Firefly Energy, a company, spun off from Caterpillar in 2003, has developed a next generation battery using lightweight graphite to replace most of the heavy lead plates contained in traditional batteries. Although no quantitative details could be found at their website the following statements were found:
- The Firefly battery replaces the the heavy, corrosive, traditional positive and negative lead plates, which comprise up to 70% of a typical lead-acid battery's weight, with smaller and extremely low weight non-corrosive composite plate material.
- The composite plates provide more surface area for battery chemistry to occur.
- Firefly's composite plate material will extend battery performance (run time).Better high-rate discharge performance.
- Performs whether cold or hot
- Higher number of charge discharge cycles
- Reduced cost-1/10th the cost of NiMH or Li-ion batteries.
- Can be manufactured within the existing lead-acid battery industry's manufacturing infrastructure.
- Firefly's technology can still be put through the existing lead-acid battery's recycling infrastructure, the plate material is simply burned away and remaining lead in the chemistry is recycled.
These advantages of the new battery were confirmed by Mil Ovan, senior vice president and a co-founder of Peoria's Firefly Energy, a speaker at last weeks Energy Independence 2020 Summit held in Chicago.
According to Owen, the plug-in variety of hybrid electric vehicle is well suited for applications of soon-to-be marketed composite material batteries. The company has developed a next generation battery using lightweight graphite to replace most of the heavy lead plates contained in traditional batteries.
Ovan says Firefly Energy's battery will be more energy efficient, lighter in weight and less likely to corrode than today's lead acid batteries, which aren't suitable for electric and hybrid vehicles, and will be less expensive than either the nickel metal hydride batteries currently used in hybrid electric vehicles or lithium batteries contemplated for future use in hybrid electric vehicles.
Contending that the U.S. must "electrify" its transportation vehicles, Ovan told the summit:
- The U.S. uses about 20 million barrels of oil a day and over half of this oil is imported.
- Transportation accounts for 67% of U.S. oil consumption.
- Though hybrid electric vehicles are gaining in popularity, the gains they produce in actual fuel efficiency are modest because it is a gasoline engine which still provides most vehicle propulsion
- Hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicles are still 15 to 20 years in the future, due to the lack of widespread hydrogen refueling stations throughout the U.S. and the high cost of distribution, conversion and propulsion.
Like hybrid electric vehicles, a plug-in hybrid has the ability to run on either battery power or an internal combustion engine. Plug-in hybrids have a larger battery than the batteries of conventional hybrid electric vehicles but can be recharged simply by plugging the unit into an appropriate outlet.
The vehicles have an operating range of 20 to 60 miles before needing to be recharged. Once the battery is depleted, the gasoline engine would then take over. Research from the Electric Power Research Institute shows that on average, half of all U.S. consumer vehicles are driven 22 miles or less daily.
Ovan concluded by saying more widespread adoption of plug-in hybrid vehicles "wouldn't necessitate changes to our existing gas station infrastructure, can offer home-based battery recharging at a low cost, can better utilize the nation's low-load nighttime electrical grid and deliver a pure zero-emission capability."
Firefly Energy, Peoria, IL
Energy Independence Summit Learns About Plug-In Hybrids from Firefly Panelist, Business Wire via EV World