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Envia Systems claims energy density record for lithium-ion batteries

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February 29, 2012

Envia Systems has developed a lithium-ion battery which is claimed to have two to three ti...

Envia Systems has developed a lithium-ion battery which is claimed to have two to three times the energy density of existing li-ions

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This Monday, California-based Envia Systems made an announcement that could mean big things for the mainstream acceptance of electric vehicles. The company claims to have broken the world record for energy density in a rechargeable lithium-ion cell, with an automotive-grade battery that reportedly has a density of 400 watt-hours/kilogram (Wh/kg). Not only is that figure two to three times higher than what is currently possible with commercially-available cells, but Envia also claims that its battery should cost less than half the price of existing li-ion batteries.

Testing of the battery was performed by the Electrical Power Systems Department at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Crane, Indiana. The tests were sponsored by ARPA-E (Advanced Research Projects Agency - ENERGY), a division of the U.S. Department of Energy.

Envia's battery could drastically reduce the price of electric vehicles, as the company cl...

According to Envia, the battery "demonstrated energy density between 378-418 Wh/kg for rates between C/3 to C/10 for a 45 Amp-hour (C/3) cell." Similar cells, which the company has had cycling in its lab for over 300 cycles, are also slated for further testing.

The secret to the battery's high energy density is said to lie in the company's proprietary cathode, anode, and electrolyte materials.

Close-up images of Envia's HCMR cathode (left) and its silicon-carbon nanocomposite anode
Close-up images of Envia's HCMR cathode (left) and its silicon-carbon nanocomposite anode

The chemistry of the High Capacity Manganese Rich (HCMR) cathode is a fine-tuned version of that of the "layered-layered" cathode, created at Argonne National Laboratory. It consists of nickel, cobalt, manganese and Li2MnO3 (lithium-manganese-oxide). Envia has introduced a patented nanocoating process to that mix, to enhance cycle life and safety. The HCMR is said to have twice the capacity of regular cathodes, and should be available for use in pilot vehicle projects later this year.

A low-cost silicon-carbon nanocomposite acts as the anode. The composition of the Envia-developed electrolyte isn't being revealed, although it is reportedly able to remain stable at higher voltages than currently-used materials.

General Motors, which recently invested US$7 million in Envia, will be performing further tests on the battery. It has also secured the rights to use the HCMR cathode in its electric vehicles.

Source: Envia Systems via IEEE Spectrum

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
11 Comments

If I understand the capacity chart well the cell has decreased 34Ah to 26Ah (76%) in about 400 recharge cycles. Surely that is useless, even with triple capacity?

Very rough calcs:

Assuming triple capacity, then the cell quantities will be reduced to 60% to save weight with ranges of maybe 200 miles. This means it for me personally it would need recharged every 2 days, x 400 = 2.7 years and range will be reduced to 150 miles. this will mean returning to daily charging and more rapid depletion. Won't last many years!

livin_the_dream
29th February, 2012 @ 11:45 pm PST

livin the dream where specifically did you find the information on the end of life for your rough calculations. I see no dropoff curve or statement to suggest it is useless at 400 charges. In fact the curve suggests that tested it to about 450 charges and from the curve, with a steady decrease. If you look at a bout the 150 charge mask it is at 30 at the 400 appears to be at 26. projecting that out it may be about 4-6 times what you projected for end of useful life.

Also note it appears for you it may not be a solution but if the ones being sold today are workable for a decent size market doubling the range could open the market up for significantly more people and other modes like motorcycles, bicycles.

inventor
1st March, 2012 @ 05:34 am PST

I agree with inventor on livin_the_dream's calculations. But even if they were on, the decrease in cost of the batteries along with our recycling technology for the lithium-ion (I admit I'm assuming that even though the density of the batter is greater, that current recycling methods will still work equally as well) it's a far superior alternative for people who do shorter trips and want to keep their total carbon footprint as small as possible, then our current petroleum fueled vehicles. I'm very excited about this breakthrough! :)

Gregg Frank
1st March, 2012 @ 07:49 am PST

AGW has been proven to be a fraud, and lithium batteries are more dangerous than gasoline, propane or high presser methane.

Slowburn
1st March, 2012 @ 01:03 pm PST

@slowburn, what do you mean by AGW, and can you provide references?

Further, to say lithium batteries are more dangerous than gasoline is a very broad and unsubstantiated statement. There have been no real-life fires associated with electric vehicle crashes, but there are several hundred thousand gas vehicle accident-related fires annually. Google it.

Nehemiah E. Spencer
1st March, 2012 @ 05:15 pm PST

re; Nehemiah E. Spencer

Anthropogenic Global Warming Start by looking at the leaked emails.

Saying that the trivial number of lithium battery vehicles on the roads today not having had a catastrophic failure yet proves them equally safe to the hundreds of millions of gasoline cars on the road is ludicrous.

Slowburn
2nd March, 2012 @ 11:26 am PST

Slowburn, it's intellectually dishonest to take a few snarky emails out of context and then use that as an excuse to ignore the vast amount of evidence indicating that global climate change is very real and doing real damage right now to this planet.

You think scientists don't get mad and say stupid things now and then? Get real, and then...get real. Quit letting Murdoch's monkeys pollute your brain with propaganda. You have doubts? Every denier's argument is nailed at skepticalscience.com. Read it and learn something.

Jim Parker
4th March, 2012 @ 11:58 pm PST

re; Jim Parker

I did I got tired of the lies.

The Climatic Research Unit of University of East Anglia destroyed their raw data (if they ever had any) rather than let anybody else see it. Given that they refused the request to see the data using the English equivalent of the freedom of information act this violated the law, unfortunately the statue of limitations ran out.

Remember the infamous hockey stick graph.

Slowburn
5th March, 2012 @ 02:33 am PST

There's no saving some people.

Adam Bradley
7th March, 2012 @ 01:12 pm PST

@slowburn

AGW maybe, but POLLUTION is definitely made by us. Look at any big city and see what human's are doing to the air!!! AGP should be the focus here not some wishy washy easy to discredit AGW arguement.

STOP AGP!!

sutski123
9th March, 2012 @ 03:04 am PST

@Slowburn

Lithium batteries are more dangerous than gasoline, propane, etc? Are you insane? Light a match on a pound of lithium and a pound of gasoline or propane. See which one blows up in your face.

Lithium has been used for dozens of years in laptop computers. How many people have been hurt by them?

Even the Volt did not start on fire until 3 weeks after a collision. If I am still in a vehicle 3 weeks after a collision I'm probably dead anyway.

Jim Young
13th March, 2012 @ 08:48 am PDT
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