A123 Announces Battery With Wider Temperature Performance

Luke Vandezande
by Luke Vandezande

Battery manufacturer A123 Systems introduced a new technology today it calls Nanophosphate EXT, which could be a game changer in the hybrid and electric vehicle segments.

Nanophosphate EXT offers a few key improvements that could change battery usage in large and small applications. The Center for Automotive Research (CAR) at Ohio State University has already completed testing on the product under extreme heat conditions. Those tests demonstrated that the cells retained 90 percent of their energy capacity even after 2,000 full-charge cycles in a 110-degree Fahrenheit environment.

Batteries used in most EVs require cooling systems to deliver power properly, but A123 says its new cells offer “high power, energy and cycle life capabilities over a wider temperature range.”

Cold temperature testing is currently underway but hasn’t been completed yet. Despite that, even at -22 degrees Fahrenheit, the batteries seem to be delivering 20 percent more power at that temperature than A123’s current line of batteries. If the new cells complete testing successfully, they could stand to improve small hybrids significantly. That’s because a battery that can perform in a wider range of temperatures without a cooling system and in the cold will be much lighter than the liquid-cooled batteries found in cars like the Chevrolet Volt and the traditional lead-acid starter batteries in everyday cars.

Lead-acid batteries have always been the go-to choice because of their ability to deliver power in cold temperatures, but as cars get smaller and automakers focus on lighter cars, the chance for a lighter battery that handles winters just as well will be an easy choice. Being able to forego a cooling system could also mean electric vehicles could be more affordable for mass production in the future.

That all hinges on A123 being able to stay in business, though. The company suffered a serious blow after it bult and shipped faulty batteries that were used in the Fisker Karma. The limited-production Chevrolet Spark EV will also use batteries from A123, but it was found that gasses coming from the company’s cells were the cause behind an explosion at a GM plant that injured workers.

Luke Vandezande
Luke Vandezande

Luke is an energetic automotive journalist who spends his time covering industry news and crawling the internet for the latest breaking story. When he isn't in the office, Luke can be found obsessively browsing used car listings, drinking scotch at his favorite bar and dreaming of what to drive next, though the list grows a lot faster than his bank account. He's always on <A title="@lukevandezande on Twitter" href="http://twitter.com/lukevandezande">Twitter</A> looking for a good car conversation. Find Luke on <A title="@lukevandezande on Twitter" href="http://twitter.com/lukevandezande">Twitter</A> and <A title="Luke on Google+" href="http://plus.google.com/112531385961538774338?rel=author">Google+</A>.

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