Sion Introduces a Lithium Sulfur Rechargeable Battery
By Bill Moore
The way to successful battery electric cars may be through your laptop computer and cellular telephone.
It's generally accepted that battery EVs have suffered for a lack of a good, high energy density battery. Lead acid is might be cheap but its too heavy and too low in energy density to offer more than a 50-100 miles range before needing a lengthy recharge. Worse, they have a relatively short cycle life before needing to be replaced. While many intrepid early adopters learned to live with and love their electric cars, carmakers couldn't be persuaded that the rest of us would be willing follow suit.
Meanwhile, the growth of portable electronic devices from cellphones to camcorders to laptop computers has quietly continued to push advanced battery technology in an effort to help these devices become smaller, lighter and most importantly, operate longer, which, incidentally, is exactly the same thing we'd want out of batteries in a good electric car.
While nickel metal hydride batteries promised breaking the 100 miles range barrier, it is lithium chemistry that EV enthusiasts see as the real breakthrough technology that will make battery cars popular, with ranges approaching the once-elusive 300 miles.
Now along comes Sion Power out of Tucson, Arizona -- a spin-off of the Brookhaven Labs -- with a derivative of lithium chemistry based on sulfur that it claims has a theoretical specific energy density that could more than quadruple the lithium-ion limit of 580 watt hours/kg to 2500 wh/kg. Their current prototype Li-S laptop computer power extender delivers 350Wh/Kg and they expect to have that up to 450 within two years.
As you might expect, the company is focusing its efforts on the portable electronics market where business travelers would love to have their laptops run for a solid-eight hours instead of the 1-2 hours common today. But that didn't stop Melvin Miller, the President and CEO of and Mark Jost from prowling about the 2004 Electric Drive Transportation Association conference in Orlando this past September. After all, millions of cars someday powered by their battery chemistry isn't a market to be ignored, be they battery, plug-in hybrids or fuel cell hybrids.
EV World took the opportunity to talk with them about their technology in this exclusive, "From-the-Exhibition-Floor" interview. You'll learn some interesting things about why they believe lithium sulfur is a better, safer technology, one could someday soon be powering high altitude, long-endurance, unmanned aerial reconnaissance aircraft. When that happens, car cars be far behind?
In the spirit of the holidays, EV World is making this six minute-long interview available to all our readers as a representative sample of the type of "first person" industry narratives EV World is known for and available to our Premium service subscribers throughout the year. To listen to the interview, use the Flash-based MP3 Player at the right or download the MP3 file to your hard drive for "podcasting" on your IPod or similar MP3 device.