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Thread: Lithium/Iron Battery Primer (LiFePO4)

  1. #16
    apriliaforum expert
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    I have both a success story and a failure story.

    I am going on three years of use with a SpeedCell (I think SpeedCell is now Ballistic?) 8 cell pack. It started out as my battery in the RSVR and two years ago I upped the RSVR battery to a 12 cell Antigravity because I could tell the 8 cell was marginal to start my big bore Aprilia, and the 8 cell was then transferred to duty in my KTM 690.

    I have never once had to charge this 8 cell battery. I live in Chicago with long storage periods too. I have just religiously unplugged the battery from the bike anytime I know it will be weeks in between rides.

    However the Antigravity battery has gone bad on me twice under the same use pattern as the SpeedCell. I am not sure why. No balance port so I don't know if that would have saved them, but one lasted a few weeks and was replaced under warranty, the other lasted a little over a year. I tried bringing it back to life with a charge per instruction, but it no longer holds enough energy to turn the bike over. The only major difference between bikes/use I can think of is the difference in heat it is exposed to on the Aprilia over the KTM. That and the replacement procedure of key on for 15 secs every time you re-connect a battery on the Marelli bikes.

    I'm giving it one last try on the Aprilia this time with one that has a balance port. If it doesn't get me at least two to three years this time I will be done with these batteries in the RSVR and go back to the big old AGM
    part weight comparisons - click here:
    http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?k...bA&output=html


    2000 Yamaha YZ125
    2002 aprilia Caponord
    2007 aprilia RSVR
    2008 KTM 690 SMC / Enduro R






  2. #17
    apriliaforum expert TimeBandit's Avatar
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    Thanks for that real-world feedback. I wouldn't discount your suspicions regarding temperature influence on total life either, as that theory is shared by many. But there are way too many other variables in your situation – most of which is quality assurance in regards to who made the cells inside those packs. Majority (if not all) is out of China – so you're talking about a country that couldn't be QA consistent on something as simple as drywall! Hence you never know what ebayer A123 cell supplier might be behind some of these so-called made in the U.S. pack suppliers.

    Given all that said, if there is any one concept to take away from this thread, it's that these cell types are "happiest" when maintained at their ideal (designed) voltage state – meaning any time the cell is subjected below (discharged) or above (over-charged), the cell will proportionately stressed and thus undergoes "wear" ( as in chemical wear). This is why similar chemistries in lithium technology (like cell phone batteries) are rated in number of charge cycles, which are different depending on full or partial cycles.– like everything else in life, it's really all about wear and tear. So this segues into balance monitoring and charging to insure that not any one cell within a pack gets overly used and abused. I would venture to guess that only a cell or two has gone bad in your 12-pack.

    FWIW, I'm sticking with AGM for now too – until this sector matures a little more and better QA gets out there.

  3. #18
    apriliaforum Member Eape's Avatar
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    So after a nice ride today my Alien Motion LiFePo4 8 cell battery would not start the bike. After a few attempts I smelled a burning odor like I have never smelled before. I got off the bike and noticed smoke from under the seat. Seems like it took forever to get the seat off in my panic. The battery was leaking from it's top corner, terminals were melted off, bottom of battery was melted and it was to hot to touch even now as I write this 1 hour later it is super hot. Looks like a case of thermal runaway which could have destroyed the bike completely(soooooo lucky I was home).

    If you own an Alien Motion LiFePo4 Battery be careful if you have any problems with the start!!!!

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    Leonardo da Vinci: ‘la perfezione è fatta di dettagli’

  4. #19
    apriliaforum expert TimeBandit's Avatar
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    Definitely looks like a classic case of thermal runaway (TR)! Your post should serve as a sobering testimony of the potential hazards. Glad you were onsite and able to remove it in time. Many may try and down-play the likelihood of this happening with iron cells, but the fact remains that TR still plagues the A123 industry.
    It's not stated what bike you had this in, but guessing an RSVR or Tuono has to be one of the worst bikes because by design, a ton of engine heat is routed under the seat and out the tail section. Not a happy home for these batteries.

  5. #20
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    WOW, I have a new 12 cell Ballistic on order for my RSVR. that makes me really wonder if its worth putting on the bike. For sure I'm going to try and use something to help isolate it from some of that heat. Like I mentioned I've had no issues at all on my KTM with these batteries so heat is sure looking like a big factor as to why they failed so soon on my RSVR. Maybe finding a different mounting spot is a good solution, move it back under the rear seat cowl or something. That would still give easy access for charging and disconnecting between sitting for a bit.
    part weight comparisons - click here:
    http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?k...bA&output=html


    2000 Yamaha YZ125
    2002 aprilia Caponord
    2007 aprilia RSVR
    2008 KTM 690 SMC / Enduro R






  6. #21
    apriliaforum expert TimeBandit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kid A View Post
    .....
    Maybe finding a different mounting spot is a good solution, move it back under the rear seat cowl or something.
    ...
    FWIW, I keep an emergency eyedrop / eyewash bottle in the cowl area. Had to use it one day, damn that was hot drops hitting my eye !! Often I get asked by people whom never seen an RSVR before what those two little holes are for next to the rear brake light ... well, now ya know... plenty engine heat is routed thru it.

  7. #22
    apriliaforum Member Eape's Avatar
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    This happened on a 2010 RSV4 Factory. Heat from the exhaust is not a factor where the battery is installed. I was trying to start the bike after a ride and it wouldn"t turnover(maybe a 1/4 turn of the crank) and I did this restart a few times before the smoke and smell. When I got to the battery amazingly the cables were not hot at all, just the battery.
    Leonardo da Vinci: ‘la perfezione è fatta di dettagli’

  8. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eape View Post
    This happened on a 2010 RSV4 Factory. Heat from the exhaust is not a factor where the battery is installed. I was trying to start the bike after a ride and it wouldn"t turnover(maybe a 1/4 turn of the crank) and I did this restart a few times before the smoke and smell. When I got to the battery amazingly the cables were not hot at all, just the battery.
    Good to know
    part weight comparisons - click here:
    http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?k...bA&output=html


    2000 Yamaha YZ125
    2002 aprilia Caponord
    2007 aprilia RSVR
    2008 KTM 690 SMC / Enduro R






  9. #24
    apriliaforum Member Eape's Avatar
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    Update...
    I sent out an email to Alien Motion with a description and below was the reply:
    Thank you for the detailed information & pictures. *First off, the AM8 battery is slightly too small of a battery for the RSV4 and all its electronics. *What you experienced makes sense. *When an engine is hot, it takes more cranking energy than when it is cold, due to the increased pressure of hot gasses in the cylinders. *When the bike was hot and failed to turn over, the battery was outmatched by the cranking demand of the motor. *When the engine won't turn over, the energy output from the the battery has nowhere to go, so it effectively short circuits the battery. *The battery heated up until it melted it case and when it gets too hot, the cells vent and fail. *With your current reading of 9.73V, it appears that 2 of the 8 cells are bad.

    What I would like to recommend is upgrading to an AM12. *We can use 6 of the cells, if they all check good, to build the AM12. *The price difference from what you orginally paid for the AM8 and the current price of the AM12 is approximately $40. *We would perform this upgrade for you for $45 plus shipping, which would give you a full credit for your AM8 less $5.

    Above pricing is an estimate based on the information provided, but we really need to look at the battery to confirm the extent of the damage. *You can send the battery to the address below with the RMA provided:

    Star Motion LLC
    805 MLK Jr. Blvd. SW
    Gainesville, GA 30501

    RMA: 070512-01

    Let us know how you would like to proceed.

    Tech Support

    It makes sense and I have to say that is good customer service considering my warranty is up. I know others have an 8-cell, so be careful. My thoughts on thermal runaway were proved wrong in my research but I couldn't put all the pieces together until now.
    Leonardo da Vinci: ‘la perfezione è fatta di dettagli’

  10. #25
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    Excellent info. Yeah that is outstanding customer support too.
    part weight comparisons - click here:
    http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?k...bA&output=html


    2000 Yamaha YZ125
    2002 aprilia Caponord
    2007 aprilia RSVR
    2008 KTM 690 SMC / Enduro R






  11. #26
    apriliaforum expert TimeBandit's Avatar
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    I 80% agree with AM's assessment. I went back and re-read your post and it does sound closer to you stressing the pack than an actually situation of thermal runaway. Had it been truly TR, disconnecting the pack would have made no difference. You simply "over-worked" the pack to the point of extreme heat. I quote the term over-worked because that is relative to a) torque (power) needed to turn an engine, b) state (charge/capacity) of the pack, and c) internal pack temp -- i.e. too many tied factors, of any one or all can attribute to over-stressing the pack.
    Obviously, upgrading to a bigger pack is going to provide you much more wiggle room for both "b" & "c", thus ultimately giving you more time before critical temps can be reached.

    That said, the other 20% of me suspects one additional factor d) an unbalanced pack. As much as one or two cells could be under-charged, while proportionately the others a little higher. This sets up internal impedance issues inside the pack and thus additional heat-stress sources. Therefore, wishful thinking... one of the catalysts for AM stepping up to the plate and offering to help you "upgrade" is not only for higher capacity, but perhaps to also get you into a pack that has a BMS port. You should ask if the new pack they will build will have it.

  12. #27
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    I'm looking at charger options, I see the Ballistic charger comes with this BMS balance port cable but hard to tell if any of the other balance chargers do. Looking at specs I can't tell if the standard iMax B6 charger comes with the 5 pin BMS cable.

    If making my own longer BMS cable (or extension cable) so I can using it while battery still on bike, what type cable connector is needed?
    part weight comparisons - click here:
    http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?k...bA&output=html


    2000 Yamaha YZ125
    2002 aprilia Caponord
    2007 aprilia RSVR
    2008 KTM 690 SMC / Enduro R






  13. #28
    apriliaforum expert Bill in OKC's Avatar
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    ...And A123 files for bankruptcy...
    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/17/bu...ptcy.html?_r=0

    I thought they had the world by the tail - or something - with this technology and the electric bandwagon rolling along.
    '02 RSVR '07 S4Rs '08 FXSTB '75 GT550 '74 H1 500 '71 CB750

  14. #29
    apriliaforum expert Bill in OKC's Avatar
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    This is interesting:

    http://updates.jalopnik.com/post/346...aught-fire-and

    Apparently 3 Toyota Prius did basically the same thing.
    Last edited by Bill in OKC; 11-13-2012 at 01:36 PM.
    '02 RSVR '07 S4Rs '08 FXSTB '75 GT550 '74 H1 500 '71 CB750

  15. #30
    apriliaforum prov-nov Motociclista's Avatar
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    For what it's worth, I've had good luck with a Shorai battery. I first purchased it for my Mille. I bought their charging unit at the same time. After binning the 'Pril on the track I put the battery in my '05 Multistrada and was pretty good about keeping the battery always plugged into the charger (there's a storage and charging mode). Then my daughter was born and in the chaos of that at some point I forgot to plug the battery into the charging unit. When I finally did, I got flashing lights from the charger which indicated that the battery was excessively discharged. The charging unit had a bit of text to indicate to keep it plugged in in this condition until the lights stopped flashing. I think I left it this way for over a week and was really thinking I had permanently ruined the battery. Finally it came back into normal mode and the battery seems good to go. You'll note on Shorai's website that they describe what makes their batteries different. Here's the FAQ page with that info.
    http://www.shoraipower.com/s.nl/it.I/id.5/.f

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