New Hitachi tech to double lithium-ion battery life

Lithium-ion batteries are everywhere, powering small gadgets, cars or even buildings. It’s not a surprise to see a number of companies currently working on improvements. Just a few weeks ago, we reported about Japan-based Eamex, which claimed their prototype battery can be charged and discharged over 10,000 times and can be used for about 20 years.

And now Hitachi is claiming a new material they developed could double the life span of lithium ion batteries. The company has partnered up with Shin-Kobe Electric Machinery, saying batteries based on the material could be used in smart grid applications (Hitachi says that segment alone will be worth $32 billion by 2020).

The battery’s positive electrode will not use expensive cobalt, but manganese, which is much cheaper. Hitachi claims the “secret sauce” of the new battery is a metal additive, which will boost its life span to 10 years, double that of existing manganese lithium-ion batteries.

The company announced it’s expecting to have the new battery and peripheral equipment ready as early as fiscal 2010, which, under the Japanese calendar, will end at the end of March 2011. Hitachi also says the battery can not only be used in smart grid applications but also might find its way into construction machinery and hybrid vehicles in the future (pictured above is a Hitachi-made lithium-ion battery for those vehicles announced last year).

Via The Nikkei [registration required, paid subscription]