Auto Electronics

Cobasys and A123Systems partner to develop Li-Ion HEV batteries

Cobasys and A123Systems have signed a memorandum of understanding regarding a partnership to develop, manufacture, sell, and service lithium-ion (Li-Ion) energy storage systems for hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) applications. The agreement will include joint development, marketing and supply of A123Systems nanophosphate lithium batteries and Cobasys systems integration and manufacturing of battery systems for HEV markets.

Cobasys will act as the tier one supplier, providing packaging, thermal management, wiring, electronics, and control algorithms. It will also help develop requirements and specifications to meet the integration needs of customers and partners and will provide validation testing of fully integrated lithium battery systems. A123Systems will manufacture and supply its automotive-class nanophosphate lithium-ion cells and technology.

Cobasys, a joint venture between Chevron Technology Ventures LLC and Energy Conversion Devices Inc., supplies nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries for GM’s Saturn VUE and Aura Green Line hybrid vehicles. NiMH, the prevailing battery technology for hybrid vehicles, is expected to be replaced by Li-Ion technology.

Last month, the United States Advanced Battery Consortium awarded A123Systems a $15 million lithium-ion phosphate battery technology development contract. A123Systems, a nanotechnology firm, uses non-combustible active electrode materials significantly smaller than those traditionally used in Li-Ion technology (<100 nm versus 5-20 microns). The firm claims that faster kinetics in its storage electrode provide higher power than possible from other chemistries.

A123Systems also says that its electrode and cell designs offer high thermal conductivity and low impedance compared with other batteries of similar size, and its electrolyte system operates over a wider temperature range. Batteries made from its nanoscale electrode material are said to be 80% lighter, and to offer higher charge/discharge rates (charging to high capacity in five minutes or less) and longer cycle life compared with NiMH batteries. A123Systems’ materials are designed to ensure that all lithium is extracted from the cathode when the battery is fully charged, thus safety issues related to overcharging are eliminated.

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