Play a Part in the Realization of the

Aiming for solutions to energy and environmental issues

Aiming for solutions to energy and environmental issues

──How did KRI build a relationship with Dr. Yoshino in the first place?

Kinoshita The Energy Conversion Research Laboratory was established at KRI in 1998, by Dr. Shizukuni Yata, who passed away in 2012. Dr. Yata and Dr. Yoshino clicked with each other about the development of a "new storage battery" and started a joint project around 2000. I was a member of that project. Since KRI started a workshop to introduce the technology trends of lithium-ion batteries in 2012, Dr. Yoshino has been cooperating with us as a coordinator.

Since KRI conducts contract researches, various issues clients facing are brought to KRI. We may be able to effectively provide useful tips by adding his expertise and connections in the industry to the information that is essential for grasping the trends of lithium-ion battery development. Consequetly, we have been holding workshops with over 400 participants from nearly 250 companies in recent years. I believe our workshops, which attract so many manager-level researchers involved in battery-related businesses, is second to none in Japan.

Then, we could have strengthened the ties with Dr. Yoshino through such activities, and he has agreed to served as KRI’s executive advisor since 2015.

──What is the "ET Revolution" advocated by Dr. Yoshino?

Kinoshita While electricity is said to be the easiest to use among the many types of energy, it has the disadvantage of "unstorablity (being unable to store)". Lithium-ion batteries are the most suitable and high-performance devices to store electricity and allow us to realize the "ET Revolution" by taking advantage of such characteristics.

The automobile is the best example. Because electric vehicles (EVs) equipped with a large-capacity lithium-ion battery have an electricity storage system, they can be used as power supply sources in case of disasters and other emergency situations. We can expect a more advanced future when a fully-autonomous Artificial Intelligence Electric Vehicle (AIEV), which is being proposed by Dr. Yoshino, appears and functions as a huge electricity storage system that can store electricity by itself and automatically charge and discharge as needed. AIEV can solve the problem of volatile electricity generation, which is currently considered as a disadvantage of renewable energy.

Such superb lithium-ion batteries with a large electricity storage capacity have the potential of drastically changing our daily lives and can also be an effective solution to the global environmental issues that we are now facing. This is the “ET Revolution” that Dr. Yoshino wants to realize.

Related link

Please check the video that KRI has created under the supervision of Dr. Yoshino to help you more easily understand the "ET Revolution. " The video was introduced during the Nobel Lecture delivered by Dr. Yoshino on December 8, 2019.

Grasp, transmit, and utilize trends.

Grasp, transmit, and utilize trends.

──What is the role of KRI in making it happen?

Kinoshita The lithium-ion battery market has nearly doubled in the past five years. The market will triple or quadruple as EVs become more popular. However, despite this market growth, there are not enough engineers in the electricity storage industry. KRI is proudly playing a role in supporting clients to overcome big hurdles in the development of storage batteries through "contract research" that complements not only "people" (engineers) but also other research resources such as "technology" and "things" (equipment).

Dr. Nishijima Trust is the most important factor in contract research. We can build trust by continuously outputting good results of research proceeding in the right direction. What is especially important is the "right direction. "R&D would be meaningless if its direction deviates from current trends in battery development. To avoid such a situation, we discuss Dr. Yoshino on a regular basis to confirm what the trends are, and disseminate information based on the latest trends through workshops and newsletters.

Every year, KRI updates and releases its "roadmap for next generation lithium-ion battery development." This proves that KRI possesses true and cutting edge information that helps us look at the entire industry.

We want to play a role in realizing the "ET Revolution" by disseminating information and also by conducting trend-based contract research.

Global deployment, then the development of next-generation batteries

Global deployment, then the development of next-generation batteries

──What are your future plans?

Kinoshita Nowadays, many European and North American companies are starting to seriously develop lithium-ion batteries. KRI is taking on a challenge of providing support to them. Currently projects with overseas clients account for approximately 10% of our sales. We are trying to further expand our business overseas.

Dr. Nishijima KRI will join Europe's biggest battery show to be held in Stuttgart, Germany on April 28, 2020. We are hoping that people who are interested in our business (company) will come to our booth.

I am concurrently serving as General Manager of the Next-generation Battery Project of KRI, in charge of R&D for next-generation batteries. Because there is still much mystery about lithium-ion batteries, we will work together with our clients to steadily develop these batteries using AI.

──Please tell us about your passion for the development of lithium-ion batteries.

Kinoshita  I have been involved in the development of lithium-ion capacitors and batteries for 35 years or more. When we started, there were no similar products. Then new products came out, and domestic production reached 1.5 billion units. Now, I can clearly see the results of my work like this. I could not be happier. I would like to make further contributions towards the next round of development of the technology.

Dr. Nishijima I am mainly involved in materials development. I am very glad that my efforts have made a contribution, albeit a small one, to working out how to approach battery development. As I said before, there is a lot more that we have not yet discovered about lithium-ion batteries. I would like to work hard on further development while enjoying solving all the mysteries.

Related link

KRI conducts contract research to find solutions in not only the lithium-ion battery field but also various other technological fields in accordance with clients' needs. Please check out our website via the link below to learn more about KRI's technologies that we hope to be of any help to our clients to solve their challenges.
  • KRI, Inc.
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