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LTC Developing 12 kWh Li-ion Battery for Plug-in Hybrids; Larger Battery for Submarines

Lithium Technology Corporation (LTC), a global provider of large, rechargeable lithium-ion power solutions, is developing two of the largest, highest capacity lithium-ion battery systems yet for plug-in hybrid automobiles and non-nuclear submarines.

In conjunction with an unnamed automaker, LTC is developing a 12 kWh Li-ion battery system that should support a plug-in hybrid application in a four-passenger vehicle with an all-electric range of 60 miles. LTC says that its Li-ion system will be comparably sized to existing battery packs of about half the capacity.

In a joint venture with ThyssenKrupp, LTC’s subsidiary GAIA Akkumulatorrenwerke (GAIA) is in development of a battery system for the ThyssenKrupp’s non-nuclear submarine. This battery system will enable propulsion four times longer and safer than lead-acid powered vessels.

Conventional submarines contain lead-acid batteries which emit hydrogen-oxygen gases that can cause explosion during operation. The lithium-ion battery is hermetically sealed, making it safer transport for the passengers aboard. While it will be the largest lithium-ion battery solution in the world, the system utilizes less than one-third of the space the standard lead-acid battery consumed, allowing more vessel space for other applications. LTC estimates a delivery date of the first quarter of 2008.

Power versus energy for different chemistries. Click to enlarge. Source: LTC.

Lithium Technology Corporation (LTC) provides large format rechargeable power solutions for diverse applications in the military and national security systems, transportation and stationary power markets.

LTC manufactures the GAIA product line of large, high-power hermetically sealed rechargeable lithium-ion cells and batteries. The GAIA cells and batteries are either designed to maximize energy content (HE product line) or power capability (HP or UHP product lines).

Earlier this year, LTC announced that it had provided three 2.2 kWh Li-ion batteries to Zytek Systems in the UK for the development of a hybrid vehicle as part of the Energy Saving Trust’s Ultra-Low Carbon Car Challenge (ULCCC).

The vehicle is based on a smart forfour and will utilize a hybrid power train based on 1500cc, 3-cylinder turbo charged diesel engine coupled to 2 high-efficiency permanent-magnet electric motors.

The batteries can be charged by either the ICE, by regenerative breaking, or by the grid (plug-in hybrid), and will have a modest all-electric range.

Zytek is also the developer of the all-electric smart fortwo recently introduced into the UK by DaimlerChrysler. That vehicle uses a Zebra Sodium Nickel Chloride battery. (Earlier post.)


Adrian Akau

I think tha lithium sources will become more important than ever and hope that the mining of this valuable mineral will be able to keep up with demand.

allen Z

Diesel electric submarines are just another market for next gen energy storage devices. They are attractive to developers/manufacturers of these systems because money is less an issue. They can develope these systems for the military market first, recover costs, refine designs/theories/processies, and then move them quickly out to the civilian consumers. This is not to say some will not come the other way (off the shelf and civilian to military), meet Milspec, and succeed.


Great. I think the race is really starting to heat up...


Great. I think the race is really starting to heat up...


It seems the hybrid idea thou decades old has finally started to take off. You know this whole hybrid thing seems kinda like wind power but a few years behind. It has finally reached that critical mass where it won't go away, that it until we get a cheap, readily available, energy dense, mobile, clean... source that met all those yet.

Here is a link that I followed.*/

I tried to post it before but failed so hope someone likes it.


I guess that didn't work. Just type in at that page, it was a really cool engeneering challange to follow.

Robert Schwartz

August 15, 2006
Can anything tame the battery flames?
Michael Kanellos, for

... Lithium ion batteries can, under the right conditions, explode into flames. "They (lithium ion batteries) contain a highly flammable liquid in a pressurized vessel. They have a fairly powerful oxidizer. You've got to have strict quality control in manufacturing," he said. "It's the only rechargeable battery technology has uses a flammable liquid." ...

... These batteries can hold far more energy than conventional rechargeable batteries and generally weigh less than traditional rechargeables. ... Unfortunately, a short circuit inside a lithium ion battery can lead to what's known in the industry as a "runaway thermal reaction." The reaction can cause the battery case to melt and spew hot liquids, or explode due to pressure and heat. Injuries have been reported around the globe. To make matters worse, manufacturers have continued to increase the energy density--or the amount of energy the battery can hold--of lithium ion batteries by thinning out separators (which keep the electrodes apart) and changing other components. These changes lead to longer run times--something consumers are demanding--but also raise the potential that something can go wrong.

* * *

Lithium ion manufacturers have also known for some time that the opportunities for improving the performance of their products were limited. "The theoretical maximum will be reached by 2006 for lithium ion chemistry," said Hammed Cadbury, product marketing manager for the energy component group at Sony in an interview in 2004.

Despite the explosive potential, lithium batteries are enjoying popularity in electric and hybrid cars. The Tesla Roadster, an all-electric sports car, runs on a battery containing 6,831 lithium ion cells, said CEO Martin Eberhard.

Safety precautions, however, are taken to the nth degree in the car. The lithium ion cells are isolated from each other, so that if one catches fire, the fire won't spread to other cells. In that event, sensors also detect the fire and shut down the battery and let the driver coast to a stop. The battery is also cooled and kept at around 25 degrees Celsius. This doesn't prevent failure, but allows the lithium ion cells to live longer despite several recharges.


Only the cobalt-oxide cathodes have the thermal runaway problem.  The phosphate and titanium dioxide chemistries do not.

Shaun Williams

"The theoretical maximum will be reached by 2006 for lithium ion chemistry,"

and your point is, R.S?

Donald Sadoway, professor of materials science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said last year; "We've got batteries in my lab right now that are 300Wh/kg and I can see the possibility of breaking 400Wh/kg."

That's more than THREE TIMES the capacity per weight of today's off-the-shelf Lion technology.

Can you imagine it, a 20kWh battery pack only weighing 50 Kg (110 lb)!

Robert Schwartz

EP: the article said:

... The ... cathode material, the metallic pole inside a battery that attracts electrons, made of metal phosphate. Most lithium ion batteries sport a cathode based around cobalt.

Batteries with the metal phosphate can store only about 75 percent of the energy a traditional lithium ion battery can hold. However, the phosphate won't burn. In traditional lithium ion batteries, heat inside the battery can cause the cobalt oxide cathode to decompose.

Robert Schwartz

"We've got batteries in my lab right now that are 300Wh/kg and I can see the possibility of breaking 400Wh/kg."

300Wh/kg = 1 Mega Joule/Kg

By way of comparison:

1 Kg Gasoline = 44MJ

"Can you imagine it, a 20kWh battery pack only weighing 50 Kg (110 lb)!"

20KWh = 72 MJ

1 liter of gasoline = 730 g

1 l gasoline = 60 MJ

The Honda Insight makes 60/66 mpg, best of any car sold in the US. That is about 3.8 l/100km or 228 MJ/100 Km. It is a very small vehicle that weighs less than 850 Kg and has a maximum permisible pay load of 182 Kg (two of me would overload it). It carries 40 liters of fuel, which gives it a range of more than 600 Km.

That 40 liters of gasoline represents about 2,400 MJ.

If an electric vehicle is as efficent as the Insight, a 50Kg battery should give it a range of about 32 Km.

Robert Schwartz

August 16, 2006
Need for Battery Power Runs Into Basic Hurdles of Science


But scientists are running into some basic hurdles of chemistry and physics. The more energy they store in a small package, the more volatile and dangerous that package becomes.


There is another pressing reason for the quest for improvements: battery-powered cars. An electric car needs a power source that is 2,000 times as powerful as a laptop battery. “That size would be extremely dangerous,” said Sanjeev Mukerjee, a chemistry and chemical biology professor at Northeastern University. ...


The tweaking of materials and chemicals in the lithium-ion battery will extend its usefulness for at least another decade or more, said Gao Liu, a scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. ... “We don’t see any new energy storage devices,” Mr. Liu said. The best bet for the future is probably fuel cells, he said, but it may be more than a decade before they start appearing in mass-market portable devices.

Microcells have been just over the industry’s horizon since Toshiba demonstrated a prototype at a trade show in 2003. Pulling together all of the components has proved more challenging than fuel cell advocates predicted.


Robert, you reversed your calculations: a liter of gas would be 44 MJ/KG x .73 KG/liter or about 32 MJ/liter.

A Honda insight uses less than 200 wh/mile, so it could go 100 miles or more on a 20 kwhr battery.

A gasoline internal combustion engine is only roughly 15% efficient in converting gasoline MJ's into motive power. That, and the fact that ICE's (and their associated equipment) are much heavier and bulkier than electrical motors make a direct comparison between energy density of gasoline and batteries very misleading.


Nick, I would contend a modern VVT equipped moderately high compression ratio (10.0:1 or 10.5:1) gasoline engine is probably closer to 30% efficiency. Using 85% efficiency for the EV would give 20kW-hr the equivalent useable energy of a little over 6 liters of gas. Using your 3.8L/100km figure above yields a range just under 170km (100 miles).

tom deplume

It is not that often that most people take 600 km trips. what is most likely is a 6 km trip in stop and go traffic. Which uses more energy while sitting at a red light? The Honda Insight or the Honda Fit?


I don't feel like checking the site right now but I strongly disagree with the 6km trip in stop and go traffic...unless you mean at the end of the commute there is an additional 6km going through stop and go traffic. The average American (you might be discussing europeans) drives further than 6km one way for their commute.

Sid Hoffman

Latest stats indicate US residents now cover something like 15 miles each way for their daily commute, meaning you need to be able to provide at least a 30 mile round-trip if you do it all-electric. Heat and A/C will drop this substantially, but with a plug-in vehicle, in theory you could leave it plugged in and fire up the heater while in your garage or A/C while at least in an open garage or in your driveway (since A/C is heat transfer and cannot be done in a sealed room like a garage). That would help improve range.

Really that's where PHEV's are the most promising. If you have the ability to do 20+ miles all-electric then use gasoline for everything over that, there's the potential your normal commute can be done without fuel and anytime you need to go further the gas engine kicks in and you can go as far as you want on gasoline power.

Shaun Williams

R.S. Did you read the article above? 12kWh = 100km all-electric range.

You'll have no argument from me about the wonderful energy capacity of Mother Nature's own product (it's just a pity we've used it so carelessly over the last century) but doesn't that kinda shoot down your own safety spin?

I ask myself; If my cell phone was powered by petrol instead of a Lion battery would I want to carry it in my pocket?!

Robert Schwartz

Nick: My bad. Thank You. The chart I linked says 29 MJ/L so lets go with 30.

DoE says
that the average gasoline engine produces about 3/8 of the energy in the gasoline as mechanical energy. It also says a big chunk of that (17.2% of the gasoline base) is lost at idle, something that hybrids reduce dramatically. The rest goes to accessories (2.2%), drive line losses (5.6%), friction (6.8%) and inertia (5.8%). [Inertia=Braking, but regenerative braking can reduce that loss].

Using the Insight as a model (see above) I get 114 MJ/100Km gasoline consumed. Using the 3/8 figure above, and figuring the drive live and friction loses to be a wash, It takes 43 MJ/for 100KM. So a battery with 20 KWh would be able to power it 170 KM. which agrees with Patrick's calculation.

Shaun: 12Kwh = 100Km is the same as 20 Kwh = 170Km, but that is for a very small car with limited capacity. It would take about 2X a much to push around a mid sized sedan. YMMV.

A 15 mi commute is plausible. I think the average car gets driven about 12,000 mi/yr or 19,300 Km/Month. Lets say that is about 50 Km/day. If you lead a well ordered existence, a battery powered vehicle would probably be OK. A lot of folks with families, obligations over several counties, activities, etc. might find that range constraining.

My prediction is that the only way battery powered vehicles will become popular is if you can sell people on the idea that they are good second or third vehicles for commuting and other predictable uses.


12Kwh = 100Km is the same as 20 Kwh = 170Km, but that is for a very small car with limited capacity. It would take about 2X a much to push around a mid sized sedan. YMMV.


My prediction is that the only way battery powered vehicles will become popular is if you can sell people on the idea that they are good second or third vehicles for commuting and other predictable uses.

Chuck the IC engine, gas tank, and generator, and your "very small car with limited capacity" doesn't have to be quite so small, and can have decent cargo space. It's no longer a PHEV, but a short-range BEV. That's OK, though; it has ample range for most commutes and shopping trips. Make the battery modules swappable for very fast "fill up", and it becomes a very practical car for general use. Taking a road trip? Rent a range extender trailer, a' la AC Proplulsion's "Long Ranger".

Shaun Williams

I agree with your prediction Robert and their first car can be a PHEV.

tom deplume

If every car had just idle stop capability we would save 1 out of every 6 gallons now burned.

tom deplume

SigmaAutomotive sells a retrofit system that could become an idle stop system with appropriate electronic controls.

Robert Schwartz

"Chuck the IC engine, gas tank, and generator"

And replace them with batteries, electric motors and cables.

I don't know if you are ahead or behind in terms of mass, but it is not a free lunch.

Michael Cain

Comparisons of MJ/km are one thing. The fact is, if we take 250 wH/mile for electric operation and 35 MPG for gasoline, electricity is cheaper "fuel" when measured in cents/mile today. Perhaps not enough cheaper to make up for the added cost of a PHEV with a big battery pack. But if I'm buying a car today for use over the next 10-12 years, such a PHEV also provides me with a hedge against $5/gal gasoline and gasoline shortages. I'm old enough to remember sitting in line for two hours to buy five gallons of gas in 1979. If it were available, I would seriously consider a hedge that would let me load 60 miles of range from the electrical outlet in my garage overnight.

76% of US electricity is generated using coal, nuclear, and conventional hydro. Another 18% is generated using natural gas that is essentially all from North American sources. I am MUCH more confident in the stability of electricity sources over the next ten years than I am in the stability of our gasoline supply.

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