Ford and Samsung to collaborate on next-gen battery technology


Ford Motor Company and Samsung SDI, an affiliate of Samsung Group, have announced research on different levels of hybrid technology that could one day be produced in high volume on non-hybrid vehicles for greater fuel savings.

2013 Ford C-MAX Hybrid Image credit: Flickr User: LotPro Cars
2013 Ford C-MAX Hybrid
Image credit: Flickr User: LotPro Cars

Developed over the course of 10 years, the dual-battery system combines a lithium-ion battery with a 12-volt lead-acid battery that could enable regenerative braking technology in non-hybrid vehicles for greater fuel savings.

“We are currently expanding our Auto Start-Stop technology across 70% of our line-up, and this dual-battery system has the potential to bring even more levels of hybridisation to our vehicles for greater energy savings across the board,” said Ted Miller, Senior Manager — Energy Storage Strategy and Research at Ford Motor Company.

“Although still in research, this type of battery could provide a near-term solution for greater reduction of carbon dioxide.”

According to news release by the company, regenerative braking enables the battery to capture up to 95% of the electrical energy normally lost during the braking process for reuse. The system works in conjunction with Ford’s Auto Start-Stop, which seamlessly turns off the engine when a vehicle stops to save fuel. An advanced battery then powers vehicle accessories and systems in place of the engine until the driver begins to release the brake pedal, which restarts the engine.

The collaboration between Ford and Samsung will also see the companies research a longer-term ultra-lightweight lithium-ion battery that offers a weight reduction of up to 40% and could one day render traditional lead-acid batteries obsolete.

“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.”

Combining the battery with other weight reduction solutions, such as the Ford Lightweight Concept vehicle, could lead to additional savings in size and weight of the overall vehicle, as well as increased efficiencies and performance.

Ford has been investing in battery research for 100 years, ever since Henry Ford and Thomas Edison worked on electric vehicles employing nickel-iron batteries as a replacement for lead-acid batteries. Last year the company invested $135 million in design, engineering and production of key battery components, and doubled its battery testing capabilities. This enabled the company to accelerate its battery durability testing, with test batteries now accumulating the equivalent of 150,000 miles of use and 10 years’ life in roughly 10 months in a laboratory setting.