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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.]

Johnson Controls funds two research projects with U Wisconsin to enhance fuel efficiency of start-stop vehicles and next-gen EVs

May 26, 2016

Johnson Controls will fund two multi-year research projects at the University of Wisconsin–Madison (UW–Madison) aimed at enhancing the fuel efficiency of start-stop and next-generation battery-electric vehicles. The projects will be funded by Johnson Controls, which includes a Fellows gift of $500,000. UW–Madison graduate students Jacob Dubie and Kevin Frankforter, the first recipients of Johnson Controls Distinguished Graduate Fellowships, will carry out the projects.

The first project will focus on identifying the aging mechanisms of absorbent glass mat (AGM) batteries and supporting systems in start-stop applications and vehicle optimization strategies.

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PSA Group outlines electrification solutions for future hybrid and electric vehicles; 4 EVs, 7 PHEVs by 2021

May 25, 2016

At its Innovation Day event, PSA Group presented its new electrification strategy. PSA Group is consolidating the development of its models on two global modular platforms—CMP and EMP2—allowing it to offer a wide range of internal combustion, electric and plug-in hybrid gasoline models from 2019.

Both platforms are optimized and lighter (25kg for EMP2 and 40kg for CMP) than current platforms, and offer greater modularity in terms of length, width, height and wheel diameter. Both platforms will be compatible with the manufacturing resources put in place as part of the Plant of the Future program. (Earlier post.)

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Researchers develop safe and durable high-temperature Li-S battery with conventional C-S electrode using MLD alucone coating

Researchers from University of Western Ontario, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), and Canadian Light Sources (CLS) have developed a safe and durable high-temperature Li-sulfur battery using universal conventional carbon–sulfur (C-S) electrodes with a molecular layer deposited (MLD) alucone (aluminum oxide polymeric film) coating.

The MLD alucone-coated C−S electrodes demonstrate stabilized ultralong cycle life at high temperature (55 ˚C) with a capacity of more than 570 mA h g−1 after 300 cycles. The utilization of MLD enables the usage of conventional C-S cathode materials with carbonate-based electrolytes—a facile and versatile approach that can be applied to a variety of C−S electrodes without redesigning the carbon host materials. A paper on their work is published in the ACS journal Nano Letters.

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Amprius demonstrates new tool for roll-to-roll manufacturing of high-energy batteries with Si nanowire anodes

May 24, 2016

Amprius, a manufacturer of high-energy lithium-ion batteries using silicon nanowire anodes (earlier post), has demonstrated a novel tool for high-volume manufacturing. The new tool, a first-of-its-kind system for inline, continuous, and roll-to-roll production of three-dimensional silicon nanowire anodes, will enable Amprius to scale manufacturing and deliver lightweight and long-lasting batteries for unmanned vehicles, wearable technologies, and electric vehicles.

Amprius developed its new tool in partnership with Meyer Burger (Netherlands) B.V., a world leader in high-throughput deposition systems and processes. The tool uses a multi-step, Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) process to produce Amprius’ silicon nanowire anodes. Amprius will unveil its new manufacturing tool to a select group of industry partners on 29 June 2016, at a Meyer Burger facility in the Netherlands.

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CCM: China Li-ion industry booming; domestic outputs triples in 2015 to 15.7 GWh

May 23, 2016

In China, the development of alternative energy vehicles and the Li-ion battery sector are booming with the support of promotional policies from the Chinese government, according to new report from CCM, a leading market intelligence provider for China’s agriculture, chemicals, food & ingredients and life science markets. In May 2016 alone, nearly RMB2.6 billion (US$400 million) flowed into the Li-ion battery market, with Tianqi Lithium, Ganfeng Lithium and GEM CO., Ltd. putting in the most capital.

Over the past five years, the growth of electrochemical energy storage market in China has outpaced that of the global market, with a CAGR (2010-2015) of 110%—six times as high as that of the global. Among it, the installed capacity of Li-ion battery captured 66% of the market share in the electrochemical energy storage market.

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Prieto Battery receives investment from Stanley Ventures to pursue commercialization of 3D Li-ion battery

May 21, 2016

Prieto Battery, a company commercializing a 3D Lithium-ion battery technology (earlier post), announced a strategic investment from Stanley Ventures, the newly-formed venture arm of Stanley Black & Decker, a world-leading provider of tools and storage, commercial electronic security and engineered fastening systems.

Prieto Battery Inc. was founded in June 2009 to accelerate the shift of Prieto’s innovations from the research laboratory to the commercial marketplace. The company’s mission is to commercialize a patented 3D lithium-ion battery technology that delivers transformational performance at a competitive cost using non-toxic materials with the ability to customize shapes.

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Hanyang/BMW team develops high-energy density Li-ion battery with carbon-nanotube-Si composite anode and NCM concentration gradient cathode

May 20, 2016

Researchers from Hanyang University in Korea and the BMW Group have developed a new fully operational, practical Li-ion rechargeable battery combining high energy density with excellent cycle life. A report on their work is published in the RSC journal Energy & Environmental Science.

A carbon nanotube (CNT)-Si composite anode with extremely stable long-term cycling provides a discharge capacity of 2364 mAh g-1 at a tap density of 1.1 g cm-3; a two-sloped full concentration gradient (TSFCG) Li[Ni0.85Co0.05Mn0.10]O2 cathode, with a Ni-enriched core and Mn-enriched layer, yields a discharge capacity of 221 mAh g-1. The full cell generates an energy density of 350 Wh kg-1 with excellent capacity retention for 500 cycles at 1 C rate—satisfying the energy density limit imposed by the drive range requirement for EVs.

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Electrovaya introduces 1 kWh and 48V, 2.3 kWh battery modules

May 17, 2016

Electrovaya Inc. has introduced a 1kWh battery module (LITACORE1000) and an intelligent 48V, 2.3 kWh module (EV4823) as building blocks for Lithium-ion battery systems.

The LITACORE1000 is a 1 kWh module with integrated voltage and temperature sensors in an aluminum case with laser welded contacts; the module features the Litacell. The EV4823 is a 48V, 2.3 kWh module with an integrated intelligent battery management system (iBMSTM) complete with CANbus communications.

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High-performance Li-S cathodes using 3D hierarchical porous nitrogen-doped aligned carbon nanotubes

May 16, 2016

Researchers from Hunan University and Changsha University in China have designed 3D hierarchical porous nitrogen-doped aligned carbon nanotubes (HPNACNTs) with well-directed 1D conductive electron paths as scaffold to load sulfur for use as a high-performance cathode in Li-S batteries. A paper on their work is published in the Journal of Power Sources.

The HPNACNTs have abundant micropores, mesopores and macropores with a relatively high specific surface area and a large total pore volume. The sulfur-HPNACNTs (with 68.8 wt% sulfur) composite exhibits a high initial discharge capacity of 1340 mAh g−1 at 0.1 C and retains as high as 979 mAh g−1 at 0.2 C after 200 cycles. It also shows high reversible capacity at high rates (817 mAh g−1 at 5 C).

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Nissan team gains insight into atomic structure of SiO using new methodology; potential benefit for Li-ion battery capacity

May 13, 2016

Using a new methodology, researchers in Japan—including colleagues from Nissan subsidiary Nissan Arc Ltd., a materials analysis and research center—have developed a heterostructure model of the atomic structure of silicon monoxide (SiO). The heterostructure model well explains the distinctive structure and properties of the material, which could play an important role in boosting the capacity of Li-ion batteries. An open-access paper on the work is published in Nature Communications.

Silicon (Si) is capable of holding greater amounts of lithium compared with common carbon-based materials; as such, it is a target of great focus as an anode material for higher capacity Li-ion batteries. However, in crystalline form, Si possesses a structure that deteriorates during charging cycles, ultimately impacting performance. However, amorphous SiO is resistant to such deterioration.

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Researchers develop nanoscale LTO anode with superior high temperature performance

May 10, 2016

A team led by researchers from the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University has synthesized nanoscale porous lithium titanium oxide (LTO) material for Li-ion anodes that exhibit stable electrochemical performance at high temperature (50 °C) and high charge/discharge rates (5 C) without performing any post-surface treatments.

As reported in their paper in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, the synthesis method uses water, with the final products exhibiting nanoscale and highly porous structures. In addition, the grain size of the LTO particles can be tuned and controlled by the calcination temperature.

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Researchers visualize lithiation of magnetite electrode in real time; hunting for new Li-ion electrode materials

May 09, 2016

A team of scientists from the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Maryland, College Park, has developed an electron microscopy technique to visualize—in real time and at high resolution—lithiation pathways in electrode materials.

The scientists used this advanced technique, described in an open-access paper in Nature Communications, to observe the discharge of a lithium-ion battery cell containing nanoparticles of magnetite—an inexpensive, nontoxic, high-conducting, high-energy-storage material. These discharge mechanisms were then correlated with the battery’s discharge rates. The team’s findings about how lithium migrates at the nanoscale could help improve the electrochemical performance of comparable electrode materials in lithium-ion batteries.

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Total to acquire battery-maker Saft in US$1.1-billion deal

France-based energy major Total has filed a friendly tender offer on all of the issued and outstanding shares in the capital of advanced battery maker Saft with the French Financial Markets Authority (Autorité des Marchés Financiers, AMF).

The proposed offer will target all of Saft’s issued and outstanding shares at a price of €36.50 per share, ex-dividend of €0.85 per share, valuing Saft’s equity at €950 million (US$1.1 billion). The offer price represents a 38.3% premium above Saft’s closing share price of €26.40 on 6 May 2016; a premium of 41.9% above the volume weighted average share price over the past six months; and a premium of 24.2% above the volume weighted average share price over the past year.

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Argonne: longer-range BEVs may be almost as powertrain energy dense as gasoline vehicles by 2045

An analysis by a team at Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) has found that by 2045, some configurations of battery electric vehicles (BEV) could become almost as energy dense as a conventional vehicle. The team presented their paper at the recent 2016 SAE World Congress.

Hydrocarbon fuels (either fossil- or bio-derived) have high energy densities that are at least 100 times greater than that of a present day lithium-ion battery. Despite projected improvements in battery technology, this form of energy storage is still expected to be significantly less energy dense than gasoline even by 2045. However, the Argonne team argues, the energy density of storage medium (fuel or battery) should not be used as the sole criterion to compare conventional vehicles and BEVs. Rather, powertrain-level energy and power density will be better criteria to compare the propulsion technology used for BEVs and conventional vehicles, they suggest.

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ORNL-led team identifies feature enabling fast ion conduction in solid electrolytes; new strategy for design

May 06, 2016

A team led by the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has used state-of-the-art microscopy to identify a previously undetected feature, about 5 billionths of a meter (nanometers) wide, in a solid electrolyte. The work experimentally verifies the importance of that feature to fast ion transport, and corroborates the observations with theory. The new mechanism the researchers report in Advanced Energy Materials points to a new strategy for the design of highly conductive solid electrolytes.

Using a solid electrolyte in a rechargeable battery is one of the most important factors in enabling safe, high-power, high-energy batteries, said first author Cheng Ma of ORNL, who conducted most of the study’s experiments. However, solid electrolytes typically suffer from low ionic conductivity, limiting their applications, Ma added.

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CMU study concludes lithium market fluctuations unlikely to impact Li-ion battery prices significantly

May 05, 2016

A new study by a team from Carnegie Mellon University’s College of Engineering has found that even large increases in lithium prices are unlikely to increase significantly the cost of batteries or battery packs for end users such as vehicle manufactures or consumers—although some manufacturers may see reduced profit margins. The study comes against the backdrop of a more than doubling of global lithium prices over the last 6 months.

The Carnegie Mellon University researchers, whose study was published in the Journal of Power Sources, analyzed multiple lithium-ion battery chemistries and cell formats to see whether extreme lithium price variations would have a substantial impact. They found that the use of more expensive lithium precursor materials results in less than 1% increases in the cost of lithium-ion cells considered. Similarly, larger fluctuations in the global lithium price (from $0 to $25/kg from a baseline of $7.50 per kg of Li2CO3) do not change the cost of lithium-ion cells by more than 10%.

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BMW boosts battery capacity of MY2017 i3 to 33 kWh with higher energy density Li-ion cells; up to 114 miles combined cycle range

May 02, 2016

BMW will offer a new model range of its i3 compact electric car, and from the 2017 model year will be offering a new version with more than 50% increased battery capacity.

The 2017 BMW i3 (94 Ah) has a capacity of 33 kilowatt hours (kWh) due to the use of higher energy density lithium-ion cells; the dimensions of the pack remain unchanged while still offering a significant range increase. The new BMW i3, in varying weather conditions and with the air conditioning or heating turned on, has a range of up to 114 miles (183 km) combined (hwy/city) cycle, as shown by independent BMW testing; EPA figures are still pending. The EPA range rating for the MY 2016 i3 is 81 miles (130 km).

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PARC, ORNL and Ford collaborate on high-energy, high-power battery production for EVs using CoEx printing

April 28, 2016

PARC, a Xerox company, is collaborating with Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and Ford Motor Company in a DOE-funded project that will use PARC’s novel CoEx printing technology (earlier post) to fabricate thick, higher energy and higher power battery electrodes with the end goal of enabling longer range and low cost electric vehicles.

The goal of the project—“Co-Extrusion (CoEx) for Cost Reduction of Advanced High-Energy-and-Power Battery Electrode Manufacturing”—is to demonstrate pilot-scale, electric vehicle (EV) pouch cells with a 20% improvement in gravimetric energy density (Wh/kg), and a 30% reduction in $/kWh costs.

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New silicon-sulfur battery built on 3D graphene shows excellent performance

Researchers at Beihang University in Beijing have developed a new Li-sulfur battery using honeycomb-like sulfur copolymer uniformly distributed onto 3D graphene (3D cpS-G) networks for a cathode material and a 3D lithiated Si-G network as anode.

In a paper published in the RSC journal Energy & Environmental Science, they reported that the full cell exhibits superior electrochemical performances in term of a high reversible capacity of 620 mAh g-1, ultrahigh energy density of 1147 Wh kg−1 (based on the total mass of cathode and anode), good high-rate capability and excellent cycle performance over 500 cycles (0.028% capacity loss per cycle).

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Daimler starts deliveries of Mercedes-Benz Li-ion energy storage units for private homes

April 22, 2016

Daimler AG has commenced deliveries of Mercedes-Benz stationary energy storage units (earlier post) for use in private homes. The lithium-ion batteries are being manufactured by the Daimler subsidiary Deutsche ACCUMOTIVE and distributed through selected sales partners and partner companies.

At present, the company’s partners include the energy service provider Energie Baden-Württemberg (EnBW), the solar technology specialist SMA, as well as a number of wholesale traders. Their network of qualified specialist installers take care of providing the end customers with on-site advice, planning, compiling an individual quotation for all components and the actual installation.

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New nanowire-based hybrid battery/capacitor shows extreme cycle stability

Researchers funded by Nanostructures for Electrical Energy Storage (NEES), a DOE Energy Frontier Research Center, have developed a nanowire-based hybrid battery/capacitor that can be recharged hundreds of thousands of times. The team, based at the University of California, Irvine, coated gold nanowire in a manganese dioxide shell and encased the assembly in an electrolyte made of a Plexiglas-like gel. The combination is reliable and resistant to failure.

In a paper published in the journal ACS Energy Letters, they reported reversible cycle stability for up to 200 ,000 cycles with 94–96% average Coulombic efficiency for symmetrical δ-MnO2 nanowire capacitors operating across a 1.2 V voltage window in a poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) gel electrolyte.

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Applications open for the fifth Volkswagen and BASF “Science Award Electrochemistry”; new special award for applied research

April 19, 2016

The BASF and Volkswagen international “Science Award Electrochemistry” is now in its fifth year (earlier post) and has opened the application period for this year’s award. Applications are due by 12 August 2016. Contributions submitted will be assessed by a jury comprising experts from BASF, Volkswagen and representatives from the scientific community. The award ceremony takes place in Berlin on 21 November 2016.

The international “Science Award Electrochemistry” supports excellent scientific and engineering achievements and intends to provide fresh impetus to the development of high-efficiency energy storage devices. The science award has been held every year since 2012 and is intended for scientists working in academic research all over the world. The prize money totals €100,000 and first place receives €50,000.

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Optodot and LG Chem sign patent license agreement for boehmite ceramic-coated separators for Li-ion batteries

Optodot Corporation recently granted a license to LG Chem Ltd. under a patent portfolio controlled by Optodot covering batteries, cells, separators and electrolyte members comprising boehmite.

Boehmite—an aluminium oxide hydroxide (γ-AlO(OH)) mineral, and a component of the aluminium ore bauxite—is a key material used in ceramic coating layers. The patent portfolio includes 20 patents issued in the US, Japan, Korea, China, and Europe. The license permits LG Chem to utilize boehmite separator films for lithium-ion batteries.

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Outokumpu and Fraunhofer Institute develop lightweight stainless steel battery pack for EVs; up to 20% weight reduction

Finland-based stainless steel expert Outokumpu is working on lightweight stainless steel solutions for electric vehicles in cooperation with Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT, in Germany. Their latest innovation is a new battery pack that combines several lightweight engineering technologies as well as new types of cooling and structural strategies.

The Forta H1000 fully-austenitic, ultra-high-strength stainless steel (an advanced manganese-chromium alloy) from Outokumpu enables the implementation of structural lightweight engineering initiatives, while providing a high level of safety.

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Adgero signs €3.5M deal with ultracap manufacturer Skeleton for road freight KERS

April 14, 2016

Adgero has signed a €3.5-million (US$4-million) distribution agreement to ensure modules from ultracapacitor manufacturer Skeleton Technologies, are part of its Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS) for road freight. (Earlier post.) Under the agreement, the French transport technology developer will now source SkelMod 160V modules exclusively for the Adgero hybrid system pioneered to increase efficiency for the truck transport industry.

The Adgero KERS unit consists of a bank of five high-power Skeleton Technologies SkelMod 50F 160V ultracapacitors, working alongside an electrically driven axle to capture energy loss and use this energy to re-power the vehicle.

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Tesla And Other Tech Giants Scramble For Lithium As Prices Double

by James Stafford of Oilprice.com

Demand for lithium—the hottest commodity on the planet and the only commodity to show positive price movement in 2015—is poised to continue on its upward trajectory, becoming the world’s new gasoline and earning the moniker of “White Petroleum”. And the battle for market share in and around this commodity has everyone from major tech players to trend-setting investor gurus vying for a foothold.

Driven by the rise of battery gigafactories and game-changing Powerwall and energy storage businesses, the world now finds itself at the beginning of a lithium super cycle that is all about securing new supply, much of which is poised to come from lithium superstar Argentina.

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BASF licenses CAM-7 Li-ion cathode materials from CAMX Power LLC

April 12, 2016

BASF and CAMX Power LLC announced that BASF has been granted a license under the intellectual property of CAMX Power LLC (CAMX) relating to the CAMX suite of CAM-7 cathode materials for lithium-ion batteries. (Earlier post.) CAM-7 is a patented cathode material that harnesses the properties of high-nickel compounds to deliver high energy density with high-power capability.

The CAM-7 cathode material platform for advanced lithium-ion batteries, developed for over a decade by CAMX Power and now globally patent-protected, has been shown by key entities in the industry to be capable of extending the range of electric vehicles and the run time between charges in portable devices.

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New silicon oxycarbide glass/graphene anode material; lightweight, high-capacity and long cycle life

April 11, 2016

Researchers at Kansas State University have developed a new high-performance Li-ion battery anode material combining silicon oxycarbide (SiOC) glass and graphene. The self-standing (i.e., no current collector or binder) anode material comprises molecular precursor-derived SiOC glass particles embedded in a chemically-modified reduced graphene oxide (rGO) matrix.

The porous reduced graphene oxide matrix serves as an effective electron conductor and current collector with a stable mechanical structure, and the amorphous silicon oxycarbide particles cycle lithium-ions with high Coulombic efficiency. The SiOC-rGO composite electrode delivers a charge capacity of ~588 mAh g−1electrode (~393 mAh cm−3electrode) at the 1,020th cycle and shows no evidence of mechanical failure.

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PNNL study identifies one of the mechanisms behind Li-sulfur battery capacity fade; the importance of electrolyte anion selection

March 31, 2016

Researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) investigating the stability of the anode/electrolyte interface in Li-Sulfur batteries have found that Li-S batteries using LiTFSI-based electrolytes are more stable than those using LiFSI-based electrolytes.

In their study, published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials, they determined that the decreased stability is because the N–S bond in the FSI anion is fairly weak; the scission of this bond leads to the formation of lithium sulfate (LiSOx) in the presence of polysulfide species. By contrast, in the LiTFSI-based electrolyte, the lithium metal anode tends to react with polysulfide to form lithium sulfide (LiSx), which is more reversible than LiSOx formed in the LiFSI-based electrolyte.

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Saft to supply marine Li-ion battery system to Rolls Royce Marine for hybrid multi-application vessel

Saft won a major contract from Rolls Royce Marine to supply the specialized marine lithium-ion (Seanergy) battery system for an innovative hybrid multi-application vessel under construction in Denmark for Kystverket, the Norwegian Coastal Administration (NCA).

It is Saft’s second major contract signed since the end of last year in the marine segment. The high energy battery system onboard the OV Bøkfjord will help Kystverket meet its ambitious climate and environmental targets, reduce maintenance and deliver 25% fuel savings.

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Ioxus introduces ultracap-based uSTART drop-in battery replacement for Class 3-6 trucks

March 28, 2016

Ioxus, Inc. is offering the ultracapacitor-based uSTART engine starting system for Class 3-6 trucks as a drop-in replacement product that needs no special wiring.

Ioxus says the product increases the vehicle bus voltage by greater than 10% during crank, reducing cranking time by more than 20%; reducing peak current to the starter by more than 15%; reducing the cycling seen by the battery by more than 40%; increases starter life by more than 30%; and provides a built-in jump start system that will allow users to charge the capacitor from adjacent “dead” batteries and eliminate stranded trucks.

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Chinese researchers develop novel aluminum–graphite dual-ion battery

March 25, 2016

A team from the Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology (SIAT) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences has developed a novel, environmentally friendly low-cost battery. The new aluminum-graphite dual-ion battery (AGDIB) offers significantly reduced weight, volume, and fabrication cost, as well as higher energy density, in comparison with conventional LIBs.

The battery shows a reversible capacity of ≈100 mAh g−1 and a capacity retention of 88% after 200 charge–discharge cycles. A packaged aluminum–graphite battery is estimated to deliver an energy density of ≈150 Wh kg−1 at a power density of ≈1200 W kg−1—≈50% higher than most commercial lithium-ion batteries. A paper on the work is published in the journal Advanced Energy Materials.

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Stanford team develops new simple approach for viable Li-metal anodes for advanced batteries

Lithium-metal anodes are favored for use in next-generation rechargeable Li-air or Li-sulfur batteries due to a tenfold higher theoretical specific capacity than graphite (3,860 mAh/g vs. 372 mAh/g); light weight and lowest anode potential. However, safety issues resulting from dendrite formation and instability caused by volume expansion have hampered development and deployment of commercially viable solutions.

A team at Stanford led by Prof. Yi Cui has now introduced a simple approach to address both issues by effectively encapsulating lithium inside a porous host scaffold using a facile melt-infusion approach. Uniformly confined within the matrix, the lithium creates a material that can deliver a high capacity of around 2,000 mAh/g (gravimetric) or 1,900 mAh/cm3 (volumetric) as stable anodes for Li-metal batteries. A paper on their work is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

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Toyota GAZOO Racing introduces TS050 hybrid racer for 2016 WEC season; moves up to 8MJ class with Li-ion battery

March 24, 2016

Toyota GAZOO Racing revealed the all-new TS050 HYBRID LMP1 racer—Toyota’s third new car since joining WEC in 2012—for the 2016 World Endurance Championship (WEC) competition. Following an unsuccessful defense of its World Championship titles in 2015, Toyota set itself tough performance targets in order to compete once again at the front of the field, featuring fellow LMP1-Hybrid manufacturers Porsche and Audi.

The TS050 HYBRID features a significant change in powertrain concept. A 2.4-liter, twin-turbo, direct injection V6 gasoline engine is combined with an 8MJ hybrid system, both of which are developed by Motor Sport Unit Development Division at Higashi-Fuji Technical Center.

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Hyundai unveils Ioniq HEV, PHEV and EV for US market at New York show

Hyundai Motor America introduced the Ioniq Hybrid, Plug-in Hybrid, and Electric models for the US market at the New York International Auto Show; the full line of three electrified variants made their global debut earlier this year at the Geneva show. (Earlier post). Ioniq is the first to offer three distinct electrified powertrains on a single, dedicated vehicle platform.

The Ioniq Hybrid and Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid both feature a new Kappa 1.6 direct-injected Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine with a thermal efficiency of 40%, delivering an estimated 104 horsepower (78 kW) and an estimated 109 lb-ft (148 N·m) of torque. This engine has been specifically tailored to the hybrid application and is combined with a smooth shifting six-speed double-clutch transmission—intended to differentiate Ioniq from its key competitors with a more dynamic and engaging driving experience.

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Porsche presents new 919 Hybrid LMP1 racer; 800V battery technology

March 23, 2016

Two days before the official Prologue for the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) at Paul Ricard, France, Porsche presented its new 919 Hybrid LMP1 race car for the 2016 season.

This season, Porsche will fully exploit the WEC regulations by deploying three different aerodynamic packages to make the car best suited to the respective race tracks. (Three aerodynamic specifications are the maximum allowed.) The weight of the four-cylinder turbo engine, as well as its fuel consumption, was further reduced, while the efficiency of the two energy recovery systems of the hybrid drive have been improved. For 2016, the components of the electric drive have also become more powerful and efficient.

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Toyota doubles the electric range in the new version of Prius PHEV with 8.8 kWh pack

Toyota unveiled the new Prius Prime plug-in hybrid (PHEV) at the 2016 New York International Auto Show. Toyota expects the Prius Prime’s manufacturer-estimated 120 or above MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent) to be the highest MPGe rating of any current plug-in hybrid. It also represents a substantial 26-percent enhancement over its predecessor, the Prius PHV, a result of greater battery capacity and an improved hybrid system. In hybrid mode, the Prius Prime is targeting a hybrid MPG equal to or better than the Prius liftback.

Toyota also expects the Prius Prime, equipped with an 8.8 kWh battery pack, to offer an estimated 22 miles (35.4 km) of all-electric range—twice the electric range of the previous model with its 4.4 kWh pack—and to drive at speeds up to 84 mph (135 km/h).

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Sadoway and MIT team demonstrate calcium-metal-based liquid metal battery

MIT professor Donald Sadoway and his team have demonstrated a long-cycle-life calcium-metal-based liquid-metal rechargeable battery for grid-scale energy storage, overcoming the problems that have precluded the use of the element: its high melting temperature, high reactivity and unfavorably high solubility in molten salts.

Their work, reported in an open-access paper in the journal Nature Communications, could make liquid metal battery technology even more practical and affordable, and open up a whole family of potential variations that could make use of local resources.

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Audi unveils redesigned R18 diesel hybrid Le Mans racer for 2016 season

March 22, 2016

Audi unveiled its redesigned R18 diesel hybrid Le Mans racer for the 2016 World Endurance Championship (WEC) season. Among the new features in the R18 are a more radical aerodynamics concept, including a new safety cell; a Li-ion battery replacing the flywheel energy storage system; and a revised V6 TDI diesel engine. As a result, Audi’s LMP1 sports car is more powerful and more efficient than its predecessor; the new R18 consumes less fuel than any of the generations before it.

The new hybrid TDI powertrain delivers power output of more than 1,000 hp (746 kW), along with 10% less consumption that its immediate predecessor. The current V6 TDI consumes 32.4% less fuel than the first generation did in 2011.

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LLNL team finds certain graphene metal oxide nanocomposites increase Li-ion capacity and cycling performance

Material scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have found that certain graphene metal oxide (GMO) nanocomposites increase capacity and improve cycling performance in lithium-ion batteries.

The team synthesized and compared the electrochemical performance of three representative graphene metal oxide nanocomposites—Fe2O3/graphene, SnO2/graphene, and TiO2/graphene—and found that two of them greatly improved reversible lithium storage capacity. The research appears on the cover of the 21 March edition of the Journal of Materials Chemistry A.

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Japan researchers develop two new lithium superionic conductors for high-performance solid-state batteries

Researchers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with colleagues from Toyota Motor Corporation, Tokyo Institute of Technology and High Energy Accelerator Research Organization Japan (KEK), have successfully designed and tested novel, high-power all-solid-state batteries with promising results.

The scientists synthesized two crystal materials that show great promise as lithium superionic conductors for use as solid electrolytes for Li-ion batteries. The materials, reported in a paper in the journal Nature Energy, feature an exceptionally high conductivity (25 mS cm−1 for Li9.54Si1.74P1.44S11.7Cl0.3), as well as high stability ( ∼0 V versus Li metal for Li9.6P3S12).

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A123 Systems opening new manufacturing facility in Czech Republic; support for increasing volume of 12V and 48V Li-ion systems

March 21, 2016

Li-ion battery manufacturer A123 Systems is expanding its operations in Europe by opening a new manufacturing facility in the Czech Republic city of Ostrava. The opening of the new facility is the result of a substantial surge in European market demand for low-voltage automotive products, a strategic focus of A123.

This European location will establish regional assembly of A123’s advanced 12V Lithium-ion starter battery and next-generation 48V battery and cost effectively support the growing market demand.

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CCM: slowdown in China Li-ion unit output growth signals shift in market structure toward new energy vehicle applications

In 2015, China’s total output of Li-ion batteries increased by 3.13% year-on-year (YoY)—a significant slowdown in the output growth rate from the prior 5 years, according to the National Bureau of Statistics of the People’s Republic of China.

CCM, a leading market intelligence provider for China’s agriculture, chemicals, food & ingredients and life science markets, suggests that the reduction in growth rate is a signal that the market structure of Li-ion batteries in China is changing, with Li-ion batteries for alternative energy vehicles moving to dominate China’s Li-ion battery market instead of consumer Li-ion batteries.

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Japan team demonstrates pure hydride-ion conduction; potential for next-generation batteries

March 18, 2016

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with colleagues in Japan, have demonstrated the first electrochemical reaction based on hydride ions in an oxide-based solid-state cell for potential next-generation batteries. A paper on their work is published in the journal Science.

Ionic transport has been studied extensively over the years for energy devices such as fuel cells and batteries using Li+, H+, Ag+, Cu+, F, and O2– as ionic charge carriers. The conduction of hydride ions, H, is also attractive, the team notes in their paper.

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ORNL team gains insight into elastic properties of next-gen energy storage material MXene; understanding how ions flow

March 16, 2016

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, with a colleague from Drexel University, have combined advanced in-situ microscopy and theoretical calculations to uncover important clues to the elastic properties of an MXene material—a promising next-generation energy storage material for supercapacitors and batteries—(earlier post), specifically a 2D titanium carbide (Ti3C2Tx).

MXene material—which acts as a two-dimensional electrode that could be fabricated with the flexibility of a sheet of paper—is based on MAX-phase ceramics (ternary carbides), discovered two decades ago by Michel Barsoum, PhD, Distinguished professor in Drexel’s Department of Materials Science & Engineering. Chemical removal of the “A” layer leaves two-dimensional flakes composed of transition metal layers—the “M”—sandwiching carbon or nitrogen layers (the “X”) in the resulting MXene, which physically resembles graphite.

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DOE selects 33 clean energy businesses for nearly $6.7M in support under Small Business Vouchers pilot

March 11, 2016

The US Department of Energy (DOE) selected 33 small businesses to work directly with DOE national labs to accelerate the commercialization of new clean energy technologies.

The department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy is investing nearly $6.7 million under Round 1 of the new Small Business Vouchers (SBV) pilot. For Round 1, the small businesses and laboratories will collaborate on advancing a number of clean energy technologies, including water, wind, bioenergy, solar, buildings, vehicles, fuel cells, geothermal technologies, and advanced manufacturing. The selected small businesses will work with scientists at nine department laboratories: Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL); National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL); Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL); Sandia National Laboratories (SNL); Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL); Idaho National Laboratory (INL); Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL); Argonne National Laboratory (ANL); and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL).

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Researchers convert atmospheric CO2 to carbon nanofibers and nanotubes for use as anodes in Li-ion and Na-ion batteries

March 03, 2016

Researchers from George Washington University and Vanderbilt University have demonstrated the conversion of atmospheric CO2 into carbon nanofibers (CNFs) and carbon nanotubes (CNTs) for use as high-performance anodes in both lithium-ion and sodium-ion batteries. As described in an open-access paper in the journal ACS Central Science, optimized storage capacities were more than 370 mAh g-1 (lithium) and 130 mAh g-1 (sodium) with no capacity fade under durability tests up to 200 and 600 cycles, respectively.

The conversion process builds upon the solar thermal electro-chemical process (STEP) introduced by GWU Professor Stuart Licht and his colleagues in 2009. (Earlier post.) STEP is an efficient solar chemical process, based on a synergy of solar thermal and endothermic electrolyses, designed to convert greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into a useful carbon commodity. In short, STEP uses solar thermal energy to increase the system temperature to decrease electrolysis potentials.

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Daimler invests €500M in new Li-ion battery factory in Germany

March 01, 2016

Daimler is investing €500 million (US$544 million) to build a second battery factory in Germany to produce lithium-ion batteries for Mercedes-Benz and smart hybrid and electric vehicles.

This will triple the production space of Daimler subsidiary Deutsche ACCUMOTIVE, located in Kamenz. As a first step, the full Daimler subsidiary has purchased about 20 hectares of land adjacent to the existing battery factory.

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ARPA-E to award $30M to increase performance of solid ion conductors for batteries, fuel cells

February 27, 2016

The US Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) will award up to $30 million in funding for a new program focused on creating innovative components for the next generation of batteries, fuel cells, and other electrochemical devices.

ARPA-E’s Integration and Optimization of Novel Ion Conducting Solids (IONICS) program (DE-FOA-0001478) seeks to create transformational electrochemical cells by creating components built with solid ion conductors that have a wide range of desirable properties including low ionic area-specific resistance (ASR); high chemical and electrochemical stability; high selectivity; good mechanical properties; etc. through innovative approaches to overcome tradeoffs among coupled properties.

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DOE launches Energy Materials Network with $40M for first year

February 25, 2016

The US Department of Energy launched the Energy Materials Network (EMN), a new National Laboratory-led initiative. Leveraging $40 million in federal funding in its first year, EMN will focus on tackling one of the major barriers to widespread commercialization of clean energy technologies: the design, testing, and production of advanced materials. By strengthening and facilitating industry access to the unique scientific and technical advanced materials innovation resources available at DOE’s National Labs, the network will help bring these materials to market more quickly.

DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy is providing the funding to establish EMN’s four initial National Laboratory-led consortia and solicit proposals for collaborative R&D projects with industry and academia. Each EMN consortium will bring together National Labs, industry, and academia to focus on specific classes of materials aligned with industry’s most pressing challenges related to materials for clean energy technologies.

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GM’s new RWD PHEV system for Cadillac CT6 designed for fun-to-drive high performance as well as efficiency; Volt on steroids

February 19, 2016

In a preview of three detailed papers to be presented at the SAE World Congress in April, Tim Grewe, GM’s General Director of electrification, and Pete Savagian, GM General Director of electric drives and systems engineering, provided a technical overview of the new rear-wheel drive PHEV propulsion system for the Cadillac CT6 (earlier post) at the recent SAE 2016 Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Technologies Symposium in Anaheim.

The efficient and very fun-to-drive system, with 335 kW (449 hp) combined system power, propels the CT6 from 0-100 km in 5.6 seconds; delivers an all-electric range of more than 60 km (37 miles) and an all-electric top speed of 125 km/h (78 mph); and features combined fuel consumption of less than 2.0 L/100 km (117.7 mpg US).

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AIST researchers synthesize new class of high-voltage, high-capacity cathode materials for Li-ion batteries

Researchers at Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) have developed a new class of contenders for high-voltage and high-capacity Li-ion cathode materials with the composition NaxLi0.7-xNi1-yMnyO2 (0.03 < x 0.25, 0.5 y 0.8).

One of the compositions—Na0.093Li0.57Ni0.33Mn0.67O2—exhibited a maximum discharge capacity of 261 mAh g-1 at an average voltage of 3.36 V at 25 ˚C (between 2.0 and 4.8 V), which translates to an energy density of 943 Wh kg-1. A paper on their work is published in the Journal of Power Sources.

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DOE requesting information on critical energy materials, including fuel cell platinum group metal catalysts

February 18, 2016

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has released a Request for Information (RFI) on critical materials in the energy sector, including fuel cell platinum group metal catalysts. The RFI is soliciting feedback from industry, academia, research laboratories, government agencies, and other stakeholders on issues related to the demand, supply, opportunities for developing substitutes, and potential for using materials more efficiently in the energy sector. The information received from the RFI will be used to update the analyses in DOE’s Critical Material Strategy Reports that were released in 2010 and 2011.

Building on the work of the 2010 and 2011 Critical Materials Strategy reports, the RFI seeks information on materials used in a variety of energy technologies, from generation to end use, and their manufacturing processes. Topics of interest include material intensity; market projections; technology transitions; primary production; supply chains; and recycling.

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Maxwell Technologies introduces 3V, 3,000-farad ultracapacitor; 31% higher power than 2.7V cell

February 17, 2016

Maxwell Technologies, Inc. has introduced the newest addition to its K2 family—a 3-volt (3V), 3,000-farad ultracapacitor cell, now available in sample quantities. With 31% higher power than Maxwell’s leading 2.7-volt, 3,000-farad cell in the industry-standard 60 mm cylindrical form factor, customers now have the flexibility to either increase available power and energy in the same volume or significantly cost-optimize their system designs with fewer cells or modules while maintaining the same power and energy.

The new 3V cell design also incorporates Maxwell’s proprietary DuraBlue Advanced Shock and Vibration Technology (earlier post) to provide three times the vibrational resistance and four times the shock immunity of previous ultracapacitor-based competitive offerings, which will maximize life in demanding transportation environments such as onboard rail, hybrid bus and other applications.

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Beijing, Argonne researchers develop new solid-state Li-ion battery; glassy nanocomposite electrolyte with ILs

February 11, 2016

Researchers from the Beijing Institute of Technology and Argonne National Laboratory have developed a new solid-state Li-ion battery technology, consisting of a solid nanocomposite electrolyte using porous silica matrices with in situ immobilizing Li+-conducting ionic liquids; mesocarbon microbeads (MCMB) as anode material, and LiCoO2 (LCO), LiNiCoMnO2 (NCM), or LiFePO4 (LFP) as cathode material.

Solid-state full cells tested with the various cathodes exhibited high specific capacities, long cycling stability, and excellent high temperature performance. A paper on the work is published in the ACS journal Nano Letters.

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Researchers synthesize new Li-S cathode based on “carbon compartments”

February 10, 2016

Researchers from Texas A&M and Purdue have developed a new cathode material for Li-S batteries based on what they call carbon compartments (CCs)—conductive 3D carbon mesostructures that possess macro- and meso-pores that allow for high loading of sulfur nanoparticles and enhanced electrolyte-sulfur contact.

Fabricated using a scalable, single-step, and inexpensive solid-state synthesis, the 3D carbon architectures provide a conductive backbone for non-conducting sulfur particles and also effectively accommodate volume expansion during Li2S formation. Described in an open-access paper in the Journal of the Electrochemical Society, the CCs demonstrate around 700 mAh g−1 (at 47%-wt S) reversible capacity with high coulombic efficiency due to their unique structures.

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Researchers 3D-print graphene composite aerogel microlattices for supercapacitors

Scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and UC Santa Cruz have successfully 3D-printed periodic graphene composite aerogel microlattices for supercapacitor applications, using a technique known as direct-ink writing. The key factor in developing these novel aerogels is creating an extrudable graphene oxide-based composite ink and modifying the 3D printing method to accommodate aerogel processing.

The 3D-printed graphene composite aerogel (3D-GCA) electrodes are lightweight, highly conductive, and exhibit excellent electrochemical properties. Supercapacitors using these 3D-GCA electrodes with thicknesses on the order of millimeters display exceptional capacitive retention (ca. 90% from 0.5 to 10 A·g−1) and power densities (>4 kW·kg−1) that equal or exceed those of reported devices made with electrodes 10−100 times thinner. A paper on their work is published in the ACS journal Nano Letters.

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Purdue team uses pollen grains as basis for carbon architectures for Li-ion anodes

February 08, 2016

A team at Purdue University has used pollens as the basis for carbon architectures for anodes in energy storage devices. As reported in an open-access paper in Nature’s Scientific Reports, Jialiang Tang and Vilas Pol converted bee pollen and cattail pollen grains into carbon microstructures through a facile, one-step, solid-state pyrolysis process in an inert atmosphere.

They air-activated the as-prepared carbonaceous particles at 300 °C, forming pores in the carbon structures to increase their energy-storage capacity, and then evaluated them as lithium-ion battery anodes at room (25 °C) and elevated (50 °C) temperatures. Findings showed the cattail pollens performed better than bee pollen. At a C/10 rate, the ACP (activated cattail pollen) electrode delivered high specific lithium storage reversible capacities (590 mAh/g at 50 °C and 382 mAh/g at 25 °C) and also exhibited excellent high rate capabilities.

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Study finds nanoparticle NMC material used in Li-ion batteries harms key soil bacterium

February 04, 2016

Nanoparticle nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC), an emerging material that is being rapidly incorporated into lithium-ion battery cathodes, has been shown to impair Shewanella oneidensis, a key soil bacterium, according to new research published in the ACS journal Chemistry of Materials.

The study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin—Madison and the University of Minnesota is an early signal that the growing use of the new nanoscale materials used in the rechargeable batteries that power portable electronics and electric and hybrid vehicles may have unforeseen environmental consequences.

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Connected Energy and Renault to collaborate on energy storage and EV charging technology; second-life batteries in E-STOR

Renault and distributed energy storage company Connected Energy are partnering to develop sustainable and efficient ways of using electric vehicle batteries at the end of their useable in-vehicle life in order to supply innovative and more affordable vehicle charging solutions.

At the end of their useful in-vehicle life, Renault EV batteries still have considerable remaining capacity, enabling them to server in other applications before recycling. With increasing EV sales—97,687 EVs were sold in Europe in 2015, up 48% on 2014—so is the requirement in energy to charge them. Connected Energy is addressing both issues through use of second-life EV batteries in its E-STOR technology.

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Daimler & enercity storing new replacement EV batteries in working 15 MWh grid storage system; “living storage”

February 02, 2016

Daimler AG, with its wholly owned subsidiary ACCUMOTIVE, and enercity (Stadtwerke Hannover AG) will begin construction of a new stationary energy storage system (ESS) this year; the facility also functions as a spare parts storage facility for electromotive battery systems.

Around 3,000 new battery packs, destined for the current smart electric drive vehicle fleet, are being pooled to create the ESS at the enercity site in Herrenhausen. With a storage capacity totalling 15 MWh, the installation is one of the largest in Europe. After completion, the energy storage facility will be marketed on the German primary balancing energy market. The storage facility is already the third major project for Daimler AG in this business sector.

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Stanford, SLAC team cages silicon microparticles in graphene for stable, high-energy anode for Li-ion batteries

January 28, 2016

A team from Stanford University and the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory has developed a new practical, high-energy-capacity lithium-ion battery anode out of silicon by encapsulating Si microparticles (∼1–3 µm) using conformally synthesized cages of multilayered graphene.

The graphene cage acts as a mechanically strong and flexible buffer during deep cycling, allowing the silicon microparticles to expand and fracture within the cage while retaining electrical connectivity on both the particle and electrode level.

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Graphene ultracapacitor company Skeleton Technologies secures €4M from KIC InnoEnergy; targeting 20 Wh/kg by 2020

European ultracapacitor manufacturer Skeleton Technologies received a €4-million (US$4.4-million) investment from KIC InnoEnergy, an investment company dedicated to promoting sustainable innovation and entrepreneurship in Europe’s energy industry.

The €4m investment from KIC InnoEnergy—the shareholders of which include ABB, EDF, Iberdrola and Total—will be used to further develop the competitive advantage of Skeleton Technologies’ ultracapacitors. The company aims to reach the ambitious target of 20 Wh/kg energy density for its technology by 2020.

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ALABC: 48V mild hybrids can meet emission targets with CO2 reductions of 15-20%

January 27, 2016

Current mild-hybrid vehicle projects, in partnership with Ford and Hyundai/Kia, that utilize advanced 48V lead-carbon batteries, can reduce CO2 emissions by 15-20%, according to the latest data from the Advanced Lead Acid Battery Consortium (ALABC), presented at the Advanced Automotive Battery Conference (25-28 January, Mainz).

The T-Hybrid (based on a Kia Optima) (earlier post) and the ADEPT (based on a Ford Focus) (earlier post) both utilize an advanced 48V lead-carbon battery system with bolt-on electrical components that allow for significant engine-downsizing without loss in performance.

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New BMW Brilliance engine plant with light metal foundry in China; high-voltage battery production to come

January 22, 2016

BMW Brilliance Automotive (BBA) opened a new engine plant with a light metal foundry in Shenyang today. The new location will produce the latest generation of the BMW TwinPower Turbo three and four-cylinder gasoline engines and forms part of the BBA production network based in Shenyang in Northeastern China.

In addition to combustion engines, the new engine plant will also produce high-voltage batteries for future Plug-in Hybrid models. As with engine assembly, this project will entail close cooperation between BBA and the BMW Group to ensure knowledge transfer from high-voltage battery production in Germany.

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SEPTA, Constellation, and Viridity Energy to deploy 8.75MW energy storage system to capture and reuse subway train braking energy

An 8.75MW battery storage network which will capture and reuse the energy created by braking subway cars will help Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) reduce operating costs, ensure energy resiliency, and support the stability of the electrical grid.

Constellation, a subsidiary of Exelon Corporation, will fund, own, and operate the 8.75MW battery storage network, deployed at seven SEPTA substations. The network is designed to use stored energy to power trains as they accelerate from stations and can provide emergency generation for trains in the event of a power outage. ABB will provide engineering, procurement, construction and operations services to Constellation for the project. Saft will provide the lithium-ion battery technology.

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DOE announces $58M in funding for advanced vehicle technologies

January 21, 2016

US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz used the Washington DC Auto show as the venue to announce $58 million in funding for vehicle technology advancements. (Earlier post.) (DE-FOA-0001384: Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Vehicle Technologies Program Wide Funding Opportunity Announcement) DOE also released a report highlighting the successes of itsAdvanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) loan program.

Pre-announced in December, a $55-million funding opportunity will solicit projects across vehicle technologies such as energy storage, electric drive systems, materials, fuels and lubricants and advanced combustion. Secretary Moniz also announced that two innovative projects at CALSTART and the National Association of Regional Councils will receive $3 million to develop systems that help companies combine their purchasing of advanced vehicles, components, and infrastructure to reduce incremental cost and achieve economies of scale.

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Penn State team develops self-heating battery; addressing Li-ion energy loss in cold temperatures

Researchers at Penn State, with colleagues at EC Power, a Penn State spin-off, have developed a lithium-ion battery structure—the ‘all-climate battery’ (ACB) cell—that heats itself up from below 0 degrees Celsius without requiring external heating devices or electrolyte additives. The self-heating mechanism creates an electrochemical interface that is favorable for high discharge/charge power. Because only a fraction of the battery energy is used for self-heating, the ACB could address winter range anxiety issues for EV drivers, as well as proving useful for applications in robotics and space exploration, the team said in a paper published in the journal Nature.

The ACB warms itself up to 0 degrees Celsius within 20  seconds starting at -20 ˚C and within 30  seconds at -30 ˚C, consuming 3.8% and 5.5% of cell capacity, respectively. (EC Power projects that it will be able further to reduce the self-heating time from -20˚C to 0 ˚C to 5 seconds by 2017, and reduce energy consumption to 1%.) The self-heated all-climate battery cell yields a discharge/regeneration power of 1,061/1,425 watts per kilogram at a 50% state of charge and at -30 ˚C, delivering 6.4–12.3 times the power of state-of-the-art lithium-ion cells.

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Argonne-led team demonstrates Li-air battery based on lithium superoxide; up to 5x Li-ion energy density

January 19, 2016

Researchers from Argonne National Laboratory, with colleagues in the US and Korea, have demonstrated a lithium-oxygen battery based on lithium superoxide (LiO2). The work, reported in the journal Nature, could open the way to very high-energy-density batteries based on LiO2 as well as to other possible uses of the compound, such as oxygen storage.

Lithium-air batteries form lithium peroxide (Li2O2)—a solid precipitate that clogs the pores of the electrode and degrades cell performance—as part of the charge−discharge reaction process. This remains a core challenge that needs to be overcome for the viable commercialization of Li-air technology. However, a number of studies of Li–air batteries have found evidence of LiO2 being formed as one component of the discharge product along with lithium peroxide (Li2O2).

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VW e-Golf to be enhanced with improved infotainment, connectivity and range

January 14, 2016

Over the next few years (exact timing is unannounced) Volkswagen’s e-Golf battery-electric vehicle will receive a boost in range due to planned and anticipated improvements to its batteries (earlier post) as well as some of the advanced HMI (human-machine interface), device and connectivity technologies showcased at CES 2016 in the e-Golf Touch concept. (The exact technology slate for the US is also unannounced.)

The e-Golf Touch introduced a more advanced generation of the Modular Infotainment Toolkit (MIB) and for the first time, an early series-production preview of the new intuitive control technology, some of which will appear in the production e-Golf over the next few years. The e-Golf Touch features the latest version of MIB with a 9.2-inch high-resolution display (1280 x 640 pixels).

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Stanford team develops thermoresponsive film allowing fast and reversible shutdown of Li-ion batteries to prevent thermal runaway

January 13, 2016

Stanford researchers have developed a fast and reversible thermoresponsive polymer switching (TRPS) material that can be incorporated inside batteries to prevent thermal runaway. Batteries with the material can shut down under abnormal conditions such as overheating and shorting, and then can resume their normal function without performance compromise.

This material consists of electrochemically stable graphene-coated spiky nickel nanoparticles mixed in a polymer matrix with a high thermal expansion coefficient. The as-fabricated polymer composite films show high electrical conductivity of up to 50 S cm−1 at room temperature. Conductivity decreases within one second by seven to eight orders of magnitude on reaching the transition temperature and spontaneously recovers at room temperature. This approach offers 103–104 times higher sensitivity to temperature changes than previous switching devices, the researchers said in an open-access paper published in the new journal Nature Energy.

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National labs researchers find simple procedure to improve performance of NMC cathodes in Li-ion batteries

January 12, 2016

Lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC) is one of the more promising chemistries for better lithium batteries, especially for electric vehicle applications, but scientists have been struggling to get higher capacity out of them.

Now, a team of scientists from the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory has found that using a simple technique called spray pyrolysis can help to overcome one of the biggest problems associated with NMC cathodes—surface reactivity, which leads to material degradation. An open-access paper on their work is published in the journal Nature Energy.

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Chevrolet releases more details on Bolt drive unit and battery; one-pedal driving

January 11, 2016

Hard on the heels of the reveal of the production Volt EV at CES 2016 in Las Vegas earlier post), Chevrolet used the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit to release additional details on the battery and drivetrain of the new BEV. Engineers developed the Bolt EV’s propulsion system to offer more than an estimated 200 miles (based on GM estimates) and a sporty driving experience.

The Bolt EV’s drive system uses a single high capacity electric motor to propel the car. The engineering team designed the Bolt EV’s electric motor with an offset gear and shaft configuration tailored to meet efficiency and performance targets—most notably more than an estimated 200 miles of range. The motor is capable of producing up to 266 lb-ft (360 N·m) of torque and 200 hp (150 kW) of motoring power. Combined with a 7.05:1 final drive ratio, it helps propel the Bolt EV from 0-60 mph in less than seven seconds.

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Penn State team develops highly crumpled nitrogen-doped graphene sheets as high-performance cathode for Li-sulfur batteries

January 08, 2016

Researchers at The Pennsylvania State University have synthesized highly crumpled nitrogen-doped graphene (NG) sheets with ultrahigh pore volume (5.4 cm3) and large surface area (1158 m2/g), which enable strong polysulfide adsorption and high sulfur content for use as a cathode material in Li-sulfur batteries. The wrinkled graphene sheets are interwoven rather than stacked, resulting in rich nitrogen-containing active sites.

Lithium–sulfur battery cells using these wrinkled graphene sheets as both sulfur host and interlayer achieved a high capacity of 1227 mAh/g and long cycle life (75% capacity retention after 300 cycles) even at high sulfur content (≥80 wt %) and sulfur loading (5 mg sulfur/cm2). A high capacity of 1082 mAh/g was still achieved with an ultrahigh sulfur content of 90 wt %, and a capacity of 832 mAh/g was retained after 200 cycles. Areal capacity was 5 mAh/cm2. A paper on their work is published in the ACS journal Nano Letters.

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ECS and Toyota request proposals for 2016-2017 ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship for projects in green energy technology

January 07, 2016

The Electrochemical Society (ECS), in partnership with the Toyota Research Institute of North American (TRINA), a division of Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc. (TEMA), is requesting proposals from young professors and scholars pursuing innovative electrochemical research in green energy technology.

The purpose of the annual ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship, established in 2014, is to encourage young professors and scholars to pursue research in green energy technology that may promote the development of next-generation vehicles capable of utilizing alternative fuels.

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Chevrolet unveils the Bolt EV

January 06, 2016

As promised, GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra unveiled the production 2017 Bolt battery-electric vehicle at CES 2016. The Bolt EV, which will go into production by the end of 2016, will offer more than 200 miles of range on a full charge. It also features advanced connectivity technologies designed to enhance and personalize the driving experience.

GM said that the Bolt EV benefits directly from the suggestions and ideas of Volt owners and features technologies that make owning a long-range electric vehicle easy. The Bolt EV’s connectivity innovations will provide smart, personalized solutions for managing the driving experience. For example, in the future an accurate driving range projection will be based on the time of day, topography, weather and the owner’s driving habits.

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New prelithiation technique for silicon monoxide anodes for high-performance batteries; compatible with current roll-to-roll manufacturing

January 04, 2016

Researchers from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), with colleagues from the Korea Institute of Energy Research (KIER), Qatar University and major battery manufacturer LG Chem have developed a technique for the delicately controlled prelithiation of SiOx anodes for high-performance Li-ion batteries.

The result, paired with a an emerging nickel-rich layered cathode, Li[Ni0.8Co0.15Al0.05]O2is high Columbic efficiencies (CE) and a full cell energy density 1.5-times as high as that of a graphite-LiCoO2 cell in terms of the active material weight. A paper on their work is published in the ACS journal Nano Letters.

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New highly conductive solid electrolyte with improved electrode contact for solid-state Li-ion batteries

December 31, 2015

A joint research team from Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) and Seoul National University in Korea, with colleagues at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and Brookhaven National Lab in the US, has developed a new highly conductive (4.1 × 10−4 S cm−1 at 30 °C), highly deformable, and dry-air-stable glass 0.4LiI-0.6Li4SnS4 electrolyte for solid-state Li-ion batteries.

The electrolyte is prepared using a homogeneous methanol solution. The process enables the wetting of any exposed surface of the electrode active materials with the highly conductive solidified electrolyte, resulting in considerable improvements in electrochemical performances. A paper on the work is published in the journal Advanced Materials.

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New hybrid polymer-glass electrolyte for solid-state lithium batteries

December 21, 2015

Scientists at the US Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have developed a novel electrolyte for use in solid-state lithium batteries that overcomes many of the problems that plague other solid electrolytes while also showing signs of being compatible with next-generation cathodes.

Described in a paper (“Compliant Glass-Polymer Hybrid Single-Ion-Conducting Electrolytes for Lithium Batteries”) to be published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the highly conductive hybrid electrolyte combines the two primary types of solid electrolytes: polymer and glass.

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FEV-developed plug-in hybrid battery pack moves into series production

December 11, 2015

A plug-in hybrid vehicle has gone into series production with technology provided by FEV. In addition to using an innovative transmission concept based on a FEV patent, the PHEV also uses an FEV-developed battery pack. The pack offers a capacity of 10 kWh and yields an all-electric range of about 50 kilometers (30 miles).

FEV was responsible as a turn-key partner for the development of the battery hardware and software, throughout the development of the overall concept, as well as for testing and validation. Future production will be undertaken by suppliers in the Asian market.

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Ford expanding global electrified vehicle battery R&D

December 10, 2015

Ford is expanding its electrified vehicles research and development program in Europe and Asia this year, creating a “hub-and-spoke” system that allows the global team to further accelerate battery technology and take advantage of market-specific opportunities.

The global expansion also allows Ford’s Electrified Powertrain Engineering teams to share common technologies and test batteries virtually, in real time, to develop new technology faster while reducing the need for costly prototypes.

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Iowa State/Ames Lab researcher receives $3M from ARPA-E for solid-state sodium battery

The Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) has awarded $3 million from its 2015 OPEN funding to a project to develop an all-solid-state sodium battery. Led by Steve W. Martin, an Anson Marston Distinguished Professor in materials science and engineering and an associate of the US Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory, and his research team at Iowa State University, the project’s collaborators include colleagues at the University of Houston; the University of Colorado, Washington State University; and Solid Power Inc.

The proposed Na battery operates at room temperature, uses a benign and scalable solid-stack design for a long cycle life and expects to achieve a 20% improvement in energy density over state-of-the-art lithium-ion cells.

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Nissan and Eaton partner on second-life EV battery applications

December 08, 2015

Nissan and Eaton will partner to combine their respective expertise in lithium-ion batteries and power electronics respectively, to bring reliable and cost-competitive second-life energy storage and control technologies to the market.

The partnership will focus on creating commercially viable energy storage and control centers that will provide a sustainable second life for Nissan’s lithium-ion batteries after their automotive usage.

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Vanderbilt team develops ultrafast, high capacity and long-lived Na-ion anode

Researchers at Vanderbilt University have developed and demonstrated an ultrafast Na-ion anode using crystalline few-layered graphene materials made possible through the highly ordered co-intercalation of diglyme solvent, which acts as a “non-stick coating” to facilitate insertion and mitigate desolvation kinetics at the electrode−electrolyte interface.

In a paper in the ACS journal Nano Letters, they report storage capacities above 150 mAh/g; cycling performance with negligible capacity fade over 8000 cycles; and ∼100 mAh/g capacities maintained at currents of 30 A/g (∼12 s charge)—a rate currently only possible using lower-capacity electrochemical supercapacitors.

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New thermally durable solid-state Li-ion battery technology from Hitachi and Tohoku University

December 07, 2015

Hitachi, Ltd. and Tohoku University’s Advanced Institute for Material Research (AIMR) have demonstrated technology reducing the internal resistance of all-solid-state lithium ion batteries (Li-ion battery) through the use of LiBH4-based complex hydrides as novel solid electrolytes.

The reduction of internal resistance improves the charge-discharge performance of the all-solid-state Li-ion battery, resulting in the batteries (capacity: 2 mAh, density: 30 Wh/L) successfully operating at temperatures as high as 150 ˚C with a discharge capacity of 90% of theoretical value.

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Porsche greenlights Mission E electric sports car; launch at end of decade

December 04, 2015

The supervisory board of Porsche AG today has greenlighted the Mission E—the first 100% electric Porsche. The Mission E battery-electric concept car made its premiere at the Frankfurt International Motor Show (IAA) in September. (Earlier post.) The production vehicle is now due to be launched at the end of the decade.

Along with the Mission E project, Porsche will invest around €700 million in its main site in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen. Over the next few years, the company will build a new paint shop and a new assembly plant. The existing engine factory is also being expanded for the production of electric motors. In addition, the existing body shop is being enlarged. On top of that come other areas in which the company will be investing in this context, such as in the Weissach development center.

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Fraunhofer team develops prototype of intelligent battery cell; lower cost, longer range packs

December 03, 2015

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA in Stuttgart have developed a prototype intelligent battery cell that they say could lower the cost of automotive battery packs and extend the range.

Each battery cell has its own built-in microcontroller that records relevant physical parameters, such as the temperature and the state of charge of the cell—i.e., each cell knows its own condition. The cells communicate via the existing power wiring between battery cells; they can also communicate with other devices, such as the on-board controller, which uses the data from the cells to calculate the state of charge.

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ARPA-E awards $6.6M to two projects for electrolytes for solid-state batteries for EVs

December 01, 2015

As part of the $125 million awarded to 41 projects under its 2015 OPEN funding (earlier post), ARPA-E has selected two projects developing manufacturing techniques for ceramic electrolytes for solid-state EV batteries for awards of a combined $6.6 million. Of that, $3.5 million will go to a consortium led by the University of Michigan, and $3.1 million will go to Corning Incorporated.

Solid-state Li batteries could double the energy density of today’s Li-ion cells and also eliminate the use of conventional flammable electrolytes, increasing abuse tolerance and reducing the need for battery thermal management systems. ARPA-E has already funded a number of solid-state battery projects (e.g., earlier post). Solid-state batteries face conductivity challenges, however.

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New Audi R18 makes its debut; fundamental redesign of diesel hybrid racer with Li-ion battery storage

November 29, 2015

The new Audi R18 made its world premiere on the occasion of the Audi Sport Finale at the Audi Training Center Munich on Saturday. Audi Sport has fundamentally re-designed the Audi R18 for the 2016 season.

The LMP1 race car that will compete in the Le Mans 24 Hours and in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) in 2016 features innovative aerodynamics; represents the next stage in lightweight design; and has a modified hybrid system with lithium-ion batteries for energy storage, plus an efficiency-optimized TDI engine. The 2015 R18 e-tron quattro racer featured an encapsulated WHP flywheel energy storage system that sat in the cockpit alongside the driver. (Earlier post.)

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Toyota researchers develop truffle-inspired cathode material for Li-S battery with layer-by-layer self-assembled polymer membrane

November 28, 2015

A team at Toyota Research Institute of North America (TRINA) (earlier post) has developed a nanostructured sulfur cathode with a truffle-like architecture which comprises a sulfur particle embedded with hollow carbon nanospheres and encapsulated with an ion-selective, flexible layer-by-layer (LBL) nanomembrane decorated with conductive carbon.

In a paper in the RSC journal Energy & Environmental Science, the researchers report that such cathodes with a final loading of 65% sulfur can operate at a high rate of 2C (a 1C rate corresponds to a complete charge or discharge in 1 hour) for more than 500 cycles with nearly 100% coulombic efficiency.

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French researchers develop sodium-ion battery in 18650 format; performance comparable to Li-ion

November 27, 2015

Researchers within the RS2E network on electrochemical energy storage (Réseau sur le stockage électrochimique de l’énergie) in France have developed the first sodium-ion battery in an 18650 format. The main advantage of the prototype is that it relies on sodium, an element far more abundant and less costly than lithium.

The energy density of the new Na-ion cell is 90 Wh/kg, a figure comparable with the first lithium-ion batteries; its lifespan exceeds 2,000 care/discharge cycles. The cells are also capable of charging and delivering their energy very rapidly. While numerous other laboratories are also working on Na-ion batteries (e.g., earlier post), none has yet announced the development of such an 18650 prototype.

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Navitas Systems awarded $7.2M contract to develop Gen 2 Li-ion military vehicle 6T batteries

November 26, 2015

Navitas Systems LLC recently was awarded a four-year $7.2 million contract to develop second generation (Gen 2) lithium-ion batteries for military vehicles.

The US military and most NATO countries to-date have used lead-acid batteries in the 6T form factor to provide starting and energy storage for its ground vehicles. While this system is reliable and fairly inexpensive, it suffers from a number of significant drawbacks including low cycle life, low energy density/specific energy, poor recharge rate compared to other battery chemistries, high weight, and must be used in series pairs to meet the 24V electrical bus requirements on today’s more sophisticated military vehicles.

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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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