So, what is so great about these batteries anyway? Well here are the “Pros” for Lithium & Lead Acid so you will understand where all this is going.

Is Lithium the new “Holy Grail” in Battery development?

Don Harmon - LiFeBATT

Filed Under - Energy Storage

Probably, for the next decade anyway, and here is why I say this.  First of all you should know the background and the inventor himself. As a reference you can click on this link to read the basic history of this type of battery: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithium_iron_phosphate_battery 

There are many different “flavors” of Lithium-ion batteries, but what makes LiFeP04 so popular is it’s record as being safe.  As Dr Goodenough said – “this chemistry has legs”!

So, what is so great about these batteries anyway?  Well here are the “Pros” for Lithium & Lead Acid so you will understand where all this is going.

Pro Lithium – ion Batteries:

  1. Generally 1/3 the weight of conventional Lead Acid batteries.
  2. Much Higher Energy Density
  3. Life Cycles of 6 times conventional Lead Acid batteries
  4. Mature technology – over 30 years of manufacturing in small devices such as Laptop Computers, Cell Phones, etc.  Not “emerging” this is here NOW!.
  5. Smart Battery technology incorporated including On-board diagnostics and computer controlled interface built into the Battery Pack itself.



Pro Lead Acid Batteries

  1. One Third the Cost of Lithium-ion today.  NOTE:  As factories are currently being built here in the U.S. costs are expected to drop significantly but this won’t happen for about two years.

Excerpted From John Petersen: Seeking Alpha
I'd love to tell you that things are going to get better, but they're not. We live on a planet where six billion poor live in squalor and deprivation while 500 million of us enjoy relatively comfortable lives. As long as the poor didn't know that there was more to life than mere subsistence, they neither contributed to nor demanded from the global economy.

For better or worse, the information and communications technology revolution gave half of them cell phones so the cat's out of the bag and the existence of a better life is no longer a secret. For the first time in history, we live in a world where more than half of the population knows that a better life exists and they all want a small slice of the economic pie. Human nature being what it is their first natural response will be to work harder and compete for a place at the global economic table. If that doesn't work, their second natural response is likely to be far less pleasant.

The challenge of our age is not changing our carbon footprint because every ton of coal we don't burn in developed countries will be burned somewhere else. The same holds true for oil and natural gas. The inconvenient truth is that global consumption of these energy resources will continue apace no matter what we do and if anthropogenic global warming is more than the latest in a long-string of frightening but profitable alarmist theories, it's already too late to change the future and humanity will have to do what it's done since the dawn of time – adapt.

Last week I described Cleantech as "an ethical system based on the responsible application of technology to optimize the use of natural resources and increase the well-being of the six billion people that live on this planet." It all boils down to using every available resource for its highest and best purpose; and that's where storage becomes a critical enabling technology. It can reduce waste in transportation by capturing braking energy for immediate reuse. It can reduce waste in wind and solar power by smoothing out inherent variability. It can reduce waste in the power grid by smoothing out load fluctuations and potentially shifting power from when it's produced to when it's needed. In short, storage is the beating heart of Cleantech and an investment mega-trend that will probably outlive us all. Storage is not, however, a silver bullet that can solve all of humanity's problems.  http://seekingalpha.com/author/john-petersen/articles

Thanks, John – I couldn’t say it any better and I happen to agree here.  Back to the title of this article and why I believe Lithium will be the next stable platform for rechargeable batteries for at least the next decade:

  1. It is already here now.  The Lithium Battery technology is almost 30 years old now and has proven that it works in small electronic devices like laptops & cell phones.  Scientists are working around the world to better this technology and you can read reports weekly of new theories to improve Lithium – ion batteries.
  2. Recently scientists have successfully scaled this technology up to where it can be used now in Electric Vehicles, Solar & Wind systems, and Smart Grid Back-Up Systems.
  3. Lithium is abundant in the Earth’s crust and can be extracted eventually from sea water.


Different Battery Chemistries

To be fair LiFeP04 (the chemistry we specialize in) is not the only choice – so I have included this chart from Wikipedia that shows a comparison of all the choices we have today:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rechargeable_battery

Table of rechargeable battery technologies:

Type

Voltagea

Energy densityb

Powerc

Effi.d

E/$e

Disch.f

Cyclesg

Lifeh

(V)

(MJ/kg)

(Wh/kg)

(Wh/L)

(W/kg)

(%)

(Wh/$)

(%/month)

(#)

(years)

Lead-acid

2.1

0.11-0.14

30-40

60-75

180

70%-92%

5-8

3%-4%

500-800

5-8 (car battery), 20 (stationary)

VRLAi

2.105

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alkaline

1.5

0.31

85

250

50

99.9%

7.7

<0.3

100-1000

<5

Ni-iron

1.2

0.18

50

 

100

65%

5-7.3[4]

20%-40%

 

50+

Ni-cadmium

1.2

0.14-0.22

40-60

50-150

150

70%-90%

 

20%

1500

 

NIH2

1.5

 

75

 

 

 

 

 

20.000

15+

NiMH

1.2

0.11-0.29

30-80

140-300

250-1000

66%

1.37

20%

1000

 

Ni-zinc

1.7

0.22

60

170

900

 

2-3.3

 

100-500

 

Li ion

3.6

0.58

160

270

1800

99.9%

2.8-5[5]

5%-10%

1200

2-3

Li polymer

3.7

0.47-0.72

130-200

300

3000+

99.8%

2.8-5.0

 

500~1000

2-3

LiFePO4

3.25

 

80-120

170 [6]

1400

 

0.7-3.0

 

2000+[7]

 

Li sulfur[8]

2.0

0.94-1.44[9]

400[10]

350

 

 

 

 

~100

 

Li titanate

2.3

 

90

 

4000+

87-95%r

0.5-1.0[11]

 

9000+

20+

Thin film Li

 ?

 

 

350

959

 ?

 ?p[12]

 

40000

 

ZnBr

 

 

75-85

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

V redox

1.15-1.55

 

25-35[13]

 

 

80%[14]

 

20%[14]

14,000[15]

10(stationary)[14]

NaS

 

 

150

 

 

89%-92%

 

 

 

 

Molten salt

 

 

70-110[16]

 

150-220

 

4.54[17]

 

3000+

8+

Silver zinc (Ag-zinc)

1.86

 

130

240

 

 

 

 

 

 


I hope readers find this article interesting and I look forward to any comments that you post.  I will try to become a regular contributor and share my knowledge on Cleantech to the best of my ability in the future.

Don Harmon is CEO of LiFeBATT, Inc.
A small start-up Battery Developer in the advanced LiFeP04 (Lithium Iron Phosphate) sector.  LiFeBATT is located in Danville, Virginia with Cell manufacture in Taiwan. 
http://www.lifebatt.com/

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