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Electric Vehicle Batteries

North Bay Chapter of the Electric Auto Association
Updated 8/14/09
Posted at:

NBEAA 2009 Technical Series

1. EV Drive Systems

2. EV Batteries

3. EV Charging Systems
4. EV Donor Vehicles

What is a Battery? Battery History EV Battery Requirements Types of EV Batteries EV Battery Temperature Control

EV Battery Charging
EV Battery Management EV Battery Comparison EV Record Holders Future EV Batteries EV Drive System Testimonials, Show and Tells and Test Drives

What is a Battery?
During Charge
voltage and energy increases heat anode + electrolyte chemical reaction cathode -


charger energy

What is a Battery?
During Discharge
voltage and energy decreases heat anode + electrolyte chemical reaction cathode -


load work

Battery History
Rechargeable batteries highlighted in bold.
First battery, Voltaic Pile, Zn-Cu with NaCl electrolyte, nonrechargeable, but short shelf life First battery with long shelf life, Daniel Cell, Zn-Cu with H2SO4 and CuSO4 electrolytes, non-rechargeable First electric carriage, 4 MPH with non-rechargeable batteries First rechargeable battery, lead acid, Pb-PbO2 with H2SO4 electrolyte 1800 1836 1839 1859 England Scotland France Volta John Fedine Robert Anderson Gaston Plante

First mass produced non-spillable battery, dry cell, ZnCMn02 with ammonium disulphate electrolyte, nonrechargeable
Ni-Cd battery with potassium hydroxide electrolyte invented First mass produced electric vehicle, with Edison nickel iron NiOOH-Fe rechargeable battery with potassium hydroxide electrolyte Modern low cost Eveready (now Energizer) Alkaline nonrechargeable battery invented, Zn-MnO2 with alkaline electrolyte NiH2 long life rechargeable batteries put in satellites NiMH batteries invented Li Ion batteries sold LiFePO4 invented


Carl Gassner

1910 1914

Sweden US

Walmer Junger Thomas Edison and Henry Ford Lewis Curry



1970s 1989 1991 1997


EV Battery Requirements

Safe High Power

High Capacity
Small and Light Large Format

Long Life
Low Overall Cost

EV Battery Requirements: Safe

Examples of EV battery safety issues: Overcharging explosive hydrogen outgassing thermal runaway resulting in melting, explosion or inextinguishable fire Short Circuit

external or internal
under normal circumstances or caused by a crash immediate or latent Damage liquid electrolyte acid leakage

EV Battery Requirements: High Power

Power = Watts = Volts x Amps Typically rated in terms of C the current ratio between max current and current to drain battery in 1 hour; example 3C for a 100 Ah cell is 300A

Battery voltage changes with current level and direction, and state of charge
1 Horsepower = 746 Watts Charger efficiency = ~90% Battery charge and discharge efficiency = ~95% Drive system efficiency = ~85% AC, 75% DC heat heat heat heat



motor controller



100% in

32% - 40% lost to heat

60% - 68% out

EV Battery Requirements: High Power


Accelerating or driving up a steep hill Motor Shaft Power = ~50 HP or ~37,000 W Battery Power = ~50,000 W DC, ~44,000 W AC Battery Current ~400A for 144V nominal pack with DC drive ~170A for 288V nominal pack with AC drive Driving steady state on flat ground Motor Shaft Power = ~20 HP or ~15,000 W Battery Power = ~20,000 W DC, ~18,000 AC Battery Current ~150A for 144V nominal pack with DC drive ~70A for 288V nominal pack with AC drive Charging Depends on battery type, charger power and AC outlet rating Example: for 3,300 W, 160V, 20A DC for 3,800 W, 240V, 16A AC

EV Battery Requirements: High Capacity

Higher capacity = higher driving range between charges Energy = Watts x Hours = Volts x Amp-Hours Watt-hours can be somewhat reduced with higher discharge current due to internal resistance heating loss Amp-Hours can be significantly reduced with higher discharge current seen in EVs due to Peukert Effect Amp-Hours can be significantly reduced in cold weather without heaters and insulation

Example: 48 3.2V 100 Amp-Hour cells with negligible Peukert Effect and 95% efficiencies

Pack capacity = 48 * 3.2 Volts * 100 Amp-Hours * .95 efficiency = 14,592 Wh

340 WattHours per mile vehicle consumption rate Vehicle range = 14,592 Wh / 340 Wh/mi = 42 miles

EV Battery Requirements: Small and Light

Cars only have so much safe payload for handling and reliability Cars only have so much space to put batteries, and they cant go anywhere for safety reasons Specific Power = power to weight ratio = Watts / Kilogram Specific Energy = energy capacity to weight ratio = Watt-Hours / Kilogram Power Density = power to volume ratio = Watts / liter Energy Density = energy to capacity to volume ratio = Watt-Hours /liter 1 liter = 1 million cubic millimeters Example: 1 module with 3,840 W peak power, 1,208 Wh actual energy, 15.8 kg, 260 x 173 x 225 mm = 10.1 liters Specific Power = 3,840 W / 15.8 kg = 243 W/kg Specific Energy = 1,208 Wh / 15.8 kg = 76 Wh/kg Power Density = 3,840 W / 10.1 l = 380 W/l Energy Density = 1,208 Wh / 10.1 l = 119 Wh/l

EV Battery Requirements
Large Format Minimize the need for too many interconnects; example 100 Ah

Long Life Minimize the need for battery replacement effort and cost Example: 2000 cycles at 100% Depth-of-Discharge to reach 80% capacity charging at C/2; 5 years to 80% capacity on 13.8V float at 73C

Low Overall Cost Minimize the purchase and replacement cost of the batteries Example: $10K pack replacement cost every 5 years driven 40 miles per day down to 80% DOD = 1825 days, 73,000 miles, 14 cents per mile

Higher Temperature Reduces Shelf Life

13 degrees reduces the life of lead acid batteries by half.

Source: Life Expectancy and Temperature,

EV Battery Comparison
Max temp ~ ~ ~

Type LiFePO4 LiCO2 NiZn NiCd

Power Energy + + ~ + + ~ ~

Stability + ~ ~

Life ~ +

Toxicity + + + -

Cost ~ +

PbA gel PbA flooded

~ ~

+ -

~ ~

+ +

Available large format only considered; NiMH, small format lithium and large format nano lithium not included.

Lead Acid Battery Peukert Effect Reduces Range at EV Discharge Rates

A 75 Amp Hour battery that provides 75 amp hours at the 20 hour C/20 rate or 3.75 amps only provides 42 amp-hours at 75 amps, a typical average EV discharge rate, or 57% of the nameplate rating. Nickel and lithium batteries have far less Peukert Peukert Effect effect.
Dynasty AGM MPS Series 75 Ah



Amp hours to 80% DOD (1.75 VPC, 10VP6C)








0% 0 50 100 150 200 250 Constant Discharge Rate, Amps

Data Source: MPS 12-75 Valve Regulated Lead Acid Battery Datasheet,

Note: do not use Dynasty MPS batteries in EVs they are not designed for frequent deep cycling required in EVs

Lead Acid AGM Batteries are Better for High Current Discharge Rates
Gels have higher internal resistance.

Higher discharge rates are typical in heavier vehicles driven harder in higher gears with smaller packs and less efficient, higher current, lower voltage DC drive systems.
Source: Dynasty VRLA Batteries and Their Application,

Lead Acid Batteries Need Heaters in Cold Climates

They lose 60% of their capacity at 0 degrees Fahrenheit.

Source: Impedance and Conductance Testing,

Source: Capacity Testing of Dynasty VRLA Batteries,

Gels Have a Longer Cycle Life

AGMs only last half as long, but as previously mentioned can withstand higher discharge rates.

Source: Dynasty VRLA Batteries and Their Application,

Flooded Lead Acid Battery Acid Containment is Required for Safety

In addition to securing all batteries so they do not move during a collision or rollover, flooded lead acid batteries need their acid contained so it does not burn any passengers.

Flooded Lead Acid Battery Ventilation is Required for Safety

When a cell becomes full, it gives off explosive hydrogen gas. Thus vehicles and their garages need fail safe active ventilation systems, especially during regular higher equalization charge cycles that proceed watering.

High Power, High Capacity Deep Cycle Large Format Batteries Used in EVs:
LiFePO4 Hi Power Thunder Sky LMP Valence Technologies U-Charge XP, Epoch AGM


BB Battery EVP Concorde Lifeline East Penn Deka Intimidator

EnerSys Hawker Genesis, Odyssey

Exide Orbital Extreme Cycle Duty

Optima Yellow Top, Blue Top Gel East Penn Deka Dominator

Flooded Trojan Golf & Utility Vehicle US Battery BB Series NiCd NiZn Li Poly Flooded Saft STM SBS Evercel Kokam SLPB

Note: LiFePO4 are recommended, having the lowest weight but highest initial purchase price. But they have similar overall cost, and the rest have safety, toxicity or power issues.

EV Battery Charging

Battery Chargers Need Voltage Regulation and Current Limiting

This shortens charge time without shortening life.

Source: Charging Dynasty Valve Regulated Lead Acid Batteries,

EV Charger Temperature Compensation is Required for Safety

Excess voltage at higher temperatures can lead to thermal runaway, which can melt lead acid modules, explode nickel modules, and ignite thermally unstable lithium ion cells. Battery cooling systems are typically employed with nickel and unstable lithium ion packs to maintain performance while providing safety.

Source: Thermal Runaway in VRLA Batteries Its Cause and Prevention,

EV Battery Management

EV Batteries Need to be Monitored

All batteries need to be kept within their required voltage and temperature ranges for performance, long life and safety. This is particularly important for nickel and thermally unstable lithium ion batteries which can be dangerous if abused. Ideally each cell is monitored, the charge current is controlled, and the driver is alerted when discharge limits are being approached and then again when exceeded.

For high quality multi-cell modules without cell access, module level voltage monitoring is better than no monitoring.
For chargers without a real time level control interface, a driven disable pin or external contactor will suffice for battery protection, but may result in uncharged batteries in time of need. Dashboard gages and displays are good, but combining them with warning and error lamps is better.

Amp-Hour Counters are More Accurate Fuel Gages Than Volt Meters
To predict when your batteries will drop below the minimum voltage, Depth of Discharge should be monitored. Open circuit voltage drops only 0.9V between 0 and 80% depth of discharge.
Open Circuit Rest Voltage vs. Depth of Discharge
13.0 13.0

Voltage drops up to 2.7V at 600 amps discharge, and can take a good part of a minute to recover.
Internal Resistance Effect





6 cell Rest Voltage



battery voltage


Dynasty 12-75 AGM (4.5 milliohm)





10.0 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% Depth of Discharge 60% 70% 80% 90% 100%

10.0 0 100 200 300 discharge rate, amps 400 500 600

Ideally your fuel gage looks at all of the above plus temperature and then estimates depth of discharge.
Data Source: Integrity Testing,

Data Source: MPS 12-75 Valve Regulated Lead Acid Battery Datasheet, a/pdf/mps1275.pdf.

Note: do not use Dynasty MPS batteries in EVs they are not designed for frequent deep cycling required in EVs

EV Batteries Need to be Balanced

All batteries will drift apart in state of charge level over time. This is due to differences in Peukert effect and internal leak rates. This will be detected during monitoring as early low voltages during discharge, and early high voltages and not high enough voltages during charge. Sealed batteries need to be individually balanced, whereas flooded batteries can be overcharged as a string, then watered.

Individual balancing can be done manually on a regular basis with a starter battery charger, or with a programmable power supply with voltage and current limits, but the latter can be expensive. And it can be a hassle, and it can be difficult if the battery terminals are hard to get to. Automatic balancing maximizes life and performance. Ideally balancing is low loss, switching current from higher voltage cells to lower voltage cells at all times. Bypass resistors that switch on during finish charging only is less desirable but better than no automatic balancing.

EV Battery Pictures

Optima Blue Top AGM Sealed Lead Acid Batteries with PCHC-12V2A Power Cheqs Installed in Don McGraths Corbin Sparrow

Valence Module

Valence BMU

Valence batteries and BMU connected via RS485

Valence battery monitoring via CANBus and USB to laptop

Valence Cycler 2.4 battery monitoring screen capture (idle mode; 2.8 now available)

Valence battery monitoring file list

Valence battery monitoring file example

Valence battery monitoring results: maximum charge voltage vs. target

Troubleshooting unbalanced cell (dropped from >90 Ah to 67 Ah after balancing disabled for 3 months due to late onset RS485 errors due to missing termination resistor and unshielded cables)

Valence battery monitoring results: discharge

Valence battery monitoring results: charge and discharge

Troubleshooting bad cell that abruptly went from >90 Ah to 25 Ah in less than 1 week

EV Record Holders

AC Propulsion tZero: drove 302 miles on a single charge at 60 MPH in 2003, Lithium Ion batteries

Phoenix Motorcars SUT: charged 50 times in 10 minutes with no degradation in 2007; 130 mile range

Solectria Sunrise: drove 375 miles on a single charge in 1996, NiMH batteries

DIT Nuna: drove 1877 miles averaging 55.97 MPH on solar power in 2007, LiPo batteries

Future EV Batteries

Stanford University Silicon Nanowire electrodes have 3X capacity improvement expected for Lithium batteries

Not technically a battery, but MIT Nanotube ultracapacitors have very high power, 1M+ cycle energy storage approaching Lithium battery capacity