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[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]

Navigant Research Leaderboard puts LG Chem as leader for Li-ion batteries for transportation

November 25, 2015

In its latest Leaderboard report on what it sees as the top 8 automotive Li-ion battery companies, Navigant research has put LG Chem in first place, followed closely by Panasonic and Samsung SDI in the “Leaders” segment. To qualify for the Leaders category, a company must perform exceedingly well in strategy and execution.

Navigant’s second category consists of the “Contenders”, which are companies that have exhibited staying power in the market despite relatively slow growth while boasting significant financial reserves for future investment. In the report, these are AESC, BYD, Johnson Controls and A123. Navigant’s third category, “Challengers”, has only Lithium Energy Japan.

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ORNL, Solid Power sign exclusive license for lithium-sulfur battery technology

November 24, 2015

The Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Solid Power Inc. of Louisville, Colo., have signed an exclusive agreement licensing lithium-sulfur materials for next-generation batteries.

Solid Power licensed a portfolio of ORNL patents relating to lithium-sulfur compositions that will enable development of more energy-dense batteries. ORNL’s proof-of-concept battery research has demonstrated the technology’s potential to improve power, operating temperature, manufacturability and cost as well.

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Samsung SDI to supply cylindrical Li-ion batteries to JAC Motors for new EV; 50 million 18650 cells next year

November 23, 2015

In a departure from its usual approach of supplying high-capacity prismatic Li-ion cells for automotive applications, Samsung SDI will supply cylindrical 18650 format Li-ion batteries for JAC Motors’ new electric SUV iEV6S, unveiled at the 2015 Guangzhou International Auto Parts & Accessories Exhibition. JAC Motors says that its iEV6S will be the first electric SUV in China to offer more than 250 km (155 miles) of range.

The battery pack for the iEV6S will comprise approximately 3,000 of Samsung SDI’s high-performance 18650 battery cells. Additionally, JAC Motors signed an MOU with Samsung SDI for the supply of 50 million battery cells next year alone.

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UMD/USARL team develops “water-in-salt” electrolyte enabling high-voltage aqueous Li-ion chemistries

A team of researchers from the University of Maryland (UMD) and the US Army Research Laboratory (ARL) have devised a groundbreaking highly concentrated “Water-in-Salt” electrolyte that could provide power, efficiency and longevity comparable to today’s Lithium-ion batteries, but without the fire risk, poisonous chemicals and environmental hazards of current lithium batteries. A paper on their work is published in the journal Science.

The researchers said their technology holds great promise, particularly in applications that involve large energies at kilowatt or megawatt levels, such as electric vehicles, or grid-storage devices for energy harvest systems, and in applications where battery safety and toxicity are primary concerns, such as safe, non-flammable batteries for airplanes, naval vessels or spaceships, and in medical devices like pacemakers.

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ABB joins CharIN; taking Combined Charging System to the next level; 150 kW demos, targeting 350 kW

November 22, 2015

The Charging Interface Initiative association (CharIN) announced earlier this month that ABB has been granted core membership in the association. CharIN was founded by Audi, BMW, Daimler, Mennekes, Opel, Phoenix Contact, Porsche, TÜV SÜD and Volkswagen to focus on developing and establishing the Combined Charging System (CCS) as the standard for charging battery-powered electric vehicles of all kinds. ABB—based in the Netherlands—is the first non-German member.

The Combined Charging System is currently the only internationally standardized charging system covering conventional (AC) and different fast charging scenarios with one integrated system approach. It combines single-phase with rapid three-phase charging using alternating current at a maximum of 43 kilowatts (kW), as well as direct-current charging at a maximum of 200 kW. (Earlier post.) The majority of available CCS charging stations and vehicles currently in the market provide direct-current charging at the level of 50 kW.

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Audi highlights its range of electrification efforts; Q7 diesel PHEV, A7 fuel cell PHEV, BEV, 48V and more; 750 Wh/l by 2025

November 17, 2015

Audi presented a range of its ongoing work on electromobility and efficiency—from fuels and systems to full vehicles—under the “Future Performance Days 2015” banner.

On the full vehicle side, Audi put forward the Audi Q7 e-tron 3.0 TDI quattro plug-in hybrid (earlier post); the Audi A7 h-tron quattro fuel cell vehicle (earlier post); the Audi e-tron quattro concept battery-electric SUV (earlier post); the Audi TT clubsport turbo concept (earlier post); the Audi RS 5 TDI competition concept (earlier post); and the Audi R18 e-tron quattro (earlier post). On the systems and fuels side, Audi discussed battery technology; wireless charging; 48 V electrification (earlier post); Audi fuel cell technology; and Audi e-fuels (earlier post).

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DOE releases SBIR/STTR FY16 Phase 1 Release 2 topics; hydrogen, electric vehicles, more efficient combustion engines; biogas-to-fuels

November 16, 2015

The US Department of Energy has announced the 2016 Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) Phase I Release 2 Topics, covering eight DOE research program organizations.

Among the many topics listed are magnetocaloric materials development for hydrogen delivery; two hydrogen technology transfer opportunities (TTO); EV traction batteries and power electronics; new combustion engine technologies; and the co-utilization of CO2 and methane in biogas to produce higher hydrocarbon fuels. DOE plans to issue the full Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) on 30 November 2015.

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Sendyne patents novel active battery cell balancing method

November 13, 2015

Sendyne, a developer of precision current and voltage measurement systems and modeling/simulation tools for battery systems and other applications, has been awarded a patent for a novel active cell balancing topology.

Cell balancing is achieved by transferring energy to and from individual cells in a battery pack, with the goal of having all cells operating at the same State of Charge (SOC). Because individual cells in a battery pack will have slightly different capacities, if energy is not redistributed from stronger cells to weaker cells, discharging must end when the cell with the lowest capacity is empty.

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Vanderbilt researchers find iron pyrite quantum dots boost performance of sodium-ion and Li-ion batteries

November 12, 2015

Researchers at Vanderbilt University have demonstrated that ultrafine sizes (∼4.5 nm, average) of iron pyrite (FeS2) nanoparticles are advantageous to sustain reversible conversion reactions in sodium ion and lithium ion batteries. A paper on their work is published in the journal ACS Nano.

In the paper, they reported reversible capacities of more than 500 and 600 mAh/g for sodium and lithium storage for ultrafine nanoparticles, along with improved cycling and rate capability. Unlike alloying or intercalation processes, in which the SEI effects limit the performance of ultrafine nanoparticles, the Vanderbilt study highlights the benefit of quantum dot length-scale nanocrystal electrodes for nanoscale metal sulfide compounds that store energy through chemical conversion reactions.

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Rice U team develops new class of quasi-solid-state electrolytes; stable performance at high temperatures

November 10, 2015

Researchers at Rice University, with colleagues at Wayne State University, report the development of a new class of quasi-solid-state Li-ion battery electrolytes which have the structural stability of a solid and the wettability of a liquid.

Micro flakes of clay particles drenched in a solution of lithiated Room Temperature Ionic Liquid (RTIL) form a quasi-solid system with structural stability until 355 ˚C. With an ionic conductivity of ~3.35mS cm-1, the composite electrolyte delivers stable electrochemical performance at 120 ˚C. As reported in a paper in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, a rechargeable lithium battery with LTO electrodes and the clay-based electrolyte delivered reliable capacity for over 120 charge/discharge cycles.

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LLNL team finds hydrogen treatment improves performance of graphene nanofoam anodes in Li-ion batteries

November 05, 2015

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers have found, through experiments and calculations, that hydrogen-treated graphene nanofoam (GNF) anodes in lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) show higher capacity and faster transport. The research suggests that controlled hydrogen treatment may be used as a strategy for optimizing lithium transport and reversible storage in other graphene-based anode materials. An open-access paper on their work is published in Nature Scientific Reports.

Commercial applications of graphene materials for energy storage devices, including lithium ion batteries and supercapacitors, hinge critically on the ability to produce these materials in large quantities and at low cost. However, the chemical synthesis methods frequently used leave behind significant amounts of atomic hydrogen, whose effect on the electrochemical performance of graphene derivatives is difficult to determine.

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Update on JCESR’s progress toward 5-5-5 battery for EV and grid applications; convergent and divergent research strategies

In 2012, the US Department of Energy (DOE) awarded $120 million over five years to establish a new Batteries and Energy Storage Hub known as the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR). (Earlier post.) JCESR combines the R&D capabilities of five DOE national laboratories, five universities, and four private firms in an effort to achieve revolutionary advances in battery performance, with electric cars and the electricity grid as the targets. The goal is a battery five times more powerful and five times cheaper within 5 years.

At the Bay Area Battery Summit held at Berkeley Lab this week, JCESR Director George Crabtree gave an update on the Center’s progress toward the 5-5-5 battery and discussed how the Center is refining its approach now that it is almost three years into the five-year mission. (The JCESR award, based on results, is renewable one time for another 5 years.)

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Daimler and partners deploying world’s largest 2nd-life EV battery storage unit for grid support

November 04, 2015

The world’s largest 2nd-life battery storage unit will soon go into operation in the Westphalian town of Lünen. A joint venture between Daimler AG, The Mobility House AG and GETEC, it will be operated from the beginning of next year at the site of REMONDIS SE and marketed in the German electricity balancing sector. The stationary storage unit, with a total capacity of 13 MWh, uses second-life battery systems from the second generation of smart electric drive vehicles.

Under the banner of “E-Mobility thought to the end,” Daimler, The Mobility House, GETEC and REMONDIS are mapping out the entire battery value creation and recycling chain with their project in Lünen. The process demonstrably improves the overall environmental performance of electric vehicles, thereby helping to make e-mobility more economically efficient.

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NREL develops Internal Short Circuit (ISC) device to help improve Li-ion battery design

November 03, 2015

Researchers at the US Department of Energy (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have developed and patented an Internal Short Circuit (ISC) device capable of emulating latent defects that can cause escalating temperatures in lithium-ion batteries and lead to thermal runaway. The intent of the ISC is to enhance the designs of Li-ion batteries by testing the effects of a latent internal short circuit and related escalating temperatures, which can lead to thermal runaway and hazards.

NREL joined forces with NASA in developing new, more precise ways to trigger internal short circuits, to predict reactions, and to establish safeguards in the design of battery cells and packs. The resulting first-of-its-kind ISC device is being used by NREL, NASA, and manufacturers to study battery responses to these latent flaws and determine solutions.

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1-year customer field trials of FUSO electric Canter in Portugal show 64% lower costs, 37% reduction in CO2 given local power mix

November 02, 2015

Daimler has concluded customer field trials with eight pre-production Fuso Canter E-Cell electric trucks (earlier post) in Portugal. In addition to delivering a 64% savings in operating costs compared to conventional diesel trucks, the Canter E-Cells also reduced CO2 emissions by 37% compared to diesel, taking into account the current power production mix in Portugal.

FUSO developed the battery-powered and locally emission-free Canter E-Cell at the Daimler Trucks Center of Competence for Hybrid Technology. To prove the practicality of the Canter E-Cell, FUSO sent eight of them on a field trial in mid-2014. All eight vehicles travelled the roads of Portugal and were permanently monitored and analyzed during the one-year field trial. The Canter E-Cell trucks were equipped with platforms and box bodies. They were operated by couriers and freight forwarding agents as well as by municipalities and public works departments.

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Penn State team develops mathematical formula to predict factors influencing Li-ion battery aging

November 01, 2015

A team of Penn State researchers has developed a mathematical formula to predict what factors most influence lithium-ion battery aging. Volvo Group Trucks Technology supported this work.

Led by Christopher Rahn, professor of mechanical engineering, the team started out developing models for the specific chemistry of batteries used by Volvo Trucks. After showing the models matched experimentally, the researchers focused on simplifying the aging model—a nonlinear, electrolyte-enhanced, single particle model (NESPM) that includes aging due to solid electrolyte interphase layer growth—and have now brought it down to a formula, said Rahn.

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Cambridge researchers take new approach to overcome challenges to Li-O2 batteries; laboratory demonstrator

October 30, 2015

Researchers at the University of Cambridge have developed a working laboratory demonstrator of a lithium-oxygen battery which has very high energy density, is more than 90% efficient, and, to date, can be recharged more than 2000 times, showing how several of the problems holding back the development of these devices could be solved.

In contrast to standard Li-O2 cells, which cycle via the formation of Li2O2, the Cambridge team used a reduced graphene oxide (rGO) electrode, the additive LiI (lithium iodide), and the solvent dimethoxyethane reversibly to form and remove crystalline LiOH with particle sizes larger than 15 micrometers during discharge and charge. This led to high specific capacities, excellent energy efficiency (93.2%) with a voltage gap of only 0.2 volt, and impressive rechargeability. While the results, reported in the journal Science, are promising, the researchers caution that a practical lithium-air battery still remains at least a decade away.

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Berkeley Lab scientists unravel structural ambiguities in Li- and Mn-rich transition metal oxides; importance for high-energy Li-ion cathodes

October 29, 2015

Using complementary microscopy and spectroscopy techniques, researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have “unambiguouslydescribed the crystal structure of lithium- and manganese-rich transition metal oxides (LMRTMOs)—materials of great interest as high-capacity cathode materials for Li-ion batteries. Despite their being extensively studied, the crystal structure of these materials in their pristine state was not fully understood.

Researchers have been divided into three schools of thought on the material’s structure. A Berkeley Lab team led by Alpesh Khushalchand Shukla and Colin Ophus spent nearly four years analyzing the material and concluded that the least popular theory is in fact the correct one. Their results were published online in an open-access paper in Nature Communications. Other co-authors were Berkeley Lab scientists Guoying Chen and Hugues Duncan and SuperSTEM scientists Quentin Ramasse and Fredrik Hage.

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BASF and Volkswagen present 4th Science Award Electrochemistry to Dr. Bryan McCloskey at UC Berkeley for Li-O2 battery work

October 28, 2015

The fourth international “Science Award Electrochemistry” from BASF and Volkswagen (earlier post) was awarded to Dr. Bryan McCloskey, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, University of California, Berkeley. The jury of representatives from BASF, Volkswagen and from academia selected Dr. McCloskey for his outstanding research results in the area of lithium-oxygen batteries.

Dr. McCloskey has analyzed the fundamental electrochemical processes in this type of battery by examining the stability of electrolytes and electrode materials. Through his work, the scientist has decisively contributed to a deeper understanding of lithium-oxygen batteries, the jury concluded. He receives prize money of €50,000 (US$55,000).

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U Waterloo, GM R&D team develops new very high-performance silicon-sulfur-graphene electrode for Li-ion batteries

October 27, 2015

Researchers from the University of Waterloo and General Motors Global Research and Development Center have developed a new electrode material for Li-ion batteries that leverages the strong covalent interactions that occur between silicon, sulfur, defects and nitrogen.

In an open-access paper in the journal Nature Communications, they report that the new electrode material shows superior reversible capacity of ~1,033 mAh g−1 for 2,275 cycles at 2 A g−1. The electrode showed a high coulombic efficiency of 99.9%, as well as high aerial capacity of 3.4 mAh cm−2. Professor Zhongwei Chen, leader of the Waterloo team, expects to commercialize this technology and expects to see new batteries on the market within the next year.

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Technical review outlines challenges for both batteries and fuel cells as basis for electric vehicles

October 26, 2015

In an open-access invited review for the Journal of the Electrochemical Society, Oliver Gröger (earlier post), Volkswagen AG; Dr. Hubert A. Gasteiger, Chair of Technical Electrochemistry, Technische Universität München; and Dr. Jens-Peter Suchsland, SolviCore GmbH, delve into the technological barriers for all-electric vehicles—battery-electric or PEM fuel cell vehicles.

They begin by observing that the EU’s goal of 95 gCO2/km fleet average emissions by 2020 can only be met by means of extended range electric vehicles or all-electric vehicles in combination with the integration of renewable energy (e.g., wind and solar). Based on other studies, they note that without an increasing percentage of renewables in the European electricity generation mix, the only vehicle concept which could meet the 95 gCO2/km target is the pure battery electric vehicles. (Hydrogen produced via electrolysis using the EU mix or by natural gas reforming would exceed the target.)

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Dyson buying Li-ion solid-state battery company Sakti3 for $90M

October 19, 2015

USA Today has confirmed an earlier unconfirmed report by Quartz that UK-based Dyson will acquire solid-state Li-ion battery startup Sakti3 (earlier post) for $90 million. Dyson invested $15 million in Sakti3 earlier this year.

James Dyson, founder and chief engineer of the eponymous manufacturing and technology company, told USA Today in an interview that Dyson plans to build a major battery factory and also plans to use Sakti3’s technology to improve the battery life on its cordless vacuums and to deliver new products. The acquisition, noted the report, will fuel speculation that Dyson possibly seek to become a supplier of electric-drivetrain technology.

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AKASOL supplying Li-ion battery systems for eight fast-charging electric buses in Cologne

October 15, 2015

AKASOL, a Germany-based provider of high-performance Li-ion battery systems (earlier post), is supplying the Li-ion battery systems for 8 all-electric articulated 18-meter buses, manufactured by VDL Bus & Coach, to be operated by the Cologne public transport company Kölner Verkehrs-Betriebe. Both AKASOL and VDL are displaying their battery systems and Citea SLFA Electric articulated bus, respectively, at Busworld.

The VDL buses use AKASOL’s modular AKASYSTEM lithium-ion battery system in a 4 x 15M configuration in every bus. Each AKASYSTEM 15M is rated at 460 kW, 35 kWh, and 666 V and weighs 314 kg. The high-performance liquid-cooled battery system offers a charging capacity of more than 300 kilowatts and has an overall useable energy content of more than 100 kWh.

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New high-performance Na-ion battery with SO2-based catholyte; potential for other non-Li-metal-based battery systems

October 13, 2015

Researchers in South Korea have demonstrated new type of room-temperature and high-energy density sodium rechargeable battery using a sulfur dioxide (SO2)-based inorganic molten complex catholyte that serves as both a Na+-conducting medium and cathode material (i.e. catholyte).

As reported in an open access paper in Nature’s Scientific Reports, the new battery showed a discharge capacity of 153 mAh g−1 based on the mass of catholyte and carbon electrode with an operating voltage of 3 V; good rate capability; and excellent cycle performance over 300 cycles. In particular, the researchers suggested, the non-flammability and intrinsic self-regeneration mechanism of the new inorganic liquid electrolyte can accelerate the commercialization of Na rechargeable batteries.

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Opinon: Lithium Market Set To Explode; All Eyes Are On Nevada

October 09, 2015

by James Stafford of

While other commodities are floundering or completely collapsing in this market, lithium—the critical mineral in the emerging battery gigafactory war—is poised to explode, and going forward Nevada is emerging as the front line in this pending American lithium boom.

Most of the world’s lithium comes from Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Australia and China, but American resources being developed by new entrants into this market have set up the state of Nevada to become the key venue and proving ground for game-changing trade in this everyday mineral. Nevada is about to get a boost first from Tesla’s upcoming battery gigafactory, and then from all of its rivals.

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Oregon State researchers demonstrate potassium-ion (K-ion) battery

October 07, 2015

Researchers at Oregon State University have shown that potassium can work with graphite in a potassium-ion battery (KIB)—a discovery that could offer a challenge and sustainable alternative to the widely-used lithium-ion battery (LIB). Their findings are published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. A patent is pending on the new technology.

In their study, they showed that potassium can be reversibly inserted into graphite with a high capacity of 273 mAh/g in electrochemical cells. Upon potassiation, the stage-one KC8 forms via stage-three KC36 and stage-two KC24 as intermediate phases in which the phase transformations are reversible in converting KC8 back to a less crystalline graphite.

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USABC awards $1.64M to NOHMs Technologies for development of ionic liquid electrolytes for Li-ion batteries

October 05, 2015

The United States Advanced Battery Consortium LLC (USABC), a collaborative organization of FCA US LLC, Ford Motor Company and General Motors, recently awarded $1.64 million contract to NOHMs (Nano Organic Hybrid Materials) Technologies in Rochester, New York, for the development of electrolytes for automotive lithium-ion battery applications.

The 18-month program will focus on the development of functional, ionic liquid-based electrolyte and co-solvent combinations that exhibit high ionic conductivity and stability for application in 4.6-5.0-volt lithium-ion batteries, consistent with USABC goals.

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LISSEN researchers develop energy-dense Li-metal free Li-sulfur battery; Volkswagen the automotive partner

October 03, 2015

EU-funded researchers in the €3.7-million (US$4.2-million) LISSEN (Lithium Sulfur Superbattery Exploiting Nanotechnology) project have developed a new energy-dense lithium-sulfur battery using a new lithium metal-free battery configuration based on the use of lithiated silicon as the anode and a nanostructured sulfur-carbon composite as the cathode. The goal of the project was the development of an advanced battery cell for application in electric vehicles; Volkswagen was the automotive partner in the group.

The battery offers an energy density at least three times higher than that available from the present lithium battery technology, a comparatively long cycle life, a much lower cost (replacement of cobalt-based with a sulfur-based cathode) and a high degree of safety (no use of a lithium-metal anode).

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Oak Ridge/Drexel team produces supercapacitor electrodes from scrap tires

September 28, 2015

By employing proprietary pretreatment and processing, researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Drexel University have produced flexible polymer carbon composite films from scrap tires for use as electrodes for supercapacitors.

The first synthesized highly porous carbon (1625 m2 g−1) using waste tires as the precursor. The narrow pore-size distribution and high surface area led to good charge storage capacity, especially when used as a three-dimensional nanoscaffold to polymerize polyaniline (PANI). The resulting composite paper was highly flexible, conductive, and exhibited a capacitance of 480 F g−1 at 1 mV s−1 with excellent capacitance retention of up to 98% after 10,000 charge/discharge cycles.

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Lux: VW “actually in a strong position to innovate their way out of this mess”

Reflecting on the implications of the still evolving Volkswagen emissions testing scandal (“a vehicle emissions scandal of unprecedented proportions”), analysts at Lux Research suggest that one outcome of the crisis could be an aggressive push by Volkswagen to accelerate the push towards plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles.

VW was slowly moving beyond conventional gasoline and diesel engines anyway, Lux noted, with plans of putting out 20 more plug-in vehicles by 2020 (earlier post)—such as the production version of the Audi e-tron quattro. (Earlier post.) Volkswagen has also invested in next-generation batteries, including lithium-sulfur and solid-state. (Earlier post.)

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AKASOL battery pack powering ZF’s electric Advanced Urban Vehicle concept

September 25, 2015

An 8-module Li-ion traction battery from AKASOL GmbH powers the ZF electric Advanced Urban Vehicle concept presented at the IAA in Frankfurt. AKASOL is a supplier of Li-ion batteries for high-performance applications. (Earlier post.)

The 8 modules of the AKASYSTEM battery are configured 2/3/3 in 3 system units and can thus be placed in the free spaces at the front and rear axle for efficient packaging. The 16.3 kWh battery pack features a charging power of 49 kW.

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Audi’s e-tron quattro EV: evolutionary powertrain with a dash of revolution for production in 2018; MLB evo

September 24, 2015

Audi’s e-tron quattro battery-electric SUV concept, which made its formal debut at IAA in Frankfurt (earlier post), is a strong indicator of Audi’s series-production electric SUV due in 2018—especially in terms of the powertrain.

The e-tron quattro is based on Audi’s MLB evo—the second-generation of the modular longitudinal matrix toolkit (MLB, earlier post), and is, at the same time, potentially contributing to the development of the elements of that toolkit, especially with respect to a modular electric drive component. This could eventually have a role comparable to that of the Volkswagen Group’s modular diesel and modular gasoline engine kits (MDB and MOB). (“Baukasten” = German for construction kit)

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UT Austin team identifies promising new cathode material for sodium-ion batteries: eldfellite

Professor John Goodenough, the inventor of the lithium-ion battery, and his team at the University of Texas at Austin have identified a new cathode material made of the nontoxic and inexpensive mineral eldfellite (NaFe(SO4)2), presenting a significant advancement in the quest for a commercially viable sodium-ion battery. (Edfellite was first found among fumarolic encrustations collected in 1990 on the Eldfell volcano, Heimaey Island, Iceland.) The researchers reported their findings in the RSC journal Energy & Environmental Science.

Sodium-ion intercalation batteries—i.e., using the same process of ion insertion and removal as Li-ion batteries—have emerged as a promising new type of rechargeable battery and a potentially attractive alternative to lithium-ion batteries because sodium is abundant and inexpensive, and the sodium batteries would be safer. (Earlier post.) In contrast, lithium-ion batteries are limited by high production costs and availability of lithium.

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New Freescale highly integrated battery cell controller optimized for 14V Li-ion packs

September 19, 2015

Freescale Semiconductor introduced the MC33772 3- to 6-cell lithium-ion battery cell controller, expanding its portfolio of highly integrated and connected solutions for reducing bill of materials (BOM) cost, increasing operating robustness and meeting stringent functional safety requirements for automotive and industrial battery systems.

Together with its previously announced MC33771 14-cell battery cell controller, the MC33772 product expands Freescale’s hardware- and software-compatible battery cell controller portfolio to encompass a full range of single chip 3- to 14-cell solutions. Freescale’s comprehensive cell controller portfolio supports a broad array of battery chemistries, including lithium iron phosphate, lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide, lithium titanate, and lithium polymer. In addition, Freescale battery cell controllers feature advanced diagnostics and functional verification supporting ISO 26262 ASIL-C requirements within a single chip.

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Li-S company OXIS and Hyperdrive Innovation partner on ultra-low temperature Li-S battery; -80 ˚C

September 18, 2015

Electronic vehicle systems developer Hyperdrive Innovation Ltd and Li-sulfur battery developer OXIS Energy Ltd are working together on an Ultra-Low Temperature Battery (ULTB) project, supported by Innovate UK’s energy catalyst, to explore the feasibility of a high energy density battery chemistry with innovative packaging and control electronics that will be capable of operating in the Antarctic.

Such a battery would allow British Antarctic Survey (BAS) to increase autonomous scientific measurements made in the Antarctic significantly without increasing transport costs or emissions. OXIS Energy will develop a low temperature electrolyte for Lithium Sulfur (Li-S) rechargeable battery chemistry and Hyperdrive Innovation Ltd will develop a chemistry-agnostic battery management system and packaging that will withstand and outperform the current lead-acid battery solutions.

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DOE awards nearly $55M to advance fuel efficient vehicle technologies in support of EV Everywhere and SuperTruck

The US Department of Energy (DOE) is awarding nearly $55 million for 24 projects to develop and deploy advanced vehicle technologies, supporting the Energy Department’s EV Everywhere Grand Challenge to make plug-in electric vehicles as affordable to own and operate as today’s gasoline-powered vehicles by 2022.

Through the Advanced Vehicle Power Technology Alliance with the Energy Department, the Department of the Army is contributing an additional $2.26 million in co-funding to support projects focused on battery modeling technologies and computational fluid dynamics.

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Johnson Controls expanding global production of AGM batteries for start-stop systems; $555M investment from 2011 to 2020

September 16, 2015

In anticipation of increasing demand for start-stop systems, Johnson Controls is adding Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM) battery production capacity. AGM battery technology is at this point the dominant start-stop energy storage technology.

The market for new vehicle and aftermarket Start-Stop batteries could rise to 56 million worldwide by 2020, compared to 22 million today. In this time frame, 85% of all new vehicles in Europe and 40% in the US and China are expected to be powered with Start-Stop batteries. With $555 million in investments between 2011 and 2020, the company is implementing plans to expand AGM production capacity in Germany, the United States and China.

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Bosch highlighting solid-state Li-ion cells; double current energy density, production-ready in 5 years

September 15, 2015

At the Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA), Bosch is highlighting its solid-state Li-ion battery technology, saying that the technology for electric cars could be production-ready in as little as five years. The acquisition of the US start-up Seeo Inc. (earlier post) will help make this possible, Bosch said. In addition to its own development in the area of battery technology, Bosch now has crucial know-how in innovative solid-state cells for lithium batteries as well as exclusive patents.

With the new solid-state cells, Bosch sees the potential to more than double energy density by 2020, and at the same time reduce the costs considerably further. A comparable electric car that has a driving range today of 150 kilometers (93 miles) would be able to travel more than 300 kilometers (186 miles) without recharging—and at a lower cost.

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Continental Voltage Stabilization System with Maxwell Ultracapacitors to power start-stop in Cadillac ATS and CTS as standard

Maxwell Technologies, Inc. announced that Continental Automotive Systems’ Maxwell-powered voltage stabilization system (VSS) will be a standard feature on 2016 Cadillac ATS and CTS sedans. General Motors is the first North American automotive OEM to integrate the Continental ultracapacitor-based voltage stabilization as part of the enhanced start-stop system, which lowers fuel costs, improves performance and reduces emissions, delivering an overall superior owner-driver experience.

There are currently some 1.5 million vehicles on the road in Europe with the Maxwell-based Continental VSS, said Marty Mills, regional sales manager, ultracapacitor products, Central North America.

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Hybrid cellular nanosheets show promise as basis for high performance anodes for Li-ion batteries

September 14, 2015

Researchers in S. Korea have developed a simple synthetic method for producing carbon-based hybrid cellular nanosheets that exhibit strong electrochemical performance for many key aspects of high-performance lithium-ion battery anodes. The nanosheets consist of close-packed cubic cavity cells partitioned by carbon walls, resembling plant leaf tissue.

Loading the carbon cellular nanosheets with SnO2 nanoparticles as a model system, the team found that the resulting anode materials showed a specific capacity of 914 mAh g–1 on average with a retention of 97.0% during 300 cycles. When the cycling current density was increased from 200 to 3000 mA g–1, the reversible capacity was decreased by only 20% from 941.3 to 745.5 mAh g–1. A paper on their work is published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

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Williams: Formula E battery power to increase to 170 kW for season two; 70 kWh pack for Evoque-E

September 11, 2015

Williams Advanced Engineering, the sole supplier of the battery packs for the FIA Formula E Championship, confirmed that the maximum power output of the batteries for the racers will increase to 170kW during each race in season two of the Championship.

The 28 kWh (maximum usable) battery packs, which use cells from XALT Energy (earlier post), were initially designed to meet season one technical specifications from the FIA and operated during a race at a maximum power of 133 kW. Following successful pre-season testing this was increased to 150kW for the start of season one to increase the performance of the cars.

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New class of high-capacity cation-disordered oxides for Li-ion battery cathodes; up to 250 mAh/g

September 09, 2015

Researchers from MIT, Argonne National Laboratory and UC Berkeley led by Dr. Gerbrand Ceder (now at UC Berkeley/Lawrence Berkeley Lab as of 1 July, formerly at MIT) have developed a new class of high capacity cation-disordered oxides—lithium-excess nickel titanium molybdenum oxides (Li-Ni-Ti-Mo, or LNTMO)—for Li-ion cathode materials which deliver capacities up to 250 mAh/g. A paper on their work is published in the RSC journal Energy & Environmental Science.

In the rechargeable Li-ion battery, cathodes reversibly release and insert (de-intercalation and intercalation) lithium ions during charge and discharge, respectively. Intercalation and de-intercalation must not cause permanent change to the crystal structure of the material over cycling, lest capacity fade. Conventionally, electrochemists have looked to well-ordered close-packed oxides for cathode materials, especially layered rocksalt-type lithium–transition metal oxides (Li-TM oxides) and ordered spinels. In a 2014 paper in Science, however, Dr. Ceder and his colleagues outlined the potential for disordered materials.

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Saft America receives $6.13M USABC award for lithium-ion 12V stop-start battery technology development

August 31, 2015

Saft America Inc. has received a competitively bid, $6.13-million award from the United States Advanced Battery Consortium LLC (USABC) in collaboration with the US Department of Energy (DOE) for 12-volt stop-start battery technology development. The contract includes a 50% cost-share by Saft.

The 30-month contract will focus on the development and delivery of lithium-ion 12-volt modules for vehicle stop-start battery applications consistent with USABC goals based on Saft’s advanced lithium-ion battery technologies along with battery management electronics.

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Lionano in license agreement with Cornell for development and production of new hollow structured metal oxide anode material for LIBs

Lionano Inc. announced an agreement with Cornell University’s Center for Technology Licensing (CTL) for the development and production of an innovative drop-in anode material for use in lithium-ion batteries.

The drop-in consists of a hollow structured metal oxide material that can substantially reduce the volumetric expansion of a conventional anode, according to the company. This material can exhibit a capacity of 900 mAh/g at 0.2C with more than 90% active material content. Lionano tested the material in a scaled-up batch of more than 50 kg of material, and found that it demonstrates superior stability over 2,000 cycles. The hollow structure, with nano- and microscale properties, facilitates electron transfer and enhances structural robustness.

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Lux: Bosch’s acquisition of Seeo risky but worthwhile; likely start of a spree of buying advanced battery developers

August 28, 2015

Commenting on Bosch’s newly revealed acquisition of Seeo, the Berkeley Lab spin-out developing solid-state Li-ion batteries (earlier post), Lux Research noted that the acquisition marks the first instance of a major automotive player outright acquiring a next-generation battery developer (although some OEMs, e.g., GM and Volkswagen Group, have already invested in advanced battery companies).

The Bosch-Seeo link up highlights the strategic importance of advanced energy storage for the automotive value chain. However, noted Lux Research Senior Analyst, Cosmin Laslau, the acquisition “has some wrinkles that make it a risky bet for Bosch.” Among the observations:

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Report: Bosch buying solid-state Li-ion battery company Seeo

August 27, 2015

Quartz today reported that Bosch has agreed to acquire Berkeley Lab solid-state Li-ion battery spinoff Seeo. Seeo’s cell design couples a solid lithium metal anode with a conventional porous lithium iron phosphate cathode and Seeo’s nanostructured solid polymer electrolyte (“DryLite”). The electrolyte is entirely solid-state with no flammable or volatile components.

In January 2015, Seeo was awarded a contract for technology assessment from the United States Advanced Battery Consortium LLC (USABC), a collaborative organization of FCA US LLC, Ford Motor Company and General Motors. Under the contract, Seeo will deliver its DryLyte battery modules to USABC for testing under a 9-month assessment program. These modules are based on Seeo’s current cell technology, which provides an energy density of 220 Wh/kg. (Earlier post.)

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Very high-performance silicon anodes with engineered graphene assemblies

Researchers in China have developed a self-supporting high-performance silicon anode for Li-ion batteries (LIBs) consisting of silicon-nanoparticle-impregnated assemblies of templated carbon-bridged oriented graphene.

The binder-free anodes demonstrate exceptional lithium storage performances, simultaneously attaining high gravimetric capacity (1390 mAh g–1 at 2 A g–1 with respect to the total electrode weight); high volumetric capacity (1807 mAh cm–3—more than three times that of graphite anodes); remarkable rate capability (900 mAh g–1 at 8 A g–1); excellent cyclic stability (0.025% decay per cycle over 200 cycles); and competing areal capacity (as high as 4 and 6 mAh cm–2 at 15 and 3 mA cm–2, respectively) that approaches the level of commercial lithium-ion batteries. A paper on their work is published in the ACS journal Nano Letters.

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DOE awarding $10M to 8 transportation technology incubator projects; single-fuel RCCI with reformer

August 26, 2015

The US Department of Energy (DOE) will award $10 million to eight incubator projects to develop innovative solutions for efficient and environmentally-friendly vehicle technologies that will help reduce petroleum use in the United States. Among the projects is a novel implementation of RCCI—Reactivity Controlled Compression Ignition, usually investigated with two fuels (earlier post)—using a single fuel with onboard fuel reformation.

Through the incubator activity, the Energy Department supports innovative technologies and solutions that have the potential to help meet program goals but are not substantially represented in its current research portfolio. These projects bring a more diverse group of stakeholders and participants to address technical challenges in the vehicle research priorities. Eventually, successfully demonstrated technologies or approaches from the incubator activity may impact existing long-term technology plans and roadmaps. Awardees include:

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Skeleton Technologies and Adgero introduce ultracap-based KERS system for truck trailers

UK-based ultracapacitor company Skeleton Technologies and France-based Adgero SARL are introducing an ultracapacitor-based Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) for truck trailers. The hybrid system is designed to reduce fuel consumption and associated emissions by up to 25%, and is optimized for intermodal road transport solutions.

The Adgero Hybrid System consists of a bank of Skeleton high-power ultracapacitors working alongside an electrically-driven axle, which is mounted under the trailer. The technology is controlled by an intelligent management system that tracks driver input in order to automatically control the regenerative braking and acceleration boost.

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ETH Zurich team develops new low-temp synthesis route for high-conductivity garnet structures for solid-state Li-ion batteries

August 20, 2015

Ga-doped Li7La3Zr2O12 (Ga-LLZO) garnet structures are promising electrolytes for all-solid state Li-ion-batteries. LLZO not only has a high ionic conductivity of 10-4 S cm-1, which greatly surpasses that of all the other garnets, it also has excellent stability even in molten Li. Unlike many other solid electrolytes, LLZO does not suffer from conductivity degradation upon exposure to humid atmospheres. (Earlier post.)

However, the synthesis of garnet-type fast Li-ion conductors depends upon conventional sol–gel and solid state syntheses and sintering that are usually done at temperatures above 1050 ˚C. This process results in micron-sized particles and potential Li-loss, which are unfavorable for further processing and electrode–electrolyte assembly. Now, a team at ETH Zurich has developed a novel low-temperature synthesis-processing route to stabilize the cubic phase of LLZO, while keeping the nanocrystallites at ~200–300 nm. Their paper is published in the RSC journal Journal of Materials Chemistry A.

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EU launches $7.6M ALISE to develop Li-sulfur batteries for plug-ins; targeting stable 500 Wh/kg cell by 2019

August 19, 2015

Under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program, the EU has launched ALISE (Advanced Lithium Sulfur battery for xEV), a pan-European collaboration focused on the development and commercial scale-up of new materials and on the understanding of the electrochemical processes involved in lithium-sulfur technology. The €6,899,233 (US$7.6 million) project is focused on achieving a stable 500 Wh/kg Li-S cell by 2019.

ALISE includes the development of the key components of the cell—anode, cathode and electrolyte—and will culminate in an ultra-lightweight 17 kWh battery for a SEAT (a member of the Volkswagen Group) vehicle for testing on-track and public roads. LEITAT is the lead organization involved and will co-ordinate and manage the entire project, which also incorporates dedicated durability, testing and lifecycle analysis (LCA) activities to deliver safety, adequate cyclability and competitive cost.

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Lux suggests how LG Chem might overtake EV battery leader Panasonic

August 18, 2015

Panasonic is currently the runaway leader in the nascent battery market for electric vehicles, but LG Chem has the potential to overtake it in what will be a $30 billion market in 2020, according to a new report—“Watch the Throne: How LG Chem and Others Can Take Panasonic’s EV Battery Crown by 2020”—by Lux Research.

Panasonic’s 39% share of the battery market for plug-in vehicles makes it the leading supplier, but its reliance on a single deal with EV leader Tesla leaves it vulnerable, according to the consultancy. Panasonic lead rival LG Chem has already signed up large automakers including General Motors, Volkswagen, Daimler, and Ford. In the event of a surge in sales of plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) by the German manufacturers, LG Chem would only need to win over Japan’s Nissan to topple Panasonic.

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Atomic Layer Deposition process for highly conductive LiPON for solid-state batteries

August 17, 2015

Researchers at the University of Maryland have demonstrated the first reported atomic layer deposition (ALD) process for the solid lithium electrolyte lithium phosphorous oxynitride (LiPON). An open access paper on their work is published in the ACS journal Chemical Materials.

The ALD process features a combination of highly tunable thickness during growth; tunable N content; and the ability to conformally deposit LiPON on high-aspect-ratio nanostructures. The result, the authors suggested in their paper, is a desirable and very attractive combination for incorporating solid electrolyte layers onto challenging electrode geometries in both 3D solid state micro-/nanobatteries and as protection layers in metal anode-based beyond Li batteries.

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University of Washington team develops new robust approach to solving battery models

August 15, 2015

A team at the University of Washington (Seattle) led by Dr. Venkat Subramanian has developed an approach that helps solve battery models without knowing the exact initial conditions and without having to use a Newton Raphson iteration (a method for finding successively better approximations of a real-valued function) or a nonlinear solver. Source code and details are available at the Modeling, Analysis and Process-control Laboratory for Electrochemical Systems (MAPLE) Lab at the university. A paper on the approach is newly published in the journal Computers & Chemical Engineering.

The approach enables solving lithium-ion and other battery/electrochemical storage models accurately in a robust manner in a cheap microcontroller with minimum memory requirements. A disclosure has been filed with the University of Washington to apply for a provisional patent for battery models and Battery Management System for transportation, storage and other applications. In particular, use of this single step avoids initialization issues/(no need to initialize separately) for parameter estimation, state estimation or optimal control of battery models.

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NSF funds new center for advanced 2-D coatings; energy conversion and storage

August 13, 2015

A new NSF-funded Industry/University Collaborative Research Center (I/UCRC) at Penn State and Rice University will study the design and development of advanced coatings based on two-dimensional (2D) layered materials to solve fundamental scientific and technological challenges that include: corrosion, oxidation and abrasion, friction and wear, energy storage and harvesting, and the large-scale synthesis and deposition of novel multifunctional coatings.

The Center for Atomically Thin Multifunctional Coatings, (ATOMIC), is one of more than 80 Industry/University Cooperative Research Program centers established by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to encourage scientific collaboration between academia and industry. It is the only NSF center dedicated to the development of advanced 2-D coatings.

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Audi: upcoming battery-electric SUV to use LG Chem and Samsung SDI cell modules; 311-mile range

Audi announced that it will develop the battery for a purely electrically powered sport utility vehicle on the basis of battery cell modules from the South Korean suppliers LG Chem and Samsung SDI. The two Audi partners plan to invest in the cell technology in Europe and will supply the Ingolstadt-based car producer from their European plants.

The new technology will give drivers of the Audi sport utility vehicle a range of more than 500 kilometers (311 miles). At Audi’s Annual General Meeting in May, the company announced it was developing a sporty SUV with electric drive, which is to be launched in 2018. (Earlier post.)

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Nankai University team in pursuit of a Li-CO2 battery

August 12, 2015

Researchers at Nankai University in China report their latest advance in developing a rechargeable Li-CO2 battery with the use of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) with high electrical conductivity and porous three-dimensional networks as air cathodes for the rechargeable metal-CO2 batteries. A paper on the work is published in the RSC journal Chemical Communications. (Zhang Zhang et al. 2015).

The team had earlier reported on the introduction of graphene as a cathode material which significantly improved the performance of Li–CO2 batteries, which displayed a superior discharge capacity and enhanced cycle stability. (Xin Zhang et al. 2015) The use of CNTs in the latest study, while extending cycle stability, reduced capacity.

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Separator coated with boron-nitride nanosheets improves stability of Li metal anodes

August 11, 2015

Researchers at the University of Maryland have developed a thermally conductive separator coated with boron-nitride (BN) nanosheets to improve the stability of Li metal anodes for us in high energy density Li-ion batteries. Hexagonal boron nitride (“white graphene”) is a 2D material that offers chemical stability, electrical insulation, and very high thermal conductivity (e.g., earlier post).

In a paper in the ACS journal Nano Letters, the researchers report that using the BN-coated separator in a conventional organic carbonate-based electrolyte results in the Coulombic efficiency stabilizing at 92% over 100 cycles at a current rate of 0.5 mA/cm2 and 88% at 1.0 mA/cm2. They suggested that the improved Coulombic efficiency and reliability of the Li metal anodes is due to the more homogeneous thermal distribution resulting from the thermally conductive BN coating and to the smaller surface area of initial Li deposition.

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ILL team uses neutron scattering to elucidate structure and dynamics of superionic conductor Li4C60; potential for batteries and fuel cells

August 05, 2015

Researchers at the Institut Laue Langevin (ILL), a leading international research center for neutron science and technology, and their colleagues have elucidated the structure and dynamics of the solid superionic conductor Li4C60 using neutron scattering. Their paper is published in the journal Physical Review B.

When atoms of alkali-metals such as lithium (Li) are added to cage-like Buckminsterfullerene molecules (C60 buckyballs), the buckyballs undergo polymerization, forming long chains that create a material with a range of new properties. Despite being a solid, Li4C60 displays an ionic conductivity comparable to that of liquid electrolytes, even at room temperature. This has led to suggestions that this material could find use in future fuel-cells or batteries.

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MIT/Tsinghua high-rate aluminum yolk-shell nanoparticle anode for Li-ion battery with long cycle life and high capacity

A team of researchers at MIT and Tsinghua University has developed a high-rate, high-capacity and long-lived anode for Li-ion batteries comprising a yolk-shell nanocomposite of aluminum core (30 nm in diameter) and TiO2 shell (~3 nm in thickness), with a tunable interspace (Al@TiO2, or ATO).

In an open access paper in the journal Nature Communications, they reported that the Al yolk-shell anode achieved a 10 C charge/discharge rate with reversible capacity exceeding 650 mAh g−1 after 500 cycles, with a 3 mg cm−2 loading. At 1 C, the capacity is approximately 1,200 mAh g−1 after 500 cycles. The one-pot synthesis route is simple and industrially scalable, and the result may “reverse the lagging status of aluminum among high-theoretical-capacity anodes,” they noted.

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3M and LG Chem enter into NMC patent license agreements; cathode materials for Li-ion batteries

August 04, 2015

3M and LG Chem have entered into a patent license agreement to further expand the use of nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC) cathode materials in lithium-ion batteries. Under the agreement, 3M grants LG Chem a license to US Patents 6,660,432 (Paulsen et al.); 6,964,828 (Lu and Dahn); 7,078,128 (Lu and Dahn); 8,685,565 (Lu and Dahn); and 8,241,791 (Lu and Dahn) and all global equivalents including in Korea, Taiwan, Japan, China and Europe.

3M’s battery laboratory collaborated with Professor Jeff Dahn and students at Dalhousie University on the NMC technology. 3M developed a number of compositions of the NMC material, including NMC 111 (for energy and power); NMC 442 (for energy and power); and an optimized high-power NMC 111 composition with high porosity. (Earlier post.) LG Chem had earlier licensed the NMC technology developed at Argonne National Laboratory (Thackeray) (licensed to BASF as a supplier).

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OSU team develops new aqueous lithium-iodine solar flow battery; 20% energy savings over Li-I batteries

August 02, 2015

After debuting the first solar air battery—a photo-assisted charging Li-O2 battery—last fall (earlier post), researchers at The Ohio State University led by Professor Yiying Wu have now developed a new system combining a solar cell and a battery into a single device.

The new aqueous lithium−iodine (Li−I) solar flow battery (SFB) incorporates a built-in dye-sensitized TiO2 photoelectrode in a Li−I redox flow battery via linkage of an I3/I based catholyte for the simultaneous conversion and storage of solar energy. During the photo-assisted charging process, I ions are photo-electrochemically oxidized to I3, harvesting solar energy and storing it as chemical energy.

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Volkswagen Group selects LG as FAST partner for high-voltage batteries

August 01, 2015

The Volkswagen Group nominated the first 44 suppliers who will be collaborating with the Group on a new common strategic level under the joint FAST initiative. Among the 44 is LG Electronics for the supply of high-voltage batteries. (Earlier post.)

Volkswagen Group Procurement is responding to the challenges currently facing the automotive industry by working together with its suppliers under the “Future Automotive Supply Tracks” initiative (or FAST for short) and will implement technical innovations even faster. Volkswagen AG said it chose the first tranche of suppliers for “their outstanding performance in their respective field of competence based on a systematic selection process.

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NSF to award $13M for fundamental engineering research on production of electricity and fuels

July 27, 2015

The US National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental, and Transport Systems (CBET) has issued a funding opportunity announcement (PD 15-7644) for the award of an estimated $13,093,000 to support fundamental engineering research that will enable innovative processes for the sustainable production (and storage) of electricity and fuels.

Processes for sustainable energy production must be environmentally benign, reduce greenhouse gas production, and utilize renewable resources. Current topics of interest include:

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DLR and Wuppertal publish comprehensive global analysis of e-mobility technologies, outlook and lifecycle assessments

July 23, 2015

The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) and the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy (Wuppertal Institut für Klima, Umwelt, Energie GmbH; WI) have published results of their STROMbegleitung (electricity evaluation) comprehensive study to analyze technologies; market outlook; policy support; infrastructure; and life-cycle assessments for electrically-powered transport.

The study, which ran from October 2011 – September 2014, comprehensively charts current progress in technology; identifies trends; analyzes lifecycle assessments for a variety of vehicle concepts; and assess material intensities. At the same time, it places German activities in the field of electromobility within an international context. The research program received a €1.7 million euro grant from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung; BMBF) as part of the STROM support program (key technologies for electromobility).

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Researchers fabricate high-performance 3D silicon anodes for Li-ion batteries from reed leaves

Nanoporous silicon is considered an attractive next-generation anode material in lithium-ion batteries due to its much higher theoretical capacity and lower operating voltage than the commonly used graphitic carbon materials. However, one challenge ia finding a suitable low-cost strategy to employ an appropriate nano-structured silicon material that would compensate for the large volume expansion upon lithium insertion.

Researchers at Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research, the University of Science and Technology of China, and the South China University of Technology have taken a novel approach—one quite distinct from elaborate physical or chemical treatments of expensive silicon precursors. The team led by Prof. Yan Yu fabricated 3D porous silicon-based anode materials from natural reed leaves using calcination and magnesiothermic reduction.

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MTU Friedrichshafen forms partnership with AKASOL for battery systems for hybrid and e-drive propulsion systems

July 22, 2015

MTU Friedrichshafen GmbH, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of large diesel engines and complete propulsion systems, has formed a close development partnership with AKASOL GmbH, a Darmstadt-based subsidiary of Schulz Group (Tettnang) and a leading manufacturer of Li-ion battery systems for high performance applications. The partnership aims to develop and to deliver battery systems for MTU’s hybrid and e-drive propulsion systems.

With the help of AKASOL battery systems, MTU aims to extend its current product range with hybrid propulsion systems for mobile applications in the marine, heavy duty ground vehicles and rail sector. In the near future, AKASOL systems will be used in stationary industrial drives as well.

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New approach to self-extinguishing Li-ion batteries: temperature-responsive fire-extinguishing microcapsules

July 21, 2015

Researchers at the Advanced Batteries Research Center of the Korea Electronics Technology Institute have developed lithium-ion batteries with a self-extinguishing capability for improved safety by integrating temperature-responsive microcapsules containing a fire-extinguishing agent in the cell.

The microcapsules release the extinguisher agent upon increased internal temperature of a battery cell, resulting in rapid heat absorption through an in situ endothermic reaction and suppression of further temperature rise and undesirable thermal runaway. In a standard nail penetration test, the temperature rise was reduced by 74% without compromising electrochemical performances. Based on the results, the team suggested in a paper in the ACS journal Nano Letters that this scalable, simple and cost-effective strategy could be extensively applied to various high energy-density devices to ensure human safety.

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Electrochemical Society and Toyota announce fellowship winners for projects in green energy technology

July 15, 2015

The ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship Selection Committee has selected three recipients who will receive $50,000 each for the inaugural fellowships for projects in green energy technology. The winners are Professor Patrick Cappillino, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth; Professor Yogesh (Yogi) Surendranath, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Professor David Go, University of Notre Dame.

The Electrochemical Society (ECS), in partnership with the Toyota Research Institute of North America (TRINA), a division of Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc. (TEMA), launched the inaugural ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship about six months ago. More than 100 young professors and scholars pursuing innovative electrochemical research in green energy technology responded to ECS’s request for proposals.

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ELIX Wireless introduces MDC-based 10kW wireless charging solution

ELIX Wireless introduced the E10K Wireless Charging System, a wireless charging solution that delivers a full 10kW of wireless power transfer. The E10K Wireless Charging System is based on ELIX Wireless’ patented Magneto-Dynamic Coupling (MDC) technology. MDC, developed at the University of British Columbia, is based on two rotating permanent magnets in transmitter and receiver, rather than resonant inductive technology. (Earlier post.) ELIX Wireless rolled out its initial product offering, the E1K Wireless Charging System, to customers in early 2015. The E10K Wireless Charging System is now commercially available to customers and partners.

Typical wireless charging solutions available in the market today are based on inductive technologies and deliver up to 7.7kW. To meet the demand for a faster, higher power wireless charging solution that can operate under extreme environmental conditions, ELIX Wireless developed the E10K Wireless Charging System. E10K “building blocks” can be combined together to create even higher power systems.

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Arkema and Hydro-Québec set up a joint laboratory for lithium-ion batteries

July 10, 2015

Arkema, a €7.5-billion (sales) global chemical company and France’s leading chemicals producer, and Hydro-Québec, through its new subsidiary SCE France, are partnering to create a joint laboratory for research and development in the energy storage sector. (Earlier post.)

The laboratory will focus its work on the development of a new generation of materials for the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries, in particular new electrolytes (solvents, lithium salts, etc.) and conduction agents (carbon nanotubes, conductive polymers, etc.).

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New rationally designed high-performance Li-S cathode; rate performance, capacity and long life

Researchers in China report the development of a rationally designed Li−S cathode consisting of a freestanding composite thin film assembled from sulfur nanoparticles, reduced graphene oxide (rGO), and a multifunctional additive poly(anthraquinonyl sulfide) (PAQS): nano-S:rGO:PAQS.

The resulting cathode exhibits an initial specific capacity of 1255 mAh g−1 with a decay rate as low as 0.046% per cycles over 1,200 cycles. Importantly, the nano-S:rGO:PAQS batteries exhibit significant rate performances. They maintain a reversible capacity of ∼615 mAh g−1 at a rate of 13.744 A g−1 (=8 C) after more than 60 cycles at various rates and can still have a reversible capacity of ∼1000 mAh g−1 when further cycled at 0.25 C. A paper explaining their work appears in the ACS journal Nano Letters.

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Saft Li-ion battery system to power ExoMars Rover; >€1M contract

July 09, 2015

ExoMars_rover _Copyright ESA_CP
ExoMars Rover. Click to enlarge.

Saft has signed a contract worth more than €1 million (US$1.1 million) from Airbus Defence and Space Ltd (UK) to develop, to qualify and to test a specific lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery system to power the ExoMars Rover vehicle. The Rover is the key component of the ExoMars Programme, run jointly by the European Space Agency (ESA) and Roscosmos, the Russian Federal Space Agency. Thales Alenia Space Italia SpA is the ExoMars prime contractor.

The objective of the ExoMars Programme is to search for evidence of current or extinct life on the red planet as part of a branch of science called exobiology. The 300 kg (661 lbs) Rover will land on the surface of Mars before moving between a number of sites and drilling into the surface to capture samples for analysis by its onboard scientific instruments.

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BioSolar extends agreement with UCSB for further development of novel polymer cathode; projecting up to 459 Wh/kg and $54/kWh for Li-ion cells

July 07, 2015

Startup BioSolar, Inc. has signed an agreement to extend the funding of a sponsored research program at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), to further develop its “super battery” technology—a novel polymer cathode that leverages fast redox-reaction properties rather than conventional lithium-ion intercalation chemistry to enable rapid charge and discharge.

The lead inventors of the technology are UCSB professor Dr. Alan Heeger, the recipient of a Nobel Prize in 2000 for the discovery and development of conductive polymers, and Dr. David Vonlanthen, a project scientist and expert in energy storage at UCSB. Both are scientific advisors to BioSolar.

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New safety test environment for high-speed flywheels for energy storage systems; new high-speed imaging techniques

The Ricardo-led FlySafe research collaboration—involving a range of leading industrial and academic partners including the University of Brighton’s Centre for Automotive Engineering—has delivered an innovative flywheel safety test environment to enable the development of next-generation flywheel energy storage systems.

The FlySafe project is investigating the potential failure mechanisms and behaviors of high-speed flywheel systems. Operating at extremely high rotational speeds, these systems offer a practical and potentially cost-effective mechanical means of saving fuel and reducing carbon emissions through the mechanical storage and reuse of energy in applications such as regenerative braking. The FlySafe research aims to provide best-practice design guidelines for the safety containment systems of high speed flywheels, appropriate for commercial mass market deployment of these systems. A key output of the project in this respect will be a proposed BSI flywheel safety standard.

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Skeleton Technologies launches new range of high-performance ultracapacitors; up to 111 kW/kg and 9.6 Wh/kg; hybrid truck application coming

June 30, 2015

Skeleton Technologies (earlier post) has launched a new range of cylindrical ultracapacitors that offers specific power performance of up to 111 kW/kg (SC450, 450F) and specific energy up to 9.6 Wh/kg (SC4500, 4500F) with ESR as low as 0.075 mΩ (SC3000, 3000F)—the highest performance cylindrical cell ultracapacitors in the market.

Through the use of its patented graphene material, the new series features a capacitance of up to 4500 farads (the SC4500 cell). By contrast, the closest competitor product has a capacitance of 3400 farads. Skeleton claims this is the single biggest increase in energy density for ultracapacitors in the past 15 years.

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New operando technique shows atomic-scale changes during catalytic reactions in real-time; applications for batteries and fuel cells

A new technique developed by a team of researchers led by Eric Stach at Brookhaven National Laboratory and Anatoly Frenkel at Yeshiva University reveals atomic-scale changes during catalytic reactions in real time and under real operating conditions. An open access paper on the work is published in the journal Nature Communications.

The team used a new microfabricated catalytic reactor to combine synchrotron X-ray absorption spectroscopy and scanning transmission electron microscopy for an unprecedented portrait of a common chemical reaction. The results demonstrate a powerful operando—i.e., in a working state—technique that is generalizable to quantitative operando studies of complex systems using a wide variety of X-ray and electron-based experimental probes. This may have a tremendous impact on research on catalysts, batteries, fuel cells, and other major energy technologies.

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New Samsung silicon anode with graphene boosts volumetric capacity of LiCoO2 Li-ion cell 1.5x after 200 cycles; gravimetric capacity the same

June 27, 2015

A team at Samsung Advanced Institue of Technology (SAIT, Samsung’s global R&D hub) reports in an open access paper published in the journal Nature Communications on a new approach to advance high-capacity silicon (Si) anodes for Li-ion batteries (LIBs) to commercial viability, with a particular focus on improving the volumetric capacity of LIBs.

The SAIT team fabricated the anode material by growing graphene directly on a silicon surfaces while avoiding Si carbide (SiC) formation by developing a chemical vapor deposition (CVD) process that includes CO2 as a mild oxidant. The graphene-coated silicon nanoparticles (Gr-Si NPs) reach a volumetric capacity of 2,500 mAh cm−3 (versus 550 mAh cm−3 of commercial graphite), the highest volumetric value among those reported to date for any LIB anodes while exhibiting excellent cycling and rate performance.

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NREL: battery second use offsets EV expense, improves grid stability; recommendations

June 24, 2015

PEV battery life cycle with second use. Source: NREL. Click to enlarge.

Researchers at the US Department of Energy (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) are identifying battery second use (B2U) strategies capable of offsetting vehicle expenses while improving utility grid stability.

Second-use options for automotive “end-of-life” Li-ion battery packs support a broad spectrum of sustainable energy strategies, as they increase the potential for widespread PEV adoption by eliminating end-of-life automotive service costs, in addition to helping utilities support peak electricity demands while building a cleaner, more flexible electricity grid. NREL research confirms that after being used to power a car, a Li-ion battery retains approximately 70% of its initial capacity—making its reuse a valuable energy storage option for electric utilities, before battery materials are recycled.

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DOE CEMAC report examines US opportunities in automotive Li-ion batteries

June 23, 2015

With increasing demand for electric and hybrid electric vehicles and with lithium-ion battery (LIB) producers locating in close proximity to automotive manufacturers, the United States has an opportunity in automotive LIBs under certain conditions, according to a new report released by the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Clean Energy Manufacturing Analysis Center (CEMAC). The current $9-billion global automotive LIB market is expected to reach $14.3 billion by 2020.

As part of its analysis, CEMAC developed a detailed bottom-up cost modeling of regional cell production scenarios based upon total costs that a manufacturer incurs in the high-volume production of LIB cells. Costs captured in the model include all capital, fixed, and variable costs in each country scenario explored. CEMAC then determined a minimum sustainable price (MSP) by analyzing capital expense, COGS, operating expenses, taxes, free cash flows, and required rates of return.

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24M emerges from stealth mode with new semi-solid Li-ion cell; <$100/kWh by 2020

June 22, 2015

Stealth-mode battery start-up 24M has introduced its new semi-solid lithium-ion cell. Co-founded by MIT’s Dr. Yet-Ming Chiang, 24M’s Chief Scientist, the company is leveraging existing, preferred energy storage chemistry but using a new cell design with semi-solid (a mixture of solid and liquid phases) thick electrodes and manufacturing innovations to deliver what it says will be up to a 50% reduction in current Li-ion costs. (Dr. Chiang was also a co-founder of A123 Systems; 24M originated as an A123 spinout. Earlier post.)

Together, our inventions achieve what lithium-ion has yet to do—meet the ultra-low cost targets of the grid and transportation industries. By 2020 our battery costs will be less than $100 a kilowatt-hour (kWh). We’re emerging at the right time with the right technology,” said Throop Wilder, 24M CEO.

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Saft to provide 800 kWh Li-ion system for hybrid ferry

Saft has won a contract to supply Li-ion battery systems to Imtech Marine, a leading maritime technology supplier. Two Saft Seanergy systems will be at the heart of the diesel-electric hybrid propulsion system and energy management system for “Hybrid III”, a Roll On Roll Off (RORO) passenger and vehicle ferry designed for use on Scotland’s short sea crossing routes around the Clyde and Hebrides.

The new vessel, currently under construction by Ferguson Marine Engineering Ltd for CMAL (Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd), will be Scotland’s third hybrid ferry when it enters service in autumn 2016, carrying up to 150 passengers and 23 cars or two HGVs (Heavy Goods Vehicles) with a service speed of 9 knots. (CMAL is currently holding a naming competition for the ferry.)

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Toho Tenax’s prepreg helps to cut 1.1MW Tajima Rimac electric racer’s weight

Teijin Limited announced that carbon fiber sheet pre-impregnated with matrix resin, or prepreg, made by Toho Tenax Co., Ltd., the core company of the Teijin Group’s carbon fibers and composites business, is used in the lightweight body of a new 1.1 MW electric racecar operated by Team APEV with Monster Sport. The Tajima Rimac E-Runner Concept_One—driven by Tajima CEO Nobuhiro “Monster” Tajima—will race in the Electric Modified Division in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb from June 22 to 28.

The racer, developed by Rimac Automobili in collaboration with Monster Sport and Team APEV, is based on an aluminum space frame covered with the carbon fiber composite body panels. A 57 kWh Rimac battery pack powers four Rimac permanent magnet synchronous motors, delivering combined maximum output of 1,100 kW (1,475 hp) and 1,500 N·m (1,106 lb-ft) of torque.

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Dahn Lab at Dalhousie signs exclusive 5-year research partnership with Tesla, beginning in 2016

June 18, 2015

Tesla Motor’s Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer JB Straubel signed a 5-year research agreement with Dalhousie University’s Jeff Dahn, Li-ion battery researcher with the Faculty of Science, and his group of students, postdoctoral researchers and technical staff. The work will begin in June of 2016 when the support from 3M and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) ends. (3M and NSERC have funded Dahn’s Industrial Research Chair in Materials for Advanced Batteries since 1996.)

The new collaboration, a first between the leading American electric vehicle company and a Canadian university, will bring together the teams of Dahn and Tesla’s Director of Battery Technology, Kurt Kelty.

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Researchers find synergy between lithium polysulfide and lithium nitrate as electrolyte additives prevent dendrite growth on Li metal anodes

June 17, 2015

Researchers from SLAC and Stanford led by Prof. Yi Cui, with Prof. Yet-Min Chiang (a co-founder of A123 Systems) at MIT, have discovered that a synergetic effect resulting from the addition of both lithium polysulfide and lithium nitrate to ether-based electrolyte prevents dendrite growth on Li-metal anodes and minimizes electrolyte decomposition.

The findings of their study, reported in Nature Communications, allow for re-evaluation of the reactions regarding lithium polysulfide, lithium nitrate and lithium metal, and provide insights into solving the problems associated with lithium metal anodes. The result could greatly improve the safety of next-generation, high energy density batteries.

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Nissan and 4R Energy partner with Green Charge Networks for commercial energy storage featuring second-life EV batteries

June 15, 2015

Nissan Motor Company and Green Charge Networks, a provider of commercial energy storage, are partnering to deploy second-life Li-ion vehicle batteries for stationary commercial energy storage in the US and international markets. General availability is targeted for Q4 2015.

With more than 178,000 sales since its launch in late 2010, Nissan LEAF is the world’s top-selling electric vehicle. As part of the company’s commitment to sustainability and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Nissan has conducted multiple research projects in Japan, the US and Europe to use the 24 kWh LEAF battery packs outside the vehicle through 4R Energy, a joint-venture with Sumitomo Corp. formed in 2010. (Earlier post.)

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Tsinghua team develops high-efficiency and high-stability Li metal anodes for Li-sulfur batteries

June 14, 2015

Researchers from Tsinghua University have developed what they call a “promising strategy” to tackle the intrinsic problems of lithium metal anodes for Lithium sulfur batteries—dendritic and mossy metal depositing on the anode during repeated cycles leading to serious safety concerns and low Coulombic efficiency.

As described in a paper published in the journal ACS Nano, the researchers devised a nanostructured graphene framework coated by an in situ formed solid electrolyte interphase (SEI) with Li depositing in the pores (SEI-coated graphene, SCG). The graphene-based metal anode demonstrated superior dendrite-inhibition behavior in 70 hours of lithiation, while a control cell with a copper foil-based metal anode short-circuited after only 4 hours of lithiation at 0.5 mA cm–2.

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A closer look at Audi’s new R8 e-tron EV and battery

June 12, 2015

The model line-up of the second generation of Audi’s high-performance R8 sports car, unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year, includes the new R8 e-tron battery-electric vehicle. (Earlier post.) The new R8 e-tron delivers 340 kW (456 hp) of power; acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h (62.1 mph) in 3.9 seconds; and a driving range of up to 450 km (279.6 mi). Range for the first generation R8 e-tron was was 215 km (133.6 mi).

Available for order this year upon customer request, the new R8 e-tron uses a newly developed high energy density Li-ion technology optimized for a purely electric vehicle drive. Li-ion cell energy density was increased from 84 to 152 Wh/kg; in comparison to the first technology platform, the battery capacity has grown from 48.6 kWh to 90.2 kWh—without changing the package.

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Lux: China’s advanced energy storage market to quadruple to $8.7B in 2025; 85% share by transport

June 11, 2015

Driven by environmental problems, a growing auto industry, and a big policy push, China’s advanced energy storage market will be worth $8.7 billion in 2025, more than quadrupling from the current $1.7 billion, according to a new report from Lux Research called “Clearing the Haze: Demystifying Energy Storage Opportunities in China”.

Transport applications will dominate with $7.4 billion, or 85% share of the revenues. Stationary applications will earn $1.3 billion. Overall, revenues will grow slower than volumes on account of continually falling battery and systems prices.

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Sumitomo Chemical to more than double PERVIO Li-ion separator production capacity; supplier to Panasonic, Tesla

Sumitomo Chemical will more than double its production capacity for lithium-ion secondary battery separators, marketed under the PERVIO brand name. The production at its Ohe Works in Niihama, Japan will be raised to approximately 1.3 times the current capacity by next spring. In April 2014, Sumitomo began expanding Ohe Works’ capacity for Previo by approximately 1.7 times in the spring of 2014, approximately 1.9 times in the fall of 2014, and approximately 2.3 times by the spring of 2015.

In addition, Sumitomo will build a new plant for PERVIO at its subsidiary in South Korea, scheduled to start commercial-scale production in 2017.

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Leclanché to provide 4.2 MWh Li-ion battery pack to Green Ferry Project electric ferryboat

Swiss battery manufacturer Leclanché has been selected as the Li-ion battery system supplier for a battery-electric ferryboat to be built by Danish shipbuilder Søby Shipyard Ltd. The ferry will be placed in service in June 2017 to transport vehicles and passengers between island Ærø and the mainland in Denmark.

Leclanché is a joint partner in the Green Ferry Project and will deliver a full-electric drive train to the ferry with its partner Visedo. The ferry will be equipped with a 4.2 MWh battery system from Leclanché, making the boat the world’s largest ferry in terms of battery capacity. As one of the Top 5 projects in the EU Horizon 2020 initiative, a program with a total budget of €21 million (US$24 million), this initiative is part of the Danish Natura project.

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Infineon heading up 3 major related EU electromobility research projects; ~$75M in total funding

June 10, 2015

The European Commission is launching three new related research projects aimed at making electromobility cheaper, more efficient and more reliable in order to facilitate more electric vehicles on Europe’s roads. Europe will be the site for the continued development and production of electric vehicles under these projects, which will run until 2018 and are headed by Infineon Technologies AG. Total funding for the three research initiatives is about €67 million (US$75 million).

As a result of the three research projects 3Ccar, OSEM-EV and SilverStream, electrical systems used in electric vehicles will benefit from being approximately one-fifth more compact and lighter; their range improved; and their cost lowered by about 25%. The three projects will collaborate to research and develop environmentally-friendly, safe and robust electric vehicles. The entire automotive value chain is contributing to this effort, from chip producers to car manufacturers.

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UT Austin team achieves best reported full-cell hybrid Li-air battery cycling with new ordered catalyst

June 05, 2015

Cycling performance of the hybrid Li− air batteries with (top) ordered Pd3Fe/C air electrode and (bottom) conventional Pt/C air electrode. Credit: ACS, Cui et al. Click to enlarge.

A team from the University of Texas at Austin led by Professor John Goodenough has achieved significantly enhanced activity and durability for the oxygen reduction reaction under alkaline conditions in a hybrid Li-Air battery using a new ordered Pd3Fe/C catalyst. The new catalyst exhibits much higher activity and durability than disordered Pd3Fe/C, Pd/C, and Pt/C.

As reported in a paper in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, the new ordered Pd3Fe/C catalyst enables long-term cycling performance of hybrid Li−air batteries over 880 hours (220 cycles) with only a 0.08 V increase in round-trip overpotential. The extraordinarily high performance of ordered Pd3Fe/C catalyst provides a very promising alternative to the conventional Pt/C catalyst for an air cathode in alkaline electrolyte, they concluded.

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A123 Systems to invest additional $200+ M to double Li-ion manufacturing capacity; current facilities running at full utilization

June 02, 2015

A123 Systems LLC, a developer and manufacturer of advanced lithium-ion batteries and systems, plans to double global manufacturing capacity to 1.5 GWh within the next 3 years. The company operates manufacturing hubs in the state of Michigan; Hangzhou, China; and Changzhou, China. All three are now operating at capacity due to considerable growth in demand.

While the company is currently in the midst of a $100-million capital expansion across its manufacturing network, A123 has recognized that the existing investment plan must be substantially expanded to satisfy much stronger market demand for its products. The company currently forecasts growth of more than 50% this year. The new investment program of an additional $200+ Million will be installed in phases over the next three years, with additional investments anticipated as target markets further develop.

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Overhead fast charging system for electric buses from Fraunhofer and partners

June 01, 2015

Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Transportation and Infrastructure Systems IVI and its several partners in the EDDA Bus project, have developed a pantograph fast-charging solution for electric buses that supports route-based opportunity charging. Operational system testing of a converted bus and its charging station began in Dresden in November last year.

The solution is based on four core technologies: the Dresden-based company M&P GmbH designed a charging station with very high charging capacities; HOPPECKE Advanced Battery Technology GmbH supplied special batteries designed for such high power capacities; Vossloh Kiepe GmbH was responsible for adapting the power electronics; and the contact system located on the roof of the bus was realized by Fraunhofer IVI together with Schunk Bahn- und Industrietechnik GmbH.

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Toyota Research team reports significant advance in electrolytes for high-energy Mg batteries

A team at Toyota Research Institute of North America (TRINA) reports a critical advance in the the development of electrolytes for magnesium (Mg) batteries in the journal Angewandte Chemie. The researchers, led by Dr. Rana Mohtadi, Principal Scientist at TRINA, developed an electrolyte based on a simple-type magnesium monocarborane salt (MMC) that is compatible with Mg metal (> 99 % coulombic efficiency); possesses high anodic stability (3.8 V vs. Mg); and is non-corrosive. By contrast, state-of-the-art Mg electrolyte systems are complex, halogen-based, and corrosive.

The properties of the new electrolyte, coupled with its “inert and benign character”, make MMC-based electrolytes well-suited for future Mg batteries, the scientists said. The development of this non-corrosive electrolyte enabled the first demonstration of a high voltage coin cell battery, previously prohibited using all known systems. “This achievement is a turning point in the research and development of Mg electrolytes that has deep implications on realizing practical rechargeable Mg batteries,” the scientists wrote.

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Stanford team develops new ultrahigh surface area 3D porous graphitic carbon material for improved energy storage

Stanford University scientists have created a new ultrahigh surface area three-dimensional porous graphitic carbon material that significantly boosts the performance of energy-storage technologies. Their results are presented in an open access paper published in the journal ACS Central Science.

The multivalent cross-linker and rigid conjugated framework help to maintain micro- and mesoporous structures, while promoting graphitization during carbonization and chemical activation. The design results in a class of hierarchically porous graphitic (HPG) carbons at temperature as low as 800 °C with record-high surface area (4,073 m2 g–1); large pore volume (2.26 cm–3), and hierarchical pore architecture. The maximum surface area achieved with conventional activated carbon is about 3,000 m2 g–1

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University of Maryland team creates solid-state Li-ion battery out of one material

May 29, 2015

UMD Engineers made a battery of all one material simply by sprinkling carbon (red) into each side of a new material (blue) that forms the electrolyte and both electrodes at the ends of the battery. Credit: Maryland NanoCenter Click to enlarge.

Engineers at the University of Maryland have created a solid-state Li-ion battery that is made entirely out of one material. Chunsheng Wang, a professor in the University of Maryland’s Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and his team have made a single material that incorporates the properties of both electrodes (cathode and anode) and electrolyte.

The new material consists of a mix of sulfur, germanium, phosphorus and lithium (Li10GeP2S12). This compound is used as the ion-moving electrolyte. At each end, the scientists added carbon to form electrodes that push the ions back and forth through the electrolyte as the battery charges and discharges. The Li–S and Ge–S components in Li10GeP2S12 act as the active centers for its cathode and anode performance, respectively.

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Daimler enters stationary energy storage market with ACCUmotive battery systems; 500 kWh unit already on line for grid stabilization

Daimler is entering the commercial and residential stationary energy storage system (ESS) market with its wholly-owned subsidiary Deutsche ACCUmotive. The announcement comes four weeks after Tesla Motors announced its own entry into the ESS market with the home PowerWall Li-ion battery system (earlier post), although Daimler has been considering the move for several years.

Daimler’s first industrial-scale lithium-ion unit is already on the grid and is being operated by the partner companies The Mobility House AG and GETEC Energie AG. The 96-module ESS currently has a total capacity of more than 500 kWh; it will be increased step-by-step to 3000 kWh by the partners in the coming weeks. Daimler AG is planning to collaborate with EnBW AG for distribution to customers in Germany. Daimler is also aiming to enter into cooperation with other sales and distribution partners both in Germany and at international level.

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DOE announces $26.6M SBIR/STTR FY15 Phase 1 Release 2 awards; fuel cells, batteries, power electronics and efficient combustion engines

May 28, 2015

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has selected 162 projects to receive about $26.6 million in the 2015 Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) Phase I Release 2 Awards. (Earlier post.) Of these, 16 are vehicle-related, encompassing projects developing batteries, power electronics and improved combustion engine technology including on-board reformers, and two are specifically hydrogen fuel cell-related.

Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) are Federal programs in which agencies with large research and development (R&D) budgets set aside a small fraction of their funding for competitions among small businesses only. Small businesses that win awards in these programs keep the rights to any technology developed and are encouraged to commercialize the technology. While the original charter of the program focused on technological innovation, the current programs have evolved to have a greater focus on commercialization.

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