Researchers in Japan are closing in on a safer generation of batteries that could weather extreme temperatures in outer space. At least that’s what Hitachi Zosen Corp. is betting on. The Osaka-based company, better known for building plants that convert waste to energy, is developing a new strain of solid-state lithium-ion battery that’s been capturing the attention of industry heavyweights.
“We can offer solid-state lithium-ion batteries that
are on par with the liquid
type in performance even now,” Hitachi Zosen President Takashi Tanisho said in an
interview in Tokyo. “Solid-state batteries have many advantages,” because they’re more durable and can handle temperature changes better than those filled with liquid, he said.
Researchers around the world have been racing to commercialize solid-state batteries. Because they eliminate the liquid electrolytes that can overheat and cause fires in the current generation of batteries, solid-state units will have greater application in industries where there’s no margin for error.
With the promise of shorter charging times, improved power storage and redu-
ced risk of fire hazards, automakers such as Honda Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. have signaled their interest in solid-state battery technology.
“Solid state batteries hold a lot of promise in terms of better safety and performance,” said I-Chun Hsiao, a Tokyo-based analyst for Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
“However, they currently have low power characteristics because solid-state electrolytes have high electrical resistance.
“This and other challenges need to be resolved for their potential to be realized.”