|Image from : http://www.autoblog.com/photos/bmw-i3-0/#photo-5094887|
Energy efficiency and electromotive power-train technologies have been the focus of R&D at BMW lately. Calls for fully electric vehicles have been a popular topic of conversation in German political leadership for years. Germany is phasing out nuclear technology and replacing it with distributed roof-top solar energy. The Efficient Dynamics program at BMW is the corporate automaker manifestation of this cultural shift towards high technology sustainable development
"BMW's Ian Robertson said that there are 100,000 people around the world who have made reservations for the i3, and a "significant number" of them have made deposits." ""In the next three to four years we'll see more development of the batteries than we have in the last 100," he told ANE." Notes Sebastian Blanco in his posting about the growing popularity of the BMW i3 on autoblog. http://green.autoblog.com/2013/06/12/bmw-expects-good-things-from-i3-program-has-100000-reservation/
These developments at BWM compare well against the Model S program at Tesla Motors. Audacious cutting edge electromotive product development. The future is here and it is arriving in every better iterations every day. The rapid and feverish research and development of high energy and high power vehicle batteries is giving rise to innovations that reflect progress made in the computer science, software and computer hardware sectors over the last several decades. Today you can hold a web connected, sensor packed, power efficient super computer in your hands (smartphone). With Googles Project Glass we can see that even the bleeding edge of computer science is rapidly developing.
Really cool electric vehicles of all types are being developed by hundreds of large and small companies in the automotive and logistics sectors. Lithium Iron Phosphate are the premier choice for robust energy storage systems in electromotive systems. Hybrid vehicles will benefit greatly from the integration of LFP energy storage systems.
A Better Nissan Leaf
Think of a Nissan Leaf with LFP. It would weigh about 200lbs more than the Lithium NMC version of today. Robust LFP is slightly heavier than fragile heat sensitive fade prone Lithium Cobalt, Lithium Manganese, and Lithium Nickel/Metal/Cobalt cells currently in use in electric vehicles of today. LFP has the resilience and peak power output characteristics of NiCD chemistries, but with a 10 to 15 year and 3000+ deep cycle lifetime performance, the LFP chemistry outperforms every other competing chemistry for electromotive battery energy storage systems. Had Boeing for example use LFP instead of Lithium Ion, they would never have had the electrical battery problems with the plagued Dream-liner project. Unfortunately for Boeing, LFP chemistry was not commercially available when Boeing was designing the dream-liners lithium battery energy storage systems. LFP is far more abuse tolerant, far more fire resistant, and far more environmentally compatible than the fragile failure prone fade prone lithium ion batteries we are all used to in our phones and computers, which begin to fade after a couple of years. I have posted about how to prolong the life of Lithium Ion and Lithium Polymer in past editorials. http://priusblack.blogspot.com/2013/05/extending-lithium-ion-battery-life.html
Weak Conventional Lithium Batteries
Sadly conventional Lithium Ion batteries will not hold up well in electric vehicles. Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries will pave the way to better electric vehicles. The Tesla Model S of today will not perform very will in 10 years, especially if it was operated in Hot environment all year. Likewise Nissan Leaf's that were operated in Texas or Arizona will experience more rapid battery fade than Leaf's that were operated in cooler places like Seattle Washington.
The lithium ion batteries in wide use today are the fragile, dangerous, toxic kind that react violently when overcharged, punctured or infiltrated with water. The reactive lithium and cobalt in most lithium ion batteries today are dangerous chemicals. Cobalt is also toxic to people and toxic to the environment. This is why battery recycling is so important for rechargeable batteries.
The LFP Solution
Lithium Iron Phosphate LFP is the chemistry that will hold us. Electric vehicles with LFP will experience less range reduction over time. The LFP battery just keeps going and going. When Nissan and Tesla and other automakers start putting LFP batteries into vehicle, that is when the who automotive power sector is going to get turned upside down. LFP is significantly less expensive than Lithium Cobalt Ion batteries. A switch to LFP can bring the cost of 1kWh of battery storage from $750 today down to less than $150 within the next decade. It is the cost effective durable and robust characteristics of LFP that will cause it to displace other battery chemistry in the energy storage sector as a whole. Other exotic lithium chemistries like the Toshiba SCIB lithium battery and silicon nano-wire lithium batteries will offer other advantages like extreme peak performance and rapid energy absorption for super fast charging.
The temperature stability, peak power output characteristics, long cycle life and long shelf life give LFP significant advantages over traditional lithium battery technology. Lithium Ion technology is great, but it does not hold up well over time.
Anyone with a smartphone can tell you how the approximately 1amp hour 3.6v lithium batteries in their phones tend to experience dramatic performance degradation after only 18months and are functionally useless for many users after 3 years.
If the Nissan Leaf battery brakes down and degraded like most cell phone batteries, then electric vehicles would be a dead in the water business for the foreseeable future. Fortunately the automotive lithium ion batteries benefit from more tightly controlled thermal and charge cycle operating parameters. By tightly controlling the heating, cooling and charging, discharging of the batteries in the Leaf's energy storage system is able to dramatically extend the useful life of each battery cell.
The Model S Battery
The Tesla Model S make use of a very sophisticated energy storage system the monitors thousands of 18605's running in parallel and series. The giant 85kWh laptop battery setup in the Model S offers mind bending performance, not because the 18650 cells are exceptional, but because the energy storage systems management and control of each cell yields amazing performance and cycle life.
Storing electricity in a battery efficiently involves a lot of sophisticated array design and control system integration. Each cell of the battery has to be electrically and physically protected, thermally managed, and tightly controlled during charging and discharging. The voltage of each cell must be precisely controlled to maximize the performance of the energy storage system.
Storage large amounts of energy in safe, light weight, portable battery systems is a complicated technology. These complexities of battery electric vehicle energy storage systems extend chemically into supply chain issues, and broaden out over intellectual property rights over the patented anode, cathode and cell material designs. Competing business interests are hindering the large scale commercialization of LFP. As these legal battles play out, the technology proliferates.
The Future Looks Less Expensive
Ever improving energy storage technologies will pave the way for more practical and far more wide spread renewable energy developments. The Solar Super Charger network for the Tesla Model S for example is a system where sunlight is ultimately stored and used the the Model S vehicles. You can literally drive a Model S powered by sunlight Today, and the network of these solar super chargers is going to rapidly expand over the next 2 years.
BWM, Nissan and Tesla are doing a great job of commercializing fantastic electric vehicle technologies. Toyota and Ford are doing a great job of commercializing Hybrid vehicles. The whole automotive technology sector is changing and moving us forward every more efficiently. We will be able to go farther, using less, in greater fashion, with less pollution. Electric vehicles are getting cooler by the day. The future is clearly electric ^^