Honda set to bring magnesium powered batteries to market

POSTED BY Nigel Andretti ON 11 October 2016

THE Nikkei, citing unnamed sources, reports that R&D organization Saitec (Saitama Industrial Technology Centre) and Honda Motor have developed a practical magnesium-ion rechargeable battery and hope to commercialise it.

Saitec reportedly led the development; Honda R&D assessed the technology’s viability. The two are slated to announce the battery next month.

The new power pack could be a game-changer — smartphones and other devices would be able to hold a charge for longer. And for gadget-makers, magnesium costs 96% less than lithium, which most of today’s batteries are made of.

The magnesium battery developers hope to start selling their alternative by 2018, the sources said.

Because magnesium is divalent, it can displace double the charge per ion (i.e., Mg2+ rather than Li+).

As an element, magnesium is much more abundant than lithium, and more stable. Magnesium-ion batteries theoretically could offer good electrochemical performance, while being safer and less expensive than Li-ion batteries.

Toyota has been looking into Mg-ion systems for a number of years (earlier post). However, Mg-ion batteries have suffered from a number of limitations, resulting in rapid degradation of performance.

According to the report, the developers use vanadium oxide in the cathode, making it easier for ions to move between it and the magnesium-based anode. The vanadium oxide allows for more charges without deterioration, the sources said. For safety, the team added an organic substance that lowers the risk of magnesium catching fire.

According to the Nikkei’s source, the prototype magnesium-ion battery performs as well as a Li-ion counterpart in terms of life and safety. The developers are now working with a number of battery makers to come up with a way to mass produce the battery.

According to the Nikkei, the developers expect to first commercialize the technology in smartphones and other portable devices.