Power Japan Plus introduces dual-carbon batteries to replace lithium-ion

Power Japan Plus, a Japanese battery technology start-up, revealed a new carbon-based battery as a replacement for lithium-ion technology. The new battery, trademarked Ryden, offers comparable energy densities to Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries but with longer lifetimes, vastly improved safety and is more sustainable. The battery will initially be used for medical and satellite applications.

Li-ion batteries, which are made using a carbon-based anode and a lithium-based cathode, currently dominate the rechargeable battery market (over 35% market share) thanks to their useful energy density and falling costs. However, they also have a number of disadvantages.

The Lithium-based chemistry used in such batteries causes their charge-holding capacity to decrease with use (thereby reducing their useful life). And although most Li-ion batteries are carefully engineered to minimise safety risks, the Lithium chemistry used to make the batteries is inherently combustible and can be a safety hazard in extreme situations. Finally, recycling lithium at the end of life is cost-intensive, as is the procurement of raw Lithium – a rare-earth metal – which is relatively expensive and is only mined in certain parts of the world.

By managing to use relatively-abundant carbon in both the cathode and the anode (hence the name ‘dual-carbon’), Power Japan Plus claims to avoid the safety and sustainability issues associated with Li-ion technology. Further, the company claims its batteries have improved lifetimes (3,000 cycles as opposed to 500 cycles for Li-ion) as well as faster charging time (up to 20 times faster than Li-ion). The battery can also be more easily manufactured and recycled as it is predominantly made of carbon. See the video below for more details:

Power Japan Plus is, in fact, developing an advanced carbon-based material (named ‘Carbon Complex’), which they claim is the world’s first and only organic carbon material made from naturally grown cotton. If this material finds its way into PJP’s dual-carbon batteries, it could set a totally new bar for environmental sustainability in the battery industry.

While the benefits are clear, the company is yet to reveal the price of the batteries, which must match fast decreasing lithium-ion battery prices in order to be truly competitive. However, the company claims dual-carbon battery manufacturing involves a shorter supply chain and is less capital-intensive as manufacturing can be done on existing battery production lines and involves no rare or expensive materials.

Although the company leadership is relatively new to the battery space, the hiring of Japanese battery expert Kaname Takeya (who developed the cathode technology currently being used by Tesla and Toyota in their electric/hybrid vehicle batteries) as CTO is a positive sign.

The company is hoping to launch batteries for medical and satellite industries first, where its safety advantages give it an edge over Li-ion. However, PJP is also trialling batteries for go-karts and hopes to move into the electric vehicle space in the future.

If this trajectory continues, it may not be long before carbon batteries join the growing list of potential technologies for grid-storage applications.

Top Image Credit: Power Japan Plus

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Nitin Nampalli