lithium applications include batteries (smartphone batteries), ceramics and glasses (fire-viewing windows for fireplaces), lithium soaps (lubricating greases), and air treatment (air-conditioners).

In terms of product, the global lithium market has been categorized into lithium carbonate, lithium hydroxide, lithium chloride, and others. Lithium carbonate is the highly used product. Lithium carbonate possesses improved specific capacity and power density. Lithium hydroxide is soluble in water and it is available commercially in anhydrous form. Lithium hydroxide is primarily consumed in the production of lithium greases and it is used in breathing gas purification systems for spacecraft, submarines, etc. Lithium chloride is used for dehumidification. The others segment includes lithium derivatives such as lithium fluoride and lithium bromide. Based on application, the lithium market has been classified into energy storage, air treatment, greases & lubricants, glasses & ceramics, and others. The energy storage segment comprises applications such as E-vehicles, E-bikes, consumer electronics, and grid storage. In air treatment, lithium is used for removal of carbon dioxide and also for the dehumidification purpose. Lithium helps in maintaining viscosity of greases and lubricants. Lithium compounds are used as fluxing additives in the manufacture of glass. The others segment of the lithium market primarily includes medical and pharmaceutical applications of lithium. Lithium is used as a psychiatric medication for bipolar disorder.

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Increasing demand for lithium for use in lithium-ion batteries of electric vehicles is anticipated to fuel the global lithium market during the forecast period. Lithium-ion batteries are used in various types of electric vehicles such as hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), and pure battery electric vehicles (BEVs). Low density and high energy density are key features of lithium, which allow its use in electric vehicles. Rise in the demand for lithium for use in air treatment is anticipated to augment the market for lithium in the next few years. Lithium is used in cooling, dehumidification, and air regeneration applications. Shopping malls, hospitals, and other institutional facilities often employ absorption chillers made of lithium bromide as their source of air-conditioning. Use of lithium in space vehicles and submarines for removal of carbon dioxide is also on the rise.

Lithium is witnessing increase in the demand in medical and pharmaceutical industries. In the production of drugs and agricultural chemicals, alkyl lithium is used as a synthetic agent. Lithium helps reduce mental disorders such as schizoaffective disorder and cyclic major depression. Implantable devices such as cardiac pacemakers, drug pumps, neurostimulators, and cardiac defibrillators employ non-rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. Secondary lithium-ion batteries are used with left ventricular assist devices, artificial hearts, and implantable hearing assist devices. Rising use in automatic external defibrillators (AEDs), which require low background current, is anticipated to present growth opportunities to the lithium market in the next few years.

Production and application of lithium-ion batteries is rising in developed as well as developing economies. However, careless disposal of lithium-ion batteries is projected to lead to release of lithium into the environment. This lithium, in turn, enters the food chain. Minimizing the waste of lithium-ion batteries is an efficient way to reduce possible effects of lithium on the environment.

Lithium-ion batteries possess significant potential to enhance the efficiency of renewable energy sources such as solar energy and wind energy. Lithium-ion batteries can help store excess electricity during non-peak hours, which can be made available during non-production hours. This can increase their usage in industrial and residential services, enabling the alleviation of peak-time electricity charges. With increasing pressure on various countries for reducing carbon emissions, the automotive industry across the world is shifting toward electric vehicles. Lithium-ion is the preferred battery technology for hybrid vehicles. Manufacturers produce lithium primarily for energy storage applications.

The global lithium market is dominated by a few multinational players. This leads to intense competition in the market. Manufacturers such as SQM, Albermarle Corporation, Talison Lithium, FMC Corporation, and Jiangxi Ganfeng are some of the leading players operating in the market. Capacity expansion and acquisitions are a few strategies adopted by these companies to retain their leading position. Large players are highly integrated, which helps them decrease production costs and gain a competitive edge in the market. Key players are focused on the innovation of new technologies in order to gain market share and serve a diverse range of end-user industries.

Lithium Market - Overview

Lithium is a lightweight metal, which is an important element employed in the lithium-ion battery technology. Several manufacturers are focused on production of lithium derivatives such as lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide. Lithium products are primarily used in energy storage systems, automobiles, household electricity applications, and consumer electronics products. Advancements in the energy storage sector are likely to boost the demand for lithium across the world in the near future. Asia Pacific is a key region of the global lithium market, owing to presence of leading manufacturers in countries such as Japan and China. Lithium-ion batteries are highly suitable for use in electric vehicles, due to their high energy efficiency and long shelf life.

Based on product, the global lithium market has been classified into lithium carbonate, lithium hydroxide, lithium chloride, and others (such as lithium bromide, lithium iodide). Lithium carbonate is the highly consumed product type of lithium, due to improved specific capacity and power density. In terms of application, the global lithium market has been categorized into energy storage, air treatment, greases & lubricants, glasses & ceramics, and others (such as medical and pharmaceutical). Energy storage applications of lithium include E-vehicles, E-bikes, consumer electronics, and grid storage.

Increase in production of electric vehicles is considered one of the key factors driving the global lithium market. Major automobile manufacturers are engaged in the production of electric vehicles such as hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), and pure battery electric vehicles (BEVs). Li-ion batteries are light in weight. Extensive research efforts and investments have given rise to advanced battery technologies that are suitable for use in electric vehicles all over the world. Air treatment is another key application, wherein lithium is highly employed. Lithium is used for removal of carbon dioxide, especially in space crafts and submarines. Also, it is widely used for the dehumidification purpose.

Application of lithium in medical and pharmaceutical industries is on the rise. Lithium is widely used in the treatment of mental disorders such as schizophrenia and cyclic depression. Lithium is used as a synthetic agent in the manufacture of drugs. Alkyl lithium is used as a synthetic agent for the manufacture of organic intermediates that can be used for drugs and agricultural chemicals. Primary lithium batteries are employed in cardiac pacemakers, drug pumps, neurostimulators, etc., while secondary lithium batteries are used in applications such as artificial hearts and implantable hearing assist devices.

A large number of raw material suppliers operate in the market. Companies engaged in the mining of lithium can integrate forward to manufacture lithium batteries for various applications such as electric vehicles, greases and lubricants, and air treatment.

The report analyzes and forecasts the market for lithium at the global and regional levels. The market has been projected in terms of volume (tons) and revenue (US$ Mn) for the period from 2018 to 2026. The study includes drivers and restraints of the global lithium market. It also covers the anticipated impact of these drivers and restraints on the demand for lithium during the forecast period. The report also highlights opportunities for growth of the lithium market at the global and regional levels.

The report comprises detailed value chain analysis, which provides a comprehensive view of the global lithium market. Porter’s five forces model for the lithium market has also been included to help understand the competition landscape of the market. The study encompasses market attractiveness analysis, wherein product and application segments have been benchmarked based on their market size, growth rate, and general attractiveness.

The study provides a decisive view of the global lithium market by segmenting it in terms of product, application, and region. These segments have been analyzed based on the present and future trends. Regional segmentation includes the current and forecast demand for lithium in North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America, and Middle East & Africa. The report also covers individual product and application segments of the lithium market in every region.

The study includes profiles of major companies operating in the global lithium market. Key players profiled in the report include SQM, Albermarle Corporation, FMC Corporation, and Tianqi Lithium Corporation. These players account for a major share of the total production of lithium. Moreover, they are forward integrated. Brand promotion and launch of new products are likely to raise sales of lithium in the next few years. Market leaders look for different measures such as strategic pricing and product improvement in order to increase their profit margin.

The report provides the estimated market size of the global lithium market for 2018 and forecast for the next nine years. The size of the global lithium market has been provided in terms of revenue. Market numbers have been estimated for product, application, and regional segments. Market size and forecast for each segment have been provided for the global as well as regional markets.

Global Lithium Market, by Product

  • Lithium Carbonate
  • Lithium Hydroxide
  • Lithium Chloride
  • Others

Global Lithium Market, by Application

  • Energy Storage
    • E-vehicles
    • E-bikes
    • Consumer Electronics
    • Grid Storage
  • Air Treatment
  • Greases & Lubricants
  • Glasses & Ceramics
  • Others

Global Lithium Market, by Region

  • North America
    • U.S.
    • Canada
  • Europe
    • Germany
    • France
    • U.K.
    • Italy
    • Spain
    • Norway
    • Russia & CIS
    • Rest of Europe
  • Asia Pacific
    • China
    • Japan
    • India
    • ASEAN
    • South Korea
    • Rest of Asia Pacific
  • Latin America
    • Brazil
    • Mexico
    • Rest of Latin America
  • Middle East & Africa
    • South Africa
    • GCC
    • Rest of Middle East & Africa

Key Takeaways

  • The report provides extensive analysis of market trends from 2018 to 2026 in order to identify growth opportunities and market developments
  • It provides comparative analysis of various applications wherein lithium is used
  • It offers analysis of the lithium production process as well as value chain analysis
  • It identifies key factors useful to build a roadmap for upcoming growth opportunities for the lithium market at the global, regional, and country levels
  • The report provides a detailed competition landscape of key players operating in the market in order to help understand the competition level
  • The report provides information on the supply–demand scenario and production of lithium in every region
  • It also provide insights on lithium reserves, by key countries
  • It provides a list of potential customers of lithium along with their contact details
  • The report provides detailed pricing analysis based on product and application segments
  • The report offers Porter’s five forces analysis that highlights the power of buyers and suppliers
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