Monika Dunkel Shares the Emerging Technology Trends Featured at IDTechEx (part 2)

Posted on: 14/05/2018

Monika Dunkel continues to explore worldwide technology and market trends in nine key areas, and opportunities they present for the UK.


IDTechEx show presenters and exhibitors gave an overview of key market and technology trends in nine emerging technologies. Set in Berlin on 11th and 12th April 2018 this European show attracted visitors and exhibitors from across Europe, Israel, US and a noteable South Korean presence.

The technology areas presented were:

  • 3D printing, including structural electronics and additive manufacturing
  • Printed, flexible and organic electronics
  • Sensors
  • Internet of Things Applications to enable industry 4.0
  • Wearables
  • Electric Vehicles
  • Energy Storage Innovations / Battery technology
  • Off Grid Energy Independence
  • Graphene and 2D materials / new materials

Furthermore the intersection of these technologies was highlighted. Linking between industry players across those technologies is and will become even more important in the future to create innovative market applications – a huge opportunity for the UK, and a reason to connect with KTN.

In the first article, Monika Dunkel, KTM Emerging Technologies and Industries, summarised the key findings of the IDTechEx show, focusing on 3D printing, including structural electronics and additive manufacturing, printed, flexible and organic electronics, sensors, Internet of Things applications to enable industry 4.0 and wearables.

In this article, Monika summarises key findings of the IDTechEx show in the following areas:

  • Electric Vehicles
  • Energy Storage Innovations / Battery technology
  • Off Grid Energy Independence
  • Graphene and 2D materials / new materials

Electric vehicles

Six automotive groups achieved more than 100,000 vehicle sales in 2017. Half of them are in China. Global sales achieved more than 1 million Plug in EV (BEV and PHEV) units in 2017. Best selling models in 2017 where BAIC EC-Series (78 K units sold), Tesla Model S (55 K), Nissan Leaf (47 K), Tesla Model X (47 K), Zhidou D2 (42 K), Renault Zoe (32 K), BMWi3 (31 K), BYD Song (31 K), Chevrolet Bolt (28 K), Chery eQ (27 K). China and Europe are now the largest markets for Plug in EV sales. 
Hybrid EV sales have increased in Europe (potentially because of the diesel gate effect), but no growth was achieved in Japan and the USA. 2014 was the peak year of HEV global sales. By 2030 IDTechEx estimates that
 35 million Plug in EV will be sold globally accounting for 30% of the potential market in 2030. China has the vision to completely rely on electric cars by 2030.

Apart from cars, many new EV markets open up – E-buses, personal aircrafts, robot vacuum cleaners, grass cutting and other agricultural vehicles, delivery including drones, bus-taxis, micro EVs, motorbikes, boats, autonomous underwater vehicles. For example, UK startup Samad Aerospace Limited presented the future of electrified business aviation at the show.

Next step are energy independent vehicles that use energy harvesting from the sun to be powered, for example the IFEVS Micro EV had already a 20 km solar range in Italy.

Large opportunities for new materials to make cars lighter (for examples composite materials as manufactured with the help of UK National Composite Centre in Bristol), electric batteries (2017/ 2018 has seen major funding for their development in the Industrial Challenge Fund Faraday Challenge in the UK) and heat management. Furthermore components industry for electronic motors, power electronics, sensors and occupant monitoring present a huge opportunity. Electric Power Train developer Hypermotive Ltd discussed the requirements for hydrogen based EVs at IDTechEx (“Component supply and new global demand patterns are creating a window of opportunity to bring fuel cells to the mainstream”). The ZapGo Ltd founder mentioned that extreme fast charging is the key to increase the range of EVs and with that the market uptake.

Energy Storage Innovations / Battery technology

95% of the market share is currently in EV battery technology.

Battery innovation is extremely capital-intensive and subject to long development cycles similarly to the pharmaceutical industry. Small, incremental improvements carry fewer risks than full tech overhauls. Key challenge is to make batteries lighter, more powerful and affordable, as UK CCO of the The Ultimate Battery Company explained in his talk at the show.

Automotive companies in developed countries will never settle for a 0.001% malfunction chance. Meanwhile, China prefers quantity to quality, with frequent reports of e-buses catching fire. A firegate of EV batteries would have huge consequences in the West.

To achieve full vehicle electrification, battery companies worldwide have already announced expansion plans that will bring production capacity through the roof by 2025. Chinese based CATL alone has committed to a 100 GWh capacity by 2020, while Tesla might replicate its 35 GWh Gigafactory with three or four more to come around the world. IDTechEx predicts a total Lithium Iron battery (LIB) production capacity of 1700 GWh by 2028.

But LIBs may not be the single answer to energy portability. Primary cells are still widely used, not only in watches but also in remote monitoring devices, IoT applications, hearing aids, etc. That is because they meet certain needs like long duration, rate of replacement, miniaturisation, or cost. New materials are one answer to a world beyond Li-ion batteries, as William Blythe Ltd explained in their talk.

Other technologies battery and their applications can be found here (Source: Lorenzo Grande, IDTechEx, 2018). As mentioned before energy harvesting can hopefully replace batteries in low-energy use applications in the future.

Flexible  and stretchable batteries create new product categories in markets like thin film and flexible electronics, wearable electronics including AR/VR and consumer electronics like flexible mobiles or displays.

Off Grid Energy Independence

Bypassing the grid to achieve energy independence shows losers like the big utility companies and winners, like new producers of energy.

These range from local communities that install solar panels on bus shelters to desalination plants. Furthermore, PV solar cells can be placed on cars or other vehicles like agricultural robots, solar sails on ships, buildings (roofs, walls and windows) or desalination plants.

Energy harvesting including regeneration from PV solar, wind, wave and triboelectric energy are winning technologies to achieve energy independence off the grid. Motion energy can be generated and harvested as demonstrated by UK company Witt Ltd at the show.

Solar roads that generate energy and have the nice additional benefit to heat up more to make de-icing obsolete are already rolled out in China and tested in France. Cambridge and London based Pavegen developed and rolled out this technology on a human scale. With their smart flooring solution people power their streets on the go.

Structural electronics helps to reduce energy need and increase efficiency. See a potential multi-mode road example here (Source: Peter Harrop, IDTechEx, 2018).

Graphene and 2D materials/ new materials

2004 single layer Graphene was first isolated at the University of Manchester by two researchers, Prof Andre Geim and Prof Kostya Novoselov.

2017/2018 sees the first commercial use in batteries, anti-corrosion coatings and EMI shielding. See chart for more applications and readiness level (Source: Khasha Ghaffarzadeh, IDTechEx, 2018).

With higher demand Graphene price is falling and is now at 75-100 $/kg for nanoplateletts. Around 70% of Graphene is produced in China with a growing number of Graphene producers worldwide, due to subsidies and government grants.

Not all Graphene is the same, missing standardisation and big differences in characterisation still hinder getting reliable products in the market quickly.

In the UK BSI and KTN work together on standardisation including peer industry review work.

One factor to differentiate Graphene qualities is wall thickness of nanotubes. From Single layer (Single Wall Carbon Nanotubes, SWCNT) via few walls (FWCNT) to Multiwall is the range (MWCNT). See potential applications in the chart here (Source: Khasha Ghaffarzadeh, IDTechEx, 2018).

UK exhibitors at the show included Versarien who talked about scale up graphene production with key applications, Talga Ltd and Thomas Swan who also produce 2D material Boron Nitride.



Other new enabling materials that were presented or at least mentioned at IDTechEx are:

  • Conductive inks
  • Perovskites
  • Quantum Dots
  • Transparent Conductors
  • Electroactive polymers
  • Organic light emitters
  • 3D printing materials
  • Replacing toxicants with less harmful materials


Key findings of IDTechEx show were summarised for you by Monika Dunkel, KTM Emerging Technologies and Industries in April 2018.


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