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Evolution Of Battery Technology & Manufacturing — Panasonic Video

Panasonic shared a video earlier this year that documents its evolution in battery technology and manufacturing. Hosted by Shoichiro Watanabe, Head of Energy Technology and Manufacturing, the video covers Panasonic’s contribution to the battery industry and the evolution of battery technology and manufacturing. Diving in, Watanabe started with Panasonic’s history.

Panasonic’s Contribution To The Battery Industry

Panasonic has 90 years of experience in battery manufacturing. In 1931, Panasonic first introduced the dry battery 165B. Watanabe quickly went through the history of Panasonic’s batteries all the way to the 2010s. In 1964, the company started producing SANYO “Cadnica” nickel-cadmium batteries. SANYO became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Panasonic in 2011.

In 1994, Panasonic started making lithium-ion rechargeable batteries and SANYO began the sales of its residential solar power system. SANYO also started the production of its cylindrical-type lithium-ion batteries.

In 1996, Panasonic began developing and producing its nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) battery, which is a type of rechargeable battery that is similar to the nickel-cadmium cell. This particular battery was produced for the automotive industry. In 1997, the cumulative production of these batteries at the Hamanako Factory surpassed 100 million. Panasonic noted that in a joint development with Toyota the company developed the battery pack for hybrid EVs and mass production soon followed.

Evolution Of Lithium-Ion Batteries

In this part of the presentation, Watanabe explained the evolution of the lithium-ion battery, with key technologies introduced by Panasonic and SANYO. He shared a graph with a horizontal axis that showed the progress from 1993 through 2018. This showed the volumetric density of the 1865 cylindrical type cells. From 1993, Panasonic has vastly improved its energy density capacity — currently over three times the first-generation batteries’ energy density. It was a gradual process and Watanabe noted that there were improvements in capacity every year.

Current Battery-Related Trends

Watanabe pointed out the importance of the battery as a key component of both the environment and the economy. For the environment, batteries help address global warming concerns. For the economy, batteries help sustain the shift toward eco-friendly cars.

Panasonic’s Contribution To CO2 Reduction

In this graph, Watanabe shared a visual of how Panasonic has contributed to the reduction of CO2 emissions. The graph covers the time period between 1993 and 2018.

“From 1996, we started with the nickel-metal hydride for HEVs’ batteries. In 2006, we started the cylindrical lithium-ion batteries for Tesla.”

Watanabe explained how battery electric vehicles contributed to CO2 reduction and shared photos from its high-speed production line at Tesla’s Giga Nevada. He pointed out that this was a really big change for Panasonic (a good kind of change).

In 2014, Tesla and Panasonic partnered to invest in a battery factory, with Panasonic agreeing to lead the battery cell production portion of the manufacturing.

World’s Best Automotive Battery Cell

“UBS tested seven electric battery cells, and in a December 2020 investor report identified Panasonic as the best battery suppliers.”

Watanabe explained that the company’s strength lies in the early introduction of cutting-edge technology. Another one of these strengths is its massive scale of manufacturing.

Evolution Of Battery Technology & Manufacturing

Watanabe explained the evolution of lithium-ion battery capacity — both material and design. Panasonic started with the 1865 cell in 2010, and since then, battery capacity has vastly improved to the 4th generation of the 1865 cell. In 2017, Panasonic started developing and producing the 2170 battery cells for Tesla, improving the energy density by 5% while reducing its cobalt content.

Watanabe explained that Panasonic wants to increase the battery capacity for the 2170 cells by 20%.

Cobalt-Free Cathodes

In 2020, TechCrunch noted that Panasonic wouldn’t disclose how much cobalt they used in the batteries but that the total amount used in its cylindrical automotive batteries was less than 2% of global demand. The article also noted that Panasonic is working on the goal of having zero cobalt in its battery cells. Watanabe said that the current amount of cobalt Panasonic’s using in its 2170 battery cells is under 5%.

Watanabe also spoke of other topics, such as Panasonic’s cathodes, the evolution of its anode materials, and its current research and development status. Regarding the latter, he explained the cycle performance of the cobalt-free cathodes (Co-free). He explained that the cobalt-free batteries’ cycle life achieved the same level as Panasonic’s nickel-cobalt-aluminum (NCA) battery cells’ cycle life.

You can watch the full video here.

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Written By

Johnna owns less than one share of $TSLA currently and supports Tesla's mission. She also gardens, collects interesting minerals and can be found on TikTok


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