Noble-Winning Battery Pioneer Akira Yoshino on Tesla, Apple, and the Electric Future

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Akira Yoshino, co-winner of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on lithium-ion batteries, can take credit for the turmoil in both the automotive and technology industries.

lithium ion batteries Fossil fuels for transportation in over a century and provided the first serious competition for combustion engines. Now an Honorary Fellow at the Japanese chemical firm Asahi Kasei, where he has worked for nearly 50 years, Yoshino sees more disruption ahead as transportation and digital technology becomes an industry, sharing lithium battery technology.

Yoshino spoke with Reuters about the next generation of electric vehicle batteries, the potential for shared autonomous electric vehicles that can charge themselves, the potential and potential of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Apple The future of mobility could lead to the convergence of the automotive and information technology industries.

Here is an edited transcript:

Reuters: What technological innovations – in design, in chemistry and materials, even in processes – could keep lithium ion as the dominant EV battery chemistry and for how long?

Yoshino: There are two key areas of innovation that will be prominent. There will be a new cathode material and anode material. The second would be the system where EVs are used. In other words, how people will be using the EVs, and how they charge and discharge them.

Reuters: Are you talking about people using electric vehicles in different ways? i.e., not owning vehicles, but pay per use, for example, through ride sharing?

Yoshino: Yes, I think sharing has the greatest potential. If autonomous electric vehicles can become practical, it will make a huge difference in the way people use vehicles.

Reuters: When will wireless charging of electric vehicle batteries become a reality, whether through the roadbed or the solar panels on the vehicle, or by any other means?

Yoshino: Basic technology isn’t a problem for wireless charging. The problem is how to implement it in a practical system. There are two possibilities. There is a car that is parked in a fixed place where wireless charging is available. The second is when the car is moving. This probably won’t happen on every road, but on some roads where it is available, it may be possible.

If you think about autonomous electric vehicles, the vehicles will know when to charge and go to the charging station on their own. That kind of situation may be practical sooner than you think.

Reuters: Toyota And Honda A small number of fuel cell electric vehicles are sold, but the hydrogen infrastructure to support the fuel cells seems like it is several years away.

Yoshino: With a fuel cell vehicle, there are challenges on technology and cost, but you can overcome them. If you think about the long term, 2030 to 2050, autonomous shared vehicles are going to come. Hypothetically, an autonomous vehicle may be propelled by a gasoline engine, it may be electric, it may be a fuel cell. It doesn’t matter what the power source is. But it needs to somehow replenish its energy. If the vehicle cannot do this automatically without human intervention, the system is kind of meaningless. The same would be true for gasoline or hydrogen.

In that sense, an electric vehicle is one that can convert its energy automatically. if you think about Roomba Vacuum cleaner, it goes around the room and it goes and recharges itself. If a Roomba requires a person to come over and “fill the tank,” no one will want to buy a Roomba.

Reuters: What else should we know about the future of mobility?

Yoshino: Right now the auto industry is thinking about how to invest in the future of mobility. At the same time, the IT industry is also thinking about the future of mobility. Somewhere along the way, along with the auto industry and the IT industry, there is going to be some kind of convergence for the future of mobility.

Tesla They have their own independent strategy. one to see Apple. what will they do? I think they may announce something soon. And what kind of car will they announce? what kind of battery? They probably want to arrive around 2025. If they do, I guess they’ll have to announce something by the end of this year. This is just my own personal opinion.

© Thomson Reuters 2021

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