Creating the Future of Mobility Leading to Next Generations

As various technological innovations progress, a demand for electrification, intelligence, and other new functions has emerged for the future of mobility. For example, providing a variety of options such as HEVs, PHEVs, FCEVs in addition to BEVs is expected to enable society as a whole to use energy efficiently. On the other hand, mobility is not expected to simply evolve on its own, but in conjunction with intelligent infrastructure and cities, as well as with innovations in safer, more comfortable travel that utilize communications.

We therefore advance research and development of elemental technologies intended to improve the performance of electric vehicles, including efforts to realize next-generation power semiconductors that maximize the efficiency of electric vehicles, to develop battery materials that take sustainability into account, and to design structures for fuel cells using quantum beam analysis. We also work on a variety of initiatives that will contribute to greater value for mobility in the future, including compact, high-precision onboard sensors that are essential for intelligence, and motor and compressor design technologies that realize greater comfort and efficiency for electric vehicles.

Key Themes

Deriving the best polarization clues from an integrated systems model

Because fuel cell vehicles are complex systems comprised of many different components, it is difficult to find satisfactory proposals that meet the various requirements of efficiency, cost, and durability without conflict. By linking fuel cell performance, deterioration characteristics, and power control characteristics together within a single model, we have constructed a modelbased design method that enables us to quickly calculate performance assessment values for total cost and CO2 emissions during manufacture, for example, based on vehicle driving conditions. This method thereby allows us to optimize everything from mobility usage methods and product requirements straight through to target-polarization curves and element development goals. In the future, we will collaborate widely with other organizations in aims of expanding this approach beyond vehicles to include other types of mobility.

Fuel cell performance optimization using model-based design

Controlling power to maximize electric vehicle efficiency

We work to develop the next-generation power device technologies that will be key to increasing electric vehicle range and to reducing the size and weight of the PCUs*1 used to control power. We have already developed and put into practical use SiC power semiconductors that achieved both longer lifetime, and high voltage/current operations through the realization of an original trench gate structure. Similarly, we have developed device technologies that enable high-precision battery charge and discharge status control using a small number of IC chips. We also actively promote collaborations with Toyota Group companies and academic institutions in aims of further reducing power loss and of improving productivity.
*1:Power Control Unit

Narrow cell pitch trench gate structure

Elucidating microscopic phenomena in aims of a friction-free world

As EV motors become smaller and faster, a need has emerged for design technologies that prevent seizure from causing oil starvation. Therefore, we focus on friction and wear phenomena (tribology) that occur in moving machine parts at the nanoscale order, by our testing technologies, analyses, and material explorations intended to elucidate these phenomena and optimize parts design. As an example, we have constructed a new testing technology that can observes oil flows and measure oil film thicknesses inside ball bearings under high-speed rotating conditions. This technology enabled by using bearing for observation equipped transparent outer ring, lubricating oil containing fluorescent agents and high-speed flashlight for excitation*2. In addition, we are researching based on a universal methodology by using CAE calculations that can simulate contact surface conditions on actual sliding machine and are constructing new contact models based on statistical theory for applying this methodology in practice as part of model-based design.
*2: Jointly developed with JTEKT CORPORATION

Visualization of lubrication condition in high-speed ball bearings

Elemental Technologies

Quantum Beam Science, Analytical Chemistry, Fluid Engineering, Catalyst and Resource Chemical Process, Functional Material Chemistry, Mathematical Physics and Matter Physics, Power Engineering, Mechanical Elements and Tribology, Electronic Devices, Electric and Electronic Materials, Energy Chemistry