Larger ‘Car Sized’ Lithium batteries

Posted By on July 29, 2006

Valence LogoI read several articles today highlighting a Texas company called Valence Technology who has come up with a way to “throttle the explosive properties” of charging and discharging batteries. This technology makes the lithium ion batteries that are used in notebook computers and cellphone available in larger sizes.

My first thought is to use bigger batteries to power hybrid and electric powered vehicles and that exactly what Valence is doing. One of the problems last month that I mentioned when interviewing Dana Myers of Myers Motors was low tech batteries and motors. (they are working on this) For their NmG all electric car they selected traditional gel-cell Optima batteries to keep down cost, achieve many more charges and decrease the danger of charging and discharging batteries rapidly. (unfortunately that leaves their little one seater car with a 30 mile per charge range) But things are changing as according to CNET, there is a least one all electric car company, Tesla Motors, who recently unveiled an all-electric sports car that uses the new lithium ion battery pack.

Valence has a technique using its “U-Charge Power System lithium ion batteries” that uses a different cathode material inside a battery; it has patented this technology as Saphion®. Where most lithium ion batteries have a cobalt oxide cathode Valance Technology used one made of metal phosphate. The downside is that batteries with the metal phosphate can store only about 75 percent of the energy a traditional lithium ion battery can hold but, the phosphate won’t burn. In traditional lithium ion batteries, heat inside the battery can cause the cobalt oxide cathode to decompose.

As I mention earlier, devices with larger batteries are most interested in this technology. Valance sees the biggest potential market where current hybrid vehicles want to also offer plug in power. There are companies that convert hybrid cars into plug-in hybrids, which offer the advantage of running significally farther under battery power. Several other potential markets for these larger lithium batteries are wheelchairs, scooters and as replacement for marine deep cycle batteries.


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