Sunday, March 22, 2009

Developments in battery technology

There have been some fascinating developments in battery technology over the years - huge achievements have been made in areas such as the time it takes to recharge batteries, manufacturing cost and degradation over time; I'll add some highlights below:

Have a look at this MIT special report on Better Batteries.

MIT lists Donald Sadoway's Liquid Battery as one of the 10 technologies that can change the way we live.

MIT researchers have managed to dramatically reduce the time it takes to recharge lithium ion batteries. gave the story the title a 100-Fold Lithium-ion Battery Breakthrough.

One of the problems with many batteries is that they gradually lose their charge over time. Tests by A123 indicate that their batteries can keep working for a decade or longer. On their site, you can find a chart like the one below:

In early 2008, CNET reported how researchers used silicon nanowires to give rechargeable lithium ion batteries a tenfold improvement in battery life. The study can be found at Nature.

Battery provider Southern California Edison (SCE) has demonstrated a lithium ion battery with a lifespan of more than 180,000 miles. Since the average family car travels about 10,000 to 15,000 miles each year, the battery could last a decade before it needed replacing.

In earlier articles, I have also written about the Altairnano Nanosafe battery, which has a life expectancy of 12+ years, and can retain up to 85% charge capacity after 15,000 charges. With a 3 phase power supply, it can be recharged in about 10 minutes. Altairnano has demonstrated that a NanoSafe cell can be charged to over 80% charge capacity in about one minute.

New Scientist wrote about this more than four years ago in an article called Charge a battery in just six minutes. Here are also some technical details, from a Altairnano presentation dating back to 2006.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Thursday, January 8, 2009

A123Systems Announces $2.3 Billion Facilities in Michigan

A123Systems Announces Plan to Build U.S.-based Lithium Ion Battery Mass Production Facilities

Planned $2.3 Billion facilities will support aggressive expansion plan to deliver energy storage systems to A123’s multiple OEM customers in the Electric and Hybrid Electric Vehicle market

Watertown, MA – January 7th, 2009
– A123Systems today announced it has submitted an application under the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Incentive Program to qualify for $1.84 billion in direct loans to support the construction of new world-class lithium ion battery manufacturing facilities in the United States, with the first construction location in southeast Michigan.

If A123’s application is approved, this program would enable the company to dramatically expand production capacity in the United States, with full production volumes designed to supply battery systems for five million hybrid vehicles or half a million plug-in electric vehicles per year by 2013.

"We’re entering an exciting new phase for the automotive industry where we increase the electrification of vehicles, reducing consumption of gasoline through advanced batteries. This new facility would greatly accelerate this change and help ensure that the American economy replaces its dependence on foreign oil with reliance on advanced, homegrown batteries,” said David Vieau, A123Systems President and Chief Executive Officer.

At full operation, A123 expects the combined plants would occupy as much as 7 million square feet and create over 14,000 jobs. These plants would produce battery cells and systems to meet the needs of A123’s broad automotive customer portfolio, which currently includes over seven vehicle manufacturers and 19 vehicle models ranging from HEVs (hybrid electric vehicles) to EVs (electric vehicles).

“Chrysler’s commitment to E-drive industry leadership has led us to a strategic relationship with US-based A123Systems as one of our key suppliers supporting production development of ENVI electric vehicles. Chrysler strongly encourages the efforts of A123Systems to develop and mass produce energy storage systems in the United States” said Lou Rhodes, VP of Advanced Engineering for Chrysler LLC and President of ENVI.

"At GM, we see the development of vehicles powered by electricity as key to the transformation of our industry. And advanced battery technology, is at the heart of this transformation," said Bob Lutz, GM Vice Chairman of Global Product Development. "A123's proposal to manufacture advanced battery cells and packs right here in the United States is a positive development for our industry and the nation."

“At Project Better Place, we truly believe that there is a path forward for the US to lead the world into a 21st sustainable century led by American innovation. Converting our national fleet of cars from fossil fuel dependent to fully electric revives our core industrial power, addresses key national strategic goals, and starts to address the biggest global risk we have – climate change. It represents a historic opportunity for the US to re-engineer its economy and its global reputation. We look forward to leading the transformation to sustainable mobility with partners like A123 as part of our mission to end the world’s addiction to foreign oil,” said Shai Agassi, Founder and CEO of Better Place.

A123 was born out of the research labs of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was funded initially with a $100,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy in 2001. Existing A123 customers include AES, BAE Systems, Black and Decker, Cessna, Chrysler LLC, General Motors, Project Better Place, and Th!nk. - Press Release A123Systems, January 7th, 2009