EXTREME Nanoscale Lithium-Ion from A123 Systems - RC Groups
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Nov 03, 2005, 12:43 AM
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EXTREME Nanoscale Lithium-Ion from A123 Systems

A123Systems Unveils Lithium-Ion Battery Technology that Delivers Unprecedented Levels of Power, Safety and Life
URL: http://www.a123systems.com/html/news.html

Nanotech-Enabled Batteries Deliver up to 10X Longer Cycle Life, 5X Power Gains and 5-Minute Charge Time; Company Discloses Multi-Year Deal with Black & Decker to provide battery for its DEWALT brand of Power Tools

Watertown, Mass. – November 2, 2005 – A123Systems, developer of a new generation of Lithium-ion batteries, today unveiled its technology and announced that it is delivering batteries with unprecedented power, safety, and life as compared to conventional Lithium technology. A123Systems’ first battery is now in production and being delivered to the Black & Decker Corporation (NYSE: BDK). It will be first utilized by the corporation’s DEWALT brand, a leading manufacturer of power tools.

A123Systems’ battery technology delivers up to 10X longer life, 5X power gains and dramatically faster charge time over conventional high power battery technology, as validated by independent testing at Motorola and government research labs. A123Systems’ batteries use proprietary nanoscale electrode technology built on research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and exclusively licensed from MIT.

“A123's revolutionary technology will enable manufacturers to improve the performance and form factor of existing high-power portable devices and to transform products currently dependent on power cords and sockets into a new class of portable devices,” said David Vieau, CEO and president of A123Systems. “We expect that our technology will have the same impact on high-power products as the introduction of first generation Lithium-ion technology had on the development and commercialization of consumer electronics in the 1990s.”

A123Systems’ initial family of batteries is targeted at applications that require high power, high levels of safety, and longer life. These include power tools, advanced medical devices, hybrid electric vehicles, mobility products such as electric scooters, robotics, and consumer electronics.

DEWALT is using A123systems’ battery in a new, innovative, heavy-duty 36-volt power tool platform. The 36-volt power tools will provide users with increased levels of power and runtime, at a similar or less weight than their corded counterparts. Available in 2006, the new power tool line was designed from the ground up to ensure durability and reliability and to make optimum use of the increased power available from A123’s innovative battery technology. The line will include a hammerdrill, reciprocating saw, circular saw, impact wrench, rotary hammer, jigsaw, flashlight and combo kits.

A123Systems has seen considerable interest in its advanced battery technology across many applications. The company is working with the U.S. Department of Energy as part of a major undertaking to develop battery materials for future use in hybrid electric vehicles. As part of its work with the DOE, A123Systems has already completed two development phases of advanced battery technology. Preliminary performance results show a technology with great promise for the future of electric and hybrid electric vehicles.

Power, Safety and Life – What Makes A123Systems’ Batteries Unique:

High Power. A123Systems’ first product packs up to five times the power density of current rechargeable, high power batteries. In addition, the battery has the ability to recharge to 90% of its capacity in five minutes.

Intrinsic Safety. Unlike conventional Lithium-ion batteries, A123Systems' batteries employ new thermally stable, non-combustible active materials, enabling a safer cell and allowing cost reductions such as the elimination of unnecessary battery pack components. In addition, A123Systems uses an environmentally friendly chemistry.

Long Life. With up to 10X improvement in life over existing rechargeable batteries, A123Systems’ batteries can deliver thousands of cycles at high rates. Cycles refer to the number of times a battery can be charged and discharged before it no longer has any power remaining.
In addition to its high power products, A123Systems is working on a family of high-energy products that significantly improves upon the performance of existing Lithium-ion batteries used in notebook computers and cellular phones. This line of products will be introduced in 2006.

With more than 300 person-years of battery industry experience, the staff at A123Systems is made up of technology industry veterans and pre-eminent scientists from some of the world's leading battery companies and research institutions. A123Systems is led by David Vieau, and was founded by Dr. Yet-Ming Chiang, Dr. Bart Riley, VP of research and development, and Ric Fulop, VP of business development and marketing.

Having raised more than $32 million in funding, A123’s investors include Desh Deshpande (chairman of the A123 board), Qualcomm, Sequoia Capital, Motorola, North Bridge Venture Partners, MIT, YankeeTek and OnPoint Technologies, a strategic private equity firm funded by the United States Army.

About A123Systems
A123Systems is the developer of a new generation of Lithium-ion batteries that deliver previously unattainable power levels, safety and life to a wide range of applications. These batteries enable manufacturers to eliminate the power technology constraints they face in developing and building new products. Founded in 2001, A123Systems’ proprietary nanoscale electrode technology is built on initial developments from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Last edited by ScottChase; Nov 03, 2005 at 02:06 AM.
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Nov 03, 2005, 12:47 AM
ScottChase's Avatar
A Breakthrough in high power battery performance
URL: http://www.a123systems.com/html/technology.html

A123Systems high power battery technology is based on new highly active nanoscale materials that are inexpensive, nontoxic, and extremely stable in electrochemical systems.

Product Availability

A123’s first products are being produced as cylindrical form factor cells. These cells have been extensively tested and successfully validated by multiple customers and are currently in mass production at our manufacturing facilities in Asia.

Last edited by ScottChase; Nov 03, 2005 at 01:33 AM.
Nov 03, 2005, 12:50 AM
ScottChase's Avatar
Unprecedented Power
URL: http://www.a123systems.com/html/tech/power.html

The Power Game

A123Systems M1 cells offer the highest commercially available power density of any Li Ion chemistry: Our high power products are able to pulse at discharge rates as high as 100C and deliver over 3000W/kg, over an order of magnitude better than conventional Lithium-Ion cells and with their low impedance and thermally conductive design, A123 cells can be continuously discharged to 100% depth of discharge at 35C rate, a marked improvement over all other rechargeable battery alternatives.

5 Minute Charge

A unique feature of A123Systems’ M1 cells is their ability to charge to high capacity in 5 minutes or less. That’s a significant improvement over traditional Li Ion, which typically requires more than 90 minutes to reach a similar level of charge. This unique capability offers a new level of convenience for users of cordless products. Fast charge will be a key enabler of practical electric drive vehicles; by combining fast charge with high energy, high power and safety A123Systems M1 batteries are the ideal solution for next generation electric motorcycles, PHEV and electric drive vehicles.

Highest Thermal Conductivity

A123Systems has developed a packaging system that offers 4 times higher thermal conductivity than conventional Lithium-Ion cylindrical cells. Coupled with the industry’s lowest impedance, this allows the most efficient temperature management of any Lithium-Ion cell in the market. As a result, A123 cells can operate without the cooling systems that are required in many applications, which currently use higher impedance battery products.
Last edited by ScottChase; Nov 03, 2005 at 01:35 AM.
Nov 03, 2005, 12:53 AM
ScottChase's Avatar
Intrinsic Safety
URL: http://www.a123systems.com/html/tech/safety.html

Intrinsic Safety

A123 M1 cells are intrinsically safe and eliminate the risk of explosions and thermal runaway associated with conventional Lithium-Ion batteries that use oxide active materials. To achieve this, the active materials in A123’s technology are not combustible and do not release oxygen if exposed to high temperature or in the event of battery failure or mechanical abuse.

Intrinsic Overcharge Protection

A123 materials are designed to ensure all the Lithium is fully extracted from the cathode when the battery is fully charged. As a result safety issues relating to overcharge are eliminated because there is no Lithium available to plate on the anode in an overcharged state. This is in contrast to conventional Li Ion cells, which only extract half their Lithium content when they reach their upper cut-off voltage. Conventional Li Ion cells are easy to overcharge and once in this state they can continue to extract Lithium putting the cell in a dangerous mode and making it prone to fires and explosions.

Robust Mechanical Design

A123Systems uses patent pending laser-welded multi-plate tubular construction that is vibration and abuse tolerant. This design offers unsurpassed hermetic sealing with the lowest internal resistance, a key benefit for mission critical and medical devices or applications requiring extreme calendar life such as Hybrid Electric Vehicles.

Environmentally Friendly

While other battery technologies like NiCd and traditional Lithium-Ion employ heavy metals and elements that are known to be highly toxic or potential carcinogens. A123Systems M1 cells do not contain heavy metals and are environmentally friendly.

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Last edited by ScottChase; Nov 03, 2005 at 01:43 AM.
Nov 03, 2005, 12:56 AM
ScottChase's Avatar
Long Life
URL: http://www.a123systems.com/html/tech/life.html

Unsurpassed Life

A123Systems outstanding chemical stability and a flat plateau at a lower oxidation potential than other Li Ion chemistries provides our products with record life.

At low rates our M1 cells can deliver several thousands of cycles at 100%DOD, a feat unmatched by commercial Li Ion cells.

Our batteries meet the most aggressive hybrid electric vehicle cycle life requirements and at high rates with 100% DOD, our batteries are able to deliver unmatched life performance.

Wide Temperature Range

Whether your product needs to work in Alaska or Arizona, A123Systems M1 chemistry offers the widest temperature window of all Li Ion chemistries. Our cells are designed to deliver high power pulses at temperatures as low as -30 degrees C or as high as 70 degrees C.

Lowest Impedance Growth

Impedance growth is one of the top failure modes of high power batteries and a major cause of power fade over the life of the battery. Our batteries are uniquely engineered (pat. pending) so their internal resistance (impedance) will decrease with their use. This is the opposite effect to most Li Ion cells which experience a growth in their internal resistance as they are cycled at high rates or temperatures. This is a significant benefit in applications requiring long calendar life such as hybrid electric vehicles or in devices that simply must work such as medical devices or mission critical systems.
Last edited by ScottChase; Nov 03, 2005 at 01:46 AM.
Nov 03, 2005, 03:08 AM
Ay up it's warped
mtbrider's Avatar
All very interesting, are they for sale to the modelling public, in what form, and at what price.
What are the weight,size and capacity are these cells.
Nov 03, 2005, 05:42 AM
Tony Rogers
Giz's Avatar
OK, so can I buy some?
Nov 03, 2005, 06:22 AM
Registered User
I may be wrong, but if it can put out 2700 W/kg at 30C, that equates to 90 Wh/kg.
A TP 3s2p ProLite weights approx 250g, and has a capacity of 4 Ah. Assuming 10V, that's 160 Wh/kg.

So the capacity seems quite low compared to the existing Lipo. And I don't think the power density is all that great compared to the current Lipo. It is probably a bit higher but not by all that much. Some of the Lipo experts will hopefully jump in this thread and give us the exact figures.

Of course the price may be interesting if it is mass produced, and some of the other claims like the 5 minutes recharging and the safety sound promising.
Nov 03, 2005, 06:31 AM
Tony Rogers
Giz's Avatar
Originally Posted by StefV
I may be wrong, but if it can put out 2700 W/kg at 30C, that equates to 90 Wh/kg.
A TP 3s2p ProLite weights approx 250g, and has a capacity of 4 Ah. Assuming 10V, that's 160 Wh/kg.

I think your figures are correct and, as you say, the capacity is disappointing. If we could get higher energy density, power density would take care of itself.
Nov 03, 2005, 07:00 AM
Registered User
Well, the Saphions apparently are interesting to a lot of folks for their safety and hardshell features, in spite of power density even below that claimed for these new cells. If these new cells offer extremely fast charging in addition, they may be the ticket for most sport eflying, assuming competetive pricing.

- RD
Nov 03, 2005, 08:12 AM
Registered User
If my math is correct ... I would say that these cells should be something like:

Size : 16x65 (standard LiIon size)
Capacity : ~ 1400mAh
Max Discharege : ~50 Amps.

The voltage doesn't look like a 3.7V nominal ... but more probably 3.2V mazbe even less !

So I don't see a great future in the RC airplane area .... as well the valtage is little bit too low for RC car ....


PS: Maybe the price will be right, then it can get popolar.
Nov 03, 2005, 09:00 AM
Registered User
The voltage is not particularly relevant. Use enough cells to get the voltage you need. We still fly with 1.2 V nickel cells! Obviously, there will be special charger requirements. Power density is great because these are high C cells. The biggest issue might be energy density. If we can get watt.hours/kg anywhere close to LiPo cells and prices are not too high then this will change electric flight as much as the original introduction of high-C Lipos and brushless motors. If charge time is only 5 minutes, you would only ever need a single pack for an airplane.

Fast charge, very high drain rates, excellent life (# of cycles), relative safety, very good response (compared to LiPO) at low temperatures... All really good stuff but if they end out with energy density that is a lot worse than current generation LiPo then it will be a hard sell for electric flight.

Nov 03, 2005, 09:50 AM
Baptised Heathen
batman's Avatar
I didn't see anywhere what the capacity was for these cells. Also, what size are they? Guess we will have to wait till next year to find out how much they'll cost us and whether or not we can even get hold of any.
Nov 03, 2005, 10:11 AM
Registered User
Knowing the power density I did extract the capacity.

The size I did guess that should have to be 16x65 round cells this is the most common LiIon cell format.

Weight should be similar to the 42g that is for the similar LiIon cells in that size.

So it end up to something close to 1400mAh, assuming 2.7V disharge.

Already sophian cells have lower voltage ... and I guess these cells are similar to the sophian cells.

For airplane it could not be an issue the voltage ... but for cars it is:
For airplane you don't really need a 30C cell !!!! Just for some competition could be good to have ... but for regular flyer a 10C is already as much as you need ... since below 5min fly time is almost no-sense ...

Today the 1/10 cars all run with 7.2V ... 2S Lipo is fine = 7.4v ... but the 2S with this new cell will be to low ... a 3S will be too much.

Ideal configuration for a car is something close to 2S2P ... providing 100Amp continius ... and plenly of bursts.


P.S: for charge in 5 minutes, you need a very expensive charger ... mine do at best 5/7amp ... and my 12v supplier is not good for anything above 5.5amps ... so for charge a lipo in the 10-20Amp current range, we will need a special charger !
Nov 03, 2005, 12:22 PM
sloping addict
Protocooler's Avatar
Scott thanks for the info !!

These cells compare well with the best Nimh for power density, which for me is the main parameter (yes I am in this category of 3% of users that Lipo suppliers discard, that want rocket performance for less than one minute: this is for LMR sailplanes that will still fly 30+ minutes on such a pack, for which we just want the most power for most lightweight / least price but capacity is secondary)

I figure out from the data given that one cells weights 69g, can deliver long bursts of 240W.
Good hot SubC NimH of 3700-3800 mAh deliver 160A @ 0.8V ie 128W for 66g / cell.
(With GP2200 you may actually get better - but that's pushing the cells)

If in addition you can get 500+ cycles at such bursts these should surpass any other technology in the market for LMR sailplanes applications.
If the price is right I'm willing to buy them right away to compare against 10 cells GP3300 used @ 130A or 16 cells IB3800 used @ 160A-ish. That is if they can be charged as Li-ion cells.

We will have to parallel them however with voltage 3 to 3.7V (amps around 70A) => 3S2P or 4S2P should well replace a 10 cells NimH suBC pack but with higher power handling capability and/or lower weight.
It seems these cells are a nominal 3.7V / 1400 MAh so charging a 2P pack with an available commercial charger (ie 10A charge rate max such as with Lomcovak PowerCube or Elprog Pulsar2 or Shulze ISL8) the actual real life charge time will be closer to 20 minutes (or 10 minutes for a 1P pack).

A high power / high voltage system with 12S1P of these @ 30C should be pretty amazing in an LMR sailplane: 830g pack, 2240W, 2 minutes runtime, 10 minutes charge time @ 10A and very good lifetime => I can buy that if cost is similar to a 2000W / 16 cells NimH pack

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