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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Carnegie Mellon Researchers Increase Lithium Air Battery Energy Capacity 5x

Carnegie Mellon University's Venkat Viswanathan and a team of researchers have reduced the problem of sudden death in lithium air batteries through the addition of water, increasing energy storage capacity by five times.

"We could not get all the energy out of these batteries because of sudden death," says Viswanathan, an assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering. "That was the ugly aspect of this battery."

Lithium air batteries are an exciting research frontier because they could store at least twice as much energy as lithium ion batteries, which are currently the most common battery used in many consumer products, ranging from cell phones and laptops to electric vehicles. The potential of lithium air batteries lies in replacing one of the battery materials, the cathode, with air, making lithium air batteries lighter than lithium ion batteries. The lighter the battery, the more energy it can store. In addition, lithium air batteries have the possibility to increase safety.

Viswanathan, IBM researchers Nagaphani B. Aetukuri, Jeannette M. García, and Leslie E. Krupp, University of California, Berkley Assistant Professor Bryan D. McCloskey and Alan C. Luntz of the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory discovered that adding water to the battery decreases a phenomenon called sudden death, which reduces the battery's storage capacity. They published their results in Nature Chemistry.

Sudden death causes lithium air batteries to die prematurely. The batteries require lithium, oxygen and an electron to move inside the battery to reach the active site where the reaction produces energy. As the battery operates, however, the lithium and oxygen form lithium peroxide films that produces a barrier and prevents electron movement to the active site, resulting in sudden death.

Water selectively dissolves the lithium peroxide, and the dissolved lithium and oxygen move to a toroidal depository in the cathode, removing the barrier to electron movement, before reforming into lithium peroxide.

"This allows for five times the capacity of the original case," says Aetukuri.

While water is a temporary solution, it is eventually consumed and results in parasitic products that reduce battery efficiency. Viswanathan and McCloskey are currently searching for an additive other than water, which will result in increased battery capacity and efficiency. However, the addition of water is a large step forward in lithium air battery technology.

"This additive opens up the opportunity to be able to reach a much higher energy density than a lithium ion battery, and once we perfect the design, we can compete with lithium ion batteries," says Viswanathan.

To read the full Nature Chemistry paper, visit:

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Electric Car Sales Booming in The Netherlands

Of all cars sold in the first three quarters of 2014 in the Netherlands, 4.3% were electric or hybrid cars. In the last quarter of 2013, the number was even higher: 15%. The main reason for these very high EV sales in the Netherlands is fiscal measures, says Roland Berger Strategy Consultants, who published the figures.

The number of electric and hybrid cars sold in the last quarter of 2013 was 14,842. The best-selling car was the Mitsubishi Outlander, with 8,039 sales. Most EV’s and hybrids sold in the Netherlands are made in Japan: the Toyota Prius and Nissan Leaf are also popular.

The Netherlands wants to have 200,000 EV’s and hybrids on the road by 2020. Currently it has 70,000, almost 1% of the total.

Source: Energy Post

Samsung leads $17M investment in Solid State Lithium Ion Battery Start-up

Seeo Inc., a battery maker developing a Solid State Lithium Ion Battery for electric vehicles, got a $17 million round of financing led by Samsung Group’s venture capital arm.

Seeo will use the funding from Samsung Ventures to continue to develop its lightweight lithium-polymer battery technology, the Hayward, California-based company said in an e-mailed statement today. Existing investors Khosla Venture and GSR Ventures also joined in the funding.

According to Seeo, it will use the cash injection to expedite the commercialization of its DryLyte advanced lithium polymer batteries, which sport an electrolyte that enables better energy density, specifically for use in electric vehicles.

Seeo currently has cells (though not in use commercially) capable of operating with an energy density of 350 Wh/Kg (watt-hour per kilogram), but it’s now targeting 400 Wh/Kg — around double that used in most electric vehicles today. But safety is paramount when developing such batteries, and this is the crux of the technology Seeo is working on.

Seeo’s DryLyte “solid” polymer electrolyte is non-volatile and non-flammable, which means it can be used at a much higher temperature. Seeo is striving to replace the standard flammable liquid-based electrolytes, typically found in lithium-ion cells, with its own technology.

Scandinavia's First Lithium Battery Electric Car Ferry Completes Over 4,000 Trips

The KF Hisarøy electric cable ferry has now been sailing between Mjånes and Hisarøy in Norway daily for over one year, with flawless operation. The Ferry was launched in September, 2013 with a new propulsion power system consisting of a complete rechargeable battery system from Electrovaya in cooperation with Solund Verft, HAFS Elektro & Rør AS and Electrovaya´s subsidiary Miljobil Grenland AS in Norway. The Owner of the vessel is Wergeland Halsvik AS.

The 100 KWh prototype battery system is based on Electrovaya's SuperPolymer®2.0 technology, providing excellent performance and reliability with an exceptionally small on-board footprint. The battery system is an important step forward for the global maritime industry and a major step towards replacing diesel generators with a greener, toxic–free alternative form of energy. The owner of the vessel is Wergeland AS and Gulen Skyssbåtservice operates the ferry.

The battery electric ferry can save up to approximately 180,750 liters of fuel consumption over its expected lifetime. It has a potential to save about 500 tonnes of emissions; 480 tonnes of CO2, 9 tonnes of particulate matter and volatile organic compounds, 2 tonnes of Carbon monoxide and 2 tonnes of other type of emissions. The Electrovaya lithium ion battery also eliminates fuel exhaust including the usual carcinogens from diesel exhaust.

The Cable Ferry is operating approximately 10 round-trips per day between the mainland and the Hisarøy Island, a round trip distance of about 1.6 kilometers. The Cable Ferry is driven by two winches on-board and Electrovaya's on-board Lithium Ion battery system is recharged on the mainland between the round trips and over-night. KF Hisarøy is built to carry 49 passengers and 6 cars.

With the International Maritime Organization (IMO) pressuring the marine industry to reduce GHG emissions and as the price of diesel continues to rise, there has been growing interest in developing clean propulsion systems for vessels in countries including Norway and Canada. The marine electric vehicle market is expected to grow from $2.6 billion to $6.3 billion by 2023. Demand will come from both on-water and underwater electric vehicles for use both on inland waterways and the sea. The key advantages of electric powertrains for marine vehicles are the lower maintenance requirements and minimal noise, air and water pollution.

Wergeland Halsvik AS is very pleased with the ferry and the battery system delivered from the yard and its cooperating partners " said Hans Wergeland, the owner of KF Hisarøy. "As this market grows, and the demand for environmentally friendly, zero carbon foot-print energy solutions increases, this system is well-suited to further opportunities in the marine sector."

"We are delighted to be working with Electrovaya, Miljobil Grenland and HAFS Electro." says Svein-Tore Eide, General Manager of Solund Verft AS, the ship building company responsible for the project. "This first battery electric cable and road ferry in Scandinavia demonstrates that an all-electric propulsion system has value for other marine applications," added Mr Eide.

Electrovaya is pleased to have been part of this historic launching of Scandinavia's first electric cable Ferry. In addition to addressing the Global problems of Climate Change, this project has enabled Electrovaya to gather important technical data about the operation of such a vessel, positioning Electrovaya as a leader in this industry.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

VW buys stake in solid-state battery startup aiming to triple EV range

Volkswagen bought a stake in battery startup QuantumScape with the aim of developing technology that can more than triple the range of its electric cars, according to people familiar with the matter.

VW is considering using the energy-storage technology, which is fireproof, for vehicles from the namesake brand as well as Porsche and Audi, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans are private. Tests to show the system is viable for cars are due to be completed in mid-2015, they said. The VW of America unit bought a 5 percent holding and has options to raise the stake.

Peter Thul, a spokesman at Wolfsburg, Germany-based VW, declined to comment on any investment. Calls to the main switchboard and an e-mail to San Jose-based QuantumScape seeking comment weren’t answered. Financial details of the company weren’t available.

Solid-State Technology

QuantumScape is an early-stage battery startup that has been working on commercializing technology from Stanford University. It was was founded and is being led by Infinera co-founder and CEO Jagdeep Singh, and is backed by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Khosla Ventures.

Licensing technology from Stanford, the company has been looking to create batteries that are energy dense as well as safer than standard lithium ion batteries. The company’s technology uses a new method for stacking trace amounts of materials together, which can lead to high energy and power densities, and also higher cycle life than traditional lithium ion batteries.

The Department of Energy’s ARPA-E program awarded grant funding to the stealthy firm back in 2011 describing the technology as:

This novel battery stores energy by moving electrons, rather than ions, and uses electron/hole redox instead of capacitive polarization of a double-layer. This technology uses a novel architecture that has potential for very high energy density because it decouples the two functions of capacitors: charge separation and breakdown strength. If successful, this project will develop a completely new paradigm in energy storage for electric vehicles that could revolutionize the electric vehicle industry.

700 km range

“I see great potential in this new technology, possibly boosting the range to as much as 700 kilometers (430 miles),” VW Chief Executive Officer Martin Winterkorn said in a Nov. 6 speech at Stanford University in California. That’s more than three times the range of the battery-powered version of the VW Golf. Tesla’s Model S has a range of 265 miles, according to its website.

Electric Car technology is critical for meeting tightening emissions regulations, especially for luxury-car manufacturers such as VW, BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Volkswagen’s increased focus on electric cars would put pressure on Tesla to maintain its sales lead.

The German automaker employs about 44,000 research and development engineers and spends $13 billion a year on new technology. Tesla’s entire workforce totaled about 5,800 employees at the end of 2013, and research and development expenses were $280 million in the first nine months of 2014.

“Electro-chemistry is a field of the greatest importance internationally and across industries,” and is “a field where we can and must achieve progress,” Winterkorn said in the speech. In July, he said the company had invested in a battery-technology company without providing details.

Fully Charged - KIA Soul EV Test Drive [VIDEO]

Robert Llewellyn takes a 560 km (350 mile) test drive in the all new Kia Soul EV.

Kia Motors is using a 360-V lithium-ion battery pack of “class-leading” energy density (200 W·h/kg) in the 2015 Soul EV to give it range of about 200 km (125 mi) on the European Driving Cycle, and “real-world” range of 80-100 mi (129-161 km) in the U.S. The cells and the battery are the same in all regions.

Kia says high-performance anode and gel electrolyte additive materials were developed. The new electrolyte additive allows for better range by more effectively dealing with low and high temperatures. A “special” ceramic separator with improved thermal resistance properties is used.

The cell casings are of polymer pouch type (as opposed to metal), and the battery pack is air-cooled. Standard equipment on the Soul EV includes receptacles for SAE J1772 Level 1 and Level 2 ac charging, as well as CHAdeMO dc fast charging (480 V).

The battery in the 2015 Kia Soul EV is the result of a three-year development program with lithium-ion cell maker SK Innovation. The 192 cells are packaged into eight modules and deliver a total battery capacity of 27 kW·h. The cell cathode is of nickel-rich NCM (nickel-cobalt-manganese) chemistry, with the raw materials for that and other components optimized for energy density, durability, and safety.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Tesla Model S Beats Porsche in Owner-Satisfaction Survey

Tesla drivers were more likely than Porsche owners -- or anyone else -- to say they’d buy their cars again in this year’s edition of the closely watched Consumer Reports buyer survey.

Tesla’s Model S luxury electric sedan topped the U.S. survey a second year in a row, scoring 98 out of a possible 100, after posting a 99 last year. This year’s No. 2 brand, Porsche, scored an average of 87 out of 100 across its model lines. Palo Alto, California-based Tesla, co-founded and led by billionaire Elon Musk, said last month that it expects to sell 50,000 Model S cars next year.

“Not only is the Tesla roomy, comfortable, and a lot of fun to drive, but it also has low operating costs,” Consumer Reports said.

The survey will bolster the 11-year-old carmaker’s image as the leader in the business of making high-end electric cars. Tesla plan to expand sales of the Model S and develop the long-awaited Model X SUV, which is expected in the third quarter of 2015. Tesla stock has gained 52 percent this year.

Sports Cars

The next three most satisfying vehicles in the Consumer Reports Survey, after the Model S, were sports cars: General Motors Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, with a 95 percent satisfaction rating, and Porsche Cayman and Boxster, which tied for third with 91 percent of buyers saying they’d purchase them again.

The survey covered 350,000 vehicles from one to three years old and took into account “attributes such as styling, comfort, features, cargo space, fuel economy, maintenance and repair costs, overall value, and driving dynamics,” Consumer Reports said.

Hybrid, electric and diesel-powered cars outscored gas engines throughout the survey, with the Chevrolet Volt and Toyota Prius leading the compact-car category and Honda Accord Hybrid and Ford's Fusion Energi atop the list of mid-sized sedans.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Germany to Boost Incentives in Push for 1 Million Electric Cars

Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany will need to provide more incentives to meet a goal of having 1 million electric cars on the country’s roads by 2020.

“There’s a lot to do,” Merkel said today during a press conference in Berlin. “We see that further subsidies are necessary. We must speak with the German states about that.”

Merkel is far behind in her push for 1 million electric autos in part because her government has balked at incentives like those offered in France, where consumers receive as much as 6,300 euros ($7,840) to help cover the higher cost of low-emission vehicles. Germany, which has about 24,000 electric autos on its roads, is considering offering a tax break for zero-emission vehicles sold as company cars.

“We’re far from our goal to establish Germany as a leading market for electro-mobility,” said Matthias Wissmann, president of German auto-industry lobby VDA. “The government needs to act” on plans such as the corporate tax reduction.

The chancellor is trying to reduce emissions by pushing the country’s auto industry to build more electric cars after French, Japanese and American carmakers got off to an early lead. German auto manufacturers will offer 17 electric models by the end of 2014, and another 12 will go on sale next year, according to the VDA.

Charging Stations

Merkel’s cabinet announced plans in September to offer electric-car buyers special privileges, backing a bill that would enable municipalities to offer drivers of battery-powered cars, fuel cell vehicles and some plug-in hybrids free parking and the right to use bus lanes.

The country has 4,800 charging stations, said Henning Kagermann, a former chief executive officer of software maker SAP who is heading the government’s electric-car effort. Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt said Germany will add 400 stations at rest stops along the autobahn network to make it possible to travel across the country with electric vehicles.

“We need a super-charger infrastructure where you can charge 80 percent of the battery in 15 minutes,” said Stefan Bratzel, director of the Center of Automotive Management at the University of Applied Sciences in Bergisch Gladbach, Germany. “The government can help to establish standards for plugs to make the charging stations accessible for vehicles of all brands. We’re still very much in the wild electro-west.”

BMW i3

Zero emission vehicles from German automakers include Bayerische Motoren Werke AG’s i3 city car as well as electric versions of Daimler AG’s Smart two-seater and Mercedes-Benz B-Class. Volkswagen AG sells the Up! and Golf with electric motors. The offerings follow the entry into the market of Tesla Motors Inc.’s S Model, Nissan Motor Co.’s Leaf and General Motors Co.’s Volt.

Germany was a transport pioneer when it opened Europe’s first car-only highway in 1921 in Berlin. Its free-wheeling autobahn, which often doesn’t have a speed limit, has spurred a motoring culture, helping BMW, Mercedes and and VW’s Audi and Porsche brands to dominate the market for high-end cars.

The government announced plans today for a conference next summer in Berlin to discuss how the country can make further progress in electro-mobility.

Monday, December 1, 2014

BMW i8 vs BMW M1 track battle [VIDEO]

The new BMW i8 is a futuristic stunner, with a hi-tech duo of an electric motor and petrol engine from the MINI Cooper. Jump back more than three decades and the last mid-engined car to wear a BMW badge was the M1 - which turned just as many heads when it debuted in 1978.

To find out how thirty years of evolution has changed the BMW supercar, Auto Express took along a classic M1 to meet the new i8 at the test track. The BMW i8 features a 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol from the MINI Cooper driving the rear wheels, while an electric motor drives the front. Under the engine cover of the M1 is something altogether much more traditional: a 3.5-litre six-cylinder unit putting out 277bhp and 330Nm of torque. This compares to 357bhp and 570Nm in the i8.

On the track, the two cars feel very different. The M1 wasn't pushed too hard due to its age and value - mint examples fetch around £400,000 - but it performed brilliantly around the track. The gearbox has lovely action, the steering is perfectly weighted and the chassis feels perfectly matched to the power on tap.

Jump into the i8 and it feels very futuristic. There's instant power on tap due to the combination of the electric motor and the engine in Sport mode, with a great soundtrack in the cabin - it's even reminiscent of the sound of the M1. There's plenty of grip, too, and the performance is great. It's rather special and doesn't feel like any other BMW.

Both the i8 and M1 are true BMWs at heart. It's not often that BMW breaks the mould and builds a mid-engined car, but when they do, they know how to make their mark.

Stohl Racing reveal Peugeot 207 S2000 AWD Electric Rally Car

Stohl Racing surprised at the Motor Show in Essen. The Austrians transplant two electric motors in a Peugeot 207 S2000 and have been approved for use in special stage rallying.

The Peugeot S2000 built by Manfred Stohl is all-wheel-drive via 2x electric motors with a maximum output of 400 kW (544 hp), more impressive is the torque of a whopping 880 Nm which, typical of electric motors, comes on immediately. Zero to 100 km/h takes only 3.0 seconds despite a weight of 1,500 kg.

A highlight is the installation of the battery, which is located between the driver and passenger. This is installed in a special cage construction, but can be changed in service in just five minutes. This is made possible through a specially designed trailer mounted lift.

The range of the electric-S2000 as usual depends on the driving style. Stohl Racing has calculated approx 30 kilometers range with a subsequent return to the Service to change the battery. The rally-e Stohl Mk1 will premiere in the state rally championship soon.