Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Obama Administration and Car Batteries

Lithium-ion battery pack in CalCars'
EnergyCS/EDrive converted Prius
The Obama administration's Energy Department (DOE) has been soliciting applications for $2.4 billion in funding aimed at turning the U.S. into a battery-manufacturing leader. DOE received 165 applications. Some of the companies and states: General Motors, Dow Chemical, Johnson Controls, A123 Systems, Ener1, Michigan, Kentucky, Indiana and Massachusetts.

A 2008 study by researchers at Alliance Bernstein forecast the current $9 billion-a-year auto-battery market, based on lead-acid batteries, could reach more than $150 billion by 2030.
The companies and state governments are proposing sites for plants that will make lithium-ion batteries, the technology that has emerged as the leading choice to power future electric cars. The world-wide market for these types of power cells is now dominated by Sony, Panasonic and Toyota. Car makers currently use another technology -- nickel-metal-hydride batteries -- in hybrid vehicles such as the Toyota Prius because they aren't as prone to fire as lithium-ion batteries are. Lithium-ion batteries are lighter and more powerful than lead or nickel-metal hydride batteries.

Massachusetts has a chance of landing federal funding because it has several in-state battery makers such as Boston Power Company. (WSJ, 5/26/09)

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