Friday, December 23, 2016

No. 890: Lithium-ion battery that allows travel distance of 400 km per charge (December 23, 2016)

Hitachi developed a technology of lithium-ion battery that allows an EV to travel about 400 km per charge. The new lithium-ion battery has two times higher capacity than the existing lithium-ion battery and increases the travel distance per charge of an EV by about 40%. Nissan’s Leaf can travel 280 km per charge that is currently the longest travel distance per charge. Hitachi aims to achieve energy density of 320 watts per kg that is about two times higher than the current level.   

Nissan's Leaf
It can travel 280 km per charge

The newly developed battery uses an anode composed mainly of nickel that is two times as thicker than the existing anode. The cathode is composed mainly of silicone instead of carbon-based materials. Hitachi’s research team covered the anode with an oxidized material and added a fluorinated additive to the electrolyte to reduce the generation of membranes. It successfully kept the capacity of the lithium-ion battery at 90% of the initial level even after repeating charge and discharge for more than 100 times. Furthermore, it estimates that the cost of the new lithium-ion battery will not increase greatly.   

New Energy and IndustrialTechnology Development Organization (NEDO) that supports the development activities estimates that the new lithium-ion battery will be put into practical used in 2020. Because the performance of a lithium-ion battery is approaching the limit, NEDO is currently developing a totally new type battery to realize a longer travel distance per charge with a view to translating it into practical applications in 2030.  

Saturday, March 26, 2016

No. 889: Hokkaido Shinkansen is inaugurated on March 26, 2016 (March 26, 2016)

The long-cherished Hokkaido Shinkansen (Bullet train) was inaugurated on March 26, 2016. It travels 149 km between Aomori in Honshu and Hakodate in Hokkaido in about one hour through the tunnel under the Tsugaru Straits. Now you can travel from Tokyo to Hakodate in four hours and two minutes. The Hokkaido Shinkansen is scheduled to be extended up to Sapporo, the largest and prefectural capital of Hokkaido, by the end of 2018. With the extension, you can travel from Tokyo to Sapporo in about five hours. 

 The 149 km from Hakodate to Aomori, 
in most of which the train travels under the water.

Various highly sophisticated technologies have been developed to make the Hokkaido Shinkansen a reality. For example, it uses the existing line for the first time as a Shinkansen Line. That is, a Shinkansen train and a freight train go by each other on the existing line as shown in the following video. 

A Shinkansen train and a freight train go by each other on the existing line.

Now you can visit Hokkaido aboard a Shinkansen train and enjoy wonderful cuisines in Hokkaido without being worried about flying above the ground. Japan wishes people from every part of the world to enjoy Tokyo and Hokkaido during their stay in Japan. 

Can you believe this? A bar in Tokyo has a miniature Hokkaido Shinkansen to 
entertain customers. This is typically Japanese hospitality.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

No. 888: Reducing the price of graphene to less than half (January 5, 2016)

Osaka Gas developed a technology to reduce the price of graphene to less than half. The company mixed coal-derived fluorene and water, etc. With the help of an additive, it successfully made the resulting product collide with graphite to extract graphene. Because the traditional method to extract graphene needs equipment that creates a vacuum state, it costs more than 20,000 yen to produce 1 kg of graphene. The newly-developed method increases the production efficiency by more than two times besides reducing the production cost to less than half. The company will begin full production within the year.

ADEKA is scheduled to start commercial production of graphene under license from the University of Tokyo. The company will mix graphite and special chemicals and extract graphene while radiating micro waves to graphite. The company thinks that it is possible to reduce the production cost to about 10,000 yen per kg. If the price of graphene is reduced to half of the present level, it will be mixed with resin to build stronger and lighter automotive parts, radiation material, conducting material, touch panel, electrode of smartphone. New Energy and IndustrialTechnology Development Organization (NEDO) reckons that the world market of graphene will grow from 1.3 billion yen in 2013 to 100 billion yen in 2030. 

Graphene: The future of solar energy technology

World's smallest ENE-FARM 
with high generation efficiency from Osaka Gas