Use of automobiles accounts for 16% of total CO2 emissions both globally and domestically. The movement toward the use of electric vehicles to stem global warming is accelerating worldwide, and the spread of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid vehicles is rapidly expanding in Europe and China. Efforts to support the development of fuel-cell trucks and buses are also increasing in many countries. To maintain and strengthen competitiveness in the automotive industry, the main pillar of Japan's economy, it is essential to accelerate initiatives toward electrification.
The challenges to be addressed toward the widespread use of electrified vehicles include expanding social acceptance through vehicle price reductions and infrastructure development such as electrified vehicle charging infrastructure and hydrogen stations. Another challenge will be to strengthen electrified vehicle-related technologies, supply chains, and value chains, including storage batteries, fuel cells, and motors. It is especially important to develop small lightweight storage batteries and motors for light and commercial vehicles which face restrictions in terms of vehicle body design and whose pricing is an important issue for consumers. In addition to developing highly efficient motors, another important issue, from the perspective of reducing life cycle CO2 emissions of a car, is the reduction of CO2 emissions during the manufacture and disposal of storage batteries and motors. In addition, since significant amounts of natural resources, such as lithium, nickel, cobalt, graphite, neodymium, and dysprosium, are used for producing storage batteries and motors, materials with lower supply chain risks must be developed to overcome constraints on resource availability, and issues related to recycling must also be addressed.
The aim of this project, therefore, is to address the following technological issues: 1. Improving the performance and affordability of storage batteries and motor systems, 2. Improving performance and promoting resource saving at the level of materials, and 3. Commercializing advanced recycling technologies. The aim of this project is also to strengthen the industrial competitiveness of storage batteries and motors along with developing basic technologies to support electrified vehicles in the future and strengthen supply and value chains.
Research and development of high-performance storage batteries and materials
Under this project, R&D will be carried out in the following areas: 1. High-performance storage batteries and their materials, including high-capacity storage batteries (e.g., solid-state batteries) with an energy density capable of more than doubling the current driving range (at least 700-800 Wh/L), 2. Resource-conserving materials that can reduce the usage of cobalt, graphite, and others and 3. Low-carbon manufacturing processes for materials.
Development of technology for storage battery recycling
Technologies will be developed under this project to recover 70% of the lithium, 95% of the nickel, and 95% of the cobalt used in lithium-ion batteries. Such technology will facilitate recovery of these materials at competitive costs with a level of quality that enables them to be reused in storage batteries.
Development of high-efficiency and high-power-density technologies for mobility-related motor systems
Under this project, automotive motor systems will be developed that incorporate innovative technologies for materials, motor structures, inverters, and cooling systems to improve their efficiency (system average efficiency of 85%), compactness, weight-saving properties, and power (system output density 3.0 kW/kg).