Great American Energy, Inc. is pleased to report on recent advances made in lithium-ion battery technologies and the clean energy applications the batteries are being used in within the automobile, alternative energy generation and consumer electronics markets.
In the automobile sector, the world’s leading manufacturer of automotive batteries, Johnson Controls, announced on June 6, 2013, that they will supply lithium-ion batteries as part of a US Department of Energy (DOE) electrification initiative to power large plug-in hybrid trucks. In total, around 120 work trucks will be equipped with advanced plug-in hybrid power systems that rely on Johnson Controls’ batteries. The company’s lithium-ion battery technology contributes to reducing fuel consumption, operating costs and emissions in large fleet vehicles. The power system can enable the large trucks to obtain fuel economy improvements of up to 50 percent when compared to traditional diesel or gas engines. The lithium-ion batteries will be manufactured at Johnson Controls’ advanced manufacturing facility in Holland, Michigan, which was the first US plant to manufacture lithium-ion cells and complete hybrid battery systems for autos.
In the alternative power generation sector, German researchers have developed a new lithium-ion battery with a power density of roughly four times the normal density of current lithium-ion batteries. Of particular significance, the new battery has also retained a full 85 percent of its initial capacity after 10,000 recharge cycles. Rather than being used in personal electronics, the batteries are designed for use in storing electricity generated by wind and solar power installations. The German researchers also foresee the batteries being used in electric car applications. Due to the batteries’ long life characteristics, it is calculated that if an electric vehicle powered by the new batteries was plugged in every day, the batteries could last for over 25 years while still retaining the vast majority of their original capacity. The researchers currently foresee the batteries being a few years away from mass implementation.
While the new batteries mentioned above are not yet ready for utilization within the alternative power generation sector, today’s lithium-ion batteries are being relied on to store both wind and solar generated energy. Among the latest mass energy storage applications is a bank of 1,440 lithium-ion batteries that is large enough to supply roughly 500 US homes in the case of an electrical power outage. The bank of smart grid technology lithium-ion batteries went online on May 31, 2013. The 5-megawatt battery bank is part of a larger $178 million, government-backed research project in the Pacific Northwest. The project’s goals are increased electricity grid efficiency, and the integration of renewable, fluctuating energy such as wind and solar.
At the much smaller scale of consumer electronics, on June 6, 2013, Texas Instruments (TI) introduced its patented MaxLife fast-charge technology, enabling consumers to charge single-cell lithium-ion batteries faster while experiencing longer battery life. TI’s fuel gauge circuits and new chargers optimize battery performance by using the highest possible charge rates with minimal battery degradation. The new technology from TI is designed to address such consumer electronics limitations as mobile phone batteries losing the capacity to hold their charge for as long after months of daily charging and discharging. The new technology will also extend the service life of the battery by up to 30 percent, and reduce the amount of heat generated during charging.
Great American Energy’s CEO, Felipe Pimienta, said, “The news media is consistently full of stories such as these where lithium-related technology is moving forward and supporting clean energy solutions. All these new developments only lead to more lithium-dependent applications and increased lithium demand, both internationally and here in America. We look forward to contributing to the supply of lithium for that growing market.”