The M1, based on the same lithium-ion technology used in your cell phone and laptop, is the first product from MIT spinoff A123 Systems. Cofounder Yet-Ming Chiang, a materials science professor, succeeded in shrinking to nanoscale the particles that coat the battery's electrodes and store and discharge energy. The results are electrifying: Power density doubles, peak energy jumps fivefold (the cells pack more punch than a standard 110-volt wall outlet), and recharging time plummets. Going nano also solves a safety problem. Regular high-capacity Li-ion batteries tend to explode under severe stress, like if they're dropped from a ladder....
A123's real target, however, is your car. Chiang says A123's cells could lighten a Toyota Prius' 100-pound battery by as much as 80 percent and help boost any hybrid's performance. The quick recharging time - the M1 takes five minutes to reach 90 percent capacity - plus high peak power also would be ideal for plug-in versions of gas-electric vehicles. With a bit more research, the world's roads may someday see fast, zero-carbon autos that zip past gas guzzlers and tank up from the grid faster than a rest-stop Starbucks can serve you a latte.
Tuesday, February 28, 2006
The advances continue
A123 batteries are finally bringing lithium-ion batteries in to more conventional uses, and Wired is there. The article is pretty short, but here's the good parts: