More than 700 companies take part in The Battery Show in Novi, Michigan. (Image source: Design News)

With more than 9,000 attendees and 700 manufacturers, The Battery Show and Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology Expo 2019, in Novi, Michigan has become one of the premiere venues for engineers, technologists, and industry leaders. As befitting its proximity to Detroit, the show has become the place to learn of new trends and directions, particularly in the electrification of transportation.

Breaking News

During the Leaders Roundtable on solid-state battery technology, Brian Sisk, vice-president of battery cell development at A123 Systems announced that the company would be building a prototype manufacturing facility at its Romulus, Michigan battery plant. The facility was originally expected to be closed and sold, however the company has now decided to use it to jump-start its solid-state battery efforts. A123 is working with Massachusetts-based Ionic Materials, whose polymer-based solid electrolyte will be used with graphite anodes and metal oxide cathodes. Sisk told Design News that the solid-state batteries can be built on commonly-used battery manufacturing equipment and that prototypes will be available for OEM testing before then end of the year.

What People Said

“The Jaguar I-PACE seems to be a step behind (the Tesla Model 3)”

            Corey Steuben, account director, Munro & Associates

“Biggest miss? Why do we have three standards for charging?”

            Christopher Michelbacher, EV charging & infrastructure manager, Audi of America

“All of you are irrelevant! The market is going to decide whether EVs are going to be successful!”

            Ken Stewart, CEO Bright Road

“Different people have different thresholds for inconvenience.”

          Bob Taenaka, senior technical leader in Electrified Vehicle Battery Cells and Systems, Ford Motor Company

“I have people tell me that they have never heard of wireless charging. Wireless gives you a more elegant solution.”

            Michael Masquelier, CEO at WAVE, Inc.

“Technologies don’t go away—the incumbent factor is huge!”

            Michael Sanders, senior advisor, Avicenne Energy

“There is a need for sustainable battery solutions based on Earth-abundant materials”

            Mark Verbrugge, director, Chemical and Materials Systems Laboratory, General Motors

“If you take these high power packs and put them in stationary applications, you can use them to power wireless chargers.”

           Greg Fritz, EV business unit manager, ACTIA

 “Our chairman has said that we will have solid-state battery powered vehicles at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.”

Timothy Arthur, principal scientist, Materials Research Department, Toyota Research Institute of North America

“Electric Vehicles can be an asset to the (power) grid”

            Maureen Marshall, regional director, CALSTART

“EVs have gone from being “hip” and essentially a science project to being an essential core business.”

            Ken Stewart, CEO Bright Road

“Retail customers may only use fast charging on longer trips—they might want a larger battery (then) so that they have to make less stops.”

            Bob Taenaka, senior technical leader in Electrified Vehicle Battery Cells and Systems, Ford Motor Company

“There will be a lot of consolidation—but the large guys are going to win. The large guys aren’t going to let small guys take away their lunch!”

            Michael Sanders, senior advisor, Avicenne Energy 

“Batteries are like bacon—they are good in anything!”

           Eli Paster, CEO, PolyJoule, Inc.         

Here’s A New Concept

Dave Rich, whose job includes 12V – 48V Vehicle Electrification and Tech Development at General Motors, presented a paper titled “Dynamically Adjustable, Dual Voltage Batteries Without a DC/DC for Future Electrification.” GM has developed a way to provide both 12 volts and 48 volts from a single system. Called MODACS (Multiple Output Dynamically Adjustable Capacity System), the invention eliminates the need for a separate 12 volts battery in vehicles with 48-volt hybrid systems.

The system can provide any number of 12 volt and 48 volt sources, which mean that as a vehicle platform evolves and adds new functionality, the same MODACS can provide the required power outputs. It can also charge on 48 volts and discharge on 12 volts at the same time.

Rich also highlighted the potential to bring capacitors into the system—called Capacitor Assisted Battery (CAB). He told us that “In 12 volts, power is king, while in 48 volts energy is more important.” By adding the CAB, the best of both worlds is a possibility. Rich also noted that the system is robust. “An old CAB is actually stronger than a new LFP (lithium ion) battery,” he said.

Rich told Design News that General Motors has already filed more than 20 patents on MODACS, and expects many more to be filed in the coming year. He also told us that the concept isn’t limited to 48 volts and could be used with higher voltage systems.

Long term, the concept could be huge, as it removes the inefficiencies that come from DC to DC conversions and allows power and energy to be applied where and when it is needed.

The dates for The Battery Show and Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology Expo 2020, in Novi, Michigan will be September 15-17, 2020.

Senior Editor Kevin Clemens has been writing about energy, automotive, and transportation topics for more than 30 years. He has masters degrees in Materials Engineering and Environmental Education and a doctorate degree in Mechanical Engineering, specializing in aerodynamics. He has set several world land speed records on electric motorcycles that he built in his workshop.