Motorcycle Batteries .. AGM, GEL, Wet, Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4)

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by _cy_, Jan 20, 2012.

  1. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    seems we have a real battery expert on board ... thanks for weighing in.

    yes your comment about BMW folks wanting a real 18amp hour battery is dead on. thanks for verifying my comment about it's not possible for a real 18amp hour battery to weigh only 2lbs.

    that's why a 20 amp hour lithium iron phosphate battery that weighs 6.5lbs is en-route. an external overcharge protection circuit will be used to prevent unlikely event of a battery fire. while lithium iron phosphate chemistry is extremely safe... there's several fires on record for the highly regarded and expensive A123 cells.

    lithium iron phosphate batteries using prismatic cells are fairly new, so feedback is thin as yet. vs a long history of lithium polymer packs with the RC folks. NO one runs battery packs harder than the RC crowd. seems lithium poly packs are still chemistry of choice (for RC) due to higher energy density and just as important voltage compatibility with existing chargers/controllers.

    which leads back to why IHMO li-ion batteries in motorcycles should have some type of protection circuit to prevent overcharge. over discharge will kill any battery... lead acid and li-ion included. just that li-ion operates on a narrow voltage range that may be different from your bike's charging system.

    it's my intention to do high amp discharge tests at low temp with different chemistry. results of discharge tests with lithium iron phosphate will be especially relevant.
    #21
  2. J117

    J117 Battery Tech

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    Yes sir, they absolutely have to have an overcharge protection circuit. Without it you would be seeing the above picture with flames all over the place...:D I'm not sure about using Lithium Polymer, at least not the way the RC world does it. Lithium Iron Phosphate, or Lithium Magnesium Phosphate seem like the safest, at least without having to modify your stock system, a simple overcharge protection circuit is really all the iron/mag phos. batteries need.

    I'm looking forward to seeing what your results are. Good Luck! :norton








    *For freebies you should contact the manufacturer's. Shorai is run by some particularly nice folks..
    #22
  3. tmotten

    tmotten Lefthand ride Dutchy

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    I haven't read this thread fully yet, will a bit later today, but it seems the wrong abbreviation is used for the Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries. Its NOT Li-Ion, but LiFePO4. Important difference.
    #23
  4. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    naming conventions change over time.... for us early li-ion users. lithium iron phosphate is but one chemistry within the li-ion family. each with advantages, disadvantages and operating volt ranges.

    then to confuse things further, we add how cells are constructed into the mix. then to confuse things more, some batteries have protection circuits to prevent over-charge and over-discharge.

    there's some common characteristics all li-ion cells share. which are high energy density (light weight), high discharge rates and specific operating voltage range (related to each particular chemistry)

    one characteristic with early li-ion cells, performance can drop in extreme cold conditions.
    remains to be seen how the new generation lithium iron phosphate with prismatic construction performs in extreme cold.
    #24
  5. herrhelmet

    herrhelmet A Serious Man

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    I had the same notion about trying out these batteries about 2 1/2 years ago. I made my own A123 Cell pack soldered it together and said what the hell.... It was an 8 cell set up. 4 in series x 2 in parallel. A "4.6" Ah unit which seemed grossly underpowered for my BMW F650 GS.

    So I could not believe it when it cranked the bike over. And over and over. At first I would just ride a few miles... but now I've had the same unit the entire 2 1/2 year period without a hitch. So, yes, I started selling a few to fellow ADV riders and searched for a better setup. That's why I went with the Ballistic over the Shorai.

    First off, it is really confusing to lump LiFEPO4 (Lithium Iron Phosphate) batteries into the whole Li-ion class. Totally different chemistry and they don't explode. They do get hot but don't blow up...

    Vehicle batteries come in 2 basic types: Those for starting which CCA (Cold Cranking Amps) mean high discharge rates for cranking the starter... but are not necessarily able to discharge down to a low voltage and be recharged.... and "Deep Cycle" or "Marine" type batteries that can discharge to a much lower voltage and be fully recharged over and over, but may or may not have high CCAs. That's why your garden variety lead-acid battery rates both its CCAs for starting and its Ah or amp hour capacity. Big batteries. That's why they're so heavy. They do it all.

    The battery that cy shows is likely a marine type of battery that may not even crank over the beemers starting motor. It's rated at 10C pulsed which is the same as 10 cranking amps compared to at least 120 that the bike will need. The 20Ah is designed for a constant 3 amp discharge which would be perfect for a solar house battery.

    The batteries I use are A123 26650 cylindrical cells made in the USA... and the Shorais use a similar chemistry prismatic made in China. I honestly can't say at this point which one is better since there has not been enough time to judge.

    If the Shorais turn out to be the winner I will convert. But at this point, the Ballistic Components seem to have a better build with brass battery terminals, so I will stand on that.

    As far as temperature affecting these, it's absolutely true. Here's a temperature chart in Celsius:

    [​IMG]

    I'm not going to argue the science, but in practical terms the A123s are capable of quick self-heating at low temperatures
    by 5-8 second starting bursts repeated 3 - 4 times at temperatures around 0°F (Testing these on a 1979 Yamaha 340e at 10,000 ft. 0°F in Brian Head, UT) Again, I was skeptical until trying them.

    I think the Shorai batteries sell well and I have sold a lot of my own Sycl batteries and the Ballistics. The only difference being the Ballistic come in sealed plastic cases and the Sycl are shrink wrapped.

    Cy--- if you want to test one of mine PM me and I''ll send you one. If someone comes out with the perfect battery I'm all over it, but these are pretty awesome.
    #25
  6. herrhelmet

    herrhelmet A Serious Man

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    Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries DO NOT discharge at 5-10% per month. Real world experience here. Less than 1% per month static use.
    #26
  7. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    that's been my experience as well... 1-2% per month for (bare, non-protected) li-ion cells I've personally used. Note the 5-10% figure was for smart circuits. protected li-ion cells drains ranged from almost no drain to rates comparable to wet lead acid.

    herein lies the problem of data all over the place.

    very proud to say that I was part of the small group of initial adopters on Candlepower forums. we were among the world first users of individual li-ion cells. as in up close and personal ... in bleeding edge flashlights.

    the world's first protected li-ion cell was conceived on Candlepower forums. pioneered by JS Burley, who mortaged his house to finance those first R123 protected cells. delays after delays... I was part of the original group buy for those cells. finally the Chinese factory finally did deliver ... they barely performed with a miserable 150 milliamp capacity.

    what happened next repeated itself many times ... the Chinese then took the technology paid for by JS Burley and proceeded to develop the li-ion technology into the mature li-ion cells in common use today. JS Burley ended up losing his shirt over developing world's first protected R123 cells.

    most of the dangers occurred during the charging process. back then I used a Triton and Shulze charger. unlike lithium iron phosphate's very stable chemistry. early li-ion cells had entirely different characteristics.

    along with li-ion's desirable characteristics ... danger of li-ion happened during charging. li-ion cells will take a charge long as voltage is delivered... until thermal runaway (explosion) occurs some where about 4.9v. unlike lithium iron phosphate. lithium cobalt operating range is 4.2v fully charged.... 3.5v discharged. very little residual current remains to 3v where permanent damage occurs to cell.

    many advances since those early days....
    #27
  8. tmotten

    tmotten Lefthand ride Dutchy

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    Mate, mine haven't been used since you sent them to me over a year ago and last month still showed over 12V. Starting to get a little concerned though. You reckon I should put them on my Ctek drip charger?

    I also agree that putting them in the abbreviation of Li-Ion is confusing as it's becoming or is now industry standard to abbreviate them to LiFePo4. Not my thread, but just saying.
    #28
  9. herrhelmet

    herrhelmet A Serious Man

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    Taco, do you have a running bike you could hook it up to? If it were mine, I'd charge it up that way if possible. Otherwise, yes at this point I'd put it on a trickle charger. I try to keep mine above 13.25 volts.
    #29
  10. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    so much for trying to keep this thread non-technical :norton

    here's a few links with hopefully digestable information ... first one is from MIT, second is by NASA. your tax dollars hard at work freely used all over the world. strangely enough very limited use in America.

    A123 pdf link ... OK.. the real title is: Electrochemical Energy Storage for Transportation & Power Grid
    http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=electrochemical%20energy%20storage%20for%20transportation%20and%20power%20grid%20pdf&source=web&cd=2&sqi=2&ved=0CDEQFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.aps.org%2Funits%2Fgera%2Fmeetings%2Fmarch10%2Fupload%2FChiang_APS_March2010_final_for_posting.pdf&ei=ojAgT-LyNaWe2AWl05CXDw&usg=AFQjCNF5HnchUtbKTP4XyfBwoz_chG-9cQ&cad=rja

    Designing Safe Lithium-Ion Battery. Packs Using Thermal Abuse Models PDF
    http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=...sg=AFQjCNGPEXQzrrng-xGW5Rx-D2oQY8z02Q&cad=rja
    #30
  11. captain pabst

    captain pabst b00n

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    are those 26650 cells in your sycl batteries safe on a battery tender plus (12 volt at 1.25 amp)?
    #31
  12. herrhelmet

    herrhelmet A Serious Man

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    Yes, the 26650s can be charged up to a 2 amp rate. No need to leave it on the charger for extended periods, however. Once it gets to 14.4 volts take it off.
    #32
  13. RozzyCat

    RozzyCat Bleeds orange

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    Chiming in with real world experience on Shorai. I've not been successful starting my KTM990 when left out overnight below 45 degrees despite following several "warm up" procedures. I went back to the stock lead acid battery. Shorai sent me a replacement but I have not been able to test it yet.

    A number of other guys/gals report no problems.
    #33
  14. OaklandStrom

    OaklandStrom Long timer

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    This is good stuff.
    The battery in my Wee is probably not going to make it through winter.

    I'd love to take more weight off the bike, but would like to have something that is completely compatible with my battery tender (or something I never need to charge?!?) and doesn't cost a fortune.
    #34
  15. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    finally received my Lithium Iron Phosphate battery today... naturally couldn't wait to dive in.
    rated at 3C or 60amp continuous, 10C or 200amp intermittent discharge, or plenty of amps to start any motorcycle.

    first up is to charge the battery. let's see what the spec's say...

    max charge rate is 3C, recommend .5C - .8C charge rate
    max voltage listed 3.6v per cell x 4= 14.4V max charge

    useful voltage is 11.2v to 14.4v

    since my 0-40v 70 amp regulated power supply is not hooked up yet. And I don't have access to a commercial lithium Iron phosphate charger. we'll make do with a dumb 12v 60 amp charger. it's actually got several setting that allows selection of what voltage is used for current cut-off. works out very nice!

    Specifications

    - Nominal Voltage: 12.8V (4X 3.2 V)
    - Nominal Capacity: 20 Ah
    - LiFeMnPO4 chemistry
    - Operation Voltage Range: 11.2 to 14.4V
    - Weight: 3.0 kg or 6.6 lbs
    - Dimension: 178X76X165 mm or 7.0X3.0X6.5 in
    - Max Charging Current: 3C, ... .8C to .5C preferred
    - Max Discharge Current: 3C (continuous) / 10C (pulsed)
    - Cycle Life : >1500 (80%DOD)
    - Operating Temperature: -20 to 65 C or -4 to 149 F
    - Self Discharge Rate: <3% monthly
    - Accessories included: jumpers, bolts or rivets, washers, split washers and cell covers
    - The 4-cell pack is enclosed in a plastic box <table border="0" cellpadding="3" cellspacing="0" width="72%"><tbody><tr> <td bgcolor="#FFFF99" valign="top" align="left" height="14">Nominal Voltage (V) </td> <td bgcolor="#FFFF99" valign="top" align="left">Capacity (Ah) </td> <td bgcolor="#FFFF99" valign="top" align="left">Dimensions (mm) </td> <td bgcolor="#FFFF99" valign="top" align="left">Weight (kg) </td> </tr> <tr> <td bgcolor="#CCFFFF" width="31%" height="14">12.8</td> <td bgcolor="#CCFFFF" width="21%">20</td> <td bgcolor="#CCFFFF" width="31%">178 x 76 x 165 </td> <td bgcolor="#CCFFFF" width="17%">3.0</td></tr></tbody></table>

    [​IMG]

    balancer/overcharge circuit boards
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    weight is 7.5lb not 6.6lb claimed

    [​IMG]

    shipped voltage is 13.21v

    [​IMG]

    charging at 14.4v @ 8amp... not enough amps

    [​IMG]

    out comes the dumb charger... 14.3v @ 17amps ... close to desired .8C rate

    [​IMG]

    monitoring temp while charging to make sure battery is not getting too hot during charge
    not even warm at 17 amp charge rate

    [​IMG]

    battery is getting close to fully charged ... let's stop take a few readings

    [​IMG]

    barely warm

    [​IMG]

    resting voltage 13.97v after 5 minutes... going down to 13.53v after an hour

    [​IMG]

    finishing off charge at 14.4v @ under 1amp with HP regulated power supply. when voltage reaches 14.4v, all current will terminate by HP circuitry. normally would be using my Schulze charger, but it's dead until I send it back to Germany for repairs.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    after trickle charging for a few hours ... battery finally reached 14.39V

    [​IMG]

    after resting for an hour... finally a resting voltage 13.92 .. what a PITA to charge lithium iron phosphate when you don't have a charger with correct algorithm. appears voltage drops by about .5 volts after resting an hour.




    <table style="width: 294px; height: 46px;" border="0" cellpadding="3" cellspacing="0"><tbody><tr><td bgcolor="#FFFF99" valign="top" align="left" height="14">
    </td><td bgcolor="#FFFF99" valign="top" align="left">
    </td><td bgcolor="#FFFF99" valign="top" align="left">
    </td><td bgcolor="#FFFF99" valign="top" align="left">
    </td></tr><tr><td bgcolor="#CCFFFF" width="31%" height="14">
    </td><td bgcolor="#CCFFFF" width="21%">
    </td><td bgcolor="#CCFFFF" width="31%">
    </td><td bgcolor="#CCFFFF" width="17%">
    </td></tr></tbody></table>
    #35
  16. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    balancer/overcharge protection circuits in action ... be interesting to see how much additional parasitic drain protection circuits causes. these cells bare are rated at 3% self discharge per month

    [​IMG]

    with flash off so your can see LED light. green for safe, red for bleeding off voltage
    right cell measures over 3.54V which triggers volts bleed down (slowly)

    [​IMG]

    another cell goes over 3.54v, red LED lights to indicate volts bleedoff

    [​IMG]
    #36
  17. herrhelmet

    herrhelmet A Serious Man

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    Will it start your bike?
    #37
  18. Anorak

    Anorak Woolf Barnato

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    Those look like Sky Energy cells.
    #38
  19. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    Glazed eyeballs alert ... was trying my level best to avoid technical mumbo jumbo.... but in this instance, just cannot avoid it.

    in fairness to Shorai battery who chooses to state their amp hour rating in PB EQ = lead acid equivalent. Peukert law has to explained ... by the way please feel free to correct me if I'm stating this wrong and/or over simplifying.

    Peukert law says as amp draw increases efficiency loss in terms of amp hours capacity decreases. Peukert loss is proportional to internal resistance of battery's cells. and no I'm not going to put up no sticking formula, charts and graphs.... yet :D

    all lead acid batteries, which include Flooded/wet, Gel and AGM has higher internal resistance vs Li-ion cells, of which Lithium iron phosphate is but one type chemistry available. Li-ion cells has very low internal resistance (li-ion discharges at high rates). on the order of 2% to 5% Peukert losses for higher discharge rates. in other words my 20 AH lithium iron phosphate would be equal to approximately 30% increase in Amp hour capacity as compared to lead acid.

    I know... clear as mud :rofl

    had to fabricate two copper tabs.. note this lithium iron phosphate battery was never mean for motorcycle starting duties. just that it was accidentally the correct size and configuration needed.
    top plate will be trimmed to fit copper tabs.

    [​IMG]
    #39
  20. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    yes.. test battery starts R80G/S just fine. battery measured 13.31v. note test battery rated at 3C or 60amp continuous discharge. typical motorcycle starter will draw about 100 amp for a fraction of second, then draw about 70 amps for 1-3 seconds burst. then wait 30 seconds and try again if needed.

    would be really surprised if a 20amp hr li-ion battery rated for 60 amp continuous ... couldn't sustain a 70 amp load for 3 seconds for several cycles.

    had to try to start my Cummins turbo diesel first :D which it did not start (used 20ft jumper cables). heater grid ran battery down pretty good before starting G/S. note all lights are brighter due to higher system voltage.

    what a pita to install a battery on G/S... rear shock has to be removed.
    Is this test battery suitable for long term use... don't know ... many more tests yet to come

    yanked battery back out and charging back up to try again (it's gulping down the amps!). next time with a full charge.
    #40