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48V Lithium ion Batteries in Micro-Mixing becomes a Spotlight

Shenzhen Sinoli Electronic Co.,Ltd | Updated: Jan 20, 2019

A few days ago, Hitachi officially announced that its Hitachi Automotive Systems Co. signed an agreement with INCJ and Maxell Holdings Co. Ltd. to support Hitachi Automotive Energy Development Co. in the form of joint investment, devoted to the research and development of lithium-ion batteries for vehicles.

According to the agreement, INCJ, Maxell and Hitachi Automotive Systems will hold 76.2%, 14.0% and 9.8% of Hitachi Automotive Energy Development Company respectively. Hitachi and Maxell have their own expertise in battery management system (BMS) and battery production capacity, electrode and material technology with battery materials as the core, and technological openness. INCJ is an investment fund with Japanese government background. Hitachi Automotive Energy Development Company, a joint venture company, will develop the next generation battery technology on this basis.

They argue that the popularity of pure electric vehicles will take time, while demand for hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles is likely to grow in the medium term, but the number of manufacturers able to mass produce lithium batteries for hybrid vehicles is very limited. This is because hybrid electric vehicles need to integrate batteries and power systems highly and have high entry threshold.

At present, Hitachi Automotive Energy Company has provided lithium-ion batteries for hybrid electric vehicles for General Motors, Nissan, Suzuki and Isuzu. At the same time, Renault and Ford have also incorporated Hitachi's energy into their large-scale hybrid electric vehicle lithium-ion battery supply chain.

With the reduction of fuel consumption becoming the most concerned object, 48V micro-mixing technology route has also aroused heated discussion in recent years among automobile enterprises and parts suppliers. It is predicted that global production of micro-hybrid vehicles will increase from 450,000 in 2016 to 128,000 in 2023. Especially in Europe and China, because 48V lithium battery is the fastest and most cost-effective solution to fuel consumption problem in the short term, micro-mixing system is expected to achieve rapid growth.

Faced with this, Hitachi announced in March 2016 that it would develop a 48V lithium-ion battery for micro-mixing. It has already developed HEV cores and battery management system, which has accumulated for a long time. The expansion of 48V batteries is also logical in terms of the technical route.

Charging and discharging of lithium-ion batteries are realized by the movement of lithium ions to and from the electrode material. Up to now, the power density of batteries has been improved by reducing the thickness of electrode film and resistor. However, the power density and energy density are contradictory, showing a relationship of fluctuation and fluctuation.

Hitachi says the new lithium-ion battery pack improves the micron-scale structure of the core electrodes, creating a structure that is more conducive to the flow of lithium ions.

This structure reduces the resistance and increases the power density without reducing the thickness of the electrode film. Material composition of positive and negative electrodes has also been improved to increase energy density by increasing the amount of lithium stored per unit weight. These technologies bring about 25% power density and 50% energy density improvement.

Hitachi's new generation batteries no longer need cooling fans by reducing the heat and resistance generated between the batteries and using high thermal conductivity and dissipative metals in lithium-ion battery pack shells. The thinning design also provides greater freedom for installation.

The improvement of power density makes the motor have better torque characteristics when accelerating, and can achieve the maximum output power of 12 kW. Thanks to the improvement of power of start-up and shutdown motors, start-up speed is faster. Instantaneous recovery power can also reach 15 kW, reducing energy loss. It can be said that the increase of fuel saving rate also greatly improves the dynamic response (as shown in Table 1).

Due to limited competitors and large customers such as Nissan, GM and Ford, Hitachi Auto Energy is expected to gain a certain market share in the future after large-scale production. Its revenue target for the next three to five years is 60 billion yen.