By on January 4, 2008

hi-res_pack-forward.jpgAfter Altairnano's Eliminator dragster eliminated the world's record quarter mile sprint for an electric vehicle (EV), I called the company to ask them what it's like to own the "shit off a shovel" EV mindspace. During my podcast (below) with Bob Geobel, the company's Sales and Marketing Veep claimed his company's high density lithium-titanate battery is ready for hybrid passenger car prime time. "It's the low heat and low resistance of the battery that allows power to come out of that battery much quicker than standard battery technology. It can be charged quickly without thermal damage or overheating" And that means faster recharge times (four to five minutes using a 250 volt charger), more on-demand power and only a nine degree increase in the battery's temperature. So why haven't carmakers jumped on the zero emissions NanoSafe bandwagon? "While they're all looking at it, they've got it programmed in possibly in three to five years." That "possibly" doesn't include any contracts. If you're thinking why not Tesla, it seems the Silicon Valley start-up had their packaging requirements locked-in, and couldn't change gears. So to speak.  

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12 Comments on “Altairnano to GM: “We Have Your Battery”...”

  • avatar

    Why don’t they just release this battery to the market? The aftermarket for cars may not be as hot for them, but there are plenty of other markets currently dominated by lead acid. As a boater, for example, I would love to have such a battery in my boat. It would also be immensely useful for things like running trolling motors.

  • avatar

    Really? A 250 VOLT charger?!

  • avatar

    In a similar vein:

    Bolloré and Pininfarina are teaming up to create a 50/50 joint venture to produce a full electric vehicle to be marketed under the Pininfarina brand.

    The vehicle will be a four-seater powered by a lithium-metal polymer (LMP) battery developed by Bolloré, and will support a range of 250 km (155 miles) in an urban environment. The new electric Pininfarina will accelerate from 0 to 50 km/h (31 mph) in 4.9 seconds and have a top speed of 130 km/h (81 mph).

    The vehicle can be recharged on any domestic electric outlet. A full recharge takes approximately 5 hours but 5 minutes of recharge is sufficient for 25 kilometers.

    The Pininfarina electric vehicle will be marketed simultaneously in Europe, the United States and in Japan. It can be ordered from December 2008 and the first clients will receive their vehicles at the end of summer 2009. Pricing is €500 (US$720)/month.

    I wonder if the leasing plan is intended to avoid the issue of expensive battery replacement.

  • avatar

    “And now we can here those tires squeal!”

    I used to be worried what everyone with a loud muffler tip would do after the daily drivers of the world have been replaced with EVs, and now I can rest easier knowing they’ll all brag about how loud their tires are.

  • avatar

    what’s wrong with a 250 Volt charger? Your home current runs at 120 and your AC / Electric Heater / washing machine run at 240 Volts.

    Remember, it’s not the size of the pipes but how much current you actually push through them.

  • avatar

    The reason why Tesla isn’t using these batteries is that the energy density is a lot lower than lithium ion. Probably the weight per unit energy storage is greater as well. (Does anyone have this info at their fingertips?) But it’s still a big deal. If gasoline climbs to $6/gallon–or should I say when gasoline climbs to $6/gallon, the demand will be on.

    Coupled, perhaps, with some innovative designs for cars, these things might really take off.

  • avatar

    It’s also not necessarily the case that discharging 35KWH (did I hear that right?) in a few minutes is necessary for a normal automobile. This thing is the equivalent of – what? – a thousand horsepower? More?

    This EV business will involve a lot of tradeoffs…

    Does a charge leak off if the battery is left for any period of time? How expensive is it? What’s the energy density by mass? Volume?

    If this really was a superbattery, GM, et al, would be all over it. It may find wide use and acceptand or maybe not. We’ll see.

  • avatar

    Actually fast charging an Altairnano battery takes more like ten minutes, but more importantly it takes a lot more than a 250V charger. It requires a specialized 480V charger with 1000A. This is not something anyone will be doing at home. The plan is to have stations set up like gas stations where the chargers would be setup with a storage system is pre-charged at slower rates and then quick discharges to charge the battery.

    The main reason that Tesla isn’t using this type of battery is that it has an energy density of about 1/2 to 2/3 of metal-oxide lithium batteries. For the small size and weight required for the Roadster, this type of battery simply wasn’t viable. For a larger vehicle, particularly one that is range-extended, it would be more practical.

  • avatar

    If the tradeoff Altairnano is making is lower energy density in return for super-low internal resistance I think they are making the wrong choice for the high volume EV car market.

    Energy density is a more important factor than is recharge time or peak discharge rates. Being able to dump so much power so fast actually causes some extra safety concerns.

  • avatar

    Here is how Berube powers his Altairnano battery.

  • avatar

    I think charge time is more important that energy density. Cars that take 2-6 hours to charge are not viable for long trips, no matter what their range. Most people will not be willing to give up the freedom of driving as far as they want in a day. If electric charging stations that could charge in 5-10 minutes became more prevalent, a range of 150 miles would be sufficient.
    I agree that power densities don’t matter.

  • avatar

    The reality is, everything matters…power density, energy density and high rate low impedance. What will ultimately be the most important factors are cost, quality and durability.

    At $2 kWh, Altair is no where near a realistic solution… no matter how fast they can charge their pack. If they were able to show a path to high volume production at $0.1 – $0.2/kWh, the OEMs would beat down their door.

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