SKKU developed tech to make graphene batteries 10x smaller, same strength

2015_02_aerogel batteryA Korean research team has successfully developed a technology to make a sponge-like electrode material using graphene and a polymer, leading to a graphene battery. The newly-developed battery is ten times as small as existing ones, but can show the same product performance.

A research team headed by Park Ho-seok, professor of the School of Chemical Engineering at Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU), announced on Feb. 1 that it has succeeded in developing a very porous graphene aerogel electrode material by combining polyvinyl alcohol and graphene. Studies on developing high-capacity and rapidly-chargeable batteries are underway worldwide. It is necessary to compress devices in order to supply energy in extreme conditions. However, when existing graphene-based batteries are compressed by 30 percent, product performance suffers owing to the destruction of the inside structure.

For full article, see Business Korea.


Hyundai & Kia ranked No. 3 in the world in R&D investments

2013_07_hybridHyundai & Kia will greatly increase its R&D investments starting this year. The company is forecast to become No. 3 in the automotive industry in terms of annual R&D investments. In particular, it is expected to lead the next-generation automotive technology development along with Volkswagen and Toyota. Although it is No. 5 in global sales, it has remained in the lower ranks in terms of R&D investments. Now Hyundai & Kia has laid the foundation for ‘completely changing’ its technological competitiveness. According to industry insiders on January 19, Hyundai & Kia’s average yearly R&D investments (KRW6,775 billion) in the next 4 years are No. 3 in the global automotive industry following Volkswagen and Toyota. The company is planning to invest a total of KRW27.1 trillion in R&D from 2015 till 2018.

According to the R&D statistics (EU R&D Scoreboard) recently published by the European Commission (EC), Volkswagen invested the largest amount (about KRW14,720.5 billion) in R&D in the automotive industry (as of 2013), followed by Toyota (KRW7,859.6 billion) and Daimler (KRW6,742.8 billion. Looking at the R&D funds for 2015 only, Hyundai & Kia rapidly rose to the No. 3 position just below Toyota in the industry. The company invested KRW2,219.3 billion in R&D in 2013, ranked No. 15 in the automotive industry including automobiles and parts. However, in just 2 years, its R&D investments increased more than three times, and the company became a top ranker in quantitative terms. As a result, its competition with other auto makers in Germany, Japan and the US over next-generation technologies is forecast to intensify further.

For full article, see Korea IT News.

New chairman of POSCO paying attention to electric vehicle industry

POSCO’s new Chairman Kwon Oj-joon, who is scheduled to take office on March 14, has decided on electric vehicles (EVs) as his company’s future growth driver. POSCO and its subsidiaries are planning to create new business opportunities in the EV industry by working on automobile steel sheets, auto parts, and battery materials. The steelmaker announced on March 13 that its subsidiaries participate in the first International Electric Vehicle Expo, which kicks off on March 15 in Jeju. POSCO, POSCO ICT, POSCO Chemtech, POSCO ESM, and many others are showing off their advanced technology in the world’s first EV expo.

The company is currently supplying steel sheets for Evs, and is going to focus more on related components and materials. The super-light, high-strength steel plates developed by POSCO are used mainly to manufacture EV frames and outer panels. When compared to existing products, these use at least 40 percent more ultra-high strength steel (UHSS) to reduce the weight of a vehicle body by approximately 25 percent while also satisfying the international collision safety regulations that become effective in 2015. The products are already used in Renault Samsung Motors’ SM3 Z.E. and GM Korea’s Spark EV. Kia Motors’ Soul EV is going to use the same products, too.

POSCO is concentrating as well on the development of lithium, which is a key material for secondary batteries, magnesium used in vehicle frames and panels, and neodymium permanent magnets for use in motors. The company will set up a pilot plant in Argentina in this context.

For full article, see Business Korea.


Hyundai and Kia go it alone to strengthen eco-friendly, luxury car operation

Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp., South Korea’s two largest carmakers, are stepping up their eco-friendly and luxury vehicle operations as rivals from India and China try to catch up in the global market through mergers with established players, industry watchers said Friday. The South Korean companies, flagships of Hyundai Motor Group, have become the world’s fifth-largest manufacturers with combined sales expected to reach 8 million units this year. They, however, remain on the fringes in the eco-friendly vehicles and high value-added luxury car markets that have grown the most in recent years.

Both car makers have released hybrid cars in the past, but they have not been able to wrestle buyers away from Japanese rivals like the Toyota Leaf hybrid. Hyundai released the world’s first mass-produced fuel cell electric vehicle this year, with Kia taking similar steps with the Soul electric vehicle (EV). Yet, it will take time to determine if they are a success.

For full article, see Korea Times.

LG Electronics supplies Google with auto parts

LG Electronics has provided four high-speed battery chargers for Google’s electric vehicle plug-in charging stations in a bid to make headway in the automotive industry while strengthening its relationship with Google, industry sources said on Sunday. LG said it did not manufacture the chargers, and that they were made by another domestic firm.

The deal appeared to have been discussed in detail in October 2013 when Google chairman Eric Schmidt visited LG Electronics’ Incheon campus, where LG’s automobile parts and components division is located. For months prior, the two firms reportedly met on several occasions to talk about cooperating on Google’s smart cars. The deal may now help the two IT giants, which already enjoy a partnership with the Nexus phones, to expand their partnership in the auto industry despite LG’s still-weak performance in the vehicle component areas.

For full article, see Korea Herald.

Korean carmakers step up R&D to build affordable electric vehicles

South Korean carmakers and the government are stepping up research and development (R&D) to build affordable electric-powered vehicles with good range, industry sources said Monday. Sources said the plan is to make electric vehicles (EV) that cost under 30 million won (US$27,900) and travel at least 300 kilometers on a single power charge by 2020.

Seoul has already earmarked 130 billion won to be used until 2018 to make EVs and next-generation energy storage systems so that 75 percent of all rechargeable batteries can be made in the country without foreign assistance. The present self-sufficiency rate stands at around 20 percent. Key to that is the development of a high-density lithium-ion battery, with a master plan to be drawn by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy by March. Making high-endurance, cheap batteries is critical because they account for roughly 60 percent of an EV’s price tag.

At present, EVs made by U.S. carmaker Tesla Motors Inc. have a range of up to 370 kilometers, which is competitive vis-a-vis conventional cars with an internal compression engine, but such EV models have prohibitive sticker prices of $63,000. Tesla reported sales reaching 2,000 units per month.

For full article, see Yonhap News.

Korea, Japan and China competition heats up over rechargeable battery

The competition in the secondary cell battery industry has expanded from mobile devices to electric car, sparking the race for ‘rechargeable battery big bang.’ In the rapidly growing global secondary cell battery market, which expanded 96 percent last year, South Korea, Japan and China are more fiercely competing over attracting personnel, new technology, patents and others.

Since overtaking Japan for the first time in 2011, Korea grabbed the top market share in the global small lithium ion (Li-ion) battery segment of the global rechargeable battery market last year for the third year, said sources in the relevant sector Monday. Japan had been an uncontested top country with 51.1 percent market share in 2008, but the figure has continued to drop to reach 34.3 percent last year. China is the third biggest country with 18.3 percent market share.

Samsung SDI shipped the highest 1.1 billion cells of rechargeable batteries and took the top rank, and LG Chem the third highest 715 million cells. Panasonic retained the second place with 718 million cells, and Sony the fourth with 316 million cells.

For full article, see Maeil Business.

LG to supply batteries to Chrysler

LG Chem, a chemical firm and auto parts maker, is said to be on the verge of inking a deal to supply lithium-ion batteries to Chrysler Group, according to market sources Monday. “LG Chem is working on a supply deal with Chrysler, and the outlook is very positive,” an official close to the matter said. He declined to disclose the details, but supply is expected to start as early as this year.

A market source said the batteries made by the LG Group affiliate would likely power a new electric car made by Chrysler, which was recently acquired by Fiat.

LG Chem has been working in tandem with the United States Advanced Battery Consortium, consisting of the U.S. Department of Energy, General Motors, Ford and Chrysler, on developing electric vehicle batteries. The supply deal with Chrysler would be LG’s first such agreement with the U.S. firm.

Samsung SDI has also been participating in the USABC-led battery development project since 2011, and is currently supplying lithium-ion batteries to Chrysler’s F500e. LG Chem is struggling to gain the upper hand in the competition with Samsung SDI and Panasonic, two of its most formidable rivals in the car battery business.

For full article, see Korea Herald.

Jeju cranks up EV incentives

“Korea may not be an attractive market for electric cars considering their lukewarm sales. But for Jeju alone it is a whole new different story,” said a Jeju official.  There are some 300,000 vehicles on the roads in Jeju, while the provincial government aims to replace all the cars with electric vehicles by 2030. The 190-kilometer-long road around the island is within the driving range of most electric vehicles on a single charge. And one of the most intriguing factors that have enhanced Jeju’s affinity for EVs is its lavish cash incentives ― the highest-level around the world.

Jeju provides a combined 23 million won ($21,800) in rebates for EV purchase. The amount is almost double those in other countries. The United States and Japan ― the two top-seller markets of electric cars ― offer up to $10,000 and $13,300 (or 1.39 million yen), respectively. In a market dominated by Korean-made models such as Kia Motors’ Ray, GM Spark EV and Renault Samsung’s SM3 Z.E., foreign brands, equipped with more powerful lineups, are expected to secure price competitiveness to become a direct threat to the less sexy, high-priced Korean competitors.

For full article, see Korea Herald.

KAIST unveils foldable electric vehicle

Á¢´Â ÀÚµ¿Â÷ µîÀåA group of scientists from Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology has developed what is claimed to be the country’s first foldable electric vehicle, the school announced on Tuesday.  Developed by Seo In-soo and his research team, the Armadillo-T uses a 13.6 kWh battery and four independent in-wheel motors that enable it to reach 60 kilometers per hour and travel approximately 100 kilometers on a single charge.

The small, battery-powered vehicle weighs less than 500 kilograms and measures 2.8 meters in length. Its size can fall to 1.65 meters as the rear part can slide forward, folding the two-seat doors up vertically, according to the school. The four in-wheel motors also provide effective four-wheel drive, and enable it to rotate 360 degrees when it is folded. Side view mirrors were substituted with surround-view cameras, the researchers said.

For full article, see Korea Herald.