Wednesday, January 5, 2011

GREEN WATCH: Fleet operators may switch to hybrids or electrics sooner than private motorists

Reports in the United States indicate that fleet operators may start using hybrids and electric vehicles on a wide scale before private motorists as they try to hedge against fluctuating fuel prices.

The prospect of USD200 oil is encouraging more fleet operators to look at the alternatives as a way of controlling cost variations and this is spurring electric and battery research in the United States.

Tech Upstart Actacell, which produces high-power Lithium-Ion cells for hybrid vehicles received USD3 million in grants to test their technology and develop large scale production for nano materials used in the battery production.

They also received  $179,000 grant from the U.S. Advanced Battery Consortium (made up of Ford, GM and Chrysler) to conduct a 16-month assessment of ActaCell’s high-power battery cells to see if they meet requirements specified by the consortium for power-assist hybrid-electric vehicle applications. 

It’s essentially a slew of tests to pinpoint the battery’s overall performance, how it works under different temperature situations and what it’s overall lifecycle looks like.

ActaCell licenses research from the University of Texas at Austin and has used it to make battery cells that use a traditional approach to making lithium ion batteries but without blending in nickel or cobalt, which companies typically add to compensate for the short life cycle of these batteries (particularly under too-hot, too-cold conditions). 

Not having to add those materials and creating a more efficient battery could result in lowered cooling requirements for car makers and a cheaper battery overall. If the company can demonstrate the technology works and can scale up, it could eventually grow to service the market for mass consumer electric and hybrid cars.

Via GreenBeat thru GreenCarReports

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