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Chicago Ford Escape PHEV Project Gets Utility Partner + Funding

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  • Felix Kramer
    We haven t reported on the earlier announcements of this project. As the report from Green Car Congress makes clear, they re doing a two-stage process: first
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 12, 2006
      We haven't reported on the earlier announcements
      of this project. As the report from Green Car
      Congress makes clear, they're doing a two-stage
      process: first beefing up the battery pack of the
      car (about the same size as EnergyCS's pack for
      the much lighter Prius), then enabling
      grid-charging. The project, run by a company
      incubated and spun off by the Illinois Institute
      of Technology, combines the support and resources
      of the City of Chicago, angel investors, and
      ComEd (formerly Commonwealth Edison). Below re
      reproduce the original report, but not the blog comments.


      ComEd Joins Chicago Plug-in Hybrid Conversion
      Project Targeting 2x Fuel Economy for Escape Hybrid
      8 September 2006

      ComEd, one of the largest US electric utilities
      with approximately 5.2 million customers and more
      than $15 billion in annual revenues, is joining
      the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT)
      Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) Project.

      The project, announced in January in
      collaboration with Chicago-based All Cell
      Technologies, the City of Chicago and other
      industrial and government partners, is an effort
      to convert a Ford Escape hybrid SUV in the city
      fleet into a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) using a
      lithium-ion battery pack from All Cell.

      All Cell is an Illinois Institute of
      Technology-based technology transfer company
      formed in 2001 by Professors Said Al-Hallaj and
      J. Robert Selman to commercialize lithium-ion
      batteries in military, medical, portable, and
      transportation applications using IIT’s patented
      passive thermal management technology with phase change material (PCM).

      In June, All Cell Technologies received $1.25
      million in financing from Heartland Angels to support the PHEV project.

      Phase change materials are substances that change
      from solid to liquid and back again when heat is
      absorbed and expelled, respectively. In this
      process, PCMs maintain a nearly constant
      temperature, and thus are employed for thermal
      engineering in a number of fields.

      According to All Cell, suitable phase change
      materials for use in Li-ion battery applications
      will have a melting point in the range of between
      about 30° C and 60° C; a high latent heat per
      unit mass ratio; and a narrow melting temperature range.

      CAPTION: An earlier schematic of a PHEV battery
      module using All Cell’s PCM thermal management. Click to enlarge.

      All Cell is assembling the battery pack from
      commercially available 18650 cells integrated
      with the company’s PCM technology and control
      systems into 8-amp, 14.4-volt modules, according to Dr. Al-Hallaj.

      The project is envisioned in two phases. The
      first—which has the targeted outcome of doubling
      to fuel economy of the Escape hybrid—involves
      bypassing the OEM battery pack (not removing it)
      with an All Cell pack of approximately 10 kWh.

      The PHEV battery will be working with the
      constraints of the original controller, thus
      limiting all-electric speeds to the original
      lower-speed range. Part of the first phase will
      be benchmarking the Escape hybrid to determine
      the required Wh per mile. Depending on the result
      of the benchmarking, All Cell believes that it
      might be able to reduce the size of the battery
      pack a bit and still meet the 2x target for fuel economy.

      The second phase will entail replacing the OEM
      battery and original operating strategy of the
      controller to support a more robust all-electric range (AER).

      The City is supporting the project with a vehicle
      and with technical collaboration. If the All Cell
      team meets its fuel economy target, the City will
      consider converting more vehicles, depending upon price.

      ComEd will provide expertise by sharing its best
      practices from operating its hybrid vehicles. The
      utility owns 64 hybrid Ford Escapes and its SUV
      fleet will expand to 114 hybrid vehicles by the
      end of 2007. ComEd also will provide expertise in
      technical and regulatory matters related to
      charging the plug-in hybrid vehicles’ electric
      drive systems from the utility’s electrical power distribution system.

      ComEd is also interested in studying the
      implications of the potential of vehicle-to-grid
      charging (V2G) that would emerge with the presence of a large PHEV fleet.

      There are few better validations for an
      emerging technology enterprise than partnership
      with one of the largest utility providers in the
      nation. ComEd’s involvement promises significant
      capacity to realize our vision and provide relief
      to consumers for the high economic and environmental cost of gasoline.
      —Bob Anderson, president of All Cell

      All Cell already has li-ion batteries based on
      its PCM technology in the field in medical and
      portable applications through a licensing deal with MicroSun Technologies.

      Thermal management. High-power applications of
      lithium-ion battery systems require comprehensive
      thermal management solutions. Operation outside
      of the optimum temperature range can degrade the
      performance and safety of the battery.

      Active cooling solutions use a manifold, fans or
      pumps for liquid or air, but also add complexity,
      size, weight, cost and points of failure.

      The All Cell passive thermal management approach
      integrates a PCM impregnated in a graphite matrix
      in between the cells of the battery module. The
      graphite leads to higher thermal conductivity,
      and the PCM acts as a heat sink, absorbing the
      heat generated by the battery. The passive system
      also reduces battery pack volume and weight
      compared to systems that use active thermal management.

      The All Cell batteries have operated safely at
      temperatures ranging up to 45° C, and have proven
      operational in the desert in applications served
      by MicroSun Technologies. All Cell has also
      determined that its thermal management method can
      in some cases double the cycle life of the
      battery system compared to those using conventional thermal management.

      * US Patent #6,468,689: Thermal management of battery systems
      * US Patent Application #20060073377: Battery system thermal management
      * Novel PCM Thermal Management Makes Li-ion
      Batteries a Viable Option for High Power and High
      Temperature Applications (MicroSun white paper)
      * Passive Thermal Management Using Phase
      Change Material (PCM) for EV and HEV Li-ion Batteries

      -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
      Felix Kramer fkramer@...
      Founder California Cars Initiative
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