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Published on July 29th, 2014 | by Steve Hanley

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New Battery Boasts 7 Times More Energy Density

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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?


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About the Author

I have been a car nut since the days when articles by John R. Bond and Henry N. Manney, III graced the pages of Road & Track. I know every nut, bolt and bullet connector on an MGB from 20 years of ownership. I now drive a 94 Miata for fun and the occasional HPDE track day. If it moves on wheels, I am interested in it. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.



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  • J_JamesM

    That much energy in that little space is just asking for trouble. I’ll believe it when I see the torture tests.

    • Steve Hanley

      It is still in the laboratory stage and we all know that lots of ideas that look good in the lab never make it to production for any number of reasons.

      Still, I see this as exciting news. It is like we are back in the 90′s when chip manufactures were rolling out faster and cheaper processors seemingly every other day.

      The pace of change in battery technology is extraordinary. This battery may only be a a way station on the way to the battery – or super conductor – that makes the EV the transportation mode of choice for the world.

      • J_JamesM

        I agree. Someday, it may be possible to even have Elon Musk’s VTOL electric aircraft, though the batteries capable of such a thing would have to be inconceivably powerful.

        • Steve Hanley

          I firmly believe that what you and I think of as “inconceivably powerful” my grandkids will see as normal. My grandfather would have thought a 4 cylinder engine that makes over 300 hp was beyond imagination. Exciting times here on Spaceship Earth!

      • zn

        This is true. Battery tech is a hot topic right now, and it seems every other day a new research breakthrough promising XX performance gains are being announced.

        That being said, I’m pretty damn confident all that research won’t turn up nothing, and perhaps within 10-20 years we will have transformed not only our EV transportation woes, but our broader energy problems as well.

        Even just a 2x increase on today’s storage efficiency would see a huge shift towards a cleaner future. Your analogy of the chip sector in the 90′s seems very apt!

        • Steve Hanley

          So true. A 2X increase would be revolutionary. Thanks for your input!

  • lawboy87

    even at half that amount, forgetting auto applications for a minute, that could potentially make a heck of a difference in solar/wind turbine applications. That would seemingly go a long ways towards solving the storage issue.

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  • AaronD12

    If this materializes, it’s a big F-U to Toyota. I love it!

  • UncleB

    Still blinkered by the current format, still blinded by the lack of science? Who will see the advantages of super capacitors rated at higher voltages? And: What happened to the aluminum billet batteries?

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  • Ad van der Meer

    It’s not just if they can do it, but at what price. Adding cobalt in the mix will not make it cheaper. I am not going to hold my breath.

  • AC Tesla

    I am very skeptical of any news on breakthroughs on batteries and supercapacitors.
    They never seem to pan out. Some day one will succeed….we hope. In the mean time, can you say Envia or EESTOR?

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