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Biden Introduces Bill Focused on Li-Ion Battery Development for EVs and Plug-Ins

30 March 2007

US Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) has introduced legislation that would significantly increase US investment in the development of advanced lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids.

“The American Automobile Industry Promotion Act of 2007” (S.1055) authorizes $100 million a year for five years to advance the technology—double the amount of the current budget request from the Administration.

Specifically, Biden’s bill would support the development of advanced electric components, systems and vehicles, by providing funds for battery research to national laboratories, small businesses, and institutes of higher learning.

The bill will also establish, through a competitive selection process, an Industry Alliance of private,US-based, for-profit firms whose primary business is battery development. The Industry Alliance would be an advisory resource on short and long term battery technology development.

The proposed program would have four major areas of focus:

  • Research & Development. R&D efforts would include battery technology; high-efficiency charging systems; high-powered drive train systems; control systems and power train development, including cooling and control systems that seek to optimize battery life, while reducing petroleum consumption, and greenhouse gas production; and nanomaterial technology for battery and fuel cell systems.

  • Demonstration. The bill would provide funding for demonstration, testing and evaluation of hybrid electric vehicles for many different applications including military, mass market passenger and SUV vehicles.

  • Education. Support for an educational curriculum in secondary, high school, as well as higher education institutions that focuses on electric drive systems and component engineering.

  • Testing. The program would work with the EPA to develop testing and certification procedures for criteria pollutants, fuel economy, and petroleum use in vehicles.

In addition to research and development for lithium-ion batteries, the bill also sets a national standard for biodiesel and expands tax credit eligibility for consumers who purchase diesel vehicles.

Specifically, the bill expands the emissions requirements to qualify for a tax credit for various weight diesel vehicles, increasing the number of American-manufactured diesel vehicles that qualify. This provision will expire in four years, at which time vehicles will be required to meet the more stringent emissions standards. In particular, Daimler Chrysler produces a Jeep Grand Cherokee diesel that will qualify under the new requirements.

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March 30, 2007 in Batteries, Policy | Permalink | Comments (45) | TrackBack (0)

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Typical Democrat politician. Give away taxpayer money with no guarantee of any beneficial result. And choose particular technologies or even particular companies to give this corporate welfare to. How's that for killing free market competition ?

I'd rather see government money reduce the risks of research and capital investment by placing large orders for PHEV for its own fleets. At a price premium of 15% over the cost of the non-PHEV version the first year, 13% the second year, 10% the third year, 8% for another 7 years. Then the automakers and battery makers would be guaranteed a market of a million vehicles per year, even if oil falls and the public loses interest in hybrids as the cost-benefit ratio goes away.

By the end of ten years, improvements in technology and economies of scale would bring the cost premium for hybrids down to the level that they easily pay for themselves even if fuel is cheap again.

The bill is fine. But towards the end of the story there is the "add-ons" typical of bills introduced in this day. I think these add-ons are called "pork". This "pork" appears to give a tax credit to a vehicle who would not normally earn it under the current set of rules. When are we going to give our presidents line-item veto power? OK enough politics.

But perhaps this bill will help us get the Chevy Volt sooner, and cheaper!

It is freaking time. US private sector leads the world in battery research, yet cutting-edge small R&D battery companies struggle to get funds. South Korea, for example, declared long time ago that advanced battery and LED lighting technologies are top country priority in foreseen future.Good 30% of companies frequently cracking news on battery and hybrid research on this site are, in fact, Canadian off-spins – Altair, for example.

For once I agree with you Andrey. Its not as though republicans such as the President boost certain technologes such as those to do with ethanol is it? In fact at least this more directly adresses energy rather than corn farmers.

While I think that this kind of bill is typical of politicians, in general, I think it is unwarranted to single this out as a Democratic problem. The last few congresses under the Republicans have funded a record amount of pork, including the infamous bridge in Alaska to nowhere.


For some reason, we can't seem to get bills that focus on goals like reduced carbon emissions rather than specific technology approaches. I don't give a damn what technology they use to produce better batteries. In fact, there are some promising new technologies out there that even use lead acid.

Sounds like this bill will help people buy humongous diesel burners out there which will do little to address global warming or energy security. In addition, diesel may not be an improvement over gasoline when one considers all emissions. With the new emission requirements, however, perhaps diesel will come out on top with respect to GHG emissions. Biden is not helping this process.

On a somewhat related matter, there is recent evidence that higher gas prices are having a very marginal effect on gas consumption compared to the elasticity of demand that existed in the 70s. Especially, if we just let the market determine the price, people will not be assured that high prices are a long term reality. The level of pain required to get people's attention may be somewhere in the $10 range. In addition, do we really think that people are going to spend an extra $10,000 on up to buy PHEVs? Not gonna happen unless the the cost of filling up one's ICE only vehicle is cost prohibitive.

A move in the right direction with a few caveats:

1) Funds should be directed toward development of electrical "storage systems." So that supercaps get some much needed attention.

2) Why should these funds be used to develop military hardware? They have $460 Billion annually to play with. This small but necessary support should go to free market innovators - not the usual behemoths.

Kirk makes a point - funds should include orders for shipping products to power government fleet vehicles. It is important that funding recognize battery technology available right now - to limit the perception that more "R&D" is necessary before BE technology is accepted.

"The level of pain required to get people's attention may be somewhere in the $10 range. In addition, do we really think that people are going to spend an extra $10,000 on up to buy PHEVs?"

Tom,

There seems no reason for anyone's "pain" to exceed that of other markets e.g. Europe where $5-6 pain is standard. And remember that new PHEV technology like the Volt has a projected lifespan of 12 years, far fewer repairable parts, substantial new tax credits and a cost of $3-4.00 per 250 mile range. All good reasons to invest in a PHEV cost premium.

I'm just happy to see a little more money head towards energy storage instead of hydrogen or food-to-fuel. I agree whole heartedly with gr about the ultracap funding. I'd love to see more money get to the LEES program at MIT.

Come on, guys. 100 million is price for ½ jet fighter or Boeing liner. Monstrosity of US consumer economy spends 40 billion dollars a year for pets and 20 billion for ice cream. Yet strategically important battery ventures are strapped in cash (having cash in hand for 1-2 year of operation), and all-round in red ink. The only mass producer of Li rechargeable batteries on American continent is Taiwanese-owned and Canada-based.

I want this money going to A123, Tesla, ZAP for God sakes...anyone that can be held accountable. The thought of it being lost in some BS R&D or research paper that doesn't produce anything makes me sick.

Why not give it to 2-3 companies that actually have a viable product??? I keep thinking about the $160 billion in Iraq War funds = couple million EVs on the road today.

Battery technology will develop with the help of any funding
weather it be private or public. Li-ion technology is an interim
remedy to more promising yet to be developed technological storage solutions. During the next two years, we will see battery energy density increase, while costs are significantly reduced. The first to market, inexpensive lightweight batteries
with compact high energy storage, will be the ones that will get
the capitalization from not just american taxpayers and investors. The global energy companies that are becomming flush with cash are already calculating their next move. All that cash is just sitting on the sidelines waiting to pounce. You don't have to worry about squandering a few million in Fedral spending when Big Oil comes in aquiring any and all players and their Patents. Then, they will give us what we want, when they are ready. These players are not going let some small start up interupt their revenue stream. You can't beat 'em, but if you play along,you can probably join in the revenue sharing party. Remember, they are the ones that will be extracting whatever commodity "seems" to be in short supply. I smell a huge mining and commodities play comming in the next 12-18 months, South America anyone?

There doesn't appear to be anything in this bill to jump-start domestic manufacturing of the batteries. Here in the USA we're already doing a lot of research on future batteries -- for the Japanese and Chinese to manufacture. Is that really smart?

Also. . . As long as we are throwing around hundreds of millions, could the Congress spare a couple of million for Dr. Robert Bussard to repeat his "Polywell" IEC fusion reactor experiment? There's something that could change the whole energy landscape if it works.

Reflecting on several on several of the previous posts it is obvious what we need: Elect Jewish and Muslim politicians only. That way we can eliminate the pork.

Folks:

The Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF). We need elected officials with some stones and who will be uncompromising when it comes to our energy independence. We need to break our addiction and the sad truth is that we have the technology today to break the addiction. I suggest using a collection of different methods to address our enduring and emerging energy needs. Specifically, we need to:

1. Provide significant incentives, in the way of tax relief or release, to companies that can produce alternatives. (Results equals Rewards)

2. Increase research funding by 500% in the areas of energy collection & storage (batteries) and energy production (Algae/Ethanol/Clean Burning Coal/Hydrogen perhaps) using non-traditional methods. Again, results driven funding. No results...no funding. And no pork.

3. Remove all energy subsidies and divert funding to wind and solar exploitation and migrate to on/off grid.

4. 35 more nuclear power plants along w/upgrading transmission lines.

5. In transition from Middle-Eastern, Nigerian, Russian, and Venezuelan oil, facilitate oil exploration and exploitation domestically. Yes, this means ANWAR, East Coast, West Coast exploration.

6. Make hybrid vehicles a 1/1 dollar tax write-off with minimum standard of 50/50 MPG. Spend 25K on a hybrid and get a 25K tax write-off. Yes, this means removing caps on incentives for non-American auto makers. Currently, Toyota and Honda buyers are penalized for buying non-American. No protection for the big three...It's time to sink or swim.

7. Demand an increase in CAFE by 5% annually. It's time for the Auto Industry to stop the "Death by Delay" when it comes to making energy efficient vehicles.

8. Set an aggressive timetable….5 years to energy independence…ala Manhattan…..

Disturbing is that we currently fund the very countries that actively pursue and pray for our demise. A reduction or elimination on our reliance of foreign oil will crush the very regimes that are hostile to Americans and our way of life. We don’t have to kill all of our enemies…we just have to drive them to their knees…financially.

Thoughts?
Nick
Nick7@aol.com


Nick's got it right, however I would explicitly add funding on the firefly battery to the list because it's a great short term battery project that promises cheap lead acid batteries now vs some other fancy technology later. The shotgun approach is the only way to succeed, and that includes nuclear.

Do you remember all that battery development money that the big three (so called Battery Consortium) received to develop a feasible EV battery? All up in smoke! and nothing of value was ever developed. Turned out to be nothing but another large subsidy for Big Auto.

Anytime a Washington politician gets involved in R and D of this magnitude, a deal has been made before hand; yes! even Biden; isn't he also trying to raise money for a presidential campaign! Think about it! I just hope some of it produces something that goes into production.

I hope that money isn't going to the Government / Big Auto partnership called the United States Advanced Battery Consortium (USABC), since 1991 they've spent about $500 million supposedly financing battery research (I expect that money mostly went for expensive cocktail parties), and has received Zip in return. Whereas, a small company like Tesla motors, can develop a new battery, new vehicle, new control system, and start production lines, etc. for $60 million.

A good quote exemplifying the mandate of the USABC, from "The Man" John Westlund:
"The big three were caught trying to use the United States Advanced Battery Consortium to keep Stan Ovshinsky from revealing the capabilities of his NiMH battery to the public at a CARB hearing. Ovshinsky remarked, ‘They tried to stop us from going to California. They threatened us! I said to them, ‘Look, the Communist Party no longer runs the world. A party line cannot be imposed upon people who don’t believe in it. The consortium is set up to make sure the American public has an electric car. It was not set up to fight the mandate. We are a battery company, and we’re not going to lie to the public [77]!’ Further, battery companies were bound by GM not to reveal to the public the advances in battery electric vehicle technology they had made [78]. Ovshinsky also remarked about the viability of his NiMH battery, ’The people who are saying that battery technology isn’t ready are absolutely wrong. It’s part of the party line. It’s self-perpetuating. It’s very sad. You tell a lie big enough and long enough, and people start to believe it. The fact of the matter is volume. That’s the only reason batteries are the cost that they are. [79]’ Indeed, as mentioned, in volume, the price for an automotive-sized Ovonics NiMH battery pack was competitive with an internal combustion engine, assuming units for 20,000 cars were produced each year [61]."

To me, it just points out how completely inadequate private sector funding is for needed technologies. I have seen Venture Capitalists fall all over one another to fund the 20th company doing the same thing, while great ideas headed no where due to lack of funding. It is time we looked at getting funding to good ideas rather than have them go by the wayside.

One hundred million $ may be a lot of money but it is only about 10% of the daily cost of the ongoing oil wars.

Could we stop oil wars for ONE or TWO days a year and invest the savings, about $1 to $2 billion/year, to accellerate storage devices (development + lower cost mass production methods and facilities)?

Various thoughts: The Tesla people sneer at the USABC that wasted a decade and produced press releases. Their web site used have some pretty rude things to say about the federal money wasted.

I then looked into the US Advanced Battery Consortium. My conclusion was that some pretty good work was done on how concept cars but very little got done on better batteries. With the big automakers spending the money I wonder how that could have happened.

That may be unfair or mistaken. But it was how I interpreted the program.

Second topic: The government should subsidize desired products at the consumption point. Instead of hundreds of fundings to research and develop poe-in-the-sky why not have bigger rebates or tax credits for what works?

And what does work? Well, Toyota sells a lot of hybrids, it is not a niche market anymore. Half a dozen other makers are or soon will be selling them. Yet the government subsidy is fairly small and applies to a limited number of vehicles per maker.

In other words they discourage the best hybrid makers.

Why not remove that limit per maker and help the best hybrids sell better. That will encourage those making less desirable hybrids to improve them.

And in each years begin to increase the subsidy for lithium-ion based hybrids and decrease it for others.

Ethanol. I'm not a big fan. Nor am I totally opposed. Right now we are throwing money at producers and researchers. Why not exempt ethanol content from taxes at the pump instead. Then guarantee that for ten years. Thus E15 would be 15% exempt and E85 85%.

Solar: It is subsidized at the consumption point. And it keeps growing despite high costs. Twenty percent a year or so. It is still very small. Does that give anyone a clue?

I have come to the conclusion that virtually no one in Congress wants to do anything that does not directly route funds to their contributors pockets or at least to their district.

This bill looks like the samo-samo garbage to me. But my loathing for Biden is such that I expect it of him.

This bill does not appear to favor a particular technology. "Focussed on Li-ion Battery development" was the GCC-supplied headline, but...

Specifically, Biden’s bill would support the development of advanced electric components, systems and vehicles, by providing funds for battery research to national laboratories, small businesses, and institutes of higher learning.

That sounds pretty generic to me; Firefly would appear to qualify.

That said, it also has its share of revolting diesel pork for detroit. Regarding suggestions that the USG direct subsidies towards Toyota: Are you halucinating? That is not the way our government works; it will never happen. And guys, you can't do everything with tax cuts. Sometimes you just have to fork out some cash. Look at the success of the Small Business Administration grants- I know of some very successful companies that got started with an SBA giveaway.

Keep in mind, folks, that government will spend our money anyway. With awful waste and minimal efficiency. For battery research (for gods sake not to the fat cats!) these money will be spent with much more bang that for anything else.

Nick,

Good proposals. You need some mandatory biofuel blends though: 5-20% biodiesel; 5-15% ethanol.

Politicians ought to focus on formulating market externalities (taxes, regulations etc.) that reflect the outcomes the electorate desires, such as reduced dependence on OPEC oil and/or reduced CO2 footprint.

Beyond that, please let the engineers in private industry figure out how to achieve these goals at the lowest possible cost. It is very much suboptimal for any politician of any persuasion in any country to pick any specific technology, because it skews the market against other avenues of development. These may be equally or indeed, even more promising.

Concrete example: German R&D consulting firm FEV uses a
map
charting the efficiency improvements of various technology options against the associated manufacturing premium. In that graph, FEV includes lines indicating Euros/% of improvement.

According to their calculations, it would be possible to achieve a 40% improvement in engine efficiency in the NEDC using a combination of GDI, turbocharging, a variable compression ratio mechanism plus a microhybrid system (cp. new BMW 1 series). They reckon the cost premium for all that would be around ~EUR 1000, which translates to ~25 EUR/%.

By contrast, even a mild hybrid system costs ~EUR 1500 and yields ~22% improvement at best. This translates to ~68 EUR/%. Similar improvements could be achieved using just turbocharging plus roller bearings, at ~15 EUR/%.

Even if FEV's cost estimates are imperfect, it should be obvious that advanced battery hybrids do not necessarily yield the biggest bang for buck - from an engineering perspective.

Politicians don't care about any of that because the general public has been brainwashed into endorsing anything and everything that looks in any, way, shape or form "green". Cost is rarely if ever a consideration for pols, all that counts is positive name recognition. Consumers have heard about hybrids, they give them the thumbs up, so just let's latch onto that. Also, don't be surprised to see some hefty kickbacks in the form of campaign contributions going from battery manufacturers to Sen. Biden if his bill passes. Your tax dollars at work.

Rafael. Keep in mind that Toyota says their next generation full hybrid should add half the marginal cost of the current one. This will obviously change the benefit cost analysis. Of course, Toyota could be blowing smoke, but we shall see. The next gen should be very interesting assuming increased performance, size, and mpg. I just wish they would increase mpg, but improving everything might be a win/win if one is trying to appeal to the average consumer.

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