News Release: NREL Joins with A123Systems to Improve Advanced-Vehicle Batteries

June 19, 2008 | By George Douglas | Contact media relations

The U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and A123Systems have teamed up to support the battery-maker’s effort to develop safe, less expensive, more powerful, and longer lasting batteries for hybrid-electric vehicles. The Laboratory and the battery-maker have signed a three-year, Cooperative Research and Development Agreement to examine and develop new techniques to improve thermal management in advanced transportation batteries.

"We're pleased to be working with A123Systems on thermal management of their advanced nanophosphate-based lithium ion batteries," NREL Principal Engineer Ahmad Pesaran said. "Batteries with improved thermal behavior are critical for widespread acceptance of affordable hybrid-electric vehicles that consume less fuel and reduced harmful emissions."

Hybrid electric vehicles get as much as double the fuel economy of comparable cars. Plug-in hybrids will be even more gasoline-stingy with potential of displacing significant amount of gasoline with electricity for road transportation. To achieve these goals, affordable, high-performance, safe, and long-lasting batteries need to be produced in large quantities.    

Propulsion batteries – batteries that power an electric motor to assist moving a car – are key components of hybrid-electric vehicles, and will be more important in the plug-in hybrid and extended range electric cars of the future. By better understanding the thermal behavior of advanced batteries, NREL researchers will help A123Systems engineers design improved thermal management systems and to optimize the design of the battery cell and develop a battery pack that's lighter, cheaper and more durable.

“NREL’s expertise and state of the art thermal laboratories are an important national asset and we look forward to continue our collaboration with them to further advance the state of the art of Automotive Class Lithium Ion batteries” said Bart Riley, CTO of A123Systems. The company is developing high power lithium ion batteries with NanophosphateTM cathodes under a contract with the US Automotive Battery Consortium and the FreedomCAR-Fuel Partnership.

About NREL

NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy's primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for DOE by Midwest Research Institute and Battelle.

About A123Systems

A123Systems is one of the world's leading suppliers of high-power lithium ion batteries. The company's patented NanophosphateTM technology enables its batteries to deliver a previously unattainable combination of power, safety and life. Applicable to a wide range of industries, A123Systems' products remove many traditional technology constraints to provide OEMs expanded flexibility in system design. With world-class expertise and management, global manufacturing operations and one of the largest automotive lithium ion R&D teams, A123Systems and its Automotive Class Lithium IonTM products are accelerating the automotive movement towards platform electrification. Founded in 2001 and headquartered in Massachusetts, A123Systems' proprietary Nanophosphate technology is built on initial developments from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A123Systems' Advanced Research & Government Solutions Division in Ann Arbor, Michigan is nationally recognized for new materials development and cutting-edge research. For additional information please visit