Monday, April 04, 2005

Alternative Energy Technology: Toshiba Develops One Minute Rechargable Lithium-Ion Battery

Thanks to Alternative Energy Blog reader Josh who referred me to this recent press release by Toshiba who have developed a high energy density lithium-Ion battery that recharge 80% of its capacity in one minute. This is sixty times faster than typical lithium-ion batteries (which among other applications are commonly used in cellphones). As Josh (who has worked as an engineer at Ballard Fuel Cells) commented:

"Having worked extensively with fuel cells, I think this technology may dominate over everything Ballard has already developed. With high energy density, fast charging cells, there is also a clear path to fully electric vehicles with no need to change current infastructure. Vehicles could also easily be charged from home, at work, or gas stations could adapt by providing high-speed charging facilities."

According to the press release its secret is the use of "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 battery has a long life cycle, losing only 1% of capacity after 1,000 cycles of discharging and recharging, and can operate at very low temperatures.

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.

According to the press release "the battery's advantages in size, weight and safety highly suit it for a role as an alternative power source for hybrid electric vehicles", which is exciting news for plug-in hybrid cars.

Full Toshbia Press Release including comparison charts with other types of battery technology

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Anonymous Anonymous said...


Those are good questions, and ones that I would like addressed as well. Unfortunately, Toshiba hasn't released a lot of data on these new cells. They have indicated that the cells have both higher power and energy density than comparable high power li-ion cells. From the specs on the press release, I calculated a volume energy density of 262 Wh/L. I really don't know what the numbers are though. I have made an inquiry directly with Toshiba by e-mail and am currently waiting for a response.

As far as charging a hybrid or fully electric vehicle in one minute, this should be possible assuming that you have the available to power to do it. Unfortunately, this would not be possible from a plug at your home as the power requirements are much too large. If we assume a nominal battery capacity of 10 kWh (potentially appropriate for a hybrid), then you would need 480 kW of power to charge to 80% in one minute. This would require a current of 4363A at 110V which is certainly more than a household circuit is capable of. I'm not sure what maximum load a home can support, so I wouldn't be able to tell you how long it would take to charge (although I think a home could provide between 20 and 40A at 220V in North America giving a minimum charge time of around an hour). A gas station or other commercial business may have access to higher power and therefore be able to charge the car faster than at your home.

2:08 am, April 04, 2005  
Blogger Engineer-Poet said...

You could deliver 480 kW at 480 volts, 1000 amps.  This is well within the capabilities of the electric distribution system (at least for one vehicle at a time).  The house I grew up in was re-wired in the 1960's with 200 amp, 220 V service.  That much power could deliver 10 kWh in less than 15 minutes.

On the other hand, a regular extension cord could deliver 10 kWh overnight.  If the car uses 250 Wh/mile, this would easily cover the typical daily commute of 22 miles plus some errands without having to find a charge (or start the engine in a hybrid).

FWIW, my calculations based on Toshiba's size figures and 3.6 volts nominal yielded 283 Wh/liter; I don't know what numbers you were using.

4:18 am, April 04, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info on household wiring. I was trying to figure that out. Do you know how expensive it would be to rewire a house for 440 volts at 1000amps?

I have read (and agree) with your calculations at the Ergosphere on Ni-MH and Li-ion plug-in hybrids. I found the volume energy density of the 1min cell using a voltage of 3.6V, capacity of 600mAh, and dimensions of 3.8mmx62mmx35mm. 3.6*0.6=2.16Wh and .0038m*.062m*.035m*1000L/m^3= 0.008246L therefore 2.16/0.008246 = 262Wh/L. This number actually seemed low to me as I have read that there are commercially available li-ion polymer cells capable of 400Wh/l (

Let me know where I went wrong. Thanks.

I'll post any more specifications I receive from Toshiba as soon as I get them.

6:24 am, April 04, 2005  
Blogger Engineer-Poet said...

Hmmm. I can't find fault with your energy density numbers, so mine must be wrong. I should be more careful.

To get 440 volts to your house, you need cooperation from the power company; I know someone who has done it (to run welding equipment), but I'm sure it costs extra. And it seems so unnecessary; do you really foresee the urgent need to recharge your car in 60 seconds instead of 15 minutes?

This assumes that you're buying from the utility; if you are making and storing your own juice, dumping 10 kWh out of your stationary battery bank into the car could be done as fast as your hardware will permit.

10:11 am, April 04, 2005  
Blogger Rob said...

James -- I have posted a brief response here.

1:28 pm, April 04, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've long argued the advantages hybrid tech has over hydrogen and this latest is significant, but not nearly as important as the others.

Hybrid drive is applicable to all weight class of vehicle. The engines can run on a variety of fuels, including hydrogen, and maximize combustion efficiency and emissions reductions.

There are many advantages from the batteries, no matter how fast they may be recharged. Their weight lowers center-of-gravity improving stability and handling. They create a real homepower supply, unlike hydrogen, impractical to generate and store at household level.

Rooftop photovoltiac systems could, let's say should, become an important future power source. What better way to get educated on energy consumption than by metering household supply and consumption?

The biggest advantage I save for last. Hint: We drive too much, too far, for too many purposes, at too high cost with too high impact. The economic incentive of owning a car that can be recharged off the utility grid or solar panel is powerful, (pardon the pun). No car, no matter how fueled, can emiliorate the impacts of auto-related infrastructure, nor continue to dominate urban/suburban transportation sytem modality.

The car is a Constitutional Inequity. Their very presence is a severe hindrance upon walking, bicycling and mass transit. And, cars enable a development pattern that also undermines the functionality of other means of travel.

Someone should tell Governor Gropenator that the Hydrogen Highway is hoax.

8:11 pm, April 10, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This must be an APRIL FOOOOOOOL

12:24 am, April 12, 2005  
Blogger James said...


It's not an April Fool.

(I was concerned some people might think that, so I avoided posting it around April 1st).

How can you tell?

Check the link directly to the press release on Toshiba's website.

It is potentially great news for plug-in hybrids.

3:32 pm, April 12, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The key things here are the ones that Toshiba did not mention. First is the current-output capability of the new battery. Present lithium-ion batteries are too low here to be really usable in electric vehicles. Toshiba says nothing about this, so I presume they did not improve that.

Second is the flammability issues. Most governmental bodies think Li-ion batteries are too flammable in large sizes to be usable in consumer products. (The army is currently having real headaches with them in UAVs. Again, Toshiba said nothing about this.

While quick-charge is great news, charging rate is not the main thing holding these back.

2:17 pm, April 23, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I highly disagree with regards to battery size

AC Propulsion built an electric race car (t-zero) in fourth generation with 10 000`s of miles of real life road experience - on 6800 standard R/C battery cells

300 miles range highway tested

0-60mph in 3.6 sec

they also have developed an on board 20kw charger - giving full charge in ~ 1 hr

with integrated thermal battery management.....

so thats all already out there....

and they supply some of the main components/know how for the fetish venturi - European Luxury Elecrtic Sports Car

also check out electrovaya with their maya 100 experimental car (their website says they have polymer batteries with power densities of 470Whrs/l

12:30 am, April 24, 2005  

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