Thu, May 15, 2008 - Page 11 News List

Taiwan spearheads lithium-battery module effort

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

In a bid to find a solution to rising demand for high-power, eco-friendly batteries, Taiwan launched the world’s first company specializing in the manufacture of lithium battery modules, the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI, 工研院) announced on Tuesday.

“Given the rising number of applications for the high-efficiency batteries used in vehicles such as electric bikes and cars, a unified, standardized battery module system is urgently needed,” said Liu Jong-min (劉仲明), director of the institute’s Material and Chemical Research Laboratories, which founded the new battery company.

Liu said lithium batteries offer more energy with a lighter ecological foorprint than the lead batteries used in most light electric vehicles (LEVs).

“But at present, the lithium batteries available on the global market lack a standardized module system,” he said.

Although neither the ITRI nor the just-launched company has yet developed complete, ready-to-sell lithium battery modules, Liu was optimistic, saying the advanced battery technology the ITRI possesses would help Taiwan take the lead in the emerging lithium battery market, which it is estimated will reach US$820 million this year.

Liu referred to the successful launch of a standardized testing mechanism for lithium batteries in March, which was the result of cooperation between ITRI and the Germany-based Extra Energy Foundation.

He said the technology used in the standardized battery module was the brainchild of the Battery Safety Organization, also the result of an ITRI-Extra Energy joint effort.

“The new battery module will provide more safety for LEV drivers, while helping to establish a unified system for a number of related industries, including e-bike manufacturers and battery charger makers,” Liu said.

Led by a team of ITRI specialists, the new company, called HiTech Energy Co (達振能源), will be a subsidiary of local battery manufacturer Welldone Co (統振), which is the sole investor in the new company.

Welldone chairman Paul Chen (陳敦仁) said the launch of iTech Energy dovetailed with a recent wave of alternative energy solutions.

He said HighTech Energy and ITRI would present their latest achievements at a summit in Stuttgart, Germany, next month. Because of the widespread use of electric bikes on its roads, Stuttgart is now regarded as a “Green City.”

“We are also seeking cooperation with the Taipei City Government to promote LEV and lithium batteries,” Chen said.

Yang Mo-hua (楊模樺), an ITRI battery expert who will be leading research at the new company, said the summit would be a great opportunity to showcase Taiwan’s achievements in lithium battery development and generate business opportunities.

Following their invention by Sony Corp in 1991, lithium batteries have been mostly used in small 3C products such as notebooks and personal digital assistants.

But the battery module HiTech Energy Co will manufacture would be used in larger products, such as electric vehicles and aircraft.

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