GM Director of Global Research and Development Says There are Battery “Prototypes Out There With 400Wh/kg”

4 years ago by Eric Loveday 38

Envia Graphic

Envia Graphic

The following, we assume, is linked to Envia Systems, which General Motors has long touted as having breakthrough battery technology ever since it invested in the startup in 2011.

Envia Info

Envia Info – Click to Enlarge

We’ve yet to witness any working systems from Envia, but GM seems set on still hyping the startup.

Take, for example, the recent words of Gary Smyth, director of General Motors global research and development team:

“Today there are prototypes out there with 400Wh/kg.”

“Innovation is exploding right now.”

“The industry is in a period of rapid transformation.”

We believe Smyth is referring to Envia’s work here, as it’s not often that General Motors references the transformational work of other automakers or suppliers outside of GM’s circle.

If Smyth is indeed referring to Envia, then we’ll assume he’s saying GM is in the testing phase of either battery packs with that amount of energy per kilogram or possibly even has a working vehicle with a 400Wh/kg pack housed within (for reference, the pack in the Chevy Volt is only listed at 140 Wh/kg).

Smyth further says that a vehicle with such a battery pack could be on the road in 5 to 10 years time at a price that undercuts today’s electric vehicles.

We sure hope this turns out to be true, because as Smyth says (and we completely agree), this “completely changes the equation” on price, range and even the types of electrified vehicles we’ll soon see.  Imagine a Chevy Volt with 100 miles of electric range!!!

Source: Windsor Star

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38 responses to "GM Director of Global Research and Development Says There are Battery “Prototypes Out There With 400Wh/kg”"

  1. David Murray says:

    They probably aren’t too keen to divulge much, otherwise it could undercut sales of current vehicles.

  2. ClarksonCote says:

    I like the idea of a Chevy Volt with 100 miles EV range. You could dramatically reduce the size of the range extender in this scenario.

    For example, if you could simply input, at the beginning of your drive, what your total trip distance is going to be, the Volt could determine when to turn on the ICE (ahead of a full battery depletion). This could be as early as the start of your trip, and allow you to still make a 400 mile trip without needing an engine that outputs 80kW.

    20kW or 30kW of engine output could be sufficient in this type of scenario.

    1. David Murray says:

      And I think in this scenario you could probably go full serial hybrid, eliminating that expensive transaxle. Plus you could greatly reduce the size of the generator itself (not just the ICE that turns it)

      1. ClarksonCote says:

        Exactly. The batteries would be lighter per unit energy storage, and the transmission and engine/generator could all decrease as well. In theory, it seems like it could make it much more cost effective to implement the EREV concept across many vehicles.

        1. Parker says:

          Isn’t this a BMW i3? ……. Launched in 2 months time.

          1. kdawg says:

            I don’t think I like this idea. That would mean my engine is running a lot more of the time. I’d rather drive in battery only mode for as much as I can. What I do now on longer trips w/my Volt, is subtract 40 miles and then I know how long to run the range extender for. So if my trip is 65 miles, what I’ll do is start off in EV mode for about 10 miles. Once i’m cruising on the expressway at 70mph, I switch to Hold mode to turn the ICE on. I run the ICE for 65-40= 25 miles. After that I go back to normal mode for the rest of my trip. The Volt’s range estimator is pretty good and I usually just run out of juice at the end of my trip.

            1. Eric Cote says:

              To me, it would run less, except in those circumstances where you are traveling over 100 miles. Then, if you’re traveling 120 miles, it would still run less, 150 would run more. 200 would run more, etc.

              But to me that goes back to, “How often does someone travel more than 100 miles?”

              I didn’t think it was the same concept as the BMW; while it has a smaller engine, does it run before the battery has depleted? Maybe it does, I just didn’t think it did.

    2. Bonaire says:

      I like, better, the idea of a CUV or SUV running with an EREV with say 50 mile range.

      batteries like this (400 Wh/kg) are what is needed for the next wave of larger-scale vehicles. Especially if they are cheaper.

      With that kind of energy storage and if they are stable enough to not flare out or burn when punctured or overcharged (they didn’t talk about that above) – then it’s time to get the real gas-hogging vehicles like the Chevy Suburbans and Tahoes running on batteries.

  3. Alaa Sadek says:

    There are 300 wh/kg CAPACITORS out there.

    http://nanopatentsandinnovations.blogspot.se/2010/01/polyaniline-nanoporous-carbon-electrode.html

    so 400 wh/kg batteries are nothing special. I would rather have capacitors

    1. ClarksonCote says:

      WIth a power density of 0.47W/kg, I’m not impressed with those capacitors.

      I’d argue that 400Wh/kg in most certainly something special, since it’s 2.5x better than what we have today, it’s viable, and it’s cost effective.

      1. Alaa Sadek says:

        0.47KILO w/kg not 0.47w/kg

        1. Bonaire says:

          470 W/kg is also not that great.
          Imagine a Chevy Volt and its 16 kWh battery.
          With 300 Wh/kg, then you have a 53 kg battery.
          53 kg * .47 W/kg = 25KW of output from a battery like the Volt. That is what, 32 horsepower? Not nearly enough for an EV drive.

          Power performance during acceleration needs to be about 5C-6C during acceleration.

          What may be good is something that is designed around the Deka UltraBattery which is both an ultracapacitor and a battery together in one cell. They are using them for experiments for grid demand-response storage systems now. But, the battery part is lead-acid AGM.

          1. Bonaire says:

            Should read above:
            53 kg * .47 KW/kg = 25KW

          2. Steve says:

            I think you might be confusing power density (kWh/kg) with energy density (kW/kg). I can’t find any mention of power density in the article — but admittedly I might be missing something.

            1. Steve says:

              My bad. Of course I meant power density (kW/kg) and energy density (kWh/kg). Sorry.

              1. ClarksonCote says:

                “According to U.S. Patent Application 20100008021, a capacitance value of 2200 F g-1 of polyaniline was obtained at a power density of 0.47 kW kg.sup.-1 and an energy density of 300 Wh kg-1.”

                Yeah, I read the power density wrong, but I’m still not impressed here. I mean, a link to a research paper on some capacitors doesn’t really compare to batteries that are nearing production. JMHO though.

  4. Anton Wahlman says:

    When (and where) were these comments made, precisely?

    1. Schmeltz says:

      I’m not sure who or what to believe either, Anton. Some sources say Envia is doing great. Others are saying they are nearly defunct. I have to wonder that when you hear next to nothing from a company, is there something wrong? I’m hoping that’s not the case.

  5. Sujeet Kumar is lier says:

    Sujeet, who is the founder of Envia, is extremely dishonest, he would, lie to hype his junk, let’s face it, folks from GM battery lab says the battery life, reliability (the battery tend to swell) is a huge issue which may not be solved before 2020. Of course, GM is the biggest lier, their folks told them back in 2007 that the sales of Chevy Volt would be extremely poor and they would lose billions,

    1. taser54 says:

      Libelous.

    2. Aaron says:

      I would tend not to believe someone who cannot even spell “liar” correctly.

    3. Bonaire says:

      Well, I have been told that a lot of the Indian culture does include lying as a part off common interaction. (heck, I work in IT and can vouch for some of it). Today, during an interview, we asked a guy a question he had to answer by reading his resume to tell us what he did at a job 5 years ago. Everyone should tell the truth – it’s far less to have to remember.

      Is he lying? Who knows. Let it come about but posting about this on various forums is dumb and also libelous.

  6. Bonaire says:

    It’s a lie that non-Envia cathodes will all cause thermal runaway. The A123 batteries using LiFEPO4 (now B456) will not do that. I don’t think any modern day LiFEPO4 will burn if punctured.

  7. Steve says:

    A Volt with a 100miles range? Heck, once the batteries are that good (soon?) I’d rather just make the battery a little bigger (maybe 150miles) and delete the gasoline engine altogether.

    1. David Murray says:

      Ultimately it will come down to an equation of how much does the range extender cost vs. how much does the extra battery cost. I bet a cheap range extender that produces 30kw would be a good solution for a PHEV with 100 miles EV range. It would be used very infrequently.

      But yeah, I suspect the PHEV will die in favor of the pure battery electric if these batteries live up to the claims of both energy density, reliability, and reduced cost.

  8. evnow says:

    “Imagine a Chevy Volt with 100 miles of electric range!!!”

    That statement shows the lack of imagination 😉

    Volt is a product of its time – a severely compromised vehicle. With 400Wh/kg, you can remove a lot of the compromises and sell decent PHEV CUVs for about the same price.

    1. Anthony says:

      I agree, 400Wh/kg means the Volt’s battery pack fits underneath the rear bench seat and extends a little into the area under the trunk. This also cuts weight down 200kg as well, leading to better range and fuel economy.

      It also opens the envelope for other cars where it wasn’t practical to produce before. Small crossovers (RAV4, Escape, Equinox) get the possibility of being 200 mile EVs.

  9. Stuart22 says:

    The day GM is able to offer an EREV-100 Volt, they’ll have an EREV-175 Cadillac sedan. If and when that happens, battery swapping will lose much of whatever appeal it gained.

    1. Bonaire says:

      Battery swapping is really an outlier event. Mainly Tesla at this point. Seems interesting but only serves very few even with today’s lower kW/kg battery capacities.

  10. Suprise Cat says:

    Is this 400W/kg based on the naked cells or a complete ready to use battery package?

  11. Battery Expert says:

    I am doing research for PNNL, based on what I have heard, Envia is indeed struggling with their ballyhooed stuff, this is a field with extremely extreme hype, remember Amprius who claim to increase energy density by 10X? here is the link:
    http://news.stanford.edu/news/2008/january9/nanowire-010908.html

    now they cllaim the actual enhancement is about 30%, from 900% to 30%, wow! (4060/3000-100% is roughly 30%, 3000mAh is from Japan)

    http://www.greencarcongress.com/2013/05/amprius-20130521.html
    In reality, they will struggle with even 30% if they want the battery last >300 cycles.

    1. Anthony says:

      To be fair, the 10x claim came out of the Stanford University PR department. And if there is one thing I’ve learned about following the progress of green energy and batteries, its to *never* believe one thing a university PR group says – they’re rarely factually accurate.

  12. Anon says:

    *Remote Camera Turned on in Envia’s Experimental Battery Lab*

    Batteries explode and burn as Gary Smith intently watches a video monitor while he tells reporters, “Innovation is exploding right now.”

    Oh, I’m sure it is… 😀

  13. Martin T says:

    Would love to upgrade the Volts battery in a decade, but fear – with GM it will be the usual “like” for “like” .
    Lets hope there will be some after market solutions to slot the latest futuristic batteries into a ten year old Volt.

  14. Yves Laurin says:

    Author said ‘ Imagine a Chevy Volt with 100 miles of electric range’, well I am sure other manufacturer are going ready too, now imagione a Tesla with 1000 miles of electric range

  15. David Long says:

    The key phrase in that article is “in 5-10 years”.

    Look where Tesla is with their technology. You think they’re going to stand still? You think Panasonic (who makes the cells for Tesla’s packs) will just sit on their hands?

    Hint: Elon Musk (CEO of Tesla) has talked about cars with 500 mile ranges. There’s a BMW 3-series killer coming from these guys. And while I was initially excited about the Volt, I’ve been swayed by the Tesla Model S as a vision of the future. With the Volt, you still have oil changes, timing belts, gas stations (after 35 miles), water pumps, catalytic converters, fuel lines, filters *and tanks*, mufflers, exhaust pipes and more – all of which I’ve replaced on cars I’ve owned over the last 35 years. With an EV, you’re ALWAYS leaving the garage with a ‘full tank’. You have brakes, suspension, lights, tires and wiper blades to replace. With Tesla, you have a growing network of FREE FOR LIFE refueling stations.

    Given all that, I’ve been convinced. I just hope my Camry holds out until Tesla’s Gen III hits the market.

    1. Matt says:

      …and my VW rabbit!

  16. Ocean Railroader says:

    If GM is saying they have this then maybe they could cut the price of the volt by a few thousand or they could start raising their Chevy Spark’s EV range from 80 miles to 120 miles range over the next year or two. Or at least start offering a 45 to 35 kilowatt battery pack for their existing models.

    Personally I think if Tesla even found away to cut their existing $69,000 dollar car down to $40,000 by taking on slowly lowering battery prices. Such as say they have a 60 kilowatt battery pack a 85 kilowatt battery back. Say a new battery cheaper battery came out that offered them to cut model S prices by offering high end users a 120 kilowatt battery pack. and the rest of battery levels moved down in price to where the 60 kilowatt battery pack was able to take on the price role of the never built 40 kilowatt pack that was supposed to be $49,000 they could really eat up in to the range of high end $40,000 to $60,000 luxury cars with the model S.