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Apr 04, 2017 07:18 AM EDT

Toyota Collaborates With Universities For $35 Million EV Batteries Research

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Japanese automaker Toyota put up $35 million earmarked for collaboration with several universities for research and study to make better batteries for electric Vehicles (EV).

Toyota's research organization, Toyota Research Institute (TRI), is investing $35 million in a collaborative research with U.S. universities and corporate partners focused on materials science. It is believed that artificial intelligence can advance the efforts further in key areas of basic research.

According to Tech Crunch, the research will center around three key areas that would include fuel cell catalysts, batteries and functional polymers that are designed for energy storage. The thrust is to explore and advance interest in materials that are directly tied to the realm of energy use.

The Japanese automaker stressed that universities will use artificial intelligence in testing different battery chemistry combinations. They will also explore the possibility of using materials, such as magnesium to determine if said materials are feasible for use in manufacturing improved batteries, Detroit Free Press reported.

Brian Storey, program manager for the Toyota Research Institute said that lithium ion batteries, a 40-year old technology are being used in today's hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery electric vehicles. Accordingly, the 40-year old tech is still on the verge of being perfected, Storey added.

Aside from being relatively costly, electric batteries also present limitations that held back its industry sales compared to the relative standard of using cheaper but less-efficient gasoline fed engines. Thus, Storey said, it wants to explore new ways of designing batteries, new ways of combining battery chemistry and employing new sorts of materials.

Toyota initially tapped Stanford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the State University of New York at Buffalo, the University of Connecticut, the University of Michigan and the British-based materials science company Ilika. Toyota is also in talks with other possible research partners.

A $2.4 million investment grant is given by TRI to the University of Michigan that would be earmarked for development of computer simulation tools to predict automotive battery performance and to be overseen by the Michigan Institute for Computational Discovery and Engineering. Using artificial intelligence, the researchers will combine mathematical models of the atomic nature and physics of materials.

The Toyota Research Institute was established in 2015 and engaged in conducting research into auto safety for autonomous cars, it is also engaged in translating outdoor mobility into indoor mobility.

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