In order to lower the potential range anxiety for consumers, various auto and cell manufacturers have been working to extend the driving range of EVs, and Toshiba has recently developed a new lithium battery for large EVs with 1.5 times the capacity thanks to the negative electrode (anode) materials produced by niobium oxide.
Niobium is an essential additive used in high-strength steel and stainless steel that maintains the strength of alloy while reducing the weight, and serves as an indispensable element in the existing auto industry. The collaboration between Japan-based Sojitz and Brazilian mining corporation CBMM on the development of new batteries will be followed by actual testing, statistics collection, and verification on technical results from large EVs such as electric buses and electric trucks. Launch and mass production are expected in 2023.
The research team hopes to develop a lithium-ion battery that has a higher energy density and a faster charging speed, and decided to replace the traditional graphite negative electrode with niobium oxide. According to the press release, niobium oxide-lithium battery has twice the theoretical volume density of graphite negative electrode.
The three companies had signed a cooperation agreement back in 2018, and are dedicated in developing niobium oxide-negative electrode materials. Now with Toshiba’s breakthrough results, Sojitz and CBMM have agreed on expanding their cooperation by accelerating the development to the production of next generation lithium-ion battery and early commercialization.
These three companies aim to attain commercialization in batteries that are high in density and fast in charging during the 2023 fiscal year, and will primarily target the commercial EV market. In addition, CBMM has also signed with Volkswagen Caminhões e Ônibus in Brazil for the installations of niobium oxide lithium batteries on the new electric trucks designed by Caminhões e Ônibus in the future so as to collect precious operating statistics that will further optimize battery performance.
CBMM is a globally renowned producer of niobium, while Sojitz is the shareholder and agent of CBMM in the Japanese market. The three parties hope that the future cooperation will consist of CBMM and Sojitz providing a stable source of niobium ores, and Toshiba sharing a piece of the cake in the market of the next generation lithium-ion batteries.
(Cover photo source: Toshiba)