Ford's confidence in lithium-ion is based on so-called Key Life Tests. The tests predict that the working capacity (y-axis) of lithium-ion batteries (green line) will be greater over a high-mileage lifetime (x-axis) than that of nickel-metal hydride (yellow line). Past field data for nickel-metal hydride (blue dots) has shown that the testing results are conservative -- that is, batteries generally do better in the field than they do on tests. (Source: Ford Motor Co.)
Ford choosing Lions is going to be a tough learning for them.. if I read the news right.
It's not the chemistry alone that makes it hard to make good and reliable systems. They should actually know what they are doing. :D
If they go and compare undersized Ni-MH hybrid pack to undersized Lion hybrid pack.... what's the catch here ?
Lions suffer from heat. Cycles will not be an issue at all. Ni-MH too dies when heated (forced bad designs like in EV-1). Undersizing the pack is good way to kill cells.
Accelerated detoriation is different. There are already a lot of research done this way to determine the wearing effects on cells. But it's only part of the equation.
Having Lion EV's on roads +10 years will tell them what is actually going on. If they do not have the experience and knowledge we can already say we will not see and considerable fleet on the roads in next 5-6 years. But they have to start from somewhere. Good to know they are trying to catch up.
Instead of making all the mistakes them selves they could buy the knowledge and experiences form companies who have had Lion EVs on roads +10 years.
What it comes to recycling only copper and cobalt are recycled from Lions. With Iron phosphates the recovery percentage can be extremely good. As the only dying component is the electrolyte.
Choosing Li-ion instead of NiMH may make sense for durability, but recycling may be a problem. Li-ion batteries typically don't yield much return when recycled, which requires someone to foot the bill. Recycling NiMH, on the other hand, can actually pay for itself. A typical Li-ion battery has less value when recycled than a lead-acid battery. As low as one third the value in some cases. For now, I believe only one company recycles large Li-ion batteries (Toxco), which is another concern. If the value of the recovered materials decreases over time, as predicted, it may become too unprofitable to recycle Li-ion batteries, which will create a disposal problem. NiMH seems like a more responsible choice. I understand that Ford must compete with other manufacturers who have already chosen Li-ion, so time will tell if consumers care enough about recycling to have an effect.
I hope that Ford does a better job of designing the battery electronics so they don't run into the dead battery pack issue like Tesla did. With Li-Ion packs the electronics will prevent the batteries from discharging to a voltage low enough to cause cell damage. They could put in a charge alarm or something simple when the battery pack gets close to this protect mode. Normally the pack will be charged from the engine (If a hybrid) but if the vehicle sits in storage for a long period of time this protect mode could cause more dead battery packs and a very disappointed customer. This is even more important in a full electric vehicle.
I agree with naperlou, the testing metholdology used by Ford is an interesting one. I guess there is no foolproof way to know for sure the effect the dead time has on the battery, but it seems like they did their homework. As in most cases with technology, it's usually time that is the best test to see how long it lasts and how durable it is.
The use profile of a car battery is different than that of a laptop battery. It's less predictable and the environment is more harsh. Lithium-ion EV batteries are also massive and in many cases must be liquid cooled. Finally, there's the warranty issue: Automakers need to get a good handle on useful life, especially with today's EV batteries costing $600, $700 or even $800 per kWh. Remember the dead Tesla battery of 2012? The owner ultimately received a replacement quote of $40,000.
Yes, we'll find out after a few years in Ford's accelerated testing results were accurate, Naperlou. I realize that accelerated test is a fact of engineering life, but I have to admit that I as a consumer am always a little bit leery of it.
No offence to FORD, but they seem silly for tested NiMH against Lithium-ion. That was already established nearly a decade ago with laptops and cell phones. Perhaps they should have tested Lithium battery types instead. Like Li-poly or Li-air.
Also, the Toyota Prius did the research for them already. Lithium-ion has been standard for some time.
Cap'n, this is an interesting test methodology. I understand the desire to take out the dead time in operation of a vehicle. That makes sense. I wonder if there is some effect associated with that time though. If their results with nickel-metal hydride show that real world results are better than their tests that might indicate that the time spent resting is beneficial, at least for that chemistry. It will be interesting to see what the results are for these new batteries.
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