Products and Design
Ford, Samsung Developing Fuel-Saving Vehicle Batteries

Ford and Samsung have announced a dual-battery system for gas-powered cars which could offer significant fuel savings in future vehicles.

The process combines a lithium-ion battery with a 12-volt lead-acid battery for a new power source that the companies claim could provide fuel savings by enabling regenerative braking in non-hybrid and non-electric vehicles. The system is the product of a 10-year research partnership into battery technology.

Ford already offers regenerative braking in its hybrid cars, which returns up to 95 percent of electrical power otherwise lost when braking to the battery and providing significant fuel savings over non-regenerative braking vehicles. The car company’s hybrid vehicles also utilizes a technology called Auto Start-Stop, which turns off a car's engine when it stops and redirects the power flow for electrical systems from the engine to an advanced battery, then switches the engine back on when the brake pedal is released.

Ford and Samsung say the new dual-battery system could open the door to lightweight vehicle designs, and also offer environmental benefits. We could start seeing the dual-battery system soon, but the companies say will continue to develop even more advanced lithium-ion battery solutions that could eventually render traditional lead-acid batteries obsolete.

Such future ultra-lightweight batteries would advance technologies used in current lithium-ion batteries found in Ford's hybrids and other hybrid and all-electric cars made by competitors, the two companies said. Eventually, batteries could offer up to 40 percent reduction in weight from current lithium-ion car batteries while packing the same power, Ford and Samsung said.

In the future, the lithium-ion battery technology also could be used to build lightweight batteries to spec in varying sizes and weights, with applications that goes well beyond cars (satellites, etc).

In other battery innovation news, Japanese startup Power Japan Plus has launched a new, carbon-based battery that generates twice as much energy as a lithium ion battery and charges 20 times faster. The technology could lead to cheaper long-range electric vehicles (EV) that can travel hundreds of miles on a charge and be charged in minutes rather than hours.

Another Japanese company, Sumitomo, also recently announced that it has developed and installed the world's first large-scale power storage system that utilizes used electric-vehicle (EV) batteries. Over the next three years, the system will measure the smoothing effect of energy output fluctuation from the nearby Hikari-no-mori solar farm, and will aim to establish a large-scale power storage technology by safely and effectively utilizing the huge quantities of discarded used EV batteries which will become available in the future.

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