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Old 01-27-2009, 11:30 AM   #1 (permalink)
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EV Battery Plants popping up

A123, makers of high-end Lithium-Ion batteries, have announced that they are going to build a 2.3 billion dollar facility in SE Michigan.

It should be cranking out enough batteries for 5 million plug-in hybrid cars by 2013, which I always thought of as a "science-fiction year", yet that's only four years from now. The plant is expected to employ 14,000 people.

A123 supplies batteries to Chrystler, Project Better Place, Hymotion (Plug-In Prius conversion kits, now owned by A123), and is the sponsor of the KillaCycle, the worlds fastest electric vehicle.

A123 was one of the bidders for the Chevy Volt batteries, however, GM went with batteries from LG (Korean company) instead. GM is going to build a plant in Michigan for ASSEMBLING the cells that come from LG, into battery packs in Michigan. No news yet on exactly where that plant will be, but it should be physically fairly close to the plant that will be building the Volt.

This means that Michigan is going to be a world power-house in advanced battery production. (I believe the nickle-metal-hydride battery was invented in Michigan too!)

At the same time, China is really gearing up for advanced battery production. They have battery factories popping up all over, but it's difficult right now to deal with the politics and import/export laws of the country. I talked on the phone last night with a guy who is going to convert a Prius to Plug-In by himself, rather than with a kit such as the Hymotion pack. While the Hymotion is a 5KWh pack, his custom pack is going to be 20KWh. But he said that getting batteries from China "is like pulling teeth!"

Just to give you a better idea of what a KWh is, my battery pack holds about 7 KWh, and can get my little home-built car about 20 miles. But keep in mind that mine are older lead batteries, and you really can't use that full capacity, so you almost need to cut that number in half. Also my vehicle doesn't have regenerative brakes or an alternator to recharge the batteries the way a Prius can. The Prius with that size battery pack could go about 60 miles without gasoline at all!

Very exciting things are going on in the world of electrics.

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Old 01-27-2009, 01:37 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Hi Ben,

We don't know yet, which battery supplier Aptera will use, but A123 is one of the short list candidates, I think.
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Old 01-27-2009, 02:00 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I hope it'll make batteries more available/affordable to the individual. I'd like to build an EV (well, hybrid with 20-30 mile electric range), but a lot of my driving involves climbing 4500 ft mountain roads, and hauling a bunch of lead that far uphill is not appealing :-(
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Old 01-27-2009, 03:11 PM   #4 (permalink)
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There's a very good piece of news from the mfg industry! Instead of "give us our jobs back! save my job! don't cut my pay!" we're now seeing "Let's move on with the future!"
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Old 01-27-2009, 06:03 PM   #5 (permalink)
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do we have any lithium in the US? there is another metal that is used in lithium batteries in very small amount that comes out of Africa I think that is mined by hand sold for a fraction of what it is sold to the battery makers for, so even if we get factories here how much of the battery is just being assembled here?
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Old 01-27-2009, 08:18 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Is there a way to chemically synthesize lithium? (A cost effective way, I mean... we can synthesize anything.)

What about recycled lithium? Can it be used to make new batteries?

Where does medicinal lithium come from?
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Old 01-27-2009, 09:28 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Christ View Post
1.Is there a way to chemically synthesize lithium? (A cost effective way, I mean... we can synthesize anything.)

2. What about recycled lithium? Can it be used to make new batteries?

3. Where does medicinal lithium come from?
1. No, because it's a chemical element not a compound.
2. Lithium batteries can be recycled, but because it has to be done using cryomilling at very low temperature (below -200F) there are very few places that do it. It's a very chemically reactive material.
3. Same as for every other use, from ores that high trace amounts of the desired material. In this case those are spodumene, petamite, and hectorite clay.

Lithium batteries are expensive because they're a low-volume item at the moment and they have to be processed through equipment that is on a 6-month obsolescence cycle at the moment (biggest hurdle to cost-effective mass production at the moment). Smaller manufacturers do most of the cell packing and wiring by hand in clean rooms.

Nano crystalline porous silicon electrodes have the potential to quadruple the power density of future Lithium batteries. Experiments already performed with crude test versions have given a 40% increase in power density.

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Old 01-27-2009, 10:28 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I know lithium sticks to itself... that's why they layer it with plastic when they put it on spools (How It's Made on TV LOL)

Would that last thing you were posting about include Li-Polymer batteries? Or are they "old technology" too?
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Old 01-28-2009, 12:37 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Ben,
A123 is attempting to get funding from the federal bailout money to build their plant. Have you heard if they were able to accomplish this yet?
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Old 01-28-2009, 01:47 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I was reading that there isn't enough lithium (well, practical to get) in the world. It was on "flashlightnews.org" I think. Is it like making an amazing battery out of solid platinum? Or is there enough raw material that long term costs can be low?

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