[News] Japan and EU Reportedly Collaborate on Advanced Materials Research to Reduce Over-Reliance

2024-04-01 Emerging Technologies editor

Japan and the EU are reportedly set to launch formal cooperation in the research and development of advanced materials, such as chips and electric vehicle batteries. According to a report from NIKKEI, this initiative aims to decrease their high reliance on suppliers from China. Iliana Ivanova, Commissioner for Innovation and Research at the EU, revealed that the two parties will establish a collaborative framework in April.

As per the same report, Commissioner Ivanova stated during an interview that both Japan and the EU remain globally leading in advanced materials innovation. In 2020, the EU’s investment in this industry totaled EUR 19.8 billion, while Japan’s amounted to EUR 14 billion.

Under the framework tentatively named “Dialogue on Advanced Materials,” Japan and the EU plan to hold regular meetings to discuss collaboration proposals. Institutions engaged in advanced materials research from both sides will also participate. Commissioner Ivanova highlighted that the areas of cooperation include renewable energy, transportation, construction, and electronic materials. She also expressed hope for Japan and the EU to jointly develop international standards for advanced materials.

The report highlights a specific area of focus: the development of sodium-ion batteries, which are seen as the most promising next-generation power source for electric vehicles.

In recent years, the rapid growth of the global electric vehicle and energy storage markets has driven robust demand for lithium-ion batteries. As per TrendForce’s data, with further expansion expected in these sectors, the demand for lithium batteries is projected to continue growing, surpassing 3200GWh in global shipments by 2027.

Currently, China dominates the global lithium battery supply chain system, including battery metal refining, battery material processing, and battery manufacturing. Per TrendForce, more than 75% of lithium batteries worldwide are currently produced in China, making it the global leader in lithium battery manufacturing capacity.

In regard to China’s competitive advantage in the LiBs field today, it’s difficult for Japanese and South Korean companies to surpass. And it’s even more challenging for the US and Europe to catch up with China, due to the weak foundation of LiB industry locally. However, the emergence of inexhaustible and inexpensive sodium batteries may have offered a solution for the world to reduce its reliance on China.

Sodium-ion batteries do not require the use of rare metals controlled by China and have lower production costs compared to traditional batteries. The EU hopes to make progress in this area to meet the increasing demand brought about by the transition to electric vehicles.

Additionally, the EU aims to leverage Japan’s leading knowledge in metal nanoparticle technology, which can enhance solar energy conversion efficiency. Nanoparticle materials can also help smartphones save energy. In the future, the EU plans to allocate significant funding to advanced materials research, fully supporting related research and large-scale production.

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Please note that this article cites information from NIKKEI.