It is the battery which makes an electric vehicle go. The electronics of sending an electric current through an electric motor to spin wheels is very well understood and has been used in vehicles for over a hundred years. Key among the technological advances enabling todays electric vehicles to begin to be practical is the higher energy density of lithium batteries. Most of the advanced battery companies are outside the U.S., primarily in China. There is an obvious strategic imperative to think about. With a goal to end U.S. dependence on foreign oil, it would be a bad move to create a dependence on foreign batteries.
Last weeks announcement of $2.4 billion in federal grants for an electric vehicle industry contained over $1.5 billion for advanced battery projects.
Entek (Johnson Controls) $299 million for “Production of nickel-cobalt-metal battery cells and packs, as well as production of battery separators (by partner Entek) for hybrid and electric vehicles.” Entek also is working on supercapacitor related technology which may have a role in future electric or hybrid vehicles.
A123Systems $249 million for “Manufacturing of nano-iron phosphate cathode powder and electrode coatings; fabrication of battery cells and modules; and assembly of complete battery pack systems for hybrid and electric vehicles.” A123Systems began as a spinoff from MIT and their battery cells are primarily used on power tools from Dewalt, however they have years of R&D into utilizing those cells in vehicles.
Dow Kokam $161 million “Production of manganese oxide cathode / graphite lithium-ion batteries for hybrid and electric vehicles.” An interesting side note to this is that Kokam is a Chinese lithium battery manufacturer.
Compact Power (on behalf of LG Chem) $151 million “Production of lithium-ion polymer battery cells for the GM Volt using a manganese-based cathode material and a proprietary separator.” LG Chem is a Korean battery manufacturer and picked for GM to supply batteries for the coming GM Volt. There is a separate grant of $105 million to GM for “Production of high-volume battery packs for the GM Volt. Cells will be from LG Chem, Ltd. and other cell providers to be named.”
EnerDel $118 million “Production of lithium-ion cells and packs for hybrid and electric vehicles. Primary lithium chemistries include: manganese spinel cathode and lithium titanate anode for high power applications, as well as manganese spinel cathode and amorphous carbon for high energy applications.” They are based in Indiana, and currently have research and supply contracts with Volvo, Nissan, Fisker, and Think Global.
Saft America, $95 million “Production of lithium-ion cells, modules, and battery packs for industrial and agricultural vehicles and defense application markets. Primary lithium chemistries include nickel-cobalt-metal and iron phosphate.” Saft is a French company so I suppose the current administration is taking us past the Freedom Fries phase of American Politics. In this case they describe the customers as military hybrid vehicles, aviation, smart grid support, and other energy storage applications.
Exide Technologies and Axion Power International, $34 million, for “Production of advanced lead-acid batteries, using lead-carbon electrodes for micro and mild hybrid applications.” Their lead-carbon battery builds on existing lead battery designs to provide higher power levels and longer life. Another $32 million for another lead-carbon battery from East Penn Manufacturing (Deka) “Production of the UltraBattery (lead-acid battery with a carbon supercapacitor combination) for micro and mild hybrid applications.”
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