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Lithium Microbattery for Smart Cars Wins Award

September 22, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. --- The U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and its partners recently won an award for developing a new battery that has potential application in smart cars. 

The award was given by the Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer's (FLC) Mid-Continent Region. 

The PowerPlane UX Microbattery is a rechargeable, deep-cycle, thin-film lithium microbattery. Its ideal applications are smart cars, remote wireless sensors, smart homes, and medical sensing devices. Unlike traditional batteries, the PowerPlane UX Microbattery has a long cycle life, even if it is frequently and fully discharged. It uses a solid glass electrolyte -- lithium phosphorus oxynitride (LiPON) -- to give the battery its longer cycle life and improve its tolerance to high temperatures. 

NREL developed the buried-anode architecture used in the microbattery. This innovation involves lithium being intercalated, or chemically trapped within, the cathode layer and plated out as the anode during the first charge cycle. This removes at least one process step in manufacturing and provides improved shelf life. NREL researchers who worked on the project are Roland Pitts, Ed Tracy and Dane Gillaspie. NREL's partner for this project is Planar Energy Devices. 

"These awards showcase NREL's efforts to reduce the cost of renewable energy technologies and help commercialize them," NREL Director Dan Arvizu said. "This recognition also bolsters our ongoing record of R&D accomplishments. I'm proud of the work being achieved by the creative and innovative researchers at NREL."

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