A New Battery Takes Off in a Race to Electric Cars

Rechargeable lithium batteries have been used in laptop computers and mobile phones since the early 1990s. (Their common name, “lithium ion batteries,” is a tautology, since all batteries conduct electric current by allowing the passage of ions between two electrodes.) But despite their lightness, rechargeable lithium batteries — which often use a compound of highly reactive cobalt oxide — have hitherto been thought impractical for transportation because they are insufficiently powerful and might, if pierced, jarred or overheated, explode or burst into flames.

A123Systems batteries are different. Yet-Ming Chiang, a professor of materials science and engineering at M.I.T. and a co-founder of A123Systems, described their advantages: “Used in a hybrid vehicle, our batteries deliver faster acceleration than any other batteries of the same size,” Professor Chiang said. “And the chemical stability of the cathode material greatly improves safety as well as extending battery life.”

[NYTimes]

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