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Solid-state battery developed at CU-Boulder could double the range of electric cars

September 19, 2013 in Battery Energy Storage, Electric Vehicles, EV News

Professor Alan Weimer (back row, fifth from left) is shown with his 2013 CU-Boulder research group that involves postdoctoral researchers, research professionals, graduate students and undergraduates who make up the largest academic solar-thermal chemistry team in United States. (Image courtesy University of Colorado)

Professor Alan Weimer (back row, fifth from left) is shown with his 2013 CU-Boulder research group that involves postdoctoral researchers, research professionals, graduate students and undergraduates who make up the largest academic solar-thermal chemistry team in United States. (Image courtesy University of Colorado)

A cutting-edge battery technology developed at the University of Colorado Boulder that could allow tomorrow’s electric vehicles to travel twice as far on a charge is now closer to becoming a commercial reality.

CU’s Technology Transfer Office has completed an agreement with Solid Power LLC—a CU-Boulder spinoff company founded by Se-Hee Lee and Conrad Stoldt, both associate professors of mechanical engineering—for the development and commercialization of an innovative solid-state rechargeable battery. Solid Power also was recently awarded a $3.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy for the purpose of creating a battery that can improve electric vehicle driving range.

The rechargeable batteries that are standard in today’s electric vehicles—as well as in a host of consumer electronics, such as mobile phones and laptops—are lithium-ion batteries, which generate electricity when lithium ions move back and forth between electrodes in a liquid electrolyte solution.

Engineers and chemists have long known that using lithium metal as the anode in a rechargeable battery—as opposed to the conventional carbon materials that are used as the anode in conventional lithium-ion batteries—can dramatically increase its energy density. But using lithium metal, a highly reactive solid, in conjunction with a liquid electrolyte is extremely hazardous because it increases the chance of a thermal runaway reaction that can result in a fire or an explosion.

Today’s lithium-ion batteries require a bulky amount of devices to protect and cool the batteries. A fire onboard a Boeing Dreamliner in January that temporarily grounded the new class of plane was linked to its onboard lithium-ion battery.

Lee and Stoldt solved the safety concerns around using lithium metal by eliminating the liquid electrolyte. Instead, the pair built an entirely solid-state battery that uses a ceramic electrolyte to separate the lithium metal anode from the cathode. Because the solid-state battery is far safer, it requires less protective packaging, which in turn could reduce the weight of the battery system in electric vehicles and help extend their range.

Research into the development of solid-state batteries has gone on for a couple of decades, but it has been difficult to create a solid electrolyte that allowed the ions to pass through it as easily as a liquid electrolyte.

“The problem has always been that solid electrolytes had very poor performance making their use in rechargeable batteries impractical,” Stoldt said. “However, the last decade has seen a resurgence in the development of new solid electrolytes with ionic conductivities that rival their liquid counterparts.”

The critical innovation added by Lee and Stoldt that allows their solid-state lithium battery to out-perform standard lithium-ion batteries is the construction of the cathode, the part of the battery that attracts the positively charged lithium ions once they’re discharged from the lithium metal. Instead of using a solid mass of material, Lee and Stoldt created a “composite cathode,” essentially small particles of cathode material held together with solid electrolyte and infused with an additive that increases its electrical conductivity. This configuration allows ions and electrons to move more easily within the cathode.

“The real innovation is an all-solid composite cathode that is based upon an iron-sulfur chemistry that we developed at CU,” Stoldt said. “This new, low-cost chemistry has a capacity that’s nearly 10 times greater than state-of-the-art cathodes.”

Last year, Lee and Stoldt partnered with Douglas Campbell, a small-business and early-stage product development veteran, to spin out Solid Power.

“We’re very excited about the opportunity to achieve commercial success for the all solid-state rechargeable battery,” said Campbell, Solid Power’s president. “We’re actively engaging industrial commercial partners to assist in commercialization and expect to have prototype products ready for in-field testing within 18 to 24 months.” Important to the early success of the company has been its incubation within CU-Boulder’s College of Engineering and Applied Science’s applied energy storage research center, a part of the college’s energy systems and environmental sustainability initiative.

Solid Power is a member of Rocky Mountain Innosphere, a nonprofit technology incubator headquartered in Fort Collins, Colo., with a mission to accelerate the development and success of high-impact scientific and technology startup companies.

“We’re very excited to be working with Solid Power’s team to get them to the next level,” said Mike Freeman, Innosphere’s CEO. “This is a big deal to Colorado’s clean-tech space. Solid Power’s batteries will have a huge impact in the EV market, and they have a potential $20 billion market for their technology.”

Learn more about Solid Power at

This article is a repost (release 9-18-13), credit: University of Colorado.

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Visitors to LCV2013 offered first drive of Ford Focus Electric

September 4, 2013 in Electric Vehicles, EV News, Ford

Ford Focus Electric Image courtesy of Ford

Ford Focus Electric
Image courtesy of Ford

Ford’s first zero-emission family car will star at the Low Carbon Vehicle Event 2013 which opens this week at Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire.

Visitors to LCV2013 – the UK’s premier low carbon vehicle technology event for vehicle manufacturers, automotive suppliers and research institutes – will be the first to drive in the UK the production Focus Electric, which is now on sale. They will also be able to sample Ford’s class-leading low-emissions petrol and diesel vehicles and gain an overview of future technologies being developed at Ford’s UK technical centres for the next generation of engines.

Transport Minister Norman Baker will meet senior Ford technical staff from the company’s Dunton Technical Centre, including product development chief Graham Hoare, who will give Ford’s view on the future of the internal combustion engine and hybrid power units.

Graham will tell LCV2013 attendees that the most significant overall reductions in carbon emissions will come from traditional power units such as Ford’s sophisticated turbo-powered, direct-injection EcoBoost engines.

“The internal combustion engine has not reached the end of the road. EcoBoost represents the current ‘state of the art’ in petrol technology and future improvements will deliver further efficiencies and CO2 reductions. In the medium term the internal combustion engine will remain the high-volume propulsion solution, supplemented increasingly by electrification and mild hybridisation,” said Graham, who is head of Ford’s Dunton Technical Centre, in Essex.

Ford’s 1.0-litre EcoBoost power unit, International Engine of the Year this year and in 2012, will be on display in a road-registered Formula Ford-inspired track car, which last year ‘set alight’ the famed Nürburgring Nordschleife by averaging 105mph to return a seven-minute, 22sec lap time – faster than many high-priced supercars.

Photo courtesy of Ford

Photo courtesy of Ford

Ford models available to drive at LCV2013 include:

  • Ford Focus Electric
  • B-MAX, Fiesta and Focus equipped with 1.0 EcoBoost 125PS engine
  • Fiesta ECOnetic with 1.6 TDCi 95PS engine
  • Focus ECOnetic with 1.6 TDCi 105PS engines offering 88g and 99g CO2 emissions
  • Transit Custom with 159g 2.2 TDCi engine

Senior technicians from Dunton Technical Centre and the Dagenham Diesel Centre in Essex will staff the Ford stand at LCV2013, many of them leaders in their fields of research, and will be on hand to offer insights into Ford’s future technologies and strategies.

The Ford Focus Electric features an advanced electric motor and lithium-ion battery powertrain that produces 142PS, achieves a top speed of 85mph and is capable of a driving range of over 100 miles.

This article is a repost, credit: Ford,

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Just Add Water: GE, Berkeley Lab Explore Possible Key to Energy Storage for Electric Vehicles

August 28, 2013 in Battery Energy Storage, Electric Vehicles, EV News

  • Team awarded ARPA-E RANGE project to develop affordable energy storage solution that enables 240 mile driving range
  • Developing new, low-cost, water-based flow battery for EV’s
  • New battery could be just one-fourth the cost of comparable car batteries on the market today
Graphic courtesy of GE

Graphic courtesy of GE

NISKAYUNA, NY, AUGUST 28, 2013 – It’s a little more complex than making instant oatmeal, but scientists from GE and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) may have just the recipe for next-generation electric vehicle (EV) batteries that achieve desired driving range and cost for consumers.

The GE/Berkeley Lab team is developing a water-based, flow battery capable of more than just traditional, stationary energy storage. Chemistries GE scientists are developing will enable a flow battery that derives its power from a novel electro-chemical reaction that all resides safely in a bath of water. To view a short lab video demonstrating how the technology is designed to work, click HERE or

Grigorii Soloveichik, project leader on the water-based flow battery project at GE Global Research and director of the GE-led Energy Frontier Research Center (EFRC), said, “We’re excited about the impact this new technology could have on electric vehicles, especially as it relates to cost and the need to recharge. Our flow battery could be just one-fourth the price of car batteries on the market today, while enabling roughly three-times the current driving range. The DOE wants a battery that can power a car for 240 miles; we think we can exceed that.”

This Labor Day weekend, AAA estimates 34.1 million drivers will travel 50 miles or more. With a 240 mile driving range, many would be able to drive their entire weekend on a single flow battery charge, saving families money while reducing emissions.

The work on this project will greatly benefit from the skills and knowledge acquired from GE’s ongoing leadership in the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s EFRC program. GE’s EFRC was designed specifically for building a fundamental base for next-generation energy storage technologies. GE scientists will be working closely with team from Berkeley Lab on development of this battery technology.

“The opportunity to expand our collaboration with GE from the EFRC to applied research under ARPA-E is of great interest,” said Adam Weber, Berkeley Lab Staff Scientist and PI for this project. “We have had great success in developing high-power traditional flow batteries, and the possibility of using that expertise for a high-energy flow battery is quite compelling.”

Aside from offering significant advantages in terms of cost and range, the flow battery GE is researching would offer safety improvements over batteries used in cars today, and could be easily integrated into current car designs; both stated goals of ARPA-E’s RANGE program.

The proposed flow battery uses water-based solutions of inorganic chemicals that are capable of transferring more than one electron, providing high-energy density. Discharge and re-charge of such flow batteries occur in electrochemical cells separated from energy storing tanks, which makes them safer.

Over the next year, the GE/Berkeley Lab team will demonstrate feasibility of this new battery concept and develop a working prototype.

About GE Global Research

GE Global Research is the hub of technology development for all of GE’s businesses. Our scientists and engineers redefine what’s possible, drive growth for our businesses, and find answers to some of the world’s toughest problems.

We innovate 24 hours a day, with sites in Niskayuna, New York; San Ramon, California; Bangalore, India; Shanghai, China; Munich, Germany; and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Visit GE Global Research on the web at Connect with our technologists at and

About Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory addresses the world’s most urgent scientific challenges by advancing sustainable energy, protecting human health, creating new materials, and revealing the origin and fate of the universe. Founded in 1931, Berkeley Lab’s scientific expertise has been recognized with 13 Nobel prizes. The University of California manages Berkeley Lab for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science. For more, visit

This article is a repost, credit: General Electric,

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Creating Next Generation Electric Vehicle Batteries

August 27, 2013 in Battery Energy Storage, Electric Vehicles, EV News

Dr. Cheryl Martin, ARPA-E Deputy Director Photo courtesy of DOE

Dr. Cheryl Martin, ARPA-E Deputy Director
Photo courtesy of DOE

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Two research teams from the University of Maryland Energy Research Center (UMERC) were awarded research grants from the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) to develop transformational electric vehicle (EV) energy storage systems using innovative chemistries, architectures and designs.

The two UMD projects were among 22 selected nationwide that received a total of $36 million in research funding from ARPA-E’s new program, Robust Affordable Next Generation Energy Storage Systems (RANGE). ARPA-E’s RANGE program aims to accelerate widespread EV adoption by dramatically improving driving range and reliability, and by providing low-cost, low-carbon alternatives to today’s vehicles.

Multiple-Electron Aqueous Battery

Lithium-ion batteries have not been extensively adopted in electric vehicles due to short driving range, high cost, and low safety and reliability, which can increase the cost and reduce energy density. Researchers at UMD and the Army Research Laboratory (ARL) will develop a new battery—a hybridized ions aqueous battery—by doubling the cell voltage and capacity, which could cut the lithium-ion battery system cost in half and would enable an EV to travel two times as long per charge.

Washington Auto Show Photo courtesy of DOE

Washington Auto Show
Photo courtesy of DOE

The new battery could significantly reduce the cost of battery management, improve the reliability, and operate in a wide temperature range. If successful, UMD’s battery would make EVs cost/safety-competitive and travel 300 miles on a single charge, contributing to the widespread public acceptance of EVs. Increased use of EVs would decrease U.S. dependence on foreign oil, and reduce CO2 emissions from burning the gasoline, which accounts for 28 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions.

Led by professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering Chunseng Wang, in partnership with Kan Xu at ARL, the “Multiple-Electron Aqueous Battery” project was awarded $405,000.

Solid-State Lithium-Ion Battery with Ceramic Electrolyte

A second group of UMD researchers will develop ceramic materials and processing methods to enable high-power, solid-state, lithium-ion batteries. While most lithium-ion batteries are liquid based, solid-state batteries have a greater abuse tolerance that reduces the need for heavy protective components. UMD will leverage multi-layer ceramics processing methods to produce a solid-state battery pack with lower weight and longer life. The team will develop intrinsically safe, robust, low-cost, high-energy-density all-solid-state lithium-ion batteries.

“Due to their all solid state construction, these lithium-ion batteries are non-flammable and intrinsically safe. Moreover, their novel highly conductivity materials and fabrication methods will exceed current goals for electric vehicle range, acceleration, and cost,” says UMERC director and professor of materials science and engineering Eric Wachsman, the lead on the project, which was awarded $574,275.

In addition to Wachsman, UMD professor Liangbing Hu and University of Calgary professor Venkataraman Thangadurai are team members on the project.

This article is a repost (press release 8-23-13), credit: University of Maryland,

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Nissan Turns Over a New LEAF in key Markets Throughout the United States

August 25, 2013 in Electric Vehicles, EV News, LEAF, Nissan

Both consumers and geographic markets further diversify
2013 Nissan LEAF builds sales momentum in a new wave of U.S. markets. Infographic courtesy of Nissan

2013 Nissan LEAF builds sales momentum in a new wave of U.S. markets.
Infographic courtesy of Nissan

IRVINE, Calif. – With Nissan LEAF sales in the United States up by 335 percent year-over-year since launching the enhanced 2013 model in March, Nissan is seeing demand for electric vehicles (EVs) expand significantly outside the traditional West Coast stronghold to “New Wave” markets across the country.

“LEAF always has sold well on the West Coast for a number of reasons—state tax incentives that stack on top of federal, High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) and High-Occupancy Toll (HOT) access, environmental mindedness, a concentration of early adopters and an EV culture and enthusiasm that dates back to some of the earliest EV experiments before Nissan took them mass-market,” said Erik Gottfried, Nissan director of EV Sales and Marketing. “In fact, for several months LEAF has been the No. 1 seller in the Nissan portfolio in Seattle, Portland and San Francisco.”

Here’s a look at the Top 15 LEAF markets nationally:

  • No. 1: San Francisco, where the 100-percent electric car has made it into the top ten best selling vehicles in San Francisco—EV or otherwise.
  • No. 2: Los Angeles. LEAF performance is great against gasoline counterparts because of good charging infrastructure, a dense urban footprint and congestion. “LEAF really whips gasoline-powered vehicles in traffic jams and congestion because unlike them, it uses minimal energy while sitting in traffic,” said Gottfried.
  • No. 3: Atlanta, a “New Wave” EV market that has nabbed the No. 3 rank thanks to a number of factors including congestion where LEAF performs well, state incentives and HOV and high occupancy toll lanes (HOT) access. “Those combined factors result in a real lifestyle change that puts time back in your day and greatly facilitates personal mobility,” said Brendan Jones, director of EV Infrastructure Strategy for Nissan. Georgia has a tax credit worth up to $5,000 for zero-emissions vehicles. In Atlanta, Nissan workplace outreach has resulted in more than 100 LEAF sales to Southern Company employees.
  • No. 4: Seattle. Energy companies have been a major proponent in developing the West Coast Electric Highway that has helped to educate consumers and raise awareness for EVs
  • No. 5: Portland. Oregon has a Chief EV Officer to promote EV use.
  • No. 6: Honolulu, with 26 quick chargers, has one of densest charging grids in the U.S. The island environment also makes it easier to strategically place charging points so that EV drivers have easy access to reach key destinations. EVs fit into a larger energy-independence initiative in Hawaii since the state can make its own energy and become less reliant on shipping in fuel.
  • No. 7: San Diego ranks in the top LEAF cities for many of the same reasons in other California and West Coast markets: state tax incentives, HOV/HOT access and general environmental mindedness.
  • No. 8: Sacramento as state capital has a high level of awareness and education around EVs with a concentration of early adopters and an appreciation of EV culture.
  • No. 9: Nashville, home of Nissan Americas headquarters and the plants that assemble both LEAF and its battery. Many “New Wave” EV markets demonstrate a high level of viral sales growth. “LEAF owners have exceptionally high levels of satisfaction with the vehicle and are eager to share that experience with curious peers. Those peer-to-peer discussions frequently lead to additional LEAF sales,” said Gottfried. In Nashville, credit goes to a robust charging infrastructure and a core group of employee enthusiasts who raised awareness of the practicality of the vehicle in the market in 2011. Since then, the “cul de sac phenomenon” has taken off with general consumers in the market where one person buys a LEAF and validates it for the entire neighborhood. “In mid-size cities like Nashville, people know and talk to their neighbors. We don’t see that everywhere, but in certain communities we’ve seen peer-to-peer selling play a huge role and sales really are viral in nature,” said Gottfried.
  • No. 10: St. Louis, where the reasons for growth in this “New Wave” market include enthusiastic dealer engagement that results in increased community education and awareness, corporate and university outreach and midwestern pragmatism that appreciates the value equation of an EV. “Expanding beyond the early adopters who love new technology, we’re seeing more value-conscious customers motivated by the practicality and frugality of EVs. People see an EV as a freedom from vehicle running costs. Not only is charging cheaper than fueling—EV maintenance costs are much less expensive. Much more frequently LEAF drivers are telling us they trade out their old monthly gas bill for the entire lease price of a LEAF,” said Gottfried.
  • No. 11: Tied for the spot are Chicago and Denver. In Chicago, charging infrastructure growth has been more recent and now is robust.” Illinois provides a $4,000 state tax incentive for purchases and reduced registration fees. Driving habits in Chicago also are heavy with suburban to urban commuting patterns. The enhanced driving range of the 2013 LEAF—partially enabled by the energy-efficient hybrid heater that is an especially important feature for Chicago—has helped make the EV a viable commuter car in this huge car market.

Helping to popularize LEAF in the greater Denver market is Colorado’s $6,000 state tax credit, EV enthusiast dealers who sponsor considerable grassroots education and awareness activities and a general green-mindedness in the market. “Colorado has a green outdoorsy streak and a vibe that embraces EV culture,” said Gottfried. “In an area known for great craft breweries, employees from New Belgium Brewing even drive LEAF to make their sales calls around town. The company offers free public access to its charging stations, which are cleverly concealed in 1970s-era gas pumps. That sort of EV-friendly environment improves visibility.”

  • No. 13: Washington D.C. Again, the compact footprint with urban-suburban commutes in easy range, strong LEAF demographics of highly educated buyers in a tech corridor and a quickly growing fast charger network lend to the increasing popularity of LEAF in the nation’s capital. Additionally, for the greater D.C. area, Maryland offers a $1,000 EV tax credit.
  • No. 14: Dallas-Ft. Worth, which has a healthy charging infrastructure in the state that is home to NRG’s eVgo, which provides car charging services. Adoption of EVs in the market also has been accelerated by peer-to-peer selling at tech and transportation workplaces such as Texas Instruments and BNSF Railroad. Texas is planning to offer a $2,500 state rebate for EV purchases.
  • No. 15: New York City. Its demographics and compact footprint have helped make EVs popular especially in communities surrounding Manhattan. Communities in the market such as Princeton and Westchester and areas of Long Island and New Jersey that are conducive to home charging are the most popular. The New York market also benefits from sales of small EV fleets, including the NY Department of Sanitation. High-visibility projects such as the LEAF taxi pilot have helped to raise consumer awareness. Cab drivers report that riders express enthusiastic interest in the EVs, which results in much more conversation and higher tips. LEAF taxi drivers share information cards with QR codes to educate consumers more about the vehicle.

“Given the sustained demand we’ve been seeing among increasingly diverse markets and buyers, we’re bullish on the EV market and confident that LEAF will continue to be the leader in practical, affordable EVs,” said Gottfried.

This article is a repost, credit: Nissan,

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Thermal management technologies increase vehicle energy efficiency and performance while reducing costs. Source: NREL

August 21, 2013 in Battery Energy Storage, Electric Vehicles, EV News, Research

By Anya Breitenbach

In NREL's Advanced Power Electronics Lab, liquid cooling equipment is used to evaluate heat transfer in vehicle components.  Photo by Dennis Schroeder, NREL Courtesy of NREL

In NREL’s Advanced Power Electronics Lab, liquid cooling equipment is used to evaluate heat transfer in vehicle components.
Photo by Dennis Schroeder, NREL
Courtesy of NREL

Mythological character Icarus’ melted wings sent him plummeting to earth when he ignored his father’s advice and flew too close to the sun. Heat was Icarus’ undoing. Today’s real-world electric-drive vehicles (EDVs) also require diligent attention to temperature. The battery, power electronic system, electric motor operating temperatures, and climate control all factor into an EDV’s performance, range, lifespan, affordability, and—most  importantly—driver acceptance.

Last year, U.S consumers drove more than 487,000 EDVs (hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and all-electric vehicles) off dealers’ lots. But most of these vehicles still can’t match the price, driving range, and refueling speed Americans have come to expect from gas-powered automobiles. Issues with thermal management cause some of these limitations.

At the same time, as the U.S. auto industry grapples to meet ambitious new government fuel economy regulations, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the cross-agency EV Everywhere Grand Challenge initiative have set goals for EDVs that more  than double driving range, cut battery and electric drive system costs by 75%, and use less energy to achieve the same level of climate control.

Heavy-duty vehicles account for 26% of national transportation sector petroleum consumption. Manufacturers and operators alike are looking to new thermal management strategies to cut fuel use, lower costs, and meet regulatory requirements.

Experts at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) are working closely with industry partners to address these thermal management challenges, spark greater consumer interest in EDVs, and put more fuel-efficient trucks on the road. Their research focuses on dramatically increasing energy efficiency, improving reliability, and decreasing emissions and cost, while maximizing vehicles’ appeal to consumers.

“We can only meet new fuel-economy standards of 54.5 mpg by 2025 if we use a wide range of strategies, including broader deployment of electric vehicles,” says Chris Gearhart, director of NREL’s Transportation and Hydrogen Systems Center. “And we’ll only be able to get drivers in those cars if we solve the temperature puzzle.”

Batteries: Longer Range at a Lower Cost

NREL researchers use thermal imaging to evaluate thermal properties of a lithium-ion battery pack.  Photo by Dennis Schroeder, NREL Courtesy of NREL

NREL researchers use thermal imaging to evaluate thermal properties of a lithium-ion battery pack.
Photo by Dennis Schroeder, NREL
Courtesy of NREL

Often the most expensive of EDV components, batteries need to be affordable, high-performing, and long-lasting to make these vehicles attractive to more consumers. According to EV Everywhere, if EDVs are to gain market share, batteries will have to cost less by a factor of 4 but take drivers twice the distance on a single charge. Understanding thermal characteristics is crucial to meeting these goals.

NREL, as a recognized leader in battery thermal management research and development (R&D), evaluates battery cells, modules, and packs. The lab’s thermal behavior, capacity, conductivity, lifespan, and overall performance assessments factor in the impacts of full-system integration.

“The industry, with support of NREL and DOE, has made incredible progress—10 years ago these batteries were almost triple the cost and three times the size, but could only move a car half the distance,” says NREL Energy Storage (ES) Group Manager Ahmad Pesaran. “That said, we still have a long way to go.”

The laboratory’s tests for the U.S. Advanced Battery Consortium show that optimized thermal management can increase battery power by more than 20%. Without proper thermal management, an EDV battery that can last almost 15 years in a temperate climate, like in Minnesota, lasts only seven years in a hot climate, such as in Arizona. In extreme instances, battery overheating can lead to issues such as those that have plagued the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, resulting in fire and, in rare cases, explosion of the battery material.

NREL’s breakthrough research is focused on reducing thermal resistance of components to achieve more uniform temperatures. NREL uses its R&D 100 Award-winning Isothermal Battery Calorimeters, the only instruments in the world capable of such precise thermal measurements, for much of this research. NREL is also working with industry to develop computer-aided engineering software tools to optimize thermal management of batteries.

Power Electronics and Motors: Reduced Size, Weight, and Cost

Researcher Sreekant Narumanchi examines the performance of a cooling loop in NREL's Advanced Power Electronics Lab.  Photo by Dennis Schroeder, NREL Courtesy of NREL

Researcher Sreekant Narumanchi examines the performance of a cooling loop in NREL’s Advanced Power Electronics Lab.
Photo by Dennis Schroeder, NREL
Courtesy of NREL

Power electronics, which run a wide range of systems in conventional automobiles, are essential to EDV performance. Unfortunately, technology has yet to meet the demands of a mass-market audience.

Dramatic advances in power electronics and electric motors (PEEM) will be required to meet the EV Everywhere initiative’s affordability and performance targets. Boosting electric-drive system efficiency, while reducing cost by 75%, and size and weight by more than 35%, will rely heavily on improved thermal management.

In EDVs, power electronics control the flow of electricity between the battery, the motor, and other powertrain components. The PEEM team improves thermal performance of components and systems through modeling, testing, and analysis. This leads to cooling systems and packaging materials that meet energy efficiency, performance, and reliability targets.

“Some of this technology has already been applied to commercially available components,” says Advanced Power Electronics and Electric Motors Task Lead Sreekant Narumanchi. “We continue to work with partners in helping make PEEM components lighter, smaller, and less expensive, eventually helping make EDVs more competitive in the marketplace.”

Climate Control: Improved Range and Thermal Comfort

A vehicle undergoes thermal testing on NREL's VTIF test pad.  Photo by Dennis Schroeder, NREL Courtesy of NREL

A vehicle undergoes thermal testing on NREL’s VTIF test pad.
Photo by Dennis Schroeder, NREL
Courtesy of NREL

Climate control systems such as air conditioners and heaters make both conventional vehicles and EDVs more comfortable. At the same time, electrical energy consumed for climate control can significantly reduce EDV range—in some cases by as much as 68%.

Conventional vehicles heat cabins with engine waste heat, but EDVs do not have an engine, which presents climate control challenges for automobile manufacturers. Using the battery for cabin heating takes valuable energy away from propulsion.

By improving thermal management, NREL researchers believe they can increase EDV range by 10% during operation of the climate control system. In collaboration with the automotive industry, the lab is exploring thermal load reduction technologies and improving efficiency while maintaining the thermal comfort that drivers expect. Strategies include:

  • Zone-based cabin temperature controls
  • Advanced heating and air conditioning controls
  • Seat-based climate control
  • Thermal load reduction
  • Thermal preconditioning.

“The impact of climate control on an electric vehicle can be significant depending on the temperature and driving conditions,” says John Rugh, task leader for Vehicle Thermal Management. “Our work with industry partners aims to minimize energy for climate control so the battery can be used to power the wheels.”

Integrated Thermal Management: Closing the Loop

NREL's Vehicle Testing and Integration Facility test pad features an on-site weather station to provide accurate data on local meteorological conditions.  Photo by Dennis Schroeder, NREL Courtesy of NREL

NREL’s Vehicle Testing and Integration Facility test pad features an on-site weather station to provide accurate data on local meteorological conditions.
Photo by Dennis Schroeder, NREL
Courtesy of NREL

By working to reduce the cost and increase the efficiency of EDV cooling systems, NREL is helping the automotive industry move closer toward the goals of extending battery life and driving range between charges, while improving safety, reliability, and comfort.

Vehicles with internal combustion engines use radiators and oil coolers to remove heat from the engine and transmission. EDVs, however, require more complicated systems to meet the additional thermal demands of power electronics and energy storage systems.

Using thermal testing and analysis, NREL is evaluating the potential benefits of combining the PEEM and ES cooling loops with the engine cooling and passenger compartment climate control systems. Reducing the number of cooling systems and related components can translate into lower component and maintenance costs, less weight, reduced aerodynamic drag, and ultimately better fuel economy and range.

NREL’s thermal model of a compact-sized EDV has reduced total vehicle thermal management power consumption by combining cooling loops and using waste heat from PEEM components. Combined cooling loops use refrigerant-to-liquid heat exchangers, creating a more efficient system with improved heat transfer, as well as providing liquid to cool PEEM and ES systems.

Heavy-Duty Vehicles: Decreased Energy Loads

Truck cab models drawn from CAD geometry using CoolCalc (left and center), and a model with overlay of computational fluid dynamics flow (right) indicate areas of heat absorption and loss.  Illustrations by Jason Lustbader, Matt Jeffers, and Larry Chaney, NREL Courtesy of NREL

Truck cab models drawn from CAD geometry using CoolCalc (left and center), and a model with overlay of computational fluid dynamics flow (right) indicate areas of heat absorption and loss.
Illustrations by Jason Lustbader, Matt Jeffers, and Larry Chaney, NREL
Courtesy of NREL

Light-duty EDVs are not the only vehicles that can benefit from improved thermal management. According to an Argonne National Laboratory report, each year in the United States, long-haul trucks consume approximately 838 million gallons of diesel fuel for rest-period idling, much of which is used for heating and air conditioning. DOE’s SuperTruck program has set a goal to improve heavy-duty vehicle fuel economy 50% by 2015, and addressing thermal management and climate control loads will be essential in achieving this. Working closely with industry partners, NREL’s CoolCab program has shown that improved cab thermal management can reduce climate control loads and associated costs. This could cut fuel consumption, emissions, and operating costs.

“If we can demonstrate a three-year or better payback period with relatively low risk on these technology investments, truck operators will be economically motivated to adopt the technologies,” says Jason Lustbader, CoolCab task leader. “Our goal is to bring down climate control loads by at least 30%.”

Using truck cabs located on the Vehicle Testing and Integration Facility (VTIF) test pad, researchers investigate a wide variety of cabin thermal management technologies. Engineers quantify the impacts of different materials and equipment—films, paints, radiant barriers, and idle reduction technologies—on climate control loads.

As anyone who has been in a car on a sunny day can attest, dark paint colors absorb heat. The large painted surfaces of heavy-duty trucks further increase this effect. NREL researchers measured a 20% decrease in daily electrical air-conditioning system energy consumption after switching a truck’s color from black to white.  Engineers are also investigating advanced paints that look like darker colors, but thermally behave like lighter colors, giving truck fleets greater flexibility in selecting paint colors without sacrificing efficiency. Insulation is a factor as well. NREL tests have shown a 34% reduction in truck sleeper climate control loads using advanced methods of insulation.

Researchers and outside partners use NREL’s CoolCalc and CoolSim modeling tools to simulate energy used for climate control in truck cabs and calculate the potential benefits of thermal load reduction options in a range of use and weather scenarios. The tools make it possible to rapidly evaluate the impact of factors such as insulation thickness, material properties, and geometries on climate control loads over the wide range of weather conditions experienced in real-world operation and identify the most promising solutions.

Turning Widespread EDV Adoption from Myth into Reality

NREL researchers are working to turn widespread adoption of energy-efficient vehicles from a myth into reality. Improving thermal management will result in the enhanced performance and reduced costs needed to motivate more drivers and operators to adopt EDVs and energy-efficient trucks. And that is likely to lead to a happy ending for consumers, the economy, and the environment.

This article is a repost, credit: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Anya Breitenbach,

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by EV News

Electric Car Conversion Picking Up Converts

May 21, 2013 in Electric Vehicles, EV enthusiast, EV News

(SBWIRE) — 05/21/2013 — Creators of the consumer guide “Electric Car Conversion Made Easy” have announced trends in the technology are making it simpler than ever for motorists to make the environmentally [sic] and financially cheaper move to using electric power for their vehicles. According to the site, which provides a promotional summary of the course, purchasing a factory built electric car is no longer necessary (as well as being too expensive for most consumers), whereas efficient conversion techniques have now made it easy for almost anyone interested in doing so to quickly replace their car’s traditional gas powered system with an electrical one.

Besides ease and cost issues involved in electric car conversion, one of the main sticking points to making the electrical vehicle (or EV) more assessable to the mass public has been improving the typical driving range and recharge time specifications. “The uninitiated believe all cars must replicate the 300-plus mile range and 10 minute refueling times of gasoline cars,” according to EV industry observer David Herron. “EV owners can explain the difference between perceived needs and real needs. In reality, the 70 to 80 mile range of an electric car is enough for all but the longest road trips.” reports that developments in the battery technology at the heart of an electrical conversion has advanced to the point where well above average daily mile ranges can be achieved for most vehicles following electric car conversion. The site also reports details on large number of additional time-saving and cost-cutting measures that make the conversion an increasingly attractive option for motorists. The courses supplemented by additional bonus tutorials and videos that explain DIY concepts involved in converting to electric, including how to source by install the best lithium-based batteries to extend the EV’s range.

About website provides testimonials from many enthusiastic supporters who have benefited from completing electric car conversion. These consumers confirm that the technology is gaining more converts, due to the breakthroughs in easing the conversion process that have eliminated the traditional barriers to making the transition to EV technology. also expects movement towards electric to accelerate as more people become environmentally conscious, or as gas prices potentially explode over an extended period due to economical or geopolitical factors. The site’s EV course also covers a number of tax credits and rebates available for interested consumers that will additionally reduce the cost of the conversion.

Electric Car Conversion Made Easy is available at

This article is a repost, credit: Gavin Shoebridge,,