Battery makers must rethink their technology if predictions for a wave of self-driving vehicles pan out, according to one of the inventors of the lithium-ion battery.
In addition to focusing on making batteries more powerful to extend the driving range of single-owner cars, manufacturers will also need to develop devices that can withstand the rigors of near-constant driving and short-range trips from the shared use expected of autonomous vehicles, said Akira Yoshino, who invented a prototype of the lithium-ion battery in 1985.
“A car shared by 10 people means it will be running 10 times more,” Yoshino, an honorary fellow at Asahi Kasei Corp., the world’s biggest maker of separators used in batteries, said in an interview at the company headquarters in Tokyo. “Durability will become very important.”
While producers should still focus on improving energy density and lowering costs, they will also need to create batteries using materials that can better withstand constant expansion and contraction, Yoshino said.
The task becomes easier if there’s less need to simultaneously boost energy density, which is the biggest factor for driving range, he said. Lithium titanate, for example, can be used in the anode of the battery, where carbon is used commonly now.
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