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Entries in lithium-ion batteries (5)

Friday
Mar252016

Audi R18 e-tron: More Powerful and Efficient

By Christopher A. Sawyer

Audi has made some significant changes to its R18 Le Mans racer. It has moved up into the 6 megajoule class from four, revised the aerodynamics, upgraded the engine and transmission, replaced the safety cell, and switched from a flywheel energy storage system to a lithium-ion battery. In many ways, the new car comes closer to the engineering ideas used by sister division Porsche on its Le Mans racer.

Audi used a flywheel energy recovery system from 2012 to 2015, but has dropped this tried-and-true electrokinetic storage system for an electrochemical system based around production-based lithium-ion battery cells. “The flywheel accumulator definitely proved viable for the lower energy classes,” explains Thomas Laudenbach, Head of Electrics, Electronics and Energy Systems at Audi Sport. “But due to the fact that we now have to process 50% more energy than before, a technology change suggested itself.”

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Friday
Aug082014

NTS Works Rebuildable Battery

It might just be possible that NTS Works has the answer to at least one major concern that plagues electric vehicles. Its Lifetime Rebuildable Battery (LRB) is both small and powerful, and can be rebuilt or upgraded for half the cost of a new replacement battery. "In my experience with electric vehicles, the battery never lasts as long as the rest of the vehicle. People want to drive EVs without having to be careful about accelerating or hill climbing — and that kind of driving kills the lifespan of the battery," says Neal Saiki, founder of NTS Works and Zero Motorcycles. 

At the core of the LRB are high-density lithium-ion cells made to an industry standard size. Though similar to the batteries found in the Tesla Model S, the Samsung-sourced cells can be scaled up to power larger vehicles, and feature built-in copper conductors to reduce the heat load on the battery. Thermal monitoring of each cell is built into the design of the battery pack. Also, since the cells are separate and a standard size, they can be replaced when newer technologies with a higher energy capacity or longer life are developed, and bad cells can be identified and replaced quickly.  

According to NTS Works, the battery cells are only only 1/4 to 1/2 the finished cost of an EV battery pack. Crash protection, vibration isolation, cooling and support electronics add significantly to the finished cost of the pack. These items are built into the case of the LRB, and are reused. To showcase the technology, NTS Works has a new lightweight electric bike called the Fat Free. It has a 30-mile range, and puts its power through the crank. There are three frame sizes, and it’s available starting at $2,600. — CAS

Friday
Jun132014

Who to Watch at Le Mans

Christopher A. Sawyer

Electrification is the word for this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. The rule makers at the ACO have insisted on a 30% efficiency improvement for the LMP1 competitors, while Nissan is back with an electrified hardtop DeltaWing derivative running under the Garage 56 designation. And while one of the Nissan’s main functions is to prepare the ground for the company’s return in 2015 with a full-on hybrid LMP1 racer, Porsche is going for the overall win after a long layoff. It is up against tough competition from stablemate (and multiple Le Mans winner) Audi, and a very strong entry from Toyota.

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Friday
Feb082013

Battery Tech Goes Back to the Future

By Al Vinikour

Too often when a goal is set, the end product seems to be the overriding concern. All-new is best; the previous is like yesterday’s news. Frequently this thinking is to the detriment of the masses and it’s generally not realized until much later. Fortunately, there are people who look at the past as a solid framework instead of something to be replaced as quickly as possible. One of those is Subhash Dhar, chairman, CEO and founder of Energy Power Systems (EPS). His solid belief in a “back to the future” approach to hybrid technology has propelled his start-up company to the point that it is close to achieving the sought-after breakthrough of dramatically lowering the cost of battery power that’s so vital to the development of low-cost, safe and reliable hybrid and electrical vehicles.

The lead acid batteries used in over 97% of the world’s vehicles have a 150+ year history. Only lately have we witnessed the first hybrids whose batteries were nickel metal hydride (like the Toyota Prius) and then succeeded by lithium ion (Chevrolet Volt). However, lead acid batteries were abandoned in pursuit of the latter two. Truth be told, 70% of battery cost is materials and there’s a finite amount of the materials dedicated to Ni-HM and Li-ion. This is not the case when it comes to lead. Additionally, 97% of lead acid batteries are recycled into batteries; NiMH is not. Furthermore, materials used in lead acid batteries are 1/10th the cost of lithium-ion battery materials.

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Friday
Mar162012

Under the Hood of the Mercedes SLS AMG E-Cell

By Christopher A. Sawyer

The Mercedes SLS is not the first vehicle that comes to mind when you say the words “electric vehicle”. Yet this is the platform on which Mercedes-Benz has decided to build a high-performance battery powered supercar. Working with its AMG performance division, Mercedes basically gutted the standard SLS and started over.

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