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Will Magnesium Batteries replace Lithium Ion?

Commodities / Metals & Mining Feb 04, 2011 - 03:35 AM GMT

By: Anthony_David

Commodities

As part of the global automakers’ efforts to improve ways of powering electric cars, Toyota Motor Corporation announced earlier this month that it is developing a magnesium based battery capable of storing double the energy stored by lithium ion cells. That would translate to a higher mileage on a single charge.


The need to move beyond lithium ion cells is best explained by engineer Jeffrey Makarewicz who manages Toyota’s US project. He said, “Going from nickel-metal hydride to lithium ion, you essentially double the energy capacity. Lithium ion theoretically, under ideal conditions, has a capacity of about 2,000 kWh. That’s still not enough to really make a very competitive battery that’s necessary for future plug-in, electric and hybrid-electric vehicles.”

Work on the magnesium-sulfur battery is primarily being carried out at Toyota’s technical center at Ann Arbor in Michigan. Makarewicz said that Toyota’s units at Torrance in California and in Japan are also exploring the potential of aluminum, calcium, lithium air and metal air batteries. He added that vehicles capable of functioning with alternative materials such as magnesium are expected to be ready by about 2020 at the earliest.

However, before popping the bubbly, it is important to remember that the research is still at very early stages. Further, Masaki Matsui, Toyota’s lead scientist on the project, has not revealed anything other than the fact that the battery’s carrier ion is magnesium. Consequently, the exact magnesium compound being researched is not known to anyone outside Toyota.

Experts do accept the fact that an electric car that can run over 500 highway miles on a single charge is still far from being a reality and auto makers would have to move beyond lithium ion to achieve that. However, since almost all the advanced battery research is still based on lithium, moving away from lithium ion does not necessarily mean moving away from lithium. It just implies a different lithium based technology.

Critics of Toyota point out that Toyota bemoaning the limitations of lithium ion cells reeks of sour grapes. The company made the announcement about the magnesium based technology almost immediately after other auto majors such as GM Motors, Nissan Motor Company and Ford Motor Company made announcements about their lithium ion battery developments during the Detroit Auto Show. In comparison, Toyota’s lithium-ion-powered EV is still considered to be a little behind the times and to make an announcement about a technology that is still 9 years away from being realized seems a tad far-fetched. In addition, since Toyota has already established an extensive supply-chain for lithium ion batteries, the company’s criticism of the technology is rather surprising.

So will magnesium be the new wonder element? It is still too early to tell and the auto world still has almost a decade to find out. The rush to find the most sustainable technology for plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles is not a new one and Toyota, among others, has long been on the quest for the best technology for its hybrid vehicles.

By Anthony David

http://www.criticalstrategicmetals.com

The mission of the Critical Strategic Metals Web Site

is to serve as a monthly compass for those who take a fundamental view of investment regarding the Molybdenum, Manganese and Magnesium metals markets, are concerned with the emerging critical under-supply of these strategic metals to Western nations and wish to profitability chart their course. Each month we will research and provide, in as short and concise a manner as possible, the most applicable information available on resources that will have the biggest impact on our day to day lives. Click here to sign-up for our FREE monthly report

© 2011 Copyright  Anthony David- All Rights Reserved Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.


© 2005-2019 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


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