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GM Spark less likely to burn  (Source: GM)
Lithium Phosphate batteries less prone to fire

GM announced the Spark EV back in October with little fanfare and few hard details. With the recent fires in the testing of the Volt, some car buyers and the government are looking at GM and specifically the batteries used in its vehicles.
The Volt is currently under investigation by the NHTSA and GM engineers to determine the cause of the fire and what should be done to prevent the fire from happening again. The battery packs in the Volt are made by LG Chem and use lithium-ion technology. That battery tech is more prone to fire than some other battery technology. 
Business Week reports that GM has chosen another company and different battery tech for the Spark. The Spark will use batteries built by A123. The A123 batteries are less fire prone as they use lithium phosphate chemistry. When GM took bids years ago for the battery packs for the Volt, the technology to mass-produce lithium phosphate batteries was not available.
James Hall from consulting company 2953 Analytics stated, "Lithium phosphate chemistry looks like it could be more friendly in terms of heat management. But it stores less energy. There is a tremendous amount of new discovery. This is new territory for lithium batteries."
Robert Kanode is the CEO of battery maker Valence Technology Inc. in Austin, Texas. Kanode said that if his firm used phosphate batteries to build a pack for the Volt it would be about 10% larger than the existing Volt battery pack. This is another reason phosphate technology isn't common in EVs today. 
Fisker will also be using lithium phosphate batteries in Karma EV.

Source: Business Week

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By rdhood on 12/9/2011 4:31:35 PM , Rating: 0
So, GM is just now figuring out what model airplane enthusiasts have known for years....

Go to youtube, look up "Lipo fire". Then, look at what is happening to the volt. Say "Duh". Then, go to any RC forum and look up "Lipo fire". Again, say "duh". Then, go look up Lithium phosphate in the same RC group. Note the safety by comparison. This is technology that small users have been sorting out for years. If you crash a Lipo battery, you drive a nail through it and throw it away. You DON'T park it in your garage.

By JediJeb on 12/9/2011 4:39:37 PM , Rating: 2
I wonder if you drive through a flooded area on the highway would these batteries in the Volt be sealed good enough to keep the water out, or do they come with a special warning to avoid any high water at all cost?

By Jedi2155 on 12/9/2011 6:47:19 PM , Rating: 2
LiPo is not the same chemistry as the one's used in the Volt. The Volt uses a variation of LMO (Lithium Manganese Oxide), while most RC Lipo's are LCO (Lithium Cobalt Oxide). LMO is a lot safer than LCO, although still not as safe as LFP (Lithium Iron Phosphate).

By Jedi2155 on 12/9/2011 6:48:50 PM , Rating: 2
LMO is more energy dense is considered reasonably safe, but unfortunately it is not safe enough when you're dealing with coolant as well.

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