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IBM's Battery 500 Project research lab  (Source:
The two newcomers are Asahi Kasei and Central Glass

Two well-known manufacturers have jumped on board IBM's Battery 500 Project, which is expected to provide lithium-air batteries for electric vehicles (EVs).

The two newcomers are Asahi Kasei, a leading chemical manufacturer and global supplier of separator membrane for lithium-ion batteries in Japan, and Central Glass, which is a global electrolyte manufacturer for lithium-ion batteries.

“These new partners share our vision of electric cars being critical components of building a cleaner, better world, which is far less dependent on oil,” said Dr. Winfried Wilcke, IBM’s Principle Investigator who initiated the Battery 500 Project. “Their compatible experience, knowledge and commitment to bold innovation in electric vehicle battery technology can help us transfer this research from the lab onto the road.”

While both manufacturers typically work with lithium-ion batteries, they'll be working on critical parts of lithium-air batteries for IBM. Asahi Kasei is expected to create a vital component for the lithium-air batteries using its knowledge in membrane technology, and Central Glass is expected to make a new class of electrolytes and additives to improve lithium-air batteries using its chemical experience.

“New materials development is vitally important to ensuring the viability of lithium-air battery technology,” said Tatsuya Mori, Director, Executive Managing Officer, Central Glass. “As a long-standing partner of IBM and leader in developing high-performance electrolytes for batteries, we’re excited to share each other’s chemical and scientific expertise in a field as exciting as electric vehicles.” 

IBM's Battery 500 Project, which launched in 2009, aims to create lithium-air EV batteries that are capable of traveling 500 miles before needing to recharge. The idea is to make EV adoption more widespread by offering greener vehicles capable of matching the range of gasoline vehicles.

Today, most EVs can drive about 100 miles before needing to recharge their lithium-ion batteries. This is an issue, since gasoline vehicles are capable of going four to five times that range on a single tank. One option could be a larger battery, but that would weigh down the vehicle considerably.

Instead, IBM has been working on an alternative: lithium-air batteries. Lithium-air batteries have a higher energy density than lithium-ion batteries, mainly because of their primary fuel being oxygen from the atmosphere and the fact that they have lighter cathodes.

IBM eventually hopes to create a lithium-air battery that has an energy density 10 times greater than that of lithium-ion batteries.

Lithium-ion batteries for EVs have had a lot of problems over the last year, namely with fires and safety issues concerning vehicles like the Chevrolet Volt and Fisker Karma plug-in.

Source: IBM

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RE: Get over it, please!
By tayb on 4/20/2012 2:59:21 PM , Rating: 2
Cars catch fire all the time. I have personally seen 15-20 car fires in the past 5 years in Dallas. Gasoline is highly flammable.

RE: Get over it, please!
By Reclaimer77 on 4/20/2012 4:11:19 PM , Rating: 2
I have personally seen 15-20 car fires in the past 5 years in Micheal Bay movies.

Fixed that for ya Mr. Exaggerate.

RE: Get over it, please!
By Keeir on 4/20/2012 8:11:23 PM , Rating: 3

He is reporting having seen an average of 3-4 car fires a year. In the US there are typically ~300,000 car fires a year. (Reported to Fire Departments)
Roughly 200,000 are due to mechanical and or electrical problems (A incident rate of 1/1000-1/2000 cars per year. Not very good quite frankly)

Anyway, since there are ~300 million people in the US, just from a straight math standpoint a minimum of 1/1000 chance each year of observing a fire. His numbers are probably a bit high unless he personally work in Fire or Transport sectors. If he does, his numbers are entirely reasonable if not unexaggerated.

In the greater Dallas area, I'd expect over 5 years there to be ~25,000-30,000 car fires which were refered to the Fire Departments. He's claiming to have see 1/15,000 seems not entirely unreasonable or impossible... just unlikely.

RE: Get over it, please!
By macca007 on 4/20/2012 9:24:34 PM , Rating: 2
Any chance you could give me next weeks lotto numbers, Ta! ;)

RE: Get over it, please!
By zephyrprime on 4/22/2012 4:59:01 PM , Rating: 2
Your math sucks. There is no way he saw that many car fires in that time unless he works as a fireman, cop, pit crew mechanic, etc. I've driven for 17 years in a large metro and seen a major car collision but during that time, I've never seen a single car fire.

RE: Get over it, please!
By Keeir on 4/23/2012 6:08:09 AM , Rating: 2
Reading comprehension is good.

I clearly stated that unless he worked for Fire Department, his numbers were very unlikely.

But given the sheer number of incidents, there is a relatively realsitic chance he is telling the truth (compared to gut reaction anyway)

I am thinking he is likely counting direct evidence of fire which raising the possibility significantly. But overall, its a relative long shot. But I've seen smoke pooring from cars on no less than 3 occasions and seen at least 2 accident scenes that sure as heck looks firey, though I have never once seen a car in actual flames. So, I'd say have seen a number between 2-6 car fires (I definately know from news sources that once accident scene had 2 cars on fire, which is a relatively rare occurance apparently since accidents is low on the list of reason for car fires)

RE: Get over it, please!
By zephyrprime on 4/23/2012 10:51:05 AM , Rating: 2
You're overthinking this. There's just no way he saw that many unless he had some job where he handles wrecks.

RE: Get over it, please!
By Jeffk464 on 4/21/2012 10:22:54 AM , Rating: 2
Yup when people are worried about battery safety the alternative is gasoline. Not exactly the least volatile substance around, plus its liquid and can rapidly spread all over the accident scene.

RE: Get over it, please!
By ImEmmittSmith on 4/23/2012 5:01:58 PM , Rating: 2
When I use to commute to Dallas from Fort Worth on a regular bases, 40-50 miles each way, I probably saw 3-4 car fires in those 5 years. So, I would say it is probable. There are just so many cars congested into one area. One additional note, I remember seeing more of these fires 15-20 years ago, then I have recently.

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