What does "Nanophosphate EXT" sound like to you? If you're David Vieau, the CEO of A123 Systems, releasing a PR statement, it's "a game-changing breakthrough that overcomes one of the key limitations of lead acid, standard lithium ion and other advanced batteries." If you're Vieau talking to the New York Times, it's "a hedge against the market for electric vehicles."

A123 has had its ups and down recently, losing its main line of credit but also hiring 400 in Michigan. Yesterday's announcement that the company's Nanophosphate EXT, a better lithium-ion technology, can handle "extreme temperatures without requiring thermal management" sure seems like a boon for electric vehicles. A123 supplies the cells for the Fisker Karma and the upcoming all-electric version of the Chevrolet Spark but, as Vieau told the Times, the reality is that plug-in vehicle demand has "been softer than we and everyone else expected."

That's why Nanophosphate EXT is being billed as a solution for electric vehicles as well as the telecommunication industry, specifically, in "cell tower sites built off-grid or in regions with unstable power." A123 is not giving up on EVs, of course, suggesting in a release that Nanophosphate EXT technology could find its way into "electric and micro hybrid commercial and passenger vehicles." The most interesting potential here would allow "automakers to significantly reduce or completely eliminate active cooling systems in electric vehicle battery packs." A123 says it will start making batteries that use Nanophosphate EXT technology in volume in the first half of 2013. You can find more information from A123 here.
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A123 Systems Introduces Breakthrough Lithium Ion Battery Technology That Optimizes Performance in Extreme Temperatures

New Nanophosphate EXT(TM) Enables Game-Changing Performance at Extreme High and Low Temperatures for Transportation, Telecommunications and Other Applications


WALTHAM, Mass., June 12, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- A123 Systems (Nasdaq:AONE), a developer and manufacturer of advanced Nanophosphate(R) lithium iron phosphate batteries and systems, today introduced Nanophosphate EXT(TM), a new lithium ion battery technology capable of operating at extreme temperatures without requiring thermal management. Nanophosphate EXT is designed to significantly reduce or eliminate the need for heating or cooling systems, which is expected to create sizeable new opportunities within the transportation and telecommunications markets, among others.

"We believe Nanophosphate EXT is a game-changing breakthrough that overcomes one of the key limitations of lead acid, standard lithium ion and other advanced batteries. By delivering high power, energy and cycle life capabilities over a wider temperature range, we believe Nanophosphate EXT can reduce or even eliminate the need for costly thermal management systems, which we expect will dramatically enhance the business case for deploying A123's lithium ion battery solutions for a significant number of applications," said David Vieau, CEO of A123 Systems. "We continue to emphasize innovation with a commercial purpose, and we expect Nanophosphate EXT to strengthen our competitive position in existing target markets as well as create new opportunities for applications that previously were not possible to cost-effectively serve with lithium ion batteries."

Unlike lead acid or other advanced battery technologies, Nanophosphate EXT is designed to maintain long cycle life at extreme high temperatures and deliver high power at extreme low temperatures. According to the testing performed to date at the Ohio State University's Center for Automotive Research (CAR) and the very low observed rate of aging, cells built with A123's Nanophosphate EXT are expected to be capable of retaining more than 90 percent of initial capacity after 2,000 full charge-discharge cycles at 45 degrees Celsius. CAR has also starting testing the cold temperature performance of Nanophosphate EXT, which A123 expects will deliver a 20 percent increase in power at temperatures as low as minus 30 degrees Celsius.

"Based on our analysis, the performance of A123's new Nanophosphate EXT at high temperatures is unlike anything we've ever seen from lead acid, lithium ion or any other battery technology," said Dr. Yann Guezennec, senior fellow at CAR and professor of mechanical engineering at the Ohio State University. "Nanophosphate EXT maintains impressive cycle life even at extreme high temperatures without sacrificing storage or energy capabilities, especially as compared with the competitive leading lithium ion technology that we used on our head-to-head testing. If our testing also validates the low-temperature power capabilities that A123's data is showing, we believe Nanophosphate EXT could be a game-changing battery breakthrough for the electrification of transportation, including the emerging micro hybrid vehicle segment."

Nanophosphate EXT is based on A123's proprietary lithium iron phosphate battery technology, which offers high power, long cycle life, increased usable energy and excellent safety as compared to other available battery technologies. Nanophosphate EXT is designed to extend these capabilities over a wider temperature range, enabling customers to deploy more advanced solutions that increase performance in applications that frequently experience battery cycling at extreme temperatures. Because Nanophosphate EXT is designed to reduce or eliminate the need for costly thermal management, it is expected to deliver these performance advantages while also increasing reliability, minimizing complexity and reducing total cost of ownership (TCO) over the life of the battery system for a number of applications, including those within the transportation and telecommunications industries.

-- Transportation--Nanophosphate EXT is designed to augment the performance advantages of A123's solutions for electric and micro hybrid commercial and passenger vehicles. By enabling increased power at low temperatures, Nanophosphate EXT is expected to substantially improve the cold-cranking capabilities of A123's lithium ion 12V Engine Start battery. This would eliminate what has historically been the only performance advantage of lead acid in starter battery applications, and is expected to considerably increase the value proposition of A123's Engine Start battery as a lighter-weight, longer-lasting alternative to absorbent glass mat (AGM) and other lead acid batteries. This is expected to reduce TCO for micro hybrid applications, which represents a growing subset of the global electric vehicle market--According to Lux Research, the worldwide market for micro hybrids is projected to reach more than 39 million vehicles in 2017, creating a $6.9 billion market for energy storage devices.

In addition, Nanophosphate EXT is expected to enable automakers to significantly reduce or completely eliminate active cooling systems in electric vehicle battery packs. A123 expects this to lower cost, reduce weight and improve reliability, providing automakers with a cost-effective solution that A123 believes will increases efficiency and minimize system complexity without sacrificing vehicle performance, battery life or driving range. Strategy consultancy Roland Berger forecasts that the global automotive lithium ion battery market will reach more than $9 billion by 2015.

-- Telecommunications--Nanophosphate EXT supplements the advantages of A123's lithium ion battery solutions for telecommunications backup, which are designed to replace the lead acid batteries deployed at new and existing global cell tower sites built off-grid or in regions with unstable power. These sites typically require diesel generators to support the batteries, and due to the lengthy charge time necessary for lead acid batteries, the generators are often forced to operate for extended periods. In contrast, A123's solutions charge about six times more quickly than lead acid, which significantly reduces generator run time and lowers fuel costs by 30 percent or more. At cell towers in extreme temperature environments, Nanophosphate EXT further reduces operating and maintenance costs by minimizing or eliminating the need for air conditioning or heating. In higher-temperature climates, for example, the cost of installing and running the air conditioning necessary to properly cool the lead acid batteries can represent up to 50 percent of the total power consumed at each cell tower site. A123 believes that Nanophosphate EXT has the potential to significantly expand the global addressable market for its telecommunications backup solutions to more than $1.2 billion by 2016.

"From the introduction of our breakthrough Nanophosphate battery chemistry to our envelope-pushing work developing ultra high power batteries for Formula One racing to our introduction of megawatt-scale grid energy storage systems, A123 has been at the forefront of battery and energy storage innovation. Today we announce another milestone, and believe Nanophosphate EXT to be a significant breakthrough," said Dr. Yet-Ming Chiang, co-founder of A123 and professor of materials science and engineering at MIT. "Lithium ion has always had a number of significant advantages over lead acid and other advanced battery technology, but its performance limitations at extreme high and extreme low temperatures have prevented it from addressing a number of important applications. Nanophosphate EXT changes this dynamic, and highlights why we believe continued lithium ion battery R&D is critical for discovering next-generation breakthroughs that can fundamentally change how the world uses energy storage."

Availability

A123's Nanophosphate EXT technology is scheduled to enter volume production in A123's 20Ah prismatic cells during the first half of 2013. A123 is also evaluating plans to potentially offer Nanophosphate EXT across its complete portfolio of cell products. For more information, please visit www.a123systems.com.

About A123 Systems

A123 Systems, Inc. (Nasdaq:AONE) is a leading developer and manufacturer of advanced lithium-ion batteries and energy storage systems for transportation, electric grid and commercial applications. The company's proprietary Nanophosphate(R) lithium iron phosphate technology is built on novel nanoscale materials initially developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is designed to deliver high power and energy density, increased safety and extended life. A123 leverages breakthrough technology, high-quality manufacturing and expert systems integration capabilities to deliver innovative solutions that enable customers to bring next-generation products to market. For additional information please visit www.a123systems.com.

The A123 Systems, Inc. logo is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=6600

Safe Harbor Disclosure

This press release includes forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 that are subject to risks, uncertainties and other factors including statements with respect to the anticipated features, performance characteristics, capabilities, benefits and technical advantages over existing technologies of Nanophosphate EXT generally and in each of A123's target markets, the expected new opportunities created by Nanophosphate EXT generally and in A123's target markets , the expected potential for Nanophosphate EXT to strengthen A123's competitive position, increase reliability, minimize system complexity and reduce costs, the results from third party testing conducted on Nanophosphate EXT and the related expectations for Nanophosphate EXT's current and future performance based on such testing, the performance characteristics of A123's core Nanophosphate technology, the ability for Nanophosphate EXT to provide significant advantages in commercial use and to significantly expand certain global addressable markets , the expected availability and volume production of Nanophosphate EXT in A123's cell products and the potential demand for cell products using Nanophosphate EXT. Among the factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those indicated by such forward-looking statements are: delays in the development, testing, production, commercialization, availability and delivery of Nanophosphate EXT and the products in which it is utilized, delays in the scale-up, revalidation and increased efficiency of A123's manufacturing capacity, delays in A123's manufacturing ramp, the potential for manufacturing defects, delays in customer and market demand for and adoption of Nanophosphate EXT , failure of Nanophosphate EXT to achieve its expected performance, capabilities, benefits, cost reductions and technical advantages, adverse economic conditions in general and adverse economic conditions specifically affecting the markets and geographies in which A123 operates, , and other risks detailed in A123 Systems' quarterly report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended March 31, 2012 and other publicly available filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. All forward-looking statements reflect A123's expectations only as of the date of this release and should not be relied upon as reflecting A123's views, expectations or beliefs at any date subsequent to the date of this release.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 34 Comments
      Joeviocoe
      • 2 Years Ago
      @31:00 http://www.teslamotors.com/2012shareholdermeeting "The are few industries with more B.S. than the battery industry" -Elon Musk
        brotherkenny4
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Joeviocoe
        Yes, true, but Elon and tesla are still using cobalt oxide. Which suggests that they don't have anyone who can cut through the bull for them and find the real technology. It's really going to limit their ability to get price down. If they can survive as a luxury maker then fine, but your not going to mass produce with cobalt oxide.
          Electron
          • 2 Years Ago
          @brotherkenny4
          Lithium cobalt was used in the Roadster but Tesla is using Panasonic's Lithium nickel chemistry these days: http://www.greencarcongress.com/2009/12/panasonic-20091225.html
          2 Wheeled Menace
          • 2 Years Ago
          @brotherkenny4
          Actually lithium cobalt is awesome. No other chemistry currently has such a high energy density. This means that Tesla's packs are significantly lower in weight/size per kilowatt hour than their competition. The cost per kilowatt hour is also rather low when purchased in high quantity. There are many advantages to the Tesla pack. Their approach makes total sense.
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Joeviocoe
        Extremely true.
        Rotation
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Joeviocoe
        Totally true. If you applied 1/10th of the purported improvements to batteries over the last 3 years, you'd have a battery that was so energy dense you'd just buy it charged up and never have to recharge it for the life of the car.
      brotherkenny4
      • 2 Years Ago
      I think that the warm temperature performance of LiFePO4 was always relatively good. The improvement to low temperature may be more important since it allows them into the starter battery and stop/start apps. which could be a very good transitional market for them. It's a very simple low cost thing (relatively speaking) to replace a heavy lead acid battery with a lithium ion battery that is lighter (saving fuel) and that lasts longer than four years. You might save only $40 buck a year, but that goes on for many years.
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 2 Years Ago
      all else being equal I'd agree that high temperature stability would be a significant bonus because cars wouldn't even need cooling for desert areas. that makes for elegant engineering. but it's a rather moot point seeing as bankruptcy for A123 is imminent. although it could matter for some automaker buying the brand afterwards
        Spec
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        A123 is not facing imminent bankruptcy. They still have much of the DoE loan to draw on and they may do better with this new technology, when the GM Spark ships, when additional deals are made, when they ship all those batteries to Maui, etc.
        Anne
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        And even if they go bankrupt, their intellectual property will not be lost. If there is merit in this technology, someone else will produce the batteries.
        Ele Truk
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        Also helps if you don't have to worry about cooking the battery when fast charging.
      Dave
      • 2 Years Ago
      Am I reading this right? Their battery loses 7% of its storage capacity after 1700 cycles. And the competition loses at least 25% capacity in the same time. 1700 cycles / 365 days ~ 4.65 years (I realize this is highly simplified ignoring regen braking and partial discharge)
        Rotation
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Dave
        You don't usually use the entire capacity of your battery on a cycle. If you have a 100mi car and you drive 50mi and recharge, you only used half a cycle. A123 doesn't specify how partial cycles work, but you can just approximate them by assuming a half cycle counts for half a cycle. So if you drive half as far, you'll lose capacity only about half as fast. Loss of capacity over time is real, and if you're going to have it, at least this one loses less than others do.
          DaveMart
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Rotation
          JakeY: In every performance graph I have seen half charges, especially if they are within the 'sweet spot' of 20-80% full, are way less stressful and age the battery much slower than full 100% DOD's, just like slower charging as against fast. This should be resistant to fast charging, as the battery heating up is one of the big problems with that. I would expect part charges to average maybe half the battery aging as a full cherge.
          Ford Future
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Rotation
          I believe half cycles simply don't count, have no effect.
          JakeY
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Rotation
          @Ford Future Half cycles definitely still count. Roughly 2 half cycles ~= to 1 full cycle, but in reality 2 half cycles is slightly less stressful than 1 full cycle (also depends on where the cycle is in term of SOC).
        Spec
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Dave
        Yeah, their testing is significantly more brutal that typical daily EV usage: "cells built with A123's Nanophosphate EXT are expected to be capable of retaining more than 90 percent of initial capacity after 2,000 full charge-discharge cycles at 45 degrees Celsius." Such repeated full to empty discharges at 45 degrees is pretty tough on the batteries.
        Joeviocoe
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Dave
        Dave, sounds about right. 1/2 of a cycle per day is about as much as anyone will use it. So multiply x 2. Over 9 years and about 25% capacity loss. (ignoring compounding). * 35 miles per day for 365 days = 12,775 miles per year (average for passenger cars in America) * 36 miles is about 1/2 of a full Nissan Leaf cycle Fits with what most automakers have been saying.
        DaveMart
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Dave
        That is at a temperature of 45C IOW in really hot desert places.
        JakeY
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Dave
        At 45C it's excellent performance. The Spark will have 20kWh A123 cells (20kWh gives about 70 miles EPA range), so 1700 cycles * 70 miles/cycle = 119,000 miles. However, I don't think the cycle life is a huge issue if you have a big enough pack. $/kWh, L/kWh, kg/kWh still matters. Your calculation about years is irrelevant given people don't charge their cars from empty to full every single day.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Dave
        1700 cycles is 255.000km in the nissan leaf.....and after all this km, and all this years (12?) your battery is 93% healthy.....i wish i could get old so well...
        Spec
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Dave
        You can't really tell w/o knowing the exact testing regime. These may be deep discharges that go from 100% full to near 0%.
          DaveMart
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Spec
          Uh? Above the graph it specifies 100% DOD! This is the most brutal testing regime imaginable, other than the relatively mild charge rate of 1C.
      Dave R
      • 2 Years Ago
      The real breakthrough here isn't the cycle durability, but the cycle durable under high-heat. For example, GM works to keep the Volt's batteries down around 72F if SOC is over 75%. That's a big difference from 45C / 113F. In cooler temperatures, battery life will be even better.
        Matte
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Dave R
        actually no: atleast to my knowledge, most lithium batteries prefer (power-wise) temperature around 40'C - warm enough for the chemical reactions to be as fast as possible without risk of overheating - so cycle tests at ~40'C is a cake walk - look up any graph showing capacity vs temperature during discharge and charge. Now, if you lower the temperature you CALENDAR-life improves (within limits ofc), but not your cycle life. thumb rule: # when using you (Lithium) Battery Electric (Rasor/Lawn mower/Car/Laptop/Cell phone/...) you will get best performance between 20 and 40-somthing 'C # when NOT using your battery electric-whatever, you should let it sit cooler: 0-20'C
          Ele Truk
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Matte
          The A123 cells they run in Killacycle run optimum at 70C, they like to get them good and hot to get the best power output.
          Matte
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Matte
          also; the reason to control temperature while charging is that IF you charge to full while at 40'C - you will actually put the battery in a higher State of Charge than if you did the same at 20'C, e.g. you overcharge it without ever realizing that you do!
      Chris
      • 2 Years Ago
      so yet another break through , everyone seems to have a break through coming...when will they all be in production.?
      Ugo Sugo
      • 2 Years Ago
      game-changing would be substantially longer energy density and/or much shorter charging time. Maybe, improvement would be a more appropriate word
      Dave
      • 2 Years Ago
      It looks like A123 has learned a lesson- They are building a product that can serve the telecom industry and hybrid vehicle market as well as the BEV market.
      Rob Mahrt
      • 2 Years Ago
      Reading through the comments, are we missing something here? Don't most battery management systems limit the Depth of Discharge to about 80% because of the strain full discharges place on batteries making them useless much more quickly... Isn't this saying that if you use these batteries, a Leaf (24 kWh) would be able to use the entire pack if needed, extending its range by 20%, without doing long term harm to the pack?
        Anne
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Rob Mahrt
        The range of the LEAF is based on 100% charging. The advise is to charge to only 80% when possible. A Tesla charges to 80% by default unless you press the 'max range' button.
      Spec
      • 2 Years Ago
      A123 says the new battery can handle "extreme temperatures without requiring thermal management" . . . well that ought to come in handy for the Karma. Hey -oooooh! ;-)
      DaveMart
      • 2 Years Ago
      They are providing decent test data, and if the cold performance matches up I am hopeful that this technology may lead to real gains. They do not seem to have provided full data yet at charge rates higher than 1C, but the cycle life at 1C is a lot better than most others outside of lithium titanate.
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