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all-polymer battery Nissan licenses advanced lithium-ion technology to Tokyo-based start-up

From Luke James

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Nissan recently announced that it has licensed its advanced lithium-ion battery technology to APB Corporation, a Tokyo-based start-up that is currently developing an all-polymer battery.

Nissan is a pioneer in the research and development of lithium-ion batteries since the 1990s.
Nissan is a pioneer in the research and development of lithium-ion batteries since the 1990s.
(Source: gemeinfrei / Pixabay)

According to Nissan, this licensing of its tech to APB Corporation will allow the “mass production of lower-cost, safer lithium-ion batteries with increased charging capacity,” which sounds an awful lot like cheaper and more energy-dense solid-state batteries, a technological development that many are eagerly anticipating in the near future. The Tokyo-based start-up has been backed by multiple investments from major companies and hopes to build a production facility in Japan that will utilise Nissan’s technology for the development of all = polymer batteries —the so-called “next generation” of lithium-ion batteries.

Nissan’s technology

According to Nissan, its technology, known as bipolar structure all-polymer battery technology, will help consumers and communities to more effectively make use of low-cost and/or renewable energy at a lower initial cost.

“We believe the widespread adoption of this technology will contribute to fulfilling the UN’s sustainable development goals and help realize a sustainable, low-carbon society,” said Hideki Kimata, vice president of the corporate strategy and business development division at Nissan.

In an all-polymer battery with a bipolar structure, the liquid electrolyte and metal electrodes found in conventional batteries are replaced with polymers. The front and the back of the battery cell are made from a polymer current collector and each have a negative or positive polarity. These form part of the battery case and by stacking several of these together, a fully assembled battery with a bipolar structure can be built.

All-polymer battery technology dramatically increases charging capacity relative to battery volume in contrast to traditional lithium-ion technology while simultaneously enhancing safety by replacing liquid electrolytes which has the potential to combust. The simplified structure of the battery also drives down prices.

A conventional battery vs. an all-polymer battery.
A conventional battery vs. an all-polymer battery.

There is a catch, however

Nissan, which began researching and developing lithium-ion batteries in the ‘90s, quickly became a pioneer in the field, most famously known for the go-to provider of batteries for electric cars in an AESC joint venture with NEC. AESC was then sold to a Chinese company and became Envision AESC. Since then, the company has continued to pursue innovation in the field of electric vehicle batteries.

To ensure that Nissan can continue its innovation in this field, the all-polymer technology has only been licensed to APB Corporation for use in stationary applications, not for electric vehicles. At this time, it is not thought that Nissan is using the technology in new electric vehicles—it is not known why.


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