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A123Systems Launches New Higher-Power, Faster Recharging Li-Ion Battery Systems

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A123Systems, developer of a new generation of lithium-ion batteries, today unveiled its technology that delivers up to 10x longer life, 5x power gains and dramatically faster charge time (more than 90% capacity in five minutes) over conventional high-power battery technology.

These characteristics make the battery highly suited for hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric vehicle applications, and A123 Systems is working with the DOE to develop next-generation materials for hybrid vehicles.

A123Systems’ batteries use proprietary nanoscale electrode technology built on research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and exclusively licensed from MIT.

Traditional Li-Ion technology uses active materials with particles that range in size between 5 and 20 microns. These large particles are required to minimize safety risks inherent to first-generation Li-Ion chemistries.

A123 Li-Ion Power
Pulse duration C rate Power Density
Continuous discharge 30 189W 2,700 W/kg
Long pulse 80 240W 3,480 W/kg
Instant pulse 100 344W 4,990 W/kg

A123 batteries, however, use a safe and stable active material that can use particle sizes below 100nm without adverse reaction. This new storage electrode enables much faster kinetics providing higher power than is yet possible from any other Li-Ion chemistry.

Furthermore, to take advantage of the power delivered by this new chemistry, A123 has developed novel electrode and cell designs that provide the lowest impedance of any battery of its size, and a new electrolyte system that operates over a much wider temperature range.

The A123 batteries offer:

  • Twice the energy density of other Li-Ion HEV cells, with the highest power to weight ratio of any commercially available battery (2,700 W/kg at continuous discharge).

  • The lowest impedance of any cell/packs in its class.

  • Low impedance growth even at very high charge/discharge rates.

  • Excellent performance over a wide temperature range (-30 to 60 degrees C).

  • Intrinsically safe chemistry (especially important in large batteries).

  • Outstanding calendar life.

  • Novel design that withstands extreme shocks and vibration.

A123Systems’ first battery is now in production and being delivered to the Black & Decker Corporation for use in DEWALT power tools.

A123Systems has raised more than $32 million in funding from heavyweight investors, including include Desh Deshpande (chairman of the A123 board), Qualcomm, Sequoia Capital, Motorola, North Bridge Venture Partners, MIT, YankeeTek and OnPoint Technologies, a strategic private equity firm funded by the United States Army.



EP - you are right there. No-one want to replace a $10000 battery pack too often.

The batteries can be used while in the car. Smart grids will be able to use the BEV and PHEV drive inverters to produce mains power while plugged into the grid. This way utilities can use the storage of all the parked cars plugged into the mains. Car owners would be paid for the energy used at peaking rates of up to 30cents/kWh. This way the utilites do not have stand the expense of the storage batteries.


So, will they let me evaluate a few cells? Just give me 8 for use on my 24v scooter. My 8lb pack of prismatic Li-ion is working great, but I want to do it with a 1/2lb of these bad boys! The applications beyond that are endless, My Prius, My Insight, EM projects, or Drag Race Lithiums Packs?!

Harvey D

Eng-Poet you are getting inpatient. Of course, I've known the difference between Power, Peak Power and Energy for a long time. Faster you can discharge a battery, more Peak Power will be availably (Amps x Volts = Watts = Power, in KW of HP if you like) and that's what the new batteries will offer. However to extend the electric mode range you need a battery pack with enough total energy (Kwh)and that's what the new batteries will offer. High energy density by volume (ex: wh/liter)and by weight (ex: Wh/Kg) are also very important to limit the size and weight of the vehicle, and that's what the new batteries will also offer. All 3 factors are important and essential for sucessful PHEV or EV operation and we all know that.

You seem to revert every thing to COST or SAVINGS. You know that total life time COST and SAVINGS are relative and will vary according to the total cost of both options. Cheap gas/fuel and high cost for electricity (in USA) have made the ICE option very cheap for many years. This is not the case every where and may not be the case in USA in the future.

In most industrial countries, the price of gas has been near or over $5 US a gallon for a long time but the price of electricity is close to and even lower than in many parts/areas of the USA making PHEVs and EVs potentially much more cost effective.

At 5 or 6 cents per KWh, the potential savings are forcibly more interesting than at 15 to 20 cents per KWh. The opposite may be true where fossil fuel is very cheap and the cost of electricity is very high.

Another ICE operation cost to factor in would be the total POLLUTION COST. Some people think that this factor alone could double or even triple the real ICE operation cost. Cleaning up a huge mess can be very expensive. The tobacco industry is getting to know more about it. Some smokers are spending more for treatment than the cost of all the cigaretes smoked in a lifetime.

So, comparing total cost is not easy but it is very easy to make figures lie by ommision or by being too selective. When it comes to our own health and survival, it may be wise to err on the safe side and not to underestimate the cost to repair the damages done to the planet and all its inhabitants.

No offense taken but I hope that you may see things differently and more globally.

Harvey D

Wind power for PHEVs.

Recent very large (5-megawatt) wind mills are 40% efficient, can produce 48 000 KWh/day each or enough to recharge 4 800 PHEVs @ 10 KWh/ea every day. Recharging 200 000 000 PHEVs would require the installation of 41 666 large wind mills or one (1) wind mill per 216 sq. Km in USA.

For Canada, the relative requirement would be for 4 166 large wind mills or one (1) wind mill per 2400 sq. Km.

A very large number of USA wind mills required could be installed off-shore where wind energy is better and/or in Canada.

For Canada, the solution is much simpler because on-land winds (force 6 to 9) exist in abundance over vast areas. The huge potential surplus could be exported to USA for up to 100 000 000 USA PHEVs.

All those wind mills could be installed (together with the connecting power grids) in a 10 to 15 year period. Latter on, solar power could complement wind mills in many areas. We all know the benefits.

Eng-Poet you are getting inpatient [sic]. Of course, I've known the difference between Power, Peak Power and Energy for a long time.
Yet the implications escape you.

IIRC, the current Prius has a battery of about 1.2 kWh which is cycled to about 20% depth to increase lifespan.  Current Li-ion batteries are considerably more expensive per kWh, and have such low specific power that they would need much greater capacity to achieve the required power.  Ergo, a Li-ion Prius is not in the cards with current technology.

The high specific power of these batteries would allow the battery pack to be shrunk further (at 30 C, 15 kW of power can be delivered by a 0.5 kWh battery).  That would be cheaper than NiMH even at current per-AH prices for both, as well as lighter.

But it would be no closer to a plug-in hybrid.  To go 20 miles in a Prius+ takes 5.6 kWh at the plug, probably 4.4 kWh at the battery terminals.  This means almost quintupling the battery capacity (5.5 kWh drained to 80% discharge).  If batteries are too expensive before this technology, they will still be.

You seem to revert every thing to COST or SAVINGS.
Because most people have to watch the bottom line, and any program which depends on altruism will have rampant cheating.


EP - if you read this calcars has already tested a Lithium-Ion Prius+ with Valence Saphion technology. A company called Edrive Systems is hoping to market it. Testing shows on a prototype shows promise.


It's that "installed cost of $10-12,000" that's the killer.  If you had a standard Prius getting 45 MPG on $5/gallon fuel, you wouldn't see a payback in less than 90,000 miles even if electricity was free.  That really needs to come down.  What I hope is that demand for small hybrid batteries creates enough volume that the price drops steadily; progression to plug-in hybrids (especially ones with extra space in the battery compartment for upgrades) would allow people to add more according to need or as prices fell.


EP - amen to that


I'll be surprised if the Edrive plug-in Prius ever gets commercialized. Not only is the high installed cost ($10,000 to $12,000 is an optimistic estimate, IMO) an issue, but the longevity of the battery is also an issue. The 9.1 kWh battery in the Edrive concept vehicle would need to be deeply discharged on a daily basis in order to generate any significant fuel savings. Regular deep discharges are likely to severely limit the life. Who would pay $10,000 to $12,000 (at least) every couple of years, plus the cost of electricity in order to save a few hundred per year on gasoline?


20 miles at 200 Wh/mile is all of 4 kWh; about 44% discharge on that unit.

I still think that the path of least cost is a PHEV full of lead-acid batteries.  The problem is that the weight and bulk requires a clean-sheet design (or close to it), which seems to be too costly and risky for an American auto company to undertake.

Bob Tasa

Bottom line is cost. What is the
cost in large production. Can the units be A/B'd
A car has to go about 200 miles between refills
so it can be used for long distance travel.
The rest of the logistics such as where the power is
going to come from I am not as worried about as it can
be solved. Take weight.. Space frame instead of metal cars can drastically reduce the weight. Regenerative breaking will extend the basic range. Solar panels on the roof or trunk can also increase range and decrease the cost of ownership. There are solutions if we start with a platform that can work and be mass produced.
Fingers crossed some real car manfacturer will pick this up and make an affordable electric commuter car.



"I still think that the path of least cost is a PHEV full of lead-acid batteries.  The problem is..."

Well, one problem is that the US government's NHTSA will not allow standard lead-acid batteries to be installed in a vehicle's passenger compartment. And yes, they consider the trunk area of a standard sedan a passenger compartment. That's why even the original Prius had to have an AGM lead-acid battery.

Jim Stack

5x power and 10x life is great. Fast charging could be misused. If done during peak power demand we could overload the grid and transmission lines causing blackouts.
Just as bad it could require many new power generating stations that could be more coal, nuclear or other dirty non renewable power.
We need to create solutions not make more problems and be wasteful. Smaller vehicles and less travel is better for everyone. Lets not waste even clean power.
These batteries can be a blesing if we use them wisely.

Harvey D

A large European Industrial Group has built a demonstration mid-size crossover EV, up to 5 passengers, with 200 to 250 Km range from a 200 Kg/27 KWh existing LMP battery pack, a top speed of 130 Kmh, quick acceleration, power consumption of 96 Wh/Km to 108 Wh/Km. The technology is being transfered to China where range will probably be increased to 400 or 500 Km with the latest batteries and recharge time reduced to a few minutes. The affordable price of the China produced version will certainly surprise a lot of us.

Did you know that if they can make and sell 800 million shirts to buy one Airbus A-380 they could do the same for rechargeable batteries.

The same crossover platform could easily be transformed into a practical PHEV with a smaller or more efficent battery pack and a small efficient light-weight, Asian built, generator.

Affordable low cost high performance rechargeable batteries and PHEVs will be imported. Full EVs will follow from the same sources.

Jay D

IMO, the most likely replacement for the ICE will be an all-electric combination of:

- Ultracapacitors for the most efficient regenerative braking.

- Super nanotech lithium-ion batteries like those from A123Systems for high power densities (needed for acceleration & climbing hills) as well as quick plug-in recharging for short trips (say < 20 miles).

- For high energy densities (range 300+ miles), ethanol can be reformed for fuel cells using inexpensive non-platinum nanotech catalysts like these from Acta:

I came to this conclusion a few years ago, and I don't work in the automotive industry. What Americans should become angry about are:

(1) Why the possibility of peak oil was not discussed by governments or corporations, until only recently when it's too late to prevent massive economic damage.

(2) While development of this battery has been significantly paid for by American tax dollars, profits and jobs will end up in Japan and Asia because the American auto companies and the current US administration insisted that superior batteries were vaporware, while hydrogen fuel cells must be the future when oil runs out (in a hundred years or sometime after that).

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