Friday, January 9, 2015

No. 868: Reducing the production cost of a storage battery to one tenth (January 8, 2015)

Sumitomo Electric developed a technology to reduce the production cost of a large-scale storage battery of the next generation considerably. The new technology eliminates the necessity to use rare metals and has the possibility to reduce the production cost of a storage battery to 20,000-30,000 yen per kilowatt hour, less than one tenth of the current level. The company plans to shift this product to mass production in 2020.

Redox flow battery
Lithium-ion battery
Sodium-sulfur battery
Cost of introduction
(per kilowatt hour)
20,000-30,000 yen (target)
About 200,000 yen
About 400,000 yen
Capacity enlargement
Life (the number of charge-discharge cycles)
No limit
About 3,500 times
About 4,500 times

The redox flow battery that Sumitomo Electric commercialized for the first time in the world is in the front runner position of the next generation storage battery. It has smaller risk of ignition than the lithium-ion battery because it stores electricity by circulating the electrolyte inside the tank and creating a chemical reaction with the help of an ion-exchange membrane besides being two times durable than the lithium-ion battery. 

Sumitomo Denko's redox flow storage batteries
A bird's-eye view of Sumitomo Denko's redox flow storage batteries
The existing technology to build a redox flow battery is very expensive because it uses a large amount of vanadium. Sumitomo Electric developed an alternative material using multiple materials of the metal system. Accordingly, the company has opened up the road to reduce the production cost of a storage battery considerably. It has already started building redox flow batteries in Osaka in 2013. It will ship a redox flow storage battery with a capacity of 60,000 kW to Hokkaido Electric Power in 2015 and will start the demonstration experiment of the power grid system for redox flow storage batteries with a leading power company in the U.S.

The Japanese government positions the storage battery industry as one of the growth industries and supports Japanese companies to help them get a considerable share in the world market estimated to grow to 20 trillion yen in 2020.  

 Introduction to the Sumitomo Denko Group

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