LiB (Lithium Ion Battery) today this term echoes all around the world in many industries. For electric vehicles the Lithium Ion Batteries and recent developments have brought a renaissance in Automotive Industry. But where and when did the term Lithium Ion Battery become a mainstream terminology. Sony and Asahi Group have the credit for making Lithium Batteries a Household name as worlds First Commercialized Lithium Ion Battery (LiB) in 1991. These batteries were first used in Sony CCD-TR1 8 mm camcorder followed by Mobile Phones. After that competing battery manufacturers like Panasonic, Sanyo started also manufacturing LiB Batteries commercially. And thereafter rest is history as we see the amazing LiB Batteries now powering Electric Vehicles.
History of Sony and Lithium ion Batteries first commercialization 1991
We have to go back all the way to Feb 1975, Sony Everready was Founded in 1975 as a joint venture between US based Union Carbide Corp and Sony. One Big Name in all this history is Keizaburo Tozawa. He was instrumental in the creation of the join venture and went on to became the Chairman of Sony-Everready in Jan 1984. One particular fact that caught my eye was like many of us he was a completely new to subject of Batteries. But like many he did a due diligent studying to become expert in the field of batteries.
Sony’s aim was to create a rechargeable battery. Union carbide engineers although have credit as they had once noted “Lithium is a promising material for batteries”. Metallic Lithium when in contact with water can lead to explosion. Thus at that time only used in small button shaped batteries and were classified as hazardous product. Sony wanted to progress on Lithium Ion batteries but Union Carbide its join venture partner kept this from moving forward faster.
In Dec 1984, Union Carbide’s plant in Bhopal, India exploded leading to a horrific chemical accident. Link to the accident details. Cascading effect of this Union Carbide was forced to sell all its consumer goods businesses including batteries. Tozawa learned about this from a telegram just after new years speech to the employees in 1986.
Sony purchased Union carbide’s shares of Sony-Eveready and finally in March 1986 Sony’s new battery business was established under the new Name – Sony-Energytec.
After going through six projects with different materials/chemistry finally the research teams decided upon a winning chemistry. Special Ionic Lithium Alloy called Lithium cobalt Oxide for Positive cathode and Carbon for anode. The Produce announcement was made in Feb 1990, samples were shipped in 1990 and finally the key year in Lithium Ion Batteries 1991 mass production began at Koriyama plant in Fukushima Prefecture Japan. Tozawa came to be known as Lithium Ion rechargeable battery “Godfather”.
With this Sony produced worlds first commercialized Lithium Ion battery in 1991. The battery was safe from water, longer life due to number of cycles more than 1000 (1.5 times Nickel Cadmium), high energy density, operating voltage three times Nickel Cadmium. A Revolutionary product in the Energy Storage field.
Reference source for above historical Summary
Asahi Group Patents and Great Contributions of Dr. Akira Yoshino
Important aspect above Sony research and development, commercial production was that it was based on Asahi Kasei group patents. One such patent is by A. Yoshino, K. Jitsuchika, T. Nakashima, Japanese Patent 1989293 (issued 1985/5/10). Dr Akira Yoshino greatly contributed to making Lithium Ion Batteries being used for practical purposes. Read about Dr Akira Yoshino’s major awards and recognition here.
The Patents were filled worldwide for LiB by Asahi and Dr Yoshino, Associates. Though I couldn’t find much on the Japanese Patent. I found a similar US patent filled by Asahi. Link for Akira Yoshino, Kenichi Sanechika, Takayuki Nakajima “Secondary Battery” US Patent 4668595A, May 26, 1987. This patent specifically mentions about two things a battery of nonaqueous type using substance indicated in 1 and 2 as active material either for cathode or anode. .
- Composite Oxide possessing a layered structure represented by General Formula: AxMyNzO2
- Where A stands for alkali metal (for example Lithium)
- M is a transition metal (for example Cobalt)
- N is from group of Al, In and Sn.
- x,y,z are numbers in specific range.
- An n-doped carbonaceous material
Cell Specifications for SONY Lithium Ion Batteries 1991 (US 61 Series)
Data taken from a paper written in September 1993 about Cycle Life Testing of Lithium-Ion Batteries for Small Satellite LEO Space missions. Authors: S.T Mayer, J.H Feikert, J.L Kaschmitter. Link to the Paper. The batteries were purchased from SONY mid 1992. Appendix B of the paper contains photocopied specification sheet of US61 SONY lithium Ion Batteries. Format of the batteries is Cylindrical Batteries.
The Cell Chemistry for Sony Lithium Ion Batteries in 1991 was following:
- Cathode: LiCoO2 Lithium Cobalt Dioxide.
- Anode: Carbon
- Electrolyte: Organic Electrolyte composed of LiPF6 in Diethylene Carbonate/Propylene Carbonate blend (DEC/PC).
|Key Features||US – 61 (AA)|
|US – 61|
|Type of Batteries||US – 61 (AA)|
|US – 61|
|Nominal Capacity (mAh)||400||640||860||1080|
|Nominal Voltage (V)||3.6||3.6||3.6||3.6|
For Charging (°C)
|0 to 45||0 to 45||0 to 45||0 to 45|
For Discharging (°C)
|-20 to 60||-20 to 60||-20 to 60||-20 to 60|
|Storage temperature range (°C)|
|Type of Batteries||US – 61 (AA)|
|US – 61|
Designed to meet
Sony Data Sets 20500
Sony Lithium Ion Batteries are the one for the History. The Battery that started the lithium ion battery revolution. Rechargeable batteries with greater energy density than Lead Acid or Nickel Cadmium Batteries lead to development of many future products and also progress of Humanity. They were used in electronics, automotive, Space everywhere. Thus learning about these batteries and benchmarking them feels awesome. The past always teaches us about the present and the Future. There is more data to fill here and more graphs to do. So we will fill it once we get more data.
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