Hideaki Horie invents new All Polymer Battery(APB) that is 90% cheaper than the current lithium-ion(Li-Ion) batteries
Ex-Nissan innovator, Hideaki Horie has invented a new All Polymer Battery that he claims will be 90 percent cheaper than the current lithium-ion batteries. Horie quit Nissan Motor Co. and founded Tokyo-based APB Corp. in 2018 to make “all-polymer batteries.” After two years of research, Horie has announced that his All Polymer Batteries are ready and will be much cheaper.
Horie plans to take his APB batteries mainstream like steel production. “The problem with making lithium batteries now is that it’s device manufacturing, like semiconductors,” Horie said in an interview. “Our goal is to make it more like steel production.”
He says that only a handful of companies can afford manufacturing li-ion batteries because they require “cleanroom” conditions — with airlocks to control moisture, constant air filtering, and exacting precision to prevent contamination of highly reactive materials. The setup can be so expensive that just a handful of top players, like South Korea’s LG Chem Ltd., China’s CATL, and Japan’s Panasonic Corp., are capable of investing such huge amounts.
Horie’s new APB battery takes that all away because he has replaced the most basic Li-ion battery component, its metal-lined electrodes, and liquid electrolytes. APB batteries will instead have a resin construction. Because of this, the cleanroom environment is no longer required. It also makes the battery manufacturing process simple and fast, making it as easy as “buttering toast.”
The modification allows for 10-meter-long battery sheets to be stacked on top of each other “like seat cushions” to increase capacity, he said. Importantly, the resin-based batteries are also resistant to catching fire when punctured. One of the risks associated with Li-Ion batteries is a fire risk. Li-ion batteries have been the cause of fires in everything from Tesla Inc.’s cars to Boeing Co.’s Dreamliner jets and Samsung Electronics Co.’s smartphones. APB due to its all resin construction reduces such fire risks to zero.
“Just from the standpoint of physics, the lithium-ion battery is the best heater humanity has ever created,” Horie said. In a traditional battery, a puncture can create a surge measuring hundreds of amperes — several times the current of electricity delivered to an average home. Temperatures can then shoot up to 700 degrees Celsius. APB’s battery avoids such cataclysmic conditions by using a bipolar design. The APB removes such surge with its all resin design which makes it easier for it to absorb heat.
In March, APB raised ¥8 billion ($74 million), which is tiny by the wider industry’s standards but will be enough to fully equip one factory for mass production slated to start next year. Horie estimates the funds will get his plant in central Japan to 1 gigawatt-hour capacity by 2023.
However, Horie’s APB is not without detractors. Menahem Anderman, president of California-based Total Battery Consulting Inc. says that polymer batteries are not good conductors as metal and success will be limited. He also added that in the APB’s bipolar design, cells are connected back-to-back in a series, making it difficult to control each one individually.
“Lithium-ion with liquid electrolyte will remain the main application for another 15 years or more. It’s not perfect and it isn’t cheap, but beyond lithium-ion is a better lithium-ion,” says Anderman.
Horie is not stopping at anything. APB has signed up with a large Japanese company for APB says, Horie. “This will be the proof that our batteries can be mass-produced,” Horie said. “Battery makers have become assemblers. We are putting chemistry back into the lead role.”