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

03/02/2020 10:48

This Part II reports the second half of the Battery Summit 2020 held on 30 January 2020.

 

The guest speakers were Dr. Masatsugu Morimitsu from the University of Doshisha, Dr. Komei  Harada, Representative Director of the SUStainability Design Institute (SusDi), Dr. Jeroen Heulens from Umicore in Belgium, and the last honorable speaker was Dr. Akira Yoshino, a honorable fellow of Asahi Kasei Corporation.

 

 

photoThe current status of the development of aqueous secondary batteries:

 

Dr. Masatsugu Morimitsu, a professor of the University of Doshisha and the director of the Centre of Intellectual Property, spoke about the latest development of hydrogen/air secondary batteries (HAB). This technology applies the AB type hydrogen-absorbing alloys which mainly consist of cerium and nickel from rare-earth to preserve hydrogen at the anode. It also turns the air electrode that consists of oxygen catalyst and potassium hydroxide to the cathode. A key issue to stabilise discharging and recharging processes is how the air electrode is produced and the development of a carrier of oxygen catalyst. The establishment of PDL (Painting-Drying-Layering), the latest manufacturing method is an advancement toward mass-production. He had reported these results from a project of ALCA (Advanced Low Carbon Technology Research and Devolvement Program) in September 2019. This technology has been adopted to be applied in the Low Carbon Technology Research and Development Program by the Ministry of Environment and is scheduled to be put into application as the HAB system from 2020.

 

 

photoComparing all the LIBs available in the world from environmental aspects:

 

Dr. Komei Harada, Representative Director of the SUStainability Design Institute (SusDi), discussed LIB from the aspect of LCA (life cycle assessment) in which all environmental impacts from the raw materials, waste, recycling, redistribution, and usage of a product are taken into consideration.

 

It is easy to understand the fact that EVs with LIBs emit less CO2 compared to gasoline vehicles.  Nevertheless, it has to consider the fact that CO2 emitted while generating the electricity which EVs consume varies from country to country. For example, in the case of France where nuclear power generation occupies a much higher share versus other countries in the world, CO2 emissions from power generation are far less by comparison. On the other hand, countries like India or China have much higher CO2 emissions while they also have nuclear, hydro, solar or wind power. Japan, the United States and Germany follow India and China in this aspect.

 

According to a European source, France is said to be leading in the reduction of CO2 emissions among the countries like Japan or India when a LIB-loaded EV runs the same distance.

 

In a European calculation of the LCA of LIB in which the total volume of CO2 emitted during the battery production by country is summed, the difference between Japan and France becomes smaller due to the different production and procurement methods. Nevertheless, France still comes up as superior. Dr. Harada however poses a question to this kind of simple calculation.

 

In the European LCA calculation, there is an item called “miscellaneous” in the list of material procurement and production of LIB, which he finds imprecise for making a calculation. In addition, it does not consider the quality aspect like particle sizes. Dr. Harada claims, for instance, it should look into the production method derived from the patent registration to make a comparison and take differences in each method into consideration. In his view, it is too early to conclude that France is leading.

 

 

photoThe value chain of lithium-ion batteries that Umicore promotes

 

Dr. Jeroen Heulens, Director of Recycling and Extraction Technologies talked about difficulties in recycling LIB due to their structural complexity and various raw materials, and the unique technology and services of his company.

 

Umicore engages in multiple businesses world-wide and recycles some rare metals with a high value. Dr. Heulens says that the metal refinery and its supply chain are the important key to create sustainable vehicles, which have least impact on environment. Umicore developed a technology to collect 17 metals from an end-life LIB. Also, the company has been developing the process to collect metals from electronic substrates in a sustainable method and is applying it to LIB.

 

 

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photoAnd his life with LIB will continue: A speech by a Nobel laureate

 

The last speaker was Dr. Akira Yoshino, an honorable fellow of Asahi Kasei Corporation.

He received a Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2019 for his contribution to the development of LIB. Dr. Yoshino had already participated the last two years in the Battery Summit held every January and had spoken about the latest development of LIB.

 

This time, he talked about lithium-ion that led him to the Nobel Prize. Actually, three contributors received the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the development of LIB, including Dr. Yoshino who contributed to the development of materials used for anode and cathode. Among past Japanese Nobel laureates, there are inter-connections. The frontier orbital theory of Dr. Kenichi Fukui led to Dr. Hideki Shirakawa’s discovery of polyacetylene, conductive polymers, and then this discovery eventually led [Dr. Yoshino] to the development of the anode material.

 

“I received a Nobel Prize not only for the contribution to mobile IT but also for a future expectation to solve environmental problems [that LIB poses]. This gives me a feeling of a great responsibility,” Dr. Yoshino commented. “When we use LIB, there are three things we have to bear in mind; environment, economy and convenience. These three elements should not stand alone, they should stand together in a good balance. In order to realise this, it is essential to electrify all vehicles, to develop LIBs of the next generation and to diffuse AIEVs (Artificial Intelligence Electric Vehicles) with the application of CASE or MaaS in the society where car-sharing should increase. I intend to keep involved in promoting AIEVs, “he added.

 

 

(Translated by Y.SCHANZ)

 

 

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