Nov 28, 2016

Japanese companies fight with materials in Li-ion battery market

Lithium ion battery market is falling into price competition due to excessive capital investment by Korean and Chinese makers. Can Japanese companies turn the tables on Samsung, LG and BYD? R&D in the material field will be one of the means because the barriers to entry are relatively high once the core technology has established.

The news below are the material R& D for the lithium ion battery.

Yasunaga stretch battery life more than 10 times by it’s surface finishing of cathode

On November 22, Yasunaga Inc. announced that they succeeded in stretching battery life more than 10 times by it’s surface finishing of cathode. After the report on, Yasunaga’s stock price soared to nearly 80%. Speculative expectations gathered at one stroke to a sober auto parts manufacturer. However…

This technique is particularly effective with lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO 4, LFP) which is an outdated technology. The worldwide mainstream is NCM and NCA. LFP is inferior in performance and patents are complicated.

Chinese firms such as BYD and a123 are expected to focus on LFP. The Chinese government is supporting them by substantial subsidies for EV, especially electric buses.

Yasunaga is applying the patent for this technology. There are a lot of difficult issues for the medium-sized enterprise such as preventing employee-poaching and intellectual property strategies.

Toray develops graphene conductive additive for high power battery

According to press release on November 25, Toray developed new conductive additive that doubles the power density by using multilayer graphene for li-ion batteries.

Toray succeeded in preventing aggregation of graphene by unique surface treatment using dopamine.

The mass production target is 2019. It will aim at billions of yen sales around 2020 and tens of billion yen in a few years later. Toray said they aimed for the Chinese EV market as well.

Toyota develops observation method for Lithuim Ions

On November 24, Toyota has developed the world’s first method for observing the behavior of the lithium ion inside the cell without decomposing the laminate cell.

By using this method, it contribute to improve of about 10% of EV driving range, longer battery life, speed up battery development. This technology aims at practical application in a few years.

Toyota established in-house venture company for EV development

On November 14, Toyota announced to establish an in-house venture company resposible for developing electric vehicles (EVs). To accelerate decision-making, the venture venture company, which consisting of 4 persons - one each from Toyota Motor Corporation, Toyota Industries Corporation, Aisin Seiki Co. and Denso Corporation -, will be independent of other internal organizations.

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