Lithium-ion batteries are considered as being the standard. Along with batteries from previous generations, such as those made of nickel metal hydride, they account for over 95% of storage batteries in the world today. However, with the depletion of rare metals used in batteries and increased demand for batteries in new products such as electric vehicles and IoT, as well as desired upgrades in battery performance, demand is rising for research and development into new batteries.
Lithium sulfur batteries have 3 main characteristics. We are currently researching these and expect to see improvements in the future.
1.Over 3 Times the Energy Density of Lithium-ion Batteries
Lithium sulfur batteries offer an energy density of 500-800Wh/kg. This is more than 3 times that of standard second-generation lithium-ion batteries, which have an energy density of around 200Wh/kg.
2. Utilizing Cheap and Plentiful Raw Materials
The existing lithium-ion batteries use cobalt, a resource that is predicted to run out by 2030 if current usage prevails. On the other hand, the sulfur used in lithium sulfur batteries is a plentiful resource, and can be produced at low cost.
3. Flame-Resistant Battery Safety
Compared to the standard lithium battery, lithium sulfur batteries are much less prone to catch fire, since the electrolyte is flame-resistant.
At this time, in the current phase of our study, there are fewer charge and discharge cycles than those of existing lithium batteries. Therefore, instead of using lithium sulfur batteries for things that need daily recharging, they are better suited to items that only need charging from time to time.
What It Brings
1. Potential for Size and Weight Reductions
As the energy density of lithium sulfur batteries is expected to be more than 3 times that of existing lithium-ion batteries, size can be minimized without compromising on performance.
2. Lower Production Costs
Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) estimates that while an existing lithium battery costs ¥12.5/Wh (watt hour), it is expected that lithium sulfur batteries will only cost ¥6.7/Wh. Furthermore, while thought that the cost of lithium ion batteries may rise when cobalt starts running out, new innovations mean that the cost of lithium sulfur batteries is likely to continue to fall.
3. Improved Product Safety
According to Japan’s fire laws, lithium-ion batteries are not permitted for use in fixed power supplies. However, since they are flame-resistant, lithium sulfur batteries may be able to be used instead.
4. Contributing to Resource Management
Lithium sulfur batteries use sulfur instead of cobalt which is predicted to run out. Sulfur is a plentiful resource, so by using it we can reduce the strain on depleted natural resources.
Besides lithium-sulfur batteries, there are a variety of next-generation storage battery types being researched, such as solid-state batteries, sodium-ion batteries, Hybrid Aqueous batteries (HAB), multivalent ion batteries and lithium air batteries. Of these, it could be said that new developments, energy density, and ease of access to raw materials for better production make lithium-sulfur batteries the cost-effective choice.
In addition, we are working towards the release of a stable production line by 2022.Since I am a battery technician familiar with implementation, our products have a fast turnaround and are highly cost-effective
After managing battery technology at Panasonic, I was also put in charge of QA/QC (Quality Assurance and Control) for all products. Following this, I was in charge of electronic products for a major company selling consumer electric goods.
How To Be Utilized
Confidential at Present
‘In the future, this technology may be applied to products such as drones, airplanes (hybrid), fixed power supplies (for emergency use), robots, wearable devices and toys.
Because it is light, this technology is best suited for things that need to be lightweight (such as flying objects or products with weight restrictions)
Because it is flame-resistant, this technology is ideal for use in situations with high risk of damage or fire.
As it stands, lithium sulfur batteries have fewer charge/discharge cycles, making them unsuitable for daily or frequent use. They are better suited for things that have an average usage frequency of less than once a week.
One potential use is in drones for farming or disasters. These require a lightweight battery with a high energy density, making lithium-sulfur batteries ideal. What’s more, in the event of a fall, the battery’s flame resistant technology can prevent secondary disasters. Since drones used for disasters or farming have fewer charge/discharge cycles anyway, the charge cycle being less than standard lithium-ion batteries is no matter.
Next-generation storage batteries feature a variety of characteristics, opening up the potential for a wide range of uses, which we expect to see. And so, when a product needs to be “light weight and safe” above all else, and frequent recharging is not required, lithium-sulfur batteries are the best, most cost-effective choice.
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