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LTC Developing 12 kWh Li-ion Battery for Plug-in Hybrids; Larger Battery for Submarines

Lithium Technology Corporation (LTC), a global provider of large, rechargeable lithium-ion power solutions, is developing two of the largest, highest capacity lithium-ion battery systems yet for plug-in hybrid automobiles and non-nuclear submarines.

In conjunction with an unnamed automaker, LTC is developing a 12 kWh Li-ion battery system that should support a plug-in hybrid application in a four-passenger vehicle with an all-electric range of 60 miles. LTC says that its Li-ion system will be comparably sized to existing battery packs of about half the capacity.

In a joint venture with ThyssenKrupp, LTC’s subsidiary GAIA Akkumulatorrenwerke (GAIA) is in development of a battery system for the ThyssenKrupp’s non-nuclear submarine. This battery system will enable propulsion four times longer and safer than lead-acid powered vessels.

Conventional submarines contain lead-acid batteries which emit hydrogen-oxygen gases that can cause explosion during operation. The lithium-ion battery is hermetically sealed, making it safer transport for the passengers aboard. While it will be the largest lithium-ion battery solution in the world, the system utilizes less than one-third of the space the standard lead-acid battery consumed, allowing more vessel space for other applications. LTC estimates a delivery date of the first quarter of 2008.

Gaia_graph
Power versus energy for different chemistries. Click to enlarge. Source: LTC.

Lithium Technology Corporation (LTC) provides large format rechargeable power solutions for diverse applications in the military and national security systems, transportation and stationary power markets.

LTC manufactures the GAIA product line of large, high-power hermetically sealed rechargeable lithium-ion cells and batteries. The GAIA cells and batteries are either designed to maximize energy content (HE product line) or power capability (HP or UHP product lines).

Earlier this year, LTC announced that it had provided three 2.2 kWh Li-ion batteries to Zytek Systems in the UK for the development of a hybrid vehicle as part of the Energy Saving Trust’s Ultra-Low Carbon Car Challenge (ULCCC).

The vehicle is based on a smart forfour and will utilize a hybrid power train based on 1500cc, 3-cylinder turbo charged diesel engine coupled to 2 high-efficiency permanent-magnet electric motors.

The batteries can be charged by either the ICE, by regenerative breaking, or by the grid (plug-in hybrid), and will have a modest all-electric range.

Zytek is also the developer of the all-electric smart fortwo recently introduced into the UK by DaimlerChrysler. That vehicle uses a Zebra Sodium Nickel Chloride battery. (Earlier post.)

Comments

rbanerjee

Even if we are just comparing the energy density of gasoline vs batteries. We need to compare typical weights of other components that cant be done away with

for Gasoline: transmission, silencer, pump, coolant system etc

for pure electric: It would be the motors.

Does this make them more equal?

Silverthorn
And replace them with batteries, electric motors, and cables.
No, I was talking about short-range BEVs vs. PHEVs, so there's nothing to replace. In terms of cost, weight, and cargo space, it's a straight win.

What you lose, of course, is the operational flexibility and security of carrying a backup power source with you everywhere you go. If the batteries run low while you're away from any place to recharge, you've got the IC engine to fall back on.

Battery swapping and the option to rent a range extending trailer would restore most of the operational flexibility, but not all. I can see a new type of service business. Instead of phoning for a tow truck if your batteries run out of juice while you're out, you phone the rental agency to deliver a Long Ranger.

Robert Schwartz

"Instead of phoning for a tow truck if your batteries run out of juice while you're out, you phone the rental agency to deliver a Long Ranger."

Get a horse.

Robert Schwartz

Here is the thing. Comparing a battery operated car with a range of ~100Km to a gasoline powered vehicle with a range of 1000Km (I quoted 600Km above for the Insight, it should have been 600 mi.) or even 500 Km (like most current sedans), is not an apples apples comparison.

Above we figured that an advanced battery weighing 50Kg would give a range of 170Km. Such batteries are not in production and currently available batteries have energy densities of between 1/2 (Li-ion) and 1/8 (Pb-acid) advanced batteries.

Thus it would take between 300Kg and 1200Kg of currently available batteries to have a 500Km vehicle. At that point the mass of the vehicle would require even more batteries.

As I said, I think that the best way to incorporate EVs into our fleet is as urban runabouts for multi-vehicle households.

William Tahil

There is a three horse race going on at the moment for the future LiIon battery: Lithium Manganate Spinel cathodes, layered manganese oxides (both favoured by the Japanese) and Lithium Iron Phosphate, favoured by Valence and A123. Cobalt oxide and even nickel oxide cathodes will not be used in EVs as they are in consumer batteries, such as Dell laptops etc. Simply too dangerous, not enough cobalt in the world, too expensive, thermal mangement circuits etc.

The phosphate and manganese/ manganate technologies are safe for a large format multi kWh battery vs 96Wh for a laptop but have lower energy density - say 90Wh/kg.

An issue with PHEVs will be the fact that we may be performing nameplate cycles - 100% discharge every day, maybe twice a day if we recharge at work. Battery calendar life would be greatly reduced. LiIon can do about 2000 deep discharges realistically - 3 years life on daily discharge. NiMH is much more robust.

12kWh capacity - say a more realistic 0.3kWh/mile - 40 miles nameplate range. Actually you'd have to limit discharge to 30% SOC minimum to get reasonable battery life - so a 12kWh battery will actually give 28 miles all electric range. Better that and use more liquid fuel than wreck the battery and have to replace after three years.

The Nissan ALtra EV had a Sony LiIon battery of 89Wh/kg in the finished complete battery. SAFT's current LiIons are 110Wh/kg per module: you lose some when you add modules, so it's probably little better than the Sony battery from back then. And phosphate/ manganate is worse than these nickel cobalt cathodes in the Altra and current SAFT technology.

The problem with the MIT battery and conducting polymer electrolytes in general is their conductivity is still too low. It's fine at room temperature but below 20 deg C, performance starts to drop. That is not that cold really. Avestor gave up on EVs with their heated polymer electrolyte. Can't compete against ambient temp LiIon.

There are serious questions to be asked about future lithium supply. Global lithium production will have to be increased by a factor of 20 to produce tens of millions of EVs / PHEVs a year even with a small 6kWh battery, though improved energy density will help of course. There are 200M+ cars in the US to replace. 60M cars + are sold each year. We would be into serious Li depletion rates and dependence on Chile, Australia etc.

People should consider the NaNiCl technology much more seriously: a third the Nickel of NiMH per kWh, 125Wh/kg energy density today in a complete battery with controller, no cold weather issues because it is hot, cheap to produce: well under $200/kWh conservatively. Nickel replaceable with iron with some capacity loss.

People should also consider the ZnAir much more seriously. The Zn Fuel Cell approach is economic now in the US and very economic at European petrol prices. Rechargeable ZnAir can only do 500 cycles realistically at the moment (though ReVolt claim they have solved teh anode shape change problem) - but cost is realy potentially the lowest of all and energy density is over 200Wh/kg. The only thing I'm not sure about is recharge efficiency.

Robert Schwartz

William: Good Post

"phosphate and manganese/ manganate -- 90Wh/kg."

That is .32 MJ/Kg, and just about the level claimed for NiMH.

"NiMH is much more robust."

Agreed.

"12kWh capacity - say a more realistic 0.3kWh/mile - 40 miles nameplate range. I had calculated 100 Km (62 mi.) but it will depend on the size of the car, etc. The Insight is much smaller than the Prius."

Cold weather performance is an issue for all battery powered vehicles. LA and Florida are not difficult, Minnesota is, but there are no hurricanes or earthquakes there.

"People should consider the NaNiCl technology much more seriously: a third the Nickel of NiMH per kWh, 125Wh/kg energy density today in a complete battery with controller, no cold weather issues because it is hot, cheap to produce: well under $200/kWh conservatively."

Where have you been all my life.

"People should also consider the ZnAir much more seriously."

EP is big on Zinc.

Engineer-Poet

Robert, your figures are all screwy.

I use 126,000 BTU/gallon as a ballpark figure for gasoline.  That's 132.8 MJ/gallon; at 66 MPG, that's 2.013 MJ/mile, or 125.1 MJ/100 km.

The DOE page you linked says a lousy 12.6% of fuel energy winds up at the wheels.  If we assume the Insight manages 20%, it would actually put 6.9 kWh to the wheels per 100 km.  If an electric driveline gets 80%, an electric Insight would consume a mere 8.7 kWh/100 km and a 20 kWh battery would give it a range of 143 miles.  A 60 kWh battery would let it cruise over 400 miles!

Of course, you wouldn't need that.  The hypothetical PHEV Insight would have probably 5 kWH of batteries and a 20-30 HP engine.  That would give you 30+ electric miles and all the passing power you would need, with excellent cruise economy.

Roy

Hi all,

This stream of posts has been the best I've seen on the topic of EV range so far on this website. Thanks for your efforts. I think other than one or two math errors that have already been pointed out, the numbers look good.

I found a paper on line about the RAV4 EV that summarized some pretty thorough tests. The most telling statistic, if I read it right, was

--> 432 Wh(AC) per mile

This is the energy out of the wall and into the car, so its the most direct measure of operating costs. And, it jives pretty well with the theoretical stuff above and elsewhere.

The average NiMH battery (1998 version) charge used over the various cycles reported looked to be about 25 kWh, at 461 kg, or

--> 54 Wh/kg for NiMH

Looking at usable battery capacity, for the RAV4 example here, the charger efficiency appears to be about 95%, meaning that of the 432 Wh(AC)/mile put out by the charger, the car during driving (net, average) over their mix of driving conditions used:

--> 410 Wh(DC)/mile

I think this, or say for ease of math, 400 Wh(DC)/mile is a good number for kicking around, based on real usage in a real vehicle. It isn't clear what the test weight of the RAV4 was, though its curb weight is 3480 lbs and GVW is 4266 lbs.

A couple comments from above:

-- 12 kWh installed battery capacity will not get you 100 km range in a typical American or European family car. It'll probably get you 50 km under California or Florida conditions, if you drive until you can't go further (completely empty tank).

-- when you remove the gasoline engine from a PHEV, you still have to add some things to the electric drive: higher power in the inverter/motor/battery for reasonable acceleration, more cooling capacity in terms of kW rejected, and possibly larger radiators because the heat is being rejected at lower temperatures (though there are fewer kW to reject because the inverter/motor/battery are more efficient). You still need pumps and fans and the like.

-- Tank-to-wheels efficiency on modern IC engine powered vehicles is more like 20% (and increasing slowly), and from wall plug to wheels is about 60 to 65% (and not likely to get much higher). The 15% number for IC engines is from well-to-wheels, not tank-to-wheels.

Regards.

Engineer-Poet

No, the 12-15% numbers are tank to wheels; well-to-wheels is 12.9% or worse.

Robert Schwartz

"I use 126,000 BTU/gallon as a ballpark figure for gasoline."

126,000BTU/3.8liters/gallon=33,158BTU/l * 1055BTU/Joule=~35MJ/l. My bad. I used 44MJ/l because I misread the chart in Wikipedia. It is 44MJ/Kg and 29 MJ/l. They show 125,000 BTU/gal. However, they show gasoline with a density of 730 kg/m^3. That would give 32 MJ/l.


"at 66 MPG, that's 2.013 MJ/mile, or 125.1 MJ/100 km."

I used 100Km/gal because the Insight is 66mpg City and 60 Mpg highway. That is an average of 63, but 100Km is 62.2 mi. so its seemed like a nice round number. OTOH 3.8l/gal is a bit high, the true figure is 3.7854118. At any rate, that would give me. 3.8l/gal*32MJ/l=122MJ/100Km. I had used (based on the bad number) 114MJ/100Km, a 7% error at 122 or 10% at 125.


"The DOE page you linked says a lousy 12.6% of fuel energy winds up at the wheels."
I used the flywheel figure of 37.5% because that is more like the battery capacity number. Remember the battery needs to run the a/c if there is no motor. Using your figure of 125MJ/100Km of gasoline consumed, that would be 47MJ/100Km at the flywheel. I had used 43. That is 9% less.

"If we assume the Insight manages 20%, it would actually put 6.9 kWh to the wheels per 100 km. If an electric driveline gets 80%, an electric Insight would consume a mere 8.7 kWh/100 km and a 20 kWh battery would give it a range of 143 miles."

Does that include lights and a/c?

Engineer-Poet

They're not included on EPA tests of any kind (hint, hint).

You're assuming that idling/standby, accessory and driveline losses can be eliminated and 37.6% efficiency achieved... further, that something like the Insight actually achieves it.  I think you're way too optimistic.  I base my assumptions on 15-20% and seem to hit the ballpark.

Robert Schwartz

"You're assuming that idling/standby, accessory and driveline losses can be eliminated and 37.6% efficiency achieved."

No, I took that number, rounded to 3/8, to be most equivalent with capacity number of the battery. My underlying assumption was that idle,standby and drive line losses would be a wash between the Insight's hybrid drive train, which mitigates idle/standyby by shuting down the engine when stopped and the batteries are charged, and has a very short mechanical drive line that does not have the same level of frictional loss as a four-wheel drive automatic transmission SUV would. DoE's figures are an average. The Insight is an extreme.

Engineer-Poet

The Insight is in line with vehicles of similar weight and effective frontal area, like the Geo Metro.  The hybrid option gives it a little extra in a couple areas.

Robert Schwartz

Roy: Can you give us a link for that paper?

Robert Schwartz

Advanced Vehicle Testing Activity (AVTA) is conducted jointly by the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The data on the INL web site is generated by the testing activities of the INL. For more information about AVTA, go to the Department of Energy’s FreedomCAR & Vehicle Technologies Program web site.

I found this report: 2002-01-1916, Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Testing by James E. Francfort and Lee A. Slezak. [PDF]

I thought that the following was interesting and relevant to the above discussion:

"As measured in km driven per kWh, the least efficient energy use occurred during fleet testing with the four vehicles averaging 2.7 km per kWh (Table 3). The average energy use for the four vehicles during the drive-cycle dynamometer testing (SAE J1634) was 5.4 km per kWh. The average EVAmerica charging efficiency results for the three vehicles was 3.5 km per kWh. The average fleet energy use results were 50% lower than the average drive cycle efficiency results and 23% lower than the EVAmerica charging efficiency results."

The four vehicles tested included Ford and Chevy small pick-ups converted to BEV, a Nissan medium-size station wagon, and the Toyota RAV4 EV. The RAV4 was the most efficient of the lot with 3.5km/kWh in fleet testing, 6.6km/kWh in dynamometer testing, and 3.7km/kWh in charging efficiency.

To convert km/kWh into MJ/100km, divide the number into 1 to make it kWh/km, multiply by 3.6 MJ/kWh and by 100.

I get 103MJ/100km fleet, 55MJ/100km dyno, 99MJ/100km charging for the RAV4.

The figure I suggested above for an 850kg size small car was about 47MJ/100km. and about 2X that for a medium size vehicle. Roy above suggested 90 or 92MJ/100km.

Note that we can convert these figures to gasoline consumption by dividing by 44MJ/l. By that standard the RAV4 EV gets 2.3l/100km or 101mpg. So there is a real efficiency gain in going electric, my calculations are completely screwed up, or there is the illusion of a benefit because the heat engine is back at the electric company.

A final note on the Insight:

2001 Honda Insight:

"The Insight exhibited test results of 40.9 to 63.3 miles per gallon during the four types of Urban Loop testing; the EPA estimate for city driving is 61 mpg. During the four types of Freeway Loop testing, the Insight got 47.9 to 62.5 mpg; the EPA estimate for highway driving is 70 mpg. The fuel economy for the Urban Loop testing was highest when the Insight was tested with the maximum payload and no auxiliary loads. Variables such as driver behavior (the “lead” foot), the use of air conditioning and other auxiliary loads, or the type of driving cycle used can result in significant variations in fuel economy."

Honda Insight Hybrid Electric Vehicle: Fleet and Accelerated Reliability Testing – April 2005:

"The six Insight HEVs were driven a total of 417,450 miles and the cumulative average fuel economy for the Insight HEVs was 45.2 miles per gallon."


Toyota Prius Hybrid Electric Vehicle: Accelerated Reliability Testing (Model Year 2004) – July 2006
:

"The two (Model Year 2004) Prius HEVs have been driven a total of 186,000 miles and the cumulative average fuel economy for the Prius HEVs is 44.9 miles per gallon."

The Prius is apparently the more efficient design.

Robert Schwartz

"Note that we can convert these figures to gasoline consumption by dividing by 44MJ/l. By that standard the RAV4 EV gets 2.3l/100km or 101mpg."

That was wrong. It should have been:

Note that we can convert these figures to gasoline consumption by dividing by 30MJ/l. By that standard the RAV4 EV gets 3.4l/100km or 56mpg.

Ray Wells

This is a great debate. It looks like the conclusion being reached is that practical electric vehicles using forseeable technology will be short-range or hybrids. I have run a ZAP Xebra for a year, it has 12kWh of lead-acid GEL batteries, giving a 28 mile range in warm weather. It is, as you surmised, a 3rd family vehicle, doing 5,000 miles of local driving/year. When I run low on juice I pull into a restaurant or shopping mall for an hour and leave it plugged in the wall, but that's a rare occurance because I'm forced to pre-plan each trip to maximise efficiency - which also makes good ecological sense. Although I'd love to have a battery that gives twice the range, what I'm using actually works OK and doesn't cost a great deal.

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