Hitachi battery breakthrough not for cars?
I've been following a story on Hitachi lithium magnesium batteries for the last week or two. When I originally read about this breakthrough, I was a bit skeptical. Just days earlier, I had learned that Hitachi desperately needed to derive new sources of revenue, so I suspected this claim of doubling the life span of lithium batteries might just have been an overly positive statement meant for potential shareholders.
Instead, it seems to be the real deal.
Sadly, however, there is no near term value for such batteries in the automotive space, instead these batteries are specifically designed for large scale industrial use, such as "electrical power storage in wind power generation and other new energy fields, and as industrial power sources for electric-powered construction machinery designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions."
In fact because of the potential of hybrid cars and plug-in hybrids, Hitachi worried that increased demand for cobalt would eventually make its large scale battery applications too expensive. Hence, several years ago Hitachi began developing new lithium ion batteries that used more manganese spinel materials, rather than cobalt. Unfortunately, first gen batteries only offered a life span of about 5 years, but new prototypes based on new cathode materials have shown the ability to double this lifespan.
Perhaps one day this breakthrough will find its way into hybrids and plug-ins, but even if not ever suitable for automotive applications, this breakthrough could still help more green energy find its way into plug-in vehicles.