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NEC develops prototype 4.5V, long-life manganese Li-ion battery; 30% more energy density, high capacity and light weight

High voltage lithium-ion battery prototype. Click to enlarge.

NEC Corporation has developed a prototype next-generation manganese lithium-ion battery featuring cathodes that support higher voltage operations (4.5V rather than 3.8V) and an electrolyte solution that improves the stability of the higher voltage operations. These developments could help increase the range of electric vehicles in the future while reducing the weight of the batteries.

The new cathode and electrolyte solution improve battery energy density by approximately 30%, increase battery capacity and decrease battery weight, all while maintaining a high level of safety, based on the results of safety tests using a multilayer laminate-type cell. NEC presented the new cell at PRIME 2012, the Pacific Rim Meeting on Electrochemical and Solid-State Science, in Honolulu.

NEC currently develops and produces lithium-ion batteries with cathodes made with manganese. These technologies are used in large capacity storage batteries for electric vehicles as well as residential use. However, improving a battery’s energy density has been a challenging issue for further development. In order to solve this issue, NEC introduced higher voltage to batteries and made progress in the development of an electrolyte solution that suppresses the oxidative decomposition of the electrolyte solution that is generated on the surface of cathodes from the higher voltage.

These developments can contribute to increasing the driving range of electric vehicles, enabling the production of light weight storage systems and simplifying the management of battery systems by decreasing the number of cells. Furthermore, these new batteries provide high voltage drive and the same long operating life as conventional 4V lithium-ion batteries.

— Hidenori Shimawaki, General Manager, Smart Energy Research Laboratories, NEC Corporation

The new batteries are able to perform higher voltage operations as a result of using nickel in replacement of a material in existing spinel-structured manganese-based cathodes, which have a high level of safety while recharging.

The use of these cathodes and graphite anodes enables the average operating voltage to increase to a high voltage of 4.5V from the 3.8V of existing technologies. As a result, energy density increased by approximately 30% to 200 Wh/kg from 150 Wh/kg. This increases stored energy by approximately 30% when compared to existing batteries of the same weight. Alternatively, these new batteries are about 30% lighter when compared to existing batteries with the same energy storage.

To enable this, NEC changed the solvent of the electrolyte solution from a conventional carbonate-based solvent to a fluorinated solvent that is highly resistant to oxidation. This enables the suppression of oxidative decomposition where the electrolyte solution and the cathodes interface, which has posed a challenge for existing techniques.

These batteries maintain approximately 80% of their original capacity after undergoing tests with 500 full charge and discharge cycles in conditions below room temperature (20 °C), while maintaining roughly 60% when above room temperature (45 °C). Furthermore, the batteries demonstrate life span performance equivalent to that of conventional 4V batteries.

The practicality of these batteries are further demonstrated by the suppression of gas formation within cells and a significant reduction in the battery swelling ratio to 10% (more than 100% swelling in conventional batteries) after cycle tests conducted at above room temperature.

NEC says it will continue to drive research and development that supports greater capacity, life span and reliability for these batteries in preparation for their adoption by electric vehicles and large, stationary storage batteries alike.



A 30% gain in energy density plus superior all around performance may not be a major breakthrough but could be a major step towards future improved electrified vehicles.

The world needs a few more technology advancement steps like this one.


'These batteries maintain approximately 80% of their original capacity after undergoing tests with 500 full charge and discharge cycles in conditions below room temperature (20 °C), while maintaining roughly 60% when above room temperature (45 °C). Furthermore, the batteries demonstrate life span performance equivalent to that of conventional 4V batteries.'

And I thought the Leaf has lousy life time, especially in Arizona!
NEC can show them the way in duff battery chemistries.

Dave R

@Davemart - keep in mind that those test results are likely a result of 100% DOD cycles. Reducing the DOD should improve cycle life significantly.


I did.
It is still hopeless.


No matter what Davemart (and friends) says, battery technology is advancing at 8% to 10+% per year. By 2020/2022, 400+ Wh/Kg long lasting, quick charge, lower cost batteries will be on the horizon and moving in many electrified vehicles. Tesla S+ (and many others) will go 500+ miles per charge. The e-grids will not crash and the world will not have problems to produce more (cleaner) electricity for a very fast growing e-vehicle fleet.

Shortly thereafter, Davemart and friends will be driving (or pushing) their old technology ICEVs to the local museums (and cry all the way?).


Harvey D:
I have nothing against batteries.
Spouting technological optimism regardless of what the figures say on the specifics is as pointless as doomer depression.



like a battery powered toy maybe we should remove your own batteries to have you stop repeating the same thing over and over as if we were death or dump. It is getting really boring.

your are not the oracle of the battery industry and this site deserve better contributions than your immoderate fanatic views

Bob Wallace

Envia has developed a lithium-ion battery that holds over three times the energy storage of current EV batteries. 400 watt-hours per kilogram vs. 120 watt-hours per kilogram. This goal is already met and independently confirmed by the US Navy Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division

Envia projects the cost at less than half the half cost of other EV batteries. $150 per kilowatt vs. $400 per kilowatt (apparent current cost). They can do this because they are boosting capacity over 3x so material cost per kg of battery doesn't rise appreciably.

The Leaf is getting a bit more than 3 miles per kWh. A 200 mile range EV would need approximately 65 kWh battery pack. Testing has shown >450 100% DoD cycles. That would make a 200 mile battery good for 90,000 miles before falling to 80% capacity.

At 90k miles there would be a choice of installing a new battery pack, continuing to use the vehicle with less range or selling it on to someone who wouldn't be bothered by less range. An EV with more than a 100 mile range would generally be an excellent second car or a great commuting car for someone looking to save money.

A new battery pack in order to get back to 200 miles for another 90k would cost $9750 plus something more for shipping/installation. And your used battery would have some residual value, perhaps half of the cost of a replacement.

Now, something wrong with my math or logic?

(Obviously Envia could be lying, but I'm not ready to believe that without some proof.)


BW...Envia may be a few years ahead in energy density and lower cost batteries. Others will most probably catch up with Envia and do even better by 2020 or so. The current 300 miles per charge Tesla Model S would become a 500+ miles per charge BEV?

This is not a dream (as Tree and friends would say) but common sense normal technology development and reality.

Post 2020 era or decade will be interesting for efficient (intelligent) electrified vehicle development, mass production and worldwide sales. It will not please everybody but the current trend cannot be stopped. Big Oil, Tar Sands, Shale, Corn Ethanol, Sugarcane Ethanol, Oil Refiners, ICEVs repair shops people and many others living from the old technology will have to adapt. ICEVs will have to go like typewriters, horse drawn buggies and many other technologies did.


Bob, it would be better to not to charge the battery fully every time, which really stresses most battery packs especially in hot weather. The batteries will last much longer if you limit the times you fully charge (or deplete) the battery to the occasions when you want the full 200 mile range. So, then the batteries should last much longer than 90,000 miles.

Oh yeah, any replacement batteries will have better specs for the buck than the originals.

Bob Wallace

Battery chargers are generally designed to slow the charging rate as the battery fills.

Rapid chargers/Level 3 chargers being installed along our highways are designed to give 90% charges and not 100% charges.

If EVs move to liquid cooling systems like the Volt uses then heat may not continue to be a problem.


I was deeply appreciative of the open way Envia participated in our discussions here.
What seems to be happening in the battery world in contrast to the 'ever onward and upward' meme is that that there are trade-offs necessary, rather than a generalised increase in all criteria.
In the case of the Envia 400Wh/kg chemistry, that was in power output.
That is fine if you want a really big pack, but even at their low price per kwh that is pricey

For me the most hopeful thing happening at the moment is plug in hybrids, and I am nearly as impressed with Ford's C-Max Energi with 20 miles of all electric range from a 7.5kwh pack (from memory) at a reasonable price as I was unimpressed by their Focus EV.

The ~100kwh pack we would need for anything like ICE performance does not seem to be swiftly getting nearer at other than very high cost.

Envia are certainly more impressive than this NEC press release though, as the battery they are describing does not seem to much improve any major criteria.
Panasonic already have better specific energy in production, that is what is going in the Tesla, and that seems to be what NEC are mainly boasting about on this one.


The problem is the lifespan is indeed shorter then other batteries being used right now. This means they would have to cut soc and that would cut into its one advantage.

Also to give you a clearer starker idea of the problem...

Just to increase range by a third and decrease pack size by a third and reduce cost by a third takes a pack that is more then twice as power dense and less then half the cost per kwh.... Now to get anyware they will need to do that twice....

Thomas Pedersen


How's this for a combination of series/parallel PHEV:

The electric motor and battery takes care of all driving and acceleration below, say 45-50 mph. At highway speed an ICE kicks on with only a clutch and a fixed gear ratio, but no gearbox!

The idea is to utilize that an ICE does not need to run at constant rpm to be efficient but can usually achieve >90% of its max efficiency at a wide range of rpm, e.g. from 1500 to 3000. This concept eleminates both the gearbox (parallel hybrid) and the generator (serial hybrid), both costly and heavy. And in the range from 45-85 mph the ICE has enough power to be charge sustaining and run at high efficiency. At higher speed its efficiency will drop, however this is of little practical importance.

The only drawback is that the car depends wholly on the battery for driving below the cut-in speed.

Any comments on this concept?


What about the military and security aspects in all of these new technologies improvements. If someone discover build and market a real breakthru powerful battery or a self rechargeable battery then it will change the power source of military equipments all over the world with bigger, badder power, so increase the danger of conflicts. A system with hydrogen self recirculation can theoritically replace all military power source and increase the power. I guess that military race prohibit real breakthru in car devellopment for security reasons and we actually are plague with obsolete, limp, costly and polluting car technologies build and marketed by gm, ford, chrysler, fiat, mercedes, bmw, volkwagen, audi, toyota, nissan, honda, mitshubishi, lexus, porsche, ferrari, john deere, caterpillar, white freightliner, detroit diesel, pratt and whitney, boeing, airbus, bic lighters, coleman camping equipments, suzuki, yamaha, bombardier, harley davidson, etc.

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