Toshiba Signs Deal With Brazilian Miner to Acquire Rare Battery Metal That Extends the Range of Electric Vehicles

published: 2018-06-27 16:51 | editor: | category: News

Toshiba Infrastructure Systems & Solutions Corp. (TISS), which is under the parent company Toshiba Corp., announced on 19 June via a press release that it has signed a joint agreement with Sojitz Corp. and Companhia Brasileira de Metalurgia e Mineração (CBMM) to develop advanced anode material for lithium-ion batteries that will be used in electric vehicles (EVs). This anode material is based on Niobium Titanium Oxide (NTO) and can significantly raise the battery’s energy density as well as speeding up the charging process.

For many years, Toshiba has been working on lithium-ion batteries that feature anode with Lithium Titanium Oxide (LTO). The company officially launched this type of battery products, trademarked Super Charge Ion Battery (SCiB), in 2008. Later in 2017, Toshiba unveiled the next generation SCiB that replaced LTO with NTO as the anode in order to further increase the energy density of the battery. The storage capacity of a lithium-ion battery that uses the NTO-based anode is twice that of the same-size counterpart that uses the conventional graphite-based anode. Toshiba plans to begin mass production of its next-generation SCiB in 2020.

Brazil’s CBMM is the world’s leading producer of the rare metal niobium, and Japan’s Sojitz is one of its shareholders. As a major trading company, Sojitz is also the distributing agent for CBMM in the Japanese market. By signing this joint agreement, Toshiba hopes to acquire niobium at a lower cost so that the company can devise energy storage solutions that achieve high performances and are priced competitively.

The Japanese newspaper Sankei Shimbun, which reported on this event, stated that Toshiba’s current goal is to triple the driving range of its current battery products that power EVs while not changing their dimensions and weight.

The Sankei Shimbun also stated that Toshiba, together CBMM and Sojitz, will develop technologies that can expand the storage capacity of existing EV batteries by at least 50%. The expectation is that future EVs will have a range of around 320 kilometers with a six-minute charge. The newspaper further noted that Toshiba’s batteries are now used in many Japanese EV models, such as i-MiEV from Mitsubishi Motors Corp. and those from Suzuki Motor Corp. Last year, Toshiba jointly invested in a battery production facility in India with Suzuki and DENSO Corp. For building this plant, the three companies plan to commit around JPY 20 billion.

According to the stock screener of Yahoo! Finance, the value of Toshiba shares went up by 1.20% to JPY 336 on 20 June (as of 9:58 am Taipei Time). This gain ran counter to the 0.23% drop in the average of the Second Section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange at the same time.

 (Credit of the photo at the top of the article goes to Toshiba Corp.)

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