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battery energy storage technology

Plant-based anodes for lithium batteries

Thu, 08/23/2012 - 18:02 -- Ruth Williams

Chinese companies Kuraray and Kureha are to produce lithium-ion batteries made from plant-based raw materials at a joint factory in Okayama Prefecture.

Traditionally the anode material comes from graphite but the new factory will use ‘hard carbon’ made from plant materials, including coconut shells.  The effect of using the hard carbon will have a more complex crystal structure than conventional graphite.  This will reduce deterioration occurring because of repeated charge – discharge cycles.

The factory for the joint venture will be built at Kuraray Chemical’s carbon plant and will cost US$ 38 159 000.  Output of the factory should be 1 000 tons of anode material annually.  Building work is due to commence in October with plans for the factory to be operational in Autumn 2013 with plans for expansion already being considered.

Breakthrough in lithium-air cell technology

Wed, 08/15/2012 - 18:02 -- Ruth Williams

Advances made in lithium-air battery technology by researchers at the University of St Andrews, Fife, Scotland, could provide ten times more energy density per mass unit than conventional lithium-ion batteries.

Battery chemist Peter Bruce believes the driving range of EV’s can be pushed beyond the 300 mile driving range with the lithium air technology which he believes has the potential to provide a transformational shift in transport.

If successful, lithium-air batteries could decrease the weight of the battery pack because they use oxygen to charge the electrodes. The design would be of a similar design to zinc-air batteries used in hearing aids.

A previous stumbling block to using lithium-air cells has been the unstable chemical reaction causing the battery to fail after a couple of cycles.  This may be overcome with the work done at St Andrews where they were able to run a lithium-air lab cell for 100 charge-discharge cycles.

Clearly there is a long way to go before this could be a commercially practical option, but this step is part of a giant leap in the future of battery technology.

Lead-acid growth for Hitachi

Wed, 08/15/2012 - 18:02 -- Ruth Williams

Hitachi Chemical Co will increase its production capacity for industrial lead-acid batteries by next January by expanding facilities of the subsidiary company Shin-Kobe Electric Machinery Co.

Some US$12 750000 (one billion yen) will be spent on constructing a building with a new assembly line at Shin-Kobe's Nabari Works in Mie Prefecture, the main site making lead-acid batteries.  It is estimated cell production capacity is likely to increase by 50%.

The site will make back-up power source batteries, the LL-W series of which demand is growing for in offices and factories at risk of power failures.  Joining 192 LL-W batteries together can produce 40kw of electricity for around ten hours.

Shin-Kobe Co. accounts for roughly 30% of the domestic market for industrial lead-acid batteries.  The LL-W products claim a battery life of 17 years, one of the world's longest, and are a fraction of the cost of a lithium-ion counterpart. 

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