Timon Singh

New Materials Could Double Chevy Volt Battery Capacity

by , 01/17/11

batteries, chevy volt battery life, electric cars, GM, LG Chem, lithium ion battery, materials, mixed metal oxide, Chevy Volt, CHevy volt lithium ion battery

Since its release last December the Chevy Volt has proven to be extremely popular — it’s been crowned the 2011 Green Car of the Year, the North American Car of the Year and its sales eclipsed those of the Nissan Leaf. However it is set to become even more appealing as GE announced it is working on a new generation of batteries with double the energy-storage capacity. GM’s licensed battery-electrode materials developed at Argonne National Laboratory (a U.S. Department of Energy lab) use mixed-metal oxides that not only increase storage capacity, but improve the safety and durability of car batteries.

batteries, chevy volt battery life, electric cars, GM, LG Chem, lithium ion battery, materials, mixed metal oxide, Chevy Volt, CHevy volt lithium ion battery

Currently the Chevy Volt uses lithium-ion batteries made with lithium-manganese spinel cathodes. The cathode material also contains lithium, nickel, manganese, and cobalt. The material has both active components, through which lithium ions move when the battery is charged or discharged, and inactive ones that help stabilize the active material and extend battery life. The new material is reported to have a high energy density, allowing it to store more lithium ions and operate at a higher voltage than current electrode materials.

“The whole concept of improving energy density is the prize when it comes to these kinds of vehicles,” says Jon Lauckner, president of GM Ventures, GM’s venture-capital arm. Cost has always been the biggest factor when it comes to electric car battery production, but the new materials could save a lot of money. By increasing the amount of energy that a battery stores, car manufacturers are able to make a smaller battery pack, thereby reducing costs. Lauckner did not say how much money the new technology will save, but “suffice it to say, it is significant; it is not a single-digit percentage.”

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5 Comments

  1. Realist Designer December 27, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    The LG Chem plant in Michigan, where they were supposed to be making the Volt batteries, was given a $151-million grant from the Recovery Act. President Obama said, “This is a symbol of where Michigan is going, this is a symbol of where Holland is going, and this is a symbol of where America’s going.” “when you buy one of these vehicles, the battery could be stamped — made in America.”
    They only made the test batteries. The production batteries have been made in South Korea and were shipped to America. The workers are still being paid and just sit around playing games.
    Define “extremely popular”. Does that mean halting production for several weeks so the dealers can get them off the lots?

  2. jimmy cracks corn March 8, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    In order to keep the car in production they will adopt a new battery technology and then switch to an entirely new generation of Lithium batteries that enable a 500 mile radius on a single 10-15 minute charge. This per the Q4 announcement at Northwestern University on a major breakthrough in LI batteries.

    By 2016 – 2018 the major car companies will have ZERO excuses not to have a line-up of high radius all electric cars, SUV, and light pick ups, which will push gas/oil prices DOWN.

    We won’t have oil wars, we’ll be having Lithium wars….

  3. Chris_V March 4, 2011 at 10:27 am

    Why didn’t they put it in the first generation? If you waited for advancing tech (and it’s ALWAYS advancing) before putting out the first product, you’d never put out a first product, as there’s always SOMETHING better in development.

    At some point you have to say, “ok, it’s good enough to get the foot in the door and make a statement.” The Volt, even now, is that statement, and it’s needed to be in production now, not after 2-3 more years of waiting for even higher tech.

    And they need to not use all the battery capacity, as they need to ensure longetivity of the battery pack first, to make peopel comfortable with not having to replace it every 5 years.

  4. Eletruk January 19, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    Chevy only uses half the Volt’s battery capacity (about 8Kwh of a 16KWh battery). They don’t need a new battery to double their capacity, they just need to use all of what they already have.

  5. lazyreader January 19, 2011 at 7:58 am

    If that were the case, why didn’t they put it in the first generation car to begin with. Because they advertise the technology before it’s even practical. The hype puts on a lot of pressure.

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