World’s Biggest Maker of Spark Plugs Is Developing Solid-State Batteries

JUN 20 2018 BY MARK KANE 25

The world’s biggest manufacturer of spark plugs for gasoline engines, NGK Spark Plug Co, has started developing solid-state batteries.

NGK Spark Plug Co., like many other Japanese parts makers, is preparing a life raft for its business in case of decreasing demand for spark plugs and oxygen sensors.

Related – BMW Expresses Confidence In Solid-State Battery Tech

NGK’s goal is to develop new types of cells that would offer better energy density, more power and competitive pricing from the 2020s on. Developments started some five years ago.

Takio Kojima, senior general manager of engineering and R&D at NGK Spark Plug, told Reuters in an interview:

“We realized that it was inevitable that the industry would at some point shift from the internal combustion engine to battery EVs, and that ultimately this could make our spark plug and oxygen sensor businesses obsolete,”.

“Our expertise is in advanced ceramics, and so we have decided to pursue all solid-state batteries.”

About the cell chemistry:

“Toyota is developing batteries with sulfide-based solid electrolytes, which offer high conductivity and are relatively flexible but can release toxic hydrogen sulfide when exposed to moisture.

NGK Spark Plug is betting on a different technology with an oxide-based chemistry using ceramics which is highly stable at extreme temperatures, but has less conductivity. In addition, brittle ceramics can be difficult to process.

Japan’s TDK Corp has developed small, ceramic, all solid-state batteries for use mainly in wearable devices like personal fitness monitors, while Murata Manufacturing Co is developing similar products.

But NGK Spark Plug has bigger plans, developing a larger format necessary for cars.”

Source: Reuters

Categories: Battery Tech

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25 Comments on "World’s Biggest Maker of Spark Plugs Is Developing Solid-State Batteries"

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Bunny

No surprise here.

MikeG

Sounds like a hail-Mary attempt–trying to score a win with a long-shot gamble as there are few applications of SS batteries and the main impediment to their adoption is the cycle count is too low for cars. SS batteries are used in the SolarImpulse plane but they can afford to change the batteries frequently.

Martin Lacey

Solid State is the future. Less prone to combustion, higher energy density, lower pack weight and cheaper components.

Clive

Smart

Lou Grinzo

Reminds me of something I think I’ve mentioned on this site: What will happen when the majority of what auto parts stores isn’t needed by most new cars? There will be a lot of stores closing; you can’t stay afloat selling just tires and air fresheners.

SJC

Kind of obvious they adapt, don’t want to go the way of the dinosaurs.

dan

EVs have brakes, bearings, axles, suspensions, pretty much everything a car has except the engine. I don’t know what world you live in or if you’ve ever taken a look inside your car.

Dimitrij

NOT to specifically reflect on the poster you mentioned, just a general observation:

Having followed the Insideevs forum for a while, I am beginning to think that 50%+ of posters know very little about cars in general, and most likely have never driven the cars they write essays about 🙂

Miles

when I look inside my car, I don’t see an exhaust system or muffler, a fuel pump, fuel lines, a catalytic converter, fuel filter, spark plugs, timing belt or any belt for that matter, fuel injectors, spark plug wires etc. So I think the point was that those items represent at least some fair percentage of revenue for an auto parts store. Since retail stores operate on pretty thin margins most of the time, taking away that revenue means something else has to give.

Speculawyer

That’s true….but most of the common parts aren’t the ones you typically buy in an auto parts store. Brake pads are but EVs wear out brake pads far slower due to regen.

Paul Smith

Most of those things last the life of the car. Even brakes on EVs last much longer due to regenerative braking.It’s the engine, transmission and all their ancillary parts that break due to the constant abuse.

Rick

they have another 20 years, in the ICE business. should adapt slowly.

Rooster-x

Sell bicycles, that’s what Halford’s in the UK does.

Empire State

“What will happen when the majority of what auto parts stores isn’t needed by most new cars?”
This question is poorly phrased, or edited incorrectly. Possibly your whole thought isn’t well-developed, if it can’t be, as a repetition of what you say that you’ve previously written, expressed clearly on the first attempt?
To wit:
“There will be a lot of stores closing; you can’t stay afloat selling just tires and air fresheners.”
While I have held a summer job installing tires, I’ve never installed tires on a car as a home-based DIY maintenance/repair procedure, nor have I ever witnessed a neighbor doing so. Are there auto parts retailers in your area selling tires? Maybe your idea about how auto parts stores “stay float” is misconceived.

The thought that the auto parts business will change when the parts of which an auto is comprised changes is not terribly interesting, however it is important for those impacted. It deserves a better crack than a statement that a business selling tires and air fresheners will change when cars change in ways that still have them using tires and air fresheners.

Pushmi-Pullyu

It would make sense for a spark plug manufacturer to actively seek out a license to manufacture solid state batteries, once someone demonstrates the ability to make them profitably.

What does not make sense is for a spark plug manufacturer to strike out on its own, and try to be the first company to develop a commercial solid state li-ion battery, when so many other companies and university research teams have been working hard toward that goal for some years now. Not that it’s impossible for a “dark horse” candidate to seize the brass ring — pardon my mixing metaphors — but the odds are very long against a new competitor just now entering the field.

Bill Howland

Be sure to advise them on why your expertise allows you to prejudge the company’s ability to produce new product lines.

Now, if you knew any real reason why they are deficient, that would have been a reasonable comment; however since you have such a poor technical track record of things you THINK you know about – how would they react to something that heretofore you never claimed to know about?

Sounds like to me like a 6 year old stumbling into the front door and telling the company they know nothing about their business.

Of course, you are so much smarter than a company that has already produced advanced fuel cell products, and advanced Piezoelectric components, and a successful 81 year history of mass producing sophisticated advances.

I don’t think the 15,000 odd employees of the company are going to quit today or tomorrow on some greenhorn’s unwanted musings.

Guyman

NGK/NTK is a direct competitor for the manufacturer that I work for. Do NOT consider them as “spark plug” manufactures – That’s just one product line, consider them Japanese experts on advanced ceramics – Aka they also make catalyic converters, ceramic cutting tools, and insulators.

See: https://www.ngkntk.co.jp/english/product/

They are NOT just entering the field of ceramics, they are experts here – They are just taking their skills and expertise, and planning to leverage that in a new application/user case. Their play around SS batteries is based on oxide based chemistries – If that is the “best path” for SS batteries, then they are likely in a good position to be the best at scaling up industrial ceramic processes to meet demand, etc. If SS batteries end up NOT be based on oxides, then this is misstep, but clearly they have done some homework here.

Underestimate them at your own peril….

Empire State
“It would make sense for a spark plug manufacturer to actively seek out a license to manufacture solid state batteries, once someone demonstrates the ability to make them profitably. What does not make sense is for a spark plug manufacturer to strike out on its own, and try to be the first company to develop a commercial solid state li-ion battery, when so many other companies and university research teams have been working hard toward that goal for some years now” I think you’ve probably got it wrong about who makes manufacturing new hardware products profitable. NTK/NGK develops products and processes before they are implemented in consumer goods, not just afterward when the ivory tower anoints them with a license to do so. NTK/NGK are not, as you say, a new competitor entering the field. This December story quoted by Mr. Kane also states: “Established in 1936 and based in Japan’s automaking heartland of Nagoya, NGK Spark Plug’s realization that its main business faced obsolescence came around 2010, Kojima said. That was the year Nissan Motor Co rolled out the Leaf, the first mass-production all battery EV, and just after Tesla Inc came out with the Roadster, its first production… Read more »
antrik

Battery research boils down almost entirely to material science. Since that appears to be this company’s main field of expertise, it makes perfect sense for them to get actively involved in development.

(Indeed I’m not aware of any major battery manufacturer using licensed technology rather than doing their own R&D?)

Chris O

Another contender for the (short term) holy grail of battery tech. Many have tried, many have failed. Well so far at least, let’s hope somebody gets this stuff to work eventually.

Benedictus

I love the totally unrelated picture of a Chevy Spark with this article. It really sparks the mind and is a great plug for the Chevy. What the… It’s a Spark plug. Related after all. Circle is complete. Thank you for that.

GuyMan

I see what you did there…. 😉

tm

They are developing it since long time ago.
“News” from last year really.

Steven

Diversification equals survival

tim

I worked for an NGK division in Wisconsin and I was the 1st person there to buy an electric car. I was treated like a leper after that and was gone in less than a year. Nice to see they’re coming around.