Advantages of the Lithium Titanate Battery
This entry was posted on September 19, 2014.
Although advancements in technology have covered a wide array of fields, particularly electronic devices over the past two decades, batteries have seemingly lagged behind. The traditional lithium-ion battery has its limitations, especially when it comes to recharging and producing higher amounts of power when needed.
However, there is a relatively new battery technology that is based on the old lithium-ion concept, but produces more power and can recharge faster than ever before. The lithium titanate batteries have proven to be a real step forward in battery technology that is most welcome in a time of hybrid and all-electric vehicles.
What are Lithium Titanate Batteries?
Although seemingly new, the lithium titanate battery actually dates back to the 1980s. They offer a higher cycle count than their lithium-ion counterparts and have a low temperature discharge as well which helps make the fairly safe to use. Only recently has advances in materials helped this form of battery become more prominent in its use.
This type of rechargeable battery is step forward from the older lithium-ion battery in that it can charge up much faster. Lithium titanate batteries are currently used in the Mitsubishi i-MiEV as well as the Honda EV neo-electric bike along with the Fit EV. In addition to their uses in vehicles and electric bikes, the batteries can also be found in energy storage systems, wristwatches, military applications, and there is even a prototype laptop battery made from this technology as well.
While based on the older lithium-ion battery, this new version uses lithium titanate nanocrystals that have been placed on the surface of the anode. By providing the anode with a surface area that expands to 110 square meters per gram as compared to the older carbon version of just 3 meters, the battery can be charged much faster and provides for higher current levels as well. This makes them far more suitable for vehicular transportation as the common complaint of the older lithium-ion batteries was that they charged up very slowly.
The Characteristics of the New Lithium Titanate Battery
TOSA, the large capacity electric bus project is currently demonstrating the advantages of the lithium titanate batteries by recharging in as little as 15 seconds while the passengers are embarking and debarking at designated stops. The long term prognosis is still unavailable given the short time the batteries have been in use, but the advantages are certainly apparent.
However, the lithium titanate batteries do have one discernible disadvantage in that they have a lower inherent voltage than their predecessor. This means that the batteries will have a lower density of energy than the older lithium-ion versions. This disadvantage however has not been too much of a problem given its current applications.
The Manufacturers of the Lithium Titanate Battery
Overall, this new battery technology has made a real mark for itself thanks to its unique qualities and relatively lightweight structure. Currently, there are four major manufacturers of this type of battery, Altairnano, Seiko, Toshiba, and YABO.
Altairnano: Produced under the “Nanosafe” line, the batteries that come from this company are many used for all-electric vehicles. Currently, there are several vehicle manufactures that are planning on using batteries from Altairnano which includes the Lighting Car Company. This company is planning on releasing the Lightning GT, an all-electric sports car. In addition, Phoenix Motorcars is producing all-electric SUVs for its line while Proterra has created the EcoRide BE35, a lightweight bus that is 35 feet long and will carry passengers to destinations that have recharging stations to take advantage of the fast turnaround capabilities of the batteries.
In addition, Altairnano has also created an energy storage system that uses lithium titanate batteries in the grid for various services such as power back-up and the like. There are also military applications that the company is exploring in using this form of battery as well.
Sieko: The Kinetic wristwatches that have automatic quartz is benefitting from this new battery technology. Before, they used a capacitor to keep their energy, but now the lithium titanate version allows them to stay charged longer and more efficiently. Plus, a technician can easily replace the battery once it exceeds its lifespan or has become compromised.
YABO: They released their first lithium titanate battery in 2012 for use in electric vehicles as well as energy storage systems. With their standard model battery finding favor, they are looking to find more vehicle models and manufacturers to take advantage of their product.
Toshiba: Arguably the largest company to currently produce this form of battery, their new Super Charge Ion Battery offers the incredible ability to have a 90% charge in just 10 minutes which far surpasses the old lithium-ion batteries of the day.
Currently, they are using their batteries for the Schwinn Tailwind electric bike which has demonstrated some unique qualities in terms of its use of power. Plus, Toshiba has also developed a prototype battery for laptops as well. For the most part, the electric vehicles of Mitsubishi, Honda and Fit use the lithium titanate batteries in their design. In fact, it could be argued that their vehicles and bikes were really made possible thanks to this battery.
Although not perfect, the lithium titanate battery has certainly generated a great deal of interest thanks to its potential. Thanks to advanced materials and the push towards all-electric vehicles, this type of battery is currently being exploited for its unique characteristics. However, it is the expanding applications into smaller electronic devices such as wristwatches and laptops that may bode well for how it is to be used.
It may very well be the inherent safety factor that makes this form of battery the most common in the foreseeable future. The low operating voltage and lack of carbon means that heat or thermal runaways are not possible. An overheated battery has been the main cause of fires in standard electrical storage systems. Because it does not overheat, the lithium titanate battery has definite advantages when it comes to being used in large storage systems as well.
The future certainly looks bright for the lithium titanate batteries as they continue to be used in a wide variety of applications.
Stored Energy Product Inc.
It is our duty to our customers to keep them informed in how to increase performance and lower costs. Therefore we have a strong commitment to being involved in advancements in battery technology. Lithium Titanate is one technology that we have our eyes on. Its high cycling capabilities and safety characteristics could be the next evolutionary step away from Lithium Ion further distancing ourselves from fossil fuels. Stay tuned as we continue to drill down into the development of this new chemistry and its market viability and please feel free to share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.
"The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress."