More on CSIRO's UltraBattery
Date: Thursday, June 12, 2008 @ 23:11:11 GMT

Geoff Stafford writes: Hello ZPE,

CSIRO in Australia have developed & tested what they call an UltraBattery and attached is non confidential information about this battery.

I have no connection with CSIRO & I have no vested interest in the product... other than wanting to see electric technology applied to vehicles ASAP for the good of us all, and to give an Aussie development a look in on the world stage.

I thought you might like to know of this ..the person to contact is listed at the end of the powerpoint presentation.

I enjoy your website and look forward to some company putting in a vehicle, a magnetic power device like the one developed by the bloke from Bangladesh featured in in your latest (earlier) article .

Yours Sincerely
Geoff Stafford

[Thank you Geoff; we have featured CSIRO and the UltraBattery in January this year:
I have added the Powerpoint presentation to the Downloads section - Vlad]

Here, below, is the text of the presentation (download the presentation from our Downloads section).

This presentation describes three projects

Safe, High-Performance Lithium-Metal Batteries

CSIRO has been working on energy storage technologies for twenty years. The ECOmmodore and the aXcessaustralia cars used hybrid technology that we’ll see in future cars. The low price of oil was the main reason they didn’t reach production.

The ECOmmodore was built by GM Holden using our electric machines, energy management system and energy storage technology. It was a parallel hybrid and was the fist full-size hybrid in the world.

The aXcessaustralia car was a true series hybrid and used a water-cooled electric motor and energy management. It used the same power pack as the ECOmmodore.

One of our big claims in those cars was the energy storage and control system. The batteries stored a lot of energy; the supercapacitor pack grabbed most – almost all - of the energy from braking. The combination gave us enough power for good acceleration and enough energy to go all electric for congested conditions.

We continued to develop the battery and supercapacitor technologies.

Our breakthrough combines supercapacitor technology into a lead-acid battery. It’s being made in Japan right now, and Toyota has been testing it for future models. It’s been running in a back-to-back test in a Honda hybrid in UK and it has done 100,000 miles and never missed a beat. More about that later in this presentation.

These pictures of ACPropulsion’s t-zero are used to highlight the re-emergence of the electric vehicle – now being considered seriously by several car-makers (including Mitsubishi – MIEV, Toyota and more recently GM).

Room-temperature ionic liquids (RTILs) are a relatively new class of compounds that, amongst other things, can function well as electrolytes.

There are new component ions emerging all the time and we have a chemical modelling effort that is devoted to speeding up the discovery of ions that will lead to improved electrolyte properties. In this work we are developing a partnership with Evonik (formerly Degussa) who are branching out into making battery materials (separators, cathode materials, electrolytes)

This sequence of images was recorded with an optically transparent cell in which two lithium electrodes are separated by a relatively large volume of electrolyte (Li symmetrical cell). The cell is alternately polarized so that lithium is successively stripped then deposited at each electrode. The images show that in a conventional organic electrolyte, severe dendrite growth occurs within 100 cycles, with short-circuiting occurring before 500 cycles are completed. The right hand picture shows the effect of using ionic liquid electrolyte.

Supercapacitors are an alternative form of energy storage device to batteries that have several distinct advantages, some of which, batteries cannot come close to matching. For example:

high discharge power without any irreversible effects on the device
Seconds to recharge
A cycle life of ~one million cycles.

Whilst these feature make them ideal for short high power applications, requiring low maintenance and long life (e.g. regenerative braking, electric steering or braking (where reliability is critical), their range of applications could be greatly expanded if we could increase their energy storage capacity further.

As with a conventional capacitor, a supercapacitor consists of two parallel plates separated by a porous separator through which an electrolyte can pass. What makes them “super” is that fact that instead of using a flat metal collector, the collector is coated with a thin layer of high surface area carbon that effectively increases the surface area of the plates, (and hence their charge storing capacity) by a factor of ~1000 times.

So, instead of having capacitors that store micro- or milli- Farads of charge, we now have devices that store 100’s or 1000’s of farads of Charge (Charge store is proportional to energy)

Another type of supercapacitor is the so called asymmetric supercapacitor where one of the porous carbon electrodes is replaced with a “battery-like” electrode that contains a material that can undergo a fast, reversible redox reaction.

Due to the high charge storage capacity of the battery electrode, this arrangement effectively has twice the capacitance (and energy) of the comparable symmetric carbon system.

The selection of the “battery like” electrode material is critical as we must avoid the limitations associated with batteries (limited cycle life etc).

This energy v power plot (so called Ragone plot) puts the “typical” power/energy capabilities of selected energy storage devices into some sort of perspective. Note: the power scale here is mean power and not maximum power

This slide reports on the results from our development of a Nickel – carbon asymmetric supercapacitor.
The device highlighted in green represents a device ~90 mL in volume containing 8,500 Farads that is capable of delivering ~2.7 kWatts and still as a cycle efficiency of ~99% (that is, 99% of energy put into the device is recovered)

The advantage of the Ultrabattery battery is that it’s the cheapest technology that can operate under hybrid car conditions. It’s a big improvement over the conventional car battery, with better capacity to absorb energy quicker and more often and with a much longer life.

The Ultrabattery combines an asymmetric capacitor and a lead-acid battery in one unit cell, without extra electronic control.

We have discovered that the supercapacitor function allows the battery to accept and deliver charge more rapidly, but it also protects the lead-acid function and this in turn leads to substantial increase in durability and operation over a wider range of SOC.

These pictures show that the Ultrabattery pack was accommodated in the space for the Ni-MH pack.

The Ultrabattery meets the US Freedom Car benchmark, exceeding the targets of power, available energy, cold cranking and self discharge parameters. Cycling performance is better than the best regular lead-acid batteries and has proved to be better than the Ni-MH battery used in the Honda Insight in a durability trial over 100,000 miles. At the end oi the trial the Ultrabattery pack is still in excellent condition.

Our Japanese partner, Furukawa Battery Company, is now in production and a sub-license with a US battery maker will be signed in April.

Japanese carmakers have been testing the UB for more than a year now. Initially, the UB will probably appear in micro and mild hybrid cars, but after latest testing, carmakers will probably be trialling full and even plug-in applications. Here in Australia a local carmaker is trialling the UB in a conventional application because of its better performance and we also are engaged in an EV trial.

The UB car suffered a fuel economy penalty of 2.7% and emissions were worse by 2.9% because of the added weight penalty over Ni-MH.

The value proposition to carmakers is to accept the fuel economy penalty and save at least $1,000 or possible much more.

Toyota has now sold over a million Prius (one of them to the FS Director!) and in 2010 will make a million hybrids in one year alone. In the US, the plug-in Prius is all the rage because using electricity gives a running cost much lower than gasoline. Toyota will sell plug-in hybrids – we guess 2010 or 2011, but the Lithium battery is the unknown. We haven’t tested the Ultrabattery in a plug-in, but we want to.

Application of the UB in cars is very similar to wind-power applications .

Our testing on a 1000 kW battery is now well advanced and we have formed a joint venture called Cleantech Ventures to introduce the technology to the stationary energy market.

This diagram shows the progress made over the past three years to our latest level.

This is a picture of the demonstration generator-storage test at Newcastle.

And this picture shows how the batteries can be ‘banked’.

Features and benefits of the Ultrabattery.
Greater power
Significant improvement in service-life
Able to produce in smaller sizes, with sufficient power to drive the bigger engine capacity in conventional automobiles
Applicable to a wide range of HEVs with greatly reduced cost compared with existing nickel/nickel-metal hydride technology
Reconfigurable for a variety of applications (i.e., power tool, high-power UPS and renewable energy)
Low cost

We expect to improve the technology further and move from the upper middle region, into the upper-right quarter in the log-term.

This chart represents our licence arrangements and our plan for the different markets around the world. The main points are our joint relationship with Furukawa and the sub licence just about to be signed for the US. There is no plan to produce in Australia, but if the Green Car plan results in a hybrid car being made in Australia, we would expect to make the licence available as a means of assisting growth of low emission vehicle technologies.

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