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Boston-Power Pursuing $100M in Federal Funds for Li-Ion Plant in Massachusetts; Introduces High-Energy “Swing” for EVs and PHEVs

Boston-Power, Inc., maker of the long-lasting, fast-charging Sonata Li-ion battery for laptops, is planning to build a 455,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Auburn, Massachusetts that would complement its existing China-based operations. The company is also applying its battery technology in the new high-energy Swing Li-ion cell for battery electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

With support from Massachusetts officials, Boston-Power is seeking approximately $100 million under the US Department of Energy’s advanced battery and cell manufacturing grant program established as a part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The company is also pursuing funds through a proposed program allocation in the FY10 federal budget under the Defense Production Act, which encourages the building of manufacturing facilities in the United States that are important for national security reasons.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts will offer up to $9 million in matching financing to support the company’s planned manufacturing operation in Auburn.

Boston-Power in March became the first US-based firm to provide battery technology (the Sonata) to a Tier One notebook PC vendor: HP. Boston-Power said that it will be providing more detail about the Swing high-energy transportation battery in the future, but noted that it offers :

Select USABC commercialization goals for EV batteries. Source: USABC. Click to enlarge.
  • Energy density of 180 Wh/kg
  • Volumetric density of 420 Wh/L
  • High constant power of 440 W/kg
  • Pulse power of 1500 W/kg (2s pulse)
  • More than 1,000 cycles at 100% Depth Of Discharge (DOD); more than 2,000 cycles at 90% DOD; and more than 7,000 cycles at 60% DOD
  • Flexible and scalable packaging
  • Excellent thermal properties
  • Nordic Ecolabel accreditation

Boston-Power uses cobalt and manganese on the cathode with graphite on the anode. Its battery technology platform is based on a flat, oval-shaped prismatic cell design with external dimensions equivalent to two conventional 18650 lithium-ion cells. Each cell incorporates multiple, independent safety devices located in different areas of the cell. The design of each safety component is optimized independent of the other components, and the distributed location eliminates unwanted interactions between them.

One of the safety devices is the integrated Current Interrupt Device (CID), which electrically disconnects the cell if internal pressures get too high. In addition, the cell can is constructed from aluminum, supporting a low pressure design which allows safety components to activate earlier, minimizing the chance that the cell will enter thermal runaway. The activation pressure and tolerances of each of the components are designed to prevent inadvertent activation. In addition, there are two vents on the side of the can for redundancy, minimizing the chance of cascading failures in a multi-cell pack.

Founded in 2005 and with more than 60 patents filed, Boston-Power is led by Founder and CEO Dr. Christina Lampe-Onnerud. The company has raised $125 million in venture funding from Foundation Asset Management, Oak Investment Partners, Venrock, GGV Capital and Gabriel Venture Partners.



This would be a much wiser investment than the $100B going to GM-Chrsyler with their overpaid workers and managers..

We should invest (government funds) in future technologies not in old GM-Chrysler oversized ICE gas guzzlers.

If a company (large or small) cannot or did not adapt to changing times, it should be allowed to fail. Others would quickly replace it.


It sounds good in theory but auto co's are too capital intensive to start from scratch. Look back over the past 50 yrs and see how many new auto co's have started. Not very many.
Better to have govt invested than no American auto industry. It worked in 80's for chrysler.
On the other hand, EV's will be simpler than ICE vehicles and therefore easier to start-up a new co (tesla). Think of all the parts in an ICE and transmission...all those precision machined parts. All that goes away.


"Others would quickly replace it..."

Where are the "others" suppose to get the money? People beg dozens of venture funds for money and might get enough to go broke. Fortune 500 companies have been forming capital for decades and still have a hard time making a go of it. I would agree that we need better management.


Let's run some numbers using a hypothetical 150-mile range BEV. 150 miles at 250 Wh/mi (highway) is 37.5 kWh. This would be 208 kg (459 pounds). Constant power would be 91.7 kW (123 hp). Pulse power would be 312 kW (419 hp). Charging every 90 miles on a highway trip would be 60% DOD, and so you would be 7,000 cycles * 90 = 630,000 miles on a pack.

If only they had hinted at the $/Wh and charging time (can it do 5-minute charging like A123?).


To add to that last calculation, one can get some more data from their laptop battery data sheet. It looks like you want to discharge at 0.5 C; the 1 C and 2 C discharge rates seem to lose too much. My hypothetical 150-mile BEV using 250 Wh/mi at 70 MPH is 17,500 Watts, or 0.47 C, which works. Their recommended "fast charge" is 1.5 C, about 56 kW. 90 miles at 70 MPH is 1.29 h, recharging the 90 miles of range lost is 22,500 Wh. At 56 kW, this is 0.4 h. So steady state is 90 miles in 1.69 h, or 53 MPH, for cross-country driving.

56 kW is of course beyond J1772's meager 19 kW (240V, 80A, single-phase), but only 74% of the EU charging standard (400V, 63A, three-phase).


Please read a recent paper published by Neale R Neelameggham in the Journal of Metals - April 2009 issue on Lightweighting lithium ion batterypacks using magnesium. The current battery packs loose the advantage of the 180 to 200 wh/kg of the individual cells down to about 90 wh/kg when assembling them into batteries - by adding excess weight - for heat balance control. The paper discusses how to avoid some of the weight increase by using magnesium. Those interested in this paper can contact the author at [email protected]

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