Toyota's Dave Hermance on hybrid lithium(-ion) batteries and fuel economy - Page 2 - Lexus IS Forum
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post #16 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-19-2007, 04:32 PM Thread Starter
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Stanford University's nanowire batteries

My.IS member EricK found this awesome article:

Stanford's nanowire battery holds 10 times the charge of existing ones

Stanford researchers have found a way to use silicon nanowires to reinvent the rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that power laptops, iPods, video cameras, cell phones, and countless other devices.

The new version, developed through research led by Yi Cui, assistant professor of materials science and engineering, produces 10 times the amount of electricity of existing lithium-ion, known as Li-ion, batteries. A laptop that now runs on battery for two hours could operate for 20 hours, a boon to ocean-hopping business travelers.

"It's not a small improvement," Cui said. "It's a revolutionary development."

The breakthrough is described in a paper, "High-performance lithium battery anodes using silicon nanowires," published online Dec. 16 in Nature Nanotechnology, written by Cui, his graduate chemistry student Candace Chan and five others.

The greatly expanded storage capacity could make Li-ion batteries attractive to electric car manufacturers. Cui suggested that they could also be used in homes or offices to store electricity generated by rooftop solar panels.

"Given the mature infrastructure behind silicon, this new technology can be pushed to real life quickly," Cui said.

The electrical storage capacity of a Li-ion battery is limited by how much lithium can be held in the battery's anode, which is typically made of carbon. Silicon has a much higher capacity than carbon, but also has a drawback.

Silicon placed in a battery swells as it absorbs positively charged lithium atoms during charging, then shrinks during use (i.e., when playing your iPod) as the lithium is drawn out of the silicon. This expand/shrink cycle typically causes the silicon (often in the form of particles or a thin film) to pulverize, degrading the performance of the battery.

Cui's battery gets around this problem with nanotechnology. The lithium is stored in a forest of tiny silicon nanowires, each with a diameter one-thousandth the thickness of a sheet of paper. The nanowires inflate four times their normal size as they soak up lithium. But, unlike other silicon shapes, they do not fracture.

Research on silicon in batteries began three decades ago. Chan explained: "The people kind of gave up on it because the capacity wasn't high enough and the cycle life wasn't good enough. And it was just because of the shape they were using. It was just too big, and they couldn't undergo the volume changes."

Then, along came silicon nanowires. "We just kind of put them together," Chan said.

For their experiments, Chan grew the nanowires on a stainless steel substrate, providing an excellent electrical connection. "It was a fantastic moment when Candace told me it was working," Cui said.

Cui said that a patent application has been filed. He is considering formation of a company or an agreement with a battery manufacturer. Manufacturing the nanowire batteries would require "one or two different steps, but the process can certainly be scaled up," he added. "It's a well understood process."

Stanford's nanowire battery holds 10 times the charge of existing ones

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post #17 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-24-2008, 12:39 PM Thread Starter
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As more and more carmakers jump on the lithium-ion bandwagon, Honda disagrees

Honda's Fukui: Nickel battery is best bet for hybrid
Honda won't follow rivals down lithium-ion road--for now

From Detroit to Tokyo, automakers are banking on lithium-ion batteries to power the next generation of hybrid and electric vehicles, starting as early as next year.

But Honda President Takeo Fukui says the technology is still too unreliable to warrant mass production. What's more, Honda's highly anticipated "affordable hybrid"--its answer to the Toyota Prius--will debut next year with standard nickel-metal hydride power packs.

"Lithium-ion batteries are still not usable from our perspective," Fukui told Automotive News in an interview at Honda's Tokyo headquarters on Wednesday, March 19.

"In terms of reliability and durability, I must say there still remain some concerns," he said. "I don't think they are necessarily best suited for mass-produced vehicles."

Honda's caution stands in marked contrast to the optimism voiced by rivals such as General Motors, Toyota Motor Corp., Nissan Motor Co. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. All have announced plans to sell cars equipped with lithium-ion batteries. Mitsubishi hopes to have its i MiEV electric vehicle on the road in Japan as early as 2009.

Hybrid hopes
The lithium-ion race is also important because Honda is trying to catch Toyota in hybrid vehicles. Honda is introducing its new dedicated hybrid early next year, with an eye to selling 200,000 units a year. The company wants hybrids to make up 10 percent of sales by 2012.

Toyota is planning to use lithium-ion batteries in a plug-in hybrid to arrive by 2010.

Nickel-metal hydride is the current hybrid standard. But automakers see lithium-ion batteries as the next step because they are smaller, lighter and pack more electricity. The problem is lithium-ion batteries tend to overheat.

"Timingwise, I would say there is no possibility we would resort to lithium-ion batteries" in the new hybrid due next year, Fukui said. Still, the car will be engineered so lithium-ion batteries can be swapped for nickel-metal hydride batteries later.

Details of Honda's new hybrid, billed as the Prius killer, are largely under wraps. Honda is aiming to price it below the current Civic Hybrid, whose sales have been lackluster.

The engine will be based on the Civic's, Fukui said. But the upcoming hybrid will have a newly designed motor and engine control unit, making it lighter and more compact.

That also will help bring down its cost, he said. The Civic's base engine in the United States is a 1.8-liter inline four-cylinder.

Fukui said the car will have a global nameplate, like the Accord and Civic.

As for styling, he said the new hybrid will take cues from the sleek, wedge-shaped FCX Clarity sedan, a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle Honda will start leasing this summer.

"That's more or less the image we're striving for," Fukui said.

Many partners
Many of Honda's rivals have committed to a single partner in lithium-ion research. Toyota has teamed with Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Nissan with NEC Corp. and Mitsubishi with GS Yuasa Corp.

But Honda is playing the field. It is working with Matsushita, Sanyo Electric Co. and several others that Fukui declined to name. But that doesn't mean Honda is behind, he said.

"There's a word in Japanese, soukon, for people who decide to get married too soon," he said. "It's like marrying a girl who's only 13. You don't know how that girl will turn out as a lady."

Fukui also downplayed the immediate potential for electric vehicles.

"It's not really practical as of yet, based on our experience," he said. Recharging times are still too long and the driving range is still too limited, said the Honda chief.

"But that depends on the evolution of the battery," Fukui said. "It might be that we come up with a battery that has 10 times the performance of the existing lithium-ion battery. And if that happens, maybe there will be a leapfrog to electric vehicles."

Honda's Fukui: Nickel battery is best bet for hybrid - AutoWeek Magazine

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post #18 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-20-2008, 05:14 PM
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Although it is becoming more and more mainstream, the hybrid market is still very much a techno-geek/ early adopter market. Not having the latest technology in their brand new hybrid may be a issue for these buyers. While most will put reliability and performance first, it may be a tough thing for Honda salesmen to explain when Chevy (of all makes) has a Lithium Ion pack out and Honda doesn't . I presume, that just because the cars won be using the packs now, Honda hasn't dropped research on lithium Ion entirely.

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post #19 of 21 (permalink) Old 07-02-2008, 12:10 PM
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EEStor Advanced Capacitor Best Use In A Hybrid Car

EEStor is developing a high voltage capacitor that could be a breakthrough in the development of electric and gas hybrid electric cars. EEStor has developed an improved dielectric material that allows the use of very high voltages in their capacitor compared to traditional capacitors. The EEStor capacitor has the potential of making gas electric hybrid cars are reality.

The amount of energy that can be stored in a capacitor is determined by the formula:

E = (C * V2) / 2

E = Energy in Joules

C = Capacitance in Farads

V = Voltage

Being able to increase the voltage improves the storage capacity exponentially as the voltage increases. For example, conventional capacitors operating at 2.7 volts would require 45 million farads of capacitance to hold the equivalent of one gallon of gasoline (12.7 KWH). At 400 volts (a number I picked for comparison purposes only), a capacitor would only need 560 farads of capacitance. (EEStor actually hopes to get 3.5KV which would only require 7.3 farads.)

The production of these new capacitors has been delayed; my guess being that they are running into engineering problems trying to bring this technology from the lab to commercial scale production. When they are produced, Zenn Motor Company is planning on using them to power their all-electric vehicle. [I actually saw a Zenn all-electric car on the way to work today. Was in the city and I assume this car was running on lead-acid batteries.]

Assuming that supplies of this new capacitor may be limited, or that the capacitor may not be as inexpensive as EEStor expects, the best value-add for this technology will be for use in gasoline electric hybrid vehicles. A gas electric hybrid vehicle will typically get between 20% and 30% better fuel economy than a comparable gas only vehicle. It gains this advantage by using an energy storage device like a battery or capacitor, to smooth out the power flow from the engine and to recover the energy from braking. An engine that doesn’t need to provide bursts of power for accelerating can be smaller and can be tuned to only run in its most efficient power range. You don’t need a lot of capacity to perform this type of energy buffering. My guess is that about 300 Watt Hours (wh) would be sufficient. That’s the energy equivalent of about 3 ounces of gasoline or enough power to drive a 40 mpg car about 1 mile. This obviously would not work as a plug-in hybrid, but the technology could turn a 30 mpg car into a 40 mpg car.

Why not just use a 300 WH battery? The problem with a battery of that size is that it probably would not be able to produce sufficient current to drive the car. A battery has limitations on how fast it can charge and discharge. Because a battery changes chemical composition, it can degrade after too many cycles and start to loose its ability to hold a charge. A battery can also be very sensitive to temperature. You need a large size battery to be able to provide enough current to provide acceptable acceleration.

None of these should be problems for a capacitor. Because it is a solid state device, it should charge and discharge very fast. Because there is no chemical change, it should have a virtually unlimited number of cycles and should not be very sensitive to temperature. That means the capacitor buffering device can be relatively small.

A capacitor could also be used with a battery pack for plug-in electric hybrids (if battery storage is cheaper per wh). The battery in this car would not have to be as capable because it would only be used to recharge the capacitor. Charging the capacitor could be done at any power level, much in the same way a camera flash uses a capacitor to build up a charge from the battery. The battery in a camera can not produce enough current to provide the burst of power for the flash so it builds up current in a capacitor that is discharged to produce the flash. In this mode the battery provides an electrical assist to the car in a similar manner that the battery in a Toyota Prius provides a mechanical assist to the car.

If the capacitor (or capacitor/battery combination) becomes slightly larger, say 1.6 Kwh of capacity, then a plug-in hybrid becomes practical. At 1.6 Kwh, a 40 mpg car will be able to travel 5 miles on a charge. If all the trips are 5 miles or less then the car would never have to burn any gasoline. If longer distances are traveled the effective mpg is still enhanced. Based on average commuting distances (10% numbers are my estimated breakdown of a single number for comparative purposes) then 52 mpg could be achieved compared to 40 mpg for a non-plug-in hybrid. [This chart is only to show the greatly increased fuel economy based on even a small storage device and doesn’t reflect any actual car that I know about.] The key point here is that the first small 300 Kwh storage device adds more value per device than each incremental storage device added.

If you could charge the car at intermediate points, then fuel economy would improve even more. The capacitor has the advantage of being able to store its charge very quickly. I could easily picture grocery stores, offering free, quick charges to their customers. Just like selling milk below cost to get shoppers in the store. 1.6 Kwh of electricity would be only 16 cents at 10 cents per Kwh.

Notice that the most benefit from the energy storage device is from the first 300 wh of storage. This improves the car’s mpg from 30 to 40 (assuming a 30% improvement) by going to a hybrid. The next 970 wh of storage improves it another 30% to 52 mpg on average. If EEStor’s device turns out to be more expensive than they are anticipating, it would still have a tremendous value add to hybrid car technology as a small device. You would achieve overall better fleet fuel economy for 211 cars each with 300 wh devices than one all-electric car with one 64 Kwh storage device. General Motors could use this device in their Chevy Volt.

This is the type of technological development that might qualify for the type of program that John McCain suggested should earn a $300 million prize. I would suggest that the government might offer tax credits on the purchase of hybrid electric, plug-in hybrid electric and pure electric cars as a way of stimulating demand. (John McCain also suggested a $5,000 tax credit to US Automakers for every zero-carbon emission car they sell.) Our automakers are going to need help if we expect them to make the financial investments in new, low carbon emission vehicles. Tax Credits might do more good than just offering a one-time prize.

I wish EEStor the best of luck in getting their new storage device into production. This is technology that could fundamentally change how cars are designed, significantly reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and improve global warming.
Global Warming Examiner - EEStor Advanced Capacitor Best Use In A Hybrid Car -

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post #20 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-12-2008, 09:57 AM Thread Starter
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Will lithium run into the same supply-and-demand issues as petroleum?

John McElroy certainly sees it that way, as he states in this article he wrote for Autoblog:


Uh-oh. In the pell-mell race to develop lithium-ion batteries for plug-ins, EV's and hybrids, has any automaker taken a hard look at where all that lithium is going to come from? Guess what? Not only are global lithium supplies pretty tight, prices are about to skyrocket.

Today, the United States imports almost all of its lithium. We get most of it from Chile, then Argentina, and a little bit from Canada and Zimbabwe. The only producer in America is actually a German company, Metallgesellschaft, which has a mine in Nevada. Yet, even though we import most of our lithium, the United States is the world's largest processor of the material.

But a lot of others want to get in on the game. China, no surprise, is emerging as a major player. It's buying all the lithium it can from Australia. China does have some lithium sources of its own, but they're mainly in Tibet. (Say! Do you think that's another reason why they're so hard-core about keeping Tibet within the People's Republic?)

Right now, all lithium producers around the world are running flat out, and plans are afoot to ramp up production dramatically. But while there's a lot of lithium in planet Earth, I'm told that it's kind of like oil shale: it's there, but it's not cheap or easy to get.

And there are other competing demands for using lithium, like in producing ceramic, glass and aluminum. And for air conditioning systems. It's even used by the pharmaceutical industry for treating depression. Now the auto industry wants to start using huge amounts of it.

"Demand will soon outstrip supply. We're going to see prices spike," Christian M. Lastoskie, Ph.D., of the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, at the University of Michigan, tells me.

You'd think that such a valuable material would get recycled a lot, but that's not the case. Today, only 3% to 4% is recycled, and while that will probably increase, it won't increase a lot. Recycling lithium takes a lot of energy, so much so that recycled lithium costs five to six times more than getting it from virgin material.

That could prompt battery researchers to search out other alternatives for advanced batteries, but so far not much has happened. "Everyone searching for alternatives keeps coming back to lithium because it offers so many advantages in weight and storage capacity," says Lastoskie.

It sure looks like the auto industry is locking itself into a future that depends on a precious resource, which is in tight supply, and that has to be imported. I'm just asking folks, but in our rush to get better fuel economy are we about to replace one form of dependency for another?

Autoline on Autoblog with John McElroy - Autoblog

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post #21 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-18-2009, 11:33 AM Thread Starter
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Toyota on the verge of a major lithium ion battery breakthrough?

Toyota improves lithium ion batteries
by Hans Greimel - Automotive News

TOKYO -- Toyota Motor Corp. has developed a new technology that may dramatically boost the storage capacity of lithium ion batteries and thus open the door to more practical electric vehicles.

The advance -- the fabrication of single crystals of lithium cobalt oxide -- grew out of joint research with Japan's Tohoku University, Toyota spokesman Paul Nolasco said.

The new technology is a step toward creating a more powerful battery, but Nolasco declined to estimate the potential increase in a battery's storage capacity or an electric vehicle's range.

Japan's Nikkei business newspaper said the technique eventually would allow lithium ion batteries to store 10 times the energy of current ones. The development would roughly translate into a 10-fold increase in driving range, the newspaper said. The greater storage capacity could also enable Toyota to reduce the size, weight and possibly the cost of the battery pack.

Lithium ion batteries are seen as key to the mass marketing of electric vehicles because they are lighter and more powerful than the nickel-metal hydride batteries now used in hybrid cars.

Yet Toyota has largely steered clear of electric vehicles, arguing that the current generation of lithium ion batteries is still too weak to provide a sufficient range for all-electric drivetrains.

The cathodes of Toyota's current lithium ion batteries are typically made from a polycrystalline form of lithium cobalt oxide that connected with grains of graphite, the Nikkei said.

By using a single crystal form, however, Toyota can use less graphite and create more room for the storage of the lithium ions that create the electrical charge.

The newspaper said it will take another decade to develop a cathode that contains no graphite and that version should be able to store 10 times today's electrical charge.

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