Lithium Battery Builders Juiced Up

CFX, a Caltech spinoff that was co-founded by a Nobel Prize-winning chemist, is among a handful of U.S. companies now trying to break into the lithium battery market.

Published: 26-Jan-2009

The lithium batteries in the small candy-apple red car hold just enough oomph to push the electric vehicle a couple of laps around an 18-hole golf course.
That may seem modest, but Joe Fisher believes that with a bit of work those batteries will be powerful enough to propel the coming generation of electric cars. And they may drive his company, CFX Battery Inc., to the front of the pack.

Lithium batteries have been in the spotlight recently thanks to alternative energy vehicles that automakers such as General Motors Corp., Toyota Motors Corp. and Nissan Motor Co. are calling the cars of the future. Those companies plan to push the new wave of all-electric and hybrid electric vehicles such as the Chevy Volt into mass production as early as 2010.

Those high-mileage cars will need lithium batteries, which are more efficient and powerful than the nickel hydride models that now run hybrids such as the Toyota Prius. While lithium batteries are currently expensive and prone to overheating – and sometimes catching on fire – experts expect the industry to boom as the technology improves.

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