The portable power market continues to evolve, redefining what it means to be “portable,” while more traditional applications face new challenges. Laptops, mobile phones, and digital cameras continue to set the pace for battery power, but newer entrants such as radio frequency identification, portable video/audio players, and portable medical equipment are providing smaller but interesting niche opportunities. The challenge for IC makers is developing creative power management solutions that reduce total system cost, minimize board space, and allow the addition of more functions while reducing power consumption. Fuel gauge ICs, in particular, are making strides that outperform products of just a few years ago.
Wireless sensor networks (WSNs) are becoming an enabling technology in a wide variety of applications, including low-power communications and computer devices, and portable medical devices. Although many WSN applications are stationary, nearly all of them use some form of battery back-up – both primary and secondary. In applications where secondary batteries are used, an energy harvesting source could be used to recharge the battery. Fuel cells and
ultracapacitors are also potentially attractive for wireless sensor nodes that require high power outputs for hours to days.
Battery chemistries proliferate, but many of the breakthrough technologies are at the materials level. What is currently driving battery innovation are new applications that will benefit from “nano” materials and tiny form factors. For example, one way to address the problem of designing a battery cell to accommodate high discharge and charge rates is to decrease the particle size of the materials to nano-scale. Using thin materials and increasing the size of current collectors is a first step.
Standards and regulations regarding battery use are getting hammered out and adopted, including those related to recycling (EU Battery Directives) and transport (Department of Transportation). But just as companies are meeting these challenges, new threats to the battery pack market are emerging. These include the potential effects of the recent Lithium-ion battery recalls, as well as new ways of powering portable devices, such as USB powering. All of these present opportunities for battery makers who can provide products that meet new and, in some cases, pecialized needs. “Universal” external batteries are one such product that could provide extended runtimes for applications that have demands beyond the typical consumer product. As applications converge and products evolve, the demands placed
The rechargeable portable power packs industry has received a tremendous boost from the current global economic growth. Portable power is projected to be a dynamic and fast growing sector, which will be driven by the demand for consumer electronics and portability in the world. Led by the growing business activity in North America and Asia, the global economic growth driving this market is projected to expand at a consistently stable rate over the next several years. The projected growth in the power pack market should be more steady and consistent than over the past several years. With the abundance of available data sources and observed economic growth, a more traditional forecasting model will be presented.
One of the forces driving this market is the worldwide demand for increased communication. As a result of this demand, the mobile phone sector will boom. The mobile phone sector will hold the largest percentage of the power pack market in all of the regions examined. As this demand for these devices continues to grow and more are manufactured, they will become smarter and more multifunctional. The number will increase and they will take market share away from the PDA segment. Once touted as the hottest trend in the wireless industry, the PDA will eventually become absorbed into the mobile phone market. The feature of convergence, once thought to be the most redeeming strength of the PDA segment, has become its demise.
The fastest-growing application in the Worldwide market will be the notebook computer segment. As they become faster and more powerful, they will be seen as a practical substitute to desktop computers in both businesses and homes. As the price gap between the two narrows, notebooks will increase their market share at the expense of desktops. In addition, new sub-segments such as Ultra Mobile Personal Computers (UMPCs) are emerging and creating new opportunities and increased competitive pressures. Given the increased demand for instant communication and advancements in the transfer of information, mobile computing and wireless communications will drive the demand for the next computer generation. Li-ion has emerged as the power source of choice among most of the applications studied. Along with Li-polymer, it will take market share from NiMH in an increasing number of applications, including mobile phones, digital cameras, notebook computers and PDAs. The migration to Lithium batteries from the other battery chemistries will be seen in all of the applications considered within this report with the exception of cordless phones and power tools.
For the purposes of portable electronic devices, the direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC) is the focus of research for most power pack companies, battery manufacturers and manufacturers of electronic devices. The purpose of the development of (DMFCs) is to comply with the demand for an uninterrupted power source within the portable electronics industry. DMFCs not only provides a convenient and fast rechargeable power source for portable electronics, but also strengthens the power system design capability of domestic industry. Methanol fuel has several advantages including light-weight, small size, long duration, and easy fuel replenishment. DMFCs are best candidate for micro fuel cell applications, such as mobile phone, personal computer and electronic gadgets. However, the technological and economic challenge is that fuel cells must compete on price, weight, reliability, availability and performance at the same time that more manufacturers are providing lithium batteries at reduced pricing. Also, the current advancements and improvements in power management and utilization may minimize the need for DMFCs. Within the battery area itself, new materials (especially nano-structured materials) are being developed which promise to deliver increased performance and reduced costs.
The rechargeable power pack market is not an easy market to enter and competition among manufacturers is fierce. The growing market for portable devices, combined with the declining rate of individual cell prices, the need for modern production facilities, and an abundant workforce with reasonable labor costs have turned Asia into the world’s manufacturing center for rechargeable batteries. In addition to other positive factors, recent battery recalls and other adverse events have had a negative short-term impact on growth. Over the next five years, however, the portable power segment will continue to present above average growth opportunities.