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Power Transportation Technology

Li-Ion Batteries Hit Final R&D Phase for Plug-in Cars 238

An anonymous reader writes "Tesla finally delivered its first production model of the all-electric Roadster this month. Coinciding with that, researchers from the big automakers and their outsourced startup labs are hitting stride in the development of cheap, high-powered lithium-ion batteries. These may actually end up in our garages. Toyota, in fact, says it's got enough of the chemistry down to roll out a test fleet for the plug-in Prius before the end of 2009. It's mass production of battery tech that's the holdup — which might mean Mercedes' electric hybrids beat the Prius to market en masse by 2010 or 2011."
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Li-Ion Batteries Hit Final R&D Phase for Plug-in Cars

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  • Still waiting (Score:4, Interesting)

    by The-Bus ( 138060 ) on Thursday February 07, 2008 @09:47AM (#22332612)
    I'm still waiting for the Ariel-Atom-based Wrightspeed X1 [].

  • by pipatron ( 966506 ) <> on Thursday February 07, 2008 @09:57AM (#22332670) Homepage
    How safe is your huge tank of extremely flammable gasoline in case of a car crash?
  • The Cold (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Timberwolf0122 ( 872207 ) on Thursday February 07, 2008 @10:05AM (#22332754) Journal
    How well to these batteries fair in the cold? If they are like the Li-ions in my video camera you'll get to the end of the street then they'll die.
  • by Muad'Dave ( 255648 ) on Thursday February 07, 2008 @10:17AM (#22332880) Homepage
    I've run into this education issue personally. I have a sand rail [] (what most people call a "Dune Buggy"). The gas tank is right behind the passenger's heads, inside the roll cage. My mother freaked when she saw that - she was concerned it was so close to passengers. "What happens in an accident?" she asked. I pointed out that the best place for the tank is where there's the most protection, and that's near the people, inside the roll cage. If it were outside, you'd guarantee a ruptured tank (no body skins on this vehicle, just tubular frame). Inside, your body would take as much damage as it takes to rupture the tank, meaning you'd probably be dead of blunt force trauma before a fire started from a ruptured tank.
  • Heat (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gilesjuk ( 604902 ) <<giles.jones> <at> <>> on Thursday February 07, 2008 @10:18AM (#22332882)
    Heat is a problem with Li-ion batteries. If they get too hot they explode. Leaving a phone in a car with direct sunlight is enough.

    Seems a bit odd they would be used in cars.
  • by raidfibre ( 1181749 ) on Thursday February 07, 2008 @10:20AM (#22332914)

    Wasn't that the point of him saying "How safe is that tank ..." ? Anyway - any technology that stores a lot of energy is going to have some potential (ha ha) for danger. There haven't been that many problems with LiIon batteries when you take into account the number of batteries that exist in the world.

    With that said, there's this problem of obtaining lithium which isn't nearly as abundant as nickel. I still like NiMH batteries for EVs, and I'm sure they will give lithium a run for the money (if not for weight). Even NiCd batteries are pretty good for electric cars, and the technology is practically antique. The issue with large NiMH cells (>10Ah) is that Texaco owns the patent. []

  • by Chrisq ( 894406 ) on Thursday February 07, 2008 @10:46AM (#22333252)
    Is that to prevent people developing an alternative to petrol?
  • by legoman666 ( 1098377 ) on Thursday February 07, 2008 @11:20AM (#22333736)
    You have no idea how clean or efficient modern coal plants are, do you? I work in the power industry and I can tell you that powering cars by charging batteries using electricity from the wall that came from a coal plant is way more efficient and clean than burning gasoline or diesel.

    Go troll some place else.

  • by FlyingGuy ( 989135 ) <flyingguy AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday February 07, 2008 @11:30AM (#22333938)

    The electricity to charge all those batteries has to come from someplace. all you are doing is shifting the the consumption of fossil fuel from one place to another. The energy required to manufacture these batteries in VERY large quantities has to come from someplace as well.

    Last time I checked there are not many rivers left to damn up for hydro so the juice has to come from someplace and since fusion power isn't quite ready for prime time you are going to have to build a hell of a lot more power plants to transfer the power generation from a facility on 4 wheels to some very big stationary ones.

    That being said, you can gain a hell of a lot of efficiency because large power plants do much better then the internal combustion engine, but they still have to burn something, either that or be prepared to have a big nuclear power plant coming to a neighborhood near you.

  • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Thursday February 07, 2008 @12:47PM (#22335208) Homepage
    Oh, it's worse than all that. You're still going to get that electricity for the batteries from mostly-coal.

    Uh-huh. And then we replace the coal plant with a nuclear plant, or augment it with wind power, or whatever, and your car magically becomes more environmentally friendly without you having to do anything!

    This is the beauty of the plug-in electric car. It decouples transportation from the source of power. So when a better source of power comes along, you don't have to replace the entire fleet of existing cars to benefit, which would mean overcoming a huge amount of inertia.

God helps them that themselves. -- Benjamin Franklin, "Poor Richard's Almanac"