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MHI to build Li-ion battery verification plant

Posted: 28 Aug 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:battery verification plant? Li-ion battery? Japan facility?

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd (MHI) plans to build a commercial production verification plant in Nagasaki Prefecture, marking the company's full-scale entry into the Li-ion secondary battery market.

The plant, scheduled for launch in Q3 10, will be built within the company's Nagasaki Shipyard & Machinery Works. It will have a production capacity of 66MW-hrs of batteries a year, equivalent to 400,000 medium-sized cells. The batteries were developed over 20 years in a joint research and development project with Kyushu Electric Power Co. Inc.

MHI has been supplying the batteries for sample use, and has now opted to place them on the market. The company will promote the Li-ion secondary batteries through a companywide initiative, starting with the incorporation of the batteries into its various products, including forklift trucks and wind turbine power generation systems. MHI will also launch a new joint lithium battery operations department.

The battery research effort between MHI and Kyushu began in 1988 and has developed compact batteries capable of supplying substantial power over long periods. Those batteries are a medium-size cell with energy capacity of 165W-hr, mainly used in vehicles, and a large-size stationary-use battery cell with 350W-hr.

The commercial production verification plant will use technologies from MHI's diversified business areas, including technologies related to slurry preparation, coating, and mass-production management knowhow from turbocharger production. The plant will serve to verify and improve factors essential for commercial production, such as verification of operation rates, tact time, battery performance and cost target. MHI's Li-ion secondary battery business plan calls for the construction of another full-scale commercial plant once all-out entry into the business is decided. The company will make its decision in 2011 taking the market situation, future prospects, and verification results into account.

The new Joint Lithium Battery Operations Department will encompass staff members from the Power Systems Headquarters and the General Machinery & Special Vehicle Headquarters and will be charged with integrally advancing product planning and commercialization. Technical Headquarters, the Production System Innovation Planning Department and the Sustainability Energy & Environment Strategic Planning Department will also provide support.

Besides producing the new batteries, MHI aims to enhance their value by incorporating them into the company's final products and systems. Specifically, for vehicle applications, MHI will mount the batteries on its newly developing hybrid forklift trucks. The company also plans to provide its Li-ion secondary batteries to affiliated companies and to supply them to other companies for installation in their products as a power train. For stationary use, MHI will incorporate the batteries as electric power storage units enabling stabilization of electricity supply from renewable energy grid systems, such as wind power and photovoltaic power generation. It also will consider, together with Kyushu Electric Power, applications in the emergency power source systems of the electricity providers, as well as an environmental-friendly independent power source at work site and a power source for micro electricity grids on remote islands.

Demand for Li-ion secondary batteries, which boast superior power storage capability, is expected to increase sharply from 2010 in tandem with further strengthening of environmental regulations. Domestic battery manufacturers will increase their production, expecting demands largely coming from applications in hybrid cars and electric vehicles initially. MHI, as a comprehensive manufacturer of energy-related machinery, looks to further contribute to the establishment of an energy-saving society by focusing on electric power storage, particularly for industrial applications, in addition to further enhancing its existing systems in areas such as high-efficiency power generation and renewable energy utilization.

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