QinetiQ and Ricardo Aim to Reduce Costs of Lithium-Ion Batteries for Hybrid Vehicles

Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) battery technology shows significant promise for hybrid and electric vehicle applications in terms of its comparatively high power and energy density, and ability to retain charge for extended periods. However, commercial challenges remain in terms of both cost and weight.

QinetiQ and Ricardo have embarked on a two-year collaborative project part-funded by the UK Department for Transport, which aims to dramatically reduce the costs of Lithium-Ion batteries for hybrid vehicles while protecting or further improving vehicle performance.

The specific objective of the Reduced cost Li-Ion (RED-LION) project is to demonstrate the application of new Li-Ion cell chemistry in a hybrid vehicle battery with an estimated production cost one-third that of conventional battery technologies and around half the weight. If successful, this breakthrough technology could make hybrid and electric vehicles commercially more attractive and hence make a significant impact on global CO2 emissions.

In June 2006 Ricardo, QinetiQ and PSA Peugeot-Citroën unveiled their 100g/km CO2 Efficient-C full hybrid diesel demonstrator vehicle based on a Citroën Berlingo Multispace. While this vehicle provided an uncompromised package and superior performance compared with the equivalent current production turbo-diesel model, the project partners estimated that its incremental manufacturing cost needed to be reduced by around 50 per cent (to approximately €2,000) for the technology to become fully commercially viable based on prevailing fuel prices and consumer fiscal incentives.

The battery system represents around one-third of the incremental manufacturing cost of a typical hybrid vehicle as well as considerable addition to the vehicle mass. If successful, the RED-LION project will demonstrate commercially viable technologies that are capable of delivering sub-100g/km CO2 emissions with superior performance compared to the equivalent current production vehicle.

Mel Brooks, Managing Director of QinetiQ's Energy and Materials business said: "QinetiQ has a strong track record in delivering high-energy Lithium-Ion battery technology to military customers. This leading edge battery technology emanating from defence is now poised to make a significant difference to the viability of hybrid vehicles with the RED-LION project helping to ensure that cost does not stand in the way of more widespread commercial adoption."

Neville Jackson, Ricardo technology director said: “By incorporating the very latest high performance Li-Ion battery technology, which offers the potential for significant reductions in both manufacturing cost and weight, we aim to demonstrate that we have made significant progress in developing the commercial case for hybrid diesels. We have already demonstrated that acceptable package and superior performance is possible from a hybrid diesel powertrain and with this project, we aim to show that it can be made commercially viable too. This promising battery technology could deliver significant benefits to many vehicle types including electric and plug-in hybrid, as well as full diesel and gasoline hybrids.”

Financial support for the RED-LION project:

The RED-LION project is part-funded by the by the Energy Saving Trust’s Low Carbon R&D Programme on behalf of the UK government’s Department for Transport, with balancing contributions made by the participating companies. The Energy Saving Trust is a non-profit organisation, funded both by government and the private sector. It is one of the UK's leading organisations set up to address the damaging effects of climate change and its aim is to cut emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) by promoting the sustainable and efficient use of energy.


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