Development of New technology for Extending the Life of Industrial Lithium-ion Batteries by HITACHI
Like any other new novel technology with a proven concept and then its commercialization, the cost of the development at first is never an issue until it goes through the mass market. Material science by no means is an exception to this theory, where the scientist usually work with a material which speeds up the making of the final product regardless of its cost and its scarcity, and later on move to an alternative substance which provide a cost effective product with same set of features if not better. Lithium-ion battery technology some how follows the same processing path. Today, lithium-ion batteries are in use in a wide array of consumer electronic applications such as mobile phones, Laptop PCs to name a few, as well as hybrid automobiles and other vehicle applications, where in a not so distance future are expected to be used as compact storage devices in connection with wind power generation and other power facilities designed exclusively to contribute in reducing environmental impact. Currently, the main cathode material used in these batteries are cobalt, at least for the consumer applications, which forms the largest market segment for these type of batteries. However, their growing popularity raised a concern in securing a steady supply of cobalt, being a scarce resource. Based on this, Hitachi has turned its attention to an alternative material in replacing cobalt in this type of application.
The alternative metal selected by Hitachi is manganese, which is available in an abundant supply. Hitachi, using the new manganese based cathode materials has successful roughly doubled the life of similar batteries previously developed by Hitachi. The new manganese based cathode material is capable of stabilizing the crystal structure through replacement of some of the manganese in the cathode material with other elements, resulting in successful controlling of reduction in battery capacity. Furthermore, the new manganese based cathode material, includes layered composite oxides which has an outstanding resistance to acids in minimizing elution of manganese into the liquid electrolyte. The new batteries developed based on this technology is expected to be used in electrical power storage in wind power generation as well as industrial power sources for electrical powered construction machinery designed to reduce greenhouse gas emission.