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Lithium Technology Supplies Li-Ion for Two Challenge X Vehicles, One a Plug-In Hybrid

Design of LTC lithium-ion polymer cell.

Lithium Technology Corporation (LTC) announced that it will supply two of the vehicles in Challenge X —one of which is a plug-in hybrid—with its GAIA high-power lithium-ion polymer batteries.

Challenge X, sponsored by GM, is a three-year competition to re-engineer a GM Equinox crossover sport utility vehicle to minimize energy consumption, emissions, and greenhouse gases while maintaining or exceeding the vehicle's utility and performance. (Earlier post.)

Seventeen university teams are in the competition. Year 1, which ended in June 2005 (the years map to the academic year), focused on modeling, simulation, and testing of the vehicle powertrain and vehicle subsystems selected by each school.

A team from the University of Waterloo (Ontario, Canada) beat the competition from 16 US universities to take top place for Year 1 with their fuel-cell-powered vehicle design.

Years 2 and 3 will require teams to develop and integrate their advanced powertrain and subsystems into a donated GM Equinox. At the conclusion of each of these competition years, teams will come together to undergo extensive judging and evaluation. Events will encompass energy use and emissions goals, vehicle utility and performance, engineering, and K-12 Education Outreach.

LTC is supplying batteries to Penn State University and has received an order from University of California–Davis. In 2004, LTC supplied Penn State a different lithium-ion battery for Ford’s Future Truck competition in which Penn State finished second.

The UC Davis Team (Team Fate) is Dr. Andy Frank’s vehicle design group, which he founded in 1965. Frank is widely credited as being the inventor (around 1990) of the modern plug-in hybrid.

Trinity, Team Fate’s Challenge X vehicle is a plug-in hybrid that will include:

  • A UC Davis-modified Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)

  • A turbo charger/generator to compress charge air for the engine and to use exhaust gases to recharge the battery pack

  • A 3kW hydrogen fuel cell for auxiliary systems such as power steering and air conditioning

  • Hydrogen injection into the combustion chamber to allow the engine to operate at higher temperatures and reduce NOx emissions.

The plug-in is designed to recharge overnight from a standard household socket, and will offer a 40 mile all-electric range.

LTC produces large-format lithium-ion polymer batteries under the GAIA brand name and trademark. The GAIA batteries offer an energy density of up to 140 Watt-hours per kilogram or 270 Watt-hours per liter, high current output, low weight and no memory effect.



The "usual suspects" on evlist seem locked into either using direct drive or modified ICE transmissions for their electric conversions, although one member has mentioned using two separate electric motors and an electronic transmission.

I was hoping that there was a historian in the crowd. Among the manufacturers of electric vehicles from the 1890s to the 1930s, did anyone try to design a mechanical transmission expressly for an electric motor? Also, are there currently industrial applications for electric motors that also require transmissions?


It's stupid to use all that clunky iron/steel for transmissions for electric motors. A thick copper wire is all you need. Mitsubishi is doing it with all four wheels and getting 2072 Nm of torque. They will be able to burn rubber all the way to 100mph and get 100mpg.


An engine is essentially a constant torque device in the range it is usually used, whereas a motor is a constant torque device up to some speed (often called the 'base speed'), where it becomes a constant power device.

Transmissions can convert from one torque range to another, but cannot change the power (due to conservation of energy). This conversion is useful for an engine since it allows different torques to be used to meet a given power demand, but is less useful for a motor, which naturally follows the characteristic that the transmission gives to the engine. A transmission could be useful for increasing the starting torque of a motor, but it is unlikely that more that 2 gears would be useful.

Note that the Mitsubishi car is unlikely to have much acceleration at 100mph (if it is geared to go that high). Although the launch torque may spin the wheels (don't really know), once the base speed is reached the torque will decline with increased speed.


Do does the "no memory effect" mean that the battery can be charged and discharge 1000's of times without loss of efficiency/energy density? I know that the NiMH battery in the Prius has to be very carefully managed to prevent it from giving out too early. Is this advance a way around this problem?


it applies more to individual charge cycles rather than long term performance losses.

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