Altair Nanotechnologies Receives Initial Order for Electric Car Batteries; Teams with Phoenix Motorcars and Boshart Engineering to Test EVs (updated)

05 July 2006
 A Phoenix EV demonstrator, unveiled in March.

Altair Nanotechnologies has received a $750,000 initial order for its fast-charge, high-powered batteries from Phoenix Motorcars, a company founded in 2001 to mass produce full-function, freeway-ready electric automobiles. The battery packs will be engineered and manufactured at Altairnano’s Anderson, Indiana facility and will utilize the company’s proprietary nano-lithium ion battery technology. Phoenix Motor Cars is using the engineering services of Boshart Engineering, Inc., based in Ontario, California, to develop the battery integration, validation, certification and regulatory testing. Altairnano’s nano-lithium battery technology, when integrated with an optimized electric drive train could provide the impetus to rejuvenate and realize the promise of the electric vehicle vision. We are preparing for the manufacture and distribution of several thousand vehicles over the next few years. —Daniel Riegert, Chairman of Phoenix Motorcars In early 2005, Altairnano announced that it had developed innovative battery electrode material that in independent testing exhibited very fast charge characteristics. In September 2005, the company announced it had taken additional steps to commercialization by acquiring a leading-edge battery design and implementation group which it co-located in Reno, Nevada and Anderson, Indiana. In February 2006 Altairnano announced that it had started the manufacture of battery cells in its Anderson facility, and on May 23rd, Altairnano announced that these battery cells had passed key safety tests conducted by Altairnano. (Earlier post.) In March, Altair Nanotechnologies and Boshart Engineering entered into a two-year Joint Development Agreement for the design and engineering of a prototype full-speed electric vehicle (EV) to be powered by an Altairnano rechargeable advanced lithium ion battery system. (Earlier post.) Together Boshart and Altairnano proposed an integrated drive-train and battery system to Phoenix Motorcars. In March, Phoenix unveiled an electric pickup truck demonstration vehicle, geared to the fleet market. The truck, based on a Valence Saphion Li-ion battery system, offers a top speed of 85 mph and a range of 120 miles per charge. The new vehicle to be produced with Altairnano and Boshart is an extension of this prior pickup work. Phoenix is anticipating approximately the same specs, according to Dan Reigert, the chairman. Altairnano’s technology allows for 10 - 15 minute recharge—with the use of an off-board charger. Phoenix uses an Enova drivetrain in the current pickup prototype, and will still offer the Enova option in the new vehicle, although it is also investigating other drive train options at this time. Riegert estimates that it will take to the end of this calendar year to get the safety testing certified with NHTSA and CARB certification. Following that certification, Phoenix will offer the electric pickup for sale to fleets and individuals. The current production plan is for 10 vehicles by the end of 2006 (in process), 500 vehicles in 2007, 5,000 in 2008, 20,000 in 2009, 50,000 in 2010 and 100,000 in 2011. Initial pricing is in the low to mid$40K range.

How much will the batteries cost per vehicle?

Altair is moving faster than I expected! While I suspect that PHEVs will be an easier sell than EVs for the next while this is good news. As a true ZEV, the rebates from CARB may offset any additional battery cost problems. (I'm just speculating at this point)

I could easily live with a 120 mile limit (and I don't even care how fast it charges) If I want to go on a long trip I can rent a regular car.

does anyone know if this technology suffers from calender degradation issues like traditional li-ions?

You mean slow-rate degradation from the date of manufacturing independent of use? As I know, all rechargeable Li based batteries do. I wonder why, cosmic/Earth radiation?

What ever happened to EESTOR, A123, and the aluminium battery developer?

A123 is still out there and beginning to deliver.

a123systems.com

A123 is actively marketing its batteries to Black & Decker Co. The power tools are now in 36V and it is light.

No news from EESTOR for the summer. They say they are submitting their tech for a third party review this summer. Not sure how it goes. Hopefully it is not hype.

How efficient are these batteries? If they beat stored hydro, then there may be a market for mass electrical storage. You could make solar, tidal, wind, and other sources more viable. At present, only at certain periods of day, or during specific conditions can they produce energy. This may let you go around the problem. There is the superconductor coil energy storage, but it is expensive, and is pretty much used for power stability/ clean power. There are the AC-DC magnetic field issues, material constraints, and operational costs as well.

Andrey -

Li-ion chemistries deteriorate with calendar time because of "increased internal resistance caused by oxidation". As I understand it, both Altair and A123 use electrodes based on spinel alloys of lithium with nanoscopic surface structures that increase the area available for ion exchange (i.e. specific power).

Spinels do maintain internal resistance through their lifespan but lose charge capacity "due to chemical decompositions". They represent an active area of materials research by universities as well.

http://www.batteryuniversity.com/parttwo-34.htm
http://www.batteryuniversity.com/partone-5A.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spinel
http://www.dct.tudelft.nl/ac/nitte.html
http://www.nanotechwire.com/news.asp?nid=527
http://www.icdd.com/profile/march06files/Ishizawa.pdf
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithium_polymer

Keep an eye on this technology--it's THE "killer app" of the energy field, to use a computer biz term.

Couple these batteries with the radically cheaper thin-film solar panels from NanoSolar, and the entire energy landscape could change much more dramatically and quicker than most people ever thought possible.

We can only hope

Valence claim to have sold this issue with their phosphate lithium tech. So do saft with nickle oxide. I'm hopeful that a123 have as they also use a phosphate formula.

I imagine that this issue needs to solved if lithium batts are to be used in hybrids/plugins/EV's

Rafael:

Thanks. As I know it, Altair use their proprietary Ti-based electrode, while ABC123 uses Mn-based chemistry. Both are spinel nano particles variety.
Yes, oxidation is the reason, but what triggers this oxidation? Spontaneous reaction? But in this case it should directly be dependent on storage temperature, which is not. I can think only of one triggering mechanism of such manner : baseground radiation.

I might buy one of these next year. I might travel more then that distance once a year... and a 10-15 minute time to recharge is not much longer then a gas station.

40,000\$ doesn't seem bad for a new tech like that.. especially if it has awesome acceleration that electric can provide.

For me its also about trade. I'm tired of sending huge money to crazed third world regimes.. And having a huge trade deficit. Did you know 50% of the US trade deficit is just importing oil?

Andrey -

a battery works because the electrolyte oxidizes the anode and reduces the cathode. The internal structure only permits ions transport between the electrodes, so the process quickly reaches an equilibrium state which is disrupted when an external circuit is available to transport the electrons - worst case, until the device is fully discharged.

During recharging, the roles of anode and cathode are reversed. Of course, the second law of thermodynamics holds for batteries too: the surface structure of the electrodes deteriorates with each cycle, reducing the potential difference (aka voltage) that can be sustained. Excessive charging of a Li-ion battery would lead to the formation of metallic lithium on the anode, and then to electrolysis of the water in the electrolyte - at which point you get thermal runaway. Excess anode material, safety circuits and fancy electrode materials are used to prevent this and reduce aging do to charge/discharge cycles.

In the real world, this theoretical model can only be approximated. There are internal leakage currents that lead to a slow natural oxidation of the anode even when there is no external circuit. Lithium is a very base metal (low electronegativity, i.e. eager to shed electrons) and therefore, more susceptible to this calendar aging mechanism than most other materials.

Afaik, background radiation has nothing to do with battery aging. In any case, it wouldn't cause oxidation, that's a chemical not a nuclear process.

"http://www.greencarcongress.com/2006/03/altairnano_and__1.htm"

Fixed. Thank you.

A 125 mile range is much too small and you can bet that , in the real world, will be a lot less, probably less than 100 miles, especially if you run the A/C. Right now, there is nowhere you can find a 20 amp exterior outlet except your garage or the company garage. The quick recharge rate solves one of the four problems - lifespan, cost, recharge rate, capacity. Lifespan seems OK. Cost DOESN'T seem OK. Capacity DOESN'T look very good. I classify this as a very expensive neighborhod car. If top speed is 85,
it will not accelerate very quickly, unless they've
installed speed limiting software.

I am currently working on an electric motorcycle and I am very interested in batteries for it, can anyone tell me where I can get the batteries that you wrote about.
Thanks Dan

The range of the pickup can be optionally extended to 200 miles. These batteries are wonders - they have NONE of the bad characteristics of regular Li batteries and flow juice 4 times faster, recharge in 8 to 12 MINUTES,
can be recharged over 10,000 times , with a lifespan greater than 15 years (probably greater than 25 years),
operate in low temps and are environmentaly benign (they don't catch fire or overheat when charged/discharged.
They are what electric cars have been waiting for since the Detroit Electric came on the scene in 1907.

A123 and Valence both are facing lawsuits for patent infringement of their batteries. On the other hand, Altairnano's battery technology is patented.

We wait for electronic cars as an green alternative. So hurry up and success, Andreas

The comments to this entry are closed.