Toshiba has been building and developing lithium-ion batteries for automotive use since 2008, and, for its latest-generation cell, which it hopes to take from prototype to production reality before the end of 2019, it has developed a new anode using titanium niobium oxide. By going with this material, rather than graphite as is the norm, the new battery’s storage capacity is doubled. And more importantly, it is less likely to start breaking down as a result of constant recharging.
“We are very excited by the potential of the new titanium niobium oxide anode and the next-generation [battery],” said Dr Osamu Hori, Director of Corporate Research & Development Center at Toshiba Corporation. “Rather than an incremental improvement, this is a game-changing advance that will make a significant difference to the range and performance of EV.” Indeed, Toshiba claims that after six minutes of ultra-rapid charging, this particular battery, if fitted in a compact car, would be sufficient to add 320km of range. What’s more, the new materials ensure that it operates at a safe temperature and in lifecycle testing retains 90% of its initial capacity after 5,000 charges and discharges.
For some context, a typical lithium-ion battery pack as found in a compact plug-in electric car needs 30 minutes of rapid charging to offer 200km of range. Or it needs to be left plugged in overnight at a domestic charging socket to fully recharge. The same will be true of the new battery pack; it will only offer this remarkable surge in range when connected to a suitable ultra-rapid charger. “We will continue to improve the battery’s performance and aim to put [it] into practical application in the fiscal year 2019,” said Dr Hori.