This article in the Times is less a report on the facts of A123’s claimed breakthrough than it is an argument in favor of the DoE’s green energy loan programs.
A123 Systems is a prime example of how a promising venture can bog down in the harsh realities of the automotive marketplace. Founded in 2001, the company has been primarily focused on making lithium-ion battery packs specifically for cars, like the Fisker Karma and a forthcoming all-electric version of the Chevrolet Spark, a minicar made by General Motors.
But the company stumbled when it was forced to recall potentially defective batteries planned for use in the Fisker vehicle. And with the future market for electric cars in question, A123 might not survive solely on batteries for those models.
Instead, A123 is now hoping that the new technology it is unveiling Tuesday, called Nanophosphate EXT, will help it enter new markets. The company says the new electrolyte chemistry eliminates the need for heating and cooling in extreme temperatures. That would avoid the addition of costly and heavy temperature-management equipment and prolong the life of the battery.
The technology could be used to produce batteries for telecommunications equipment, military vehicles and hybrid gas-electric cars that employ start-and-stop engine systems. It also could yield batteries that could be used to replace the millions of ordinary lead-acid batteries in cars currently on the road.
“It’s a hedge against the market for electric vehicles,” Mr. Vieau said.