──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.