Toshiba’s Lithium-Ion Batteries – driving the future of a decarbonized society (Part 2)
2021/03/15 Toshiba Clip Team
- Toshiba offers a diverse lineup of SCiB™ lithium-ion batteries for a broad range of applications in industry and social infrastructure.
- Examples of how SCiB™ batteries are increasingly being used in various fields.
- Three main reasons why society has embraced SCiB™ batteries.
To be awarded a Nobel Prize in any of the science categories means that the discovery made a significant and positive impact on humankind. In Part 1 of this series, we looked back on the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry and how the development of lithium-ion batteries played a key role in technological advancements. The world continued to look for further lithium-ion battery developments, and Toshiba responded with SCiB™, a lithium-ion battery that uses lithium titanium oxide (LTO) in its anode. This ensures high levels of safety and the ability to charge rapidly. In Part 2 of this series, we’ll highlight how SCiB™ is already being used in a diverse range of industries.
Paving the Way to the Future: SCiB™ Lineup and Applications
Toshiba manufactures high-energy type and high-power type SCiB™ cells at Kashiwazaki Operations in Niigata Prefecture in Japan. These cells are then turned into modules for automobile, stationary and industrial batteries, and also into industrial battery packs to easily replace lead-acid batteries.
●Application example: high-energy type cells for stationary and industrial batteries
Applications that use lead-acid batteries or fossil fuel as an energy source are starting to turn to new, cleaner, and greener batteries, such as Grid scale Battery storage*1, a move driven by environmental consciousness. The aim is to combine them with renewable energy, which tends to generate unstable electricity due to fluctuating environmental conditions, to provide a stable supply of power. SCiB™ is also increasingly being used for social infrastructure, such as in trains and ships, where durability and safety are of utmost importance.
*1 Grid scale Battery storage: Storage batteries used to stabilize electrical grids (i.e.: networks used to deliver electric power from power plants to consumers.
●Application example: high-energy type and high-power type cells for automobiles
More and more automobiles, be they cars, buses or trucks, are going hybrid or electric in an effort to reduce CO2 emissions. Toshiba offers both high-energy type and high-power type SCiB™ batteries for such automobiles. The high-energy type is used in trucks and electric buses and its durability and safety are highly praised. That’s because large trucks may need to be driven in extreme conditions and large buses need to repeatedly charge/discharge. The high-power type, on the other hand, is increasingly being used in hybrid cars, where they can efficiently collect and use the regenerative energy generated every time the car brakes.
Why Choose SCiB™?
LTO anodes give SCiB™ batteries a number of unique characteristics. Here, we’ll take a look at how they contribute to various fields and the reasons they’re chosen based on their different strengths.
●A. High input/output improves power efficiency and saves energy (e.g.: mild hybrid cars)
SCiB™ batteries are used in mild hybrid cars principally to collect deceleration energy when the car brakes. That energy is then used to assist the next acceleration or run the air conditioner when the engine is turned off. This mechanism is made possible thanks to the rapid charging and high input/output performances of SCiB™, allowing the batteries to efficiently collect large amounts of regenerative power that’s generated when decelerating. The collected energy can then assist in starting and accelerating the car, which contributes to greatly improving fuel efficiency and reducing CO2 emissions.
●B. Rapid charging improves work/service efficiency (e.g.: electric buses / automated guided vehicles)
Electric buses powered by lithium-ion batteries are becoming more widely adopted as pressure grows to decarbonize our society. Normally, such buses are charged once a day (during the night) so that they can run the entire next day. But to do so requires installing a large battery, which costs more and has the knock on effect of reducing the cabin size. Toshiba’s SCiB™ provides a solution by leveraging its ability to charge rapidly. Buses that use SCiB™ can rapidly charge up the power they need to keep driving in the brief moments when they come to a standstill at bus stops. This allows them to minimize the number of batteries they need to carry, which increases cabin capacity, improves fuel efficiency by making the bus lighter, and lowers operating costs.
SCiB™ batteries are also starting to be used more widely in power automated guided vehicles (AGVs) in factories and large warehouses. Until now, AGVs ran on lead-acid storage batteries, but they took a long time to charge. That meant users needed to have a lot of spare batteries and use multiple AGVs in turns. Combining the rapid charging ability of SCiB™ with an automatic charging system makes it possible to operate AGVs using just the batteries installed in the vehicles. This reduces operating costs and the hassle of needing to replace batteries.
●C. Purposes requiring highly reliable batteries that can withstand extreme conditions
SCiB™ atteries have the added advantage of being able to be charged and discharged safely in a wide range of temperatures. For that reason, they are increasingly being used in both frigid regions such as northern Europe and Russia as well as in sweltering regions such as Thailand and Malaysia. They are also starting to be widely used in social infrastructure like trains, ships and electric power substations for their high safety and reliability. SCiB™ was the first lithium-ion battery to acquire certification by Nippon Kaiji Kyokai in Japan, approving it to be used in marine vessels (March 31, 2020). It was also the first lithium-ion battery to be approved anywhere in the world for use in railway vehicles, meeting the highest safety integrity level of the European Norm standards (August 30, 2018).
As this shows, SCiB™ batteries are becoming more widely adopted in a variety of applications and for a broad range of purposes that require high safety and reliability, long life and high input/output. In the third and final segment of this series, we’ll take a look at how Toshiba intends to continue enhancing the SCiB™ battery with new technologies, such as using niobium titanium oxide as the next-generation anode material instead of LTO and using skin-coated electrodes as the next-generation separator. So stay tuned!