A123 Systems has just earned yet another development contract for developing lithium ion cells for plug-in hybrid applications. The US Advanced Battery Consortium and the Department of Energy have awarded a $12.5 million, 36 month contract to A123. The company has already been working on several automotive plug-in hybrid battery applications including the Saturn Vue PHEV and the Chevy Volt. A123 also purchased Hymotion last year, a company that has been developing plug-in conversion kits for existing hybrids. The first retail Hymotion kit using A123 cells is due to be available this summer for the Prius.
The USABC contract calls for A123 to focus on improving the energy density of cells for plug-in applications. The A123 battery chemistry is of interest to automakers because of its inherent stability compared to the lithium metal oxide chemistry used for consumer electronics batteries. However, the more stable chemistry from A123 has lower energy density. The goal is to improve that characteristic for so-called charge depleting applications that are designed to run longer on electricity alone. The three-year program will also try to reduce cost, improve durability and make the cells more resistant to abuse.

[Source: US Advanced Battery Consortium]

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