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Altair Nanotechnologies Quarterly Revenue up 28%; More Details on EV Battery Packs for Phoenix Motorcars

8 November 2006

Altair Nanotechnologies, makers of an advanced lithium-ion battery, reported third-quarter revenues of $750,000, a 28% increase from $585,000 in the prior year quarter. Net loss for the quarter was $4.05 million, compared to a net loss of $2.17 million in the prior year.

For the nine-month period, revenues increased 11% to $2.35 million from $2.12 million in the same period of the prior year. The net loss for the nine months was $12.4 million compared to a net loss of $6.3 million during the year ago period.

Operating expenses of $4.91 million for the third quarter of 2006 were $1.97 million greater than operating expenses of $2.94 million for the third quarter of 2005. Increased operating expenses were due to increased research and development efforts (increased approximately $1.47 million) largely for staffing and other expenditures related to battery development, sales and marketing expenses ($186,000) primarily relating to increased marketing efforts in the AMPS division, and general and administrative expenses ($142,000).

The 2006 third quarter represented a milestone quarter of achievement for Altair Nanotechnologies. We successfully demonstrated, along with our vehicle partners Phoenix Motorcars and Boshart Engineering, a freeway-ready, all-electric SUV at the California Air Resources Board Zero Emission Symposium, the Southern California Clean Vehicle Technology Expo and the SEMA show. We believe these public demonstrations represent a major step forward in realizing the commercial promise of all-electric zero emission vehicles.

We continue to invest in our Advanced Materials and Power Systems (AMPS) business unit, which accounted for a significant portion of our increased expenses during the quarter. These strategic investments in research and development, product application labs and marketing in our battery materials, batteries and battery systems will, we believe, produce strong returns and are the major driver for our business.

—Alan Gotcher, President and CEO

Altairnano offers two nano-Titanate battery pack configurations for application in the Phoenix Motorcars electric sport utility truck (SUT) and sport utility vehicle (SUV): a 35 KWh and a 70 KWh NanoSafe pack.

The 35 KWh NanoSafe pack can be recharged in less than 10 minutes with the appropriate battery charger and provides sufficient power and energy for a fleet vehicle to travel up to 130 miles. The 70 KWh NanoSafe pack can also be recharged in less than 10 minutes with the appropriate battery charger and provides sufficient power and energy for a full sized SUV to travel up to 250 miles.

Altairnano is on track to deliver ten 35 KWh NanoSafe battery packs in the fourth quarter to Phoenix Motorcars and is prepared to supply additional 35 KWh NanoSafe battery packs to support Phoenix upcoming SUT market introduction build in early 2007 and SUV 35 KWh and 70 KWh battery packs in the later part 2007.

In October, the company announced that, in ongoing testing, it has completed 15,000 deep charge/discharge cycles of its NanoSafe battery cells. The cells still retained over 85% of their original charge capacity after the 15,000 cycles.

This represents a significant improvement over conventional, commercially available rechargeable battery technologies that typically retain that level of charge capacity only through approximately 1,000 deep charge/discharge cycles.

Altairnano said that it tested the battery cells at 10C (6 minute) charge and discharge rates. They were deep charged and discharged—i.e. they were taken to 100% charge and 0% charge respectively during the 6-minute cycles. Although tests involved full charges and discharges, partial charging and discharging of the battery does not appear to impact the life or the holding charge capacity of the batteries—i.e. they exhibit no memory loss.

In theory, a 15,000 charge cycle life could translate into a battery that would last greater than 40 years if it was charged daily, as would be the case in an electric vehicle or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle environment. However, in practice, other wear and tear factors would realistically limit the actual life of the batteries to probably 20 years, according to the company.

Altairnano replaces the graphite in lithium-ion battery electrodes with a patented nano-titanate material—Lithium Titanate Spinel (Li4Ti5O12)—in its NanoSafe lithium-ion batteries.

By removing the reactive graphite from the battery design, and instead using nano-titanate materials as the negative electrode material, no interaction takes place with the electrolyte in the Altairnano batteries—resulting in a high-power, thermally stable battery, according to the company. (Earlier post.)

November 8, 2006 in Batteries, Electric (Battery) | Permalink | Comments (33) | TrackBack (0)

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So...um, how much do they cost? What are they likely to cost at high production volumes? If testing continues to go well, when will we see one in our Plug-in Prius?

"The 35 KWh NanoSafe pack can be recharged in less than 10 minutes with the appropriate battery charger and provides sufficient power and energy for a fleet vehicle to travel up to 130 miles. The 70 KWh NanoSafe pack can also be recharged in less than 10 minutes with the appropriate battery charger and provides sufficient power and energy for a full sized SUV to travel up to 250 miles."

We've been trying to figure out how they do this from a residential house?

Could EVs help with clean energy generation adoption?

Lets face it. Wind energy costs more than "conventional" sources.

However, if people are saving money because they are driving EVs & paying a lower fuel cost -- then they shouldn't mind paying a little more for their electricity.

Also, factoring in revenue from V2G... it could all balance out, no?

Matt

RB,
That would likely short out your fuses, or trip the circuit breakers in normal residential electric lines. They may come out with a multimode recharge setup, where one (or the vehicle battery system) can select the proper current levels. That way, one can get the 10 min recharge at a corner station equiped for such a load (210-250Kw), and also be able to top the battery overnight w/a residential hookup (2-5Kw).
___Regenrative braking reduce the need to recharge at home, or at recharge stations. By capturing some of the energy spent accelerating/moving the vehicle that is usually lost via deceleration, city driving range can be improved, and nightly recharge less intensive.
_This does have the downside of cycling the batery (electric to chemical and back), and may reduce life further than the 20 years. With 15,000 cycles, this is more of a concern for fleet operators (ie. buses, taxis, delivery vehicles, garbage trucks, etc).

You probably couldn't do this from a home for a while, but I'd bet you can charge overnight at your home and have quick charge stations that do the 10 minute deal.

If this battery is less than $10k and 1,000 lbs for the 70 kwh it's the answer we need, well as long as they can also deliver more than 10 a year.

Matt,
Wind energy rich locales are usually far from large populations, North Dakota for example (California and costal NorthWest are exceptions). This situations requires long distance transmission (HVDC, 3 phase HVAC). Since the lines must pass through the suburbs to get to their cities, the NIMBY crowd may stand in the way. Solar energy will face a simlar challenge when utilities string lines to expand networks, for the electric transmission to population centers.
___Distributed power generation, fired via biomass/renewables, will run into NIMBY, when they try to put up plants on the fringes of metro areas.

Toshiba was supposed to come out w/a ~3 min recharge Li-ion battery either late this year, or early 2007. One issue may be excessive heat. A mobile computer, with a 8400 mAh fast charge battery, can run a current of 0.5-0.6 Kw in th first ~50 seconds, and thus may get very hot.

Still vaporware.

Allen -

35kWh charge in 8 hours at 110V implies 40A current. You'd have trunk together three ordinary but dedicated household circuits to achieve that. Doable, but there could be problems if too many of your neighbors follow your enlightened example - the bottleneck shifts to the trunk line underneath/above your street. Hence the article's emphasis on "fleet vehicles".

Unbuffered wind power may not be the best renewable energy source for nighttime charging, let alone for ad-hoc fill-ups at corner juice stations. Hydro would be a better fit.

or 1100Volt at 4 Ampere

who the hell still uses 110 volt?

is it the country with the homosexual antihomosexual evangelists? :)

USA is so funny :)))

guys gaeys,
listen,

just think about a high effiency diesel generator (45-50%) which fill's the 35kwh battery of our new hybrid car ...

our oil needs will decrease from 70mio barr a day to 30mio barrel (of EtOH?).
( chinese will still drive with muscle force)

For me, plugging in over night would not be a problem. However, for PHEV’s, it sounds like the battery should cost less than we think. If you look at CalCars.org site, for their PHEV Prius, they’re talking about a 9 kWh lithium-ion battery delivering aprox. 30 mi. of boost.

The Altair Nanotechnologies batteries discussed are 35 and 70 kWh. Of course, when pricing is not mentioned, you can probable assume it is on the high side.

So am I the only one who thinks it's alarming they spent nearly $5 MILLION and took in only $750,000 in revenue? Or that their 9-month loss has doubled from $6 million to $12 million? I don't know what their cash reserves are, but if they don't increase their profitability about 1000% real soon, they'll be bankrupt.

Sid:

No you're not the only one who is a little alarmed. They have 9.8 Million in cash reserves.

They've done the chemistry (higher energy density would be nice). Can they manufacture it at a competitive cost (maybe they'll end up licensing out the technology)? Can they develop a market fast enough? (phoenix is much too small to carry them forward). The EV market and the PHEV market are developing way too slowly for them. Perhaps there are other markets that they could start with.

If you look at the old press releases for Phoenix, you will find they are chronically underfunded and looking for a partner with deep pockets. (They are also amazingly honest about it). Altairnano sounds like they may have similar money limitations.

I hope that these two companies can pull the cash together to put the Phoenix pickup and SUV electrics on the road. These are much closer to Everyman's car than the Tesla.

Neil,
Look nextdoor, California. Perhaps they can help keep them afloat. Either that or some venture capital/holding group comes along and takes a big stake, w/cash to keep them running. A big company flush w/profits (GE, 3M, etc.) may like the IP of this firm, and may move to take it over. Another batch of stock offerings may not be feasible due to poor revenue flow.

GE may be looking for better electric energy storage suppliers and R&D for many of their products, like their diesel electric locomotive w/regen braking, or their wind energy sector.

The figure of 9.8 Million Cash came from the link on this page. The 2005 anual report shows cash of 21 Million. Either way they only have a limited time to become a going concern.

Based on the limited cash they have left at their current bleed rate, I'd say the big players in battery technology like Sony and Sanyo are waiting for them to go bankrupt so they can buy the company for pennies on the dollar to gain unrestricted access to their IP and employees.

In the short term (10 years), would PHEVs equipped with much smaller (about 10 to 15 KWh) lower cost Altairnano EESD + a small light weight alternative fuel genset be a better solution?

PHEVs with an all electric range of 40 to 60 miles would reduce fuel consumption by about 80% in most cases. The same car could be used for short and longer trips.

Recharging about 15 KWh worth could easily be done at night on a standard 115 VAC/15 Amps in about 6.5 hours or in less than 3 hours on a 220 VAC, 20 Amps outlet without overloading the distribution grid.

The indoor garage in our new residence is already equipped (at our request) with 115 VAC and 220 VAC 20 Amps outlets. A $79 electronic timer could easily be added to delay recharging to sometime between 22:00 hours and 06:00 hours).

Our electricity is very clean (about 98% hydro + more wind coming soon) and we are anxious to buy our first PHEV.

Altairnano could easily get another $50 to $75 million to build and equip a mass production plant, preferably with a large Chinese battery producer or with a large company such as GE, Dupont, IBM, Westinghouse etc.

Any competent electrician can set you up with 220 in a matter of minutes. There isn't much to it. Don't obsess over fast recharge. This thing will live or die on dollars/kWh and kg/kWh.

The real value of these batteries is what they can offer to the grid. 15 000 cycles is 42 years of charging and discharging each day. Even if the cycle life of the battery in production is 7500 then this is 20 years of daily discharging.

In a V2G situation you can sell power to the grid without even thinking about the life of your batteries as even the worst case of daily full discharges and charges gives you 20 years battery life.

Also a high charge rate implies a high discharge rate as well. What this means that cars will not need ultracaps to get acceptable acceleration and will be able to have extremely efficient regenerative braking.

The batteries have about 90Wh/kg. This means a 15KWh pack is about 160kg and would give an EV only range of 110km. This is more than enough for local commuting in a plug in hybrid. A standard Australian 3 phase 240V outlet gives 30 amps per phase which is 90 amps X 240V = 21kW. This would charge this battery from dead flat in about an hour. This to me is more than acceptable. More importantly when plugged into this outlet it can deliver up to 21kW to the grid on demand.

2000 of these cars plugged in is 21kW X 2000 = 42MW of generating capacity which is backup for a large wind farm or spinning reserve. They could sustain this output for 20 or 30 minutes and still leave capacity to drive home. Imagine what a proportion of Australia's 7 million cars could do for renewable power.

You guys have a way of worrying about things that may not be a problem at all. My current BEV is a small electric scooter from e-max. It uses about 100 watts per mile going to work and back ( 8 miles one way ).

When I plug in the charger it draws about 10 amps to start and then gradually tapers off to 2 amps. A normal day takes 1200 to 1500 watts to recharge full.

An efficient small car can run on 300 watts per mile. For my commute that would be only 4500 watts. I can get that out of a 220v circuit in a reasonable amount of time. Not a problem.

By the way my grid power is 100% wind power. Zero Carbon output.

If any of you are worried about Pheonix Motors going out of business, why don't you get out your checkbook and BUY one of thier cars :)

Ender,
It could be used to smooth/store wind energy. A huge bank of this (when economical) could also let a massive power plant run at optimum efficiency (usually near full power) 24hrs a day, and store some of the power generated at night for peak use.

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