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Lithium Titanate Batteries the Future of Energy Storage

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Lithium Titanate Battery

Introduction

The lithium ion battery has been an integral part of the IT development in the past couple of decades. It has powered portable devices such as laptops, smartphones, and smart watches to name a few. It has also contributed to electric vehicles as well. In essence, it has been powering all those devices that are deemed near essential in this fast paced world.


That being said, while the lithium ion battery has been a positive influence on the technological landscape, it is not without its flaws. And like with every technology, whenever flaws become prominent, calls for a possible replacement of the existing technology become louder and louder.


These calls for a replacement has been answered by lithium titanate which appears to be the natural successor to the lithium ion battery. This brings us to the fundamental question that what is lithium titanate? Today, not only would we answer that question but we would also shed light on various important aspects of this subject.


We would look at the advantages it holds over lithium ion and what are its key capabilities. We would conclude our discussion by identifying who are currently manufacturing lithium titanate batteries since it is already available in the market and it is important to distinguish lithium titanate batteries on the basis of manufacturers.


What is lithium titanate?
Many would assume that, since lithium titanate has come into the spotlight recently, it is a new invention. The reality is that it has been around since the 1980s. They have had an edge over lithium ion in terms of having a higher cycle count i.e. overall battery life and low temperature discharge i.e. lesser overheating issues.


The reason for its recent prominence is the development of the right materials that made lithium titanate commercially viable. Its viability is evident from the fact that various electric cars from companies like Mitsubishi and Honda are using lithium titanate as their power source. Its current application is not restricted to electric transports as they are being used in wristwatches, scooters and storage systems. Even a prototype lithium titanate battery for laptops has been developed.


The design of lithium titanate builds upon the design of lithium ion. In the new design, lithium titanate nanocrystals are placed on the surface of the anode which expands the surface are to 110 meters square per gram. In the case of carbon, it was only 3 meters square per gram. The consequence of this increase in area per gram is faster charging at higher current levels.


Advantages of lithium titanate
Lithium titanate holds numerous advantages over the lithium ion battery. Some of them are:
• Firstly, it has much longer service lifetime as it can work up to 20,000 recharge cycles while lithium ion only lasts for 800 recharge cycles.
• A common concern regarding lithium ion batteries is their explosiveness. In recent past, there were complaints regarding Samsung phones combusting spontaneously due to battery issues. Lithium titanate aims to rectify that as it has been deemed explosion proof
• It has a higher discharge current along with a higher charging speed.
• It can work in a wide range of temperature ranging from -60 degrees Celsius to 60 degrees Celsius.
• In general, it is more eco-friendly.


Batteries have been neglected for too long and no major development has been made. For instance, in smartphones the solution for better battery life has been to install a larger battery on phones which has made them unwieldy.
Similarly, smartphone companies have been able to refine chargers and the charging mechanisms but they are still limited by the lithium ion battery. With lithium titanate gaining traction in the market, this is all about to change as the battery would finally evolve along with the rest of the technology.

Capability of lithium titanate
In order to highlight the capability of lithium titanate, companies have started practical projects. A large electric bus company named TOSA showed the effectiveness of lithium titanate by charging the batteries of their buses in 15 seconds! This process takes place while the passengers are either getting on or off the bus. The complete report of this project is yet to be released but the early signs are definitely encouraging.


One concern that some have had regarding lithium titanate battery is its lower energy density compared to the older lithium ion. This so far has not impacted the current applications but it is definitely something that one needs to consider moving forward,


Manufacturers of lithium titanate
As it stands, there are 5 companies who are manufacturing lithium titanate batteries at the moment. We would briefly look at them one by one:
• Altairnano – It is company that operates mostly in the electric vehicle sphere. Their line of batteries is known as Nanosafe. Various electric car manufacturers buy batteries from them. These companies then go on to use these batteries in different projects. For e.g. Lightning Car Company, a client of Altairnano, plans to use the battery in its sports car called Lighting GT.
• Seiko – The watch company has always been known for innovation and they have taken the initiative here as well. Their Kinetic watches with automatic quartz are able to remained charged for longer and work more efficiently.
• Triad/GTK – The Triad Company, in collaboration with GTK, have been manufacturing lithium titanate batteries for different industrial customers. They have dealings with electric vehicle companies and the energy sector as well where they are replacing the lithium polymer batteries.
• YABO – The company entered the lithium titanate game in 2012 when they introduced the lithium titanate batteries for energy storage purposes. With their initial success, YABO look to find more customers from different industries and diversify their portfolio.
• Toshiba – In the lithium titanate market, Toshiba can be considered as the strongest player. Recently, it introduced the Super Charge ion battery which is capable of charging from 0% to 90% in under 10 minutes. This opens door for host of other applications in different domains.



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