Taiwan will invest more in lithium battery technology

Lin Chuan-nung, deputy director general of the MOEA’s Department of Industrial Technology (DOIT), said that over the years the ministry has invested a total of NT$120 million (US$3.75) annually to develop Li-ion battery technology that has strong safety features. "This year we will allocate NT$160 million and will invest more next year," Lin said.

Taiwan hopes to become a testing ground for electric vehicles developed globally and to tap into a China project called "1,000 electrics cars in 10 cities," he added.

According to the DOIT, global sales of electric cars will grow by 7.29 million in 2018, and 85.9 percent of them, or 6.26 million cars, will use li-ion batteries for power.

It is expected that by 2015 Taiwan alone will have 3,000 electric vehicles and the trade value of Li-ion batteries could be as high as US$3.6 million, Lin said.

In the future, "Taiwan’s will target China as the main market for its electric cars, " Lin said, adding that this will spur both sides of the Taiwan Strait to develop a standardization formula for Li-ion batteries. He pointed out that the Li-ion battery accounts for one third of an electric car’s production costs.

"Anyone who can develop a battery that is safe, cheap and long-lasting will have a strong competitive edge in the world electric car market," Lin said. He stressed that presently, the problem with electric cars is that they have short battery life, long recharge time and they can’t go very far.

In the future, electric cars should be able to travel at least 200 km or even 300km-500 km, their batteries should last more than 10 years and the cars should be affordable to the general public, he said.

With this in mind, the MOEA is investing in the Industrial Technology Research Institute’s (ITRI’s) research and development of key technology for safe Li-ion batteries.

The ITRI last year developed STOBA (self-terminated technology oligomers with hyper-branched architecture), a material that enhances the safety of lithium batteries.

By integrating a nano-grade polymer, which forms a protective film much like a nano-grade fuse, a locking effect is generated when the battery encounters excessive heat, external impact or piercing, and electrical and chemical action is interrupted, thus preventing explosions, Lin explained.

Lin said that the ITRI will collaborate with Molicel and Amita Technologies, two leading Taiwan manufacturers of lithium batteries, to mass produce batteries and tap into the electric car market.