Flux Power, a San Diego based startup company, has introduced (on Nov 20) a family of lithium-iron-phosphate battery products. The product line includes a battery packaged with battery management circuits, a charger, and a “drive system” promised to be available in mid-2010. The battery shares look and feel with the common lead-acid battery but its guts are made from highly advanced lithium battery cells. The built-in battery management capabilities give them an ability to offer warranties and to track the specific behavior of each battery, easily detecting failures early while also extending battery lifetime.
Unlike traditional lead-acid batteries lithium batteries are unforgiving to being used outside their parameters. Lithium battery cells at too-high or too-low a voltage are quickly damaged and are expensive to replace. Battery management systems promise to keep lithium battery packs within safe operating conditions and prevent damage. Many companies are developing battery management systems (BMS). In the vast majority of cases BMS makers do not offer batteries integrated with the BMS but instead the BMS is a separate product.
Each of Flux Powers 12v battery modules comes with an integrated BMS monitoring voltage, temperature, charge and discharge rates, and number of charge cycles. The system can detect weak cells and detect misuse. The cells include a CAN BUS, a standard communication system inside vehicles, to enable communication with the charger, presumably so the charger do a better job.
The company clearly has their eyes on a larger market than lithium batteries for cars. Their press release mentions energy storage applications in solar or wind power plants or smart grid applications in addition to use in electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles.
Flux Power’s CEO, Chris Anthony, is connected to a different story developing at vehicle maker Aptera. Anthony is a co-founder of Aptera who was reported earlier to have been ousted in a boardroom showdown (see Apparent management shakeup at Aptera, founders reportedly ousted). A later announcement from Aptera said that Anthony had previously reduced his commitment to Aptera so he could concentrate on the startup of his two new companies, Flux Power and Epic Boats. Epic Boats manufactures hybrid electric sport boats and Flux Power has on their site several videos showing boats made by Epic using Flux Powers batteries.
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