At first glance, Ford Motor Company and Samsung SDI may seem like an odd couple, but together they're working on a hybrid battery technology that could eventually be mass produced on non-hybrid vehicles for better fuel savings. The collaborative technology is part of a 10-year research effort and involves a dual-battery system that combines a lithium-ion battery with a 12-volt lead-acid battery.
By combining the two, it could enable regenerative braking technology in non-hybrid vehicles for improved fuel efficiency, and could one day render traditional lead-acid batteries an obsolete technology.
"We are currently expanding our Auto Start-Stop technology across 70 percent of our lineup, and this dual-battery system has the potential to bring even more levels of hybridization to our vehicles for greater energy savings across the board," said Ted Miller, senior manager, Energy Storage Strategy and Research, Ford Motor Company. "Although still in research, this type of battery could provide a near-term solution for greater reduction of carbon dioxide."
Regenerative braking allows the battery to capture and reuse up to 95 percent of the electrical energy that's typically lost during the breaking process. It's integrated with Ford's Auto Start-Stop, which turns the engine off during stops to save fuel. As the driver releases the brake pedal, the engine is fired back up.
"Lithium-ion batteries are typically used in consumer electronics because they are lighter and more energy-dense than other types of batteries, which also make them ideal for the vehicle," said Mike O’Sullivan, vice president, Automotive Battery Systems for Samsung SDI North America. "Battery technology is advancing rapidly and lithium-ion could one day completely replace traditional 12-volt lead-acid batteries, providing better fuel efficiency for drivers."
Ford says that the lithium-ion batteries it currently uses in its electric vehicles are 25-30 percent smaller than previous hybrid batteries made of nickel-metal-hydride and offer about three times the power per cell. The ultra-lightweight battery concept it's developing with Samsung offers a weight reduction of up to 40 percent, or 12 pounds.