Imagine a lithium-ion battery that packs 7 times more energy per kilogram than any battery available today. How would that change the future of electric vehicles?
Just last week, we reported on a conversation with Mitsuhisa Kato, Toyota’s head of research and development, who complains that the batteries available today are simply not good enough to make EV’s a credible choice for most buyers. Kato said it will take a “Nobel Prize winning battery” before EV’s go mainstream. Toyota, Honda and the Japanese government have made a major commitment to hydrogen fuel cell cars instead.
This week a research team at the University of Tokyo School of Engineering has announced a new lithium ion battery that packs seven times more energy density – at 2,570 watt-hours per kilogram – than current lithium ion batteries. The team, led by Professor Noritaka Mizuno, adds cobalt to the lithium oxide crystal structure of the positive electrode, which promotes the creation of oxides and peroxides during the charge/discharge cycle. In addition, it promises significantly faster recharge times as well.
Isn’t it ironic that the “Nobel battery” Toyota’s Kato referred to may have been invented by a team of Japanese scientists? For a more detailed technical explanation of the of the new battery, see the report first published in Nikkei Technology.
Of course, this breakthrough is still in the experimental stage. Energy dense lithium ion batteries will not be on the shelf at WalMart any time soon. But if the claims for the new battery prove valid, expect to see the struggle between EV’s and FCV tilt sharply in favor of electric vehicles. Now the range for the new Porsche Cayenne PHEV could be 112 miles instead of 16, and that shiny new Nissan LEAF could go over 500 miles on a full charge instead of just 73. And the Tesla Model S would be able to drive some 1,855 miles before needing to be plugged in.
Maybe now would be a good time for the folks at the University of Tokyo School of Engineering to find space for that Nobel Prize?