A Japanese Government-Industry consortium is developing next-gen solid-state batteries to put indigenous battery makers at the forefront of their technology
According to the Nikkei Asian Review, the program spearheaded by the Consortium for Lithium Ion Battery Technology and Evaluation Center (Libtec), also includes big names like Toyota and Panasonic.
Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will provide $14 million in funding to Libtec, a research body whose members include Asahi Kasei and Toray Industries.
Other members of the consortium include Toyota Motor, Nissan Motor, Honda Motor, Panasonic and battery maker GS Yuasa.
Unlike lithium-ion batteries which use liquid electrolytes, solid-state batteries employ a more solid form as their key component. This makes the new batteries easier to manufacture and safer, as they do not leak.
Moreover, solid-state batteries have fewer components, cost less, and provide higher energy than their lithium-ion counterparts.
According to the Nikkei, Toyota’s solid-state battery technology is believed to be the world’s most advanced, but the company has yet to commercialize it. The program aims to make this happen by combining expertise from each member of the consortium.
Libtec will also strive to improve battery performance using solid electrolytes – a tougher task than with batteries using liquid electrolytes – and establish safety criteria for the new batteries.
The consortium’s aim is to develop a solid-state battery that doubles the range of electric vehicles to 800 km by 2030 over the current 400 km. For the time being, it is targeting a more modest range of 550 km by 2025.
Japanese companies accounted for 70% of the global automotive battery market in 2013, but they are being challenged by China and South Korea.
According to the Nikkei Asian Review, Chinese companies expanded their combined global share to 26% in 2016 from just 3% in 2013. Over the same period, Japanese manufacturers’ share shrunk to 41%.
Image and content: Reuters/Nikkei Asian Review