There is a consensus among researchers that a newer technology, Lithium Vanadium Phosphate represents the best potential lithium battery. It is fast approaching commercial implementation for various electronics and could make electric vehicles commercially viable. In this battery, Vanadium is used in the form of Vanadium phosphate cathodes in Lithium-ion batteries. It can hold more per charge than the standard Lithium-Cobalt oxide battery. It has a higher voltage-around 4.7 volts or 4.8 volts-compared to about the 3.7 that the standard battery produces today. For electric cars, this means superior power and acceleration as well as more range because of increased capacity. Threat of explosion, a potential danger of Lithium-Cobalt is also alleviated as the Vanadium-Lithium battery produces much less heat while charging. Furthermore, Vanadium-Lithium-Ion produces more power in a smaller space, which helps with size requirements of newer vehicles. Already lower in price than the Lithium Cobalt Oxide battery this battery could be the “Next Generation,” extending life of consumer electronics and making electric cars a reality.
As the last decade has seen a significant amount of development work on Vanadium batteries, implementation for stationary power and additional applications such as electric vehicles is well underway. Alternative energy and next generation technologies such as solar and wind are increasing every year. Many of these technologies capture energy as it is available and store it for use when needed. Increased storage requirements of these new technologies are expected to impact the demand for Vanadium-based batteries significantly. Vanadium batteries have several advantages over Lead acid, Nickel Metal, Lithium Ion Batteries, including:
- greater cell voltage,
- higher energy and
- power densities, higher useful capacity,
- greater charge efficiency,
- lower self discharge rates and a
- longer operating life.
Several car manufacturers now have a Vanadium battery project underway. With the race for the perfect car battery underway, Vanadium seems to have some clear advantages by itself and in combination with Lithium. Vanadium Redox is the best suited for grid storage as it can store electricity indefinitely, act as a transformer and release electricity immediately whenever needed.
Benefits of Electric Vehicles
- 70% fewer moving parts than internal combustion engine cars
- Use less energy than gasoline vehicles.
- Zero emission
- Fewer unneeded parts, which means less to go wrong, less to service and a longer life.
- The cost of on electricity is much less expensive than gasoline.
- Modern electric vehicles have plenty of power. Advances in technology have also advanced horsepower and torque.
- Electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids bring the convenience of charging at home, often overnight.
- Low noise, very quiet operation as there is no engine.
infrastructure for Electric Vehicles
The U.S. Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory estimates that 84% of cars, trucks and SUV's could be powered by the U.S. electrical grid overnight during off-peak usage without a single additional power plant being built.
Why electric cars now?
The necessity to reduce the western world's dependence of foreign oil and the increase in worldwide protocol to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses.
The United States
- Imports two thirds of its oil and consumes 25% of the world's oil supply.
- spent an estimated $600 billion on foreign oil - more than its entire defense budget.
- uses two thirds of all oil used in the U.S. directly for transportation. In contrast, only 2% of the U.S.'s electricity is generated from oil.
- 97% of fuel used for U.S. transportation is oil based.
- The Obama administration recent stimulus package included $2 billion for battery development.
“Next generation” Vanadium battery technologies could create a brand new market for Vanadium in the near future and could play a major part in solving the global energy crisis.
In a world where the miniaturization and the portability of electronic devices is king, batteries play an ever-increasingly important role. They are vital components in many consumer electronics such as cell phones and PDAs, in medical devices, and in novel applications, such as unmanned vehicles and hybrids. As the power demands of these devices increases, battery performance must improve accordingly. This thesis is an introductory investigation into the electrochemical properties of a promising new battery cathode material: lithium vanadium phosphate (Li3V2(PO4)3) (LVP). Studies of other members of the phospho-olivine family, which LVP is a part of, indicate that the olivines have high lithium diffusivity but low electronic conductivity. LVP is part of the phosphor- olivine family, which traditionally has been shown to have high lithium diffusivity but low electronic conductivity. LVP was synthesized via a solid-state reaction and cast into composite cathodes. (90/5/5 ratio of LVP, Super P Carbon, and PVDF.) These composite cathodes were used in lithium anode, LiPF6 liquid electrolyte, Swage-type cells that were galvanostatically cycled from 3.OV to 4.2V and from 3.4V to 4.8V at C/20 rates. Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy was carried out on an LVP / liquid electrolyte / LVP cells from 0.01Hz to 1MHz. Finally, temperature conductivity measurements were taken from a die-pressed LVP bar. The results of the experimentation indicate that LVP has much promise as a new battery cathode material, but there are still a number of concerns to address. 11
- Over the past thirty years, Hydro Quebec and 3M have been involved in the initial research and development of a solid state fuel cell for hybrid electric vehicles, electric vehicles and communication applications.
- Most major car manufacturers are joining the electric vehicle or “EV” revolution sparked by GM’s announcement in September 2008 of the “Volt.”
- “We expect Chrysler’s announcement will accelerate the development of affordable electric vehicle technologies such as batteries” GM E-Flex spokesperson Rob Peterson
- Given previous attempts at EV commercialization in the past, current lithium-ion battery technology appears ill-suited for the electric vehicle.
- In November 2007, Subaru unveiled their concept G4e electric vehicle with a lithium vanadium oxide based lithium ion battery, promising double the energy density of a conventional lithium ion battery.
- In the lab, Lithium vanadium oxide anodes, paired with lithium cobalt oxide cathodes, have nearly three times the volumetric energy density of conventional lithium ion batteries
Subaru’s recently revealed G4e concept car uses a vanadium- lithium battery, which dramatically extends the travel distance from 40 kilometres to 200 km on a single charge. Discover Magazine recently (October '08) called vanadium "The element that could change the world."
The Subaru G4e is an electric car undergoing development and testing by Japanese automaker Subaru. It was unveiled at the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show. The car seats five in a functional, accessible interior and has a wedge design with a low 0.276 drag coefficient. It has a range of 200 kilometres (120 mi) and can be fully charged in about eight hours from a home AC power source. A quick charge to 80 per cent of the batteries' capacity is possible in just 15 minutes. The G4e uses a lithium-ion battery developed exclusively by Subaru which employs vanadium technology to allow the battery to store two to three times more lithium ions than conventional lithium-ion batteries. The car's battery pack provides 346 volts, and is located underneath the passenger compartment. 12
Commercial work on lithium-vanadium phosphate batteries ranges from international battery manufacturers developing various models, to electric vehicle applications, and even rechargeable button-sized versions currently available for backup support.
While this strategic technology is still considered cutting edge, industry analysts already foresee a significant opportunity for increased vanadium demand on top of the growing conventional demand from the recovering steel industry.1
Lithium-Vanadium Battery Advantages
Lithium-vanadium batteries mean improved safety and greater power. This was conveyed by Jon Hykawy, Ph.D., MBA delivered at the Forbes & Manhattan Conference in Q4 2010.
As the head of global research at Byron Capital Markets, Hykawy points to "much improved safety" compared to the lithium-cobalt batteries found in portable electronics.2
When compared with the lithium manganese-oxide batteries found in the latest electric vehicles such as Chevy's Volt, power – arguably the most important factor in a vehicle application – is said to be approximately 6 times greater when using vanadium in the cathode.1
Battery Makers, Investments & JVs
Major battery manufacturers such as America's Valence Technology Inc. and China's BYD Company Ltd. are among the companies actively doing commercial work on lithium-vanadium batteries.1
In the case of BYD – which is 10% owned by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway – the company is conveniently both rechargeable battery maker (the largest in China as of mid-2009) 3 and auto manufacturer. In Q4 2010, Buffet visited the automaker, which he says will be a leader in electric cars.4
Meanwhile, Japan's GS Yuasa Corporation (GSY) announced at the end of Q3 2010 that it would develop lithium rechargeable batteries using lithium-vanadium phosphate.
A prototype of GSY's lithium-vanadium phosphate battery showed a 20% output gain compared to a lithium iron phosphate battery. GSY indicated further benefits include improved safety and lower production costs.5
GSY expects the new battery to be used in hybrid electric vehicles, a market they already have ample access to via joint ventures with Mitsubishi Motors and Honda Motor Co., and through one of their principle shareholders: Toyota Motor Corporation.6
Extended Range & Shorter Charge Times
When Subaru chose a lithium-vanadium battery for its prototype G4e all-electric vehicle (EV), they were able to significantly increase the car's range while doubling that of their previous advanced EV.7
With a range of 120 miles (200 km),8 the G4e's range far surpasses that of the Chevy Volt's 35 miles (56 km) on electric power alone.
In addition, lithium-vanadium batteries can be recharged faster: 10 hours for the Chevy Volt9 versus 8 hours for the G4e (and only 15 minutes for an 80% quick charge).8
Large & Small-Scale Battery Markets
Other emerging lithium-vanadium battery markets include the very large and the very small. On the large end of the scale, many power utilities are looking to use lithium batteries as cost-effective power backup systems for substations during peak demand periods.1
On the opposite end of the scale are Panasonic's button-sized vanadium pentoxide rechargeable lithium batteries. Panasonic sells these compact, high-energy 'secondary' batteries for such backup applications as in phones, personal computers, video cameras and memory cards. The tiny batteries come with many advantages: nearly twice the energy of conventional button-shaped Ni-Cd batteries; self-discharge rate of <2% a year; months of continuous use as a backup; and superior reliability due to withstanding overcharging and discharging.10
Vanadium Demand Impact
As lithium-vanadium battery applications continue to emerge in the automotive, utilities and electronics industries, new demand for vanadium will also emerge.
According to a Q4 2009 report by Byron Capital Markets, new market demand for vanadium is projected to combine with conventional demand (primarily from the steel industry), resulting in an overall demand increase of over 70% between 2009's levels and those of 2014.2
1. The Gold Report website, Jan. 7, 2011
2. Vanadium: The Supercharger. Byron Capital Markets report, Nov. 12, 2009
3. Bloomberg website, July 31, 2009
4. Bloomberg Businessweek website, Oct. 26, 2010
5. Tech-on website, Sept. 10, 2010
6. GS Yuasa website, April 14, 2010
7. Car and Driver website, Oct. 2007
8. Auto123 website, Feb. 11, 2009
9. Chevrolet website, Jan. 21, 2011
10. Panasonic website, Jan. 21, 2011
11. Synthesis and electrochemical characterization of lithium vanadium phosphate 2004 ,Hsiung, Chwan Hai H. (Chwan Hai Harold), 1982-