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Battery Summit 2020: Heated Discussion on Battery’s Now and Future (Part1)

03/02/2020 10:40

On 30 January 2020, the weather has drastically improved from a series of rainy days in the middle of winter. Under the bright sunlight, the Battery Summit of 2020 took place at Gakushi Hall in the city of Tokyo.

In this annual Summit organised by IRuniverse, seven guest speakers including Dr. Akira Yoshino, a 2019 Nobel Prize laureate (in Chemistry) were invited to talk about battery technologies, its applications and future. The participation of Dr. Yoshino attracted a large audience and the Hall was filled with over 200 people.

 

 

写真

 

 

写真 “Experiences nourish you, and bring you a change” through the research and development at Sony Corporation:

 

Mr. Yoshio Nishi, former Executive Officer of Sony Corporation had spent 40 years at the company, involved in the research and the development of materials, and the production of batteries and sound systems. He talked about his experiences in “R&D”.

 

Since he was a child, he had shown a strong interest in research and liked to collect data from various angles. After he joined Sony, he had a difficulty with his manager who tended to make decisions with his own perception without collecting sufficient data for backup. He firmly believed in the importance of data collection and carried out his work based on data through all his career. He started with the development of fuel batteries then moved to the development of sound materials. Once he revealed data errors in a paper about Carbon Nanotube presented by an American company. Although he had some bitter experiences due to his creed, all that he went through later served him well to develop secondary lithium-ion batteries (LIB).

 

Mr. Nish also spoke about the importance to express your own opinion to your manager when you are engaged in research and development. He insists that it is crucial to stick to your points and to have the courage to persuade your manager when your research work faces hierarchical obstruction [such as an order to abandon an on-going research]. He also expressed concerns for young researchers who work under the current environment where any kind of hardware and software are at easy reach. This “easiness” is taking away “creativity” from researchers, which they need during research processes.

 

 

写真Lead, NiCad, Hayabusa-loaded Lithium-Ion Battery of the Furukawa Battery Co.,Ltd.

 

The second speaker was Mr. Jun Furukawa, a Senior Fellow of the Furukawa Battery Co., Ltd. He introduced his company’s products such as lead-acid batteries, NiCad, and lithium-ion batteries (LIB) loaded on satellites.

 

Currently, the lead-acid battery retains the same market share as that of LIB. However, the company foresees that LIB will increase its market share in the near future. Lead-acid batteries and NiCad have a number of strong points as well as their shortcoming versus LIB. The strength of lead-acid batteries is their low price, safety and high recycling rate. In the automobile industry lead-acid batteries have still their position. Vehicles that do not have lead-acid batteries are still limited to a very few like Tesla. Another strength of [lead-acid batteries] is that they are easy to manufacture, one of the reasons for their low price.

 

From this reason, lead-acid batteries makers are as numerous as 3,500 in the world and their recycling rate reaches over 99%.

 

NiCad also has its strong point such as durability when recharging under high temperature and high speed. It is used for trains or airplanes as well as for fire protection systems. LIBs are included in various satellites such as the Hayabusa of the first generation, a robotic spacecraft. The current Hayabusa (the second generation) also carries this battery and is working hard to “return sample of materials” to the earth.

 

 

写真International Standardization of secondary batteries including the standard of recycling LIB, a great invention.

 

Mr. Hirohito Teraoka, senior director of Product Business Promotion Office of FDK Corporation talked about the progress of the international standardization of batteries in general and specifically that of NiMH and LIB.

 

IEC (the International Electrotechnical Commission) is working on the international standardization of batteries from the following three aspects; functionality, safety and environmental impact of batteries. The subcommittee of the IEC that deals with portable alkaline (secondary) batteries and LIB is led by the Japanese convenor. For instance, they are exploring feasibility, as well as its standardization, to develop a diagnostic system for depleted batteries which enables to measure the cell status inside batteries without opening to make a decision either for reuse or recycle. In particular, for the reuse of automobile batteries, they are working with the collaboration with BAJ and JARI (the Japan Automobile Research Institute) by looking into safety and environmental issues. Recently they started a discussion with the EU over the recycling of rare metals such as cobalt from LIB. FDK intends to work on recycling together with the production of NiMH and LIB, Mr. Teraoka added.

 

 

(Translated by Y. SCHANZ)

 

 

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