Lithium-ion batteries are the “Sun” that provide life to the global electronics ecosystem, from palm-sized smartphones to potential autonomous vehicles. Completely eliminate driver intervention. It is natural that every breakthrough in batteries would attract attention, but when the individual who helped commercialize lithium-ion batteries said he had a 90% way to reduce the cost of mass-producing batteries and improve To improve the safety of the “slow explosive bomb”, we know that technology is at a turning point.
Hideaki Horie, a former Nissan Motor employee with a master’s degree in physics and years of battery manufacturing experience, intends to make a battery made entirely from polymer. Earlier this year, APB Corp, founded by Horie, received capital from big names such as Obayashi Group, manufacturer of industrial equipment Yokogawa Electric Corp and carbon fiber maker Teijin.
“The problem in making lithium batteries now lies in the things that make them, like semiconductors. Our purpose is to turn [quá trình sản xuất pin] more similar to the model of industrial steel production line”, Mr. Hideaki Horie interviewed.
Making a compartment – the energy cell, the basic unit of every battery, is extremely complicated and requires strict conditions: an enclosed room with a certain humidity, the filtration system must operate at an accurate level. to prevent contamination. Only leading enterprises like LG Chem of Korea, CATL of China or Panasonic of Japan can afford to spend billions of dollars to build such high quality battery factories.
Mr. Horie’s breakthrough lies in the most basic component of the battery, which is an electrode coated with metal and liquid electrolyte. He said that this way of manufacturing simplifies and speeds up the making of batteries, and Horie compares its simplicity to “spread the butter on the cake”. The process of making batteries allows 10-meter-long panels to overlap to increase capacity, more importantly, the flexible battery does not catch fire when punctured.
In March this year, APB raised US $ 74 million, too small compared to the industry standard but still enough to successfully build the first factory; Mass production is expected to take place early next year. Horie estimates the company fund will be enough for his plant to reach 1 gigawatt-hour capacity by 2023.
APB Company, founded by Hideaki Horie, will focus on research and mass production of polymer batteries.
Nearly three centuries ago, we discovered the enormous potential of lithium-ion batteries and have been taking advantage of them ever since. They are now more flexible, more energy, cost reduction of up to 85% compared to 10 years ago. However, the risk of fire still exists, we still witnessed countless cases of lithium-ion batteries catching fire and exploding, causing users to be injured or even die. When the outer casing of the battery is punctured, the amount of electricity released can be greater than the amount of current entering a household, with temperatures reaching the threshold of 700 degrees Celsius.
“From a physical perspective, lithium-ion batteries are the best heating device ever made”Said Mr. Horie.
The battery of APB can avoid disaster through bipolar design, which allows the surface of the battery to absorb the large amount of electricity released.
“Because there have been many accidents, the battery industry always puts safety first”, Says Mitalee Gupta, an energy storage market analyst at Wood Mackenzie. “[Pin của APB] could be a breakthrough in both electric vehicle storage and application, if the company can quickly scale up production.”.
However, there are still drawbacks that need to be addressed first. First, according to Menahem Anderman, president of Total Battery Consulting, the polymer does not conduct electricity as well as metal, which can affect the battery’s ability to transmit electricity.
The bipolar design allows the battery cells to connect the tail end, invisible medium, making it difficult to control the power of each cell. Anderman also questioned whether reducing production costs would be big enough to change the lithium-ion battery industry.
Anderman said lithium-ion batteries will remain the technology backbone for at least 15 years or more. The production cost is not cheap and the battery is not perfect, but the replacement for the existing li-ion battery can only be one Other li-ion technology more modern.
Safecore’s batteries do not explode even when hit.
Hideaki Horie understands that APB cannot compete with battery giants who are investing billions of dollars a year in their battery production lines, and the direct benefits from the market are still growing well. Instead of competing with li-ion batteries in hand-held devices, Horie wants to develop fixed batteries in buildings, offices or power plants. As predicted by Wood Mackenzie company, this new market will be worth 100 billion USD in 2025, 5 times higher than last year.
Mr. Horie, 63 years old, has been an ancient tree in the battery research village since its early days. In February 1990, at the beginning of his career at Nissan, he led new research on electric vehicles and running parallel fossil fuels / clean energy. Just a few weeks later, Sony announced a breakthrough that stunned both the energy and electronics industry: they pushed aside nickel-ion technology.
Horie immediately recognized the enormous potential of the new technology, and urged both Sony and Nissan to develop it. By 2000, Nissan abandoned the electric equipment development segment again. When Nissan was bought by Renault, Horie had only one chance to convince his new boss, Carlos Ghosn, that electric cars were the future. The 28-minute presentation won Ghosn’s heart, leaving Nissan’s Leaf electric car to be the best-selling item for a decade.
The youth of Hideaki Horie.
Horie had the idea to develop a polymer battery from his Nissan days, but didn’t get enough support to make it happen. In 2012, while teaching at the University of Tokyo, Sanyo Chemical Industries – an enterprise known for its super-absorbent materials used in baby diapers – came to meet the elderly physicist.
In partnership with Sanyo, Mr. Horie developed the first battery park to use a conductor that is a polymer gel. In 2018, he founded APB, with Sanyo Chemical as one of the first investors. Their first customer was a major Japanese export company, but Mr. Horie refused to talk more deeply, and that things will be clearer in August.
“This will be evidence of the potential for mass production of new batteries. We will take chemistry as a pioneer spearMr. Horie said cheerfully.
Refer to JapanTimes