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PowerPedia:Lithium Ion Batteries

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Lithium Ion Batteries are one of the more promising battery technologies. Ovonics is the leading producer of Lithium Ion Batteries. Their batteries offer electric cars a 180 mile per charge range. However, Ovonics focuses on the hybrid battery market at the moment.


Ovonics was purchased by Chevron-Texaco in 2001, reportedly so Chevron-Texaco could expand their business into the emerging hybrid market. But, some in the alternative energy field see an ulterior motive, so Chevron-Texaco can suppress the development of Lithium Ion Batteries. They may have a point, as Ovonics has shown little interest in selling Lithium Ion Batteries to electric vehicle enthusiasts since purchasing the company.


Recently, Toshiba announced a breakthrough in Lithium Ion Battery technology (see story below) that promises much faster recharge times (1 minute for 80% recharge) and denser power densisities. If this announcement lives up to their claims, a 200+ miles per charge car battery is likely, and it also opens up the possibility of convient recharge stations, as the battery recharges within minutes. A breakthrough that would allow serious consideration towards building an electric car infrastructure.


A derivative of the Lithium Ion Battery is the Lithium Sulphur Battery, which could potentially deliver a 300+ miles per charge car batteries for electric vehicles. Lithium Sulphur Battery technology is being developed by many companies, including Sion Power. <See Lithium Sulphur Directory Below>

Contents

Companies

Altairnano Tests Confirm Extended Battery Life

Altairnano battery cells complete 15,000 charge/recharge cycles with minimal loss of charge capacity

RENO, NV -- October 26, 2006 -- Altair Nanotechnologies Inc.,a leading provider of advanced nanomaterials for use in energy, automotive, life sciences and industrial applications, announced today that, in ongoing testing, it has completed 15,000 deep charge/discharge cycles of its innovative NanoSafe battery cells. Even after 15,000 cycles the cells still retained over 85% of their original charge capacity. This represents a significant improvement over conventional, commercially available rechargeable battery technologies such as lithium ion, nickel metal hydride and nickel cadmium. These other commercially available rechargeable batteries typically retain that level of charge capacity only through approximately 1,000 deep charge/discharge cycles.

The battery cells were tested in Altairnano's labs at 10C (6 minute) charge and discharge rates. They were deep charged and discharged meaning they were taken to 100% charge and 0% charge respectively during the 6-minute cycles. Although tests involved full charges and discharges, partial charging and discharging of the battery does not appear to impact the life or the holding charge capacity of the batteries i.e. they exhibit no memory loss.

In theory, a 15,000 charge cycle life would translate into a battery that would last greater than 40 years if it was charged daily, as would be the case in an electric vehicle or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle environment. However, in practice, other wear and tear factors would realistically limit the actual life of the batteries to probably 20 years.

"These results represent a remarkable achievement by our battery development group. We believe that the commercial implications of such an extended life battery are significant and would seem to provide us with an as yet unmatched competitive advantage in the electric vehicle and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle markets, and potentially other markets," said Altairnano President and CEO Alan J. Gotcher Ph.D.

http://www.b2i.us/profiles/investor/ResLibraryView.asp?ResLibraryID=17574&GoTopage=1&BzID=546&Category=856

Toshiba 1-Minute Recharge Lithium Ion Battery

New battery offers unsurpassed recharge performance and high energy density

TOKYO -- Toshiba Corporation today announced a breakthrough in lithium-ion batteries that makes long recharge times a thing of the past. The company's new battery can recharge 80% of a battery's energy capacity in only one minute, approximately 60 times faster than the typical lithium-ion batteries in wide use today, and combines this fast recharge time with performance-boosting improvements in energy density.

The new battery fuses Toshiba's latest advances in nano-material technology for the electric devices sector with cumulative know-how in manufacturing lithium-ion battery cells. A breakthrough technology applied to the negative electrode uses new nano-particles to prevent organic liquid electrolytes from reducing during battery recharging. The nano-particles quickly absorb and store vast amount of lithium ions, without causing any deterioration in the electrode.

http://www.toshiba.co.jp/about/press/2005_03/pr2901.htm

Toshiba just had their first recall. [1] (Aug. 2007)

A123Systems Li Ion Batteries

  • Batteries > A123 Systems lithium-ion battery technology - A123 replaces the cobalt oxide in lithium-ion cells with nanophosphate, enabling a quick charge, while delivering high power density, with a long life-time. Is used in power tools, and is process of breaking into hybrid vehicle market.

A123Systems is developing Lithium-Ion Battery technology that appears to be significantly better than their competitors in the Li-Ion battery market. Black and Decker is using A123 Li-Ion batteries in their latest set of rechargable power tools. Research is ongoing into other uses such as hybrid and electric vehicles.

High Power. A123Systems’ first product packs up to five times the power density (3000W/kg) of current rechargeable, high power batteries. In addition, the battery has the ability to recharge to 90% of its capacity in five minutes.

Intrinsic Safety. Unlike conventional Lithium-ion batteries, A123Systems' batteries employ new thermally stable, non-combustible active materials, enabling a safer cell and allowing cost reductions such as the elimination of unnecessary battery pack components. In addition, A123Systems uses an environmentally friendly chemistry.

Long Life. With up to 10X improvement in life over existing rechargeable batteries, A123Systems’ batteries can deliver thousands of cycles at high rates. Cycles refer to the number of times a battery can be charged and discharged before it no longer has any power remaining.

Valence Technologies' Saphion Batteries: Safety First

An article in Wired, "Driving Green, Explosion Free" by Matthew Shechmeister explains combustibility problem of volatile cobalt-oxide in many if not most lithium ion batteries. If you fire a bullet into one, a huge explosion results, but if you discharge a firearm into a Texas-based Valence Technology's phosphate-based battery ([2]), nothing happens. This makes the Saphion inherently safer for large formats, especially automobiles. The drawback that the phosphate-based battery has somewhat less storage capacity than nickel metal hydride may be offset by the greater safety, especially in vehicles where there is risk of collision, exposure to gasoline fire, punctures, and other hazards. The higher introductory cost of the Saphion is expected to be offset by increased production volume. Please see [3].

Automotive Industries in February 2005 reported that the Saphion had begun to make an appearance in GM concept cars such as the Sequel fuel-cell crossover SUV. There's also a later-stage benefit. While the cobalt oxide and nickel batteries require special end-of-life disposal, the phosphate Saphion batteries are approved for landfill disposal in the state of Nevada due to not being classified as toxic metals. This source also reports that Alternativ Canada, which retrofits and converts vehicles, has more than doubled the single-charge range of one of its Hyundai Accents by replacing the lead-acid battery with a Valence U-Charge phosphate battery.

The same article reports that Segway replaced NiMH and NiCD batteries in its Human Transporter with Saphion batteries, doubling the operating time from four to eight hours. This allows full-day operation, and increases commercial-use prospects for Segway's product. Please see: [4].

Johnson Controls

  • Johnson Controls-Saft Joint Venture Targets Development of Advanced, Lithium-Ion Batteries for Hybrid-Electric Vehicles - Johnson Controls-Saft Advanced Power Solutions has been awarded a 24-month contract to develop advanced, lithium-ion (Li-Ion) batteries for hybrid-electric vehicles (HEVs) by the United States Advanced Battery Consortium (USABC). JCS will enhance lithium-ion battery technology for near-future HEVs, focusing on accelerating Li-Ion technology development by improving battery power in low temperatures, and creating solutions that reduce battery system costs. (Johnson Controls; August 14, 2006)
  • Johnson Controls Launches High-Technology Laboratory to Create Lithium-ion Batteries for Future Hybrid Vehicles - For more than a decade, Johnson Controls has supplied nickel-metal-hydride batteries for hybrid-vehicle applications in Europe. The company believes lithium ion technology is likely to replace nickel-metal-hydride as the battery technology of choice in hybrid-electric and electric vehicles in the future. In this program, Johnson Controls has been tapped to develop an abuse-tolerant, lithium-ion battery offering extended life and significantly improved power-to-weight performance vs. current hybrid-battery technology. (Johnson Controls; September 28, 2005)

EnerDel

  • EnerDel - Developing a Lithium-ion battery (LIB) solution that will improve the performance, fuel efficiency and cost of Hybrid Electric Vehicles. The new, highly reliable and safe batteries are designed to be lighter in weight, occupy less space, provide more power, more energy, and have a longer life than the nickel metal hydride batteries found in today's HEVs. EnerDel will manufacture its batteries in Indiana. By utilizing a unique, highly automated manufacturing process, EnerDel expects to succeed at being the first company to cost-competitively mass-produce a Li-ion battery in the United States. EnerDel's flat-stackable battery cell design allows for more efficient battery packs than cylindrical designs currently is use. EnerDel was formed in October 2004, when alternative energy company Ener1, Inc., and the world's largest automotive components company Delphi Corporation combined lithium battery operations.

In the News

  • Battery Breakthrough -- As President Bush talks up the need for more research, scientists are making advances in hybrids and all-electric vehicles. - Researchers have long known that a material based on lithium, nickel, and manganese could be used to make lithium-ion batteries that store large amounts of energy. The problem has been that batteries based on this material could be charged and discharged only slowly, otherwise the amount of energy they could store would drop dramatically. MIT created a computer model that showed that when it was under conditions of high power, disorder in the lithium-nickel-manganese material caused it to compress and trap the lithium ions that allow electricity to flow. The researchers then synthesized a version of this material without this disorder, freeing the ions to move quickly. (Technology Review; February 22, 2006)

Concerns

Lithium Ion Battery Fires

  • Laptop Battery Fire - "We intentionally created conditions in which the Li-ON battery pack would explode inside a generic portable. The results are dramatic. There are numerous conditions where these fires can occur in real life. Faulty battery packs (driving the recalls), faulty protection circuits inside the PC, exposure to excessive heat, and blunt force are some of the major ways that this could happen to you." (PC Pitstop / YouTube; Nov. 9, 2006)

On Aug. 10, 2007, New Energy Congress member, Ken Rasmussen wrote the following regarding the above video:

This is an extremely serious matter as we now see the otherwise excellent Tesla Car will have the equivalent of what, 50 to a hundred laptop batteries on board? If a drunk rock star flies that thing into a gasoline vehicle that just starts a small fire, the large lithium battery fire could destroy a neighborhood. They couldn't read the temperature of the flame in the video, just that it was over 1,000 degrees F. Paul Pantone told me once, and I believe him on this, that fires over 4,000 degrees F excite steam to the point that it instantly breaks down into component gases, creating an even more violent explosion. 

Mark Dansie and I were discussing this in reference to Tesla Motors just the other day. I don't think the new ceramic, Eestor or ultra capacitor designs have this problem.


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