Lithium Batteries for Hybrid Cars IEEE Spectrum

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Cadillac Electric Cars

Lithium Batteries for Hybrid

Hybrid cars need to farther in electric-only mode, and means lithium-ion battery have a lot riding on them

General Motors

Chevrolet’s is the first series hybrid car shown by a major manufacturer. In a hybrid, the engine’s only job is to a generator; electric power all the rest of the work.

In late General Motors announced to release a vehicle that be able to go long distances in mode. It thus became the U.S. company to commit to a so-called plug-in hybrid that has batteries so capacious they can be recharged not only by the but also from wall in the garage. It represents the next way along the path to an all-electric

Troy Clarke, president of GM America, told IEEE that a plug-in version of the Vue Green Line sport-utility could hit dealer lots 24 after the launch, in 2009, of a hybrid version using two-mode hybrid transmission. He not, however, commit to a date or even a year.

GM has not yet announced where it will get the batteries that any plug-in Only such batteries—the used in laptops—pack enough to sustain electric-only mode for 32 (20 miles), the range generally as necessary. In a statement released on 4 in the runup to the Detroit Motor the company did say that it had agreed to the battery technology programs of two ventures, and that it would assess the technologies of other, companies.

Beyond plug-ins: the Volt

plug-in hybrids involve batteries, their fundamental hardly varies from of other, mechanical-drive cars. radical is the ”series hybrid car, which powers the with electric motors and the onboard combustion engine to run a backup generator that the batteries as needed.

The Chevrolet unveiled to the press on 7 January at North American International Show, is the first-ever series concept car shown by a major For an animated tour of its innards, here. Its 1.0-liter, 3-cylinder engine runs an onboard generator that recharges a lithium-ion battery made of 80 cells. The battery pack’s is 100 L, one-third as much as the lead-acid in GM’s 1990s-issue electric the EV1.

GM’s targeted weight for the pack is 180 kilograms pounds). The company also the battery to last at least 10 through 4,000 full-discharge

The battery pack would in less than 6.5 hours, a 120-kW electric motor 320 newton-meters of peak torque, and go 64 km (40 in all-electric mode on battery alone. The 12-gallon gasoline would add an additional 965 km (600 to that range.

”We have a battery pack said Tony Posawatz, the line director. He confirmed the vehicle shown in Detroit yet run.

Lithium ion: light and

Everything thus depends on the of development of lithium-ion batteries. now they’re the only candidate for the because they store than twice as much (110 to 130 watt hours per as the next-best technology, the nickel-metal-hydride batteries in today’s gas-electric The reason: lithium is the lightest element, so it’s easily

What’s more, it’s

To make lithium-ion batteries for mass-produced electric-drive vehicles, new must increase the energy the store and the speed with they can discharge it. They also lengthen cycle to 15 years or 241 000 km (150 000 miles)the life of a vehicle. Finally, must keep the cost as low as

The technology has advanced quickly, Mark Duvall, manager of development for electric transportation at the Power Research Institute, in Alto, Calif. He’s and bullish” on the prospects for new lithium some of which EPRI has to ascertain their cycle

The first production car to use lithium-ion was the Toyota Vitz CVT 4, a small car only in Japan. It used a 12 ampere-hour lithium-ion battery to power its electric accessories and the engine after idle More recently, Tesla in San Carlos, Calif. has offered the Roadster, an all-electric sports car uses 6831 lithium-ion each roughly the size of a battery.

They give the car up to 400 km miles) of range, as well as the acceleration of 0 to 100 kilometers per hour (0 to 60 per hour) in less than 4

Why use so many little cells? because they’re readily and second, because current technology is susceptible to thermal problem underlined recently by laptopsand larger cells greater risk. The Tesla’s (900-pound) battery pack is not only with cells but with sensors and control designed to detect and isolate any cell.

Better batteries chemistry

The cathodes of current batteries are made of lithium-cobalt oxide (LiCoO 2 ). This is pricey, and it can become unstable and oxygen if the cell is overcharged. One is to replace the cobalt in the cathodes iron phosphates, which release oxygen under any and therefore will not burn.

in Watertown, Mass. first a lithium-ion phosphate battery past fall in Black DeWalt power tools. claims its batteries can be recharged 10 as often as conventional lithium-ion charge to 90 percent capacity in 5 and charge fully in less 15 minutes. Conventional lithium-ion by contrast, can take twice as

In May, the company unveiled a pack it said could be for electric vehicle use within years. It’s smaller a carton of cigarettes and weighs 4.5 kg (10 lbs.), one-fifth as heavy as an NiMH battery. A123 is part in one of the two joint ventures to GM has awarded battery development Its partner is Cobasys, of Orion, itself a joint venture of Technology Ventures and Energy Devices Inc.

GM’s other contract is a joint venture between Controls, of Milwaukee, and Saft Power Systems, of Paris.

Texasbased Valence Technology uses iron-phosphate cathodes for its battery. The technology is used in the the self-stabilizing scooter, and in unofficial that aim to increase the range of a Prius.

Customarily, the anode of a battery is made of graphite, can store only a limited of energy. Researchers at Sandia Laboratories, in Livermore, Calif. developed anodes using a of graphite and silicon that can storage capacity.

Late year, 3M Co. in St. Paul, Minn. deliver still another of anode, based on amorphous which the company says store twice the energy of lithium batteries. Other are trying to make anodes of of lithium and two other metals, antimony mixed with copper, manganese, or indium.

three-metal alloys should increase storage capacity.

now being developed by Altair based in Reno, Nev. the lithium from the cathode to the forming a compound called spinel (Li 4 Ti 5 O 12 ). The company says the cells recharge in 3 minutes and three times as much as the conventional design, and at a great range of temperatures: 30 C to 249 C (22 F to 480 F). It also that its batteries can keep on after 9000 recharging compared with 1000 for cells. Altair’s battery, is not yet in production.

The big gamble

Once lithium have met energy-storage, power-delivery, and cost goals, a massive in manufacturing capacity will be to produce them in bulk for use in But the market is crowded and competitive; to a dozen manufacturers have new lithium battery technologieswith no that automakers will And that number omits the battery research that the automakers themselves are conducting.

Toyota, which builds the share of hybrid vehicles In 2005 it purchased General share of Fuji Heavy Ltd. (which manufactures part, analysts suggest, to get share of its joint venture Tokyo Electric Power to automotive lithium batteries. has already announced that in it will build and sell the an electric version of its tiny R1 car that will use lithium-ion

Mitsubishi Motors, in Tokyo, do much the same with its urban car, most using batteries from its joint venture with TDK

Analysts estimate the price for today’s hybrids at roughly US some $3000 of which to cover the cost of a NiMH pack. At today’s gasoline and prices, you’d need six to 10 of operation to pay it back. But the analysts say the hybrid premium could to $2000 in five years or more of it the cost of lithium-ion which would allow for a payback.

Electric-drive cars won’t be this yearor next they will arrive than you might think

The period could be longer for a hybrid, because it would larger, costlier batteriesthough mileage is hard to calculate. It all on how much of the mileage is covered in mode, with power from the grid, and how much in mode.

Powerful forcesglobal possible carbon taxes, political instabilityseem to be lining up in that will bring us cars that will be and affordable for the first time They won’t arrive year, or next yearbut be here sooner than you think. It all comes down to one when will the lithium-ion be ready?

About the Author

has written about automotive home building, and other for 20 years. He covered software and design for IEEE Spectrum 1985 to 1990. A connoisseur of British automobiles, he writes ’s annual ”Top Ten Cars” feature.


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