Print 15 comment(s) - last by Paj.. on Jun 15 at 10:59 AM

New battery tech might eliminate the need for cooling systems

A123 Systems has announced what it's calling a new breakthrough in lithium-ion battery technology for optimizing battery performance in extreme temperatures. Typically, in extreme temperatures, the performance of lithium-ion batteries is degraded. That means that in an electric vehicle, a person living in Texas during the summer will typically get a shorter driving range and someone living in California where the temperatures are more moderate.
A123 Systems calls the new battery technology Nanophosphate EXT. The company says the new battery technology is capable of operating at extreme temperatures without requiring thermal management. That means the technology is designed to significantly reduce or eliminate the need for heating or cooling systems for optimal performance.
The cooling systems typical lithium-ion batteries require add significantly to the weight of an electric vehicle. Being able to greatly reduce the size or eliminate this cooling system would mean the vehicle could be lighter, leading to longer driving distances. The extra space could potentially be packed with more batteries as well.
"We believe Nanophosphate EXT is a game-changing breakthrough that overcomes one of the key limitations of lead acid, standard lithium ion and other advanced batteries,” said David Vieau, CEO of A123 Systems. “By delivering high power, energy and cycle life capabilities over a wider temperature range, we believe Nanophosphate EXT can reduce or even eliminate the need for costly thermal management systems, which we expect will dramatically enhance the business case for deploying A123's lithium ion battery solutions for a significant number of applications.”
The Nanophosphate EXT technology is designed to maintain a long cycle life at extreme high temperatures and to deliver high-power at extreme low temperatures as well. Research conducted by Ohio State University's Center for Automotive Research found low observed rate of aging for cells within the A123 Nanophosphate EXT batteries. Specifically, the University discovered that the battery was capable of retaining more than 90% of the initial charge capacity after 2,000 full charge-discharge cycles at 45°C. Cold weather testing also found that the battery delivers 20% more power at temperatures as low as -30°C compared to existing technology.
The new battery technology is also being considered as a replacement for the lead acid batteries used for telecommunication systems backup. A123 says that its Nanophosphate EXT battery tech is scheduled to enter volume production during the first half of 2013. The company is considering the ability to offer the technology across its entire portfolio battery cells.
A123 Systems is also the company that had to replace $55 million in batteries inside the Fisker Karma EV.

Source: A123 Systems

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What about extreme cold?
By MZperX on 6/13/2012 12:55:23 PM , Rating: 1
They are talking about extreme temperatures but reading the article it seems they are only addressing the high end. Lithium Ion batteries are also notorious for having abismal extreme cold weather (-30C or colder) performance. They can be permanently damaged by extreme cold (crystallization). It may not matter much for use in automobiles but for overall performance the low end of the temperature scale should not be ignored. There are plenty of applications where performing down to even -51C is required.

RE: What about extreme cold?
By JediJeb on 6/13/2012 1:23:44 PM , Rating: 2
From the article

Cold weather testing also found that the battery delivers 20% more power at temperatures as low as -30°C compared to existing technology.

Not that much info there but it seems they have improved cold weather performance also.

RE: What about extreme cold?
By MZperX on 6/13/2012 1:34:35 PM , Rating: 2
Oops, okay I missed that one. I guess any improvement is welcome but it does not sound like they expanded the operational envelope beyond the -30C "limit".

The problem is not so much insufficient power delivery in extreme cold, but simply that the battery is incapable of handling it, period. You have to heat the darn things to keep them working at all, and below about -40C they are pretty much useless. Plus if exposed to those temps for hours, they can be irreversibly damaged.

RE: What about extreme cold?
By mindless1 on 6/14/2012 2:28:11 PM , Rating: 2
No the problem is you are trying to assume this is some miracle battery tech that MUST be used in every possible application.

It's quite obvious that people operating vehicles in -40C weather need special batteries or a heater system. Already with millions of ICE vehicles in use, most of them can't start in -40C due to their SLA battery.

Instead this is a targeted tech developed to handle normal environmental temperatures that the majority of apps would face.

RE: What about extreme cold?
By johnsmith9875 on 6/13/2012 5:21:15 PM , Rating: 2
Doesn't sound like too much an issue unless you live in Nunavut. -30C is pretty cold.

Only a minor advance
By zephyrprime on 6/13/2012 11:32:30 AM , Rating: 2
This is only a minor advance. It's still expensive and much lower capacity than li-ion cobalt/iron. However, it could be good in cars. GM is already using spinel cells despite their lower capacity and higher cost in the Volt and nano-phosphate is a better performer than lithium spinel.

RE: Only a minor advance
By elleehswon on 6/13/2012 12:25:47 PM , Rating: 2
Correct, this is a minor advance, though a needed one considering the performance of lION batteries(specifically in cold weather). The R&D should be developed on flouride based batteries, if anything.

RE: Only a minor advance
By Paj on 6/15/2012 10:59:40 AM , Rating: 2
Sure the capacity might not change much, but obviating the need for cooling could lead to a significant weight and cost reduction while reducing range anxiety.

By lortsie on 6/13/2012 12:08:02 PM , Rating: 1
Normally not much of a grammatic but this one's bothering me. Shouldn't the headline be "Touts" and not "Outs"?

It sounds like a nice advancement. Probably not as game changing as they're trying to make it sound, but every small step like this is progress.

RE: Touts?
By bobsmith1492 on 6/13/2012 1:04:09 PM , Rating: 2
"Outs" would mean they unveiled or revealed the batteries, while "Touts" would mean they are promoting or showing off the batteries, so either one could work in the sentence.

By alibhai on 6/13/2012 10:31:13 AM , Rating: 2
They call their system "Nanophosphate EXT," and promise that it will offer a number of important improvements on current lithium-ion and lead-acid batteries, particularly in terms of temperature and life cycle.

Nanophosphate EXT maintains impressive cycle life even at extreme high temperatures without sacrificing storage or energy capabilities, especially as compared with the competitive leading lithium ion technology that we used on our head-to-head testing.

By titanmiller on 6/13/2012 6:58:32 PM , Rating: 2
Being able to greatly reduce the size or eliminate this cooling system would mean the vehicle could be lighter, leading to longer driving distances.

Not to mention cheaper to produce since there is no cooling system. I can imagine that could reduce the cost of production by perhaps $1000+

By Colin1497 on 6/13/12, Rating: -1
By fic2 on 6/13/2012 10:40:42 AM , Rating: 5
Reading comprehension is key:

“The lithium-ion battery of the Fisker Karma was fully intact after the fire and has been tested and is in full working condition. Currently, the precise ignition source and cause of the garage fire is still to be determined.”

NHTSA’s inquiry is one in a series the agency has done of incidents involving electric vehicles equipped with lithium-ion batteries, Harris said. Others include a fire in North Carolina last year that was determined to not have been caused by the electric car, and an incident in which a General Motors Co. (GM) Chevrolet Volt caught fire three weeks after the agency performed crash tests on it.

Fisker officials said May 8 that the car couldn’t have caused the fire because its battery was intact and wasn’t being charged at the time.

"People Don't Respect Confidentiality in This Industry" -- Sony Computer Entertainment of America President and CEO Jack Tretton

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