Asahi Kasei and Central Glass join IBM Battery 500 Project

April 23, 2012
Comparative battery power densities

Asahi Kasei and Central Glass have joined IBM’s Battery 500 Project team and will collaborate on research to accelerate the switch from hydrocarbon fuels to electricity as the primary power source for vehicles.

Since 2009 IBM Research has been pursuing the project to develop lithium-air battery technology capable of powering a family-sized electric car for approximately 500 miles (800 km) on a single charge.

Asahi Kasei and Central Glass bring decades of materials innovation for the automotive industry to the project team. They will expand the project's scope and, although the scientific and engineering challenges to its practical implementation are extremely high, exploring several chemistries simultaneously increases the chance of success.

Asahi Kasei, one of Japan's leading chemical manufactures and a leading global supplier of separator membrane for lithium-ion batteries, will use its experience in innovative membrane technology to create a critical component for lithium-air batteries.

Central Glass, a leading global electrolyte manufacturer for lithium-ion batteries, will use its chemical expertise in this field to create a new class of electrolytes and high-performance additives specifically designed to improve lithium-air batteries.

For a car running on today's lithium-ion batteries to match the range provided by a tank of gasoline, car manufacturers would need a very large battery that would weigh down the vehicle and take up too much space.

Lithium-air batteries have higher energy density than lithium-ion batteries, due to their lighter cathodes and the fact that their primary "fuel" is the oxygen readily available in the atmosphere.

To popularize electric cars, an energy density ten times greater than that of conventional lithium-ion batteries is needed, and these new partners to the project can help drive lithium-air technology towards that goal.