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April 09, 2007

Comments

GreyFlcn

Ah well, long as we get atleast one successful battery company.

If Altair fails, I'm sure there will be plenty to fill it's spot.

Although I've been hearing rumors that the 2008 Zap-X (priced at $60,000) will be powered by the 35KW Altair packs.

GAB

$60,000 for one of these cars is going to nothing to get this industry off the ground. As a toy or novelty for the afluent, little or no progress on GHG emissions will be made with plug in cars.

I would think the first wave of plugins need to cater to the lowest commone denominator, safe, reliable, simple and as cheap as possible. The equivalent of a electric original Beetle or Hyundai Pony. Only through mass acceptance and volume production will these cars make a difference, at $60,000 I don't think they will ever get the scale they need to produce them efficiently.

greg woulf

I think their plan is a good one, if what they have an eye toward saving the planet.

The demand for these batteries is larger than the supply by a large margin. If they can make enough and make them cheap enough to be competitive economically with ICE's then the plan can't fail.

Power tools don't do a thing to save the planet and A123's partnership with GM has ties that are more likely to slow the delivery of efficient batteries into the wider marketplace.

The biggest two question marks in Altair's success formula is how much their batteries cost to make, and how fast they can produce them.

Nathan

In everything from bikes, to cellphones, and even cars, a trickle down approach has been shown to be the most effective way of getting new technology on the market. Trying to sell electric cars at a 20,000 price point is like trying to sell plasma tv's at 150 bucks. This is one of the reasons that I(and many others I assume) don't necessarily see events like nascar or formula 1 as a waste or rescrouces. They are both responsible for drastic changes in automobile design in effeciency, power, safety, aerodynamics, and many more.

amazingdrx

Battery technology is all ready to power serial plugin hybrids, like the proposed GM Volt.

The will to mass produce is lacking. The boardroom is still backing internal combustion. The boardroom fossils still do not believe GHGs are a problem.

I bet they still think oil wars are a good idea too. Witness the move of halliburton to dubai. The board roomies still back oil war and the huge profits it produces for oil and military industrial companies, even if 70% of US no longer believe. They will keep fighting the oil wars even after we pull out.

Hand all power to multinational corporations and this is what you get.

April 19 is the aniversary of the start of The Revolutionary war in 1775. Let's have another revolution! Against the forces of corporate feudalism.

The first revolution was impelled largely by one of the first multinational corporate feudal entities and was actually owned by a king. The British East india Tea Company. Remember them?

amazingdrx

Nuclear power in France is pure socialism. State owned and controlled.

We wind, solar, plugin car, and conservation advocates are capitalists. We see huge profits in renewables and huge economic growth for the good old USA.

We can't wait to trade this coming boom in renewable energy and conservation. Let the boom begin!

Down with monopoly corporate/goverment commie conspiracies like nuclear power. That way lies global corporate hegemony.

Harvey D.

There are no compelling reasons for first generation PHEVs to be as cheap as equivalent size ICE vehicles?

In almost ALL cases, new technology units are (for the first few years) always more expensive (2x to 4X) than the units they replace.

In principle, the first generation mid-size PHEVs would cost between $40k and $80K but should drop by 50% withing 3 to 5 years, i.e to a price range of $20k to $40k.

The same scenario will apply to BEVs as batteries, electric motors, control sub-systems etc drop in price.

As China and India (and other low labour cost countries) will be the main suppliers of PHEV's and BEV's parts, the price drop may be faster than expected.

Rick

Altairs exclusivity agreement does not extend off shore or to PHEV's onshore. It is only for domestic all-electrics. This was covered in their last conference call.

Further, thier agreement with Alcoa for delivery type vans should bear fruit in the next 18 months. They have plenty to do and the agreement, which is for 3 years, is the quickest way to get their battery on the road, proving their claims.

I suspect they will be bought out by a bigger company with manufacturing expertise before long. Their battery is just too good to stay in small hands much longer. And remember, they have a generation two coming in '07 that will double the range to over 200 miles. Couple that wil their cost and production initiative announced in their last conference call, which will lower costs fro $2/kwh to $.33/kwh, and they have a winner.

greg woulf

Quote:
"Couple that wil their cost and production initiative announced in their last conference call, which will lower costs fro $2/kwh to $.33/kwh, and they have a winner."
End Quote:

I don't seem to be able to find the conference call you're referring to, and I'd love to hear it. I'm not questioning you, just like to verify things.

$2/kwh doesn't make sense to me. Is that $2,000/kwh? or $2 a wh?

$2,000 a kwh would be $30,000 a 15 kwh pack. That sounds about right for the initial cost before production improvements. If that is the cost, and they could cut it 1/6th (2-->.33) then that'd put the pack at $5,000 and that'd be very good for the electronice Vehicle world.


Abby

For a copy of their recent conference call you can try to call Marty Tulio, their individual investor rep. You can get her number and e-mail address from the Altair website. In the past, she has sent me a copy of a conference call on a CD. Good luck.

Dave

Beek

Rick, I understand that Altair's Nanosafe stands at 75 Wh/kg. I think you are saying that in '07, they will deliver G2 nanosafes that have capacity 150 Wh/kg. Could you cite a link for that - it is mighty interesting. That will put them ahead of A123 at 100 Wh/kg. Unless of course A123 has something up their sleeves.

What do people here think of the A123 image of a 402000 (my guess) Nanophosphate battery (see picture)?


http://www.wilmingtonstar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070311/ZNYT01/703110488/1002/business

http://www.wilmingtonstar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/misc?url=/misc/zoom.pbs&Site=WM&Date=20070311&Category=ZNYT01&ArtNo=703110488&Ref=AR&Profile=1002&caption=From%20left,%20Yet-Ming%20Chiang,%20Bart%20Riley,%20Ric%20Fulop%20and%20David%20Vieau%20of%20A123Systems,%20with%20rechargeable%20lithium%20batteries%20at%20the%20company’s%20headquarters%20in%20Watertown,%20Mass.&photocredit=Rick%20Friedman%20for%20The%20New%20York%20Times

marcus

Are you really sure there is going to be an upgrade to the battery in '07? What I heard quite clearly was that they are going to release an SUV in '07 or '08 (?) and that this can simply carry the extra batteries required to double the range of the SUT, that's all.

Jimmi

Beek,

The 35 wh/kg Nanosafe has the distance off about 110. The 75 Wh/kg Nanosafe which is due out at the end of this year will have the range of about 250. When Rick was mentioning the doubling of distance, he was already refering to the 75 Wh/kg Nanosafe. From my understanding there are no plans for a 150 Wh/kg Nanosafe.

Greg,

It has been stated before that the initial goal through, if I can remember correctly, "moderate production levels" would be about $400/kwh as stated by Gotcher. But I'm inclined to believe it would be through "high production levels" that they would be able to achieve this. That would be about $14000 for the 35 Nanosafe. I would think that moderate production levels would be considered as achieved in 2009 when they would be producing about 20000+ vehicles a year.

That might be the goal they are looking for at that point in time. At $14000 per 35 kwh... you might be able to make that EV at around $25k-$30k or cheaper (not sure really but I would like to see some of your estimates for an EV with a 35 Nanosafe at $14k). That might be considered as "in-line" with their current possible strategy with Phoenix. All vehicles in production for 2007 and 2008, and possibly 2009 will be taken as a loss with the ZEV credits off-setting that (hopefully, if they find buyers for their credits). This is some intrsting reading here...

http://www.altairnano.com/documents/Forbes_03-12-07.pdf

From my understanding, 2009 or 2010 will be the last year Phoenix will be able to get the type III ZEV credit @ 40 credits per EV unit sold. Funny how that'll also be the end of the exclusivity agreement. So it seems to me they are trying to utilize the max ZEV credits till they can ramp up production. So far they are in-line with their estimates if it is true they already have 200 orders lined up. That's almost 1/2 of their estimated goal of 500... all in the first quarter of 2007. 2008 will be their next hurdle at 6000 units. With PG&E maybe ordering 200+ vehicles a year (roughly 5% of 6000 rounding up from 3.33% @ 200 units), they are only 19 similar contracts away from achieveing that goal. Not sure of any numbers with Alcoa but it has been stated they are using the battery for company hybrids. ALTI and AA have been setting up booths at conventions lately and in the near future. So I can see that as a positive thing. 2009 seems to be the biggest hurdle and I hope the best to Phoenix and Altair. I'm still not so certain that this agreement was the best route to take. With all the other technologies out there like the batteries by A123 and the possible Firefly battery, Altair doesn't have anytime to waste... let alone 3 years with a limiting agreement.

Its still pretty early in the game to totally back or dismiss ALTI. I'm just glad BEV exposure is really starting to kick off. I'm glad the general public will soon get an auto electrification education. Hopefully this discussion will hit the mainstream right in time for the presidential elections.

Beek

Jimmi, you seem to know a lot about ALTI, but seem to be uninterested about A123 ;-))

What did you think of that picture of a A123 402000 battery? Is that a single cell?

If that is a single cell, then it is the largest Li-ion battery ever invented, AFAIK!

Rick

here's a blog that did a comparison of a123 to altair:

http://jcwinnie.biz/wordpress/?p=2080

Beek

Thank you Rick. Is there a blog or otherwise site that primarily tracks nano-lithium battery developments?

What is the prognosis for future increase in energy capacity?

Jimmi

Beek,

Nice picture... I think those are the single cells that is being planned for hybrids n such. The original M1 cells are alot smaller. I remember an article a while back where model hobbyists took apart an M1 cell from the packs used in batteries from some Black N Decker power tools. If I can remember correctly the hobbyists weren't to impressed.

As far an being unintrested in A123... cycle life is my main drawback. And maybe the fact that I can't invest into them since they are still a private company. But cycle life is my main thing. Let's say for arguements sake that both batteries from A123 and ALTI are the same price per kwh, which is safe to say since you estimated the A123 would be about $800/kwh in volume and the ALTI is estimated at $400/kwh but since we don't have any numbers to go with regarding A123 let's level the financial playing field. A123 has 1000+ cycles, and ALTI has 20000+. Need I say more as far as recouping costs over time. I'm really really really intrested to see the actual and estimated volume costs of A123's batteries. I would hate to think that even at $400/kwh the A123 battery would need to be changed about every 3 years. I change my current battery about every 2 years at about $50 a pop. Do consumers really want to change out a nano li-ion battery every 3 years (given you do a full charge once a day) at $400/kwh or more? Maybe I'm missing something here but it seems to me that over the life of the car the Nanosafe is the better buy, especially when you take V2G into account. You can run more of your house for a longer period of time.

As far as future increase in energy capacity... I think I remember from the last conference call that AES is looking at ALTI for possible stationary storage units. No numbers were given or no time frames were issued. But if you're thinking stationary energy storage units... you have to possibly think of some huge numbers. This is where I feel ALTI needs to concentrate their efforts. The BEV has been done. They just need to bring costs down through volume and maybe redesign their Nanosafe to adhere to a full spectrum of vehicles.

Rick,

I'm glad somebody finally posted that article. Glad to see that somebody else out there favors ALTI over A123 as I do. But I want A123 to succeed also. Competition is the only way to drive innovation. I'm sure there are plenty of profits both companies can acquire. Think of ALTI and A123 as the next generation Duracell and EverReady. And let's not forget Firefly. I like their technology and there cost estimates... but there is nothing in their website concerning cycle/calander life. If Firefly can produce their battery at the estimated cost of about 1/5 of the advanced li-ion batteries and have a cycle life of 4000+... than we'll have a new bully on the block. Like I said before... still way too early to tell but atleast ALTI/Phoenix are actually building vehicles.

kert

::$60,000 for one of these cars is going to nothing to get this industry off the ground

Not that i agree with that completely, but thats the reason why Mitsubishi MiEV and Subaru R1E are being prepared for launch, ca 2009.
http://www.autoexpress.co.uk/news/autoexpressnews/207964/electric_i_gets_ready_to_plug_in.html
http://www.autoexpress.co.uk/news/autoexpressnews/207609/electric_subaru_to_charge_into_uk.html

this type of cars, inexpensive city-cars, highway capable if needed, are highly popular and sold in high volume in Europe
Look up Nissan Micra, Ford Ka, Hyundai Getz and countless others.
Price bracket $10-20 000, just enough performance to take kids to school on a maybe 30km roundtrip from suburbs.

Beek

Jimmi, I assume A123 is simply being conservative about their cycle life. I don't believe they are of such mindset to put one battery to a 12,000 cycle life test, and then announce to the world that they have achieved cycle life for good.

If they say 1,000 - then I assume it is good for at least 3,000. That is 8 years.

Cost will come down with A123 to $200/KWh in volume. I have no doubts about this. A NBEV (nano-BEV) with 20 KWh battery (60 km range) will cost only $4000 for its battery pack. So that is only $1.33 cost per charge cycle (assuming 3000 cycle) or 2 cents a km driven. Peanuts.

The hard engineering/science issue is energy capacity, IMO. The number of uses and applications and amount of value added will increase exponentially (power of 4 at least) with energy capacity.

Beek

Jimmi - it turns out that the A123 M1 is rated at 2000 charge cycles. I picked up a DeWalt 36v spec sheet, and there it says: 2000.

That is 6 years of operation!

And believe me if DeWalt says 2000, then in reality it is 4,000 for such a greenfield product.

There is no doubt that A123 cycle life is as impressive as ALTI as far as everyday usage such as n-BEV is concerned.

Jimmi

Beek,

6-8 years would almost be perfect. The 1000+ I got was taken from A123's website. Calender life IMOP for the nano li-ion should hopefully last atleast the expected life of the car. I don't think the average consumer would like the fact of changing out their nano battery at $200+/kwh every 5 years. For a 20 kwh battery you're looking at $4000. Maybe 6-8 years but I'm just speculating. I wonder if A123 can bring their costs down to .20/wh. Altair is currently at $2/wh and hopes to achieve .33/wh through volume. If A123 can bring it down to .20/wh with 6-8 years of calender life... than we might have a winner. These specs from A123 would be nice but since they are a private company... they don't have to divulge the info.

When looking at the DeWalt... did you happen to notice the warranty on the battery???

Phoenix/Altair also expresses conservative numbers. When advertising the Phoenix truck, they say 12+ years. But the Nanosafe actually has a 20000+ cycle life... which would really be 50+ years. Now that's conservative. Funny how the warranty on the Nanosafe, from what I read from a comment here, is just 3 years. Need to verify that piece of tid bit.

With A123 in the dark as far as costs are concerned... and neither A123 or ALTI are mass producing these batteries... it is really to early to tell.

Let's run some Phoenix numbers over time compared with a similar gas truck. Let's look at 10 years and using the truck 120 miles a day (this is a fleet owner scenerio).

Initial costs:
Phoenix $45000
Average comparison $20000

Rate:
Phoenix $4/120 miles
Average comparison $4/20 mile ($3/gallon @ 15 miles per gallon so $24/120 [fully loaded gas truck not diesel]

1 year fuel consuption:
Phoenix $1460
Average comparison $8760

10 years fuel consumption + initial costs:
Phoenix $59600
Average comparison $107600

This is why Phoenix is targeting fleet vehicles with lots of travel. Over 10 years you're looking at 1/2 the cost of a gas fueled truck when just considering initial costs and fuel consumption. If considering maintenence and assuming BEV have fewer problems than your current gas trucks... than you'll be saving even more money. The average consumer currently has no need for a BEV like Phoenix unless they travel that 120 miles a day.

jbandy

Jimmi,

From your figures it looks like you assume 43,800 miles/year (365*120/mi/day?). If that's correct, we're talking over 400,000 miles in ten years. I'm not sure the truck or the battery pack are going to last that long.

Still, you've got a good point that high mileage fleet can see cost savings even at much higher initial cost.

Jimmi

Was just trying to use simple math to show a point. Can't really do the proper math unless I knew the average miles driven for a fleet vehicle for a company like PG&E, which I don't. I wish I knew the cost of the Phoenix truck without the battery. I would of loved to run a scenerio with an "actual average miles driven" number and "maintenece costs" number. Theoretically the battery pack should last what... 12 years. All you would have to do is replace the other stuff that breaks down within 12 years. I wonder how much are one of those UQM motors??? My guess is that replacing one of them would be the highest repair cost. Just don't know how long one of them will actually last.

120 isn't that too far fetched of a number for some US drivers. Although a good portion drive under 50 miles a day... there is a niche for those that drive 100+ miles a day 5 days a week. Those that commute about 1 hour of freeway driving one way. All sorts of delivery services. Maybe ALTI needs too look in the other direction... cater to those that do 400+ miles a day... tractor trailer trucks.

Beek

Jimmi, ALTI should not be in the BEV business. They should do what is best use of their IP - namely to mass produce nanosafes and bring the price down and increase the capacity. For heaven's sake, they dont even build their own batteries. There are literally thousands of applications for a nanosafe with 75 wh/kg and tens of thousands of applications for a nanosafe at 150 Wh/kg.

ALTI should not try to promote BEVs or other particular application. It is a distraction for them. Let the nanosafe do the talking. ALTI should not do the talking, and should concentrate on capacity and price of the batteries.

ElectRich

The future public charge stations is near. Aerovironment CVS charger station will charge up to 10 electric vehicles at different charge rates from 48v to 400v. Phoenix SUT has a 400v ALTI Nanosafe battery pack. For a 10 minute charge would need 525 amps to deliver 35kwh. Well within the specs of many of AVinc.com posicharge chargers. Couldn't find all the specific details on the CVS charger on the site. ALTI isn't just involved with Phoenix. It has many projects including supplying batteries for hybrid/BEV trucks, buses, aircraft and tugboats. Gleaned this info from AVINC, UGM, ALTI, ALCOA, EATON, PETERBUILT and WALMART. Other possibilities are the 2008 Olympic dump trucks and electric drive sailboat batteries. Phoenix deal only limits auto SUV and SUT sales. I just hope ALTI can keep up with demand. They make the nano material in the USA. Only the cell fabrication is in China. Even the packs are assembled in USA. Lithium is probably from USA and Chili. As far as battery pack capacity ALTI has 35kwh in production, 70kwh and maybe a 210kwh in the near future. There is a lot of inter-related partnerships. It's only a mater of time. Don't know if ALTI is getting any the DOE energy fund dollars. How long does it take to ramp up lithium titanate spinel oxide (LTO) production?

Beek

ElectRich, is the 70KWh pack just twice the size of the 35KWh pack? And where can I get information about the 210KWh pack?

There are thousands of applications for nanosafe. ALTI is distracting itself by going into the applications business.

They should concentrate on powder production at huge scales, low price, and if they wish to expand their horizons, then they should perfect the battery assembly part that is currently being done in China. Packaging of the cells, which they are already doing, is also important to their business.

Issue is energy capacity, scalability, and cost. Where the battery/pack goes, is not their business.

Jimmi

I think ALTI is giving Phoenix a little attention because it needs some kind of cash cow. Not in the sense of pleasing stockholders, but in the sense of being a company that can produce capital to further additional growth. Grotcher can only dip into the well (stock issuance) so much before some dilution occurs. I'm not sure if you guys realize that if ALTI recieves the full 500 order maximum and delivers... it'll put ALTI in the black for the first time since before I can remember. That'll be huge and I'll throw a toast to Grotcher for achieving that goal.

So far I am pleased with Grotcher's decisions. We'll see by the end of this year if this agreement will bare some fruit for ALTI.

Beek

Jimmi, Grotcher should be off-loading the risk out of ALTI. Instead, he is inviting risk by aligning himself with another uncertain venture (Pheonix). There are people who specialize in risk management, namely VCs. He should be selling stock to VCs like crazy to finance his development. This will not bring down the stock price, cause he is getting cash. It makes you wonder why he wants to keep ALTI stock afloat using questionable methods. VCs were born and bred for this purpose. Question is why did that not happen? There is more to this story, unfortunately.

Jimmi

Beek,

There is always more to the story. Looking at some past events, ALTI has aligned themselves with 2 utility companies... PG&E with a possible 200 unit a year purchase order... AES buying 1.5% of remaining common stock. I know ALTI's current strategy isn't catering to the masses, but catering to the utility companies (which by the way is the sector that will profitting from the plug-in craze) has it's advantages. These are the companies that will try to find 1000's of applications for ALTI's technolgy. Atleast I would assume so. Makes sense since now AES is talking with ALTI for stationary energy storage units... that was from the last conference call but with very little detail. I must admit... ALTI is nestled in a nice little niche with Phoenix and PG&E. I think Grotcher realized that at the current production levels (which is low) the a way to profit is to make an alliance with Phoenix and cater to fleets. Have Phoenix place the order for batteries.. taking a loss on the vehicle and obtaining 40 ZEV credits a unit. Some future price estimates are $2500 a credit. Phoenix will sell a truck at $45000 and recieve up to $100000 in credits... $145000 minus the cost of the battery of $70000 ($2/wh) leaves you with $75000 to build the truck around the battery and the left over is profit for Phoenix. Assuming there is a market for these credits. And by the way... ALTI owns 16.6% of Phoenix. And now Phoenix and ALTI has utility companies knocking on their door. ALTI gets the orders for the batteries (minimum 229 this year hopefully)to further enhance prduction levels... ALTI profits from the success of Phoenix... ALTI get investment and possible collaberation from AES.

I'm sure you're aware that ALTI is a nanotech company and that it's entire being is risk based. With the exception of TIMET (Titanium Metals) where they collect licensing fees for there involvement in the DARPA project back in 2004, all avenues ALTI is pursuing is an uncertain venture. I see nothing wrong in trying to seek solidarity in one avenue to possibly furthering enhancing the entire spectrum. As far as selling to VCs I'm sure that's in the game plan also. AES just took a 1.5% chunck and I'm sure other's will follow... does somebody have Warren Buffet's number =b. All kidding aside... like I said before, I'm satisfied where Grotcher has taken this company. Before Grotcher... ALTI had an identity crisis... literally. Look at how many name changes have occured in the last decade or so. No real direction.. just randomly changing from one fad to another. Grotcher really put some focus in the company to achieving goals. And so far I'm pleased with the results. Don't get me wrong... I could be pleased even more but for now this level of pleasure is satisfactory.

Jimmi

Beek...

Remeber when I said ALTI might get some colaberations with AES. Well this is some news from the Altair website...

-------------------------

RENO, NV -- April 23, 2007 -- Altair Nanotechnologies Inc. (Nasdaq: ALTI), a leading provider of advanced nanomaterials technology for use in energy, life sciences and industrial applications, today announced that Robert F. Hemphill, Executive Vice President, AES Corporation, has joined its Board of Directors.

"We are very pleased to have Bob Hemphill join our board of directors," said Alan J. Gotcher, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Altair Nanotechnologies Inc. "Bob brings to Altairnano more than 25 years of experience at one of the world's largest global power companies. His depth of experience and expertise will be a powerful addition to our company, especially as we add new intensity to our Advanced Materials and Power Systems Business Unit and our Clean Energy Storage Initiative."

-------------------

Once again... I'm pleased with Grotcher's decision.

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