Monday, 18 July 2011

Canadian firm to make non-toxic batteries Electric Vehicles

While the general consensus is that though Electric Vehicles (EVs) are the way to go in the future, one of the major debates is about the usage of fuel cells or the batteries. The lithium-ion batteries used in EVs now are made in majorly in Japan, Korea, U.S and even China too. According to reports, it is expected to be a $100-billion industry in less than 20 years.
The reports mention that Japanese companies like Sony, Panasonic and Toyota are leaders in a $9-billion business. South Korea isn't far behind with Samsung and LG and China and United States. Meanwhile, there is some news from Canada. Electrovaya Inc., a Canadian firm which has been working on lith-ion technology since 1996 was recently awarded two contracts to supply Chrysler with Lithium Ion SuperPolymer battery systems for 25 Plug-In Hybrid minivans and 140 Plug-In Hybrid pickup trucks.

The reports quoted Sankar DasGupta, Electrovaya's CEO as saying "Lithium-ion batteries have their dirty little secret – except for Electrovaya they all use massive quantities of toxic chemicals for manufacturing. We are probably the only one who doesn't use any toxic chemicals. The main toxic chemical which is used by all other lithium-ion battery producers is a chemical called N-methyl-pyrrolidone which is known as NMP. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency puts NMP in the same category as mercury and asbestos."
It was mentioned in the report that NMP is a solvent used to prepare metal surfaces. It is also in many paint strippers. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission warns consumers "Excessive contact with NMP may cause skin swelling, blistering, and burns. N-methyl-pyrrolidone can readily get into the body through the skin and may cause health problems. NMP may cause reproductive problems and harm to unborn children."
The report states that according to Dasgupta, a nuclear plant is expensive for the radioactive containment and that it's the same thing for lithium-ion battery plants. "If you get rid of that containment problem of toxic chemicals like we did, then you can have a nice clean plant sitting here. What's the point in building a green car if you have reproductive problems in the supply chain?" He asks. It was stated that the battery race is yet to be won, especially in North America. The Chevy Volt uses batteries from LG, the Nissan Leaf gets its batteries from a joint venture between Nissan and NEC Energy Devices of Japan. Environmental permitting for new lith-ion manufacturing facilities with NMP toxicity issues could become more difficult. Germany, which has extremely high environmental standards, has not permitted the kinds of facilities that have been built with government assistance in the United States. Electrovaya believes it may have the opportunity to licence its technology to larger companies that face this problem. "It also means our capital costs are dramatically lower, our operating costs are dramatically lower so we can build a battery at a much better price," says DasGupta, according to the report.


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