30 March, Toshiba today announced a breakthrough in lithium-ion batteries that makes long recharge times a thing of the past. The new battery can recharge 80% of a battery's energy capacity in only one minute, approximately 60 times faster than the typical lithium-ion batteries in wide use today, and a full recharge takes just a few more minutes. The battery’s performance-boosting improvements in energy density and subsequent advantages in size and weight make it perfectly suited for hybrid electric vehicles and when it reaches market next year, the automotive sector is expected to be the first to utilise it.
Small and light, the new battery offers a high level of storage efficiency. The prototype battery shown by Toshiba was only 3.8mm thick, 62mm high and 35mm deep yet had a claimed capacity of 600mAh.
The new battery fuses Toshiba's latest advances in nano-material technology for the electric devices sector with cumulative know-how in manufacturing lithium-ion battery cells.
A breakthrough technology applied to the negative electrode uses new nano-particles to prevent organic liquid electrolytes from reducing during battery recharging. The nano-particles quickly absorb and store vast amount of lithium ions, without causing any deterioration in the electrode.
The excellent recharging characteristics of the new battery are not its only performance advantages. The battery has a long life cycle, losing only 1% of capacity after 1,000 cycles of discharging and recharging
The new battery operates well in extremes of temperature. It discharges 80% of its capacity at minus 40 degrees centigrade, against 100% at an ambient temperature of 25 degrees centigrade, and loses only 5% of capacity at temperatures as high as 45 degrees centigrade after 1,000 cycles. These characteristics assure the wide applicability of the battery as a power source for products as diverse as hybrid vehicles and mobile phones.
Toshiba will bring the new rechargeable battery to commercial products in 2006. Initial applications will be in the automotive and industrial sectors, where the slim, small-sized battery will deliver large amounts of energy while requiring only a minute to recharge. For example, the battery's advantages in size, weight and safety highly suit it for a role as an alternative power source for hybrid electric vehicles and it is particularly suited to the quick storage of energy produced by regenerative braking in locomotives and automobiles. This speedy and highly effective recharge characteristic of the battery will support CO2 reduction, as the battery can save and re-use energy that was simply wasted before (through braking).
Toshiba expects that the high energy density and excellent recharge performance of the new battery will assure its successful application as a new energy solution in many areas of society.
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