Batteries are classified by chemistry, and the most common are lithium-, lead-, and nickel-based systems.
Figure 1 illustrates the distribution of these chemistries.
At a 37 percent revenue share, Li-ion is the battery of choice for portable devices and the electric powertrain.
There are no other systems that threaten its dominance today.
Figure 1: Revenue contributions by different battery chemistries
20% Lead acid, starter battery
15% Alkaline, primary
8% Lead acid, stationary
6% Zinc-carbon, primary
5% Lead acid, deep-cycle
3% Lithium, primary
Source: Frost & Sullivan (2009)
Lead acid stands its ground as being a robust and economical power source for bulk use.
Even though Li-ion is making inroads into the lead acid market, the demand for lead acid batteries is still growing.
The applications are divided into starter batteries for automotive, also known as SLI (20%), stationary batteries for power backup (8%),
and deep-cycle batteries for wheeled mobility (5%) such as golf cars, wheelchairs and scissor lifts.
High specific energy and long storage have made alkaline more popular than the old carbon-zinc, which Georges Leclanché invented in 1868.
Nickel-metal-hydride (NiMH) continues to hold an important role as it replaces applications previously served by nickel-cadmium (NiCd).
However at a 3 percent market share and declining,NiMH is becoming a minor player.
An emerging battery usage is the electric powertrain for personal transportation.
Battery cost, longevity and environmental issues dictate how quickly the automotive sector will adopt this new propulsion system.
Fossil fuel is cheap, convenient and readily available; alternative modes face stiff opposition, especially in North America.
Government incentives may be needed, but such intervention distorts the true energy cost, shields underlying problems with fossil fuel and serves select lobby groups with short-term solutions.
New markets that further boost battery growth are the electric bicycle and storage systems for renewable energy, from which homeowners, businesses and developing nations are benefiting.
Large grid storage batteries collect surplus energy during high activity and bridge the gap when the input is low or when user demand is heavy.