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A123Systems Launches New Higher-Power, Faster Recharging Li-Ion Battery Systems

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A123Systems, developer of a new generation of lithium-ion batteries, today unveiled its technology that delivers up to 10x longer life, 5x power gains and dramatically faster charge time (more than 90% capacity in five minutes) over conventional high-power battery technology.

These characteristics make the battery highly suited for hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric vehicle applications, and A123 Systems is working with the DOE to develop next-generation materials for hybrid vehicles.

A123Systems’ batteries use proprietary nanoscale electrode technology built on research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and exclusively licensed from MIT.

Traditional Li-Ion technology uses active materials with particles that range in size between 5 and 20 microns. These large particles are required to minimize safety risks inherent to first-generation Li-Ion chemistries.

A123 Li-Ion Power
Pulse duration C rate Power Density
Continuous discharge 30 189W 2,700 W/kg
Long pulse 80 240W 3,480 W/kg
Instant pulse 100 344W 4,990 W/kg

A123 batteries, however, use a safe and stable active material that can use particle sizes below 100nm without adverse reaction. This new storage electrode enables much faster kinetics providing higher power than is yet possible from any other Li-Ion chemistry.

Furthermore, to take advantage of the power delivered by this new chemistry, A123 has developed novel electrode and cell designs that provide the lowest impedance of any battery of its size, and a new electrolyte system that operates over a much wider temperature range.

The A123 batteries offer:

  • Twice the energy density of other Li-Ion HEV cells, with the highest power to weight ratio of any commercially available battery (2,700 W/kg at continuous discharge).

  • The lowest impedance of any cell/packs in its class.

  • Low impedance growth even at very high charge/discharge rates.

  • Excellent performance over a wide temperature range (-30 to 60 degrees C).

  • Intrinsically safe chemistry (especially important in large batteries).

  • Outstanding calendar life.

  • Novel design that withstands extreme shocks and vibration.

A123Systems’ first battery is now in production and being delivered to the Black & Decker Corporation for use in DEWALT power tools.

A123Systems has raised more than $32 million in funding from heavyweight investors, including include Desh Deshpande (chairman of the A123 board), Qualcomm, Sequoia Capital, Motorola, North Bridge Venture Partners, MIT, YankeeTek and OnPoint Technologies, a strategic private equity firm funded by the United States Army.


Tony Chesser-Evans

If it's good for Hybrid vehicles, it's even better for electric vehicles.

10x longer life means they might provide a lifetime appropriate for a vehicle, instead of needing to be replaced after a couple years. 5x power gain means there's less need for supercapacitors to help boost you off the line.

Any links to the actual gravimetric energy density and Peukart numbers? These are the real deciding factors.


More to come.


Won't recharging an electric car in 5 minutes require a very heavy-duty electrical service? I suppose you could charge slowly overnight at home or quickly at some kind of commercial charging station.


What about manufacturing costs?


They claim: "Our commercial products enable a [B]significant cost and weight savings[/B]vs. NiMH or conventional Li-Ion technology for hybrid vehicles."


Cost and weight savings would come from being able to use a smaller battery for a given power demand; that's not going to make the battery any cheaper for a given amount of energy storage as an electric range requirement would determine.

Harvey D

Premature? Too expensive? Too heavy? Too difficult to quickly recharge? Too demanding on the national power grid? Could it be NONE of the above. If normal life is expanded by 10X, the total life time cost may be much lower than existing battery packs.

Very quick recharge capabilities would be excellent to recouperate more energy while decellerating.

Lets hear all the positive sides and possible applications of such high performance storage device from Eng.-Poet.

Practical PHEVs and full EVs with acceptable range may be around sooner than expected with similar high performance energy storage devices, specially when China, India, Brazil, Korea, Malaysia and other countries with very low labour cost start producing them by the million.


All right, Harvey.  If you're so sure that this battery is going to solve all those problems and bring world peace, let's see your cites and/or calculations to that effect.

If a Prius can go from a 1.2 kWh NiMH battery cycled to 20% depth to a 400 Wh Li-ion cycled to 70% depth, the Li-ion battery would be considerably smaller and lighter.  It might well be cheaper per unit, even at a greater cost per watt-hour.  It would not be progress toward PHEV's or EV's; that requires reduction in $/Wh and not much else, and specific power becomes less and less important as the battery gets bigger.

Harvey D

Engineer-Poet, considering that a fairly well designed mid-size car of almost 3000 lbs can be moved at an acceptable highway cruising speed @ about 260 Wh/mile, a much lighter vehicle with better aerodynamics and tires could possibly do it with less energy. For the sake or arguments, we could assume that it could be done with about 200 Wh/mile or 1Kwh/5 miles.

A drain of 10 KWh on the battery pack could move such a vehicle up to 50 miles (about 80 Km). That would be enough to drive most of us to work and back on a daily basis. In order to maximize battery life and reduce recharge time, we could assume 20% - 80% cycles. This would indicate that the battery pack total capacity would have to be about 17 KWh, which is not impossible with the new battery technology. The energy required to recharge the battery pack after 50 miles would still be about 10 KWh.

Ten KWh per PHEV per day may seem demanding for the power grid, but it is by no mean insurmountable. Our 'all electric' large house already uses 50 KWh/day. An increase of 20% (10 KWh) distributed over 10 years (the time required to replace our ICE vehicles with PHEVs) means a yearly increase of only 2% in electricity production to satisfy our PHEVs (assuming one PHEV per house). Of course, houses with two PHEVs would double the elctricity usage to a 4% yearly increase over a 10 year period. That is NOT impossible to do. There is a lot of CLEAN Wind, SOLAR and Hydro power that can easily be harnessed.

After 10 to 15 years, or when the majority if not most of us, are using PHEVs,gas/fuel consumption and pollution created to transport oneself from point A to point B would drop by 80% to 90%. The 15% still required could be cellulosic ethanol or biodiesel thus reducing fossil fuel required for that purpose to almost zero. Eventually, fossil fuel consumption (in USA) could fall to or even below the local production capability. No more OIL imports = no more OIL wars and huge reduction in trade deficits and war budgets + many other side benefits.

To accellerate the transistion from ICE to PHEVs, the price of fossil fuel has to be increased and maintained to the level required to advantage PHEV users. This can best be done with a variable, progressive, temporary pollution tax. Revenues form this pollution tax, over 10 to 15 years, could eliminate the national budget deficit created by the present administration and/or pay off part of the national debt or.............etc.

Let's hope that transition to PHEVs will start soon (2007/08??) and will eventually open the door to more full EVs.

Robert McLeod

You are still confusing the point. Power and energy are not the same thing. No cost savings per unit energy stored have been promised by this product.

E-P's point (that you are totally avoiding) is that the cost savings _for hybrid vehicles_ is likely due to the increased _power_ density. 'Mild' and basic hybrids need power from their batteries for acceleration.

We all know the benefits of the plug-in hybrid so stop talking yourself blue in the face.


Makes you wonder what ever happened to flywheel power, it should have no problem handling heavy charge/discharge cycles


I wouldn't be surprised if Harvey learned what he knows about PHEV's from notes I've written or links I've posted here.


One of the problems that I have had designing battery packs for model planes and theoretical packs for electric cars is discharge rate. Most Li-Ion batteries are limited to 8C. The really cheap Thunder Sky batteries are limited to 2C. 20C lithium polymer batteries are much much more expensive and can catch fire if discharged to heavily.

This leads you to use a larger capacity battery than you really need to reduce the discharge rate to an acceptable rate or use a battery chemistry that can stand heavy discharges or use supercaps to supplement the batteries.

These batteries are advertised at a 100C pulse rate which means that you can use the exact size that you need and not use supercaps. Also they are advertised as being safe under discharge. It also means that the pack can accept rapid charging which is useful for both charging and regenerative braking.

This could lead to a lower installed system battery cost that also has acceptable range and performance.

I have tried to apply for eval batteries - to me this is very exciting as these batteries are my wish list. The cost will come down with volume hopefully.

Roger Arnold

Engineer-Poet says that progress toward PHEV's or EV's requires reduction in $/Wh "and not much else".

To be more precise, it requires a reduction in $/total Wh delivered over the battery lifetime--which is not the same as $/Wh of storage capacity. Lifetime, and the number of charge / discharge cycles the battery can handle do matter. They matter a lot. Lifetime is a sore point with all rechargeable batteries currently on the market, and is a more limiting factor than $/Wh of capacity.

If these batteries live up to their promise, it will be a tremendous boon for off-grid solar and wind power.

Shaun Williams

As recently converted (bad pun) EV owner, I'm very excited, 100C! Of course the price will be out of reach for a long time but nano technology and lithium batteries hold much more environmental promise the the hydrogen hoax.


EP - you are right there. No-one want to replace a $10000 battery pack too often.

The batteries can be used while in the car. Smart grids will be able to use the BEV and PHEV drive inverters to produce mains power while plugged into the grid. This way utilities can use the storage of all the parked cars plugged into the mains. Car owners would be paid for the energy used at peaking rates of up to 30cents/kWh. This way the utilites do not have stand the expense of the storage batteries.


So, will they let me evaluate a few cells? Just give me 8 for use on my 24v scooter. My 8lb pack of prismatic Li-ion is working great, but I want to do it with a 1/2lb of these bad boys! The applications beyond that are endless, My Prius, My Insight, EM projects, or Drag Race Lithiums Packs?!

Harvey D

Eng-Poet you are getting inpatient. Of course, I've known the difference between Power, Peak Power and Energy for a long time. Faster you can discharge a battery, more Peak Power will be availably (Amps x Volts = Watts = Power, in KW of HP if you like) and that's what the new batteries will offer. However to extend the electric mode range you need a battery pack with enough total energy (Kwh)and that's what the new batteries will offer. High energy density by volume (ex: wh/liter)and by weight (ex: Wh/Kg) are also very important to limit the size and weight of the vehicle, and that's what the new batteries will also offer. All 3 factors are important and essential for sucessful PHEV or EV operation and we all know that.

You seem to revert every thing to COST or SAVINGS. You know that total life time COST and SAVINGS are relative and will vary according to the total cost of both options. Cheap gas/fuel and high cost for electricity (in USA) have made the ICE option very cheap for many years. This is not the case every where and may not be the case in USA in the future.

In most industrial countries, the price of gas has been near or over $5 US a gallon for a long time but the price of electricity is close to and even lower than in many parts/areas of the USA making PHEVs and EVs potentially much more cost effective.

At 5 or 6 cents per KWh, the potential savings are forcibly more interesting than at 15 to 20 cents per KWh. The opposite may be true where fossil fuel is very cheap and the cost of electricity is very high.

Another ICE operation cost to factor in would be the total POLLUTION COST. Some people think that this factor alone could double or even triple the real ICE operation cost. Cleaning up a huge mess can be very expensive. The tobacco industry is getting to know more about it. Some smokers are spending more for treatment than the cost of all the cigaretes smoked in a lifetime.

So, comparing total cost is not easy but it is very easy to make figures lie by ommision or by being too selective. When it comes to our own health and survival, it may be wise to err on the safe side and not to underestimate the cost to repair the damages done to the planet and all its inhabitants.

No offense taken but I hope that you may see things differently and more globally.

Harvey D

Wind power for PHEVs.

Recent very large (5-megawatt) wind mills are 40% efficient, can produce 48 000 KWh/day each or enough to recharge 4 800 PHEVs @ 10 KWh/ea every day. Recharging 200 000 000 PHEVs would require the installation of 41 666 large wind mills or one (1) wind mill per 216 sq. Km in USA.

For Canada, the relative requirement would be for 4 166 large wind mills or one (1) wind mill per 2400 sq. Km.

A very large number of USA wind mills required could be installed off-shore where wind energy is better and/or in Canada.

For Canada, the solution is much simpler because on-land winds (force 6 to 9) exist in abundance over vast areas. The huge potential surplus could be exported to USA for up to 100 000 000 USA PHEVs.

All those wind mills could be installed (together with the connecting power grids) in a 10 to 15 year period. Latter on, solar power could complement wind mills in many areas. We all know the benefits.

Eng-Poet you are getting inpatient [sic]. Of course, I've known the difference between Power, Peak Power and Energy for a long time.
Yet the implications escape you.

IIRC, the current Prius has a battery of about 1.2 kWh which is cycled to about 20% depth to increase lifespan.  Current Li-ion batteries are considerably more expensive per kWh, and have such low specific power that they would need much greater capacity to achieve the required power.  Ergo, a Li-ion Prius is not in the cards with current technology.

The high specific power of these batteries would allow the battery pack to be shrunk further (at 30 C, 15 kW of power can be delivered by a 0.5 kWh battery).  That would be cheaper than NiMH even at current per-AH prices for both, as well as lighter.

But it would be no closer to a plug-in hybrid.  To go 20 miles in a Prius+ takes 5.6 kWh at the plug, probably 4.4 kWh at the battery terminals.  This means almost quintupling the battery capacity (5.5 kWh drained to 80% discharge).  If batteries are too expensive before this technology, they will still be.

You seem to revert every thing to COST or SAVINGS.
Because most people have to watch the bottom line, and any program which depends on altruism will have rampant cheating.


EP - if you read this calcars has already tested a Lithium-Ion Prius+ with Valence Saphion technology. A company called Edrive Systems is hoping to market it. Testing shows on a prototype shows promise.


It's that "installed cost of $10-12,000" that's the killer.  If you had a standard Prius getting 45 MPG on $5/gallon fuel, you wouldn't see a payback in less than 90,000 miles even if electricity was free.  That really needs to come down.  What I hope is that demand for small hybrid batteries creates enough volume that the price drops steadily; progression to plug-in hybrids (especially ones with extra space in the battery compartment for upgrades) would allow people to add more according to need or as prices fell.


EP - amen to that


I'll be surprised if the Edrive plug-in Prius ever gets commercialized. Not only is the high installed cost ($10,000 to $12,000 is an optimistic estimate, IMO) an issue, but the longevity of the battery is also an issue. The 9.1 kWh battery in the Edrive concept vehicle would need to be deeply discharged on a daily basis in order to generate any significant fuel savings. Regular deep discharges are likely to severely limit the life. Who would pay $10,000 to $12,000 (at least) every couple of years, plus the cost of electricity in order to save a few hundred per year on gasoline?


20 miles at 200 Wh/mile is all of 4 kWh; about 44% discharge on that unit.

I still think that the path of least cost is a PHEV full of lead-acid batteries.  The problem is that the weight and bulk requires a clean-sheet design (or close to it), which seems to be too costly and risky for an American auto company to undertake.

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