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Re: [EVDL] Who is Apollo Energy Systems Inc.?and "LEAD FOAM" plates?

This is Robert Aronson's most recent EV-related enterprise, dating from the
mid-1990s. Aronson has been around since Hector was a pup.

In February of 1971, the cover of Popular Science magazine featured a swoopy
EV coupe which was supposed to deliver a 20 minute recharge, 300 miles of
range, and 90 mph top speed. It was to be fitted with tri-polar lead cobalt
batteries and a fuel cell range extender. It would be in production by June
of 1971, and would sell for about $10,000, a pretty sizable chunk of change
40 years ago. (A 1971 Corvette sold for $5,496.)

The Voltair pictured on that 1971 cover, a clay model (not a prototype) from
Aronson's company, then called Electric Auto Corporation, never even came
close to production.

Nor has the Silver Volt, based on thinly disguised GM gliders. He built 14
of them in 1980. He still has 5 in his garage-warehouse. I'm sure he'd be
glad to sell you one, if you you really want a 30 year old converted Chevy
Malibu and you cross his palm with silver.

He's sold a handful of conversions - I'd guess perhaps in the dozens.
Arthur Godfrey bought one. Roland Wiench has one, the Transformer I (IIRC),
from the mid-late 1970s. But to my knowledge no prototype or concept that's
come out of EAC's shop has ever been successfully commercialized, except
possibly the Mars II (Renault Dauphine conversions) in the late 1960s, and
those were sold only to electric utilities.

The Mars II had pretty good range. It should have, since it hauled around a
literal ton of lead - and if you've ever seen a Dauphine, you know what a
load that must have been. He had ever nook and cranny stuffed with
batteries. Bob Rice described them as elephants on roller skates. The last
one I heard of still in existence was about 25 years ago. It was unusable
because its unibody seams were literally opening up from the load.

Bob's been touting the alkaline fuel cell since the mid-1990s. Again, I've
not seen anything close to a marketable product. At one time he had on his
website a rather lurid tale of alleged government suppression of that device
and harassment of its inventor.

Bob Aronson has been promising to commericalize his "tri polar lead cobalt"
batteries for over 40 years. Fifteen years ago he was supposedly
negotiating with a Chinese battery company to produce them, but apparently
nothing ever came of it.

He's sold a few hand-made prototype batteries - Bob Rice has worked with
them, and I think Roland Wiench too - but AFAIK he's never actually gotten
them into production.

"Tri-polar" vaguely suggests bipolar design, which is a valid and
interesting battery variant, but it's really just wordplay. It means that
the grids are connected at both the top and bottom of the cells, rather than
only at the top as is usual with batteries. This might modestly improve
capacity through convective electrolyte circulation as the bottom bus bars
warm up under high current. I wonder though if this nonstandard layout is
one reason he's never been able to find a manufacturer.

"Lead cobalt" refers to the cobalt sulfate he added to the batteries. You
used to be able to buy VX6 cobalt sulfite and cadmium sulfite additive for
SLI batteries in less discriminating auto parts stores. I think you can
still get it from J C Whitney, if you'd like to experiment with it. Cobalt
is also used in the electrolyte of NiCd batteries.

"Lead foam" sounds familar; see the patents of Firefly Battery. I trust Bob
has licensed the rights. If not, I hope he has a good attorney and lots of
money in the bank.

His claim of 37 Wh/kg is about what the best lead batteries were capable of
15 years ago. Garden-variety Trojan and USBMC marine batteries were
producing 30 Wh/kg in 1999. I strongly doubt that anything close to 100
Wh/kg is going to happen with lead.

Bob Aronson is one of the old-timers of the EV business, and he deserves our
respect for his perseverence. But aside from that little fleet of grossly
overweight Renault conversions over 3 decades ago, I've seen more press
releases than products roll out of his shop. I'd dearly love to see that
change, and I wish him the best, but I'm not holding my breath nor am I
writing any checks to him.

David Roden - Akron, Ohio, USA
EVDL Administrator

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