While Valence has claimed to be the first to offer large-format, lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) cells, a chemistry developed and supplied by Phostech, other companies now will offer the large-format technology.
Such development is of great interest to companies already producing commercially vehicles with electric drive, most importantly, those that specifically are BEVs (Battery-powered all-Electric Vehicles) and PHEVs (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles). One prominent example is Lithium Technology Corporation, which “has focused solely on the development and production of large-format lithium-ion batteries.”
An earlier version of the new LTC battery went into the first, prototype electric sedan for Project Better Place.
Lithium Technology Corporation (LTC) has introduced a new line of high energy density lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) cells, the largest cells of their kind in the world.
The large-format technology allows for the development of safer battery systems with a significantly lower number of cells. The weight of the battery is decreased while performance and safety monitoring capabilities are increased, according to LTC. The battery management system (BMS) precisely monitors fewer cells, keeping them in balance for best performance and preventing damage to the battery due to over voltage, under voltage, over temperature and short circuit.
The new high-energy line offers cells ranging from 8 Ah to 40 Ah, with nominal voltage of 3.2V. (Note: The 40 Ah high-energy cell is 232mm in height and 60mm in diameter.) The specific energy is about 90 Wh/kg, and the volumetric density is approximately 220 Wh/L, according to Dr. Klaus Brandt, LTC’s CEO. Internal resistance will be in the range of 3-4 milliOhms.
LTC built a 7 kWh conversion pack and converted a Prius to a PHEV to demonstrate its capabilities. Dr. Klaus Brandt, chief executive officer of Lithium Technology Corporation, has his eye on military and commercial markets for high-energy, lithium ion cells. In addition to Project Better Place in Israel, LTC is in discussions with, what GCC coyly describes as “a commercial electric vehicle manufacturer in the UK” and which probably is Smith Electric.
LTC began to offer these cells, ranging from 6 Ah to 35 Ah, to developers of HEV (hybrid) and PHEV (plug-in hybrid) vehicles. Dr. Andrew Frank, Professor Emeritus, Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering at the University of California, Davis, and who is widely credited with introducing the current conceptualization of plug-in hybrids, uses and endorses the new high-power line that LTC introduced last year.
LTC cells use LiFePO4 licensed technology, developed by Prof. John Goodenough with the University of Texas and supplied by Phostech, in which German chemical major Süd-Chemie has a majority holding. LTC has been working closely with Süd-Chemie and Phostech, the patent owners of the iron-phosphate technology, to further improve electrode materials.
["To deliver a higher-energy battery, LTC worked on thickening the cathode material." They] had been working with T/J Technologies on advanced electrode materials. However, in January 2006, T/J technologies became a wholly owned subsidiary of A123 Systems, Inc., [a major competitor]. At that point, according to Amir Elbaz, CFO & EVP for LTC, Süd-Chemie approached and proposed working together. Süd-Chemie had taken an interest in Phostech in 2005 and then acquired the majority holding.
LTC hopes, in collaboration with Phostech, to improve the energy density to above 100 Wh/kg. But the company positions the iron phosphate chemistry, even with its lower voltage, as being the most appropriate for consumer applications due to its inherent safety and resistance to abuse.