Robert Kamischke EnerDel

Mr. Kamischke noted that this is his “second time around” in the movement to electrify the transportation sector. “When the opportunity came to join again, I asked myself why I would do that,” he said. “I felt it was compelling that we should work toward energy independence for our nation. Secondly, I was very interested in helping create a sustainable manufacturing base for our country.”

EnerDel is more than just an advanced battery manufacturer, Mr. Kamischke said. EnerDel is “a complete lithium-ion solutions provider,” he explained. The company is a fully owned subsidiary of Ener1. Its other subsidiaries are EnerFuel, a developer of low-temperature proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells, and NanoEner, which develops processes for applying active materials on electrodes.

The company’s key partners include the Department of Defense, the Energy Systems Network based in Indianapolis, Argonne National Laboratory, Purdue University, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, the U.S. Advanced Battery Consortium, and Japan’s Itochu. EnerDel supplies customers in consumer electronics, transportation, industry, power-generation, and the military, he explained. They include Nissan, Volvo, TARDEC, AC Transit, Think Automotive, and Portland General Electric.

EnerDel has built the first commercial high-volume cell fabrication plant in the United States, Mr. Kamischke said, thanks in part to $118.5 million in federal money through the Recovery Act. The plant was set to open in the fourth quarter of 2010. In November 2009, it was awarded a contract by TARDEC to work on the Humvee. It began commercial production of battery-pack systems for Think Automotive in May 2010.

Success in vehicle electrification will have important benefits for the U.S., Mr. Kamischke said. He noted that the transportation sector accounts for 70 percent of the U.S. trade deficit. Light-duty vehicles represent 40 percent of annual U.S. oil consumption, which is about 25 percent of the U.S. trade deficit. “The U.S. is not the only country that imports more oil than it produces,” he pointed out. “China imports more than 52 percent of the oil it uses, and you can see the urgency with which they are moving toward electrification of their transportation sector to mitigate that.” Oil price volatility is another problem for the U.S. If one compares oil prices to electricity prices, oil is seven times more volatile, Mr. Kamischke noted.

EnerDel is “very appreciative” of what the U.S. and European governments have done to support vehicle electrification, he said. The company is selling the first auto applications of its batteries in Europe to Think Automotive. That Swedish company soon plans to assemble its electric vehicles in the U.S.

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