Battery 500 Consortium Targets Future 500 Wh/kg Packs


Volvo T5 Twin Engine Lithium-ion battery - exposed interior view

Volvo T5 Twin Engine Lithium-ion battery – exposed interior view

A Chevrolet Bolt EV battery pack, far right, is compared to battery packs from, left to right, a first generation Volt, a second generation Volt, and a Spark EV in General Motors Global Battery Systems Laboratory at the GM Technical Center in Warren, Michigan, Tuesday, April 5, 2016. (Photo by Jeffrey Sauger for General Motors)

A Chevrolet Bolt EV battery pack, far right, is compared to battery packs from, left to right, a first generation Volt, a second generation Volt, and a Spark EV in General Motors Global Battery Systems Laboratory at the GM Technical Center in Warren, Michigan, Tuesday, April 5, 2016. (Photo by Jeffrey Sauger for General Motors)

As part of the Obama Administration’s announcement to invest $4.5 billion to support plug-in electric cars, a new consortium called Battery500 has been formed.

Led by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), the main goal for the consortium have now been released:

  • Build a battery pack with a specific energy of 500 watt-hours per kilogram

According to Green Car Congress:

“The team in this 5-year project hopes to reach these goals by focusing on lithium-metal batteries, which use lithium instead of graphite for the battery’s anode. The team will pair lithium with two different materials for the cathode. While studying these materials, the consortium will work to prevent unwanted side reactions in the whole battery that weaken a battery’s performance.”

Up to $10 million will be earmarked for the Battery500 team over the next 5 years. The consortium lists these participants:

  • Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
  • Brookhaven National Laboratory
  • Idaho National Laboratory
  • SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
  • Binghamton University (State University of New York)
  • Stanford University
  • University of California, San Diego
  • University of Texas at Austin
  • University of Washington
  • IBM (advisory board member)

While the development of 500 watt-hours per kilogram battery packs is certainly a noble cause, we’d also like to see an equal effort being put forward to cutting the costs of cells at even half that density – as the market to date has really been asking for “cheaper” batteries over “better” ones.

Source: Green Car Congress

Categories: Battery Tech

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50 Comments on "Battery 500 Consortium Targets Future 500 Wh/kg Packs"

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Are the best and very expensive airplane grade batteries at 400 Wh/kg?
Nobel cause just the same – we might see some useful spin-offs of this R & D.

Cells not packs,the pack in a Nissan leaf has 90 Wh/kg energy density. I think Tesla has a much higher density as will the bolt but the pack in the Leaf is based on technology that was cheap enough to build a reasonably priced car 6 years ago.

Pacifica hybrid battery pack is 100wh/kg with lower energy density previous cells.

“airplane grade batteries”?

If you mean the batteries used on solar planes, some use lithium sulfur that have good energy density but have fewer recharge cycles.

If you are referring to the batteries that caught fire on airliners…no comment.

All things being equal a battery with twice the energy denisty should cost half per kWh a battery that is less dense…
You need half the labor half the materials and half the factory space to make the same amount so battery denisty prety much is directly related to price…

I am glad the goverment is spending money on research and I know it is not the only battery project but 10 mil spread out over five years seems like chump change and a half hearted effort compared to what they could or shold be spending to fix a clossal problem…

I’m glad that private industry is tackling this problem. Like you said, $10M is chump change and only companies like Tesla and Nissan have the motivation to do this for real.

It is chump change. Compare it to the hundreds of billions spent on a the latest jet fighter designed to fight the last war from back in the 80s.

Hopefully strong man Trump and climate change denying Republicans don’t squash this initiative if they get control of white house.

“Hopefully”?? We know that Trump believes climate change is a “hoax.” There is no chance Trump would put a dime to any environmental issue. This is why this election is so important.

Since when did politicians do anything right?

Obama spends $4.5 billion and there’s no accountability due to election cycles and a three-part government. At least LG, Panasonic, Samsung, and to some degree Tesla are busy solving this on their own. Without my tax dollars.

Let’s re-visit this article in 5 years and see if any of those labs made anything noteworthy.

I do find it hilarious that Idaho National Labs is not leading this one. The national labs do fight amongst themselves quite a bit. I can see PNNL releasing a small-scale atomic reactor (iPhone version of the SSTAR) and saying that it counts as a battery.

Vexar said:

“Obama spends $4.5 billion…”

May I suggest you read your Constitution again. It’s Congress that controls the nation’s spending, not the President.

Amazing how everyone wants to blame — and credit — the President for everything that happens while he’s in office. Sometimes I think people would actually prefer to live under an absolute monarchy.


Most people failed at basic US civics.

We should require everyone to take the basic naturalization exams that non-citizen takes to become US citizen before they are allowed to Vote.

Congress writes laws, Supreme Court interprets laws and President/executive branch executes the laws.

We really need Congressional term limits and campaign contribution reforms.

70% would fail.

I believe less than 30% of the population votes anyway…

You apparently have no idea how much U.S. government research goes into batteries. All the companies you mentioned except for Tesla take money from the U.S. government for battery tech research. And they license the battery related patents from U.S. federally funded labs, like Argonne National Labs.

Not to mention the amount of non-U.S. government funding involved in this area.

I suppose you’ll forego any medical treatments you need that were devised based on NIH funded research.

And don’t even think of crediting pharmaceutical companies. Their research is HEAVILY subsidized by the government. Most modern drugs were created by putting the last rung on a ladder built by NIH funded research over many decades.

Something else that must really bother you – all those auto companies you praised for research efforts? None of them spend any money on roads. Nope, that’s your tax dollars going into roads. Just imagine how great roads would be if they were all owned and operated by corporations!

Of course there are a lot of things better left to the private sector, but things that benefit the public welfare, like scientific research, are certainly the domain of government. Companies are best at applying research to practical solutions, but for riskier science and technology government funding has proven itself over generations.

Hear, hear!

Even conservatives ought to support government spending where it means prudent investment in our nation’s future; in education, infrastructure, and yes, basic scientific research.

Sadly, these days all too many so-called conservatives don’t.

“Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.”

― George Carlin

That will not happen. They have the Congress and look what a f-ing mess they have made there.

SparkEV-Fiat500-Leased - M3 Reserved - Bolt- TBD

Not only mobile benefit, but smart grid benefit for energy smoothing with all the renewables.

Interesting that there are a bunch of western universities and then SUNY Binghamton. Way to represent, upstate NY!

I worry about focusing so much on Wh/kg. What we really need to improve is wh/$, and the two are not the same thing. If you use novel (read: more expensive) materials to decrease weight, you just increased cost. Is lithium or graphite more expensive? We should be focused on cost and longevity, not weight.

+1 $10 million is actually quiet a small amount of money in the grand scheme of things so I am really happy to see this project go ahead, it is a good thing but the massive challenge that needs to be solved over the next 5 years is cost not performance. Do we need twice the range of a current generation Tesla? 2 seconds 0-60? faster charging? I would argue not. IMO what we need is batteries and associated technology to be so cheap that you can install fast charging stations in every car park along all major roads and for a 200 mile BEV to cost sub $30k before incentives and a 100 mile BEV (real 100 miles, 30 kWh) to cost around $20k before incentives. Cost reduction is best done by industry making evolutionary changes. IMO there has been plenty given to industrial organizations in the last 5 years in terms of incentives and tax breaks to get things moving. I think what we need now are strong mandated %’s of zero emission or UL emission vehicles in our national fleets. If you feed a company nothing but carrots it just gets fat and slow, it is now… Read more »

Brian said:

“If you use novel (read: more expensive) materials to decrease weight, you just increased cost.”

It’s certainly true that cost of batteries is far more important to advancing the EV revolution than energy density. However, the cost is coming down year-on-year due to increased competition and the economy of scale, as production is ramped up.

It may be that for a relatively modest research budget of $10 million, targeting energy density might be a better use of the money. There’s no way such a small sum can compete with the effort and resources the industry is using to reduce costs.

Well, to some degree the Wh/kg and Wh/$ are quite correlated since more material = more $. Less material generally = less $.

How many Teslas do you think are sold with subprime loans? I’d guess somewhere around zero.

I completely agree that price is the most acute issue. And gravimetric density isn’t even the second concern – that’d be volumetric density.

That said, volumetric density does tend to increase along with gravimetric density, and price does tend to be inversely related to density. So in pursuing either one you are likely to push the others in the right direction as well.

@Jay Perhaps you should cover SolidEnergy’s new cells that will hit the market in November? At 1200 Wh/liter they are a big step up. They’ll be in drones at first and phones from early 2017. If they stand that test – a good one, as phones are cycled all the time and present a fairly demanding load – they will hopefully be in EVs from 2018.

AFAIU Tesla is at 800 Wh/liter in their upcoming 100 kWh pack. An interesting question is whether, if they were to get 1200 Wh/liter, they should offer yet more range, or save weight and improve cost and efficiency instead. I know what I’d favor. 😉

Easy. Models S and X get more range, models 3 and Y get cheaper.

For myself, I would rather have lower weight and ideally more cabin space (if the battery pack could be made a little thinner) – and some extra cash in my hand. At 100 kWh I would *never* need to recharge more than once during a day, and there would be very few of those days in a year, and I would be driving so far those days that I ought to take a break anyway. So for me, capacity beyond this point would just mean superflous weight and cost.

But I think it would make sense to offer a higher capacity variant as well – for those who tow. Even at 100 kWh you have less than you’d want if you are towing a big boat or a camping wagon over longer distances (and at least with a camping wagon that is often the case).

Haha, zerohedge.con, really??

A site formed by a hedge fund trader barred by the industry for insider trading!

maybe you should get real.

google it, it’s everywhere.

don’t have the money, don’t buy. get the money first and then buy. don’t ask for barrowed money.

Maybe you should notice that InsideEVs isn’t an investor site, and quit trying to use this website to promote your stock picks.

don’t own any stocks and this is internet so don’t trust everything you read and see.

It isn’t? It certainly behaves as if its purpose is to help Tesla.

For example, look at the just posted Tesla ad. Clearly it isn’t true that Tesla doesn’t make ads. But I guess it is true they don’t pay anyone anything to air them – their sponsors do that for free…

It would have been helpful if they would have listed the kWh and Wh/kg of the battery packs in the photo.

Oooh, that crazy Obama Administration. Not only are they supporting those liberal Electric Vehicles but they are USING THE METRIC SYSTEM!

Those anti-Americans! 😉

10 million is chump change.

One Navy F-35C costs a mind-boggling $337 million.

The flyaway cost of an F35C is now closer to $120Mn with jet engine included, unless you include the development cost divided by the amount of F-35’s built so far. Which is hugely inaccurate since 1700 more F-35’s are going to be built, thereby driving that fake number down.
The F35 is an over priced, under maneuverable, over engineered boondoggle that will be a pretty good aircraft in 2 or 3 years. And it will remain a better aircraft than any other currently flying or in development for at least 20 years. PAK FA and Eurofighter included.
The biggest critics of the F-35 either don’t know how it works or choose to ignore the F-35’s strengths, like Sprey.

Well, considering that the Eurofighter was developed in the 1980s to be available in 1990 and then just got delayed, one could imagine that a new aircraft devolped decades later should somehow outmatch it.

“While the development of 500 watt-hours per kilogram battery packs is certainly a noble cause, we’d also like to see an equal effort being put forward to cutting the costs of cells at even half that density – as the market to date has really been asking for “cheaper” batteries over “better” one”

I agree. We need research and development on both ends.

We need high end EV batteries to push the technology and low end battery to build affordable models.

Affordability is key in low end market where cost is everything.

Yep… Right now we could benefit more from cheaper cells than we would from denser ones.

Except that in practice the most likely route to cheaper cells is denser cells.

Yes and no. Cheaper cells allow more people to access longer range electric cars, the ones that can really serve as only family car and replace the conventional gas car in all circumstances, but energy denser cells are needed to further push the tip over from gas to ev thanks to still longer ev range. The tip over, outside of ev fans, is quiet simply a car with the same range as a conventional gas car, so that is about 400 miles, sometimes less for gas-guzzlers, sometimes more for very efficient ones and diesels.
So both cards are as important right now and both must further be improved. In the same time we need to over shoot range because we also need to increase the charging speed which means using higher C cells but that tend to reduce energy density, so we must compensate that. We also must take into account battery aging and detrimental cold weather. So lower prices for sure but also more energy density for a few more years.

NASA recently asked the National Academy of Sciences to help set R&D priorities for low-carbon propulsion systems. Electric propulsion didn’t make the cut. They felt that advances in battery technology were already being pursued elsewhere. Here I guess. Also any breakthroughs wouldn’t be ready for airworthiness certification within their three decade time frame. Funny how automobiles are now the source of advanced aerospace technology.

Tesla just launched their 100 Wh(300 miles) pack. But energy density is the key. Which could mean battery density needs to increase by a factor of 5 to reach 500 Wh. With the benefit of reducing the size and weight of the pack where 300 miles can become the norm, less space and gaining more range. But much of the battery pack size is psychological. Much of the need for 300+ miles of range in our gasoline cars is for convenience, so we don’t need to visit the gas station more than once a week. But with the gas station/charging station at home in the garage, and the EV charging up to full range every night, the need to drive around 300 miles of range, when only 50 max may be needed on a daily basis becomes more psychological. While at the same time, 300 miles give the same range as a gasoline vehicle, with a 500 Wh pack offering about 1500 miles. Maybe this is an application for commercial hauling, where cargo weight reduces range but to an acceptable 600-800 miles. But I think perspectives on public charging will change with the launch of more affordable 200+ mile range… Read more »

A large pack size, needing only 1-2 charges per week vs a smaller pack charged daily will greatly extend the life of the battery. This is not psychology. It’s cycle life. Many factors affect cycle life, too many to delve into here. Maybe in a more relative article if it seems justified.
I agree with the rest of your comments. (before someone jumps all over you, add a “k” before the “Wh”)

True, as long as the chemistry in he large pack remains the same. However, it can be estimated that a pack that is only charged 1-2 times per week will sooner than later be built with slightly cheaper chemistry with reduced cycle life, at least by the sort of manufacturers that calculate their vehicles to need major repairs / or be obsolete after >100k km / 8-10 years.

(You got me goin’ Bloggin)
Driving 150,000 miles would require 600 charges @250 miles/charge (Tesla). 150,000 miles in a “100 mile range” car requires 2,000 charges @75 miles/charge.