Toshiba Plans Big Production Jump for Fast Charging Battery

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Toshiba is planning a big increase in production of a new type of Lithium Ion battery that can charge to 90 percent of its capacity in a few minutes and is highly-resistant to short circuits.

The Super Charge Ion Battery (SCIB) is a Lithium Ion battery based on proprietary technology developed by the company and is targeted at both industrial and electric vehicle applications and consumer laptop computer use.

Production of the battery, which has been in development for several years, has already begun for the industrial market at the relatively low volume of 150,000 cells per month.

Toshiba will increase that to several tens of millions of cells per month at a new factory it plans to build in Kashiwazaki in Niigata prefecture in north west Japan, it said Wednesday. Construction of the factory will begin in late 2009 and production is scheduled to begin a year later, said Hiroko Mochida, a Toshiba spokeswoman.

Initial production at the factory, which represents an investment of several tens of billions of yen (several hundred million US dollars), will likely be aimed at the industrial and electric vehicle markets although the same lines will be able to make SCIBs for laptop computers, she said.

At September's Ceatec show in Japan Toshiba demonstrated a laptop running on an SCIB. The battery will keep its performance through up to 6,000 recharges -- more than ten times that of typical Lithium Ion batteries -- meaning a laptop should be able to run its lifetime on the SCIB without need to replace the battery. Due to its design it is also much less likely to catch fire or short circuit if crushed or damaged.

Each SCIB cell offers a nominal voltage of 2.4 volts and a capacity of 4.2 ampere hours. Ten of them are typical combined to make a battery for industrial use and less would be required for a laptop battery.

Kashiwazaki along with the neighboring city of Kariwa is perhaps best known as site of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant, which is the largest nuclear power plant in the world by output. The plant is currently idle after a magnitude 6.6 earthquake took it off line in July 2007.

Toshiba said it chose Kashiwazaki because of the city's promotion of plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles and associated businesses. As part of that promotion Toshiba will receive certain subsidies from the city.

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