Shell Announces Additional Hydrogen Stations in US and Wind and Solar Power MoUs
Mitsubishi to Introduce Another In-Wheel Electric Concept

A123Systems Receives $30 Million; Plans to Up Production and Accelerate Development for Hybrids

Source: A123Systems. Click to enlarge.

A123Systems, developer of a new generation of Lithium-ion batteries (earlier post), announced it has completed its third round of private equity funding totaling $30 million. The current round of financing brings total investment in the company to $62 Million since its founding.

The batteries, based on proprietary nanoscale electrode technology built on research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), promise 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.

Battery Technology Comparison
  Power density
(<3 Ah cells)
Life at 100% DoD
Source: A123Systems
A123 M1 >3,000 W/kg 1,000
High-power Li-ion 1,350 W/kg 500
NiMH 750 W/kg <1,000
NiCd 600 W/kg <1,000

New investors in the company are GE, Alliance Capital Management and FA Technology Ventures. Also participating in this round are existing investors, including Motorola, Qualcomm, North Bridge Venture Partners, Sequoia Capital, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (from which A123 licenses the battery technology), OnPoint, YankeeTek and Desh Deshpande, the company’s Chairman of the Board.

A123Systems will use its new capital infusion to increase manufacturing capacity, to continue support for its current customer base and revenue growth, to accelerate the development of batteries for hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) and to continue development of products for other markets demanding improved power technology.

A123Systems’s advanced batteries have the potential to drastically lower the weight and cost of batteries for hybrid electric vehicles, bringing a new level of performance to automobile manufacturers. An A123Systems battery is projected to be 80% lighter than batteries used in current HEVs and will offer superior life and durability.

—David Vieau, CEO and president of A123Systems

Conventional 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 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.

A123Systems is already supplying batteries to the Black & Decker Corporation for use in a heavy-duty, 36-volt line of portable power tools. The company is also working with the U.S. Department of Energy as part of a major undertaking to develop battery materials for future use in hybrid electric vehicles. Preliminary performance results show a technology with great promise for the future of electric and hybrid electric vehicles.



bye bye doomers :)

tom deplume

Recharging 90% of a 10khw battery in 5 minutes would mean 490 amps at 220 volts. That's 5 times the capacity of most household hookups. A commercial charging station would need literally tons of batteries recharged during off peak times to be practical.
Anybody know how many cars the typical gas station serves each day?


what about 22000 volt?

and do you charge batteries with alternating current

Harvey D

Most users would recharge the super batteries at home at much slower pace using regular 115 or 220 VAC during night hours. High speed (5 minutes) recharge could be done at gas stations equipped with higher votage (440 or 660 Volts) higher current multiple-chargers as multiple-gas pumps in use today. Since most people would recharge home, the public quick recharge station would not be used as much as present gas stations. The good news is that quick charge high capacity batteries will make PHEVs and EVs practical within 2 years. The world needs many more A123 Systems to produce enough advanced batteries for 20+ millions PHEVs and EVs every year.


I would think their major use would be for plug-in, more conventional Hybrids. Even in the hybrids we have today, the battery stack is the weakest link.


Hopefully the 10x longer life part turns out to be true (and is long enough), only when you can fill up that battery, drain it pretty well and do that for a "resonable" life of a vehicle (100,000 miles?) will the plug in hybrid idea really work. Assuming a 40 mile drive each day (which is long I think) that would be 2500 cycles on the battery without it loosing significant usable capacity - I really hope that is doable.

It definately looks like money is going into advanced battery work that should lead to this feasibility, which is a good thing to see.


The more progress I see in the battery area, the more convinced I am that we should scale up a massive program similar to what we did when we produced the first atom bomb and quit pissing away our money and resources on hydrogen. This is a perfectly doable technology which, even if only used for relatively short ranges, can be supplemented with light and heavy rail for longer trips.

Build a world class electric based rail system (light and heavy) and supplement it with PHEV and EV and you can kiss the liquid fuel problem goodbye. Perhaps PHEV could be an interim approach to transition us to a transportation system completely independent on liquid fuels.

I see ethanol as an interim supplement which will only delay the serious work of getting off dependency on liquid fuels.

The main reason I see electricity as a better approach than liquid fuels, whether they be oil or ethanol, is that it will result in lower greenhouse emissions that liquid fuels. This is backed up by a study done for the State of California. Sorry, I don't have the reference handy but maybe someone else can provide the link.

Consider this. A standard Prius is rated at 210 grams of CO2 per mile, which in itself is a very low number compared to other conventinal a automobiles. However, a Prius running on electricity gets 3.84 miles per KW. Since a KW, based on the present fuel mix, generates 500 grams per KW, an electrified Prius would generate 130 grams per kw. This number would be lower if we can change our power mix to include more benign power sources like wind and geothermal. So called "clean" coal would be helpful, too, although the jury is still out on whether that's really feasible on a large scale. Can we really contain all that carbon? And for how long?


You ignore infrastructure, t. This is vera, vera good news. I already have my extension cord.

Harvey D

North America could accellerate transition to more efficient cleaner vehicles if we do like Sweden and Germany and shift part of Income and Sales Taxes to environmentally destructive energy such as liquid fossil fuel, coal, biofuel, ethanol and natural gas. The energy format creating the most pollution should be taxed the most. It seems to be working well where it is applied. Governments can be pro-active to reduce pollution and consumption of imported OIL without losing revenues.


I recognize we need the infrastructure. Let's start building it; maybe in ten years we will have surpassed Poland.


Anyone know how this technology stacks up against Valence.

I think they both use phosphate based Li-ion but A123 is more of a nano-based cell?
Anyone have any comments?


While I do believe that gas should be taxed more . The BIG question is if it triggers resession due to many bussineses base their calculations on cheap gas. Suddenly, there are less money in the budget quite opposite from what we intended. Bottom line is u can't increase taxes
on gasoline endlessly. If these new batteries offer such great benefits then they should be compatible even without
any actions on goverment side(though goverment grants to increase research would be nice as this is in public interest). Only when critical point is behind (general public exeptance of EVs and parity with ICE in pricing) can we move agressively towards heavy taxation of gas
to force bussinesses to change gas vehicles to EVs.
Now tell me that oil lobby is gonna sit and wait watching this before their eyes, lol. Criminals are criminals and nothing will change their habits. Don't
see anything happening untill Bush is in the office,
though recent developments of his are nice to hear.
Someone is really pushing in Capitol Hill for changes
that even such oil oriented president had to agree that
oil is not the future.


So what will it be... the hydrogen economy or the lithium economy or both? I pray it will at least be one of them!


with 100Wh/kgr we still need a akkumulator with 100 - 150kgr

but thats possible !


We’re finally getting closer to a practical high capacity battery for use in a PHEV and EV! It’s going to be much easier to clean the emissions from a few thousand CO2 producing power plants than in millions of cars. As more renewable energy comes online, it will reduce CO2 gases in both the transportation and electrical industries in both a shorter time frame and time span.


When the tax revenue the government receives from gas drops, the taxes will migrate to the electric power revenue base. Overall, the country will be much better off over with a more independent energy supply and a cleaner environment as well



A123 vs Valence

Both use phosphate in some form. Both are claimed to not be prone to thermal runaway. No info on energy density from a123 systems. Valence Ucharge about 100wh/kg.
Valence has large format (big amp hour) cells in production. A123 currently does not. A123 systems has very high power density (see chart), I don't know the valence power density value off hand but its not as high as a123. Both valence and a123 are very expensive!

Bob Tasa

This should really put a boost into solar /wind as well as more people will want to go energy independent.



As much as I am for promoting PHEV technologies, PLEASE do not try to sell it by suggesting any approach modeled after Germany and it's 25% unemployment rate! That won't be an easy sell....


Thanks for the comparison of A123 vs Valence.
Hopefully one of the them or both of them will help bring PHEV closer to reality. With Valence's manufacturing facilities is China if they can get production volumes up to get economies of scale they might be able to bring the price down.
Eagerly awaiting to see if EDrive becomes a reality.

It seems A123 has better finacial backing even if they are a year or two behind Valence in bringing a product to market. But then again Valence might not be here in a year if they don't turn a profit.


Off-topic, but I don't know where the 25% unemployment rate for Germany came from. The OECD gives German unemployment at 9.2% for late 2005. The former West Germany's rate is much lower, perhaps 6.5%, while the situation is much worse in the East.

I'm not saying Germany is a country to admire for its economic performance. But I fail to see how a (relatively) high unemployment rate has anything to do with their strategy for investment in wind energy and PHEV.


You may find this Business Week article of interest?

Sanyo has already produced Li-ion cells with power densities of 3,500 watts per kilogram -- more than double today's NiMH batteries. And while NiMH cells produce 1.2 volts, Sanyo's Li-ion models pump out 3.7 volts, so a car would need only one-third the number of cells.

Hybrids with Li-Ion in Their Tank - By Ian Rowley – January 24, 2006 – BusinessWeek Online


One of the issues with traditional Li-ion is that there is the risk of thermal runaway. That is why the phosphate based Li-ion is so interesting. I believe it makes it safe and envirnmentally friendly.


t:  Mind your kW (kilowatts) vs. kWh (kilowatt-hours).  kW are power, kWh are energy.


I'm seeing lots of power density numbers by what about energy density? Are they similar to tradtional Li batteries?

There are lots of applications that aren't power limited, just need more energy. So for those, we just have simpler faster charge in the A123 solution.

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