Japan's Agency for Natural Resources and Energy has begun funding a field test of electric vehicles (EVs) with replaceable batteries. The test consists of three EVs, each one used as a taxi, which can putter into a battery replacement station built in Tokyo and have its battery replaced in about 60 seconds.
"It is much faster than charging a battery," Better Place Japan said. "So, it will drastically improve the convenience of electric vehicles."
All three taxis are stationed in Roppongi Hills in Tokyo and are operated by Nihon Kotsu Co Ltd. Powering the taxis are rechargeable lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries made by A123 systems, each with a capacity of 17kWh. According to Better Place Japan, the batteries have enough juice in them for taxis to run about 70km to 80km (about 43.5 miles to 49.7 miles).
"The convenience of battery-replaceable EVs is very high," said Ichiro Fukue, vice president of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, which is cooperating with Better Place Japan in the development of a battery replacement system. "If it is recognized by the public, they are highly likely to become common."
From wireless controllers to tail-less mice, it's a good bet you own a set of rechargeable batteries, but even these are good for only so many uses before they no longer hold a charge. Sanyo's "eneloop" brand, which was first announced in late 2005, has won a following thanks to the batteries coming pre-charged from the get-go and offering up to 1,000 recharges before giving up the ghost, and the newest batch performs even better.
According to Sanyo, a breakthrough in battery technology now allows its eneloop brand to be recharged up to 1,500 times, a 50 percent improvement over the original design.
"Incorporating new technologies for 'material,' 'manufacturing methods,' and 'structure' developed through the knowledge gained since the first release of eneloop in November 2005, the number of times a battery can be recharged has been increased by 1.5 times to approximately 1,500 times compared to conventional models, which makes the total number of times it is able to be recharged the industry No. 1," Sanyo stated in a press release.
The technologies involved include the development of a "highly-durable super-lattice alloy," an advanced manufacturing method consisting of a new additive being added to the negative electrode material, and the continued use of a thick, outer case.