Tag: Toyota battery technology
Toyota is on a quest to come up with the most effective materials for storing energy. It needs these materials for its electric vehicles, otherwise it could take decades to come up with new products for its batteries. Unlike many companies that go through massive rounds of trials and tests to come up with new materials relying heavily on scientists, Toyota is making use of artificial intelligence and computer simulations to speed up the process. Toyota isn’t going to do all that on its own though, it will involve several universities as well as British materials company llika to come up with the necessary resources to find new materials effectively.
Making a Major Investment
Toyota believes strongly that new materials can unlock a lot of paths that the automaker wants to go down. That’s exactly why the company is investing $35 million into the team and the research that it’se conducting All that hard work could pay off nicely over time and give Toyota the technology that it needs to produce something particularly exciting.
The Next Step
In order to maximize the material options available as soon as possible, the team working with Toyota (made up of Toyota Research Institute, MIT, the University of Michigan, Stanford University as well as llika) will put together its data sources and collaborate in efforts of machine learning, artificial intelligence and computer modeling to come up with answers. Not only is the team looking for new materials to use for more effective energy storage for batteries, but it’s also looking for a new catalyst other than platinum for the Toyota hydrogen vehicles. This would make vehicles like the Mirai notably more affordable overall, and it will solve the issue of a platinum shortage that will be difficult to overcome when trying to mass-produce the Mirai.
While these efforts are still in their early stages, Toyota is hoping to use this partnership to forge new technologies over time, but it’s not expected to be a magic bullet that is going to solve all the automaker’s problems either. Computer simulation can’t solve every issue, but it can help bring together existing technologies in new ways to make exciting enhancements that the average person would have overlooked.
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.
by Zach McDonald | HybridCars.com
One of the best business moves Toyota has ever made was its decision to invest in the potential of nickel metal hydride batteries as a secondary power source for vehicles. Today, Toyota says it’s looking to the next generation of battery technologies to surmount the challenges facing modern electric vehicles.
According to Automotive News, Toyota is several years into the development of solid state and lithium air batteries, which have long been seen as potential replacements for today’s comparatively heavy and expensive lithium ion cells. Solid state batteries, which Toyota hopes to deploy in vehicles by 2020, offer an equivalent storage three to four times greater than lithium ion. Lithium air batteries are a few more years away, but have a storage density five times greater than today’s EV packs.
Toyota has been public about its skepticism concerning the potential for lithium ion-powered EVs. And though the company has invested in ventures ranging from its agreements with Sanyo to its partnership with Tesla in developing the new RAV4 EV, the presence of lithium ion batteries in Toyota’s vehicle lineup is relatively sparse. The only fully-electric vehicle the carmaker offers in the United States is the RAV4, which is a limited-production vehicle available only in California.
Future technologies could resolve many of the qualms Toyota might have had with diving head first into lithium ion. “Next-generation battery cells need to exceed the energy density in lithium ion batteries significantly,” Toyota managing officer for material engineering, Shigeki Suzuki, told Auto News. “We’ve been accelerating our development of those next-generation batteries technologies since 2010.”
One of the concerns facing EVs is potential supply limitations for materials currently vital to their production. Lithium and rare earth metals (which are used as magnets in most motors,) are just two of a number of resources that some worry could threaten the future of the plug-ins in the same way that limited oil supplies threaten ICEs. Toyota’s research into next-generation batteries and motors has been mindful of these threats, with the carmaker aiming to ditch rare earth intensive motors from its vehicles by 2020.
Toyota is by no means the only carmaker researching lithium air or solid state batteries, but its timeframe for releasing vehicles that utilize the technologies certainly seems to be more ambitious.