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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Obama Ramps up Electric Car Battery Grants

USA Today

As the Obama administration gears up for Energy legislation, the focus has been on doling out research money to try to keep America in the fight to produce the next generation of batteries that will power electric cars.

For instance, Vice President Joseph Biden visited a company called UQM Technologies near Boulder, Colo., Friday that won a $45 million grant under the stimulus bill to increase production of propulsion systems for electric cars. UQM works with Coda Automotive, a Santa Monica, Calif., company that hopes to sell electric cars next year. That's the Coda car in the photo above.

The administration just doled out another $106 for energy research projects including a bunch for electric car batteries. After all the talk about how electric vehicles will be powered by lithium-ion batteries, what struck Drive On was the wide array of battery chemistry that is being researched. They include:

    * Lithium-sulfer. Sion Power Co. in Tucson was given a $5 million grant to see if it can develop a car battery that can go 300 miles between charges.

    * Zinc flow air. A slurry form of zinc would be stored in a tank and transmitted through a tube to charge and discharge a battery. ReVolt Technology of Portland, Ore., received a $5 million grant.

    * Lithium-air. Another $5 million to PolyPlus Battery of Berkeley, Calif., to develop an automotive battery that has the energy density of gasoline.

    * Magnesium-ion. Pellion Technologies of Menlo Park, Calif., would develop a cheap battery using this technology with its $3.2 million grant.

    * Advanced lithium-ion. The next generation of the lithium-ion battery that would be low-cost and ultra-high in energy density through this $4.3 million going to Applied Materials in Santa Clara, Calif.

    * Solid state lithium. Planar Energy Devices of Orlando will get $4 million to explore an ultra-high density, long-cycle battery that uses inorganic materials and solid-state electrolytes.