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Bosch opens new research campus in Germany

German chancellor Angela Merkel has officially opened a new US$440m Bosch research center in Renningen, Germany, that the company hopes will bring breakthroughs in various technologies.

 

Chairman Volkmar Denner has described the center as “Bosch’s own Stanford”. Bosch will station 1,700 people at the site, conducting applied research into all areas of the company’s business, including next-generation lithium-ion batteries.

Bosch hopes that by as early as 2020 its batteries will be capable of storing twice as much energy as now while costing significantly less. The company also believes that in 10 years’ time 15% of all new vehicles worldwide will have an electric powertrain.

Dr Thorsten Ochs, head of battery technology R&D at the new research campus, explained, “To achieve widespread acceptance of electro mobility, mid-sized vehicles need to have 50kWh of usable energy.”

But with conventional lead batteries, this would mean increasing the weight of the battery to 1.9 metric tons, even without wiring and the holder. Conventional lead batteries found in most cars weigh around 19kg yet only store a comparatively low 0.5kWh.

Bosch says its goal is to pack 50kWh into 190kg and charge the battery to 75% in less than 15 minutes. “There is still a long way to go when it comes to lithium – the more lithium ions you have in a battery, the more electrons, and thus the more energy you can store in the same space,” Ochs continued.

According to Ochs, one of the main stumbling blocks in this challenge is to reduce the proportion of graphite in the positively charged part of the battery. Using lithium instead of graphite would make it possible to store up to three times as much energy in the same space, and Ochs and his colleagues have already developed many approaches for removing the graphite and replacing it with other materials.

October 27, 2015

 

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