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DOE to Provide $17.2M for Five PHEV Battery Development Projects; Focus on 10- and 40-Mile Electric Range

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has selected five projects for $17.2 million in DOE funding for plug-in hybrid (PHEV) battery development, with an emphasis on batteries for both 10- and 40-mile range PHEVs. DOE will also provide nearly $2 million to the University of Michigan (U-M) to spearhead a study exploring the future of PHEVs.

The five projects selected for negotiation of awards of up to $17.2 million from DOE aim to address critical barriers to the commercialization of PHEVs, specifically battery cost and battery life. Combined with cost-share from the United States Advanced Battery Consortium (USABC), these projects will allow up to $38 million in battery research and development.

DOE funding is subject to negotiation of final contract terms and Congressional appropriations. Projects are expected to begin this year and continue through 2009; funding will come from DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (fiscal years ’07-’09). USABC will negotiate final contract terms with five lithium-ion battery developers. Companies selected for negotiation of awards include:

  • 3M of St. Paul, MN. Selected for an award of up to $1.14 million from DOE (total DOE/industry cost share: $2.28 million) over two years to screen nickel/manganese/cobalt (NMC) cathode materials through building and testing of small-sized cells;

  • A123Systems of Watertown, MA. Selected for an award of up to $6.25 million from DOE (total DOE/industry cost share: $12.5 million) over three years for a project to develop batteries based on nanophosphate chemistry for 10- and 40-mile range PHEVs;

  • Compact Power Inc. of Troy, MI. Selected for an award of up to $4.45 million from DOE (total DOE/industry cost share: $12.7 million) over three years to develop batteries for 10-mile range PHEVs using high energy and high power Manganese-spinel;

  • EnerDel, Inc. of Indianapolis, IN. Selected for an award of up to $1.25 million from DOE (total DOE/industry cost share: $2.5 million) over two years to develop cells for 10- and 40-mile range PHEVs using nano-phase lithium titanate coupled with a high voltage Nickel-Manganese cathode material;

  • Johnson Controls – Saft Advanced Power Solutions of Milwaukee, WI. Selected for an award of up to $4.1 million from DOE (total DOE/industry cost-share: $8.2 million) over two years to develop batteries using a nickelate/layered chemistry for 10- and 40-mile range PHEVs.

The University of Michigan’s Memorial Phoenix Energy Institute (MMPEI) will receive nearly $2 million from DOE to coordinate efforts among DOE and its Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, General Motors, Ford Motor Company, and DTE Energy to conduct a two-year study on PHEVs. Specifically, the study will:

  • Evaluate how PHEVs would share the power grid with our Nation’s other energy needs;

  • Monitor the American public’s evolving view of PHEVs and provide the first national-level empirical data on how driving behavior differs with these vehicles compared to conventional gasoline, diesel, and hybrid vehicles;

  • Assess a possible reduction of greenhouse gas emissions with the increased use of PHEVs;

  • Identify how automakers could optimize PHEV design to increase performance while also reducing cost. U-M researchers and auto industry partners will build a simulation model to test different PHEV design concepts.

Research for this study will take place over the next two years, and a preliminary report is expected to be released in January of 2008, at the Detroit Auto Show. DOE’s Office of Electricity Delivery & Energy Reliability and Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE) will fund this study (fiscal years 2007 and 2008, subject to appropriations from Congress).



What, I'm confused. Is this article 4 years old or am I missing something.

Is'nt the Volt 40+ all electric range already and what about the Phoenix Motorcar truck that is supposed to do 100+.


I must have missed something too. 10-40 miles is laughable. Isn't the Tesla Roadster already beating this mileage by a few hundred miles?

Rafael Seidl

@ Joseph -

the Volt is vaporware. The Phoenix Motorcar truck depends heavily on credits from CARB to make the numbers work.

Bottom line: automotive traction batteries are still seriously expensive both per kWh and per kW. This is especially true if you consider crash safety and, that CARB will only let a manufacturer claim ZEV mandate credits if the batteries last 150,000 miles - because the batteries are then considered an emissions technology. That implies forced cooling and using no more than ~50% of rated capacity.

The DOE's objective here is to promote technologies that should reduce cost by enough to make mild PHEVs affordable for the average Joe. Ten miles will get you to the shops and back without firing up the old ICE - fuel economy is worst during engine warm-up. Forty would let you commute to work on something other than dino-juice.

Even so, the vehicles that would benefit most from plugging in are electric bicycles and trikes. Unfortunately, most Americans think of them strictly as sports equipment - a direct consequence of decades of urban sprawl and a lack of segregated bicycle lanes. Check out e.g. to see what I mean.

David R.

Few people are going to spend $50,000 for batteries for a $30,000 SUV that go 100 miles (electric) causing it to go to $80,000. More realistically, people may spend $5K to $20K to get 10-40 miles.

The single largest headache with Li-ion and EV batteries is there H U G E cost.
All battery manufacturers know they must find a way to cut there selling price to 1/2 of what is now and even to 1/3 in the coming years. Few believe this is even doable.
Any money "thrown" to the battery manufacturers off-loads some of the expense put forward by Auto manufacturers to venture into EVs and PHEVs. The Bean-Counters and Sales staff for major auto manufacturers know that there is little profit in EVs and PHEVs due to battery costs and they are loaded with risk of battery recalls. Any money given by the DOE eases some of this risk.


The Chevy Volt* should have a big asterisk in its name, because GM has made all "commitments" about bringing it to market conditional on the batteries. Realistically, they won't make any money on the car (in the first 5 years) if they use bleeding-edge technology...and GM has a penchant for wimping out on long-term innovation bets if they can't make money early on.

So, the hope is that one of GMs partners delivers better-than-necessary batteries. A PHEV-40 (40 mile all electric range) will make many daily commuters all electric almost all the time, and should not cost the $100K a Tesla will cost.

Anybody know why there isn't more talk about using an integrated ultra-capacitor and battery pack for PHEV and BEV? It seems like a no brainer to extend battery life.


I believe USABC is a funnel from Congress to the auto companies and their interest. The EV1 was developed by GM using USABC funding when they, also Ford and Chrysler, were originally funded to develop advanced batteries; which they never accomplished. In fact I believe the GM battery development project was a factor in their decision to "Kill The Electric Car" and actually resulted in a decision to slow down advance battery development because it upset their profits at the time. The Big Auto advanced battery projects date back to 1991. Not a lot of progress was made in this area dating back 15 years although lots of Taxpayer funding has been made available for the projects. Now that oil prices and GHSs are driving battery development and not Big Auto profits, lets see if things pick up.


Where is altairnano?


Altairnano is hovering firmly amongst the other vapors. Show us the batteries. Submit them to independent testing. Show that you have production capacity, or investment lined up to ramp it up.



From what I read controlling the Cap and Battery combos is a problem to be solve and Ultra caps are really not ready for prime time yet. F1 is discussing a reduction of their ICEs to 2.2 liter V6s and using super caps for overtaking power but that proposal is off in the distant time, about 2014. I think Caps and Bats are a good way for flash charging and there are some heavy vehicle experiments currently under testing; but, we keep coming back to the need to recovering R&D costs that push the price up too high for mass production yet.

If you are a young man/woman you may see it; me on the other hand......?


Tesla is an expensive car and can afford the expensive batteries for the longer range. The average motorist needs affordable batteries with a good range and long life. That is why GM said that the E-flex car would be built if the battery technology gets there.


where is Valence?

They have the batteries.
They have submitted them to independent testing.
They have production capacity, and they have investment lined up to ramp it up.


I own stock in both Altairnano and Maxwell. Rather trivial amounts, I prefer to sleep at night.

Altairnano may be in the fatal embrace of Phoenix.

Phoenix is a vital customer and they have hardly been inspiring confidence lately. Their market window will close in 2009-2010 as bigger competitors enter.

Phoenix seems to be dividing effort with multiple models. I would rather see one model being delivered than three concepts being hyped.

Maxwell? Who knows? I think they are making steady progress.

David R.

In some ways, Altair is in a class by themselves. Their battery with the extremely wide temp range and ulta-fast charging makes it an attractive choice where money is less of an object. I don't think an SUV (Phoenix) falls into this category.

Valence is "getting their Sh_t together" on large format batteries for Segways and simular apps. I expect them to emerge fairly soon with new product/market announments.

Message to battery Li-ion manufacturers:
Do what you must to cut your price down to $500/KWH then to $300/KWH and you will rule the world - no longer the Oil companies. Hopefully FMC Lithium will support the cost cutting.

Harvey D

First generation PHEVs (2009/2010) do not need very large, very expensive batteries. Enough stored energy for 15-20 miles would do and should keep the price low i.e (below $5K for usable 5KWh).

With mass production + design improvement, second generation (3 to 4 years latter) should provide 30-40 miles for the same price i.e. ($5K for usable 10 KWh)

Third generation (by 2015/2020) should provide 100 miles for a similar price i.e. ($6K for a usable 24 KWh)

Affordable BEVs will need third generation quick charge battery packs. Meanwhile, we will have improved Hybrids + three generations of PHEVs to drive around for the next 12-20 years.

Let's not expect the ideal PHEVs and BEVs tomorrow. Development is progressive. Transition from ICE fuel guzzlers to mostly electrified vehicles will take 2 decades or so.

Lou Grinzo

Harvey: Bingo!

This is something I'm constantly telling people--we can't wave a magic wand and solve the whole transportation problem overnight, but we can, and will, make a lot of progress in steps. Nowhere will this work as well as in plug-ins, simply because there's the possibility of exploiting a better battery technology after you buy a car, by adding an additional pack or replacing the old one. This will encourage a lot of adopters of the new technology to take the leap.

Of course, if someone pops up with a magic wand and can fix it all instantly, I won't complain...


I think HarveyD and Rafael both have it - we are not likely to see the kind of PHEv batteries we would like any time soon at a reasonable price.

Therefore something has to give - range - harvey or weight - Rafael (and 2 wheels).

Either of these is much better than nothing - a 10 mile range PHEV would eliminate many ICE journeys and allow the rest to be optimized. It would also put pressure on car park owners to add charging sockets which would build some infrastructure in a low key manner.

The main thing is to get PHEVs on the road and see how they work and improve them bit by bit.

It is a bit like Bill Gates waiting for broadband and missing the fact that the internet had already started at 56K - just get stuck in, even with short range PHEVs and see what develops.


Got my hybrid Camry ... now I'm just waiting for Hymotion.
I'm happy to see that battery cost is one of the main thrusts of this announcements.


One additional property even a small HEV has: it doesn't idle in slow stop and go traffic and that in itself is a great saving over ICEs, gasoline or diesel.

David R.

My guess is the Tesla Roadster will jump to $120K for 2009 and Tesla will state that is was due primarily to the high cost of the battery SYSTEM.


This is what we get from our Gov.. Big oil is delaying the mix of E-85 and E-10. Big auto delays production of EV and alternative fuel vehicles. Might as well hire the pink bunny but let's study this bunny for 2-3yrs.


anybody have any news on Firefly ? seems to have gone quiet
they were indicating a cost of $250 per KWH , OK I know its not
lithium which seems to be the holy grail of battery makers, but
it seems to have decent low temperature working !


The ususal suspects getting the usual gravy at our expense. LiIon is a joke - yes, let's trade Saddam and Chavez et al for Morales - or maybe we'll just put a nice right wing junta back all over South America to ensure teh US can just help itself to the Lithium.

No - the ONLY battery technology which makes any possible sense for millions of EVs is Zinc Air. Best specific energy 150 - 220Wh/kg, OK specific power if big enough battery (20kWh plus), Zinc industry everywhere - the ONLY METAL AVAILABLE IN SUFFICIENT QUANTITY AND LOW ENOUGH COST.

Use your brains for God's sake. Zinc costs peanuts, available everywhere, best energy density by miles, safe - short circuit just shuts the battery down.

What is all this Lithium madness?


I guess we can all agree that the holy grail of the electrification of the automotive industry is affordable and durable batteries. Several producers seem to have overcome the technicalities of making durable batteries but the current price of $1000 per kWh of automotive grade lithium is a game stopper for most applications. It will not stop small luxury EVs and large luxury PHEVs though.

I guess we can also agree that the price will not drop until we see true mass production of these batteries. A123 is my favorite for the time being but their current year 2007 production capacity is not yet able to deliver the 60000 *16kWh batteries for the Volt in 2011 as the rumors say GM plan to produce. That is almost 1 million kWh and currently A123 say they produce more than 10 million cells a year. This is at least 1 million Devalt 36V packs of 0.07kW each or 70.000 kWh. I think an upper estimate would be 210000 kWh. I have been speculating about how A123 will be able to increase production to the necessary 1 million kWh a year and now I think I found at least a large part of the answer.
A123 have made no announcement at all about it but DeWalt has just begun selling not only V36 packs from A123 but also V18 and V28 packs. See The V36 packs are only sold to professionals and they only have 8 tools for it. The V18 packs have 42 tools and the new V28 packs have 8 tools associated with it. I believe it is realistic for A123 to increase production 5 to 10 times from the current level in the next 24 months alone from this new product launch from DeWalt. What do you think? It would be interesting to hear how the automotive battery industry can ramp up production to the 1 million kWh pro anno capacities and beyond. Important price reductions per kWh will probably not happen until global production goes beyond 10 million kWh pro anno. How do we get to that milestone?


Emphyrio: Do you know of any zinc-air batteries that can be recharged? If not, you're going to need infrastructure to distribute the pellets and you're still going to need batteries/caps to capture regen braking energy. They could be used for range extension in a PHEV. As an energy carrier I think it's better than hydrogen but far from perfect.

P.S. South America does not have a monopoly on lithium, the oceans are full of the stuff.

David R.

This article was about PHEVs as-in "Plug-in" Electric.
What does Zinc-Air have anything to do with this.
As Neil stated, there is no infrastucture to deal with pouring and recycling zinc pellets - what do you propose?

"The single greatest problem with using zinc as a fuel is its price. Since India and China began rapidly industrializing at the end of 1990s the price of major metals such as nickel, copper, steel, aluminum and zinc has soared. As India and China continue to industrialize, the price of all major metals will rise considerably, and perhaps top the high of $50,000 USD / ton that nickel reached in May 2007."

'A major disadvantage is that zinc is not liquid, and cannot be pumped as a fuel. But it may be pumped as pellets. Fuel cells using it (the zinc-air "battery" is considered a primary cell and is non-rechargeable) would have to empty the "spent" zinc and be refueled quickly. [1] The spent zinc would be reduced at a local facility into zinc."

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