A while back, Toshiba unveiled their first foray into advanced lithium ion batteries — the Super-Charge ion Battery, or SCiB. Over the past few days, new information about their cells has emerged. With a 5-minute, 90% charge time and 5000-6000 charge cycles with minimal loss of capacity, it seems a solid competitor to AltairNano’s much vaunted nano-titanate cells.
Toshiba has already demonstrated a laptop that does just that, charging to 90% capacity in 5 minutes. This compares favorably to lithium iron phosphate technology, which should not be charged faster than 15-20 minutes. A partnership with Schwinn is to ship an electric bicycle (“Tailwind”) early next year using an SCiB pack to give a 30 minute recharge time (assumedly slower to avoid the need for a cooling system on the larger pack).
The similarity between the stats on the SCiB and Altair’s nano-titanate cells are no coincidence. Toshiba’s technology utilizes a titanate anode with a cobalt-based cathode, just like AltairNano does. The big potential difference here is price. Toshiba has far more manufacturing capacity and working capital to leverage than AltairNano. At $2/Wh, Altair’s cells are too pricey for EV usage in all but the most high-end vehicles, such as the Lightning GT (by comparison, with a projected price of $10,000, the Volt’s 16kWh pack is $0.63/Wh, and that includes pack-related expenses).
Due to the titanate cells having a lower energy density than their conventional brethren and their similar usage of a cobalt-based cathode (cobalt being the most expensive raw component of li-ion), they should not be expected to reach the $0.30-$0.40 of conventional li-ion cells. However, efficient mass production of them could theoretically make them competitive with LiP and spinel for electric vehicle use, and Toshiba could be just the company to do so.
There’s just one problem: Toshiba has no immediate plans to produce large-format SCiB cells for electric vehicles. According to Toshiba:
“In addition to applications that include electric bicycles, motorcycles, automated guided vehicles, electric forklift trucks and construction machinery, which already use rechargeable batteries, the SCiB can be applied to electric power regeneration and stabilization in emergency power sources and wind power systems. Application in hybrid cars is also planned, with the intent of extending application to electric cars in the future, after advancing development of a high-performance SCiB cell.”
That doesn’t sound encouraging. Let’s hope that this “extending” of the application comes sooner rather than later.
Image Credit: Toshiba
Source: EE Times