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April 15, 2006



I'm very excited about lithium-ion batteries. The only problem that I see is, I don't know if it can become the standard. That is because there doesn't seem to be enough lithium in the world to mine. According to this source:

there are only about 13,000,000 tons of discovered lithium reserves in the world. Now I'm sure there is much that hasn't yet been discovered. But then, there are also plenty of other uses for lithium. So, how many cars can we make with the lithium we have in the world?

Just a note, I'm admitting my ignorance here. I have no idea how much lithium goes into a typical lithium-ion car battery. I'm just throwing this out there as something to think about. Anyone know the answers to my questions?

Harvey D.

Is the Toyota Prius III (2008 model) to be a PHEV? To get 40 Km/L (113 mpg) it must travel more on electric power or be very efficient. Regarless, I'm ordering one as soon as available.

C. Scott Miller

I have an idea. Why not make the hybrid flex-fuel compatible? I can't imagine that it would muck up the combustion side very much or add anything to the expense of the vehicle. The benefit being, on the off chance there is an E85 pump in the neighborhood, the car's owner would effectively get about 500 miles per gallon of gasoline (with the majority coming from the 85% ethanol).


Yep my question too Harvey, you beat me to it. Is it a plugin? If not, why not?

Plugin hybrids are THE best transition to pure electric vehicles.

The Subaru test vehicle employing the Hitachi lithium ion nanotech battery should produce results soon.



Reserve numbers include what could be extracted ecnomically at a certain price level. But lithium is not a rare element. If lithium demand increases enough to increase the price, then reserve numbers will grow as presently non-economical lithium sources can be counted as reserves.


And there IS recycling of lithium to consider. Maybe all those camera batteries ought not be dumped in landfills?


500 miles per gallon of gasoline is a stupid number to throw out here. It still takes energy to make the ethanol. Sure you used less gasoline, but don't ignore the electrical power required to process the ethanol.

There is no free lunch.


Amazing and Robert, thanks for your responses. I think lithium ion batteries are an exciting prospect for transportation purposes. Also, perhaps they can be of use for the storage that is necessary to use solar and wind.


Thanks Frank. So few apreciate my radical aproach, hehey.

An idea I have introduced constantly, but why not repeat it? If 100s of millions of electric cars and home battery backup systems for solar and wind powered homes are plugged into the grid, when the cars are parked.

That would provide days worth of storage for the entire national grid, a sort of distributed battery storage system. Due to the quick charge time of the new nano tech batteries one could easily charge the car to full power before using it, even when the grid had used up a large percentage of it's storage.

I think the storage problem can be economically solved in that way once mass production of these batteries brings the cost down.

Just as with cost of solar, water,and wind power, electric cars,heat pumps, and waste recycling algae buofuel solar systems. All the way from home size way up to utility scale installations. Mass production will work to reduce cost.

The technical problems are already solved, now capital in massive amounts needs to be applied to these new industries. The jobs created and money saved from a halt to oil wars/terrorism and weather related disaster will restore prosperity to out failing economy.

3 dollar gas is back, a record hurricane, fire, flood, and tornado season is upon us, and the Bush administration is threatening to nuke Iran. That will mean 5 to 10 dollar gas overnight, absolutely throwing the US and world economy into a severe depression on the order of the 1929 crash.

This suicidal course has to be changed.

If 100s of millions of electric cars and home battery backup systems for solar and wind powered homes are plugged into the grid, when the cars are parked.

That would provide days worth of storage for the entire national grid....

Hours, not days.  200 million vehicles times 10 kWh (a reasonable value for a plug-in hybrid) is 2 billion kWh; at US average consumption of 450 GW you'd have a bit over 4 hours (if they were fully charged!).  If they were fully-electric vehicles at 60 kWh each, make that roughly a day.

It would still make the grid manager's job a lead-pipe cinch, though.  All they'd have to do to absorb the worst transients is crank some vehicle chargers up or down, and they could even deal with line outages without having to worry about blackouts as long as the vehicles could pick up the slack fast enough.


Well poet I am figuring about 40 kwh for the cars and 60kwh for homes. And I think that small businesses could be added in for maybe an average of 100 kwh.

Anither avenue that has already begun is opersating enerfy intensive manufacturing and recycling plants only at off peak times. Lower rates are charged for factories that can shiut down when needed to buffer supply/demand mismatch.

But it sure would be great to see superconducting energy storage developed at a utility scale. These are available for computer backup power on a small scale already.

A utility in Alaska has a utility scale battery system and is planning to add wind power also.



And don't forget geothermal heat pumps replacing electric air conditioning and heating, these peak load demands are huge.

A geothermal system can cool a building in most of the US without even running the heat pump, just be circulating the cooling water through ground temperature and through the cement subfloor of a building.

And where a heat pump is still needed it dumps heat into 60 to 65 degree ground temperature instead of 100 degree air, like a conventional air conditioning system.

The same efficiency is possible with heating, drawing heat from 60 degree ground and elervatuibg it to 100 degrees yeilds 3 to 4 times the efficiency of electrical resistance heating, and 2 to 3 times the heat of an outside air fed heat pump.

This really helps reduce peak loads. Most grid failure brownouts are from cooling loads in hot weather.


Electric cars require storage, but grid-connected buildings don't.  If you think everyone is going to put 60 kWh of storage in their house you have to make a case for how it will pay for itself.  Replacing expensive petroleum with much cheaper electricity is a reason for vehicles but not houses.

Found a Strange Quote

Does anyone think that this prius is a plug-in? I found a strange quote from the head of the Toyota hybrid division:

"Toyota is working on plans for "plug-ins" for the battery from the grid at fuel stations, with future hybrids carrying a traditional power-point for domestic appliances to be used outside the home. Mr Abe said the next Prius model will be able to do a nine-mile commute to work without using any petrol or diesel."

I'm not sure if this 113mpg prius is the "next generation" car that Mr. Abe is referring to; but maybe they're calculating the 113 mpg on the basis of the first 9 miles being grid power.


Home storage allows one to sell excess power into peak loads, then store cheap off peak power, that is how it would pay for itself. With lower cost or even free power. And in security from power outage. Frozen pipes alone cost thousands to fix.

Add in your own generation from solar, wind, or water and you get extra income to pay your property taxes (for instance) as well as be free from the grid in case of storm outage, a huge problem with global weather volatility on the rise. Nature can shut down a grid anytime with a storm.

This allows local areas to power themselves in case of grid emergency too. Economic losses from power outage are devestating. If local businesses can continue in operation then those losses are mitigated.

As battery costs come down due to mass production these efficiencies will become possivle. I envision heavier, cheaper, slower charging batteries for home/business power storage. More expensive very light, fast charge batteries for vehicles.


Another aspect of vehicle versus home power storage:

If one has a basic 20 kwh battery pack in a car (about 90 mile range), then two more plugin packs in case a longer range is needed, then the other 40kwh of battery packs can be left plugged in at home for storage most of the time. Say 40 kwh more of the cheaper, heavier batteries could supplement that.


"The article stated that the motivation was to try to improve European sales, where the car has not been a sucess due to the popularity of diesel models."

This is interesting as it points to the fact that the true potential of hybrids have to be further developed in order to truly complete with the simpler and cheaper diesel vehicles popular in Europe.


Frank, I posted this in response to your similar concerns about the availability of Lithium for batteries in the post on Alterno's Li-ion car. Perhaps you have not read it yet, so here goes again:

Frank, you have a good question there, one I've been starting to look into myself in the course of my research for my thesis project on alternative transport fuel options. Here's what I've found (and I'll look into this more soon):

This paper, Carrying the Energy Future, (an excellent one comparing H2 and electricity and showing why, in nearly every case, better alternatives to H2 exist) looks into just that question.

According to the paper, see pg 24, lithium makes up only 2% of the mass of a Li-ion battery. They go on to site two studies published in journals that I (and my university) unfortunately do not have access to, and reports that there is enough lithium in the world to make batteries for 2-12 billion cars.

These are the two studies cited (if anyone finds them, please email me a pdf of them! I would really appreciate it!):

-Will, F. G. “Impact of lithium abundance and cost on electric vehicle battery applications.” Journal of Power Sources 63.1(1996): 23-26.
-Andersson B. A., and I. Rade. “Metal resource constraints of electric vehicle batteries.” Transportation Research Part D 6.5 (2001): 297-324.

Considering that there are about half a billion cars in the US right now, there seems to be enough lithium out there to make enough EVs sufficient for a real solution to replace petroleum fuels. [The eventual use of carbon-based nano-engineered ultracapacitors, like those MIT is working on, could be the end-game for EVs as carbon is, for all intents and purposes, inexhaustable]

Contrast this to hydrogen fuel cells which rely on the very rare precious metal, platinum, as a catylist. Reducing the amount of platinum in PEM fuel cells, the cost of which currently amounts to a significant portion of total fuel cell costs, would be necessary to assure adequate supply of the rare earth metal to manufacture enough fuel cells for half a billion cars. Obviously, after that, extensive recycling would be necessary (although this would be the case with lithium too).

Hope that helps. Anyone else, please post additional comments along this thread here and/or email them to me. Cheers...

I'll check out that USGS study you cite as well. Thanks for the link. But, the short of it seems to be, yes there's only x amount of lithium but it only takes a small amount of lithium (2% of the battery by weight) to make a Li-ion battery. So, we're probably good to go on scaling up Li-ion production which ought to get us through (probably with a bit of recycling) until carbon-based high-capacity ultra-caps are ready to replace Li-ion.


And to weigh in on the speculation that the Gen III Prius will be a plug-in, it may have to be to get to the 113 mpg mark. You probably can't reach 113 mpg (EPA, not real-world!) with Li-ion batteries in a grid-independent hybrid-electric vehicle (HEV). That amounts to a doubling of fuel economy from the current ~55 mpg (EPA combined) of the Gen II Prius which is probably impossible as follows:

Current HEVs use NiMH batteries which have a poor coulombic efficiency of around 66% - that means that for every 100 units of energy put into the battery, only 66 (2/3rds) come back out again. Additionally, they must stay between 30%-60% depth of charge I believe to maintain the life of the battery - which means that most of the batteries weight is wasted. Additionally, there energy density (specific energy) is around 75-100 Wh/kg.

Contrast this to Li-ion which beats the pants off of NiMH in every category: Li-ion batteries have a nearly 100% couloumbic efficiency (lets say 99%) which means you get almost all of the energy you put in the battery back out again! Additionally, they can be discharged to a deeper level and I believe must stay between 20%-80% depth of discharge in an HEV - meaning they can utilize twice as much of the battery weight as a NiMH system. Finally, they have an energy density (specific energy) in the 100-180 Wh/kg range, again better than NiMH.

So, what you get is a battery that is at least half again more efficient (on a coulombic basis), can utilize twice as much of the batteries mass, a mass which stores about twice as much energy per kg. All in all, you have a much more efficient and lighter system, but can this get you to the 113 mpg mark? Probably not.

The current Prius gets 55 mpg (EPA combined) with a NiMH system. Lets assume that a comperabe non-hybrid model is a Toyota Camry (both the Camry and Prius are mid-size cars) which gets 28.5 mpg (combined). Thus, hybridization boosts fuel economy by about 90%.

So, lets assume that that figure goes up by a factor of 1.5 due to the higher coulombic efficiency of Li-ion over Ni-MH, and another factor of 1.5 perhaps (just a guess) due to the lighter weight battery (both due to higher specific energy and better utilization of the battery). That's 90%*1.5*1.5 = ~200%.

So with a new and improved Li-ion Gen III Prius, we can maybe expect a boost of 200% over the Camry's mileage which amounts to only 85.5 mpg, which while impressive, is still quite a bit below the 113 mpg mark. Perhaps you can eak 10% or so better out of that due to other fuel economy improving techs, but I wouldn't bet on it.

Based on that rough math, either 113 mpg is: an early publicity garnering figure which will then be revised downwards into the 85 mpg range; or Toyota has some other blockbuster fuel economy improvement measure up its sleave; or they are refering to a plug-in version of the Prius.

What do you all think?


Or are they going to do an electric transmission/hub drive solution? Getting rid of all that weight and friction might get you there, as would running the ICE at its best efficiency speed whenever it's on..


(9 miles + X miles) x (40 mpg divided by x)= 113 mpg

X = 4.9 miles

So for a total trip of around 14 miles around 113 mpg would be possible if the hybrid gets around 40+ mpg without plugging it in before driving. With regenerative braking maybe 45 mpg would be possible?

If the average one way trip between recharge were under 14 miles enough to offset longer trips, the total average trip length might be around 14 miles?

That would make the average over the whole use around 113 mpg, long distance trips being a small fraction of total miles driven.


A search seems to indicate this might be the case. 14 miles between charging oppurtunities could in fact be the average distance traveled in vehicles like the Prius.

With the better performing (5 minute charge to 90%, lighter weight per kwh capacity) lithium ion nano tech batteries maybe twice the mileage between recharge, 18 miles instead of 9, and recharge on a much higher percentage of trips may soon be possible. Nano tech lithium batteries are being tested in plugin cars by at least 4 companies right now.

Boosting the average mph to over 200? From an average now of maybe 30? Cutting average liquid fuel use for passenger cars to 20% of present levels.

That could happen maybe 5 to 10 years after these newer plugin hybrids with the better nano tech batteries are introduced, if they capture say 80% of the passeger car market by then?

This indicates that global climate disaster could be averted in its most severe aspects. but it will take mass production of better and better batteries, plugin cars, and renewable electricity to recharge them.

As far as the rest of CO 2 emmision from fossil fuel, the conversion to 80% renewable electric power for all other uses by using geothermal heat pump heating/cooling and substituting renewable electric power for industrial process heat could be acomplished in the same 10 year time frame.

When trucks, trains, buses, farm and industrial equipment all use plugin power too, then the end of global climate disaster will be in sight.

And think of the money saved! Instead of running everything on 5 to 10 dollar per gallon liquid fuel at 30 mpg, the whole world could be running at 200+ mpg and beyond. The sky is the limit with renewable electric power at 2 cents per kwh from large wind installations.

At that price, the equivalent transportation energy in renewable electric power to one gallon of gas would cost under 20 cents. What will liquid fuel rise to over the next 10 years? Beyond 10 dollars per gallon? I think so.


Well I guess that's a possibility. This points to the confusion that can result when talking about fuel economy for alternative fuel vehicles: are you going to talk about miles per gallon of gasoline, or miles per gallon of gasoline equivelent energy?

If we're talking about miles per gallon of gas, then an electric vehicle, hydrogen fuel cell vehicle or compressed natural gas vehicle, etc. all get infinite miles per gallon. Clearly this isn't a very useful measure to talk about unless your main aim is to quantify how much the fuel reduces petroleum energy use. If we are talking about mpg of gas, then a plug-in could easily reach 113 mpg.

A better comparison between vehicles would probably be miles per gallon of gas equivelent. In this case, you take into account the electricity that fills up your batteries in your plug-in. After-all, while it may be cheaper than gas, its not free, and it has plenty of associated environmental costs as well (again, less than gas though). If you're talking about mpg-gas equivelent, then a plug-in will be stretching to get up to 113 mpg. A full electric vehicle with Li-ion batteries would be in that range (~5.25x better fuel economy than an equivelent gas ICE is my rule of thumb).

Anyway, this just points to the importance of specifying how you, or Toyota in this case, are quantifying fuel economy.


Yep Jesse it's complicated. I tend to specify liquid fuel versus renewable electric power used, since I contend that any liquid fuel exacerbates CO 2 release and will rise exponentially in cost along with gasoline and diesel.

An electric plugin vehicle charged from a home solar/wind setup is optimum. with extra home generated renwable electric power sold into the grid to offset recharge from the grid when one is away from home.

I believe tax incentives ought to be removed from every fossil, nuclear, and agribizz source of energy, then a percentage of the savings applied to the plugin portion of plugin hybrids, electric vehicles, geothermal heat pumps, wind and solar on homes and small businesses.

Then the rest of those subsidies ripped from the energy industry (15 billion for big oil alone last year) should be used to convert government energy use to these renwable sources, encouraging mass production contracts for solar, wind, electric plugin vehicles, and geothermal heat pumps. It would be enough for a 10 year plan to halt the US contribution to global climate disaster from greenhouse gases.


There are a lot of overoptimistic assumptions floating around here. For one thing, a Prius is a very small car by a lot of people's standards. In the future we will probably see a lot fewer cellphone yacking bimbos in 7000 lb SUVs, (and that day can not come soon enough for me) but there are still going to be some people who actually do need something bigger than a Prius. Still going to be people with commutes too long to justify the cost of a big enough battery. (Diesel might be a good option for them, if particulates are dealt with) And there is a lot of time and money between the present state of our electic production (heavy on the coal) and where we would like it to be. I don't want to pee on the parade here- I want to see the PHEV revolution happen. There's a lot of forces out there that would like to smack it down, and it would pay to have realistic data to counter them with.


Well, perhaps it IS going to be a plug-in, or at least there will be a plug-in prius eventually...


The current available data seems to indicate that around 70 pounds of the latest batteries will be equivalent to a gallon of gas.

Heavier vehicles get lower mileage, but they also have a higher total weight capacity. So adding more battery weight should be no problem.

As far as electric power coming mostly from coal, that is a situation that needs fixing, but does that mean plugin transportation energy ought to be delayed in favor of biofuel or some other source that does nothing to cure global climate disaster?

Renewable power and electric vehicles can progress together to take over the market. Given incentives to facilitate mass production cost reduction.


As far as electric power coming mostly from coal, that is a situation that needs fixing, but does that mean plugin transportation energy ought to be delayed in favor of biofuel or some other source that does nothing to cure global climate disaster?

Not at all. PHEVs should absolutely be encouraged. They should be encouraged like a national security imperative, because that is what they are. My only point is that in promoting them, we should be aware of the kinds of questions that might come up from, say, oil industry shills or their political lap dogs.


Why not use the propane model at existing gas stations? Perhaps a bit simplistic - but why not have a battery design/carrier design where the battery can be sqitched out quickly (with some automation) so that you can drive to a refueling station and switch out for a fully charrged battery. You pay for the cost of refueling, and perhaps someithing additional for the wear/tear of the battery or batteries.

Rich Wilson

Suggest you read about EEstor and their barium titrate ultracapacitor battery. If it comes to past, and it's supposed to this Summer, talk about lithium ion batteries, time to recharge, etc. will become a moot point.


Does anyone know why the Prius not have a solar panel? Seems like all hybrids should.

Todd Cory

>Does anyone know why the Prius not have a >solar panel? Seems like all hybrids should.

To generate the amount of power you need to power a Prius you'd need several kW's of PV's... so maybe towing a trailer mounted rack would work.


Better to mount those solar panels on your home, garage roof, or over your parking area. Haul the power around in batteries. Quick charge ones you can recharge in a few minutes while away from home.

Or how about mounting solar panels on every suitable roof everywhere? And over every parking lot and even highways (if necessary)?

There is enough space for solar power to energize every plugin car needed to replace fossil fuel climate/financial disaster. The science is indisputable. Where is the capital to make it happen?

In the big corporations and investment institutions who favor continued fossil fuel use. And influence governments to make it continue.

Just the government subsidies to oil companies alone could provide a hefty 30% tax incentive for home and business owners to go with solar and plugin cars. Enough to get half our power from rooftop solar within a decade.

Add in the subsidies to other energy companies and it would be a whole new economy, manufacturing prosperity of historic proportions that would pay down the record debt run up during these years of recessionary oil wars.


If you have looked into solar energy as a method for heating your home, panels are usually the first things that come up.

There are, however, other unique methods.

The Solar Heating Aspect You Have Never Heard of Before

The power of the sun is immense. The energy in one day of sunlight is more than the world needs. The problem, of course,

is how does one harness this power. Solar panels represent the obvious solution, but they have their downside. First,

they can be expensive depending upon your energy needs. Second, they do not exactly blend in with the rest of your home.

Passive solar heating represents a panel free method of harnessing the inherent energy found in the sun for heating

purposes. If you come out from a store and open the door of your car in the summer, you understand the concept of passive

solar heating. A wide variety of material absorbs sunlight and radiates the energy back into the air in the form of heat.

Passive solar heating for a home works the same way as the process which overheats your car in the parking lot.


I would love it if there was a *cheap* alternative to modify the Prius for existing owners. I know there is that company in Denver that charges 25k to make your existing Prius a plug-in, but that pretty much doubles the price of the car.

Real Prices from Real People


I would love it if there was a *cheap* alternative to modify the Prius for existing owners. I know there is that company in Denver that charges 25k to make your existing Prius a plug-in, but that pretty much doubles the price of the car.

Real Prices from Real People

Kit P

Gosh, the 2008 Pius are available for those who do not mind spending thousand more for green scams.


KitP, your snide, unsupported toadish comments are getting rather boring. If you are going to say something like this why don't you at least inform people of your reasoning?

Kit P

Marcus have you read a life cycle analysis that show a Pius is better than a Corolla for the $6k more in cost? No, of course not. It is an unfounded assumption that sticker mileage translates into actual benefit. The groups most disappointed with millage is Humvee SUV and hybrid owners.

I know two folks at work that commute more than 100 miles a day. One drives a SUV and the other drives a Pius like a bat out of hell. I did not coin the word 'Pius' to describe a Prius but when I heard it fit.

The best I can tell all of Marcus reasoning is based on unfounded assumption. He is part of the logic by consensus group who use words like 'dirty' and 'clean' rather than actually understand the environment impact of emissions. I drive a green car because that is the color Toyota painted it. For all you claim to be doing something for the environment by driving a car, let me suggest that it borders on being pompous.

Boys with toys is not green.


For your info KitP I walk to work and my house power is100% renewable. Who is getting pius now? My complaint regarding your comment is lack of explanation. Thanks for providing it. You do not further your cause by simply hurling insults at the masses.

Kit P

Marcus, while you are walking to work you may want to think about working on your sense of humor and thin skin. You seem to have the expectation that everyone will agree with you on a particular subject.

In case you have not read your your post you are better at insulting than explaining why your position is a good environmental choice.

So no, you have no data to support that the Pius is a good environmental choice. So therefore what you call a snide remark is a is really an accurate depiction of hybrid owners. Funny thing, I originally thought hybrids were a good idea.

Marcus wrote, “my house power is100% renewable.”

Tell me more if you dare. While I am really interested renewable energy, I suspect you are just another stupid consumer expecting a pat on the back for getting ripped off by fast talking salesman. Please do not admit to me you cut down a tree to put solar panels. I suppose you expect a tax write off too.


My problem with your comments KitP is that your aim on this and other blogs is obviously not to inform or discuss but to put people down. And, judging from other people's responses to your comments I don't think I lack any more humour than the next person. If you think you have knowledge you want to share try another approach because this one isn't working. Do you see how your last comment proves my point? You issue a dare. Is that a strategy to humiliate or educate?

Kit P

Interesting Marcus, you had a choice between informing people about your “100% renewable house” or informing people that you do not like my style.

I will keep telling folks that Hybrid are not a good environment choice. I will keep telling people that putting solar panels of the roof of homes is a bad environmental choice.

My goal is to get people to make good environmental choices and stop wasting money on consumer scams.

If you are going to advocate something Marcus you need to be prepared to defend it. If you think hauling batteries around and putting junk on your roof that does not make electricity when you need it, is a good idea; then defend it.


I had a choice between playing your silly little game or describing how silly it is. I chose the latter. What did I advocate KitP? I never made any comments on the validity of your Prius claim except that your initial comment gave no supporting evidence and it was toad-like. I stand by those comments. I have no "junk" on my roof and I did not advocate anything to anybody except carbon pricing on the other thread.

The comments to this entry are closed.

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Batteries/Hybrid Vehicles