Mitsubishi makes history by supplying mass produced electric vehicles

"This is a first in every sense of the word," said Mr. Tomoki Yanagawa, MMSCAN’s Vice President Sales/Marketing & Corporate Planning, as he presented the vehicles to British Columbia Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Blair Lekstrom, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, and BC Hydro President & CEO Bob Elton during a ceremony held here this morning.

"The i-MiEV is the world’s first highway-capable, mass-production electric car. It’s a first for Vancouver, and a first for North America. This is history in the making."

Provincial and local leaders underscored that the Canadian debut heralds the beginning of a new era of green technology that will further the worldwide goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

"We are very proud to demonstrate our leadership in climate-friendly transportation by having the first Mitsubishi all electric cars right here in British Columbia," said Minister Lekstrom. "Electric vehicles like these ones, fuelled by clean, renewable energy, will help us achieve a low-carbon transportation future."

Mayor Robertson echoed those remarks. "Vancouver is at the forefront of adopting electric vehicles, and we are very pleased to be debuting Mitsubishi’s i-MiEV in our City," he said. "Supporting cleaner, more efficient forms of transportation moves us closer to our goal of becoming the world’s greenest city, and we are very excited to partner with Mitsubishi in bringing their new electric vehicle technology to Canada."

This significant event represents the first time that regular production all electric vehicles designed and built by a major international manufacturer have been put into service on public roads in North America. The i-MiEV is also the world’s first mass-production vehicle to go into production and on sale (customers were first able to purchase the all-electric vehicle in Japan this past summer).

"As we get ready for the increased use of plug-in vehicles, it is very important to know how the cars will interact with BC Hydro’s grid and what their charging requirements will be," said BC Hydro President and CEO Elton. "The i-MiEV will help us answer some of these questions while serving as a symbol of BC Hydro’s leadership in the demonstration of electric vehicles."

The i-MiEV, which stands for Mitsubishi Innovative Electric Vehicle, is an all-electric, highway-capable, charge-at-home commuter car. Because the battery, the motor and other items are mounted beneath the floor, out of the way, the i-MiEV seats four adults and offers surprising interior room and cargo space. Other i-MiEV features include excellent low-speed acceleration, which is a characteristic of electric motors, and a very low centre of gravity, which contributes to superior handling and stability. Moreover, the i-MiEV is extremely quiet inside.

The specialized lithium ion batteries can be charged with the standard 110v wall socket or 220v dryer type socket commonly found in Canada. Charge time is approximately 14 hours using household 110v and six hours using household 220v. Collaborative research and development with several power companies has led to the development of a quick charging system capable of recharging the battery to 80 percent capacity in 30 minutes.

At the recent Tokyo International Motor Show (2009), the i-MiEV was presented with the Japanese Car of the Year award for "Most Advanced Technology". The i-MiEV was praised for the manner in which it applied its advanced, lithium-ion battery technology in a full, four-seat, family car and for achieving full production status.

Mitsubishi Motor Sales of Canada Inc. is committed to green technologies and Mitsubishi Motors, Japan, is a world leader in electric car research and development.

First solid-state lithium-air rechargeable battery addresses safety issues

Engineers at the University of Dayton Research Institute have developed the first solid-state, rechargeable lithium-air battery, a breakthrough designed to address the fire and explosion risk of other lithium rechargeable batteries and pave the way for development of large-size lithium rechargeables for a number of industry applications, including hybrid and electric cars, the researchers said. Their achievements will be reported in the 2010 Issue 1 of the Journal of the Electrochemical Society, due out in December, and is currently available in the journal’s Web site at

“We have successfully fabricated and tested the first totally solid-state lithium-air battery, which represents a major advancement in the quest for a commercially viable, safe rechargeable battery with high energy and power densities and long cycle life,” said Binod Kumar, a distinguished research engineer and leader of UDRI’s electrochemical power group. In addition to increasing the battery’s energy density (the ratio of energy to battery weight), the development is designed to mitigate the volatile nature of traditional lithium rechargeables, such as those used in cell phones and laptops, which can overheat and catch fire or rupture.

Kumar said there is enormous demand in defense and industry for safer, lighter lithium rechargeable batteries for applications ranging from electric vehicles to unmanned aerial vehicles, adding that billions of federal stimulus dollars have already been directed for research, development and manufacturing of lithium batteries. “We believe this breakthrough represents a great opportunity to companies who are eager to incorporate significantly higher energy, longer-life and safer batteries into their products,” he said.

Rechargeables commonly found in today’s portable consumer electronic devices are lithium-ion batteries. They are considered superior to other types of rechargeables, such as nickel cadmium, because of their high energy-to-weight ratios, slow discharge when not in use, and absence of “lazy battery effect,” a phenomenon which causes a battery to lose maximum energy capacity when it is repeatedly charged after only partial discharge.

Because of their lighter weight and high energy capacity, lithium-ion batteries are increasingly used in aerospace and automotive applications, but their full potential for larger applications remains untapped because of technological challenges – primarily related to safety.

“There have been a number of accidents and a large number of recalls involving lithium batteries,” Kumar said. “Most batteries use a liquid electrolyte, which creates a number of problems. They are corrosive and can leak. A short circuit or excessive heat from exposure to direct sunlight or use in a poorly vented laptop, for example, not only shortens battery life, but can cause the battery to rupture, ignite or explode.” Because of their volatility, restrictions exist for ground and air transport of lithium batteries.

Kumar and his colleagues addressed the safety issues by developing an entirely solid-state lithium battery – no liquid is present in the cell. “We’ve replaced the liquid electrolyte with a solid electrolyte that works just as well, but is far safer,” Kumar said. The primary component of the new electrolyte is a glass-ceramic material which is very stable, even when in contact with water.

The researchers applied innovations on solid electrolytes to develop the new technology in the form of a lithium-air battery, rather than a lithium-ion, because they are much lighter and have the potential to be the most energy-dense and most environmentally friendly rechargeables.

In traditional lithium batteries, all the chemicals that power the battery are stored inside, Kumar said. In a lithium-air battery, one of the chemicals – oxygen – is left out. Instead, the battery is specially designed to draw oxygen from the air around it. By extracting oxygen, rather than storing it, and by using lithium metal as an anode, lithium-air batteries are 10 to 15 times more energy dense than other lithium rechargeables.

“We made and tested more than three dozen lithium-air batteries during the last year, and each exhibited superior performance – even at temperatures as high as 225F,” Kumar said. As development of the technology continues, researchers will also focus on cycle life – the number of times a battery can be discharged and recharged. “We’re currently at a cycle life of 40, with a goal of 4,000, which is significantly greater than the cycle life of current lithium batteries.”

Kumar and his colleagues have focused on electrolyte research for two decades and hold a number of patents in the field. Research to develop the new lithium battery was funded in part by the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Propulsion Directorate at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

J. Electrochem. Soc. / Volume 157 / Issue 1 / Batteries and Energy Storage
A Solid-State, Rechargeable, Long Cycle Life Lithium–Air Battery
J. Electrochem. Soc., Volume 157, Issue 1, pp. A50-A54 (2010)
(Published 13 November 2009)

Binod Kumar,1 Jitendra Kumar,1 Robert Leese,1 Joseph P. Fellner,2 Stanley J. Rodrigues,2 and K. M. Abraham3
1Electrochemical Power Group, Metals and Ceramics Division, University of Dayton Research Institute, Dayton, Ohio 45469-0170, USA
2Air Force Research Laboratory, Propulsion Directorate, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio 45433-7252, USA
3E-KEM Sciences, Needham, Massachusetts 02492, USA

This paper describes a totally solid-state, rechargeable, long cycle life lithium–oxygen battery cell. The cell is comprised of a Li metal anode, a highly Li-ion conductive solid electrolyte membrane laminate fabricated from glass–ceramic (GC) and polymer–ceramic materials, and a solid-state composite air cathode prepared from high surface area carbon and ionically conducting GC powder.

The cell exhibited excellent thermal stability and rechargeability in the 30–105°C temperature range. It was subjected to 40 charge–discharge cycles at current densities ranging from 0.05 to 0.25 mA/cm2. The reversible charge/discharge voltage profiles of the Li–O2 cell with low polarizations between the discharge and charge are remarkable for a displacement-type electrochemical cell reaction involving the reduction of oxygen to form lithium peroxide. The results represent a major contribution in the quest of an ultrahigh energy density electrochemical power source. We believe that the Li–O2 cell, when fully developed, could exceed specific energies of 1000 Wh/kg in practical configurations.