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A123 collaborating with Argonne on new Li-ion NMC cathode targeting EV applications

A123 Systems LLC, a developer and manufacturer of advanced lithium-ion batteries and systems, will collaborate with Argonne National Laboratory on an advanced nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC) cathode development program that results in safe lithium-ion batteries with high energy densities and long lifetimes.

The three-year, multi-million dollar agreement between A123 Systems and Argonne National Laboratory will focus on improving the cathode safety without compromising cell energy density or battery life. With A123 playing the lead role, the two organizations will produce a safe class of advanced cathode materials for use in transportation applications that require substantial improvements in electric driving range.

A123 will leverage its scientific talent and successful track record in battery materials development to commercialize advances in nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC) technology originally developed by Argonne. When combined with other independent R&D collaborations, A123 anticipates more than a 60% increase in energy density over its current high energy products and a corresponding increase in electric range for the vehicles it supplies.

This program builds on A123’s existing NMC technology which already accounts for nearly half of the company’s current production.

Although A123’s technical heritage is based on lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4), the advanced battery market has developed different chemistry preferences for different applications. Accordingly, A123 has diversified its product portfolio to include nickel manganese cobalt (NMC) technology to meet the market demand for advanced battery chemistries in high energy applications, particularly, plug-in electric vehicles.

While A123 has become the world leader in high-power batteries for low-voltage hybrids, its progress in high-energy applications is more recent. Today six vehicle models use A123’s NMC technology in plug-in applications and the company has been awarded more than 10 additional programs for future market introductions.

While those applications are predominantly in the Chinese market today, a more global customer base is set to emerge over the next several years.



Any improvement is great, but the A123 LiFePO4 was only about 130-40Wh/kg so even a 60% improvement is only in the 220Wh/kg range.

Of course, with the INCREDIBLE power density of this chemistry, it could still be a good solution for certain applications like maybe a 150-175 mile ranged BEV.

Exactly my I thoughts when I read the article, DaveD. Not leading the pack on energy density, but if they can keep the remarkable C rate that could be sufficient to win some applications.

Lower price and longer life are probably the key competitive advantages to reach for now. GM Bolt has already demonstrated that we've crossed the threshold of 200 miles in a roomy subcompact.

Smaller, lighter, will probably also mean cheaper down the road.


I think you both misread the article. It states that the expedition of increase of 60% is over their current high energy product. LFP is not high energy, its high power. The increase is related to the company's current NMC chemistry.


Damn autocorrect. Expedition above is supposed to be expectation. My bad.

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