Toyota Reinvents the Lithium Ion Battery, Makes it Safer and More Efficient

Toyota’s links to lithium ion batteries began in 2009 when production cars are concerned. That is when the Japanese brand launched the first Plug-in Hybrid version of the Prius.
Toyota Prius Lithium-Ion Battery Cell 8 photos
Photo: Toyota
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While other competitors used Lithium-Ion batteries in their electric models, Toyota preferred to stay away from the technology because it had Ni-Mh batteries that it claimed were safer. They also came with a cost advantage at the time when they were compared to Lithium-Ion units.

Eventually, Toyota was going to have to switch to Lithium-Ion batteries, except for the possibility of developing an entirely new kind.

Since this idea would have been too expensive, and would have delayed too many automobiles from being launched, Toyota had nothing left to do than to improve existing Lithium-Ion designs.

The Japanese automaker worked with its suppliers at Panasonic Corporation to develop existing battery technology for electric cars and hybrids of all kinds.

The research focused on Lithium-Ion units, and the goal was to make this type of battery safer than ever before, as well as increasing its energy density without taking costs to an extreme level.

According to a report from Japan, Toyota and Panasonic have succeeded their quest of making Lithium-Ion batteries better than ever before through modifications in production.

The solution involved taking precision to a new level, which is now close to the degree of purity found in the “clean rooms” where semiconductors are manufactured.

Increasing manufacturing precision for Lithium-Ion batteries refers to eliminating any impurity in battery cells. Do not think fragments here, but imagine microscopic metal particles, along with other impurities with similar sizes. Any of the above and a battery cell is destined to fail.

In the case of Lithium-Ion batteries, the energy density is extremely high, and this leads to an extended risk in the event of a failure. Toyota and Panasonic have worked together to employ a sophisticated system that monitors individual battery cells.

Each cell has its condition (temperature, charge level, and short-circuit warning) controlled continuously, and Toyota has come up with a way to turn off a defective unit without affecting the rest of the battery.

The modifications detailed above have brought the possibility of shrinking battery cells without affecting capacity or safety. The uprated units have increased their capacity by 100%, while their size has only grown by two-thirds when compared to conventional components.

Meanwhile, weight was only increased by 50% when compared to the previous formula of Lithium-Ion batteries, VentureBeat notes while quoting a report from Reuters.

Toyota’s vision sees the fuel cell vehicle as the ultimate Eco-friendly automobile, but this development in battery technology shows that the company is getting ready to launch an all-electric car in the future.
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About the author: Sebastian Toma
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Sebastian's love for cars began at a young age. Little did he know that a career would emerge from this passion (and that it would not, sadly, involve being a professional racecar driver). In over fourteen years, he got behind the wheel of several hundred vehicles and in the offices of the most important car publications in his homeland.
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