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Old 03-22-2008, 07:05 AM   #1
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NiMH battery patents.

Here is a succinct tidbit I ran across today. While generally in agreement with the concepts put forth in "Who Killed the Electric Car" I was surprised by the latest lawsuit in this battery saga.

I copied a bit from the wikipedia link below. Last fall Chevron sued for
complete control of the NiMH battery technology patents. I bet they have
enough money to buy up any promising Lithium Ion technology too. This looks pretty clear cut to me. Lithium Ion will be better anyway.

[edit] Patent encumbrance of NiMH batteries
In 1994, General Motors acquired a controlling interest in Ovonics's battery
development and manufacturing, including patents controlling the
manufacturing of large nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries in the United
States. In 2001, Texaco purchased GM's share in GM Ovonics. A few months
later, Chevron acquired Texaco. In 2003, Texaco Ovonics Battery Systems was
restructured into Cobasys, a 50/50 joint venture between Chevron and Energy
Conversion Devices (ECD) Ovonics.[13] Chevron's influence over Cobasys
extends beyond a strict 50/50 joint venture. Chevron holds a 19.99% interest
in ECD Ovonics.[14] Chevron also maintains veto power over any sale or
licensing of NiMH technology.[15] In addition, Chevron maintains the right
to seize all of Cobasys' intellectual property rights in the event that ECD
Ovonics does not fulfill its contractual obligations.[15] On September 10,
2007, Chevron filed a legal claim that ECD Ovonics has not fulfilled its
obligations. ECD Ovonics disputes this claim.[16] NiMH patent expires in

In her book, Plug-in Hybrids: The Cars that Will Recharge America, published
in February 2007, Sherry Boschert argues that large-format NiMH batteries
are commercially viable but that Cobasys refuses to sell or license them to
small companies or individuals. Boschert reveals that Cobasys accepts only
very large orders for these batteries. When Boschert conducted her research,
major auto makers showed little interest in large orders for large-format
NiMH batteries. However, Toyota employees complained about the difficulty in
getting smaller orders of large format NiMH batteries to service the
existing 825 RAV-4EVs. Since no other companies were willing to make large
orders, Cobasys was not manufacturing nor licensing any large format NiMH
battery technology for automotive purposes. Boschert concludes that "it's
possible that Cobasys (Chevron) is squelching all access to large NiMH
batteries through its control of patent licenses in order to remove a
competitor to gasoline. Or it's possible that Cobasys simply wants the
market for itself and is waiting for a major automaker to start producing
plug-in hybrids or electric vehicles."[17]

However, recently-signed Cobasys contracts demonstrate that the company is
willing to use its NiMH technology in the automotive industry, specifically
for use with hybrid electric vehicles. In December 2006, Cobasys and General
Motors announced that they had signed a contract under which Cobasys
provides NiMH batteries for the Saturn Aura hybrid sedan.[18] In March 2007,
GM announced that it would use Cobasys NiMH batteries in the 2008 Chevrolet
Malibu hybrid as well. Cobasys remains unwilling to sell NiMH batteries in
smaller quantities to individuals interested in building or retrofitting
their own PHEVs.

Saft offers their NHE NiMH Modules with capacities of 100Ah and 200Ah.

Tianjin peace Gulf Power Group Co. offers NiMH in their HP-280QNF line, with
ratings of 40Ah, 80Ah, and 100Ah.
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