Nissan Has New Analysis Method To Boost Lithium-Ion Battery Capacity

MAY 29 2016 BY MARK KANE 50



Nissan 60 kWh battery

Nissan 60 kWh battery

Nissan announced that its subsidiary – Nissan Arc together with partners (Tohoku University, National Institute for Materials Science, Japan Synchrotron Radiation Research Institute, and the Japan Science and Technology Agency) have developed a breakthrough atomic analysis methodology that will aid in boosting the performance of lithium-ion batteries.

According to the press release, using these new findings Nissan should be able to use amorphous silicon monoxide (SiO) in lithium-ion battery electrodes, increasing capacity and energy density (which must mean more range right?).

We are not sure whether this finding are already used/shown in the IDS Concept’s 60 kWh battery prototype recently (given what we know, we think not), or its another step ahead for the future; but silicon is probably the way to go.

“The analysis examines the structure of amorphous silicon monoxide (SiO), widely seen as key to boosting next-generation lithium-ion battery (Li-ion) capacity, allowing researchers to better understand electrode structure during charging cycles.

Silicon (Si) is capable of holding greater amounts of lithium, compared with common carbon-based materials, but in crystalline form possesses a structure that deteriorates during charging cycles, ultimately impacting performance. However, amorphous SiO is resistant to such deterioration.

Nissan LEAF

Nissan LEAF

Its base structure had been unknown, making it difficult for mass production. However, the new methodology provides an accurate understanding of the amorphous structure of SiO, based on a combination of structural analyses and computer simulations.

The atomic structure of SiO was thought to be inhomogeneous, making its precise atomic arrangements the subject of debate. The new findings show that its structure allows the storage of a larger number of Li ions, in turn leading to better battery performance.”

“The contents of this release have been published online in the British multidisciplinary science journal, “Nature Communications,” on May 13, 2016.”

Takao Asami, Senior Vice President of Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. and President of Nissan Arc Ltd. said:

“The invention of this new analysis method is essential to further develop the next generation of high-capacity lithium-ion batteries. It will certainly become one of our core technologies. The utilization of this analysis method in our future R&D will surely contribute to extending the cruising range of future zero-emission vehicles,”

Nissan works on 60 kWh battery

Nissan works on 60 kWh battery

Categories: Battery Tech, Nissan


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50 Comments on "Nissan Has New Analysis Method To Boost Lithium-Ion Battery Capacity"

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I love the “high energy density road map”, I can just imagine the manager smacking is fist on the page saying

“this is what we promised, now deliver!”

engineer is sitting there thinking

“we? I’ve never seen this diagram?”

1. Determine need for higher energy density battery.
2. Tell engineers to make higher density battery.
3. ????
4. Profit

Chris: Too true and all too familiar!

I just got a Dilbertian rush when reading your comment.

You are the expert: “Can you draw 7 red perpendicular lines, 1 with transparent ink, 1 with green ink?”

Competitor A liquid cools their pack and competitor B,C and D don’t. If Nissan can get to a passive pack with the performance of a liquid cooled pack then they will have a pretty strong advantage.

Competitor A, B, C, and D all cool their pack.

Nissan is the only car company that doesn’t actively cool the pack and the customer pays for it.

AFAIK VW doesn’t do liquid cooling.
NMC battery as used in Leaf or Golf runaway temperature is around 250C. While NCA that had slightly better specific energy and was used by Tesla for that reason has runaway temperature of 150 C, and really need cooling to avoid bursting into flames. For NMC liquid cooling is unnecessary luxury. May be useful for quicker charging, but not necessary. And as far as I understand, issues with early Leafs in Arizona have been mostly resolved in newer Leaf batteries.


I really hope that cell manufacturers will focus more on internal resistance.

It is a key parameter for:
Recharge speed.
Max power draw.
Thermal design needs.

Lower internal resistance will make this active cooling discussion go away. Allowing for less complexity, denser packaging and higher design flexibility combined with higher power draw higher recuperation and faster recharge.

So many benefits, still I keep reading about cell energy density. Lower internal resistance will allow for higher pack energy density.

If Tesla is really onto a cheaper than 3 model they should do whatever it takes to get rid of active cooling.

Btw. Liquid cooling sucks big time. Just had to drive my old ducato rv 200 km without sufficient cooling. That was fun! Luckily I carry around a 150 liter water tank… Refill every 15 minutes or after each hill… Now THAT has made me learn a lot on range anxiety…

I agree, liquid cooling is really a bandaid for less than optimum cell caracteristics. Of course you would rather not need it, it adds cost and complexity. The great interest in 200 mile EVs makes it obvious that more range is what is needed to compete and Nissan needs to keep up, I expect an announcement soon.

VW eGolf also lacks active cooling. i3 uses cold gas, even iMiev uses chilled air + fan. AFAIK, only Tesla and SparkEV use liquid cooling for BEV.

Doesn’t the Volt actively liquid cool too?

Volt is plug in hybrid, not BEV. Just remembered Ford Focus Electric also has liquid cooling. I keep thinking of DCFC capable EV.

Depending on how it’s driven, the Volt can operate as a BEV nearly 100% of the time, and therefore the Volt was to be engineered to operate as a BEV.

So the difference you’re pointing to, Sparky, is more or less irrelevant in the context of this discussion.

Yes, the Volt does use liquid cooling. The new Volt 2.0 has a cooling loop which uses water/glycol, just like the Model S, but it also has a refrigerant cooling loop, just like the Volt 1.0.

I think other PEVs use water/glycol cooling, too.

Battery cells with chemistry more tolerant to temperature changes may still benefit from a liquid cooling system. Stabilizing the temperature will likely increase battery life, even with a wider operating temperature.

No difference between gen 1 and 2 on the volt. 3 antifreeze overflow containers in each.

“Nissan is the only car company that doesn’t actively cool the pack and the customer pays for it.”

Yeah, according to their chart that puts them into the lead in battery packaging innovation.

The e-nv200 uses active cooling. You can quick charge 10 times and temperature don’t increase.

It does have ‘active cooling’ . . . but the cooling system is just a little fan to move air around.

If the new lizard pack works out I think the pain Nissan went through in the early days will be well worth it. If cost is no object and performance is everything then fine liquid cool the pack but if you can avoid the extra cost and weight then I think Nissan will be far more competitive in the long run. Nissan isn’t trying to make a halo car it’s trying to make a cheap mass produced car.

I think we have enough data that we can say that although the Leaf “lizard” battery is somewhat more tolerant of long-term exposure to higher temperatures, it’s still nowhere near as long-lived as a liquid cooled battery.

In fact, I think we had enough data to be confident of that conclusion more than a year ago.

Nissan isn’t leading the way to the future of the tech by refusing to put a liquid cooling system into the Leaf. It’s just stubbornly clinging to an inferior system, sticking its head in the sand and hoping the problem will go away.



Remember the days when liquid cooling was a hype in the PC era.

Now imagine a smartphone with liquid cooling 😉

Internal resistance and temperature resistance is the key. All cell manufacturers should focus more on that than on “on the paper cell density” The need for active (liquid) cooling sucks. Lower cost and higher “energy system energy density” are one benefit. Lower maintenance cost and higher reliability comes with less complexity.

Liquid cooling is a relict of the ice era. It will be obsolete even for high performance cars in 3 to 5 years. Companies shouldn’t waste engineering time on that…

Fast-charging PEVs will require liquid cooling or refigerant so long as batteries experience significant heating during rapid charging. Eliminating that will require a significant improvement in the battery cells themselves.

I think you’re being more than a bit over-optimistic in saying that liquid cooling will no longer be necessary in 3-5 years.


Let’s meet here in 3-5 years and discuss this again.

Being overly optimistic is part of my nature 😉

It all depends on how much of their resources the cell developers put on the reduction of internal resistance and on what the total pack size will be in 2019-2021… The more you can distribute the load the less heating… When you omit liquid cooling systems you have more space for cells…

As I said before in some other thread: i hope we see the first hybrid battery packs soon. With a part of the cells being of some (expensive) high c rate type and the rest being high energy density cells. All the rest is load management which is software and thus easy stuff for my favourite competitor 😉

Driving around with a tank of water glycol mixture pumps and radiators is so old school. It really does not fit to the image of a forward thinking company.

Furthermore it’s just a simple fix for an eta problem… Let’s tackle the roots!

Air cooling can work but the fact is you need more air gaps to use air cooling so density will need to go down not up removing liquid cooling. Liquid cooling is heavily used in high performance and overclocking because they need to displace a greater amount of heat. Most PC have a huge amount of an air gap both inside and outside of the PC. Infact just put your typical PC inside a closed space and see how well it works. Hit it won’t work well. Even most laptops nowadays have fans to push the air past heat syncs to keep them cool. The fact is the Leaf current cooling setup is to have air gaps that the moving vehicle will use to push air through and keep the cells cool. It works ok as long as the car keeps moving. When the car isn’t moving example when fast charging heat can build up. Also when you get really hot out side like Arizona kind of hot the batteries will also see heating problems as well. PS most cell phone battery start to lose a good portion of their charge in 10 to 12 months and generally need replaced… Read more »

Heisenberghtbacktotheroots said:

“Let’s meet here in 3-5 years and discuss this again.

“Being overly optimistic is part of my nature ? ”

I think eventually you’ll be right. Some battery cell research is directed to significantly lowering the resistance of the electrodes, by greatly increasing the surface area using carbon nanotubes and/or graphene. If that or a similar tech is commercialized, we’ll get batteries capable of super-fast charging (and fast discharging during heavy acceleration) without significant heating, and then BEV makers can probably dispense with the cooling system.

But I don’t see that entering mass production in only 3-5 years.

Leaf uses liquid cooling for inverter, etc. and still needs all the bits for liquid cooling such as radiator, pump. Adding battery to that is not much.

Problem without any cooling in case of Leaf/eGolf is fast charging. While normal running might use 10-15 kW, DCFC would be 50 kW. Even assuming 90% efficient (or even 95%) there’s nowhere for that heat to go and temperature would increase significantly. Problem gets far worse as we head into 150 kW chargers.


Well that inverter will hopefully get better…

Going from 90% to 95% efficiency (whatever subsystem battery charger inverter and so on…) means already half of the thermal load. Furthermore when you distribute that 150A of Max power to more cells each has a lower current… Up to now it seems like the sweet spot still is on the “let’s put pump and stuff because it’s cheaper… ” side of the equation but once the pack designers are supplied with better and cheaper cells it will change to the “let’s make the pack bigger it’s cheaper ” side of the equation.

When one includes the resources wasted on the cooling subsystem (engineering, assembly time and line footprint, assembly ramp up time, machinery, part supply and logistics) that cheaper argument is well within reach.

If I were overly optimistic I would bet on some announcement on the gigafactory grand opening… Unfortunately reality sucks 😉

Uh, liquid cooling is still a huge thing in the high-end PC gamer community.


…which is on the decline?

My Lumia 950XL has a cooling loop

Link? And isn’t this an announcement that they now understand SiO better? It doesn’t actually claim any battery breakthroughs.

If it were a true breakthrough they should patent it.

It’s not a breakthrough. This is rubbish news. It’s like saying I’ve developed a new calculator that will aid in designing a new fancy bridge.

Yeah, now they can analyze a million ways to fail. It does not mean they will get the chemistry right. Oh well, seeing how you failed might lead to some insight.

If you developed a new calculator that actually aided in designing a new fancy bridge, it would be big news.

OTOH, maybe you prefer slide rules.

But everyone serious about batteries, is already looking at atomic scale interactions for solving li-ion chemistry problems.

Thank God they’re not all posting fluffy PR news releases about it.

Where’s the source?? I want to check out in some more detail, but Mark Kane failed to say where he got his info (one thing I’m sure of is it’s not his own, original research).

Green car Congress perhaps?

Hey Terawatt,

If there is no source listed it is either direct from the OEM, or an original (it does look like a GCC piece though doesn’t it? …and we do always of course link back/reference them when highlighting anything they do). In this case, Nissan media put it out.

Here is there press link from Nissan corporate, and the PDF

Here is the original source:

Below are some good links you could put in google translator, one japanese link I think they say 50 % boost, that would be around 20 % better energy density than the LG cells for the Bolt.

You’re suggesting that LG Chem’s new, cheaper-per-kWh have about a 30% higher energy density (ED) than the industry standard for plug-in EVs?

May we have a citation, please?

From what an LG engineer said in a public statement, it seems to me that LG’s new batteries are merely cheaper, and don’t have a significantly higher ED. He mentioned the 7-8% per year advance in ED that has occurred over the past several years, without any indication that LG’s new chemistry was better than that, or in any way a quantum jump in ED.

Breathless announcements of battery tech breakthroughs happen about twice a month, almost invariably leading nowhere, but I’m going to allow myself to get excited about this one. Many labs and research groups have been trying to make a practical lithium silicon battery, but they’ve been using esoteric materials like carbon nanotubes to try to stabilize crystalline silicon, to prevent it from damaging the cell structure as it expands/ contracts when charging/ discharging. Using amorphous silicon sounds much easier and much more likely to result in a practical commercial product.

Many EV advocates, including myself, have been saying that EVs are just one battery breakthrough from mass adoption. Will this be the one?

Up the EV revolution!


No it won’t be this one!

(just wanted to be a naysayer 😉 )

As you said correctly there are so many announcements of breakthroughs that we will not be able to look back in three years and point to a single one…

Nonetheless keep going Nissan Tesla LG panasonic byd and the endless list of unknowns… I have to win my 3-5 year prediction 😉

Hmmm, but your prediction was that BEV battery packs needing liquid cooling will be obsolete in 3-5 years. I don’t see how using amorphous silicon in the cells to significantly increase energy density (ED) will help with that in the slightest. In fact, with increased ED will come an even greater need for cooling.

To lessen or eliminate the need for active cooling, battery makers need to significantly reduce the resistance of batteries to charging and discharging. If my understanding of the tech is correct, then using silicon won’t help with that in the slightest.

“Many labs and research groups have been trying to make a practical lithium silicon battery, but they’ve been using esoteric materials like carbon nanotubes to try to stabilize crystalline silicon, to prevent it from damaging the cell structure as it expands/ contracts when charging/ discharging. Using amorphous silicon sounds much easier and much more likely to result in a practical commercial product.”

The anode chemistry is on stage for sure and silicon seems to be where it’s at as you discussed.

Do you have a link that supports the statement:

“Using amorphous silicon sounds much easier ”

Why is amorphous easier??….I think you meant simpler and lower cost.

It sounds logical to me but I’m not that familiar with the difference between the nano tubes an the amorphous.

georges said:

“Why is amorphous easier?? …I think you meant simpler and lower cost.”

Hmmm, isn’t “simpler” the same as “easier” in most cases?

Yes, I did mean simpler and lower cost. But more specifically, “easier” because producing either carbon nanotubes or graphene in industrial quantities has proven an intractable problem so far, and also the molecular structure of those has proven unstable over time. In other words, so far battery cell R&D has not produced a commercial product using either carbon nanotubes or graphene.

I’m no materials scientist, but the very term “amorphous silicon” sounds like something that could be mass produced, and won’t require esoteric materials like carbon nanotubes or graphene to stabilize it.

But all this is my at best semi-informed opinion, not fact. As I said, I’m allowing myself to be optimistic here. As others have pointed out, this is just at the idea stage, the design-on-paper stage. So far as is claimed here, they don’t even have a laboratory demo of amorphous silicon. If this turns out to have a practical application, as I hope, we’re years away from seeing any commercial product using amorphous silicon.

georges asked: “Why is amorphous easier?? … “It sounds logical to me but I’m not that familiar with the difference between the nano tubes an the amorphous.” The term “amorphous” indicates a disorganized, somewhat random molecular structure. Contrariwise, carbon nanotubes (CNT) and graphene both have a molecular structure which is extremely organized; in fact, it needs to have a perfect molecular structure to fully realize the properties of CNT or graphene, and a big problem is that this perfect structure isn’t stable over time. As the structure develops flaws, the electrical properties of CNT and graphene change… which of course is a disaster when it comes to the operation of battery cells. Since amorphous silicon clearly doesn’t have a highly organized crystalline structure, simple logic indicates it should be far easier to manufacture. Many or perhaps most materials have an amorphous structure. Metals, crystals, and polymers have an organized molecular structure… and are in general almost always more expensive than amorphous materials. Also, since amorphous materials don’t have a highly organized structure to begin with, there is no structure that can break down over time as there is with CNT or graphene. Here’s an introductory article on carbon nanotubes and… Read more »

Interesting. I should have just gooled amorphous silicon. It is also used in a variant of thin film solar cells.

I wonder how Panasonic makes their 5% Silicon anodes they have in production now.

oops the article here is talking amorphous Silicon monoxide SiO.

Forget all that. Just find a way to liquid cool your pack, Nissan.

I like Nissan’s first attempt at battery capacity increase:

Increase the number of bars on the GuessOmeter.