Tag: toyota batteries
Toyota has long avoided the urge to toss its hat in the ring and go against the likes of Nissan for its Leaf or Golf for the eGolf EV, but those days seem to becoming to a close. Toyota has announced tentative plans to release a full long-range EV in the future, the only difference is the automaker plans on using solid state batteries to do it.
What are Solid State Batteries?
Solid state batteries are still seen as an experimental technology, but they essentially replace the liquid chemicals in a battery with solid crystalline versions instead. They are thought to have a much higher capacity and to be more capable than the liquid-based options like Ni-Cad or Lithium-iON, but nobody has figured out how to create stable batteries that can be relied upon just yet.
Toyota Works for Solid State Battery Development
Toyota recently announced that it would try to create commercially viable solid state batteries for release by 2020. With the release of those batteries the automaker would have the tech to create some pretty substantial EVs that could rival most other products made by automakers then, or at least that’s the belief. While Toyota has only stated it’s going to push for development of solid state batteries by the early 2020’s, the automaker doesn’t actually state that it’s going to release any products based on that battery technology once the tech comes out.
Tesla has directly questioned whether or not Toyota is as close to creating commercially viable multi-cell solid-state batteries, but the automaker says that they are interested and support the endeavor. If Toyota is able to create such a product that’s fit for release, the automaker will have the upper-hand and could create a very competitive electric vehicle. Whether or not Toyota will pursue this action depends on what the automaker decides is the most profitable way forward, but we think it’s pretty likely. Toyota is well-known for being a pioneer of new technologies, and continues to release tech to the masses before other automakers dare. This breakthrough would be something Toyota could seriously benefit from, and the best way to do that is by releasing a powerful EV of its own.
While researching technology for its hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, Toyota’s team of scientists came across a new battery technology that could make magnesium batteries possible. Magnesium-based batteries have long been impractical because there weren’t many compatible electrolytes to use with the metal. That all just changed.
While working on a hydrogen storage device Toyota scientists stumbled across an electrolyte that works with magnesium anodes. This means a magnesium battery could theoretically be produced now. Of course a great deal of research and development will have to happen before magnesium batteries are outfitted on electric vehicles.
A magnesium battery is beneficial for a few different reasons. It’s thought to be safer, more energy dense and more affordable. When you combine those benefits into one battery you get a highly desirable solution that could improve the range of electric vehicles while also making them more affordable to the end consumer.
A More Abundant Material
Lithium isn’t the easiest metal to find, nor is it the most affordable. Lithium ion batteries are quite expensive for this very reason, and that’s one of the reasons that magnesium batteries are so promising. Magnesium is highly abundant and readily available. That means that magnesium-based batteries would likely be much more affordable than batteries that rely on lithium. That’s exciting news with so many automakers planning on pushing forward more and more capable electric vehicles in the future. Perhaps this technology discovered by Toyota could make that effort a bit easier to undertake.
It’s easy to get excited about this scientific breakthrough and to expect a whole new batch of improved battery-powered vehicles to be released in the next decade, but scientists say that isn’t too likely. It’s possible for up to 20 years of research and testing to be needed before a product is finally released to the public. With as much funding and urgency that’s being placed on electric vehicles and alternative fuel vehicles in general we hope that the process will be a bit more expedited than that. Either way, the future of battery-powered vehicles just got a bit brighter thanks to cutting-edge Toyota research.
Critics often argue and try to take away from the environmentally friendliness of hybrid vehicles by citing the energy used and pollution produced when creating the batteries that are used in these vehicles. After all, if you are generating more waste when creating the vehicle, what good is all the waste that it saves during its operation. Even though that’s true to an extent, the European branch of Toyota is working very hard to ensure that their hybrid vehicles are not leading to more waste in the environment, and that they are actually taking away from the nasty chemicals being sent up into the atmosphere, and to do this they have a very aggressive recycling initiative going on.
Toyota is working hard to gather up any and every old hybrid battery that they product. Both European and Lexus dealerships are taking all the old batteries from vehicles that they are responsible for, and they are sending them to be recycled at one of the many facilities in the area. This helps to keep the same materials cycling into new products, and helps to reduce the energy waste and resource waste involved with hybrid vehicle production.
How Toyota is Gathering up Old Batteries
In order to make sure they are getting back as many old batteries as they can from their vehicles, Toyota is offering to give Toyota and Lexus dealers in Europe a brand new hybrid battery in exchange for an old one. Because of this one simple incentive, Toyota is able to obtain 91 percent of all the batteries that they create and recycle them into new products.
Gathering Back Every Old Battery
In order to be even more environmentally friendly Toyota is working hard to increase their retention rate from the low 90’s to 100 percent. That means that they want to get back every single hybrid battery that is produced in Europe, so that they can be recycled and reused in any way possible. In order to up the percentages of battery reclamation Toyota is extending their battery replacement deal until March 31 2018. This will give more people a chance to take advantage of it and to keep clean cars out on the road.
Recycling the Batteries
There are a few different companies in the EU that handle recycling these old batteries after their lifespan is done and over with. Société Nouvelle d’Affinage des Métaux in France also known as SNAM, is responsible for recycling all the nickel-metal hydride or NiMh batteries used in the Prius, Auris Hybrid, in the Yaris and all the Lexus hybrids. Belgium-based Umicore NV is responsible for taking care of all the lithium-ion batteries that are used in the Prius Plug-in and Prius+ models.
Not only are many of these batteries being recycled, but the European branch of Toyota is also looking into different ways that the batteries could be reused before recycling. They make good stationary energy sources for things like resource backup and other energy projects where affordable storage solutions are needed. In a world where so many different hybrid batteries are being produced, it’s reassuring that many of those batteries are being recycled or reused in some way to help keep environmental impacts down as low as possible.
Even though Toyota seems to be focusing on Hydrogen Fuel Cell vehicles as the transportation of the future, they are still working hard to develop their electrical technology, and they have quite a few developments up their sleeve. The automaker has two different powerful battery technologies in development that could both dramatically improve the performance capabilities of electric-driven vehicles, one of which is in the prototype stage already, solid-state batteries. Solid State Batteries Toyota is developing a technology known as solid state batteries and they have already produced a coin-sized prototype that manages an impressive level of energy density compared to current lithium-ion batteries. The battery manages an energy density of around 400 Watt-hours per liter, or 400 Wh/L. This is currently close to two times as dense as lithium batteries being used today, which could do great things for electronics in general outside of the automotive industry. On top of offering more energy storage capabilities, this battery can also put out a power stream about five times as powerful as lithium-ion batteries are capable of doing. That means more powerful motors can be driven using fewer batteries. This technology is expected to be released in 2020 and should be perfected enough to hit between 600 and 700 Wh/L by 2025. What Makes them Different Solid state batteries are known as such because they rely on a solid electrolyte in place of the liquid electrolyte that’s used in lithium ion batteries. Instead of nickel-metal hydride or a lithium ion, solid ceramic or a polymer is used instead. This packs more energy into a smaller area allowing for a greater storage capacity. What the Batteries Can Do With solid state batteries being at the current energy density of the prototype in development a family sedan would be able to drive for around 300 miles on a single charge. While this is quite a ways off from the 600 miles that many automakers are shooting for, this is still a huge step forward for the industry overall and something to get excited about. Lithium Air Batteries Toyota is also developing lithium air batteries, but they expect these to take about five to ten years longer to develop than solid state batteries. These batteries rely on a small cathode that interacts with oxygen and requires less materials overall. This makes it possible to squeeze even more energy into a tiny area and could allow up to 1,000 Wh/L of storage by 2030. These two advances represent major breakthroughs for the electronics industry and will make it possible to produce long-distance electric vehicles that are much more efficient than the ones we see today. It’s hard to say if they are simply hedging their bet on Hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles with this technology or if they plan to incorporate it into future vehicles to create something even more sophisticated for drivers to rely on.