The International Rechargeable Battery Expo 2013

Batteries compete with capacitors in micro-HV markets



 The following is a summary of the exhibition at the 4th International Rechargeable Battery Expo held at Tokyo Big Sight on February 27 to March 1, 2013, focusing on the automotive products.

 Among Japanese lithium-ion battery manufacturers, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and IHI/A123 Systems, exhibited their products at the Expo.

 Continued progress is seen in the application of lead-acid batteries in vehicles with start-stop systems and in hybrid vehicles (HVs). Manufacturers are leveraging on the cost and safety advantages of lead-acid batteries and exhibited their lead-acid batteries of improved charge acceptance and extended life in partial charge state conditions.

 As for capacitors, Mazda and PSA are already using electric double-layer capacitors (EDLC) on their cars. It appears capacitor manufacturers are evaluating their prototypes, including the lithium-ion capacitors, jointly with automakers.

 Lithium-ion battery has been used as the 12V engine starter battery for some time. For instance, the lithium-ion starter battery has been available on certain Porsche models since 2010 while A123 Systems is supplying its lithium-ion starter batteries to three automakers in Europe including McLaren and Mercedes-Benz. They have great advantages such as light weight, long life and brake energy regenerative power, while the cost is very high. A123 Systems plans to expand sales especially to automakers of luxury cars.

 Introduction of increasingly strict regulations on fuel economy is likely to expand the market of micro-hybrid vehicles which have start-stop systems and regenerative brake systems (to 39 million vehicles fitted with such features in the world in 2017 according to some forecasts). The lead-acid batteries are dominating this market at present but the manufacturers of EDLC and lithium-ion capacitors (LIC), and of lithium-ion batteries as well, are now appealing the benefits of their respective products in the same market.

Related report: The International Rechargeable Battery Expo 2012 (posted in April 2012)

* Click on the photo for a larger image.

Lithium-ion batteries

 Among Japanese manufacturers of lithium-ion batteries, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and IHI/A123 Systems exhibited their products at the Expo. A123 Systems exhibited lithium-ion starter batteries that will be used on Mercedes-Benz vehicles. The company also has supply agreement with two other automakers.

 Lithium-ion battery manufacturers in China and Taiwan were also among the exhibitors at the Expo. Sanko Semiconductor Co., Ltd., a Japanese manufacturer, has plans to import lithium-ion batteries from a Taiwanese company, Tatung Fine Chemicals Co., Ltd., for use as starter batteries, and sell them in the after-market in Japan.

Panasonic, GS Yuasa and Toshiba known for automotive use that exhibited their products during the last year's Expo were not among the exhibitors this year.

Racing car participated in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb 2012
Racing car participated in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb 2012,
fitted with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries' lithium-ion rechargeable battery MLiX

Three types of lithium-ion batteries exhibited by IHI/A123 Systems
Three types of lithium-ion batteries exhibited by IHI/A123 Systems
(ALM 12V7 in the center is for non-automotive use)

Lithium-ion starter battery for Mercedes-Benz cars
Lithium-ion starter battery for Mercedes-Benz cars
(exhibited by IHI/A123 Systems)

Lithium-ion battery cells and packs exhibited by Zhejiang Godsend Power Technology of China
Lithium-ion battery cells and packs exhibited by Zhejiang Godsend
Power Technology of China

Lithium-ion starter batteries exhibited by Tatung Fine Chemicals of Taiwan and Sanko Semiconductor of Japan
Lithium-ion starter batteries exhibited by Tatung Fine Chemicals of
Taiwan and Sanko Semiconductor of Japan


Mitsubishi Heavy Industries' MLiX series of lithium-ion batteries

Standard Type High Power Type High Capacity Type
(under development)
Product Name 50 High Power 40 High Power 20 High Capacity 60
Main Use EV HV EV
Weight (kg) 1.4 1.4 0.85 1.4
Dimension (W×D×H)mm 110×38×166.5 110×38×166.5 110×28×130 110×38×166.5
Capacity (Ah) 50 40 20 60

(Note) Mitsubishi Heavy Industries' lithium-ion rechargeable battery, MLiX, is available in the high-capacity type for stationary use and the high-power type for automotive use. The high-power type is used on the company's diesel-fueled hybrid forklifts and buses operated by the cities of Kyoto and Aomori in Japan.


Lithium-ion batteries exhibited by IHI/A123 Systems

Cylindrical cells Prismatic cells (Laminated cells)
ANR26650 AHR32113
Main Use HV Bus,
Starter for Airplane
HV car, HV bus EV/PHV Starter battery
(Note 3)
GM Chevrolet
Spark EV, etc.
Mercedes-Benz vehicle
(Note 4)
Capacity (Ah) 2.5 4.4 19.6
Capacity (Wh) 8.2 14.5 65.0
(Notes) 1. A123 Systems was acquired in January 2013 by Wanxiang Group of China but will continue operating under the same corporate name and logo.
2. The batteries are used in Japan in the community buses operated by Hamura City, Tokyo, and in the shuttle bus services operated by Sumida Ward, Tokyo.
3. Supplied to BMW's ActiveHybrid 3 and ActiveHybrid 5.
4-1. A123 Systems supplies lithium-ion engine starter batteries to three European automakers including McLaren (MP4-12C), Mercedes-Benz (model name unknown) and another unidentified OEM (announced in March 2012).
4-2. A123 Systems exhibited the 12V80Ah lithium-ion battery to be used on Mercedes-Benz models. The company also had reference exhibits of the 12V40Ah and 12V60Ah batteries for small-size passenger cars.
4-3. In February 2010, Porsche became the world's first automaker to use lithium-ion engine start batteries. The batteries were procured from GAIA, headquartered in the United States and Germany, as an optional item (US$1,700) on the 911 GT3, 911 GT3 RS and Boxster Spyder for the primary reason of weight reduction. When a customer opts for the lithium-ion starter battery, the car is delivered with both the lead-acid battery and lithium-ion battery that are easily exchangeable (the engine starting capacity of the lithium-ion battery is limited at temperatures below 0°C).
4-4-1. (Aside from the Expo 2013) Suzuki adopted a deceleration energy regeneration system called "ENE-CHARGE" on the new Wagon R released for sale in September 2012. The system combines the lead-acid battery used exclusively by the start-stop system and Toshiba's SCiB lithium-ion battery. The electric energy generated by the alternator is used to charge the two batteries and supplied to audio and other electric devices. The battery packs were developed by Denso.
4-4-2. The two battery packs are designed for 12V systems and do not require voltage converters as they are highly similar in terms of voltage characteristics.


Japanese lithium-ion battery manufacturers

Racing car fitted with MLiX battery  Mitsubishi Heavy Industries exhibited "E-Runner" racing car, powered by its lithium-ion battery MLiX, that ran the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb 2012 held in Colorado, US, in July 2012.

Chinese lithium-ion battery manufacturers

Sinopoly Lithium-ion Battery  Sinopoly, headquartered in Hong Kong, has lithium-ion battery manufacturing plants in Jilin and Tianjin, China, and has been producing lithium-ion batteries there for 15 years. Its batteries for automotive use are used on buses and taxis. All the taxis are equipped with a battery replacement system rather than a charger.
Zhejiang Godsend Power Technology Lithium-ion Battery  Godsend develops, produces and sells lithium-ion batteries with lithium iron phosphates (LiFePO4) cathode. The company develops a broad range of lithium-ion batteries from large-capacity storage systems to batteries for EV and other mobile use.

Taiwanese lithium-ion battery manufacturers

Tatung Fine Chemicals/Sanko Semi-conductor Lithium-ion starter battery, etc.  Sanko Semiconductor, a Japanese agent, plans to import lithium-ion batteries with lithium iron phosphates (LiFePO4) cathode from a lithium-ion battery manufacturer in Taiwan, Tatung Fine Chemicals, for roll-out in Japan.
 The company exhibited lithium-ion engine starter batteries (featuring longer life, lighter weight, energy regeneration, etc.) and portable power supplies (emergency engine starting, charging receptacle for cellphones, etc.). Starting with these products, Sanko plans to introduce Tatung Fine Chemicals' products in after markets in Japan.
Phoenix Silicon International(PSI) LiFePO4 Lithium-ion battery  Phoenix Silicon International (PSI), a Taiwanese manufacturer, produces and sells lithium-ion batteries with lithium iron phosphates cathode. The company will procure lithium iron phosphates from Sumitomo Osaka Cement Co., Ltd., and M&T Olivine, formed jointly by Mitsui Engineering and Shipbuilding Co., Ltd., and Toda Kogyo Corporation.
 Enax, Inc., in partnership with PSI, plans to import lithium-ion batteries with lithium iron phosphates cathode from PSI for roll-out business primarily for stationary applications in Japan (announced in February 2012).
 PSI supplies lithium-ion batteries with lithium iron phosphates cathode for golf carts in Taiwan. The company plans to sell the batteries for EV/HV use to automakers in Taiwan and China.
Chang Hong Battery using LFPO  Chang Hong, a Taiwanese manufacturer, has developed batteries that use Lithium Iron Phosphate Oxide (LFPO) as a cathode material. The LFPO is different from lithium iron phosphates (LiFePO4) and said to cost less and offer better characteristics.
 The company plans to explore a broad range of battery applications from stationary to mobile (EV/HV, golf carts, electric bikes, etc.).



Lead-acid batteries being improved for start-stop systems and hybrid vehicles

 Batteries for start-stop systems and batteries for HV use were exhibited by the manufacturers of lead-acid batteries for automotive use. They are leveraging on the lower costs and higher safety of the lead-acid batteries while enhancing the charge acceptance and extending battery life in partial charge state conditions to explore new use for their batteries. Among the exhibits were the lead-acid batteries for vehicles fitted with an alternator (charge) management system.

 The AGM (Absorbent Glass Mat) technology adopted in the lead-acid batteries displayed at the Expo is said to be the most advanced technology today for making batteries for use in start-stop and other automotive systems.

 Furukawa Battery Co., Ltd., has developed "UltraBattery" for start-stop systems with the negative electrode made up of lead and capacitor negative electrodes in parallel configuration. It represents a combination of high current discharge of the lead-acid batteries and high current charge performance along with a long cyclic life of the capacitors.

TuflongHV, a lead-acid battery for HV use, exhibited
by Shin-Kobe Electric Machinery Co., Ltd.

The tall 24V cell module of the Ceil-brand lead-acid batteries for forklifts
The tall 24V cell module (height over 40cm) of the Ceil-brand lead-acid
batteries for forklifts imported from India by Inoue Byora Industry Co., Ltd.
The dark brown parts on the surface shows that positive and negative
electrodes of neighboring cells are welded together and the white hose is a
part of the central system for supplying water to the 24 cells.

Lead-acid batteries exhibited by ATLASBX of Korea
Lead-acid batteries exhibited by ATLASBX of Korea; AGM type batteries
for HVs (upper left), AGM batteries for vehicles with a start-stop system
(upper right), EFB (wet) type batteries for vehicles with a start-stop system
(lower left) and batteries for alternator management systems (lower right).

AGM type lead-acid batteries for micro-HVs in Europe
AGM type lead-acid batteries for micro-HVs in Europe, exhibited by
Okada Corporation representing Exide Technologies in Japan.


Lead-acid batteries of enhanced charge acceptance and other performances

Shin-Kobe Electric Machinery "Tuflong HV" Auxiliary Automotive Batteries for Hybrid Vehicle  Auxiliary automotive batteries for HVs. Batteries are normally placed under the rear seats on HVs as the engine compartment is congested and does not have enough space for batteries. Therefore, batteries must be sealed tight and work normally without regular addition of water to the cells. The exhibited battery is built upon VRLA (Valve Regulated Lead Acid) (Note 1) and AGM technology (Note 2).
"TuflongECO-IS" Automotive Batteries for Idling Stop Systems  Batteries for vehicles with a start-stop system are often used in low state of charge and frequent charge and discharge cyclic conditions (compared to vehicles without a start-stop system). Common lead-acid batteries, in contrast, require long time for charging and their life is shortened if they are not used in near-fully charged state.
 The TuflongECO-IS represents a 1.5-fold higher input characteristics and has been redesigned to maintain long life even if it is not used in a full charge state. Start-stop systems are designed to remain inactive when the battery level is low (until it is charged by the engine). The exhibited battery is charged to a full state very quickly for frequent start-stop operations.
 The TuflongECO-IS is used on many models including the Nissan March and Serena, and Toyota Vitz and Pixis Space.
(Notes) 1-1. A VRLA (Valve Regulated Lead Acid) battery is a sealed battery that does not require addition of water to the cells or electrolyte level check. The valve works as a safety pressure relief valve when the pressure gets abnormally high.
1-2. Unlike the common lead-acid battery that requires regular addition of water, a VRLA battery takes the oxygen gas generated at the positive plates during charging and recombines it with the hydrogen evolving at the negative plates to create water. This prevents loss of electrolytes (diluted sulfuric acid).
2. AGM, standing for Absorbent (or Absorbed) Glass Mat, is a type of VRLA batteries (Note 1) that has the electrolyte absorbed in a fiber-glass mat separator. This increases starting performance and durability.
Furukawa Battery UltraBattery for idling stop/start vehicle  Furukawa Battery Co., Ltd., has developed lead-acid battery, UltraBattery, for vehicles with a start-stop system. The battery on a start-stop vehicle is constantly put in PSOC (partial state of charge) and must withstand extraordinarily severe conditions such as quick discharge of high current.
 A lead-acid battery normally has a positive electrode made of lead dioxide and a negative electrode made of spongy lead. The UltraBattery also has a positive electrode made of lead dioxide but the negative electrode is made up of lead negative electrode and capacitor negative electrode (porous carbon) that are connected in parallel configuration.
 This design increases the battery's charge acceptance and its life in PSOC condition while preserving the original safety performance of lead-acid batteries.
Lead-acid batteries by non-Japanese manufacturers
Inoue Byora
Ceil-brand lead-acid batteries  Chloride is a British manufacturer of the Excide-branded storage batteries and Inoue Byora Industry is a sales agent of Chloride's Indian corporation that manufactures the Ceil-branded lead-acid batteries that are sold worldwide (worth US$1 billion a year).
Lead-acid batteries for forklifts  Inoue Byora imports lead-acid batteries primarily for Toyota and Nissan's forklifts and also sells the batteries to Komatsu. There are only two companies in Japan that manufacture lead-acid batteries for forklifts and their prices remain high because of the lack of competition. Imported batteries are relatively cheap in the least competitive market.
Batteries for HVs  Auxiliary lead-acid batteries for HVs based on AGM technology (Note 2) for additional capacity and durability. The batteries are supplied for the Toyota Prius.
Batteries for start-stop systems  The AGM type (upper right) and the conventional electrolyte (flooded) type (lower left) are available. The AGM type has cycle life of 120,000 times and the flooded type 40,000 times compared to 18,000 times of the company's standard battery.
Batteries for alternator management systems  The lead-acid batteries for vehicles with an alternator management system (Note 3) represents 50% higher charge acceptance over the company's conventional batteries along with higher heat resistance and starting performance.

(Note) 3. When charge rises to a given level, the alternator management system interrupts the alternator to stop charging and increase fuel economy. Batteries of high charge acceptance are necessary for faster charging.

Exide Technologies/
OKADA Corporation
Exide battery for micro-hybrid vehicles in Europe  Lead-acid batteries for micro-HVs in Europe exhibited by Okada Corporation, a Japanese agent for Exide Technologies (a Chloride group company). The battery performance has been enhanced for higher start-stop and braking energy regenerating performances. Available in the ECM (Enhanced Cycling Mat) type and the further enhanced AGM type featuring a VRLA construction.



Electric double-layer capacitors

 Unlike the secondary batteries that store electric energy by chemical reactions, electric double-layer capacitors (EDLC) do so by absorption and desorption of ions in the electrolytic solution. The EDLC are therefore capable of fast charge and discharge of high current without significant degradation over extended use. However, they only have a small storage capacity and are likely to be used in combination with lead storage battery or lithium-ion battery.

 Mazda and PSA are using EDLCs in large quantities. Mazda's deceleration energy regeneration system called "i-ELOOP" uses electric energy stored in capacitors to operate on-board electric devices. PSA's start-stop system called "e-HDi" uses EDLCs to start diesel-fueled hybrid vehicles.

EDLC module supplied by Nippon Chemi-Con Corporation for Mazda's deceleration energy regeneration system "i-FLOOP"
EDLC module supplied by Nippon Chemi-Con Corporation for Mazda's
deceleration energy regeneration system "i-ELOOP"

Ultracapacitors (EDLC) by Maxwell Technologies
Ultracapacitors (EDLC) by Maxwell Technologies with the E-Booster system
(manufactured by Continental AG) used in PSA's e-HDi start-stop system (far left)


Electric double-layer capacitors

Nippon Chemi-Con Headed for lower electric resistance, higher thermal resistance  Nippon Chemi-Con has been developing from 1st to 2nd and 3rd generations of EDLCs of lower electric resistance and higher thermal resistance. The company also exhibited the latest prototype with the thermal resistance increased to 85°C.
Supplied for Mazda's deceleration energy regeneration system  The company's third-generation EDLCs are used in the deceleration energy regeneration system "i-ELOOP" fitted on the Mazda's new Atenza launched in November 2012.
 The electric energy regenerated during deceleration is stored in the capacitor and is supplied to the headlights and other electric devices. A variable voltage type alternator that can be boosted up to 25V is used to increase the charging power. This reduces load to the alternator and is expected to lead to around 10% improvement in fuel economy in normal driving ranges with frequent acceleration and deceleration.
 The deceleration energy regeneration system goes through frequent charging with high current every time the car decelerates. Nippon Chemi-Con has achieved an internal resistance about 1/3 that of the conventional systems and increased thermal resistance from 60°C to 70°C so that the system can be installed safely under the engine hood.
Maxwell (US) E-Booster  Ultracapacitor (electric double-layer capacitor) for PSA's start-stop system "e-HDi" for diesel vehicles. In addition to normal start-and-stop operations, the system shuts off the engine when the vehicle speed drops below 20km/h before red lights, etc., contributing to up to 15% higher fuel economy on city streets. The capacitor modules are manufactured by Continental AG.
 A large power is required to start a diesel engine especially in cold areas. Capacitors are connected with a 2.2kW starter-generator. This combination supports the engine to restart instantly without affecting onboard electric equipment.
Engine Start
 An engine start assist system for Class 6-8 medium- to heavy-duty trucks which prevent the engine from not starting especially in cold weather or after sitting in line at weigh station with anti-idle laws in North America. One of the several lead-acid batteries is replaced with a capacitor module to increase starting performance in temperatures from -40°C to 60°C.
LS Mtron
Ultracapacitor  In 2003, LS Mtron left the LG Group and became an independent manufacturer of EDLCs and the "LG" portion of the company name was changed to "LS" at the same time.
 The company supplies capacitors for hybrid buses in China to serve two purposes; 1) use braking energy to assist the engine power at peak loads and 2) use it as backup power in the event of a braking trouble.
 LS Mtron has also developed a peak-time power assist system for electric locomotives and hybrid construction equipment for commercial application. The company is currently developing EDLCs for output load compensation on fuel cell vehicles to drive continually at a stable output.
Ioxus (US)/
Power System (Japan)
Electric Double Layer Capacitor  In February 2012, Omron Corporation and Mitsui & Co., Ltd. that had control over Power Systems sold their shares to Ioxus, a leading U.S. manufacturer of EDLCs, to put an end to their EDLC business. Ioxus will sell its products from Power Systems to automakers in Japan, Korea, China and other areas in Asia.



Lithium-ion capacitors

 The cathode of a lithium-ion capacitor (LIC) is made of the same activated carbon as the cathode of EDLC. The anode of LIC consists of the same carbon material as the anode of lithium-ion battery. Electric energy is charged and discharged by absorption and desorption of ions in the electrolytic solution at the cathode, and by occlusion and release of lithium-ions at the anode. LIC has higher output and energy density than EDLC.

 According to Advanced Capacitor Technologies, Inc., the company has received inquiries about using LIC in micro-coaches that are capable of frequent charging at bus stops. LIC manufacturers are meeting with automakers about using LIC in start-stop systems, energy regeneration systems and other automotive applications but, in terms of price, reaching an agreement is severe.

Large capacity lithium-ion capacitor "EneCapTen" exhibited by Asahi Kasei FDK Energy Device Co., Ltd.
Large capacity lithium-ion capacitor "EneCapTen" exhibited by Asahi Kasei
FDK Energy Device Co., Ltd. The module for cyclic application has over
100,000 charge and discharge cycles and has heat sinks at both sides.
The newly-developed high capacity type is shown to the right.

The compact EV "Miluira" powered exclusively by LIC
The compact EV "Miluira" powered exclusively by LIC
(exhibited by Asahi Kasei FDK Energy Device)

Lithium-ion capacitors (LIC)

Asahi Kasei FDK Energy Device Proposing "combined use of LIC"  The simulated effect of combined use of LIC with lithium-ion battery or lead-acid battery was exhibited. The simulation shows that the peak current and fluctuation in voltage decreases, the cycle life increases, and the power supply system can be downsized in either combination.
Proposing automotive applications  According to the exhibitor, the combined use of LIC with batteries improves the start-stop and regeneration assist system performances (higher fuel economy, extended life of rechargeable batteries) and can be used for non-contact charging (eliminates charging time loss, reduces the weight of onboard batteries) or as back-up power supply, etc. The company is also proposing the use of LIC on EVs and HVs as well.
EneCapTen  The company exhibited a large capacity lithium-ion capacitor called EneCapTen. The 45V module for cyclic application has over 100,000 charge and discharge cycles and has heat sinks at both sides. The module for back-up and other "stand-by" applications has over 10,000 charge and discharge cycles.
Miluira powered by LIC  The company also exhibited the Miluira, the world's first EV powered exclusively by LIC (the car itself was manufactured by Takayanagi Co., Ltd.). The vehicle is fitted with 24 LIC modules (2 in series, 12 in parallel configurations) for 864Wh electric energy and can run up to approximately 13km after 3.6 minutes of quick charge from a 200A source. The EV does not feature braking energy regeneration and the addition of this feature is expected to increase the driving range. The target range is 20km.
 Takayanagi manufactures and sells an ultra-small EV Miluira powered by a lead-acid battery and classified as a four-wheeled moped.

(Note) According to the Nikkei Sangyo Newspaper of March 7, 2013, Asahi Kasei FDK Energy Device plans to introduce a production line in Kosai Plant in Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan, in 2014 to start volume production of lithium-ion capacitors (LIC). The company currently makes prototypes as requested by automakers and now plans to standardize the products' function for mass produced vehicles.

Sin-Kobe Electric Machinery Lithium-ion capacitors LCAP  The company exhibited large cylindrical lithium-ion capacitors, LCAP, without reference to automotive applications. According to a booth attendant, the company is consulting automakers about the possible combination of rechargeable batteries and capacitors, or using capacitors to assist start-stop systems or driving power (mild HV, etc.).
JM Energy ULTIMO  JM Energy, a JSR group company founded in August 2007, engages in developing, manufacturing and selling lithium-ion capacitors, ULTIMO.
For start-stop system application  The company is developing, jointly with automakers, start-stop systems incorporating the ULTIMO lithium-ion capacitors. The system functions range from assisting the engine cranking to enhancing the braking energy regeneration.
Advanced Capacitor Technologies Premlis  Advanced Capacitor Technologies, founded in 2004, supplies the lithium-ion capacitors, Premlis, primarily for industrial applications.
LICs for micro-bus use being developed  The company is eyeing on selling its products for HV and start-stop systems but cost is a chief challenge in automotive industries. At present, the company is studying jointly with customers the feasibility of using LICs on micro-buses. Capacitors can be recharged in a short time and have a cycle life of over 100,000 times. This means they can be charged every time the bus comes to a bus stop.



FDK's nickel-metal hydride battery businesses

 At the merger of Panasonic and Sanyo Electric, FDK bought nickel-metal hydride (Ni-MH) battery businesses from Sanyo Electric other than the automotive drive application.

FDK's nickel metal hydride battery businesses

e-Call  The Ni-MH battery is used as an auxiliary power to maintain the automatic emergency call system (e-Call) when the main power supply is lost after crash. Introduction of e-Call in Europe in 2015 is required by the European Commission and Russia plans to introduce it in 2014. In December 2012, Fujitsu Ten and two other companies demonstrated e-Call testing equipment in Japan.
 According to FDK, vehicles in Brazil are required to be equipped with a GPS feature for tracking a stolen car and an independent power supply for the tracking system.
e-Toll  The e-Toll is a portable power supply for ETC on any car. FDK has shipped the e-Toll system to Singapore where it has been adopted.

Source: Exhibits and brochures at the Expo and the exhibitors' press releases

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