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LG Chem and STMicroelectronics Partner on Li-ion Battery Packs

LG Chem, the largest Korean chemical company, and STMicroelectronics, one of the world’s leading semiconductor suppliers, are developing new automotive battery packs that combine LG Chem’s lithium ion (Li-ion) battery technology with a battery management chip manufactured by ST.

ST’s battery-management chip is manufactured with the company’s proprietary BCD (Bipolar-CMOS-DMOS) technology, which combines digital logic circuits, precise analog measurement circuits and power-handling transistors in one silicon chip. A Battery Management System with these chips accurately controls the charging and discharging cycles of the battery to enable safe operation and long battery life.

Each chip can handle up to ten Li-ion cells and also includes an interface for communicating with other ST battery-management chips in a system. With this communication capability, as many as 32 battery-management chips can be connected in cascade to manage batteries that deliver up to 1,600V to the electric motors.

BCD, often called smart power, is a semiconductor technology that allows ST to manufacture three fundamental components of electronic circuits on a single low-cost chip—digital logic for high-speed computation, analog circuits for high-precision measurement and control, and power transistors that manage the flow of high electric currents. ST pioneered the technology and subsequently has led the market, with its smart-power products used in high volume applications ranging from printers and fax machines to hard disk drives and the devices that manage the movement of windows and mirrors in cars.

The LG Chem/ST solution reduces the cost and weight and increases the reliability of the Li-ion battery pack, enabling Li-ion technology to address new applications from electric scooters and bicycles to heavy trucks.

Comments

arnold

This style of management must be welcome news. Anyone who has had much to do with battery technology and understands the needs knows that proper management is everything for reliability and performance.

Analogy may be a Steinway grand piano tuned by a monkey with a hammer.
It isn't even a starter.

HarveyD

Agree with you Arnold.

However, being basically electronic,
battery pack control and management systems will evolve quickly and become smaller, more efficient and much cheaper in very few years.

Too bad that batteries will not evolve as fast, unless some kind of break-thru technology comes around.

Practical and affordable BEVs need 500+ KWh/Kg at less than $300/KWh with life duration of 150 000 miles or more. We may not get there for another 10 to 20 years.

Current BEVs are no match for ICE vehicles. PHEVs may be an acceptable interim solution, if cost can be kept low enough.

JamesEE

True, BEVs are no match for ICE. But they don't have to be. There are many ICE vehicles for many purposes. Some go fast with two people; some carry 4 passengers, and some carry 9. Others can haul lumber (pickups). Many are never driven more than 25 miles from home. That's where the BEV market needs to start -- a decent commuter vehicle with four-passenger capability and 100-150 mile range at a modest price premium to a Civic. I bet it would sell well enough.

HarveyD

JamesEE

One way to get around the battery high cost would be to use smaller modular battery packs.

Up-to-date electronic battery management could handle 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 modules effectively.

Buyers would only buy as many modules as they need or can afford. This could reduce the inital cost of PHEVs and BEVs.

JMartin

JamesEE,

A decent commuter vehicle could easily be a two-seater. In Denver, the HOV lane is empty except for the paying one-person vehicles. Make the commuter car small and light, and it might be cost effective, assuming the family has two cars anyway.

yesplease

HarveyD, don't you mean 500+ Wh/kg? Even then, I think we could get away w/ 200+ Wh/kg. A 50kWh pack, enough for 100 miles of driving assuming the pack is allowed be used to half of it's original dod, so it can degrade to 50% capacity ala the Chevy Volt, would only weigh ~250kg. Ya gotta figure that the engine, fuel system, exhaust, and a full tank of fuel weighs in around that much anyway, and w/ say, 2C max continuous and 10C max impulse rates, we're at 100kW continuous and 500kW impulse, more than enough for most cars. Manufacturers like ThunderSky make 3.2V 260AH cells that go for around $350/kWh in bulk and supposedly last 3,000-4,000 cycles at 70% dod/.5C discharge rates. Drag that down to 50% dod and we're probably looking at 300,000 miles of life until the apparent range starts to be effected, or w/ a pack half the size at 50 miles of range, 150,000 miles of life. Granted, we still need about five more years of testing to determine how well this chemistry ages, but if what I've read is correct that shouldn't be much of a problem.

When looking at the offerings of companies like A123, who offer the same cell but at a higher price proportional to the greater number of cycles at some dod their cells can take, it looks like the only thing in the way of BEVs is how long it takes them to get prices down to what Chinese companies are offering today. Since their manufacturing process doesn't involve anything different than anyone else's in terms of raw materials I imagine that all they need is a large enough production run to get prices down, unless their manufacturing process is super expensive for some reason. But even if it is, their batteries should still last twice as long, even if they cost twice as much. The biggest hurdle in that case would be educating the consumer about the pack's life.

HarveyD

yesplease:

Yes, I meant 500 Wh/Kg packs. Electrovaya already has a 300 Wh/Kg pack and is working on a 450 Wh/Kg pack.

We should expect 500 Wh/Kg packs by 2015 or so and much more by 2020.

HarveyD

Yesplease:

Future improved battery management control units will automatically do what most drivers will not consistently do to extend batteries life and distance travelled per charge.

sulleny

We can expect some rather dramatic growth in energy storage systems over the next couple of years. Already there are new chemistries and architectures that will drive energy density up and package size down.

While the following is applicable to low voltage electronics systems - the principle behind nanowire structures will be applied to battery design in the near future.

http://news.uns.purdue.edu/x/2008b/081113StachNanowires.html

yesplease

HarveyD, current BMS units do that, so I don't see what the problem is. As for shooting for 500Wh/kg, it's sure be nice, but it isn't necessary. The specs you're shooting for would have electrics mopping the floor w/ conventional cars, which I wouldn't mind, but all they need to do IMO is just start competing. Even if it's via lower volume vehicles only sold in specific, likely urban, markets.

Andrew

I've been following the development of Ev's closely for over 2 years. As I see it, there are no major drive train technology or manufacturing hurdles to overcome.

The challenge is commercialization. How to build an appealing EV product and survive in business long enough to build up the economies of scale.

It's not that critical which battery, bms or motor you choose. Just build enough of them and the cost/ value proposition will hit the market sweet spot sooner or later.

Who wants to invest the $ billions needed to produce decent returns 3-4 years down the road? In this economic climate.

That's why we are seeing all these niche market plays. It's a big risk and hard to get finance for a big market move.

wintermane2000

The volt battery pack weighs 160 kg and is 330 wh/kg for the cells.

a 50 kwh pack using even 500 wh/kg is going to get near a metric ton for the system. And its gona be about the size of 2-3 refrigerators.

Thats why most car companies are working on compact lith batteries. They can forgo the weight of the steel cage AND the cooling system by placing the battery under a seat and air cooling it.

Also a fundamental problem with bev is the larger the battery the less milage you get per kwh. Also unlike a fuel cell a battery loses RANGE every use a fuel cell looses power. Its far better to have a slightly underpowered fuel cell then it is to find out your battery can go only 99.9% of the distance...

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