The United States Advanced Battery Consortium (USABC) recently awarded Johnson Controls a contract to develop lithium-ion batteries for use in hybrid-electric vehicles. The contract will last for two years, during which time Johnson Controls will supply batteries to the U.S. Department of Energy. The batteries will be tested for energy capacity, pulse power, longevity, cycle life, and tolerance for abuse. The type of lithium-ion batteries being developed could be used in hybrid vehicles as soon as 2010.

An important part of the new batteries will likely be Johnson Control’s Powerwatch™ technology, which monitors the amount of energy available in the batteries so that fuel economy and battery life can be optimized. Preventing the batteries from being depleted or being overcharged is crucial to battery longevity.

Initially, the batteries developed will have a 12 ampere-hour rating. The ampere-hour rating is an indicator of how much energy can be stored in the battery, and how quickly power can be drawn out of the battery. In comparison, the Toyota Prius battery pack has a 6.5 ampere-hour rating.

The USABC’s members include DaimlerChrysler, Ford, and General Motors, and it is part of the United States Counsel for Automotive Research. USABC’s main competition is Panasonic Electric Vehicle Energy, which is the current industry leader in hybrid batteries and is jointly owned by Panasonic and Toyota.

The consortium’s long-term goals include reducing battery cost to $20/kW and developing batteries that last 15 years. It is also developing ultracapacitor technology and supports electric, hybrid, and fuel cell vehicles.

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