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Issue 104

Summer 2017

The new pecking order

The sudden rise of the bipolar battery One direction, two chemistries: China's confusion of solutions

When supply and demand collide, the coming cobalt supply crisis

Carbon and the negative plate: exclusive book extract tells all

Doug Brennion, the forgotten T M bipolar technology genius O FR

Bringing the industry together






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Bipolar batteries could yet rewrite the history books. Almost a century ago the idea for a bipolar battery was conceived, but moving the technology from the laboratory bench to the manufacturing line has been problematic. Douglas Bennion 61 Bennion is nowadays remembered as the man who turned the concept of the bipolar battery into reality. But he was much more than that.

EDITORIAL4 And now three cheers for the tree-huggers …

OPINION8 It’s time for the entire energy storage industry to undertake a full levelized cost comparison among lead, lithium and all battery chemistries.



Pier Giuseppe Bernini — 1967-2017 • Digatron mourns sudden passing of most senior employee Wolfram Mühlhausen • Jun Furukawa and Geno Papazov named Gaston Planté award winners • The winners are... ees 2017 • Hammond Group hires Ho as new VP of research and development • Trojan appoints Oezcan as director of renewable energy sales • Cheeseman leaves Encell, sets up cooperative consultancy Energy Blues • Former JCI and Exide director takes new position at Flow-Rite Controls


Gaston Planté award winners: Furukawa and Papazov


Opinion: A question of balance between battery chemistries16


Could the fate of the distributed energy revolution — and the EV one too — be at the mercy of the availability of one metal: cobalt? Without cobalt where would high energy density lithium batteries be?



Trojan becomes ABC’s third Greenseal licensee, Crown takes equity stake • Integral subsidiary says in talks with bipolar Asian lead battery developer • UK in £246 million investment in energy storage • Tesla wins Australian contract • JCI expands number and size of plants in China • Exide to raise $200m for capital projects • Exide withdraws plan to reopen a lead formation site in Tennessee • First UltraBattery installed in Thailand • Saltwater battery firm Aquion goes into bankruptcy, snapped up by Chinese Titans at auction • Indian fuel retailer moves into the battery business • Northstar wins Sally Miksiewicz Innovation award with Missouri pilot project • Metair gains foothold in China with 25% stake in German battery maker • NSG Group joins Entek and Separindo to expand separator production in Asia • German utility announces plans for world’s biggest battery • Final Exide clean-up plan criticized by locals and county officials • Midac snaps up Swedish traction marketing firm • Younicos to test li-ion project in Austin • Li-ion project to explore methods of modernizing US grid system • High-purity metals firm Hpulcas opens three lines for production of 99.98% pure nickel plate, strip, wire • Hammond paste additives position firm for new regulatory readiness• Daramic announces grand opening of separator plant in India • New punching plate maker launched from Atelier Roche, Chloride Technical • EnerSys launches new range of chargers


Pier Giuseppe Bernini: Sadly no longer with us

Where worlds collide: lithium faces cobalt shortages


Batteries International • Summer 2017 • 1



China’s battery sector is in a state of flux. But whether it’s good news or bad news depends on which side of the lithium-lead fence you sit on. • A tale of two chemistries • China’s automotive sector: a new wave of electrification and protectionism re-emerges • Lead and the environment China: two chemistries fight it out for dominance 66



An abbreviated version of Farid Ahmed’s BCI presentation and excellent round-up of the strong and weak points of the lead industry

THE CARBON EFFECT  Ahmed: strength in unity87


The addition of carbon to lead battery negative plates. An extract from Lead–Acid Batteries for Future Automobiles, followed by a review of the book



A look at an up and coming Australian alternative energy storage provider

THE INTERNET OF THINGS  The new internet of energy:111


Power at your fingertips: the dawning of the internet of energy



Our comprehensive list of industry events

LAST WORD  Last Word: Royalty for some127


Health alert as Sorfin runs amok at ABC • Red carpet blues • ABC — have pity on the organizers • Destiny awaits the faithful • Talking of La Hampton …

Publisher Karen Hampton,, +44 7792 852 337

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2 • Batteries International • Summer 2017

EDITORIAL Mike Halls •

And now three cheers for the tree-huggers ... Irrational exuberance. Institutional amnesia. Or just plain idiocy? That could be the best description of the way that the media has dealt with the issue of the lead versus lithium debate. Mere weeks away from the Great Samsung Galaxy Note debacle — it only cost the firm $4 billion to recall its dangerous batteries — and then France announces that sales of diesel and petrol cars will be banned from 2040. And the media reaction? Nothing more than a pat on the back to the French for showing the Americans — and particularly that evil Mr Trump — that Europeans care about that pesky carbon dioxide. “Let’s make our planet great again,” said the French environment minister, Nicolas Hulot. Shame he didn’t tweet it for greater authenticity. Meanwhile he announced plans to cut nuclear power from 75% of France’s energy mix to 50% and abolish coal in the next seven years. (Where the extra 30GW of daily capacity will come from is difficult to imagine without huge battery banks to account for intermittency.) Mostly, newspapers took the idiot route to the EV or nothing story. Let’s entertain, not inform. Rather than pour scorn on the absurdity of the transport proposal — an uncosted plan on a lithium technology that is unproven and based on speculation over who’ll want electric cars anyway — the press swallowed it whole.

In a gulp. Only a few sections of the French media dared to criticise it. The international press swallowed it, hook, line and sinker. “This [France’s EV policy] was the latest sign that the century-long reign of the internal combustion engine may be slowly coming to an end,” wrote the New York Times.

Time Magazine chortled: “The [EV] revolution is already underway”. This might seem a tree-huggers’ charter for a new French president … if they were acting in isolation. But they aren’t. France will be the fourth European lemming to rush to the cliff and ban new petrol cars. Norway and the Netherlands plan to achieve this by 2025. Germany wants to do away with 100% internal combustion-powered vehicles by 2030, as does India. All brave fighting talk in the battle against climate change and how — without understanding how it will happen — lithium batteries will become the Saviours of Planet Earth. In this future paradise, our happy world will be inhabited by gentle people wearing open-toed sandals, their T-shirts emblazoned with slogans for veggie-burgers and driving whizzy little electric vehicles. All lithium powered. But lead is the bad guy in the tree-hugger scenario; for good measure let’s call it evil (!) if this is the shape of ‘informed’ opinion from the New York Times and Time Magazine too.

Lead acid and lithium ion energy use and emissions compared by energy, greenhouse gases and SOx

Source: Argonne National Laboratory

4 • Batteries International • Summer 2017

EDITORIAL Mike Halls • And pretty much any part of the media that swallows the huge fib that lithium batteries are fighting climate change in any real or meaningful way. Or for that matter that lithium ion batteries are necessarily good for the environment. There were various excellent points made at ILA’s last conference in Berlin in June. Perhaps one of the most notable came from Linda Gaines, a very senior member of the Argonne National Laboratory in the US — and as independent as they come. The two charts on the facing page were part of her presentation. They should speak louder than a thousand words. In an earlier study Gaines wrote: “either on a per kilogram or per watt hour capacity basis, lead acid batteries have the lowest production energy, carbon dioxide emissions and criteria pollutant emissions.” Meanwhile journalism sinks to new depths in its desire to entertain rather than inform. The Daily Mail, never perhaps in the higher echelons of tasteful reporting, continues to run stories ... “Just 100 Gigafactories could power the ENTIRE world with sustainable energy” or describing lithium as the “wonder metal that fires a shiny new car so clean it may save the planet”. So on one hand we have a truly independent scientist saying that the cradle-to-gate cost of lithium is more CO2 intensive than lead, while populist journalism continues to hug trees. Part of the reasoning behind the greenhouse gas implications of lithium ion batteries starts with the sourcing of the metals — again something that should be of concern to anyone trying to add a moral dimension to environmental arguments. Lead is a relatively common metal across the world. Mining it is simple — it dates back to the Iron Age, when the first lead artifacts can be found. The ingredients for lithium batteries are not so common and frequently come from the more exotic parts of the world. Most of our lithium has to be shipped from Chile/Argentina. But as our feature on cobalt in this issue shows, some 60% of that metal is found in the deeply troubled

Democratic Republic of Congo — a corrupt and violent country riven by civil wars and almost certainly where mining and child workers go hand-in-hand. And the lithium battery most commonly used in high-powered cars that gives a range greater than a bus ride? For most it’s lithium ion batteries of the NCA (nickel-cobalt-aluminium) or NMC (nickel manganese cobalt) type. Huge users of cobalt for even the smallest of gigafactories. Would the world’s tree-hugging press be cheering Monsieur Hulot so loudly if they knew the truth? His fight on climate change is as misguided as are the ethics of shifting France’s transport policy to exploiting a terrible situation in Africa. And don’t let us get started on the economics of recycling lithium ...

Rather than pour scorn on the absurdity of France’s transport proposal — an uncosted plan on a lithium technology that is unproven and based on speculation over who’ll want electric cars anyway — the press swallowed it whole. Batteries International • Summer 2017 • 5

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OPINION It’s time for the entire energy storage industry to undertake a full levelized cost comparison among lead, lithium and all battery chemistries. Informed procurement decisions should show that the lead battery industry can compete — but only, writes John Howes, if it can maintain its kWh price advantage and improve specific energy Wh/kg performance.

A question of balance For years, lead-based batteries were the only game in town and many in the industry didn’t think they needed extensive laboratory research to improve specific energy performance in a rechargeable battery market they’ve always dominated. It would be a mistake for anyone to conclude that lead-based batteries have no future in automotive or electric grid applications. If the specific energy density performance of lead batteries can double within the next five to 10 years, the future could look very bright as vehicles become increasingly electrified and the power grid’s need for batteries grows to compensate for the increased presence of renewable power intermittency. To effectively compete in the everchanging mobile and stationary applications markets, the specific energy of the average lead-based battery will have to increase from the current 50Wh/kg to at least 100Wh/kg. Already, some industry scientists have been able to improve lead battery performance to about 70 Wh/kg. But, that has only been demonstrated in the laboratory, not in the commercial marketplace. More intensive research is required. Why is getting to 100 Wh/kg so important for lead-based batteries? For one thing, the most commonly sold lithium-ion batteries operate in the 150 Wh/kg specific energy range. But, at a cost of about $250 kWh, lithium batteries are almost double the cost of most lead-based batteries, which run in the $125-150 kWh range. The trade press is replete with stories about

8 • Batteries International • Summer 2017

new lithium-based batteries achieving specific energy performance exceeding 500 Wh/kg, but those designs are still in the laboratory. Even so, any battery — regardless of whether it’s lead, lithium, nickel or any other chemistry — has a long way to go in rivalling the energy density of gasoline in an internal combustion engine (ICE). Gasoline has a specific energy of about 12,000 Wh/kg. But, because the combustion efficiency in an ICE is only about 20%-30%, the “real” specific energy of gasoline is about 3,000Wh/kg. That is still far above the energy density of any battery material. What this means is that while vehicles powered exclusively by electrified drive trains are unlikely to dominate the market anytime soon, there nonetheless is increasing demand for more electricity for vehicle accessories (computers, satellite communications, etc.) and mild drive assist. This is a market in which the leadbased battery industry can compete if it can maintain its kWh price advan-

tage and improve specific energy Wh/ kg performance. To do this, however, the lead-based battery industry must confront more effectively one of its most important challenges, improving specific energy performance with better management of sulfation (the crystallization and dissolution phenomena) that occurs during battery discharge and recharge. For years, lead-based batteries were the only game in town and many in the industry didn’t think they needed extensive laboratory research to improve specific energy performance in a rechargeable battery market they’ve always dominated. Now, with other battery chemistries coming into the market, many lead industry leaders believe the time has come to make a stronger commitment to research to manage the engineering issues of sulfation. They are taking steps to do just that. It is perhaps ironic that some of the research tools used by the lithium battery industry to address its own material performance issues are now being

The lead industry should challenge lithium and other battery chemistries to match its sustainability profile. The industry should ask consumers what they do with batteries when they reach their end-of-life.

OPINION In recent years, the lead-based battery industry has developed the use of carbon to address sulfation. While using carbon has certainly helped, too much remains unknown. Which type of carbon works better than others? What about the effect of other potential additives besides carbon? used by the lead-based battery industry. For example, RSR Technologies, in Dallas, Texas, and East Penn Manufacturing, in Lyon Station, Pennsylvania, last year signed a cooperative research and development agreement with Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago, part of the US Department of Energy’s national laboratory network. The project involves experiments in the behaviour of active materials in a lead-based battery as it goes through continuous charge/discharge cycling. The lead battery industry’s traditional approach of testing prototype cells after new materials are added has been too slow and cumbersome. But, using the equipment and expertise at Argonne (and perhaps other US federal laboratories) can help the lead battery industry collect information of the actual process in cell operation. Among the tools used for this work is Argonne’s Advanced Photon Source synchrotron-radiation light source facility that can provide high level imaging necessary to better understand the behaviour of lead in a battery. This research is needed to see in real time how lead reacts in a battery at partial state of charge as charge/discharge happens during high current pulses separated by irregular rest periods. The challenge of dealing with the problems of charge acceptance caused by sulfation is a major one for modern lead batteries as the industry deals with the increasingly demanding challenges of start-stop and hybrid electric vehicles, frequency support systems, renewable energy storage, uninterrupted power supply, grid support, micro grids, golf carts, port cranes and much more. In recent years, the lead-based battery industry has developed the use of carbon to address sulfation. While using carbon has certainly helped, too much remains unknown. Which type of carbon works better than others? What about the effect of other potential additives besides carbon? Another issue is that batteries operate often at elevated ambient temperatures caused by these more demanding

cycles, which in turn results in other problems like water loss, corrosion and material aging. Lead batteries facing these issues can’t survive long when operating under these elevated temperature conditions. That needs to change. There are also several new cell design concepts to be explored. Are there new alloys, new paste recipes and new types of expanders that can help the performance of positive and negative electrodes? What can be done to further improve electrolyte performance? Are there new smart pulse charge methods that could be supported by more efficient battery monitoring tools that could also extend service life? How can the best of these new discoveries be efficiently combined? These are some of the issues to be evaluated as the industry tackles the challenge of increasing the specific energy and other measures of battery performance. But, identifying the issues is one thing. Agreeing on how to prioritize the issues to be pursued is another matter for an industry characterized by intense business rivalries, competing business outlooks and even which findings should be protected by intellectual property rights. Even so, many in the lead battery industry realize their batteries have two important advantages over lithium batteries. First, the typical lead-based battery has significant unused potential in the lead plates. This is because the sulfation growth effectively blocks more than half the lead from being used in the battery. Solving the sulfation management challenge, therefore, will not require a fundamental redesign of the lead battery chemistry. By contrast, the typical lithium battery uses almost the entire energy potential of the battery components. What this means is that to improve performance, the lithium battery must be completely designed with new materials, which is why the industry gravitates from lithium oxygen to lithium sulfur to other design concepts. Such new designs are expensive,

which means bringing the kWh cost down to the level of lead-based batteries is extremely difficult. Second, lead-based batteries have another advantage that, unfortunately, industry executives rarely discuss beyond their own trade meetings. That advantage is the fact that lead-based batteries have a recycling rate of 99%, making them the most recycled consumer products on earth. The lithium battery recycling rate isn’t anywhere close to that of lead-based batteries. Estimates range from 1% to no more than 5%. Neither steel, copper nor aluminum can match the recycling record of lead. Even the auto industry, which has an outstanding recycling profile, stands in awe of what the lead battery industry has achieved. But, while the lead industry’s recycling record is to be commended, it should do more than simply promote it as a nice supplement in its public relations programs. The lead industry should challenge lithium and other battery chemistries to match its sustainability profile. The industry should ask consumers what they do with batteries when they reach their end-of-life. Do they turn them over for a fee paid by recyclers that then sell recycled materials to manufacturers at a profit? That’s what lead battery recyclers do and it’s a successful, profitable business. Can lithium battery manufacturers say the same? Of course not. Ultimately, the lead industry will have to • improve the specific energy performance of its batteries, • encourage consumers, government and the environmental community to undertake a full levelized cost comparison among lead, lithium and all battery chemistries. Then consumers will have the real facts they need to make informed procurement decisions. If the lead battery industry does these two things, then its future could be very bright indeed. John Howes is principal of the Redland Energy Group, an independent marketing and public policy advisory consulting firm in Washington, DC.

Batteries International • Summer 2017 • 9


Cheeseman leaves Encell, sets up new cooperative consultancy, Energy Blues Dr Cheeseman — best known across the industry through her research work at Duracell, Spectrum and Exide — has left start-up Encell and, this July, set up a consultancy called Energy Blues. “It’s a consultancy with a difference in that I’ve assembled a group of 20 consultants that I’ve known and trusted for a long time — most of them with over 30 years of experience within the energy storage industry — and formed a cooperative.” Cheeseman says she had been mulling the idea for some time and that she would not have had enough time to work at nickel-iron battery start-up Encell as well as Energy Blues. She says the underlying principle is to tap the wealth of knowledge of existing experts, some, who may be consultants already and others who are retired and want occasional work, and offer their services as specialists.

“Somebody, for example, may be wanting to tap the expertise of someone who is a specialist in how lead acid can be integrated into industrial lighting or the challenges of setting up vanadium redox plants. It’s a question of matching skill sets to tasks.” She also believes that the cooperative structure eliminates three of consultants’ bugbears — prospecting, accounting and tax preparation! At present she reckons that the 20 consultants offer about 200 separate skills and that the cooperative would be able to cover about 7080% of market needs. Cheeseman envisages that when fully operational — perhaps in a year’s time — that 100% of the market will be covered and that the company structure would be very different from the limited liability company that it is now. “Instead of an LLC there will be a set of principals and

probably a team of around 100,” he said. She says cooperative ventures tend to have about three times the chance of success as other businesses. In the future she expects tapping a large area of the market — where renewables fit into the grid, for example, “so we’d been looking for other related energy skills, such as knowledge of wind turbines, inverters and solar panels.” Cheeseman has over 30 years of technical experience in multiple battery systems and was previously vice president of engineering and product development at start-up firm Encell. Encell tried to pioneer the commercialization of nickel iron batteries that had shown impressive laboratory results indicating their superiority over AGM batteries. Before that Cheeseman was vice president for global research and engineering at Exide Technologies until the US business went into Chap-

ter 11 bankruptcy in 2013. Cheeseman had been specially chosen for the post of chief technology officer, by Gordon Ulsh, the chief executive in 2008. While at Exide, Cheeseman developed a global engineering organization for Clean Tech markets, successfully led a team to secure a grant from the US Department of Energy and led the development of batteries for Exide’s successful Start-Stop business. Cheeseman’s career started at Duracell spending 16 years in a variety of jobs including director of lithiumion technology and director of operations for its New Products Division. In the early 1990s Cheeseman moved to Spectrum Brands, (formerly Rayovac), where as senior vice president for R&D and quality, Cheeseman led four global research and development integration programmes and a team of 150 scientists and engineers.

Former JCI and Exide director takes new position at Flow-Rite Controls Flow-Rite Controls, the USbased designer and manufacturer of fluid control devices for lead-acid batteries, announced the appointment of Michael Leonard as sales and marketing director on June 26. Leonard has nearly 30 years of experience in the battery industry, including director of OE sales and engineering at Johnson Controls and director of electric vehicle programs at Exide Technologies. Leonard will oversee the company’s sales, marketing and customer service for the battery maintenance

and marine businesses of the firm. “Flow-Rite is thrilled to be able to add a skilful businessman with deep industry knowledge to our team,” said Todd Hart, executive vice president. “As sales and marketing director, Mike will work closely with our team to grow sales and harvest product ideas from those who best know what is needed, our partners.” Flow-Rite makes battery watering systems and flip top watering caps. Its fluidcontrol devices are also used in fishing boats and laboratories.

10 • Batteries International • Summer 2017

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Hammond Group hires Ho as new VP of research and development Lead-acid battery technology firm the Hammond Group appointed electrochemist Marvin Ho, who previously worked at Trojan Battery and CSB Battery Technologies, as vice president of research and development, the firm announced on July 12. Ho spent 13 years with Trojan Battery, where he set up an advanced material centre in Europe and the US to develop materials for energy storage technology. Before that he was project manager at

CSB Battery Technologies, which changed its name to Hitachi Chemical Energy Technology Company in November 2016. Ho also works with international research institutes to develop materials

for lead-acid battery. He co-owns eight patents in the field, the most recent of which, a method of making positive active material pastes for flooded deep discharge lead-acid batteries, was published at the end of last year. Gordon Beckley, Hammond chief technical officer — who will be Ho’s new boss — was among the coinventors, who also included Trojan Battery engineer Colin Smith and Charles Snyder. Adding this paste greatly

Trojan appoints Oezcan as director of renewable energy sales Deep-cycle battery manufacturer Trojan Battery appointed Erguen Oezcan, the former president of Hoppecke Batteries’ US arm, as senior director of sales for renewable energy on July 12. He had been at Hoppecke since 2006, where he was first appointed managing director of Motive Power before becoming president of the German company’s US

subsidiary in 2013. Oezcan will take control of Trojan’s solar and renewable energy markets in North America, where he is likely to be promoting the company’s new deep-cycle Solar AGM batteries, which were launched at the end of May. They are specifically designed for use in renewable energy, hybrid and back-up power applications and are

suitable for remote microgrids, solar home systems, residential and commercial back-up, telecoms, oil and

Sonnen appoints Stayer as vice president for operations and quality control

The US arm of Sonnen, the German battery and energy storage company announced in mid July that it has appointed Brent Stayer as its vice president of operations and quality control.

“Stayer brings to sonnen more than 30 years of experience in quality engineering and leadership supervision, regulatory compliance and interpretation, as well as extensive test and analytical laboratory experience within the global electronics industry,” says the firm. “During his time at Lutron, Stayer was instrumental in building the world-renowned Lutron Quality Engineering Lab as well as establishing

12 • Batteries International • Summer 2017

operational processes for Lutron production facilities. During this time, he oversaw a team that performed new product and certification testing on 50-70 new products per year and hundreds of verification test plans to enhance and improve commercialized products.” The appointment follows the company’s decision to open a new manufacturing, R&D and product design facility under one roof in Atlanta, Georgia.

improved performance in batteries compared with those using conventional positive active material pastes, the inventors found. The inventors’ other patents include a system for delivering water to a fluid electrolyte battery; a separator for a lead-acid battery; and capacitor pastes and hybrid plates, the use of which improve performance and need less overcharge to prevent electrolyte stratification. Ho is originally from Taiwan. gas applications and solar street lights and signs, says the company. “The extensive background in deep-cycle battery technology and energy storage for solar applications that Erguen brings to Trojan uniquely positions the company to continue its expansion worldwide,” said Elke Hirschman, Trojan Battery senior vice president of North American sales and corporate marketing. “His expertise in a wide range of battery fields will support Trojan’s sales growth objectives for this market segment, as well as identify new market opportunities, define trends, and determine product needs of customers.” The range of Solar AGM batteries features a carbon additive that Trojan says helps to reduce the deleterious effects of partial-stateof-charge cycling. Trojan uses smart carbon in all of its industrial and premium flooded battery lines. This is a proprietary formula, which has been developed so that batteries can operate better in PSoC and are therefore suitable for many applications in which the battery is under-charged on a regular basis.


Pier Giuseppe Bernini — 1967-2017 It is with sadness that we report the death of Pier Giuseppe Bernini, general manager for Solith, the lithium subsidiary of Italian battery machine manufacturer Sovema. Pier was a talented and highly respected engineer. as well as a warm generous friend to many — to which we, at Batteries International counted ourselves one. Professionally, Pier will be remembered as a leading innovator for the manufacture of lithium ion battery production systems where his encyclopaedic knowledge of everything from punching electrodes, pouch forming and cell formulation made him a huge asset to Sovema, the Italian machine maker. Pier joined Sovema in May 2011 before helping set up Solith in September 2015. His most recent patent “Machine and process for obtaining cells for electric storage batteries and cell

for electric storage battery” was awarded in May 2016. The Sovema Group expressed its sadness over his passing saying: “Pier was an important player of its team of experts, which he helped create and constantly inspired. The group is close to Pier’s family and to the Solith team and will honour his legacy.” Tributes have also come in from friends and colleagues alike. Bob Galyen, chief technology officer at CATL, told Batteries International: “Pier was full of life!  We shared many work experiences from Italy to China, and the world between.  He beamed with life, always speaking of his love of family and steadfast determination in his career.  Anyone who was close to Pier knew what a kind man he was.   “We spent many hours discussing equipment design and philosophy in

“Pier was full of life! We shared many work experiences from Italy to China, and the world between. He beamed with life” manufacturing, always trying to create perfection for his customers.” Pier died suddenly from a heart attack on April 29 while cycling. He was a month short of his 50th

birthday. He leaves behind his wife Giulia, who he married in 2008, and young son Filippo who he adored. The world is a sadder place without him.

Digatron mourns sudden passing of most senior employee Wolfram Mühlhausen Digatron Power Electronics has announced the sudden passing of the company’s most senior employee, Wolfram Mühlhausen, who died on June 26 just a day after his 66th birthday. The company says his death, from a pulmonary embolism, was completely unexpected. Mühlhausen, who became known as Mr Digatron to his customers, had been with the firm for almost 40 years, meeting his wife, Barbara, there when she was working in R&D. “Wolfram was unforget-

table with his always unagitated and at the same time engaging demeanour with clients and representatives,” said the company. “His professional quest was adding value by fulfilling clients’ requests. Being a car buff and a canine aficionado he was also available to his coworkers for expert discussions. “We are all saddened at the loss of a warm-hearted and jovial friend.” The company has passed on its employees’ heartfelt sympathies to Barbara and their son, Alexander..

“Wolfram was unforgettable with his always unagitated, and at the same time engaging, demeanour with clients and representatives”

Batteries International • Summer 2017 • 13

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The Plate Pasting Process is now a Process Under Control. Our newest innovation which received a U.S. patent allows “on the fly” thickness adjustments to the steel belt pasting machine to control the plate thickness while the machine is running. We incorporate a servo system under the steel belt which can be continuously adjusted to maintain an exact plate thickness. The adjustments can be made by the machine operator, or in a closed loop system when coupled with a thickness measurement system. Plate Thickness Control To Exact Tolerances. Plate Thickness can be controlled to a +/-0.001 inch or 0.025mm during production all day long. In a closed loop system, adjustments are made continuously as paste density and fluidity changes and will not interrupt production or require line stoppages. The adjustments can be made in increments as +/-0.0005 inches or 0.012mm. Available for older pasting lines. If you have an earlier version of our SBP paster, you may still be able to have the advantages of our new patented automated control system by calling your Wirtz Sales Representative to see if your machine will qualify for a retrofit.

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Jun Furukawa and Geno Papazov named Gaston Planté award winners Jun Furukawa and Geno Papazov were awarded the Gaston Planté Medal at a ceremony on June 14 held at the LABAT conference held every three years in Varna, Bulgaria. The award is arguably the most prestigious for scientific endeavour in the field of lead battery research and is awarded each time the conference convenes. Detchko Pavlov, chairman of the LABAT conference, who was unable to attend the award ceremony, wrote brief scientific biographies of the two winners and extracts are given here. Jun Furukawa  As the executive manager of UltraBattery Division, Furukawa has commercialized the UltraBattery, an integrated supercapacitor/ leadacid hybrid energy-storage device, for micro-HEV and renewable energy applications.  Improvement of flooded battery by new additive and new lead alloys  Development of 18-V and 36-V VRLA batteries for Mild-HEV applications.  D


Flooded UltraBattery for automobiles






ith l


Stationary VR-UltraBattery

VR-UltraBattery for hybrid vehicles

Flat layout of 18V two (2) series


Jun Furukawa was born on 14 April 1957 in Yokohama, Japan. He obtained his Bachelor of Science degree (1980) at Aoyama-Gakuin University, and his Doctor of Engineering degree (2014) at Iwaki Meisei University, Japan. He joined Furukawa Battery — the name connection is coincidental — in 1980 and worked on the development of lead-acid batteries but mostly on nickel-cadmium/nickel metal hydride batteries. In 1999, Furukawa was assigned to the technology development department looking at lead-acid batteries and is now the senior fellow at Furukawa Battery as well as the executive manager of the UltraBattery Division. Recently, Furukawa commercialized the UltraBattery, an integrated supercapacitor/lead-acid hybrid energystorage device, for micro-HEV and renewable energy applications. Furukawa’s research has resulted in the commercialization of new products and processes. Notable examples are as follows: • Mass production of the UltraBattery: this hybrid battery has been considered as a step-change technology. To date, the UltraBattery has been adopted by a very famous

Japanese OE car manufacturer for their micro-HEV. • Improvements to flooded batteries: a new additive has been developed to suppress positive active material (PAM) softening under high temperature and deeper depth-of-discharge (DOD) conditions. So far, this technology has been adopted in the Enhanced Flooded Battery (EFB) and the UltraBattery and has been licensed to other battery companies. • Lead alloy for positive grid: A PbCa-Sn-Ba alloy has been developed for the positive grid and consequently, the battery used in this grid alloy gives 1.5 times longer life than that without Ba. At present, this technology has been adopted in EFB and UltraBattery. Furthermore, the technology has been licensed to other battery companies. • 12-V VRLA battery: A 12-V VRLA battery has been developed for auxiliary and back-up applications in full-HEV. This battery has higher reliability to achieve the requirements of vehicle electrification and will be adopted by future ADAS. • 18-V and 36-V VRLA batteries: 18-V and 36-V VRLA batteries have been developed for mild-HEV applications. These batteries are equipped with a thermal manage-

Recently, Furukawa has commercialized the UltraBattery, an integrated supercapacitor/lead-acid hybrid energy-storage device, for micro-HEV and renewable energy applications. 16 • Batteries International • Summer 2017


Continued on page 20 >

 Investigation of the processes occurring during leadacid battery production and operation, including paste preparation, plate formation, grid corrosion and development of the mechanism of these processes.  Improving the technology for lead-acid battery production and development of new elliptic positive tubular plates. The new design ensures large contact surface between the current collector and the active mass, which results in improved power performance and long cycle life of the tubular plates.  Development of a new technology for wet filling of tubular plates with paste slurry. The wet filling method ensures high capacity and long cycle life of the tubular batteries.  Presentation of a course of lectures on lead-acid battery technology to many battery companies and universities.



3BS crystals are small round-shaped and quite

4BS crystals are well pronounced and tightly

shapeless. The length of the crystals is between 1 and 2

interconnected forming a strong skeleton. The length

microns and their width is within the range 0.3-0.5

of the crystals is between 20 and 30 microns and their


width is within the range 2-3 microns.


3BS Capacity, %









The active masses obtained



from 4BS pastes have stable

20 0



Capacity, %




and long cycle life


120 100 80


60 40 20 0







with about 30-50% longer


than actives masses, 


formed from 3BS.







I stage

60 40

II stage



two stages 3B










react and PbSO4 and active masses



0 1.6 0





10 12 14 16 18

Time, hours







are formed. The plate potential is






During the first stage 3BS and PbO

10 12 14 16 18

Time, hours



Formation is carried out in



0 100

Negative plate

Positive plate


Relative intensity, %

Relative intensity, %






Time, hours

The solution in the pores is alkaline During the second stage PbSO4 is converted to active masses. The







10 12 14 16 18

Time, hours

plate potential increases with about 0.20 V and an intensive gas


Current, A














Time, h


Voltage, V

Geno Papazov was born in 1943. He graduated from the Sofia Higher Institute of Chemical Technology in 1968 and immediately afterwards started work as a chemist at the newly founded Central Laboratory of Electrochemical Power Sources (CLEPS). Papazov’s first investigations were focused on studying the properties of the anodic layer formed on lead electrodes immersed in sulfuric acid solution. He established that when a lead electrode is polarized within the lead sulfate potential region, the obtained anodic layer has photoelectrochemical properties under the action of visible and infrared light. At this anodic potential lead sulfate forms on the electrode surface, which acts as a semi-permeable membrane and hence non-stoichiometric lead oxide forms under the lead sulfate layer. Later, these investigations provided the basis for the semiconducting model for the oxidation of lead in sulfuric acid solution proposed by professor Detchko Pavlov. The papers reporting the results of these investigations and the model are widely cited in specialized international literature. Later his research efforts were concentrated mainly on studying the technological processes involved in the manufacture of lead-acid batteries. He has investigated the properties of positive lead-acid battery pastes as a function of the conditions of their preparation, as for example the influence of the amount of sulfuric acid used for paste preparation as well as the effect of the temperature of paste mixing on their phase composition and structure. He found that when paste mixing is conducted at low temperature (30˚C) and the amount of sulfuric acid is up to 8% versus that of the leady oxide, the paste comprises small (3-5 microns) crystals of tribasic lead sulfate. At higher temperatures of mixing (80˚C), the paste crystal structure features large (20-30 micron sized) tetrabasic lead sulfate crystals.

The phase composition and the structure of the two types of pastes determines the different behaviour of the formed active masses. The positive active masses formed from tetrabasic pastes have about 30% to 50% longer cycle life as compared to their 3BS counterparts. Papazov’s investigations into the processes of plate formation indicate that the formation of both positive and negative plates proceeds in two stages. During the first stage, the initial compounds in the pastes are converted into PbO2 and Pb active masses and PbSO4 is formed as well. The potential of the plates during this stage is low, the formation process proceeds with high efficiency and low gas evolution. When the initial compounds are exhausted, formation of the lead sulfate formed within the first stage starts. The potential of the plates increases and intense gassing starts, leading to a decrease in formation process efficiency. The formation processes proceed in certain zones which, depending on the conditions of the formation process, are initially located on the surface or in the interior of the plates. Papazov has proposed a mechanism of the formation processes presuming the formation of flows of sulfate ions and protons. These flows may change the direction of their movement depending on the particular conditions of formation and, depending on the flow direction, the active mass is formed on the surface or in the inner volume of the plates. Based on the obtained results of the investigations of the formation processes, an optimized formation algorithm has been proposed and adopted for use in the industrial production of lead-acid batteries. According to this algorithm, the first formation stage should be conducted with high current because the process efficiency is high during this first formation stage. When the second stage of formation starts, the formation current

for electric buses of the Kyoto Municipal Transportation Bureau. Since joining Furukawa Battery, Furukawa has published 13 papers and more than 50 patents (concerning the lead-acid battery). He has been awarded the 2009 Technical Development Award of The Electrochemical Society of Japan and 2015 Technical Award of the Japan Society of Ion Exchange.


Geno Papazov

cellent durability under HR-PSOC condition. • Lead strip manufacturing: engagement with the R&D team to develop a new process to manufacture Pb-Ca-Sn alloy strip for positive and negative grid through a direct casting-rolling method. This process uses only one pair of rolling rolls. • Electric Bus: engagement with R&D team to develop lead-acid batteries

Potential, V

ment system for HR-PSoC usage. As a result, these batteries show two times longer life than their conventional VRLA counterparts. This technology has been adopted into the stationary UltraBattery for grid ancillary service. • Battery Capacitor Module (BCM): a supercapacitor/lead-acid module has been developed for HR-PSoC applications. The BCM shows ex-







Time, h

Batteries International • Summer 2017 • 17

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“Advanced Battery Concepts has high developed “Advanced Battery Concepts has developed and manufactures energy large a bipolar lead acid batteries for ad formatformat bipolar lead acid batteries for adoption by existing lead acid battery manufacturers. Bitrode’s High Density manufacturers. Bitrode’s High Density IGBT has allowed Advanced Battery IG accurately its for Concepts Concepts to accurately refineto its formation processes refine whilst delivering unparalleled round trip efficiency.”

Ed Sha Ed Shaffer, CEO of Advanced Battery Concepts

Advanced Battery Concepts is the design firsta company to successfully de Advanced Battery Concepts is the first company to successfully bi-polar battery anda commercially develop and implement a commerci bi-polar lead acidlead battery acid and develop and implement viable manufacturing process for such batteries. ABC’s GreenSeal viable manufacturing process for such batteries. ABC’s GreenSeal® batteries reduce the in lead content insame a battery by 46% for the same energy ies reduce the lead content a battery by 46% for the energy as conventional lead acid batteries whilst conventional lead acid batteries whilst delivering significantly improved delivering significantly imp cycle life, improved power and faster recharging. cycle life, improved power and faster recharging.

Advanced Battery Concepts currently working with existing lead Advanced Battery Concepts is currently working withis existing lead acid battery producers andtoengaging licensees battery producers and engaging licensees realize the commercial poten- to realize the commercia tial its technology, wellofas on-going tial of itsof technology, as well as on-going as production batteries and addi- production of batteries an tional research from Battery Research & Engineering Developm tional research from its Battery Researchits & Engineering Development Centre in Michigan to broaden technology portfolio with the ai Centre in Michigan to broaden its technology portfolio withits the aim of producing better batteries for a better world. producing better batteries for a better world. Sovema Via Spagna, 13 37069 Villafranca di Verona - Italy Sovema Group S.p.A. Group Via Spagna, S.p.A. 13 37069 Villafranca di Verona - Italy | e-mail:


PEOPLE NEWS > Continued from page 17

should be reduced gradually to reduce the loss of energy as, in this second stage, it is mostly utilized for gas evolution. In collaboration with his colleagues Stefan Ruevski and Temelaki Rogatchev, Papazov has developed an innovative technology for wet filling of positive tubular plates with suspension of diluted battery paste. In this technology, the phase composition and microstructure of the cured paste is transferred to the filled tubes. The paste filled in the tubular plates employing this technology has homogeneous structure and density and optimal phase composition, which guarantees higher capacity and longer cycle life of the tubular plates. This technology is adopted in two battery plants in Bulgaria and one in India. Based on the new filling technology, Papazov developed a novel tubular plate design with elliptic cross-section and very small thickness (3mm, 4 mm). The performance characteristics of these strap grid tubular plates (SGTP) are close to those of pasted positive plates. Papazov took an active part in the development and launch of industrial production of the first lead-acid battery

with a plastic case in Bulgaria, and second in the world. He has been a leading researcher and supervisor in a number of successfully completed research projects funded by the European Commission or other international organizations and battery companies. He has also served as a member and vice-chairman of the Scientific Council of IEES. His papers have been cited more than 450 times in international journals. Papazov is the Scientific Secretary of the series of international LABAT conferences. Some 30 years ago, Geno Papazov prepared a course of 16-18 lectures on the technological processes of lead-acid battery manufacture and has presented this lecture course 29 times in various universities and battery companies all over the world. He is also a guest professor at the South China Normal University, Guangzhou, China. Although retired, Papazov still works in the Lead-Acid Battery Department of IEES and helps his younger colleagues.

Tubular plate


8 mm in diameter

3.5 mm plate thickness

2.5 mm PAM thickness

1 mm PAM thickness

2.0 - 2.4 g PAM/cm2

0.8 - 0.9 g PAM/cm2

High polarization

Low polarization

Low charge acceptance

High charge acceptance

Non uniform PAM utilization

Uniform PAM utilization

SLI PAM utilization, % g PAM/Ah Specific energy, Wh/kg









Papazov has taken an active part in the development and launch of industrial production of the first leadacid battery with a plastic case in Bulgaria and second in the world.

The winners are... ees 2017 The three winners this year of the ees AWARD 2017 for the most innovative concepts and solutions from the energy storage industry were Solarwatt, LG Chem and Energy Depot Deutschland. “Each had a distinctive product or approach that made them stand apart from their rivals,” a spokesman for exhibition organizer ees said. “The winners of the ees AWARD 2017 all work in the area of lithium-ion technology and distinguish themselves through modularity, scalability and smart components.” Solarwatt won the award for deploying two intelligent, standardized, interconnected building blocks that create tailor-made energy storage systems in its MyReserve Matrix battery.

The battery has been designed to be completely modular, enabling any storage capacity from 2kWh to 2MWh to be configured. Because of its size — each module is housed in aluminium blocks slightly smaller than a car battery— and relatively light weight of 25kg, the modules can be adapted for residential use as well as commercial storage. LG Chem won the award as it has developed a standalone battery module high energy density product ready for multi-purpose use. The module is suitable for a variety of applications and off-grid supply solutions thanks to a charging strategy that ensures the ideal charge transfer between battery modules. The system is durable and

20 • Batteries International • Summer 2017

easily maintained, retaining 80% of its initial capacity after 10 years. The design fits into a standard 19-inch rack. The judging panel said they had been impressed by the easy system connection and integration of up to 10 battery modules. Energy Depot Deutschland’s CENTURIO Energy Storage System won the award for a combination of hybrid inverter and lithium-ion battery modules for the storage, conversion, distribution and control of photovoltaic energy. The DC-coupled system comprises the Centurio 10 hybrid inverter, DOMUS 4.1 batteries and the Vectis 30 smart power switch and meter. The ees AWARD 2017 ceremony — now in its fourth year — takes place at the end of the first ex-

hibition day at ees Europe, Europe’s largest and most visited exhibition for batteries and energy storage systems. The award has become widely accepted as the most important in the industry. The judging panel at the submissions said the most burning topics for the energy storage industry were: efficiency, longevity and flexibility. To determine the winners, the panel also applied additional criteria: degree of technological innovation, the benefit for industry, environment and society, and economic viability. Furthermore, the products submitted must have already reached the testing or application phase or else represent an important development of existing solutions.


UK unveils first phase of £246m plan to drive battery innovation The first phase of a £246 million ($320 million) plan to open doors for the development of innovative battery technology in the UK was set out by the country’s government on July 24. The initial, £45 million, phase will include a Battery Institute that will research, develop and manufacture affordable batteries to ensure they are ‘more accessible’ for residential and business applications. The four-year plan — known as the Faraday Challenge – was set out in a report ‘Upgrading our energy system’, part of the UK’s Industrial Strategy as the country drives toward a decarbonised future. Launching the first phase, the country’s business and energy secretary Greg Clark said upgrading the country’s energy system to make sure it was fit for the future was a key part of the government’s industrial strategy. The Faraday Challenge is split into three streams — research, innovation

and scale-up – with the initial competition led by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). The Faraday Challenge will join-up of all three stages of research from research in the university base, through innovation in commercial applications to scaling up for production. “It will focus our best minds on the critical industrial challenges that are needed to establish the UK as one of the world leaders in advanced battery technologies and associated manufacturing capability,” said Richard Parry-Jones, newly appointed chair of the Faraday Challenge Advisory Board said. The plan also recognizes the role that energy storage can play in a smart energy grid and the opportunities presented by falling costs of battery technologies. Michael Phelan, CEO and co-founder of energy aggregator Endeco Technologies, said the generation, storage and use of power at the

right time was critical to the future of the nation’s electricity network. “Incentivising these actions is a positive step, given the continued electrification of our lives, whether it’s cars, heating, air conditioning or entertainment systems,” he said. “Batteries sit at the core of our future network, creating flexibility in when electricity is generated and where it is used — when previously this has not been possible.” Stephen Irish, managing director, commercial at Hyperdrive Innovation said: “A significant change will be the removal of double charging for battery storage using the system. This has been seen as a major deterrent for potential investors. “We see electric vehicles playing a much bigger role in the next few years and therefore we need to think differently about how we generate, store and use energy.   “Increasingly, EVs are becoming both a key driver of electricity demand and a

Tesla to build world’s largest lithium ESS project in Australia North American firm Tesla will use cells from its Nevada gigafactory to install the world’s biggest lithiumion energy storage system in Australia, it was confirmed on July 6. Tesla’s founder Elon Musk is set to put his money, and reputation, where his mouth is following a boast on Twitter in March with the promise to waive the fee if it takes longer than 100 days to build the 100MW ESS in South Australia. The lithium-ion cells for the project would be manu-

factured at its Nevada gigafactory. Tesla won a competitive bidding process to provide the 129MWh Powerpack system, which will be paired with French renewable energy provider Neoen’s Hornsdale Wind Farm near Jamestown, South Australia. The project, which includes the South Australian government, aims to prevent the kind of statewide blackout that left 1.7 million residents without electricity following a freak — once-in-a-50-year event

—storm in 2016. Further blackouts occurred in the heat of the Australian summer in early 2017. Musk does of course have some weight in his promise. In January Tesla completed 20MW of storage in Southern California, which consisted of 396 Tesla Powerpack units, each with 16,000 lithium-ion battery cells. But with the Nevada gigafactory at around 30% capacity, the big question is whether Tesla can deliver sufficient number of cells as well as setting aside enough

facilitator for energy storage at home, transforming the way we use energy on a daily basis. Your car can be idle for 95% of the day and sit happily on your drive overnight but with tens of kWh of storage in its battery pack it could be more fully utilized. By providing additional flexibility for the local distribution network, it could manage peak demand and enable households to avoid paying the associated high tariffs.” The government set aside £50 million — which has since received an additional £20 million — for smart innovation in its 2016 Budget. In April 2017 £246 million was earmarked from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund to kick-start the development of disruptive technologies, including designing and manufacturing better batteries for electric vehicles. The funding comes at a time when more than 25% of the UK’s electricity is delivered from renewable sources. to make more than 80,000 cars (if we take 2016 figures), and more than 40,000 Powerwalls (again taking figure from 2016) in 2017. A Tesla spokesman told Batteries International that: “Tesla built the Gigafactory in Nevada with global markets in mind and will produce enough lithiumion batteries for its energy products and automobiles to meet demand.” If realised it will be the biggest of its type, only an 800MWh vanadium redox flow battery in China by Rongke Power, along with its strategic partner and affiliate UniEnergy Technologies, would beat it in terms of ESSs.

Batteries International • Summer 2017 • 21

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Trojan becomes ABC’s third Greenseal licensee, Crown takes equity stake Bipolar lead battery firm Advanced Battery Concepts announced on May 19 it had signed up deepcycle battery maker Trojan Battery as a licensee for its GreenSeal technology. This is the third licensee in five months. Meanwhile, the firm received further endorsement of its Greenseal bipolar battery technology on April 7 with an undisclosed investment from Hal Hawk, the president and owner of Crown Battery. Separately it later announced that Wirtz Manufacturing will install production scale paste lines for its prototype production facility. The firm also announced the formation of a technical advisory board comprising experts from the battery industry and chaired by Bob Galyen, chief technical officer of the China-based Contemporary Amperex Technology Limited (CATL). In January, ABC signed up Johnson Controls as a licensee and a few weeks later an unidentified Chi-

nese firm was licensed. “We are in discussion with several others,” Ed Shaffer, chief executive of the firm told  Batteries International. “Our licensees are taking our technology and moving into production. We are doing a lot of production engineering in partnership with them.” Michael Everett, senior vice president of engineering at Trojan, said the technology made a conclusive argument for widespread adoption. “After considerable due diligence, we concluded that Advanced Battery Concepts has developed an extensive suite of battery technologies that will enhance the performance and reliability of Trojan’s AGM products to meet future demands, and will help to ensure that lead batteries continue to dominate many rechargeable energy storage markets,” he said. Shaffer said ABC’s prototype production line, which includes its PrecisionAM pasting technology, was in the process of

being built at its facility in Clare, Michigan. The pasting method applies active materials to the bipolar electrodes of lead batteries in a more precise application and consistency than traditional pasting methods, the company says.  Shaffer said the technical advisory board had been formed to look beyond the lead industry. “We will look at how to expand the market in which we can use lead. Everyone’s talking about 48 volt systems, distributing power, so on – there is a whole host of applications that we believe makes lead extremely competitive. Added to that is its recyclability.  “GreenSeal improves performance, cost – so we are targeting areas that previously couldn’t have used lead but now have the potential to do so.” The investment comes four months after ABC signed a licensing agreement with Johnson Controls for the technology.

Integral subsidiary says in talks with bipolar Asian lead battery developer ElectriPlast Corporation, the wholly-owned subsidiary of conductive plastics developer Integral Technologies, announced on May 4 it was in discussions with a Asian lead-acid battery manufacturer that was seeking collaboration to develop “the most advanced bi-polar plates for the leadacid battery market”. The unnamed Asian company is reported by ElectriPlast to be looking at implementing the plates into its existing bipolar battery product line — with presumably ElectriPlast

providing the casing — although exact details were scant. Howeer, in a company statement, Integral said that Gene Song, Integral Asia’s CEO, had met the Asian party and both had agreed that Integral would supply batteries with ElectriPlast plates for validation testing. James Eagan, ElectriPlast CEO, said the Asian company would adopt the technology once it had completed its technical due diligence. In a confusing statement which runs contrary to the

history of bipolar battery development — where battery construction and assembly have been the biggest headaches in moving the bipolar structure out of the laboratory on to the manufacturing line — the firm said: “Bi-polar battery design brings simplicity to battery construction and assembly process and greater flexibility in selection of battery shape. “Bi-polar plate technology and bi-polar lead-acid battery construction enables lead-acid batteries to compete with other battery

At the time Shaffer said another licensee was about to come on board — although this has not yet been announced. “We are in negotiations still with multiple others,” Shaffer said. “Unfortunately until they are concluded I cannot discuss them. “But licensees are looking at a broad range of applications. ABC plans on installing a prototype production line to build 48V golf cart batteries to demonstrate the advantage of higher voltage monoblocs. “GreenSeal Technology reduces production costs over 20% while improving performance. As our licensees and ABC continue to demonstrate scale production capability broader adoption will rapidly occur. “Hal Hawk’s continued investment supports ABC’s contention that our bipolar battery technology is commercially viable and is beneficial for the lead battery industry. “We appreciate his support greatly.” chemistries for new automotive applications. “The Integral bi-polar plate allows greater specific energy and energy density of the lead-acid battery, which translates to significantly greater energy storage in the smaller size and weight battery package. The bi-polar plate has been developed so that dissimilar materials can now be joined to it. “We have seen the battery industry showing greater interest in our bi-polar plate technology which we believe will create new opportunities for the lead acid battery industry as a whole,” said Doug Bathauer, CEO of Integral.

Batteries International • Summer 2017 • 23

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NSG Group joins Entek and Separindo to expand separator production in Asia Battery separator firm Entek International and its Asian partner Separindo confirmed on July 13 it had reached an agreement with the Japanese glass company NSG Group to expand production in Asia to “generate a synergy in manufacturing, research and development”, promising new products to come. The joint venture will focus on separators for startstop batteries, the market for which is expected to boom in Asia along with increasing concerns by governments over CO2 emissions and fuel efficiency. Christophe Thuet, vice president Asia Pacific, Entek told Batteries International that the partnership of three had been formed on the confidence that the lead-acid battery industry would grow, including in start-stop technology. “The current worldwide

car park continues to grow and demand both OE and replacement batteries,” said Thuet. “We are seeing steady growth at our customers and need to grow with them to meet their needs. In addition, most electric and electric-hybrid vehicles still require a leadacid battery. “Start-stop technology is growing not only in Asia, but worldwide. As governments around the world adopt policies to drive down emissions, the auto manufacturers are meeting the challenge of these new regulations in a number of ways.  One way that they are able to meet new regulatory challenges is to convert to start-stop technology.”   NSG makes PE separators as well as AGM or absorptive glass mat separators.  Typically, these batteries are used in high-end

start-stop, marine, and industrial applications. “While AGM is not part of our joint venture, we look forward to a longterm partnership with NSG where together we will be able to focus on new technologies for the lead acid battery applications,” said Thuet. Entek certainly appears to be delivering on a pledge made at the 2015 Asian Battery Conference in Bangkok to expand the

company’s footprint in Asia, first signing an agreement with Indonesia-based Separindo and now adding NSG Group to the business. “The joint venture will give each Entek, NSG and Separindo access to additional production capacity to serve the growing customer needs. In addition, Entek and NSG will be able to provide excellent customer service and high quality products from the joint venture,” said Thuet.

German utility announces plans for world’s biggest flow battery German utility Ewe Gasspeicher announced plans on June 27 to build what it says could be the biggest battery in the world, to be housed in underground salt caverns off the northern German coast. A giant redox flow battery will provide up to 700MWh by the end of 2023, communications officer Dietmar Bücker told Batteries International, at a cost of around $1,100/ MW. The biggest flow battery in existence is believed to be Sumitomo Electric Industries’ flow battery in Japan, which can provide about 60 MWh of power. Bücker said the battery would be built under a

brine-for-power project consisting of three phases, the first and second of which would involve the installation of solar panels. “Every kind of energy can be stored,” he said. “In future we want to store the renewable power of the north German wind parks. Storage will be scalable to market requirements.” In the third phase, modifications of the caverns, which currently store natural gas, will be completed. Ewe Gasspeicher is working with Friedrich Schiller University in Jena, 500 kilometres to the south of the coastal town of Oldenburg. The university has developed electrolyte ma-

terials for the project such as recyclable polymers dissolved in salt water, which are less polluting than conventional vanadium flow batteries. “Not only is vanadium extremely expensive, but the solution is highly corrosive, so that a specific membrane has to be used and the life span of the battery is limited,” said Martin Hager, a lecturer at Friedrich Schiller University. The battery is expected to have about 20,000 charging cycles, the scientists claim. The researchers have developed new materials without adding aggressive acids, saying the battery is

based on polymers that in their core structure resemble polystyrene and can accept or donate electrons. The pilot of the project will install two aboveground containers for the electrolytes before the end of this year. “We have to underline that the brine for power project is still a research project and we need to carry out some more tests and clarify several issues before we transform it into underground caverns,” Bücker told Batteries International. “But we are very confident that by about the end of 2023, we will have an operating cavern battery.”

Batteries International • Summer 2017 • 25


First UltraBattery project goes live in Thailand Thailand’s first project to use the lead/supercapacitor technology of the UltraBattery from Furukawa Battery will begin operating in July. The brainchild of Australian scientists at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), the UltraBattery is supplied in Japan and Thailand by Japanese firm Furukawa Battery. Elsewhere, Australian firm Ecoult, owned by East Penn, supplies the product. In February India’s Ex-

ide Industries announced a partnership with Ecoult to manufacture UltraBatteries. This Thai project, which was agreed in January, will be installed at a 10MW wind farm at Lomligor in southern Thailand and will contain 576 UB1000 cells.

Furukawa is working with the Thai wind power generating company Inter Far East Wind International (I-Wind). “Solar and wind power generation continues to expand rapidly as the renewable energy sector develops in Thailand and throughout Asia, and the use of energy storage systems together with such technologies in order to reach a balance between power demand and supply has recently been drawing much attention,” said a Furukawa official.

Saltwater battery firm Aquion goes into bankruptcy, snapped up by Chinese Titans at auction The bankrupt saltwater battery firm Aquion Energy was bought for $9.8 million by Juline-Titans, an investment holding company affiliated to the China Titans Energy Technology Group, on June 20, according to Fox Business quoting the Dow Jones. The Titans Group owns many companies that are all involved in the electronics and energy industry. Battery firm BlueSky Energy, which advertises Aquion batteries on its website, had before the auction submitted a bid of $2.8 million. This pushed the price up to $3 million but was far less than the $9.8 million eventually achieved. The sale included everything, from the intellectual rights — dozens of current and pending patents — to the manufacturing equipment and inventory. Despite announcing a new project in February with one of Japan’s largest electric power companies, Kyushu Electric, to provide storage for solar power in Kagoshima Prefecture, just a month later Aquion was forced to

file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the United States District of Delaware. Under Chapter 11 a company can continue trading while a restructuring or sale is put in place. So what went so wrong, so suddenly and so soon after the company this January won the North American Company of the Year Award from the Cleantech Group, which included Aquion in its 2017 Global Cleantech 100? “Creating a new electrochemistry and an associated battery platform at commercial scale is extremely complex, time consuming and very capital intensive,” said outgoing CEO Scott Pearson. “Despite our best efforts to fund the company and continue to fuel our growth, the company has been unable to raise the growth capital needed to continue operating as a going concern.” Aquion Energy began life in 2008 when Jay Whitacre, with support from Carnegie Mellon University, produced the first Aqueous Hybrid Ion (AHI) battery.

26 • Batteries International • Summer 2017

Since then Aquion has spent a total of $190 million on honing its battery technology, which works with a saltwater electrolyte, manganese oxide cathode, carbon titanium phosphate composite anode and synthetic cotton separator. By 2011, low-volume production of the batteries had begun and the ground was broken on a full-scale manufacturing facility in Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania. In mid-2014, Aquion began shipping its batteries commercially and had installations in Japan, South Africa, Northern Ireland and Australia, as well as California. The team travelled far and wide to spread the word about its technology, declaring on its website: “In 2016 we attended, presented or exhibited at more than 50 different solar, energy storage and other industry events around the world. If you didn’t catch us this year, there will be just as many opportunities (if not more) to say hello in 2017!” It had a string of well

Hoppecke grows 25% for 2016-17 Hoppecke Industrial Batteries announced on May 26 it had recorded a 25% growth in revenues for the financial year 2016-2017. The company, the UK arm of Germany’s Hoppecke Batterien, has also completed a major overhaul and restructure that it says has led to improvements across all areas of the business. Hoppecke’s batteries — which include nickel cadmium, nickel metal hydride and lithium-ion as well as lead-acid ones — are used in around 50% of trains in Great Britain, as well as around 75% of Siemens trains worldwide. The company says all four of its main business areas — service, motive power, special power and reserve power – have seen impressive growth. “Our new management structure has focused on sales and cost savings which has resulted in vastly improved results for us in 2016-2017,” said regional managing director Jason Howlett. “This also positions the business very well to take advantage of projected market growth in all areas during 2017-2018.” known investors, including Bill Gates, Shell, Total, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Bright Capital. Batteries International received no response from Aquion over the sales process in June. However, before the auction chief restructuring officer Suzanne Roski said the company had not completed its analysis of how the sale proceeds would be distributed.

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Indian fuel retailer IOC moves into the battery business India’s largest fuel retailer, the Indian Oil Corporation, is planning to develop its own batteries, the company confirmed to Batteries International on June 20. The firm is looking at lead-acid batteries as well as developing lithium-ion battery chemistry and other chemistries that are not lead or lithium based. “Our R&D team has developed an advanced lead acid battery utilizing nanotechnology, which will be commercialized shortly,” Sreejit Basu, manager of sustainable development at the IOCsaid he did not

give further details of the lead-acid battery work, but did say that where electric vehicles were concerned the company was looking into implementing fast-charging facilities and battery-swapping facilities at retail fuelling stations. According to the March 2017 report India Battery Market by Application, Competition Forecast and Opportunities 20112022  by market analyst TechSci Research, India’s battery market is projected to be worth $8.6 billion by 2022 because of the continued rapid growth of its

automobile and industrial sectors. “Strong growth in domestic production and exports of automobiles, coupled with an expanding vehicle fleet, is projected to drive demand for batteries from OEMs as well as replacement segments through 2011,” the report says. “Moreover, rising penetration of two-wheelers in semi-urban and rural India is projected to surge replacement demand for twowheeler batteries during the forecast period.” Basu said the IOC is India’s largest commercial enterprise and is involved in

the entire oil and gas value chain, from refining and petrochemicals to distribution and marketing. The move into battery development would be a very different direction for the oil company, which has subsidiaries in Sri Lanka, the Middle East, Sweden, the Netherlands and the United States. The report cites what would be the IOC’s main competitors in the lead-acid battery field as Exide Industries, Amara Raja Batteries, Luminous Power Technologies and HBL Power Systems.

Northstar wins Sally Miksiewicz Innovation award with Missouri pilot project NorthStar, the SwedishAmerican energy storage provider owned by private equity firm Altor, was awarded the Sally Miksiewicz Innovation award at the BCI conference in Florida on May 1. The award was handed to CEO Hans Lidén for NorthStar’s ACE remote management solution, an Internet of Things system that connects batteries to a cloud portal, thereby allowing the user to access and manage battery data. By being better able to measure the energy status of batteries, costs can be saved by avoiding prematurely replacing batteries, whether they are in storage or already installed. “Each battery can operate up to 40% longer if replacement is based on actual battery health rather than a fixed schedule,” said the company. “Other significant savings come from correct installation and easy iden-

tification of unhealthy batteries.” The seven criteria for the award that entrants have to meet are sustainability; safety; cost; performance; detail; uniqueness; value; and quantifiability. The company estimates that up to $700 million a year could be saved by making more efficient use of batteries in remote sites. The Sally Miksiewicz Innovation award is only in its second year. Separately the firm announced on April 25 that it will partner City Utilities of Springfield, Missouri, US, in a pilot project to install its Blue+ thin plate lead batteries as a backup power system during peak usage for the utility’s 111,000 customers. The batteries will be monitored by NorthStar’s remote management solution, ACE. NorthStar’s ACE product is widely tipped to be the winner in the Battery Council In-

28 • Batteries International • Summer 2017

ternational innovation awards that will be presented at its annual convention next week. Springfield is powered by gas turbines, but when there is likely to be demand for more power the extra supply needed can take up to 48 hours to distribute, Lidén told Batteries International. “So if you have a peak in power, to start it up takes a long time and is costly to

distribute,” he said. “The city has close ties with its surrounding industry so it knows when there is likely to be a demand for more power, but it takes too long to get it up and running. It’s also costly to maintain.” NorthStar’s 1,120 batteries will be housed in two containers, said Lidén. They have 2MW-4 MW at 100% DOD, and 1 MW at 40% DOD.


Metair gains foothold in China with 25% stake in German battery maker The South African battery storage and automotive components group of companies Metair Investments acquired 25.1% of the German battery manufacturer Akkumulatorenfabrik Moll (Gertrud Moll) for almost $8.5 million, the firm announced on July 4. The company said the investment was in line with Metair’s globalization strategy, which should now see the company gain a foothold in China since Moll already has a partnership with China’s biggest e-bike leadacid battery manufacturer, Chaowei Power Holdings. Metair says that Chaowei, which reportedly has an annual production capacity of 140 million batteries,

bought a stake in Moll in 2013 and has since partnered the German company to develop EFB start-stop batteries for supply in China. “Gertrud Moll, Chaowei and Metair are all shareholders in Moll,” Metair CEO Theo Loock, pictured, told Batteries International. “Moll has a 5% shareholding in Chaowei’s Chinese automotive Greenfield’s investments. Through Moll, Metair will now have a small indirect shareholding in China.” The facilities in China, Metair said, are predicted to have a capacity of 4 million batteries for the aftermarket by the end of 2018. Moll, which has the ca-

pacity to produce 1.4 million batteries a year, making EFB, AGM, gel and traction batteries as well as batteries for motorbikes and solar applications, will now secure additional production capacity in Europe and Turkey, Moll managing partner Gertrud Moll-Möhrstedt said. “Over the next few years, the company will continue to invest six figure sums into its site at Bad Staffelstein, which shall be expanded as both a research and development centre and production site,” she said. “This acquisition is an important next step in delivery of our strategic objectives for the energy storage vertical and builds an incubator

Sovema announces name change as firm expands lithium range Lead-acid battery equipment manufacturer Sovema changed its name to Sovema Group on June 14 in line with the company’s expansions into making machinery for the lithiumion battery industry. Massimiliano Ianniello, Sovema general manager who has been with Italybased Sovema for 20 years, becomes general manager for the whole group. Sovema CEO Enzo Mazzola said the decision followed the growth of the company’s Solith and Sovel business lines, which add to the Sovema line of equipment for lead-acid batteries. Solith makes equipment for lithium cell manufacturing and Sovel produces battery-charging systems. “Solith has made major leaps forward in the last two years by developing

some outstanding pieces of equipment that attracted the attention of two of the biggest players in the lithium battery business in Korea, which are now part of our customer portfolio,” he said. “These developments and this growth convinced me and the board that it was time to give more explicit

evidence to these two businesses and to bring them at the same level as our core business related to the equipment for the production of lead-acid batteries. “Solith and Sovel will certainly take advantage from this stronger organization in their growth trajectory, preserving and improving their specific

Lead acid battery maker Monbat buys two lithium ion firms Bulgarian lead-acid battery manufacturer Monbat has bought two lithium battery firms — Gaia Akkumulatorenwerke and EAS Germany — in Germany, the firm confirmed on June 26 to SeeNews, a regional newsgathering business for south-east Europe. Gaia is based in Nordhausen, and makes a

range of various lithium battery types. Its applications range from hybrid and electric vehicles to control systems for wind turbines. The other German firm is EAS Germany, which makes lithium-ion cells for space, submarine, marine and automotive applications. The two have merged

for partnership with Moll and Chaowei,” said Loock. “It also provides Metair with a small but critical access point into the Chinese market, laying the platform for future technology transfer and co-operation.” Metair’s companies are all involved in the manufacture, distribution and retail of energy storage products and automotive components that it supplies to 46 destinations around the world. Founded in 1945, Moll supplies European car manufacturers, including Audi, Daimler, Porsche, Skoda, Lamborghini and Volkswagen. The company has a distribution network across Europe and Asia. competences. This will also allow our company to improve the technological innovation of all three product lines and to guarantee a better level of service and support to our customers worldwide.” The name change will not affect the company’s structure overseas, which includes Bitrode Corporation and sales firms Sovema Global Services in the US and Sovema Tianjin in China. into Nordhausen-based company EAS Batteries. Monbat, which is based in Sofia, did not reveal how much it paid for the firms, but did say it would merge them into one operation in Nordhausen called EAS Batteries. Monbat said it had plans to invest more than $5.6 million over the next two years for new and modern machinery, as well as a larger workforce.

Batteries International • Summer 2017 • 29


Final Exide clean-up plan criticized by locals and county officials Up to 2,500 properties within a 1.7-mile radius of the now-notorious Exide lead battery recycling plant at Vernon, Los Angeles, will be cleaned up over a twoyear period, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control announced in its clean-up plan and final environmental impact report on July 6. The plan has not gone down well with local officials and residents, who say it’s too little, too late. Local news website quoted Los Angeles county supervisor Hilda Solis as saying the plan would leave thou-

sands of residents exposed to dangerous levels of lead. “The DTSC’s final cleanup plan ignores many of the reasonable concerns raised by the community members,” she said. “This is the largest cleanup of its kind ever in California,” said DTSC director Barbara Lee. “DTSC engaged in extensive public outreach and worked with the community to prepare the EIR and clean-up plan and to ensure the community is protected during this ambitious project. We are eager to get to work removing lead from the soil of family homes impacted by

the operations of the former Exide facility.” Homes with soil concentrations of 400 parts per million or higher will be prioritized, along with those where any individual soil sampling was found to have 1,000 ppm or higher, even if overall the concentration was less than 400. “We listened to the communities’ concerns throughout this process, worked with them to finalize the clean-up plan, and will continue to involve them throughout the clean-up process,” said Mohsen Nazemi, deputy director for DTSC’s

Midac snaps up Swedish traction marketing firm

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30 • Batteries International • Summer 2017

brownfields and environmental restoration program. “We are now ready to begin this important step in removing contaminated soil from these neighbourhoods.” But more than 15 months after governor Jerry Brown signed into law a $176.6 million general fund loan to expedite and expand the testing of 10,000 properties, no cleaning has yet begun. The next step is for the DTSC to hire cleaning companies, bids from which have just been invited and contracts should be handed out next month.

Midac, the Italian automotive, motive and stationary battery manufacturer, bought the traction battery marketing and sales company Batteriunion i Järfälla on June 12. Batteriunion is part of the Swedish company Addtech Group, a publicly listed technology trading group made up of about 120 independent companies that sell high-tech products within the manufacturing and infrastructure sectors. Batteriunion, which has a turnover of more than $16 million, has already formed a close relationship with Midac, an Addtech official said. “The reason we have decided to sell Batteriunion is that we have considered that the new company has better market opportunities if being owned directly by a battery manufacturer,” said Addtech business area manager Niklas Stenberg. “We are convinced that the company’s employees, customers and business partners will have a great future under Midac’s ownership.” Midac said the acquisition was a further step in widening its international market. “It will allow Midac to offer its OEM customers a first-class service and support on its own products in the Scandinavian area,” the company said. The company, which has branches in Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, the UK, France, Sweden and Australia, claims to be the only company in the world that makes automotive, motive power and stationary batteries in the same manufacturing plant.


High-purity metals firm Hpulcas opens three lines for production of 99.98% pure nickel plate, strip, wire Three production lines for manufacturing high-purity nickel plate, strip and wire for use in batteries and supercapacitors were opened by Hpulcas, a new producer of high-purity metals, the firm announced on June 19. The proprietary technology purifies the metal to 99.98%, which means vastly improving performance, the firm said. In batteries, nickel is used

for protection from chemically aggressive electrolytes. “A small amount of solute impurities brings Habout a drastic change on the mechanical properties of otherwise pure metals. Segregation of impurities facilitates stress corrosion fracture and inter-granular corrosion,” the statement said. Hpulcas works on producing high-purity metals

with a focus on developing advanced materials with partners throughout the global battery, electronics and aviation industries. Pure metals are transformed into advanced materials for these fields. “Our customers are very happy with the set of properties which the new grade supplies,” said Theodor Stuth, Hpulcas chief technical officer. “In meeting cus-

tomers’ requirements for measurement and control devices, individual properties and their consistency are greatly improved because of the low level of trace elements. Hpulcas says that it now uses special properties of high purity nickel, such as a low recrystallization temperature, for developing layered composites with other metals.





Degree of purity

Ni = 99.98%

A small amount of solute impurities brings about a drastic change on the mechanical properties of otherwise pure metals. Segregation of impurities facilitates stress corrosion fracture and inter-granular corrosion.

Sputtering targets. In batteries and super-capacitors, nickel is used for protection from chemically aggressive electrolytes. Glass molds for optical glass quality.


< 20 ppm

C results in hot-shortness, which increases hardness and electric resistance.

Soft strip and foil of high electrical conductivity. HPN 1 can be used for deep drawn products requiring a high degree of deformation, such as electrode shells.


< 2 ppm

S segregates at both free surfaces and internal interfaces (such as cavities, grain boundaries, inter-phases and metal/oxide interfaces). Surface segregation of sulfur results in sulfur induced breakdown of the passive film on nickel facilitating corrosion. Segregation at grain boundaries results in hot-shortness and reduced mechanical strength.

Products relying on a catalytically active surface, such as fuel cells, or keeping the passive film intact must avoid degradation by S. To uphold mechanical strength, sulfur segregation at internal interfaces is to be excluded.

Very low level of nonmetallic inclusions, as Si-, Al- and Ti-oxides

Unoxidized elements amount to 0.1 ppm for Si and <0.006 ppm for each Al and Ti.

Oxides are hard ceramics resisting deformation. Thin products can break (wire) or develop holes (strip).

Foil, thin wire. Reduced die wear e.g. in the production of expanded metal.


< 65 HV

HPN 1 can be deformed by more than 95% without intermediate annealing.

Electrode cups and other deep drawn products.

Recrystallisation temperature

350 °C

Standard nickel clad to other metals with a lower melting point cannot be soft annealed after cladding.

HPN 1 can be annealed after cladding to metals with low melting points.

Electrical resistance

7.1 µΩ*cm

Resistance results in Joule heating during charging and discharging.

Current collector, terminal, battery tab

Temperature coefficient of electrical resistance (TCR)

Approximatively linear correlation from 100 °C to 800 °C. The TCR for nickel is +0.33%/°F (+0.59%/°C) over a temperature range of +50 °F to +150 °F (+10 °C to +65 °C).

Allows temperature measurement. Pure nickel shows high resistance versus temperature sensitivity.

Temperature sensor

Linear correlation from 800 °C to 1,200 °C.

Current limitation without further control device.

Temperature sensor and current limiter used e.g. as regulator coil in glow plugs for Diesel engines


360 °C +/- 1 °C

Due to the low level of impurities, the value is consistent.

Temperature sensor


low temperature

Stable contact resistance even in the presence of sulfur bearing materials.

Contact for low voltage and low current work

high temperature

Due to deviating expansion coefficients, two layer scales, which usually develop, tend to flake off.

Fuel cells


Corrosion proof in - alkaline - thionylchloride

Both substances are used as electrolyte in batteries.

Use inside of batteries as electrode substrate and current collector

Surface area

Up to 100 m2 per gram

The surface area can be dramatically enlarged by a special heat treatment.

Electrode substrate; catalytically active surface

Batteries International • Summer 2017 • 31


JCI expands number and size of plants in China Johnson Controls, the international battery maker, has told Batteries International  it plans to build a plant in China in a joint venture with local carmaker BAIC that will produce six million AGM batteries a year by 2018, bringing its total battery capacity in China to 20 million units a year. Beijing-based BAIC, whose initials stand for ‘Better And Ingenious Choice’, is one of the biggest carmakers in China and makes a wide range of passenger and commercial vehicles. Kenneth Yeng, vice presi-

dent and general manager of Johnson Controls’ Power Solutions in China, also said the firm’s existing factory at Changxing, the largest owned by JCI in China, is undergoing a further expansion of its AGM production, while its plant in Chongqing would continue to produce conventional flooded batteries. “We still see a huge demand for conventional batteries, especially in the aftermarket,” said Yeng. “China has become the largest automotive market in the world and the majority of vehicles

need two-three replacement batteries during a life cycle.” JCI has long been focusing on start-stop batteries in China in response to calls from the Chinese government to cut emissions in its polluted cities, some of the worst in the world. While the government is encouraging electric vehicles to answer this need, Yeng says the technology had still not made much headway in China, but start-stop was steadily gaining ground. “In China, the proportion of electric vehicles to other cars remains very small,” he

said. “To achieve fuel consumption targets, the Chinese government is encouraging automakers to apply start-stop systems and other fuel-saving technologies as much as possible with incentive plans. “In 2016, start-stop had 16% market penetration in China with 4 million new vehicles being built. By 2020, more than 50% of all new vehicles in China will be equipped with start-stop functionality.” Johnson Controls opened an Asia-Pacific headquarters in Shanghai in June. As well as its two battery factories, the company has 15 other manufacturing plants, 100 branches and channel partners across 200 cities in China.

Exide to raise $200m for capital projects Exide Technologies, the USbased lead battery manufacturer, distributor and recycler, on May 12 announced it was raising $200 million in funding for capital projects. This, said the company, was in a bid to “once again become a pre-eminent global battery supplier for transportation and industrial applications”. The money would also go towards expanding its capacity to meet growing demand for transportation

batteries in the Americas’ aftermarket segment, the firm said. Vic Koelsch, Exide’s chief executive, would not give further details of the proposed projects or the nature of the financial transactions to Batteries International, saying the company’s recent press releases “communicate everything we wish to communicate at this time”. The capital raised may well come from a threepart refinancing of existing

debt and raising new debt through a purchase and support agreement — effectively an exchange that also raises capital — which the firm announced on May 10. A later statement said: “Exide… has entered into a series of financing transactions that will generate more than $200 million of new capital that are intended to be used to support Exide’s growth, including several capital projects.”

Exide withdraws plan to reopen a lead formation site in Tennessee A controversial application by Exide Technologies to re-open a lead battery formation operations site in Bristol, Tennessee has been withdrawn. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation announced that a public meeting to discuss the application, scheduled for May 4, had been cancelled. On March 21, 280 local residents had signed a petition on the campaigning website to

demand talks on Exide’s plans. The petition claimed that if the operations restarted, acid and lead would be released into the air and water around Bristol. “Based on further analysis driven primarily by the need to increase speed to market, Exide Technologies has decided to expand its formation capabilities at existing operating facilities instead of its idled site in Bristol,” said Joseph Bolea, director of

32 • Batteries International • Summer 2017

EHS Americas Operations, Exide, in a letter to the Division of Air Pollution Control dated April 26. “While the idled facility in Bristol remains a potential option for future expansion projects, the company would like to withdraw its permit application seeking approval to resume formation operations at the facility.” Had the application been successful, the plant would have opened in September.

In April Exide won a three-year contract worth around $47 million to supply 6TAGM military batteries to the US Defense Logistics Agency. The company mentioned “the associated investments we are making to support it”. The firm is also committed to an expansion plan costing around $12 million in its Fort Smith manufacturing plant — with the US government providing some $19 million — to produce submarine battery systems. The expansion should be completed by 2021. The firm said additional projects would aim to accelerate efforts to improve manufacturing efficiencies in the US and Europe. Koelsch was appointed president and CEO in June 2015, following a restructuring plan accepted by investors as it moved out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy. “We are excited about the opportunity to initiate new investments to meet renewed demand for our products and to continue on our path of dramatically improved operational efficiencies,” said Koelsch.”

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Hammond paste additives position firm for new regulatory readiness Hammond Group’s latest developments in paste additive technology will allow the firm to stay at the forefront of conservation efforts to cut carbon emissions, customer service manager Stephan Bolanowski told  Batteries International in early June. Policies already adopted by some US states that reduce the amount of overcharge allowed for lead-acid batteries could be adopted nationwide by the Department of Energy by 2018. For deep cycle lead batteries to remain economically viable their charging efficiency will have to increase, says Bolanowski. At the moment, deep cycle batteries need up to 20% overcharge to provide

optimum performance — but Bolanowski says the group’s positive and negative paste additives have been proved to increase energy capacity by 62%, even when the overcharge is limited to 5%. This, says Bolanowski, will mean less than a 1% increase in production costs for battery makers. Hammond’s technology was entered into the Sally Breidegam Miksiewicz innovation awards at the BCI conference at the beginning of May, a year after its Advanced Expander and stateof-the-art lead-acid battery laboratory won the award. The firm says that idle load electricity consumption wastes more than 150 billion kilowatt hours of

electricity each year — the equivalent of 50 large power plants. In financial terms this equates to more than $19 billion, and in emissions, 100 million tonnes of CO2. Another benefit of Hammond’s paste is the improved charge efficiency during formation, resulting in higher initial capacity, full conversion and long cycle life, says Bolanowski. By adding the additives to the paste, the plate surface area is doubled, which in turn enhances charge acceptance. “Hammond is committed to reducing carbon emissions,” says Bolanowski. “Through innovation and partnership with customers we can achieve this – we are

Daramic announces grand opening of separator plant in India Daramic, the lead-acid battery separator manufacturer, on April 26 announced the grand opening of the first major polyethylene battery separator manufacturing facility in India, in Gujarat. The company would not reveal how many high-performance PE separators it will produce in a year, but said it was responding to growing demand from the local market. Global marketing director Dawn Heng told Batteries International that the plant would make separators for all kinds of flooded lead-acid batteries for automotive, motive power, deep cycle and stationary applications. “Previous practice was to use either automotive or industrial products that are standard in other regions, while no specific R&D and production was done in India. With our local end-to-end production

and local R&D centre in India, we can really deliver the ad hoc products for local customer needs and support their innovation and growth,” said Heng. Heng said Daramic’s strategy had been to work with OEMs and battery makers to understand market need before developing products to meet that need. “With more emerging applications coming (startstop, renewable energy), and the complexity of the lead-acid battery in different applications, one size can’t fit all,” Heng said. “As a result, the product produced in the Gujarat plant will adopt this principle to serve market need, ie to improve life and performance such as rechargeability, capacity, water loss, grid corrosion and so on, in the highly abused batteries in India.” The Gujarat plant, which will be Daramic’s sixth

34 • Batteries International • Summer 2017

manufacturing site in Asia, bringing its number of global facilities to 10, will support Daramic’s intentions to increase global capacity. “Daramic is the only separator supplier with a local R&D centre in Bangalore,

ready to assist manufacturers, who have to be first. We are right up there with them. “We have had several customers who are using additives in their full production. It’s being adapted in the industry, it’s still relatively early on but there are definitely several companies using it and using it successfully.” Bolanowski says there is plenty of innovation going on in the lead-acid battery industry, and Hammond’s laboratory is expanding its own research. “Our general thesis is that lead’s here to stay and lead can play in more markets than was previously believed. More people than ever understand that lead is virtually 100% recyclable and that lithium doesn’t have a full recycling stream that works.” where we can introduce the latest results and target local need,” said Heng. He said the plant would mainly focus on the Indian market but also serve nearby countries such as Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The company says it supplies nearly 50% of the world’s demand for this kind of separator.

Aqua Metals wins patent for lead battery recycling Aqua Metals, the lead battery recycling company, announced it had won its first patent for its AquaRefining technology on June 1. The Devices and Method for Smelterless Recycling of Lead Acid Batteries patent was awarded by the Korea Intellectual Property Office, which the company — which operates only in the US — said it had approached because the

examining authority is well known for its rigorous testing standards. Because of this reputation, Australia, China and other Asian territories tend to follow KIPO’s lead, said Aqua Metals chairman and CEO Stephen Clarke. He also said he anticipated that this would be the first of many patents and that it validated the hard work and progress the team had made.

Bringing the industry together

Meet the team

Mike Halls, Editor Mike, a former journalist with the UK newspaper the Financial Times, has been involved in journalism, publishing and print for three decades. “I’m particularly fond of writing about the batteries industry,” he says. “It’s an unusual mixture of being fast-paced but slow to change — and friendly too. What’s more there’s always something more to learn.”

Claire Ronnie, Office Manager and Subscriptions Claire’s our unflappable person — she’s the go-to girl for subscriptions or account enquiries. Go ahead and challenge her!

Karen Hampton, Publisher In her recent years of working within the battery business Karen has become a well known figure at conferences — not least as our social butterfly. “My job,” she says, “is to get the maximum benefit for our advertisers to make sure their name and brand is out there, while maintaining the integrity, fairness and excellence our publication is renowned for.”

Antony Parselle, Designer Better known in the office as ‘Ant’ he’s been working in magazine design and layout since the early 1990s. Not so good on showing his best side however

PUBLISHER Karen Hampton Tel: +44 (0) 7792 852 337

June Moutrie, Business Development Manager She’s our accounting Wunderkind who deals with all things financial — a kind of mini Warren Buffett.

Jade Beevor, Advertising Manager Jade, who joined the team in early 2015, is already getting a feel for the industry. “This is an incredible business we’re in,” she says. “These people are literally changing the future of our lives — and the planet too!”

Jan Darasz, Cartoonist Jan has an international reputation as a cartoonist able to making anything — including an electrolyte! — funny. And as for LiCFePO4 ...

EDITOR Mike Halls +44 (0) 7977 016 918

Wyn Jenkins, Supplements Editor Don’t let his boyish charm deceive, Wyn’s been a journalist and respected editor on major financial titles for some 20 years. When not heading his own publications firm, Seren Global Media, he looks after our supplements.

Kevin Desmond, Batteries Historian Actually more than just a historian on batteries as he’s written about many things. He’s the inspiration behind our Batteries Hero section.

DIGITAL MEDIA OPPORTUNITIES Jade Beevor +44 (0)1243 782 275

Reception: +44 (0)1243 782 275 • Mustard Seed Publishing Ltd, 10 Temple Bar Business Park, Strettington Lane, Strettington PO18 0TU, UK • Registered in England 5976361


Younicos to test li-ion system in Austin German firm Younicos said in May it is to supply a 1.75 MW/3.2 MWh lithium-ion system to test the use of multiple energy storage services in the US city of Austin, Texas. The system will explore how renewable energy and storage can be integrated on the grid at utility, commercial and residential scales in the city, and potentially US wide. Younicos, which opened a headquarters and technology centre in Austin in 2015, will install the system using its Y.Cube systems. The seven Y.Cubes and Y.Converters represent the company’s largest Y.Cube deployment in the US to date.

The company is working alongside the project’s prime contractor, Doosan GridTech, and publically owned utility Austin Energy. The storage system is part of a Distributed Energy Resource Management System (DERMS) that will examine how to maintain grid reliability while also enabling the highest penetration of distributed PV generation. The battery storage system is part of a US Department of Energy (DOE)-funded initiative  Sustainable and Holistic Integration of Energy Storage and Solar PV (SHINES) project. The SHINES project aims

to test and forge a template on how other states can use storage and distributed energy resources (DERs), such as solar photovoltaics, to harness and ensure grid reliability when utilizing renewable energy. Stephen Prince, CEO of Younicos, said: “The SHINES project is the perfect showcase for an alternative, distributed energy system with resources like energy storage providing resiliency and security.” Integrating energy storage with solar will be an ‘essential’ part of the City of Austin’s goal of reaching 55% renewable energy by 2025. The Austin SHINES program is more than a tech-

nical pilot, said Jackie Sargent, Austin Energy general manager. “It’s phase one of a larger rollout to maximize the value of distributed energy resources for our customers and the utility. Ultimately, it’s about testing innovative technologies that could have long-term benefits.” The Austin Energy SHINES Project was initiated in 2016 with a $4.3 million grant from the DOE’s SunShot Initiative with the goal of analyzing and determining best practices for integrating renewable energy and energy storage on the grid at utility, commercial and residential scales.

Li-ion project to explore methods of modernizing US grid system The US Department of Energy announced in June it is backing a project to examine how lithium-ion energy storage can allow grid-scale power operators to modernize its infrastructure. The challenges of developing technology that offers both a reliable and efficient electrical grid service to rural parts of Texas led the DOE to choose the University of Texas at Austin to lead a $1.6 million project to develop the technology. The university’s Center for Electromechanics (CEM) in the Cockrell School of Engineering will look at how utilities can integrate distributed energy resources (DERs), such as solar photovoltaics, combustion engines and energy storage systems, onto the grid in a sustainable way. “Augmenting and modernizing the legacy electric grid while continuing to maintain reliable electrical service is a lot like rebuilding a ship while at sea, there’s a huge downside if you don’t do it right,” said Bob Hebner, CEM director and a research professor in the Cockrell School’s Department of

Mechanical Engineering. Network operators in the US are quickly having to develop ways to cope with the two-way flow of power — from distributed energy and traditional sources — as America adopts a changing energy mix to meet low carbon targets. New methods for monitoring this energy mix will have to include new modelling capabilities that will crunch real-time, big data to ensure fluctuations, caused by the inherently unpredictable wind and solar energy sources, are smoothed and the grid remains stable. Hebner said: “The UT

Austin project will leverage machine learning and big data, maintain cybersecurity and use a technical approach like that supporting the Internet of Things. And it will do all of that while preserving the best of what we have today.” CEM will work with project partners Argonne National Laboratory, Verivolt, National Instruments and Pedernales Electric Cooperative to use existing and emerging sensor technology and enable real-time gridwise monitoring and modelling of loads and DERs. The project expects to develop affordable sensors that

Maldives turns to battery hybrid system to combat energy crisis The Republic of Maldives is the latest country to turn to a hybrid-lithiumion energy storage system to stabilize its electricity supply historically plagued by poor power quality and high costs. The system, which was announced by Chinese firm Sungrow in mid-

36 • Batteries International • Summer 2017

June will use 700kW/333 kWh energy storage system using batteries developed by a joint venture between Sungrow and the South Korean company Samsung SDI. When combined with a diesel generator and 2.7 MWp of solar PV the system will be able to

will offer detailed information about the behaviour of the rural distribution system and inform a modern control approach that uses better situational awareness to minimize outage time. The system will be extensively modelled and tested at UT Austin and elsewhere. Then it will be installed to obtain field data and achieve a high level of system performance. It is one of seven major projects launched by the DOE’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability as part of a nearly $10 million research investment. supply grid-scale services included frequency regulation, peak-shaving and load-shifting. The project, which uses Sungrow’s inverters and energy management system, is expected to meet more than 30% of local domestic and office energy demands on the islands Addu, Villingili, Kurendhoo, Buruni, and Goidhoo.

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Siemens’ Siestorage and US firm AES Advancion create global energy storage joint venture A joint venture between two of the world’s leading energy storage integrators — AES’ Advancion and Siemen’s Siestorage — will create a global technology and services company under the name Fluence, the company announced on July 11. The new company will deliver the US and German firms’ lithium-ion energy storage platforms as well as developing new storage solutions and services across the globe. The joint venture will offer customers a “wider variety of options to meet the challenges of a rapidly transforming energy landscape”, according to a joint

statement. These challenges include the need for grid-scale services such as peak shaving, black-start and frequency regulation as increasing amounts of renewable energy comes on stream. The transaction — with both companies holding a 50% stake — should close in the fourth quarter of 2017 following regulatory approvals. Fluence will be headquartered in the Washington, DC  area with additional offices in Erlangen,  Germany  and various cities worldwide. Andrés Gluski, AES president and CEO, said: “Part-

The joint venture will offer customers a “wider variety of options to meet the challenges of a rapidly transforming energy landscape”

nering with Siemens  to form Fluence will offer both large and small customers the full gamut of proven, state-of-the-art energy storage solutions in over 160 countries. This will accelerate the integration of renewables into the energy network of tomorrow.” One of the predominant themes of the emerging market in renewable energy and its storage has been the willingness of international firms to collaborate with each other in a variety of ways. “One of the major themes we are seeing in the emerging renewables sector,” says one market commentator, “is firms’ ability to see synergies between themselves and what would otherwise be their rivals. “This isn’t something that we see very often in, for ex-

Gluski: advancing the case for renewable integration

ample, the lead battery side of things where the competition is more entrenched. That’s not to say this doesn’t happen, just that it’s a much rarer situation.” The grid-connected energy storage sector is expected to grow to 28 GW by 2022 from just 3GW capacity at the end of 2016, according to analytics firm IHS Markit.

Gigafactory and 5MW BESS to provide boost to Australia’s Northern Territory Australia’s Northern Territory will be the scene of two new projects by the end of the year — a 5MW/3.3MWh battery energy storage system and lithium gigafactory, according to announcements in June. The energy storage system is set to be installed in Alice Springs by the end of the year, thanks to government-owned Northern Territory energy company Territory Generation. The total A$8.3 million ($6.5 million) cost of the wider Alice Springs BESS Project should be recouped within four to five years due to the efficiencies and savings realised.

New Zealand energy infrastructure company Vector Energy, which has engaged consulting engineers Aurecon, will install the BESS, which will be used for frequency regulation services to smooth dips in renewable generation. The moves come as Alice Spring’s power generation shifts from the aging Ron Goodin Power Station to Owen Springs Power Station at the end of 2017. Territory Generation chief executive Tim Duignan said that replacing aged electricity generators to ensure an efficient and reliable power supply would be a game changer as the state transi-

38 • Batteries International • Summer 2017

tions to renewable energy. He said: “There is significant expectation from industry, business and the community in Alice Springs to increase solar penetration on the grid, however without storage to smooth the solar output, there is limited opportunity to integrate further solar without impacting on grid stability.” Reliability of base-load power is currently a major issue in Australia and projects using BESSs, such as the 100MWh system Tesla aims to install in South Australia, are seen as an “important step to ensuring reliability in a controlled transition to renewables”.

Meanwhile Australian firm Energy Renaissance announced plans to build the country’s first gigafactory in Darwin, manufacturing lithium-ion batteries for large-scale energy storage. The company is reportedly planning to use patented technology from US company 24M to build batteries in the Northern Territory. A Northern Territory government official has confirmed it was in talks with the company about the facility, to be called Renaissance One, but the state government has yet to consider the proposals.


New punched plate system launched from Atelier Roche, Chloride Technical

The Punchmaster plate making system developed by Chloride Technical and Trading and Ateliers Roche France was launched earlier this year and is commissioned and running in production in China. The Punchmaster runs in conjunction with a wide strip rolling mill supplied by Jiangsu Sanhuan Industry and Commerce, China. “This combination represents the most cost effective punched plate manufacturing system available to the lead acid battery industry,” says Mike Dunn, senior project engineer, at

Chloride. “Its a first for the company and an acceptance from Chinese lead acid manufacturers that punched grid is the way forward if you want to make excellent VRLA batteries. “Moreover, if you combine punching of the grid with adding textural qualities it helps with plate adhesion for the downstream processes. Dunn says that the punching process enables “significant savings in terms of the lead required compared to cast grids”. The Punchmaster line is

designed specifically for high speed production of punched lead grids for both automotive and industrial batteries, he says. The line was designed to fit these specifications: • Lead strip thickness from 0.72mm to 1.2 mm • Lead strip width up to 350mm • Production capacity of up to 30m/min with laminated strip and 26m/min for cast strip • No lubrication required when using laminated strip

The line includes. • Jib cranes for loading and unloading strip and punched coils. • A vertical or horizontaldouble decoiler designed for wide strip. • A hot joining strip welder. • The Punchmaster including specific tooling • A vertical double encoiler for punched strip. • System loop controllers. The Punchmaster can process either laminated or cast wide strip.

EnerSys launches new range of chargers The European arm of EnerSys, the reserve and motive power battery manufacturer, has added a new range of onboard chargers to its portfolio, the company announced in June. Most motive power battery technologies can support the new chargers, the firm says, which can be installed inside the battery compartment of a forklift

truck thus eliminating the need to use AC power to charge the battery. “In today’s material handling industry, the need for more space to optimize operations, combined with the necessity of making trucks always available, is becoming increasingly challenging,” said Anssi Laitinen, senior marketing director at EnerSys EMEA. “This in

turn has created demand for more flexible, compact and integrated on-board power solutions that require virtually no maintenance and battery changes. “To support this, we have developed a new range of advanced on-board chargers that enable operators to recharge their motive power batteries anywhere at any time, meaning a lift truck

can effectively be turned into a portable charging room.” There are two products in the range — the Compact charger that works with EnerSys’ TPPL (thin plate pure lead) battery technology in Class III forklift trucks, and the Life Compact charger, for other electric material handling vehicles that require an onboard battery.

Batteries International • Summer 2017 • 39

RESEARCH The lattice structure within lithium ion batteries is only partly understood. Using positrons it is possible to explore these spaces further.

Positron power Rechargeable lithium batteries with nickel, manganese, and cobalt cathodes comprising, are currently the most potent today. But they have a limited lifespan — in just their first cycle they lose up to 10% of their capacity. A team of scientists using positrons at the Technical University of Munich have looked at why this happens to see what can be done to alleviate this gradual loss of capacity. So-called NMC batteries, whose cathodes are made up of a mixture of nickel, manganese, cobalt and lithium have largely displaced conventional lithium-cobalt oxide batteries in the market. They are cheaper and safer, and are thus deployed in electric and hybrid cars, among other applications. But ultimately, less than 50% of the lithium atoms contribute to actual capacity. While electrodes investigated at the Technical University of Munich released 62% of their lithium atoms during the first discharge, only 54% of them returned upon recharging. Although the loss is significantly lower in subsequent cycles, the capacity continues to decrease gradually. After a few thousand cycles, the remaining capacity is so small that the battery becomes unusable. Investigations by other researchers have shown that during charging not all of the lithium atoms find their way back into the respective vacancies in the crystal lattice. However, until now, previous methods were not able to shed light on the underlying atomic processes. Irmgard Buchberger, researcher at the Chair of Technical Electrochemistry at Technical University of Munich turned to Stefan Seidlmayer, who also researches battery technologies in the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Center at the neutron research source FRM II. He organized the contact to Christoph Hugenschmidt, who supervises the NEPOMUC instrument at the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Zentrum. The NEPOMUC provides a high-intensity low-energy positron beam for applications in solid state and surface physics as well as for fundamental research in nuclear and atomic physics. The positrons can be used to directly

40 • Batteries International • Summer 2017


Thomas Gigl and Stefan Seidlmayer at the positron source NEPOMUC

search for vacancies in crystal lattices. “As tiny and extremely mobile particles, positrons can easily probe matter. When they meet an electron, positrons are instantly annihilated in a flash of energy. However, when they find a vacancy in the crystal lattice, the positrons survive significantly longer,” says Markus Reiner, who conducted the experiments at the NEPOMUC instrument. Since the positrons remain briefly trapped in vacant spots of the lattice before they ultimately decay, positron annihilation spectroscopy, as the technique is called, can be used to draw precise conclusions on the immediate surroundings – and that with a very high sensitivity that allows the determination of vacancy concentrations as low as 1:10 million. The study clearly shows that lingering “voids” in the lattice of the cathode material accompany the irreversible loss of capacity, and that this blockage is attributable to the failed refilling of vacancies in the material. “Now it is up to us, as chemists,” says Hubert Gasteiger, a professor at the Chair of Technical Electrochemistry. “Using targeted modifications of the

The positron is the antiparticle or the antimatter counterpart of the electron. The positron has an electric charge of +1 e, a spin of 1/2, and has the same mass as an electron. When a low-energy positron collides with a low-energy electron, annihilation occurs, resulting in the production of two or more gamma ray photons.

The research was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research as part of the ExZellTUM project. Operation of the Coincident DopplerBroadening Spectrometer used in the study was also funded by the BMBF. cathode material, we can search for possibilities to circumvent this barrier.” “The Garching Research Neutron Source is an extremely useful instrument for battery research,” says Ralph Gilles, who coordinates the measurements at FRM II for the ExZellTUM battery research project. “Using neutrons, we can observe small atoms like lithium very well while in operation, even through the metal casing. With positrons, we have now developed a further option for understanding the processes better and improving them.”


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COBALT SUPPLY CONCERNS Could the fate of the distributed energy revolution — and the EV one too — be at the mercy of the availability of one metal: cobalt? Without cobalt where would high energy density lithium batteries be? Jim Smith reports.

Where supply and demand collide Supply and demand. One of the great fundamentals of economic thinking dating back to Adam Smith and his epic 1776 work The Wealth of Nations. And it’s as internationally important as ever, as the world braces itself for a possible — some say inevitable — shortage of cobalt. Cobalt dominates large swathes of the lithium ion battery industry. The high specific energy, energy density and cycle life of variants of lithium-cobalt (LiCoO2 or LCO), such as nickel manganese cobalt (NMC) and nickel cobalt aluminium (NCA), make them a good fit for applications from power trains for electric vehicles, batteries for energy storage systems and power for lap-tops and mobile-phones. (That said, Samsung’s recall of their handsets last year proves safety concerns still surround lithium chemistries.) NCA cells for EVs typically need about 200 grams of refined cobalt per kWh of battery capacity and NMC

cells for Powerwalls typically need about 425 grams per kWh. Up to now the supply of cobalt has matched demand from lithium-ion battery manufacturers, but times are changing because of a variety of factors, from the rise and rise of electric vehicles — with an increasingly important residual value for later use in residential storage — through to greater adoption on large grid scale storage products. Cobalt is potentially one of several concerns for the advanced battery industry within the next decade. As a by-product of mining for copper and nickel, the metal is subject to the vagaries of demand for those metals, and with new cobalt-specific mines in the early stages, the fear within the battery industry is that demand will easily outstrip supply before 2020. Brigette Amoriso, an official at the Cobalt Development Institute, believes for the next couple of years “the supply of cobalt should be fine, but in three

“Without sustained growth in high-energy lithium-ion battery production, there can be no sustained growth in EVs and stationary energy storage system production — both technologies will be capped at levels that aren’t even close to relevant until somebody develops an alternative battery technology that doesn’t need cobalt.” 42 • Batteries International • Summer 2017

to four years’ time, around 2020, there could be quite a bit of a shortage”. Others, such as analysts at Macquarie Research, expect shortfalls of 885 tonnes next year, 3,205 tonnes in 2019, and 5,340 tonnes in 2020. The big issue that concerns the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is at the heart of cobalt mining. This small country in the heart of Africa is undergoing a national political crisis, and the fear is its subsequent instability will trigger the kind of regional war that scarred central Africa at the turn of the century. The DRC is intrinsically linked to the developed world’s desire to be environmentally neutral and meet CO2 targets because it supplies more than half of the world’s current cobalt. In 2016 the DRC delivered 64% of the world’s cobalt supply and that percentage is set to rise. However, the country’s political instability — its elections are overdue and have been rescheduled for the end of the year — could result in a huge supply risk within months, rather than decades. There are also international issues surrounding child labour, as reported by a host of humanitarian organizations, which could de-stabilize supplies. Currently the battery industry only uses around a third of all cobalt supply. But this is set to change dramatically.

COBALT SUPPLY CONCERNS In its 2016-2017 Cobalt Market Review, Darton Commodities Limited reported that total mine mouth cobalt production was 120.4 KT. In 2016, refined cobalt production was 93.5 KT. Of that total, more than half (47.2 KT) was used in battery manufacturing and the balance went into a variety of highvalue products including super-alloys, hardened tools and materials, pigments, catalysts and magnets. Darton noted that the global cobalt supply and demand balance shifted from surplus to deficit in 2016. Darton predicted that the cobalt supply deficit was likely to widen, driven primarily by soaring demand from the battery industry. It forecast growth in the EV sector could drive battery industry demand-to 89.1 KT by 2022. This, it said, “could seriously challenge the cobalt supply chain”. Cobalt has many uses for high-value products such as superalloys, hardened steel for machine and diamond tooling and desulfuring catalysts for cars, as well as pigments and magnets. This means that in a price squeeze it will be the EV manufacturers who lose out first. Improvements to top-end grid storage projects will follow next. And all this will theoretically spin down to the rest of the energy storage industry. John Petersen, a long-time commentator on the energy storage industry, says: “Without sustained growth in high-energy lithium-ion battery production, there can be no sustained growth in EVs and stationary energy storage system production — both technologies will be capped at levels that aren’t even close to relevant until somebody develops an alternative battery technology that doesn’t need cobalt.” In 2015, the battery industry used around 11,375 tonnes of unrefined

The great speculative 2008 bounce: a warning from history.

cobalt for every 9,760 tonnes of finished product, and with an output of 60GWh that year, the industry used 38,300 tonnes of cobalt. If things were to stay as they are now, the battery industry will remain relatively stable. However if, as some predict, that output rises to 140GWh by 2020, supply from the DRC will have to be strong and stable but new mines and sources will have to come on stream quickly. For instance, Tesla’s 35GWh gigafactory will need around 7,000 tonnes of cobalt a year, which is 7% of 2014’s global supply of 91,754 tonnes, to run at full capacity. Tesla has so far sourced its cobalt from Japan’s Sumitomo Metal Mining, which has a cobalt mine based in the Philippines, but it says it intends to source its materials from North America, according to reports. However, according to figures from the CDI, Sumitomo only produced 3,654 tonnes of refined cobalt in 2014. And the CDI’s members in North

America, namely ICCI and Vale — both in Canada — produced 3,210 and 2,051 tonnes of refined cobalt respectively in 2014. So just looking at one example of a gigafactory, it’s easy to see the issue that is unfolding. Of the Tesla conundrum, Caspar Rawles, an analyst at BenchMark Minerals, says that theoretically the firm could source all its cobalt from outside the DRC, but that in the current market, with material already in short supply, it would be hard to do. “They would likely need to secure off-take deals with a number of projects to get enough material,” he says. Of all the raw materials that go into building batteries, there are a number of reasons why cobalt is the most critical, Rawles says. In 2016, cobalt was the smallest market of the three critical minerals that go into a lithium-ion battery (lithium, cobalt, graphite) at just 93,000 tonnes a year. The cobalt chain also faces a chal-

As the global industrial recovery matures (left) an acceleration in battery demand is implied. Source: National Statistics, Macquarie Research, February 2017

Batteries International • Summer 2017 • 43

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COBALT SUPPLY CONCERNS lenge in scaling up supply to meet predicted demand of the battery industry. That is because it has a number of structural issues in its supply chain, says Rawles. “First, 98% of global cobalt production comes as a by-product from the mining of other minerals, largely copper and nickel. The supply of cobalt is therefore at the mercy of these far larger markets, and in times where the prices of the primary mineral are suppressed the rate of production can decrease, or in extreme cases whole projects go on care and maintenance, heavily impacting the supply of cobalt.” By 2021 the mined supply from the DRC is set to increase to 70% (from 64% in 2014) so the country’s stranglehold, rather than being curtailed by mining opportunities outside the country, is set to strengthen. Of the large supply projects that are due to come online in the next four years, Glencore’s Katanga and Eurasian Resources Group’s Metalkol Roan Tailings Reclamation project (that aims to produce 14,000 tonnes a year) are both based in the DRC. Of the number of interesting on-going projects outside the DRC, none matches the scale of those in the DRC.

With such a large amount of supply reliant on the DCR, could the country’s stranglehold be loosened? Rawles doesn’t think so. In fact he is quite clear: “There will be no lithium-ion battery industry without DRC cobalt.” Not only does the DRC produce about half of all cobalt, it also holds 47% of all global reserves. Compare that with the US, which hasn’t mined cobalt in significant volumes since 1971. The US Geological Survey reports the country only has 301 tonnes of the metal stored in all of its stockpiles. Alongside the instability of the DCR, human rights organizations like UNICEF have expressed concern over

AN ETHICAL DILEMMA The role of batteries is set to increase as their use in applications from grid-scale storage to vehicles continues to grow and develops in the next 10 years. But an ethical issue also exists. Companies such as Apple, Tesla and Google, for example, take a stand about how they ethically source their cobalt. But as demand overtakes supply, those firms may be forced to step down from their moral high ground and look to both China and the DRC to keep the world’s cars running and lights on.

“There will be no lithium-ion battery industry without Congo (DRC) cobalt” — Caspar Rawles, Benchmark Minerals 2017 COBALT PRODUCTION — DRC DOMINATES DRC 67,975 tonnes China 1,417 US 524 Rest of world 52,785 Total 122,701 Source: CRU Group

Cobalt supply-demand balance: where it goes and where it comes from Cobalt demand (t) Superalloys Batteries Dyes & Paints Catalysts Other chemicals Magnets Diamonds & hard facing High strength steel Total demand % change YoY

2012 13,115 30,600 6,178 2,233 7,977 3,623 8,964 1,660 74,350 10.4%

2013 14,595 32,900 6,363 2,345 8,417 3,405 9,144 1,710 78,879 6.1%

2014 15,750 39,100 6,554 2,521 8,864 3,473 9,144 1,744 87,151 10.5%

2015 2016 16,264 16,755 41,055 43,108 6,620 6,818 2,647 2,779 8,991 9,318 3,543 3,649 9,235 9,327 1,709 1,709 90,064 93,464 3.3% 3.8%

2017F 2018F 2019F 2020F 2021F 17,261 17,508 17,737 17,981 18,202 47,419 49,552 52,030 54,111 56,005 7,023 7,233 7,450 7,674 7,904 2,918 3,064 3,217 3,378 3,547 9,662 10,097 10,445 10,807 11,125 3,686 3,722 3,760 3,797 3,835 9,421 9,515 9,610 9,706 9,803 1,726 1,744 1,761 1,779 1,779 99,115 102,436 106,011 109,233 112,201 6.0% 3.4% 3.5% 3.0% 2.7%

Primary/Secondary cobalt supply (t) Zambia DRC Russia India China Finland Australia Canada Secondary sources Other Total supply % change YoY Balance

2012 5,735 2,999 2,186 580 29,725 10,547 4,869 5,682 2,800 10,942 76,065 0.7% 1,715

2013 5,000 3,000 2,368 295 33,200 10,010 4,981 5,559 3,050 14,331 81,794 7.5% 2,915

2014 4,317 3,300 2,302 100 35,400 11,452 5,419 5,261 3,050 15,845 86,446 5.7% -705

2015 2016 2,997 3,500 3,300 1,900 2,040 3,200 150 100 44,100 47,000 8,582 11,000 5,150 3,000 5,591 5,900 3,050 3,000 17,389 18,155 92,349 96,755 6.8% 4.8% 2,285 3,291

2017F 2018F 2019F 2020F 2021F 3,500 3,500 3,500 3,500 3,500 3,500 3,500 3,500 3,500 3,500 3,200 3,200 3,200 3,200 3,200 100 100 100 100 100 51,500 53,500 54,588 55,702 56,845 11,000 11,000 11,000 11,000 11,000 2,100 2,100 2,100 2,100 2,100 6,150 6,150 6,150 6,150 6,150 3,000 3,000 3,000 3,000 3,000 15,551 15,501 15,669 15,641 15,613 99,601 101,551 102,806 103,893 105,007 2.9% 2.0% 1.2% 1.1% 1.1% 486 -885 -3,205 -5,340 -7,194

Source: CDI, CRU, Macquarie Research, February 2017

Batteries International • Summer 2017 • 45


Designing cobalt out of batteries How could the shortage in cobalt change the landscape in the next 10 years? Adding mining opportunities to secure supply is one way of tackling a potential crisis; another is to use less of the material in the manufacturing of batteries. That could include the increased use of NCA and NMC variants of lithiumcobalt (LiCoO2 or LCO), which would allow most of the cobalt to be replaced by nickel and manganese and aluminium. Daniel Abraham, materials scientist at the Argonne National Laboratory, believes NCA technology will continue to be among the various layered oxide technologies being pursued for EV and ESS applications because of its ability to deliver reasonably high energy and power densities. But being slow to change does not mean researchers are not pursuing other variants of NCA. “For instance, some researchers propose eliminating cobalt and aluminium altogether from the NCA and using magnesium instead, and so on,” he says. NCA contains much less cobalt than LCO. For example Li(NixCoyAlz)O2 layered oxide typically breaks down like this: x=0.8; y=0.15; z=0.05, making it a nickel-rich oxide. And early examples of Li(NixMnyCoz)O2, layered oxide with manganese had values: x+y+z=1. But the chemistry can take various values, for example in NMC532, x=0.5, y=0.3, z=0.2 or in NMC811, x=0.8, y=0.1, z=0.1 (which contains less cobalt than NCA), and so on. Isidor Buchmann, the founder of Cadex Electronics, says the issue of cost is encouraging battery manufacturers to move away from cobalt systems toward nickel cathodes, with nickelbased systems giving a higher energy density, lower cost and longer cycle life than the cobalt-based cells but with a slightly lower voltage. There is also a trend for battery makers to move to using five part nickel, three part cobalt and two part manganese (5-3-2), rather than early NMC technology, which had equal nickel, cobalt and manganese (1-11), says Buchmann, who also believes that LCO is losing favour to lithiummanganese and NCA because of the high cost of cobalt and improved performance attained by blending it with other active cathode materials.  NCA-based, as well as NMC-based,

46 • Batteries International • Summer 2017

Daniel Abraham: “Argonne researchers and others have been trying to replace cobalt with elements such as nickel, manganese, iron and chromium, for example.”

oxide compounds were initially considered for hybrid electric vehicles, because the batteries are cycled over a narrow voltage window, so the energy density of the battery was less important than the power density, says Abraham, who has been conducting research on the compounds for the past two decades. Cells with NCA oxides have very good energy and power densities, and in combination with certain electrolyte systems, can display long life, says Abraham. However, NCA cells are not as safe under thermal abuse, overcharge, or other abnormal conditions. These are key concerns when an EV OEM is looking to increase its battery range — distance travelled on a single charge — to alleviate range anxiety and push the 200km benchmark. Whereby power density is also important because it determines the rate at which the energy is delivered, which in turn facilitates rapid charging and rapid discharging (needed for vehicle acceleration and non-domestic charging). Abraham says the bottom line is that NCA cells display very good performance but are less safe under off-normal conditions, whereby NCA oxides are also more expensive to produce than NMC oxides. But could another material be used

in its place? Are there alternatives to using cobalt in the cathode? Abraham says that because cobalt is expensive and shows greater price volatility, Argonne researchers and others have been trying to replace it with elements such as nickel, manganese, iron and chromium, for example. “Replacing the cobalt with nickel and manganese leads to the NMC oxides: some NMC oxide compositions display better safety performance, and thus have the best chance of replacing NCA in commercial cells,” he says. “Some researchers are working on the concept of oxides that have a gradient in composition from the surface to the bulk; for example, higher manganese content at the oxide particle surface for improved safety performance and greater nickel content in the oxide particle bulk for improved energy density.” The Argonne National Laboratory is also looking to the increase the lithium content of the layered oxides to obtain higher energy densities. These oxides are superstoichiometric in lithium, i.e., an example composition would be Li1+a(NixMnyCoz)1-aO2, which is sometimes referred to LMR-NMC (lithium and manganese-rich NMC oxides), says Abraham.


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COBALT SUPPLY CONCERNS child labour in the mining of cobalt. Amnesty International says one fifth of cobalt is extracted at small mines, and some 40,000 children work in the southern DRC, where it is mined. Curtailing child labour would add to the instability of the supply. Last year the Responsible Cobalt Initiative, led by a Chinese business group, the Chinese Chamber of Commerce for Metals, Minerals and Chemicals Importers and Exporters, and supported by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), was launched to address the issue. The initiative calls for companies to trace how cobalt is being extracted, transported, manufactured and sold. Despite Rawles’ claims that without the DCR the lithium-ion industry is sunk, mining exploration companies are already looking at regions like Ontario (one of the only places in the world where cobalt-primary mines have existed), Idaho (that has historically produced cobalt), British Columbia (which has rich copper mines) and the Northwest Territories (a gold-cobalt-bismuthcopper deposit is being developed there) to find tomorrow’s deposits. Where the DCR dominates unrefined cobalt supply, China dominates the refining side, with 52% of cobalt refining taking place there last year. All other nations contribute below 10% to the supply chain, other than Finland and the Kokkola facility, which may be bought by China Molybdenum as part of a deal last year for the Tenke mine (in the DRC with Freeport).

And with the majority of batteryproducing gigafactories in Asia (Tesla is still only at around 30% of capacity), that makes sense, especially if you are a Chinese lithium-ion battery maker. That’s not to say Asia will be the only place producing batteries at the gigascale in the future. In May an agreement was made to create a 15GWh lithium-ion battery manufacturing plant, using existing facilities in the state of New York, US. The agreement was supported by New York State Government officials and was signed by Magnis, Charge CCCV (C4V), Boston Energy and Innovation (BEI), C&D Assembly and Primet Precision Materials (Primet). A joint statement said component supply, cell manufacturing and the supply chain for raw materials would be ‘consistent with each party’s policy regarding business ethics and sustainability’. What that means in real terms wasn’t clear from the statement. Two former Tesla employees announced plans this March for a European lithium-ion gigafactory in Sweden — although this project is still in the investment phase. LG Chem has also opened a plant with the capacity for making 100,000 lithium-ion batteries a year in Poland, with production slated for later this year. But outside these projects the majority of lithium-ion manufacturing will still be centred around Asia. There are also a number of large refining capacity expansions happening in China, such as Umicore tripling its refining capacity by the end of 2018.

So is China intending to have a near monopoly of refined cobalt, thus gaining an unprecedented grip on the lithium-ion market from 2020 onwards? Rawles believes the reality is that China already controls a significant part of the supply chain. “The lithium-ion battery industry has always had China at its heart; it’s the same story for lithium and graphite and we don’t expect that to change any time soon,” he says. Benchmark Mineral Intelligence predicted in 2016 that global lithium-ion production would increase by 521% between 2010 and 2016. This would be from 28Gwh to 574Gwh. By 2020, the firm suggests that mass production of lithium-ion batteries will be concentrated in just four countries — though this is set to change if new factories are set up: 62% in China, 22% in the US, 13% in South Korea and 3% in Poland. Some of the staggering increases in size will be from Chinese firms such as CATL — forecast to grow from a 2016 production level of 5Gwh to 42Gwh. Given China’s plans to promote electric vehicles and boost large-scale energy storage systems, the likelihood is that roughly two thirds of world cobalt supply will be for domestic use. Mischievous rumour-makers say China’s recent purchase of scrap lithium-ion batteries containing cobalt — which cannot be commercially recycled — are part of a larger price squeeze orchestrated by the country. The rumours are a direct legacy of China’s attempt to corner the rare earths market in 2010.

Cobalt’s role in various lithium-ion battery chemistries Chemical name



Short form


Lithium Cobalt Oxide AlsoLithium Cobalate or lithium-ion-cobalt)

LiCoO2 (60% Co)



High capacity; for cell phone laptop, camera

Lithium Manganese Oxide Also Lithium Manganate or lithium-ion-manganese



Li-manganese, or spinel

Lithium Iron Phosphate




Most safe; lower capacity than Li-cobalt but high specific power and long life. Power tools, e-bikes, EV, medical, hobbyist.

Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide, also lithium-manganese-cobalt-oxide

LiNiMnCoO2 (10%–20% Co)



Lithium Nickel Cobalt Aluminum Oxide1

LiNiCoAlO2 9% Co)



Lithium Titanate




48 • Batteries International • Summer 2017

Gaining importance in electric powertrain and grid storage


Bipolar: a battery that could yet rewrite the history books Almost a century ago the idea for a bipolar battery was conceived but moving the technology from the laboratory bench to the manufacturing line has been problematic. Until now, reports Jim Smith.

50 â&#x20AC;˘ Batteries International â&#x20AC;˘ Summer 2017



t’s the spring of 1924. Hunched in the austere laboratories of Cambridge University, a young Russian scientist is shuffling and reshuffling his research papers in disbelief. Pyotr Kapitza, later to win a Nobel prize for other research, had stumbled across a new secondary battery. He’d asked a simple question. What if you could create a step-change in the performance of the lead acid battery — still largely unchanged from Camille Faure’s addition of lead sulfates in 1880 — by a different design, allowing one to build up a higher voltage within a smaller volume? But his creation, the bipolar battery, progressed little further from academic theorizing, a host of patents from others that were never used in the field and yet more tests in the laboratory. Along the way some of the greats — think Kathryn Bullock, Tom Bacon, the fuel cell pioneer, and Doug Bennion (see accompanying feature) wrestled with the notion but the manufacturing engineering proved a step too far. At one point even NASA got in on the act. And in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the legendary Wally Rippel, one of the designers of General Motors’ EV1, and Dean Edwards filed a series of patents for the space agency and themselves. The two were researchers at CalTech working on a contract for NASA. But again a commercial product proved elusive. Some within the battery industry now believe — nine decades after Kapitza had his eureka moment — the technology will be available for mass-manufacturing as early as 2018. On paper, bipolar offers a new way of constructing a lead-acid battery, one that has the potential to make batteries cheaper to manufacture, and more importantly deliver better performance than traditional lead-acid batteries or even lithium batteries in many applications. The key to realizing the technology’s potential lies in the biplate, specifically making it non-corrosive, lightweight, conductive and cheap. Several com-

panies have tried to make a viable, marketable biplate, but so far the difficulty has always been taking the concept through to commercialization. But, say some within the battery industry, the age-old problems that have historically irked bipolar batteries such as venting, temperature control and sealing are problems no more. They say firms such as Advanced Battery Concepts, Electriplast Corporation, which is fully owned by plastic giant Integral Technologies, and Gridtential Energy, could be paving a way forward. Moreover, big lead-acid battery companies are starting to buy into the concept and the first mass-produced bi-polar batteries could be rolling off the factory production lines soon. So why are big companies looking at bipolar? There are two reasons why the technology is important, says Ray Kubis, an industry veteran who, two years ago, became a director and latterly chairman of Gridtential. The first is the market demand for higher voltage products with unique capabilities. “Either it’s going to be lithium-ion or the deployment of bi-polar, because they are the only types of solutions that can offer the opportunity to scale up to higher voltage,” he says. The existing infrastructure of lead-acid batteries is adaptable and well done at the 12V level. However, when nonbipolar (or monopolar) batteries are scaled up it is hard to reach the higher voltage demanded by new applications such as 48V systems for micro and mild-hybrid cars. Bipolar offers a viable, theoretical way for companies to achieve those demands. The fundamental requirement to making a commercial bipolar battery lies in getting the membrane, the conductor between the positive and negative sides of the plate, adequately conductive and able to remain in place in the cell environment. Geoffrey May, principal of FOCUS Consulting, says there are different approaches being made because a plate, with

What if you could create a step-change in the performance of the lead acid battery— still largely unchanged from Camille Faure’s addition of lead sulfates in 1880 — by a different design allowing one to build up a higher voltage within a smaller volume?

Batteries International • Summer 2017 • 51

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COVER STORY: BIPOLAR BATTERIES “Dow got a $161 million grant from the DOE for scale production of lithium at the same time I used my retirement money to set up my company. All the experts said lithium was the answer and lead is dead. Today Dow-Kokam is bankrupt and I am hiring. So, you tell me which is the better investment.” — Ed Shaffer, ABC

positive paste on one side and negative paste on the other, is possible “but it’s not a standard process. There’s nothing that’s fundamentally beyond the wit of man to do, but it has to be done in an efficient way and in high volume. “The issue lies in getting the bi-polar membrane right, and if you don’t have that, then developing a manufacturing process becomes a fruitless process without a basic concept that works.” Companies, of course, will have different approaches to manufacturing the membrane and what will work satisfactorily remains to be seen. Gridtential has a sheet of silicon that replaces the traditional metal grid in current lead-acid battery designs with

a silicon substrate. This January Gridtential raised $6 million from Crown Batteries, Leoch, Power-Sonic and East Penn. These firms are conducting trials of inserting the new technology into their existing lines. Integral Industries, and its wholly owned subsidiary Electriplast, has produced a conductive polymer that uses Long Fiber Technology that can be used as the biplate. The technology was being marketed in 2015 on the promise that plates made of electriplast could be used to replace existing quasi bipolar plates, and eliminate the need for top-lead connectors. This, they say, would reduce the weight of a lead-acid battery by 50%. Talk is that a major deal with an Asian battery manufacturer is in the offing — the firm released information to that effect in May — but nothing has been confirmed. One commentator said that he understood that the announcement was

more of a statement of intent rather than something happening immediately. What can be confirmed is that East Penn — which has been beavering away for years at improving bipolar batteries — received approval this June from the US Patent Office for an update to its 2011 patent for bipolar plates using a perforated structure, but this time using Electriplast. The inventors on the update were Stephen Fairchild, a senior research engineer at East Penn, and Kenneth Dengler, a design technician for the firm’s R&D division. The original patent was developed by Thomas Faust, a senior R&D development engineer. In September last year Electriplast announced it had completed the manufacture of more than 100 bipolar battery plates and ABC had started integrating them as part of the terms of its Joint Technology Assessment Program. The JTAP will involve the use

BCIS-06 Cycle Life

Batteries International • Summer 2017 • 53

COVER STORY: BIPOLAR BATTERIES The lithium-ion industry is coming out of China, Korea and Japan. If this trend were to continue then European, US and Indian battery makers will be reduced to being assemblers of cells. So bipolar offers the opportunity for the non-Asian battery industry to not become obsolete.” — Ray Kubis, Gridtential of the Electriplast bipolar plate in the existing architecture of ABC’s GreenSeal 12V battery. Elsewhere, ABC is using a lead sheet that has a “good technological chance of being successful,” says May. “Its conductivity is good and I’ve seen results from ABC, and some of those are very good. The issue there, however, is durability under corrosion, but technically their results at face value, are very good.” It may all sound too good to be true, and perhaps a quick look back at the history of troubled firm Atraverda will temper some excitement. The UK firm struggled for almost two decades to commercialize its Ebonex bipolar plate. Ebonex is the trade name of a range of titanium suboxide ceramic materials, typically Ti4O7  and Ti5O9, which combine electrical conductivity with high corrosion and oxidation resistance. After promising technology seemed to offer an achievable future making lightweight ebike batteries, the firm sank into administration at the end of 2012. It failed to secure an investment to increase production to commercial levels. An official within the firm said that part of the reason for the failure was the intensity of management control by the venture capital investors which hindered the fundamental design problem of the battery, the seals. The firm, founded in 1991, raised about £20 million ($36 million) during its life. But like the proverbial Phoenix, this April lead-recycling start-up Aqua Metals acquired the intellectual property rights to Ebonex. The firm’s CEO Steve Clarke — one of the founders of Atraverda with his father but who quit in 1993 — says the purchase would “allow us to advance our own nano-structured lead and leverage synergies both with Ebonex materials and its experience in bipolar lead acid batteries.” The purchase may also help Clarke finish what his father developed in

54 • Batteries International • Summer 2017

1987. Throughout the 2000s Clarke had been involved in developmental work and at one point tried to market bipolar batteries to China’s electric scooter sector. Other firms that have looked in the recent past at developing bipolar batteries include, perhaps predictably, Johnson Controls, but also the Volvo spin-off Effpower. Effpower, like Atraverda, has developed a battery that used an electrically conductive ceramic. The key area where bipolar has the potential to trump legacy lead-acid batteries is in the architecture of the battery. In a typical prismatic design, a grid is connected to the cast-on strap at the lug. This means the active material for a standard grid is being worked non-uniformly during cycling because the current flow is high near the lug, and low away from the lug. In a bipolar design, the current flow is extremely uniform across the active material. “As a result,” says Ed Shaffer, CEO and co-founder of ABC — and also vice president for business development of Atraverda for a year in the mid-2000s — “you have higher utilization of the active material or more energy. “Additionally, the design is very suitable for thin layers so higher power can be achieved as well with much better charge acceptance.”  The simplified construction and uniform current flow also results in higher cycle life, up to three times, ABC says, “as long as you can maintain the edge seal”. The design also makes any cell more efficient, so is synergistic with alternative chemistries or active material additives like carbon. Interest in ABC has mounted this year. In January the company signed a

non-exclusive agreement with Johnson Controls. In April this was extended as Hal Hawk, the president and owner of Crown Battery, took a stake in the firm. Hawk, a former head of BCI and who has spent a lifetime in the lead battery industry, is a widely respected figure. His investment is seen by many in the business as a more powerful endorsement than that of Johnson Controls. “JCI, to some extent, has to cover all its bases and it makes sense for them to be in at the ground floor with a bipolar firm, if it works on a manufacturing line of course,” one commentator told Batteries International. “But if Hal is putting his own money into it, it shows these guys have something that is serious. It’s noteworthy that he’s also taken a stake in Gridtential too.” Later in April, ABC announced that it had chosen Wirtz Manufacturing to install production-scale paste lines for its prototype production facility. “This equipment will allow us to demonstrate run at rate throughput and assist our licensees in their adoption of our GreenSeal bipolar technology,” Shaffer said at the time. John Wirtz — who has also spent a lifetime working and designing battery manufacturing equipment — said: “ABC has been able to demonstrate PrecisionAM pasting of bipolar electrodes repeatedly and successfully. Their resultant process is easily scalable, innovative, and simple. We look

“There’s talk about the very high theoretical capacity of advanced lead. Yet we believe we can realistically reach much higher than 50wh/kg.”


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“The issue lies in getting the bipolar membrane right, and if you don’t have that, then developing a manufacturing process becomes a fruitless process without a basic concept that works” — Geoff May, FOCUS Consulting forward to the broad adoption by licensees of their bipolar lead battery technology and we believe Wirtz will be well positioned to globally support this emerging equipment demand.” In another endorsement, Bob Galyen, chief technology officer of China’s CATL (and the largest lithium cell producer in the world) became chairman in May of a technology advisory board set up by the company to help its development. Galyen, who is also the current president of NAATBatt, has a long history in the automotive battery sector and worked on the original General Motors EV1 project in the 1990s. He knows both lead and lithium well. In the middle of May, the Trojan Battery Company became the third battery manufacturer to take a licence in ABC’s technology. The participation of Trojan is particularly interesting in that it’s speciality has always been deep cycle batteries.

It is also no secret that it sees its future — as its CEO Jeff Elder once told Batteries International — as an energy solutions company rather than just as a battery manufacturer. Shaffer at the time hinted at this by saying: “We believe Trojan’s team has the ability to open new markets to demonstrate ABC technology readiness in applications such as grid storage, peak shaving and other alternative energy storage markets that to date lead batteries have not been able to penetrate.” Construction of a bipolar battery starts with a conductive biplate which replaces the lead metal grid. The biplate has positive paste on one side of the plate and negative paste on the other side, hence the term bipolar, a phrase Shaffer dislikes, saying: “I wish they would have used dual polar.” Key to breaking the technology out of the laboratory is developing a biplate that is fit for purpose.

Gridtential, for example, is using a silicon biplate. One reason is that the thermal properties of silicon take heat away from the centre of the battery, helping it operate more efficiently at high temperatures. The deferring of heat from the middle to the outside of the battery could also help manufacturers overcome specific issues such as deformation, disruption of the seals, and venting. But because the sheet of silicon, which is a semi-conductor, has to be very thin it is fragile, so manufacturers “will have to support it in some way so it doesn’t fracture in either the manufacturing process or in use”, says May. The biplates — no matter what their material — are then simply stacked together with a separator in between each one. The end plates are ‘monoplates’ with paste on only one side and a terminal on the other. Once stacked the edges must be sealed and terminals connected. The up-side to using less lead — as plates or top straps — is that manufacturing costs for bipolar batteries are lower. For example, last year ABC entered into a Joint Technology Assessment Program (JTAP) agreement with Integral Technologies, and its wholly owned subsidiary Electriplast. From ABC’s perspective, the true benefit of its GreenSeal technology will be in the 20%-30% lower production costs based mostly on bill of materials reduction.  “That is huge,” says Shaffer.  Data from ABC shows that using its technology, a battery can reach three times the cycle life but with half the lead.  “That means that every pound of lead mined can be used six times longer… or put another way there is six times less lead needed for the same amount of energy.  That is fantastic,” says Shaffer. As for the active material, May believes this would stay more or less conventional. “They might have to make tweaks or proprietary stuff to put in it, but because the current paths are much shorter you wouldn’t have to

“Having better PSoC means the battery is a potential game changer in 48V systems. Electric vehicles are not the best match for advanced lead batteries when you want over 300 miles range, but the new 48V systems, where there is a need to support acceleration and absorb regenerative breaking potential, the high power, high voltage bipolar offerings are a real alternative to lithium.” 56 • Batteries International • Summer 2017

COVER STORY: BIPOLAR BATTERIES change it radically to make it work.” Kubis believes that Gridtential’s bipolar construction helps improve active material utilization to breakthrough levels, while improving charge acceptance and life at Partial State-of Charge. Many companies are improving active material recipes for performance in different applications. These efforts are only multiplied by bipolar architecture, where current flow is more efficient and gives the opportunity to make the batteries much lighter. In a bipolar battery the current path is horizontal, whereas previously the grid was horizontal and the current path was much longer. In a bipolar design there is much more effective use of the active material. The addition of improved active material means bipolar batteries should theoretically work well under PSoC conditions because the current collection is very efficient. It is efficient because the horizontal current path shortens the distance to complete the charge/discharge cycle process when compared to a conventional lead-acid battery, and the behaviour across the plate has uniform voltage gradients. “So the discharge and charge will be much more uniform in manner,” says May. The kind of performance changes demanded by users — especially if lead battery manufacturers can offer utilities and power companies the huge storage and energy management capabilities that they are purchasing from lithium suppliers — is why it’s important that companies improve their paste recipes and concurrently implement fundamental architecture changes, such as the bipolar architecture. This could yield advanced leadbased batteries with overall performance of three to four times that of legacy lead-acid batteries. Our existing batteries are simply not good enough against the performance required by today’s demanding and growing range of applications, says Kubis. In many applications, where there is a need for very high power, such as in backup power for cloud computing or for frequency regulation for grid-scale services, bipolar batteries will work, says Kubis. However, with consumer electronics — or long duration, say four to eight hours where there’s a need for a steady energy release across a few hours and not high power — it is harder for advanced lead batteries

DOD comparison between bipolar AGM and standard AGM batteries

Vibration testing comparison of bipolar AGM and conventional AGM

to compete. But Kubis believes advanced bipolar batteries can compete across high power or mixed power/medium energy applications. Having better PSoC means the battery is a potential game changer in 48V systems. Kubis says: “Electric vehicles are not the best match for advanced lead batteries when you want more than a 300-mile range, but the new 48V systems, where there is a need to support acceleration and absorb regenerative breaking potential, the high power, high voltage bipolar offerings are a real alternative to lithium.” At the energy storage side of the market, May says bipolar’s future will probably lie in its ability to be used in domestic or small commercial installations. “At that end you’ll probably see sys-

tems with 48V modules bringing it up to a reasonable capacity because of the need for systems at domestic level to be a few kWh to start being viable,” he says. “Both 48V and energy storage systems are possible applications. If you look at ABC and the stage where they have got to — with data in the public domain — you can look at reasonable cell production within a few years.” May says he cannot make a judgment of Electriplast or Gridtential because they have yet to go public with their results. The other factor is energy density, at around 38Wh/kg for legacy lead-acid and the potential for bi-polar to reach 50Wh/kg-63Wh/kg. Theoretically the technology could double from these claimed levels today. Companies such as Gridtential know bipolar is going

Batteries International • Summer 2017 • 57

COVER STORY: BIPOLAR BATTERIES to beat traditional lead-acid for energy density, but they have yet to validate that. “There’s talk about the very high theoretical capacity of advanced lead,” says Kubis. “Yet we believe we can realistically reach much higher than 50wh/kg.” And he thinks the timescale to achieving this target will be much smaller than five to 10 years because of the progress that his company’s partners have made. “We expect there will be products in the field from our manufacturing partners and investors by the end of this year and developing further in the next year.” A lot of alternative battery systems use unique new materials that come from small-scale industry but Kubis says Gridtential’s solution is integrating treated silicon wafers that comes from the high volume, low cost solar industry. And at higher volumes, they can see the cost of silicon they use dropping as low as lead at $1 per pound, while enabling the much higher performance concurrently with at least a third less weight.

“We believe Trojan’s team has the ability to open new markets to demonstrate ABC technology readiness in applications such as grid storage, peak shaving and other alternative energy storage markets that to date lead batteries have not been able to penetrate.” “In addition, to adapt Gridtential’s technology, you also don’t have to spend billions of dollars on a gigafactory, you only need to adapt the assembly process, and integrate a silicon biplate supply chain to change the factories from being able to manufacture traditional lead-acid batteries to bipolar. You can continue with your existing oxide manufacture, curing and charging infrastructure,” says Kubis. “Some claim lithium-ion is a better investment at scale, yet you just need to look at the recalls within the industry along with scale of new factory investments. If you invest $5 billion in a battery factory then have periodic recalls such as we’ve seen with cellphones, laptops, or with Boeing, what’s the return on investment then? “I’m not criticizing Elon Musk, but

if you can reconfigure existing factories and the product coming out of that factory can compete with lithiumion, and at only 5%-10% of the capital outlay you would otherwise spend, then to me it makes sense to rapidly develop the alternative bipolar.” Kubis warns that existing battery manufacturers are under threat. “The lithium-ion industry is coming out of China, Korea and Japan. If this trend were to continue then European, US and Indian battery makers will be reduced to being assemblers of cells,” he says. “So bipolar offers the opportunity for the non-Asian battery industry to not become obsolete, and bipolar is a way to add value to your region and continue to offer a strong supply chain.”

BIPOLAR IN BRIEF For years most batteries have been made with conventional monopolar technology that uses two plates per cell and then connects those cells in a series of metallic connectors outside the cells or through a wall. (Figure 1) This design results in ohmic losses within the plates, leading to unsymmetrical distribution of the current density during operation. Furthermore, these grid and cell connectors increase the total weight of the battery. While bipolar and monopolar designs share the same leadacid chemistry, they differ in that in bipolar batteries, the cells are stacked in a sandwich construction so that the negative plate of one cell becomes the positive plate of the next cell. The cells are separated from each other by the bipolar plate which allows each cell to operate in isolation from its neighbour. Stacking these cells next to one another (Figure 2) allows the potential of the battery to be built up in two-volt increments.

60 • Batteries International • Summer 2017

Since the cell wall becomes the connection element between cells, bipolar plates have a shorter current path and a larger surface area compared to connections in conventional cells. This construction reduces the power loss that is normally caused by the internal resistance of the cells. At each end of the stack, single plates act as the final anode and cathode. This simpler construction leads to reduced weight since there are fewer plates and bus bars are not needed to join cells together. The net result is a battery design with higher power than conventional monopolar lead-acid batteries. Until recently, the main problem limiting the commercialization of bipolar lead-acid batteries was the availability of a lightweight, inexpensive and corrosion resistant material for the bipolar plate, and the technology to properly seal each cell against electrolyte leakage. Source: Advanced Lead Acid Battery Consortium

Figure 1

Figure 2

BATTERY INNOVATORS: DOUGLAS BENNION Douglas Bennion is nowadays remembered as the man who turned the concept of the bipolar battery into reality. But he was much more than that writes Kevin Desmond, author of Innovators in Battery Technology, Profiles of 95 Influential Electrochemists.

Unsung pioneer of the bipolar lead-acid battery Evening, November 29, 1992. Douglas Bennion, age 57, had flown his son Daniel back to college in Rexburg, Idaho following Thanksgiving and was about to fly back home in his single-engine aeroplane. As it was already dark with wind and snow, his son tried to persuade his father to stay overnight. Bennon said he had a class to teach in the morning. And after all, it was only a 45-minute flight. Bennion, an experienced pilot, took off. Moments later, for reasons still unknown, his Beechcraft S35Bonanza clipped the top of trees, bounced off the ground, hit some overhead power lines and then exploded on impact. Bennion died instantly. In the days that followed, the world

of electrochemistry mourned the death of a man who, among other things, had done ground-breaking work on the bipolar lead-acid battery. His work was as much mechanical as electrochemical. He replaced the heavy metal grids connected by a cast-on-strap with a conductive bipolar plate having positive material on one side and negative on the other side. His designs reduced the battery weight by about 50% and more than doubled its specific power. Indeed only weeks before, Bennion, already holding the James J Christensen Professorship, had received the Electrochemical Society’s Battery Division Research Award. In time, his colleagues and former students on whom he had made such an impact

organized a symposium in his honour at the San Francisco Meeting of the Electrochemical Society in May1994. Doug Bennion was born in Ogden, Utah on March 10, 1935. He was the son of Noel Bennion, an academic at the Oregon State University and Mildred Bennion. He came from a religious family that has been deeply involved with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Brigham, Utah for generations. Bennion married young, while still a student. Aged 21 he wed Delores Wridge on September 17, 1956 in the Salt Lake Latter-day Saint Temple. Theirs was to be a fruitful union — he was to end up as father to seven children and grandfather to 39. At Oregon State University, he was

His work was as much mechanical as electrochemical. He replaced the heavy metal grids connected by a cast-on strap with a conductive bipolar plate having positive material on one side and negative on the other side. His designs reduced the battery weight by about 50% and more than doubled its specific power.

Left: Doug Bannion, 1979. Right: The Bennion family: (Top left, going clockwise): Patti Bennion (Fred’s wife), Fred Bennion, Doug Bennion, Dee Bennion, Lora Bennion (Doug’s sister), DJ Bennion (daughter), Don Bennion (son), Mildred Bennion (mother), and Spencer Bennion (son). Taken probably the summer of 1961 (Don, the baby in the picture, was born January 5, 1961) at Mildred Bennion’s home where Doug was raised in Corvallis Oregon.

Batteries International • Summer 2017 • 61

BATTERY INNOVATORS: DOUGLAS BENNION “Had Doug not passed away prematurely, he would have undoubtedly been a leader in the successful development of electric and hybrid-electric vehicles. Doug was a dreamer with the ability and drive to make those dreams a reality.” a keen American football player, playing on the freshman team, and was to the end a devoted follower of the game. Much later on as a professor his office would be dominated by two blackboards — one was full of theories, maths and problem solving, the second was about the university football team and the Monday morning quarterbacking sessions of the previous match. But he was a conscientious student: he received a BS degree in chemical engineering in 1957, but he was also awarded the Distinguished Military Graduate medal and the Association of United States Army medal as an army reserve captain in the Officer Training Corps.

His first main job was as a chemical engineer at Dow Chemical, Pittsburg, California, where he continued to work until 1960. His assignments included working in the utilities department associated with chlorine-caustic production, organic chemicals production and chemical purchasing. During this time, six months were spent on active duty as an officer in the US Army Corps of Engineers. Realizing that he needed better qualifications, he enrolled as a graduate student in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. While there, encouraged by professor Charles Tobias

Doug, Dee, DJ, and Spencer, with Don on Doug’s lap. Probably 1963.

Bannion family, 1969: Doug and Spence, with Sunny coming out of the house and the twins (Ted and me) obscured by Spence. Probably taken in 1969 or so. Taken in our LA home, when Doug was teaching at UCLA.

62 • Batteries International • Summer 2017

— one of the founders of electrochemical engineering — Bennion chose to specialize in that field. In 1964 he received his PhD. One of his classmates would later recall, “Doug was a dreamer, when we first met as graduate students at Berkeley 33 years ago, his dream was to put electrons in a box so that he might store energy.” Bennion became an active member of the Electrochemical Society, holding most elected offices of the Southern California-Nevada Section from 1967 to 1973. In 1976, just 41 years old, he was elected president of the society and an honorary member in 1987. He joined UCLA in 1969 as associate professor at the Energy and Kinetics Department and became a full professor at 1978. During this time he directed graduate research in electrochemical engineering, emphasizing mass transport in ionic systems. His students universally considered him an outstanding teacher. One of them, John Dunning, who from 1971 to 1988 was assistant head of the Electrochemistry Department at General Motors Research Laboratories, recalls “Doug had a profound sense of optimism and faith in human nature which carried into his teaching and his approach to research. He had a favourite saying, ‘All you have to do is…” Another one was, ‘I’ve been giving this a lot of thought and I’ve finally figured it out.’” His work included ion transport in semipermeable membranes with applications to reverse osmosis and related desalting techniques, ion transport in non-aqueous battery development, and ion transport in porous electrodes with applications to secondary batteries and flow-through electrodes for the recovery of metals from dilute solutions. He wrote numerous technical papers on these topics. He taught courses in thermodynamics, transport phenomena, separations, design, and electrochemical engineering. During this time, he also took part in various innovative projects. In April 1969, a reverse osmosis plant for purifying sea water into drinking water went on line in La Jolla. The plant was ingeniously designed and constructed by Joseph McCutchan. He was assisted by Bennion, who built tubes filled with membrane liners, enabling the salt content of the water to be reduced from 35,000 parts per million to the 500 ppm required for drinking water.

BATTERY INNOVATORS: DOUGLAS BENNION “There is further disclosed, improvements in the formation of electrochemically active material on the plates of the bipolar electrodes, as well as improved separators for positioning between the bipolar electrodes and improved means for sealing the spaces between bipolar electrodes.” — US patent number 5141828 In 1971 NASA asked the Society of Automotive Engineers to look into life support systems whereby oxygen would be reclaimed from CO2 and water by using a solid electrolyte cell. On the committee was Bennion, as well as Elton Cairns of Argonne National Laboratory. Cairns says, “I was pleased to have Bennion as a friend. Together we ran a course on Electrochemical Engineering of Batteries in the 1980’s. Doug was always enthusiastic about exploring ideas for better batteries. He specialized in transport properties in electrolytes, especially non-aqueous electrolytes, and membranes. He also performed modeling of battery electrodes.” Bennion also collaborated with Lockheed Missile and Space Company in Palo Alto to develop a mathematical model for the operation of a lithium-water electrochemical power source. In May 1974, Bennion and his colleague John Newman announced the development of a low cost, non-polluting process for recovering copper from ores and scrap metal. Using a concentrating cell, the electrochemical process yielded high concentrations of copper, and could also be used to recover mercury, lead, cadmium, silver and gold. In May 1975, Bennion, with his colleagues Ranna Hebbar and Sanjay Deshpande, filed a patent for the positive electrode of a storage battery formed by applying an electrical charge through a non-aqueous lithium perchlorate solution to an electrode formed of powdered so-called ‘Madagascar’-type graphite and lithium fluoride. The patent was granted in February 1977. The following year, he received the Battery Division Research Award of the National Electrochemical Society. In 1980, predominantly for family reasons, Bennion moved to Brigham Young University, a private institution operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — more popularly known as Mormons — in Provo, Utah.

It was at significant professional sacrifice, but he grew to love BYU. Moves were made to persuade him to return to UCLA as assistant dean in the School of Engineering and Science. Had he accepted, he would in all probability have become dean in 1987. However, he turned the position down and in 1985 became chair, until 1991, of the Chemical Engineering Department at BYU, when he returned to research and teaching. For his excellence in research, Bennion received the Karl G Maeser Award from BYU in 1992. His colleagues remember Bennion for a host of different reasons — from being “the most visionary man around… never afraid of new challenges … having the enthusiasm and fervor of a preacher” … and… “a superb mentor to graduate and undergraduate students.” He was always thinking of different ways to solve significant research problems and was not afraid of new challenges. He was ever the optimist. He loved to think about BYU as some day becoming “the Harvard of the West.” One student who eventually joined him on the faculty at BYU was convinced that “had Doug not passed away prematurely, he would have undoubtedly been a leader in the successful development of electric and hybrid-electric vehicles. Doug was a dreamer with the ability and drive to make those dreams a reality.” Merrill Beckstead, professor emeritus of the Department of Chemical Engineering at BYU, recalled “For a five-year period Doug was the department chair and I was his assistant chair. Within the department, I got along better with him than any other of the professors. We had full on stimulating conversations: chemical engineering, BYU sports, the US government, my research (rockets) and his research (batteries). However, once he started talking batteries, I was lost — too much chemistry for me.” By this time, Doug was well into the development of the bipolar leadacid battery. Indeed, on May 14,


Bennion was also active in the Provo Kiwanis Club. Kiwanis is a global organization of volunteers dedicated to improving the world, one child and one community at a time. Each year, Kiwanis clubs around the world raise more than $100 million and report more than 18.5 million volunteer hours to strengthen communities and serve children. Bennion was devoted to this service organization, attending weekly meetings, and participating actively in service. He was president for a time. He also served in his church as a high councilman and a member of a bishopric in a BYU stake in Provo, among other leadership positions. He also enjoyed flying, skiing, hiking and BYU football games. One of Bennion’s daughters recalls: “As a child my dad would often take me and the other children to go and just watch the private planes take off and land at Van Nuys Airport. He would talk about the various types of aircraft and how some day he really wanted to fly. “These were fond memories for me. Each year he would give my mother season tickets to UCLA football for her birthday (August 15) and season tickets to UCLA basketball for their anniversary. Mom always loved going to the games with dad. Between his responsibilities at UCLA and church he was always busy, but he would still find time to take us children skiing, camping and hiking.”

Batteries International • Summer 2017 • 63

BATTERY INNOVATORS: DOUGLAS BENNION Lead-acid is inherently capable of higher current output than other battery chemistries, including Li-ion. In addition, the safety concerns for Li-ion batteries at high power charge/discharge are very real. 1990, Bennion and one of his dissertation students, Rodney LaFollette, filed a patent for an electrochemical system using a bipolar electrode. With support from the US government under contract by the US Navy, patent number 5141828 was issued on August 25, 1992 with Brigham Young University as the assignee. Perhaps the key claim was “There is further disclosed, improvements in the formation of electrochemically active material on the plates of the bipolar electrodes, as well as improved separators for positioning between the bipolar electrodes and improved means for sealing the spaces between bipolar electrodes.” Together, funded by government and private sources, Bennion and LaFollette set up the Enyon Corporation — named after the river Enyion in Wales where his forefathers came from — in Provo, Utah. The initial activities of Enyon were focused on making high power, pulsed discharge, full-sized bipolar lead-acid batteries, thus applying and extending the design principles developed at the university. Working with support from the US Department of Defense, multicell batteries were built that showed tremendous specific power for short times. For example, and as shown in Figure 1, a three-cell, 20cm2 battery weighing 6g, produced nearly 2kW for discharges lasting 1 ms, and 10-100W for discharges of several seconds. LaFollette recalls: “Doug was among the most positive, charismatic and inventive people I have ever known —a brilliant electrochemical engineer, and well respected in our field. He was especially expert in mathematical modelling of batteries and other systems. He had a keen intellect and was intellectually rigorous. But he had a big heart and was a generous teacher, especially for his graduate students. Following Bennion’s death, LaFollette became president and founder of the renamed Bipolar Technologies Corporation, which continued its development of commercial bipolar lead-acid battery technology and was

64 • Batteries International • Summer 2017

awarded several patents on battery materials and processes for making bipolar batteries. Bipolar Technologies Corporation expanded this work to develop a high rate, spirally-wound lead-acid battery employing Planté-formed positive electrodes for use in HEVs. During this time, the firm participated in a three-year programme jointly funded by the US DOE and General Motors to develop a series HEV. Bipolar Technologies Corporation expanded its technological development to pioneer processes for microfabrication of batteries using CMOS-compatible (and other) microfabrication techniques. A number of patents were awarded for this founding work. Other development areas at BTI included bipolar silver-zinc batteries, conformal solid-state batteries and capacitors, and microscopic autonomous sensors (powered by miniature hybrid power sources using microfabricated batteries). Most of this work was funded by public sources, including the US Department of Defense, NASA and the DOE. At the same time an energy storage start-up, Pinnacle Research Institute of Los Gatos, California, also became involved in the recent advances in

sealed bipolar lead acid battery proving that it could be a viable candidate for electric vehicles and embarking on a five-year, short-lived programme spearheaded by Ford Motor Company. Incidentally, one of the interns studying ultra-capacitors at Pinnacle was a 24-year-old Elon Musk. Musk was planning to pursue graduate work in applied physics at Stanford University — but a different future awaited. LaFollette says: “For very high power — short discharge times, high current — we would argue that bipolar lead-acid would be safer and usually better. Lead-acid is inherently capable of higher current output than other battery chemistries, including Li-ion. “In addition, the safety concerns for Li-ion batteries at high power charge/discharge are very real. Li-ion battery packs are more difficult to manage (such as in a HEV or EV), as it is more difficult to keep cells in balance (relative to one another). For situations where cost is a big issue, lead-acid is much less expensive.” Despite this, with the exponential rise of the lithium-ion battery, bipolar batteries were placed on the back burner. Indeed in recent years LaFollette has been conducting research for the American Shale Oil Company. Renewed electric vehicle development, funded largely by the three US automakers and the US government, has more recently increased activity in bipolar development. Over the past five years, through the development of a number of new manufacturing technologies and an innovative battery design, Edward Shaffer of Advanced Battery Concepts has successfully produced both a bipolar battery ready for large-scale production and the manufacturing processes to go with it. His patents for bipolar battery assembly have been filed from 2012 to the present. Advanced Battery Concepts has achieved 67Wh/kg on batteries specifically designed for energy and 50 Wh/Kg on its initial product line. That’s more than a 40% increase. Twenty-five years after his death, Doug Bennion’s dream is becoming a reality. My thanks go to Douglas Bennion’s family, particularly Charles and to Rodney LaFollette for their help with this tribute.

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China’s battery sector is in a state of flux. But whether it’s good news or bad news depends on which side of the lithium-lead fence you sit on. Debbie Mason reports.

A tale of two China’s lead-acid battery market is on a roll. Nothing particularly surprising about that given there are more than 300 million cars on the road — the most of any country in the world and more than in the US — and that figure is rising by some 25 million a year. What is more remarkable is that a lithium revolution in China is happening simultaneously. One industry figure told Batteries International that China’s energy revolution was coming in two flavours — lead and lithium. While some see

lithium as being “ready for a comprehensive outbreak”, others see the more affordable lead batteries “as part and parcel of the industrial landscape of the country”. Moreover this isn’t confined to the automotive sector. US consultancy Grand View Research reckons that the Chinese stationary lead-acid battery market was worth $2.4 billion in 2015 and was braced for huge demand from pretty much every sector you can think of — oil and gas, nuclear, electricity genera-

tion, construction, hospitality, banking, manufacturing, mining, transport infrastructure, off-grid renewable and telecoms industries. “An easy manufacturing process coupled with the requirement of lowcost equipment will drive demand,” says the firm. “Increasing demand for lead-acid batteries as they provide high surge currents and energy densities will spur industry growth. Moreover, its advantages — durability, dependability, low maintenance costs and high discharge

There are more than 300 million cars on the road — the most of any country in the world and more than in the US — and that figure is rising by some 25 million a year.

66 • Batteries International • Summer 2017


chemistries rate — are expected to increase its preference over Li-ion and NiCd batteries.” Less well known, however, is the growing investment in equipment from battery manufacturers which are poised to take over the rising number of off-grid renewable projects, manufacturing facilities and commercial buildings and particularly the increasing demand for UPS systems. Issues such as lead’s recyclability is also of rising importance, reflecting the government’s moves to combine

economic growth with environmental responsibility. Tianneng Power, one of China’s largest lead-acid battery manufacturers and also a member of the ALABC, is equally upbeat about the next 10 years — but it is also embracing lithium, with investor relations manager Yoyo Zhou telling Batteries International that “the high-end lithium battery solution is ready for a comprehensive outbreak. “It’s good news that the Chinese government has decided to remain

unswerving in its development of the new energy subsidy policy, and enterprises will increase the development of battery technology,” she says. “Tianneng Group will firmly grasp the reshuffle in the lithium battery industry, and draw up a comprehensive strategy to advance the technology and become one of the world’s leading lithium businesses.” Zhou says batteries for electric vehicles will make up a core portion of the company’s production, and the firm has built a new factory in Changxing,

Batteries International • Summer 2017 • 67


ILA’s Davidson: Research teams ahve been established to progress their lead battery technologies.

“In April, the Chinese government released a fuel consumption target for 2025 that will be a 20% improvement on the target in 2020 (five litres per 100km), versus 6.9 litres per 100km in 2015 … start-stop is the bestvalue technology to help automakers meet their regulatory limits.” — Kenneth Yeng, Johnson Controls 68 • Batteries International • Summer 2017

Zhejiang Province, which will ultimately have a capacity of 5.5GW. “The group will firmly grasp the lithium battery industry reshuffle, the market outbreak of a comprehensive strategic opportunity to advance the technology, customers, production capacity, and strive to become the world’s leading lithium business,” she said. But the lead battery industry is still vital to Tianneng’s operations and will not be side-lined by the firm. “Lead batteries and lithium batteries each have their own space. Lithium batteries are more important for new energy vehicles, and lead batteries are mainly used in electric bicycles and tricycles,” said Zhou. “The lead battery still occupies a high market share. In our view, leadacid has its stable application areas — the starting battery, standby power and so on.” Zhou also said Tianneng would be complying with national policy to strengthen its independent research and development. “The energy storage battery is Tianneng’s emerging business. Tianneng is making efforts to maintain and at the same time expand this — with large-scale photovoltaic and wind power stations, power grids, industrial parks, telecommunications and large data centres, and we use a variety of chemistries: lead-acid batteries, lead carbon, lithium, and dual products according to customer need.” Tianneng Power is an ALABC member and one of the battery companies that participated in an ALABC technical workshop in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou in February. Alistair Davidson, director of products and sustainability at the International Lead Association, the parent of the ALABC, said the firms had all embraced whatever aspect of basic research the consortium could offer, and had established research teams to progress their lead battery technologies. ALABC programme director Boris Monahov said at the time: “There is no doubt about whether the Chinese battery industry is committed to lead batteries. Lead-acid technology is the beating heart of utility and renewable electrical energy storage, telecommunications, motive power and remote power supply in China.” Recent history still bears this out — and between 2004 and 2016, total lead acid battery production in China increased by an average of 18% a year, according to Yeo Lin, a profes-

sor at Zhejiang University, speaking at the ILA Pb2017 conference in Berlin in June. But most big battery firms are incorporating lithium into their portfolios, such as Tianneng Power, Leoch, Shuangdeng (Shoto), Sacred Sun, Narada Power Source and Chaowei Power (Chilwee). That said, one area of growth for lead batteries in developing countries like China and India is the low-speed vehicle market, a market that is almost non-existent in the west. Popular in rural areas and smaller towns, two- and three-wheeled vehicles that cannot exceed speeds of 100 kmph (62 mph) were granted official status in November. By regulating that segment of the industry, the Chinese government effectively endorsed these vehicles, promising to shut down firms that did not meet its new standards and giving the green light to firms that did. According to the government’s China Low-Speed Electric Vehicle Industry Report, in the eastern seaboard province of Shandong alone, more than 330,000 of these vehicles were sold in the first eight months of 2016. The report said it had taken less than a decade for the industry “to grow from an infant to a behemoth”. “It’s great news for low-speed electric car makers as they can finally make cars legally,” secretary general of the China Passenger Car Association Cui Dongshu said. “The move will force existing electric vehicle makers to speed up product development and compete for consumers.” Scott Fink, Sorfin Yoshimura president, said the low-speed market was a huge one to tap. “There are 1.6 billion people in China and despite the growth of the middle and upper classes, there will still be a lot of people who don’t come into that range,” he said. “That’s probably a billion people who don’t fit into that category, which means it’s still a huge market and if this continues to develop, two and then three wheels will be what they want. Companies are focusing on the demand there, and that’s a strategic move. “We are on the precipice of so many changes and it’s quite highly technical so it’s really exciting on a variety of levels.” Aqua Metals CEO Stephen Clarke has also acknowledged the potential for lead in the low-speed vehicle sector.

CHINA “China is beginning to re-focus on low-cost lead-powered electric vehicles as their primary way of electrifying the morning and evening community, so the mass transportation of people into and out of work and school,” he told a conference call hosted by Aqua Metals in November. “It’s a major transport challenge, and China looks to be swinging back towards lead as a potential energy storage choice for that market — which is pretty encouraging.” Industry giant Johnson Controls also continues to fly the flag for leadacid, with two major factories producing AGM batteries for its start-stop technology as well as conventional vehicles. In October, it announced it had opened new production lines in its Changxing, Zhejiang Province plant, which would produce more than three million AGM batteries a year, with total annual capacity around 10 million. Investment by JCI is estimated to be at around $780 million over the next five years. This will be much needed if the company’s estimates are correct that market penetration of stop-start will reach more than 50% by 2020, compared with 16% in 2016. “Our AGM capacity will grow as the Changxing facility is currently undergoing an expansion,” Kenneth Yeng, vice president and general manager of Power Solutions, China, told Batteries International. “In addition, Johnson Controls also has plans to build new manufacturing facilities in China, including a plant that is part of a joint venture with local automaker BAIC. It will have a capacity of six million batteries and most of the products will be AGM. The plant should begin production in 2018. “We are still seeing huge demand for conventional batteries, especially in the aftermarket. China has become the largest automotive market in the world and the majority of vehicles need two to three battery replacements during a life cycle. “In China, the portion of electric vehicles remains very small. To achieve fuel consumption targets, the  Chinese  government is encouraging automakers to apply start-stop systems and other fuel-saving technologies as much as possible with incentive plans,” said Yeng. “In April, the  Chinese  government released a fuel consumption target for 2025 that will be a 20% improvement on the target in 2020 (five litres per 100km), versus 6.9 litres per 100km

in 2015. Given increasingly strict fuel efficiency and emission regulations, we believe start-stop is the best-value technology to help automakers meet the regulatory limits and save consumers gas (up to 5% every time they fill up their tank).

“It can be easily combined with other efficient technologies such as improved combustion engines, advanced transmissions and light weighting of the vehicle structure — and it does not require a major change to the powertrain of conventional vehicles. Thus,

LITHIUM ON THE ASCENT… PERHAPS Chief scientist Dai Guiping, at Chaowei Power, is convinced the government is setting its eyes on lithium for the future. “The government favours lithium batteries, not lead-acid,” he said. “The Li-ion battery industry is developing very fast in China, but the lead-acid sector as a whole has slowed down a little bit, because some traditional markets for the lead-acid battery have been shared by lithium ion. “Lead-acid is still important to the economy but lithium has started to eat into its market share — for example the E bike market, some of which belongs to lithium batteries now. “That’s because the price of lithium batteries has come down a lot in the past year and will dramatically decrease in the next few years. Whereas the price of the lead-acid battery will increase a little because of the price of lead in China at the end of 2016.” Dai is not the only one that believes the days are numbered for lead-acid as a battery chemistry in China. “I can’t really see a future for lead acid,” says Simon Moores, managing director of the analyst firm Benchmark Mineral Intelligence. “Lead acid is a very good, low cost battery and has not had any mainstream competitors. But lithium ion batteries are on the cusp of becoming abundant. At Benchmark Mineral Intelligence we are tracking 15 lithium-ion battery megafactories under construction around the world — and these are plants with a capacity of over 1GWh.  “At present a total of 190GWh of capacity is set to be available between now and 2020, including the huge plants being built by Tesla in Nevada and CATL in China. This also includes the four megafactories that LG Chem is building across the globe. While not all these plants will operate at capacity, the trend of lower cost, abundant lithium

ion batteries will eventually see the demise of lead acid. “Lead acid will have the strongest survival prospect in utility/stationary storage applications and this will be of interest to governments as they seek a low carbon future. However, all new projects are either using lithium-ion or other chemistries such as vanadium redox flow — we rarely ever hear of a new lead-acid project.  “Lead acid can’t and won’t be used in EVs. For the size of the battery needed they are far too heavy. The only option here is lithium ion and most probably in an NCM or NCA chemistry.”

“Lead-acid is still important to the economy but lithium has started to eat into its market share. “That’s because the price of lithium batteries has come down a lot in the past year and will dramatically decrease in the next few years” — Dai Guiping, Chaowei Power

Batteries International • Summer 2017 • 69

CHINA start-stop vehicles will continue to gain market share.” When Batteries International spoke to Johnson Controls Power Solutions president Joe Walicki in February he was in China to discuss JCI’s future there. “We have been working with local governments, provincial governments, to make sure we can get our new plants up and running on time,” he said. “It’s our growth strategy.” Walicki confirmed the firm had been granted a business licence to operate further in China. “These are the most advanced facilities that we’ve built,” said Walicki. “And we say to those local communities — this is Rmb1 billion ($140

“We have been working with local governments, provincial governments, to make sure we can get our new plants up and running on time, It’s our growth strategy.” — Joe Walicki, Johnson Controls

70 • Batteries International • Summer 2017

million) worth being sold out of those plants — so our investment gives something back to the local communities.” The Chinese energy news network North Star (BJX) predicts the leadacid battery market can only increase over the next 10 years. “In our analysis, lead-acid batteries will continue to be upgraded in the industry and there will also be downstream demand to expand a dual drive, to maintain a stable growth rate for the next 10 years. Lead-acid batteries will continue to be the mainstream battery chemistry,” one analyst said. “Compared with other chemistries (nickel metal hydride and lithium), lead-acid batteries still have the highest share of storage devices. Currently about 90% of domestic electric bicycles use lead-acid batteries.” The analyst predicted that communication base stations would be likely to stimulate further demand for lead batteries. “The field of communication is one of the main markets for VRLA batteries, which are mainly used for the back-up power supply of base stations,” he said. When it came to lithium usurping lead in electric bicycles, the analyst said the high price of lithium would remain an obstacle. “Even the cheapest lithium batteries are double the price of lead-acid batteries,” the analyst said. “Lithium batteries may gradually replace lead-acid in high-end products, but lead-acid is still mainstream. “Their affordability means that they are part and parcel of the country’s industrial landscape,” he said. “The government has committed to the lead battery makers to exist, but they’ve made it harder for the smaller ones,” says Fink. “They are upping the game in terms of the battery makers in China doing a much better job, making more batteries and faster. More than ever before. It will continue to move in that direction. “We at Sorfin Yoshimura are 100% committed to the lead-acid battery industry. We are mindful of revolutionary technologies, and it’s going to be here for the foreseeable future in a variety of applications — UPS is going up, grid storage — there’s growth. “The entire pie continues to grow, so although alternative chemistries might be taking a piece of that pie it’s a bigger pie to take a piece of. It’s not necessarily a negative thing.”

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74 • Batteries International • Summer 2017



a new wave of electrification and protectionism re-emerges The sudden creation of a booming middle class has resulted in an astonishing rise in the country’s vehicle sector. Now the government wants the industry to diversify, writes Debbie Mason. China’s 13th Five-Year Plan, for the years spanning 2016-2020, set a target to get five million electric vehicles on the country’s roads by 2020. Already, three major cities have been told to replace their existing taxis with electric ones: when an announcement was made in February that Beijing would convert its 67,000 taxis to electric within five years it was the third major city to receive such instructions, with Shenzhen, across the border from Hong Kong, announcing cabs would start going electric in 2010 and Taiyuan, in the country’s industrial north, would begin the change-over at the start of 2016. Generous subsidies were given to cab owners, with two thirds of the price of a brand new BYD e6 model being paid by the government for each vehicle, according to the government mouthpiece newspaper the China Daily. The policy is good news for both lithium and to a lesser extent leadacid battery makers, since electric vehicles need one of each, and the list of benefits in buying electric vehicles for both consumers and the environment is long. But while the government can control the state-owned taxi and bus fleets and oversee the replacement of conventional with electric vehicles, it cannot always control the private market, and as yet, consumers have not been flocking to

buy electric despite the generous incentives. Figures by the China Association of Automotive Manufacturers showed that the target of 700,000 EV sales for 2016 had been far too ambitious, and achieved sales of just 507,000. In January 2017, sales were down 74.4% year on year, the CAAM reported. By type, passenger car sales were down 66.2%, accounting for less than 1% of total new car sales. If the reason behind January’s decline was a 20% cut in subsidy implemented at the beginning of the year, it does not bode well for the remaining term of the scheme, which will end completely by the end of 2020. Subsidies have been the subject of newspaper reports for other reasons, too. In September 2016, China’s Ministry of Finance announced that five predominantly bus companies (Suzhou Gemsea, Higher Bus, Wuzhoulong Motors, Mychery Bus and Shaolin Bus) would be punished for accumulating a total of Rmb1.01 billion ($144 million) in subsidies after claiming to have sold vehicles that had in some cases not even been finished. If subsidy withdrawal does cause sales to plummet further, rather than encourage companies to do what it wants, the government may have to resort to doing what it does best: force them to.

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CHINA “The Chinese have spent a lot of time thinking of how to uplift their factories and protect workers and the environment, and in parallel, there has been encouragement for Chinese people to buy local. They have been incentivized and artificial barriers have been put up to block buying foreign goods — from consumables to capital equipment.” — Scott Fink, Sorfin Yoshimura Draft proposals from the National Development and Reform Commission, in a report circulated at the Shanghai Auto Show in April, suggested that the government is intending to impose a requirement on all carmakers that at least 8% of their stock constitutes EVs from next year. Those that fall short would have to buy credits from companies that over produced — which is likely to please local carmakers such as BYD, which saw its EV sales drop by 34% in the first quarter of 2017 after the subsidies were reduced in January. It will be able to make up some of the losses by selling credits to carmakers who are not yet poised to make so many EVs. Foreign carmakers — which until now have been banned from making EVs in China unless they form a joint venture of no more than 50% with a

“CATL’s production was nearly 7GWh in 2016, and is expected to expand to near 50GWh in 2020.” — Bob Galyen, CATL 76 • Batteries International • Summer 2017

Chinese company — have been considering the technology, but perhaps not having to introduce it quite so soon. “The new rules would turn this investment into an immediate necessity, and there are several carmakers that will struggle to meet the required percentage,” says the Economist Intelligence Unit. “Changing the vehicle line-up quickly will be a challenge, and even then it will not guarantee sufficient sales. That may, of course, be the Chinese government’s intention: although it is now encouraging foreign participation in the NEV market, the programme was originally intended to promote the expertise of local companies. As Western carmakers scurry to build their NEV sales, it is clear that those locals already have a substantial lead.” Also in the NDRC report was a pledge that restrictions on foreign companies setting up EV factories in China would be lifted — although one commentator warned that the timescale for this could be a long one, given the opacity of the term “in an orderly manner”. China’s bosses seem determined to push the nation to the forefront of technological knowhow and quality, transforming the nation from the world’s factory to tech leader, even innovator. But there’s a double edge to China’s push in driving its manufacturing industry’s quality and production, says Sorfin Yoshimura’s president Scott Fink, whose company acts as an international agent for the lead-acid battery industry and which represents MAC Technologies, among others, to supply lead battery manufacturers in China with equipment and machinery. He says that China’s cull of lead battery firms, which resulted in the number being slashed from almost 2,000 to around 300 since 2010, would work in its clients’ favour but probably only in the short term.

“Because of the maceration of leadacid battery companies and regulations, the consolidation, the need for quality and higher production, there’s now more need for better quality equipment,” says Fink. “This is good for many companies because their equipment has the ability to help make these improvements. In the short term, the appetite for MAC equipment will be quite significant, but as the local manufacturers’ technology continues to get better that in the end could hurt, say 10 years from now. “There are already tales of foreignmade equipment being imported and then exact copies springing up all over the country.” China has long been accused of blatantly copying foreign products and technology, and the media are awash with tales of copyright infringements, from DVDs to high-end technology. Alongside its push to overhaul its industry, old claims of protectionism are resurfacing as well. In January, AmCham China, the American Chamber of Commerce in China, held a meeting where it published the results of a survey, its annual Business Climate Survey. Protectionism, having been absent from the top five concerns in previous years, had made its way back and was now rated the top third concern by businesses. The third of five “Key Facts” in the survey’s conclusions indicated that more than four out of five businesses now felt less welcome in China than in previous years. “Some respondents attribute the change to the more difficult economic environment and increased protectionism,” said the survey conclusions. “Others believe this is because China has grown to be less dependent on foreign investment, technology and management expertise. “About 55% of respondents also feel that foreign companies in their industries are treated unfairly by poli-

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CHINA cies and their enforcement relative to domestically invested companies.” Fink says foreign companies have tried to mitigate this by manufacturing in China, or through joint ventures, where having the ability to trade in local currency is key. “For a time, it seemed to be that if a company could show that a certain percentage of their product was locally produced, they would get credits. But that could change,” he says. “The Chinese have spent a lot of time thinking of how to uplift their factories and protect workers and the environment, and in parallel, there has been encouragement for Chinese people to buy local. They have been incentivized and artificial barriers have been put up to block buying foreign goods — from consumables to capital equipment. “The local manufacturers are gradually going to start making like equipment, and when this is available in the Chinese market the country will buy it locally. There will be economic incentives to buy it.” Unconfirmed reports in Korean media earlier this year said that because of the Chinese government’s decision to cut subsidies for EVs made with Korean batteries, some companies had opted to use Chinese-made batteries instead. Hyundai’s first EV to be made in China, the Elantra Yuedong, will use Chinese-made batteries, the Korean Herald reported, speculating that Hyundai’s decision came in response to the government’s decision to cut subsidies for cars made with non-Chinese batteries. There may also be political reasons for the cuts in subsidies. The paper said: “Amid growing diplomatic tensions over Korea’s planned deployment of the US-made missile defense system THAAD, Korean battery makers LG Chem and Samsung SDI have failed to receive government subsidies for EVs.” At the time, China released draft guidelines demanding that car battery makers must have at least 8GWh of production capacity in China to qualify for subsidies — a target that only Chinese companies BYD and Contemporary Amperex Technology could meet. The 2014 paper Police Incentives for the Adoption of Electric Vehicles across Countries, by Xingping Zhang, Jian Xie, Rao Rao and Yanni Liang, at the School of Economics and Management in the North China Electric

78 • Batteries International • Summer 2017


Chinese government orders and incentives to boost the EV industry: • Huge government subsidies, sometimes amounting to 60% of the sale price. • EVs made exempt from registration fees, which can total thousands of dollars. • EVs exempt from traffic controls in cities. Some cities, such as Beijing, restrict the driving of cars with odd and even licence plates on alternate days. • EVs can be bought without entering a lottery. In cities such as Beijing, only winners of a licence plate lottery can buy a petrol car. The chances of first-round lottery

success dropped to one in 783 in December, according to the Beijing government, an all-time low. • Cheap price of electricity. • Greater number of charging stations being built. • Tax reductions: Exemptions from the vehicle consumption tax, import duties and purchasing tax for self-use EVs. • Reduction of air pollution. • Reduction of reliance on foreign oil. • Government stipulation that electric, hybrid or plug-in hybrids must make up more than 9% of new cars made by any automaker that produces them in China.


THE 13TH FIVE-YEAR PLAN In China’s 13th Five-year Plan “For the economic and social development of the people’s republic of China”, the intention is clear: under Article 5, Chapter 22, “Develop China into a Manufacturing Powerhouse”, the section is introduced with the pledge: “We will implement the Made in China 2025 action plan. With an emphasis on strengthening the innovative capacity and basic capabilities of manufacturing, we will work to deepen the integration of information technology and manufacturing technology and promote the development of high-end, smart, green, and service-orientated manufacturing so as to foster a new competitive edge in manufacturing.” In Section 2, it pledges to improve the quality of Made-in-China products by upgrading technology, equipment and manufacturing: “We will intensify facilities construction, technological verification, and the demonstration and promotion of the industrial internet, and make substantial breakthroughs in promoting Made in China + the internet.” Article 5, Chapter 23, “Develop Strategic Emerging Industries”, sets out the intention to “support the development of next generation information technology, new-energy vehicles, biotechnology, green and low-carbon technology, high-end equipment and materials, and digital creative industries.... We will spur innovation and industrial application in emerging cutting-edge fields, such as... high-efficiency energy

Power University, stressed the importance of switching to electric in China back then. “China has been the largest CO2 emitter in the world, and the serious haze problem has recently invaded a lot of cities,” the paper said. It also warned of protectionism. “Based on our summary of the mechanisms, the advantage in China is that it intends to decrease the purchase of conventional vehicles by traffic controls or a registration lottery. In addition, China had proposed subsidies to consumers who bought EVs,” the paper said. “However, the disadvantage is that

storage and distributed energy, smart materials, efficient energy consecration... and promote... new types of energy storage devices, facilitate the comprehensive utilization of distributed new energy technologies”. For new-energy vehicles there are pledges to: “Develop allelectric vehicles and hybrid electric vehicles with a focus on making advancements in key technological areas such as battery energy density and battery temperature adaptability; Facilitate the development of a network of charging facilities and services that are compatible with each other and come under unified standards; Improve policies to provide continuous support in this regard; Ensure the cumulative total production and sales figures for new-energy vehicles in China reach 5 million; Strengthen efforts to recover and dispose of used batteries from new-energy vehicles.” Pledges are made to impose inspection regimes on manufacturers in a determined effort to improve quality, as well as address legal protections for trademarks and brands — and also to create new, competitive brands, and for those not meeting quality standards, “we will introduce a punitive compensation system”. In Article 7, Chapter 30, Build a Modern Energy System, there are also intentions to develop China’s energy storage industry, but batteries are not specifically mentioned.

the subsidies are strictly limited because of local protectionism. For example, only 10 types of EV could enjoy the subsidies in Beijing. However, the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf, as two of the most popular models in America and Europe, did not get any subsidies or enjoy any policies.” Subsidies will in any case gradually be phased out, to disappear by 2020, by which time local EV manufacturers will have built economies of scale, bringing down their costs, BYD deputy chief of branding and public relations Li Yunfei said recently. “By 2020 China will have no subsidies, but your scale has expanded,

your costs have come down, and you’ll be able to hit a price that consumers can accept,” he said. If prices do come down regardless of the removal of subsidies, the government will be pleased and is certain to continue its push towards domestic electrification. What isn’t so certain is whether it will be only the Chinese battery makers that will benefit from the push. Contemporary Amperex Technology Limited, for example, has had a meteoric rise since its inception in 2011. In this short space of time it has built itself up so that it already rivals Tesla’s gigafactory’ in terms of the size of its lithium-ion battery production. Bob Galyen, chief technology officer for the firm, told Batteries International: “CATL’s production was nearly 7GWh in 2016, and is expected to expand to near 50GWh in 2020. “This, in part, is due to the fast growing EV market. But not only that — it’s also down to the right product being developed at the right time; excellent management decisions; hiring the best-in-class employees to manage the business and manufacture the product; and establishing a good supplier base.” Galyen admits that growth in EVs has been much slower than expected — around the world, not just in China. “But the growth rate in China is now ramping quickly, with much larger volumes on the horizon,” he says. “We have contracts with many domestic and foreign domestic automotive customers on Chinese soil that have aggressive growth plans in this vehicle sector.” The company has its sights set firmly on the world and not just China. “Obviously the domestic market in China is the largest in the world, but many of our customers based here in China expect a global expansion to cover their products worldwide,” says Galyen. “At the same time, we have been nominated for multiple global projects from major global OEMs. Therefore there is a customer pull to expand globally and a financial opportunity to deploy our advanced manufacturing worldwide.” “We never had starry eyes thinking we were all going to get rich by doing business in China,” says Fink. “We have always been more focused on earmarking good companies that we could work together with over 20 to 30 years. The mass consolidation has made life easier in some ways. But the 10-year outlook is not good.”

Batteries International • Summer 2017 • 79

CHINA China’s clampdown on illegal recycling, smelting and battery manufacturing has been impressive. In a handful of years the entire industry has been cleaned up, reports Debbie Mason.

Lead and the environment Lead pollution has historically been a major problem in China, and while the batteries themselves can be almost 100% recycled, years of processing them by small, unofficial firms that did not adhere to regulations led to major incidents of pollution and contributed to the tarnished reputation of the industry as a whole. In 2014, the Chinese government stepped in — and as a professor at the recent ILA Pb2017 conference said in her presentation, the situation had already dramatically improved and the authorities had more policies in the pipeline to streamline it further.

Yeo Lin, professor with the industrial development research centre at Zhejiang University, said that of the 220 million kVAh of lead batteries produced in China each year, on average 85%-90% was consumed domestically. In the decade to 2014, she said, there were 54 major incidents of blood levels exceeding the standard, and of these, 30 directly related to the LAB (lead acid battery) sector. Since then there had been no major incidents, she said. However, she admits that the lack of an efficient system for collecting and

recycling ULABs (used lead acid batteries) was still a key issue in China, along with the existence of illegal ULAB smelters, which exposed the population to pollution and were having an adverse effect on the environment. The illegal smelters consumed up to four times as much energy, generated from coal, as registered smelters and recovered 10% to 15% less lead. There were also more occupational hazards because of the age of the equipment used and lack of environmental control systems, such as effective filter plants and effluent treatment. Even before the batteries reached the illegal smelters, collection was causing problems, said Lin. The thousands of ULAB collectors who did not have permits were known to transport the waste in substandard vehicles and often broke up the ULABs, dumping the toxic electrolyte in rivers or in the ground. In 2013 China’s finance ministry proposed setting up a fund for col-

Illegal smelters consumed up to four times as much coal-generated energy as registered smelters and recovered 10%-15% less lead. There were also more occupational hazards because of the age of the equipment used and the lack of environmental control systems, such as effective filter plants and effluent treatment. 82 • Batteries International • Summer 2017

Batteries International • Summer 2017 • 82

CHINA lecting and recycling ULABs, whereby producers would make contributions in the form of a tax, which the government would use to subsidize the upgrading of outdated smelters and technology. This was rejected by the battery sector, but the government ef-

fectively imposed the tax anyway in a different guise: a 4% consumption tax that was imposed on lead battery producers on January 1, 2016. Other measures had been introduced to try and improve the problem, such as a 2011-2012 National Environ-

“Recycling lithium-batteries is still in its early stages. But it can only get better because if you match up the volume growth curve of batteries being produced today, within a three-to five-year time frame the volume’s going to go up exponentially” EFFECTS OF THE GREAT LEAD BATTERY COMPANY CULL In July 2012, the Lead-acid Battery Industry Access Conditions were implemented by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. It imposed regulations on the technology and production processes, and insisted that plants had to be of a certain size — new ones producing no less than 500,000 kVA, existing ones no less than 200,000 kVA. “Since 2011, before other industries began to reform their production and supply processes, the effects in the lead battery industry were becoming obvious,” says Tianneng Power’s Yoyo Zhou. “On December 31, 2016, the Ministry of Industry said that after imposing strict new regulations, the number of battery manufacturers with legal status had been cut from 1,930 to just 94. This means standards have been raised in the process and manufacture of lead batteries, and helped it to get over the threshold into improving its market share.” Sorfin Yoshimura president Scott Fink agrees. “Since the government’s cull of companies, things have noticeably changed,” he says. “In the past a lot of regulations were handed down but

difficult to enforce; local regulators were less strict — but that’s starting to change, No one wants to be caught in a scandal. “There has been a fair amount of lead battery manufacturing that left for Vietnam, Malaysia — it’s all still Chinese owned — and this migration will continue. “There has been a lot of pressure on Chinese manufacturers, with larger companies increasing their global relevance and realizing they need facilities in other areas. The regulations there are less strict, the labour costs are lower. “China’s industry had its impetus from lead pollution. There was a clear feeling in China that it couldn’t police this industry properly. It needed to get it under control, and to get rid of the smaller firms — and they have been going away, we have seen customers going away, a lot of mergers and acquisitions. The maceration of the industry has been abrupt. “But the government has to give its support to the lead battery industry: they are cleaning it up, becoming more focused on regulation and compliance, but promoting the lithium battery industry at the same time.”

“There has been a lot of pressure on Chinese manufacturers, with larger companies increasing their global relevance and realizing they need facilities in other areas. The regulations there are less strict, the labour costs are lower.

mental Protection Special Action plan, where environment protection agencies joined up with ministers to carry out on-site inspections in the LAB sector. During the period teleconferences held to discuss the plans were joined by 72,000 people, Lin said. Between February 2011 and December 2012, non-complying firms were ordered to shut down; substandard firms were told to shape up or shut down; and compliant firms were relocated to industrial zones to enable the government to manage them more easily. By the end of two rounds of special actions, Lin said the number of LAB firms had decreased from thousands to just 450. Between June 2013 and December 2014, the Ministries of Industry and Information Technology and Environmental Protection announced that companies had to pass two stringent inspections if they wanted to continue operating. “One thing to notice about China’s approach to the lead industry, as opposed to other parts of the world, is that they enforce the regulations that they impose,” says Brian Wilson, a key figure in the field who works with the ILA and other bodies to lessen the impact of lead on the environment. They don’t pay lip service and ignore the rules.” At the end of 2016, China’s state department published the “Implementation Plan for Extended Producer Responsibility Scheme”, a voluntary scheme in which the producers’ responsibility for their goods extended from the production process to the entire life cycle of the products, from production, circulation and recycling to disposal. This was introduced in the electrical appliances, electronic products, automobile and packing materials industries as well as the lead-acid battery sector. An Extended Producer Responsibility Scheme also encouraged domestic producers to make their batteries traceable and recyclable, Lin said. This scheme would be formally in place by 2020, with the target of getting batteries recycled by legal smelters in 40% of cases. Steve Binks, director of regulatory affairs with the ILA, told Batteries International the situation in China had already transformed. “In China there has been a large outreach programme through the ILA, reaching regulators about the process in handling lead. It’s also going on in India and Africa, and we have been

Batteries International • Summer 2017 • 83

CHINA very active in trying to encourage developing parts of the world to handle lead properly,” he said. “China is certainly putting in far more regulations, and lead battery production and recycling have really improved over the last few years with a lot more US companies going in to China. There are very large plants there now that have even better facilities than those in the US because they are so new.” Stalwarts of the lead-acid battery industry are vehement that one of the major downfalls of lithium-ion batteries is that they are not recycled. But, says chief technology officer at CATL Bob Galyen, who is also NAATBatt president, it is the very growth of the lithium-ion battery industry that will make its recyclability viable. “Recycling lithium batteries has had a major push over the last year and a half, starting with the NAATBatt conference at the University of Michigan in December,” he told BI. CATL hosted the Workshop on Advanced Battery Recycling 2017, which over two days laid bare the latest in recycling lithium in what was described as “the most comprehensive international conference focused on high-voltage lithium-ion battery recycling to date”. “We brainstormed why lithium-ion is not recyclable, and the main thing is lack of volume. The total amount of lithium batteries compared with lead is still very small so first there needs to be larger volumes to justify the costs. The amount of material that comes back — aluminium — copper — not major players. But as we see the volume ramping up, there is more nickel, cobalt and manganese. There is now a higher ratio of companies using NMC and as those volumes increase there will be even more reason to recycle.” It would seem that recycling companies in China are interested, which was confirmed by the appearance of the little-known Chinese recycler Brunp presenting at the conference. “Recycling lithium-batteries is still very much in its early stages,” says Galyen. “But it can only get better because if you match up the volume growth curve of batteries being produced now, within a three- to five-year time frame the volume’s going to go up exponentially. “There isn’t an aftermarket yet, but five to eight years from now there will be enormous volume.”

84 • Batteries International • Summer 2017

“China is certainly putting in the regulations, and lead battery production and recycling have really improved over the last few years with a lot more US companies going in to China. There are very large plants there now that have even better facilities than those in the US because they are so new” — Steve Binks, ILA CLIMATE CHANGE, CHINA AND THE GREAT LEAP FORWARD The US withdrawal of the Paris accord will offer an unprecedented opportunity for China, the biggest carbon emitter and the biggest renewable energy supplier, to ascend in leading global climate affairs, according to Frank Yu, Principal Consultant APAC Power & Renewables, Wood Mackenzie. “We are going to see closer cooperation between China and the European Union in accelerating the energy transition into a  low-carbon economy. China would accelerate kicking off its national carbon trading market by learning from the Emission Trading System, and lend more support to help climatically vulnerable countries. “Many US companies who are climatically accountable would likely relocate their renewable technology

R&D centres to Asia. By leveraging the strong manufacturing value chain in China and other Asian countries, cost of renewables could fall even faster and penetrate more rapidly to displace dirty fossil fuel such as coal in key Asian markets. “With less renewable investment opportunities in America, Asia could get more attention from green capital funds. This will help for countries such as India, Indonesia, Vietnam which needs foreign capital to boost their renewable goals. “China would also like to extend its influence further into making new orders of globalization — founding of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and championing the Belt and Road Initiative are clear signs underpinning its ambition as a global leader.”



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CONFERENCE IN PRINT Farid Ahmed’s presentation — here we present an abbreviated version — at the BCI annual meetings this year was called “Lead batteries: resisting the enemy at the gate”. It proved an excellent round-up of the strong and weak points of the lead industry.

The state we’re in Of all the sectors for lead batteries, industrial shows the most spectacular growth, although it is still way behind automotive for absolute size. Unlike automotive, where the growth will be in the developing countries, particularly China and India, industrial batteries will be expanding globally. As emerging economies expand and industrialize, they increasingly inherit the same demands as mature economies: of back-up power for mobile networks, datacentres and industry, plus safety-critical requirements at hospitals, transport infrastructure and emergency power. Motive power demands increasingly more materials handling and electric utility vehicles, plus leisure activities such as golf carts, as affluence grows

Farid Ahmed is the lead analyst for Wood Mackenzie, the international metals, oils and gas research house. He has worked in the metals business since the mid-1980s and specialized in lead from 1992.

in those regions. The overall market value for industrial lead batteries has been estimated at $10 billion, split roughly two-thirds on standby and one-third in motive power. The big story for industrial batteries is in energy storage. In the US, the level of energy storage deployment went down slightly from 2015 to 2016. However, in terms of power, between last year and 2022 it will grow 12-fold to more than 2.5GW. Even more staggering is the rate of increase for capacity. Over the same period it will grow 22-fold to reach 7.3GWh of new deployment. The market value in the US will see a 10-fold increase to generate $3.3 billion of revenue — the question is for whom?

The Catch-22 is that, as the Li-ion ecosystem continues to grow at an accelerating rate, the economies of scale this generates will effectively lock out the alternative battery technologies from competing. It will lock in the automotive and energy sectors into a specific battery technology.

“Lead batteries: resisting the enemy at the gate” was presented at 129th BCI Convention this year

Batteries International • Summer 2017 • 87

CONFERENCE IN PRINT Our research shows that Li-ion dominated in Q4 of 2016, the ninth straight quarter it has done so. It took more than 98% of the market, up from 97% in Q3. For the whole of last year, Li-ion held more than 97% of market share in the US, driven substantially by declining prices for Liion batteries and implementation in large utility-scale projects. This trend will continue; numerous megawatt-scale Li-ion procurements were awarded last year, and these projects will come online over the next three to five years. Lead-acid came second in Q4 with a 1.6% market share. Room for improvement there.

The inexorable rise of renewables

Hawaii passed a milestone last year with over a quarter of electricity used coming from renewable sources, and the ultimate mission is to be 100% powered by renewables by 2045, removing these islands’ dependence on oil. However, it’s unlikely that we’ll see a similar emphasis in the other 49 states with access to super-cheap energy from shale gas. We forecast global growth in renewables will average 7% per year to 2035 for wind and 11% for solar, but this is starting from a low base. This means that, despite a healthy rate of growth, renewables will still be behind coal, gas and even hydro by 2035. China and India are focused on lessening their dependence on imported oil, when supplies are so vulnerable. China has set itself ambitious targets for solar and wind power. Their fiveyear plan calls for 250GW of wind power by 2020 and 150GW of solar — by far the highest capacity anywhere in the world. India intends to be a 100% electric vehicle nation by 2030 — cars, scooters and motorbikes all electric. They’ll have to massively increase their generating capacity, of which they plan to have one third from photovoltaics by then. The big question for all of this is: how much of the inevitable energy storage capacity will be lead-acid, and how much will be lithium-ion? We still can’t discount the possibility that lead will be legislated out of existence in the West — stranger things have happened. There are pressure groups and lobbyists with a vendetta against the automobile and who believe the best way to eradicate the car

88 • Batteries International • Summer 2017

Industrial batteries become the fastest-growing sector Global lead demand for batteries by sector

Source: Wood Mackenzie

Energy storage sector power explodes US annual energy storage deployment - power

Source: GTM Research

Energy storage sector capacity explodes even faster US annual energy storage deployment - power

Source: GTM Research








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CONFERENCE IN PRINT An adversarial approach is less effective than gentle persuasion and reasoned argument. Regulatory pressure is here to stay and we need to understand how to best work the system.

is by targeting the components individually, rather than by attacking it all head on. Lead batteries are an easy target as no politician will stand up in public to defend this industry — that would be a vote loser. Take the proposed Garcia legislation in California. The kindest thing you could say about it was that it was… misguided, and came too close for comfort. But we are seeing evidence that legislators aren’t always strangers to logic and can be reasoned with. The Lead-Acid Battery Recycling Act, better known as AB2153, is an excellent example of how, under the cohesive leadership of associations such as BCI and the ILA, the whole industry can reach solutions — which would have been impossible for individual companies. The same is true for the European End-of-Life Vehicle directive, which continues to grant only a temporary exemption from lead being banned completely for use in cars, includ-

ing for the battery. Again, a well reasoned, compelling argument put forward by a consortium led by the ILA and supported by the industry is showing positive signs that we will get continued exemption, with the next review not until 2021 — which is indeed a good result. An adversarial approach is less effective than gentle persuasion and reasoned argument. Regulatory pressure is here to stay and we need to understand how to best work the system. There are a number of competing alternative battery technologies, such as zinc-air, aluminium-air, sodium and flow batteries. However, with current technology, policies and strategies, Li-ion offers the best solution for powering EVs and hybrids for the foreseeable future. The Catch-22 is that, as the Li-ion ecosystem continues to grow at an accelerating rate, the economies of scale this generates will effectively lock out the alternative battery tech-

There is an engaging sign at the front of RSR and ECOBAT plants revealing that the whole plant, making tens of thousands of tonnes per year, emits less lead than a 1950s Chevy driven 15,000 miles on leaded gasoline.

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nologies from competing. It will lock the automotive and energy sectors into a specific battery technology. Lead-acid is already in that space, so it is established, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be squeezed out in a rush to the bottom in Li-ion pricing. The hard-wired culture of the automotive industry is to always save money, no matter what it costs. It is only a matter of time before a battery manufacturer, either here or, more likely, from overseas, breaks ranks and offers a standard massmarket Li-ion car battery. This will be with disregard to everything except commercial advantage. Stuff the recyclability and explosions! Meanwhile, it will be lithium all the way for the batteries in future EVs, although they will still use lead batteries to control the vehicle and Li-ion to power the vehicle. The ultimate availability of lithium is not a problem — there’s enough of it around — but it is a question of how quickly it can be scaled up and who’s controlling it. At the moment, lithium production is an oligopoly — just four companies completely dominate the market — one US, one Chilean, one Chinese and one in Australia. Contrast this with lead, where everybody has access to lead raw materials, either ore or scrap. Plus the rest, such as plastics and acid, are easy to produce. Contrast this with Li-ion batteries, which require other metals such as nickel, manganese and cobalt. Take cobalt. About half of all cobalt comes as a by-product of nickel production, 44% from copper production, and only 6% directly from cobalt ores. On top of this, 60% of all cobalt comes from the DR Congo — an unstable country, wrought with conflict, with questionable human rights and the exploitation of child labour. Do we really want to become so dependent so quickly on a battery technology that has such vulnerability in its raw materials? That’s not stopping some countries, especially China, as it races to lessen its oil dependence. To help clean up air pollution, major Chinese cities use either a lottery system or bidding system, or both, to restrict who is allowed to register a new car. Depending which city you’re in, the chances of winning the lottery are between 0.5% and 8%, while a bidding system can add between $3k-$13k to the price of a new car. However, EVs

CONFERENCE IN PRINT are exempt from these restrictions. There are also driving restrictions, where whether you can drive your car that day in the city on a particular day depends on your licence plate. Again, EVs have exemption from these restrictions. Will lithium production be sufficient to meet EV demand? The lithium required to meet our base case for EVs would double demand by 2024 — and none of the major mined commodities has ever managed this rate of supply growth, indicating that meeting demand growth in the long term will be a challenge for lithium supply. But it will also attract a lot of junior miners as start-ups and help loosen the stranglehold on lithium supply by the big four. India is aiming to be a 100% EV nation by 2030 and has intermediate targets of 6 million to 7 million EVs by 2020. That’s from a current total of just 130,000. It will also place enormous demand on lithium supply, which may struggle to respond quickly enough — and also temporarily reduce the amount of lithium available for industrial batteries. So, there’s an opportunity here for lead. India’s electricity supply is already poor and unreliable so can it possibly add so much additional capacity so quickly? The charging infrastructure will need massive capital expenditure. Is this feasible? In the US, GDP per capita is $53k, in the UK $42k, Germany $46k, Japan $46k, Norway $89k, and China $7.2k. But in India

The lithium required to meet our base case for EVs would double demand by 2024 — and none of the major mined commodities has ever managed this rate of supply growth. it’s just $2k. Does India really have the cash to spend on such a massive infrastructure project? Is this truly realistic? Contrast this with California’s likely success — or otherwise — in meeting its goal of 1.5 million EVs on the state’s roads by 2025. With 285,000 EVs already on the state’s roads, and a target of 1.5 million in eight years, they say it’s do-able but admit it will be a challenge. Meanwhile California’s GDP of $2.4 trillion is bigger than the whole of India’s and they’re going to struggle. Is there a reality gap in Indian EV aspirations? Or is it a case of knowingly setting unrealistic targets to force change? EVs and hybrids will still use lead batteries, just that they’re smaller ones. So mass adoption of EVs isn’t going to kill lead demand. All the real growth in car ownership will be coming from Asia, especially in China and India, which still have enormous potential. In the West most people who want a car have a car, and the rate of population growth is much smaller. For many people in Asia, their next car will also be their first car — and that’s certainly not going to be an expensive EV with expensive batteries using an expensive charging infra-

Will electric vehicles kill the lead battery Lead consupmtion for different vehicle types

Source: Wood Mackenzie

structure which hasn’t been built. These cars are mostly going to be small, regular cars, with small, regular engines, using small, regular lead batteries. This will be the powerhouse for automotive battery growth in the coming decades. The high relative cost of EVs will limit their market penetration and it won’t do much to change lead consumption in the coming years. With inevitably limited charging facilities in developing countries, EVs are going to struggle to overcome range anxiety. If you run out of gas, then a spare can of fuel will get you going again. If you run out of electric power then you’re stranded and will have to be towed. There is also the question of recharging times. Please note that this chart is on a log scale. When you’re pumping gas at the filling station, you are recharging your car at a power equivalent of over 20MW. This is 200x faster than the Tesla Supercharger, 450x times faster than a regular charging station, and 2000x faster than a domestic supply. The Tesla Supercharger will restore about 80% charge in 30-40 minutes. Filling up with gas, it’s two minutes and you’re done. The appeal of EVs will suffer where users regularly need How fast can you recharge your car? Recharging rates: EV versus ICE

Source: Wood Mackenzie

Batteries International • Summer 2017 • 91

CONFERENCE IN PRINT mid journey recharges. JCI, the world’s biggest producer of start-stop batteries, expects that by 2020 more than half of all new cars will feature start-stop technology. This will be 80% in Europe and around half in both the US and China. Start-stop is an easy fix for car manufacturers to bring down their fleet emissions as required by legislation. It’s simple and fairly cheap technology, but it is limited. By contrast, mass market adoption of 48V architecture could revolutionize cars and will have a much greater medium-term effect than EVs, producing gains in fuel efficiency and cost reduction — and we’ve already said that the automotive guys will sell their grandmothers to save a cent on mak-

ing a vehicle. Use of 48V is partly driven by weight reduction, which saves both fuel and cost. There’s typically about 25kg of copper in a car, much of it in the electrical systems. If you remember your school physics, electrical power, P = V2/R, where V is the voltage and R the resistance. If you increase the voltage, it means you can get away with using thinner copper wiring, which saves on copper costs and vehicle weight. However, because it’s voltage squared, increasing the voltage dramatically increases the power, which then opens up all sorts of other possibilities that can’t be achieved with 12V. This includes electric turbochargers, regenerative braking and powerhungry driver-assist systems.

Start-stop technology adoption surges – easy fix for auto makers Regional adoption of stop-start vehicle batteries

Source: Johnson Controls Inc

Best available technology – effective, expensive, essential? Change in annual lead emissions from US secondary lead smelters with Wet Electrostatic Precipitators

Source: RSR

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This higher voltage also promises further CO2 saving. Recent ALABC vehicle demonstration projects conducted with firms such as Ford, Hyundai and Kia have shown that 48V mild hybrid systems can give CO2 savings of up to 16%. This is a meaningful amount to help manufacturers meet tough emissions levels. Functional bipolar batteries have been something of a holy grail in lead batteries for some years now, and the signs are very good that Advanced Battery Concepts has cracked it. What is also key to this development is that the battery is made from the same materials as regular batteries, so it is fully recyclable in the same way. It uses conventional active materials, is easily adapted to existing production processes, but offers significantly better performance, which can help to challenge the likely future dominance of Li-ion. Lower mass, less lead, higher DCA — it could be a revolution. Watch this space. RSR shows what can be achieved by using Best Available Technology to nail the last of your emissions. The company has installed Wet Electrostatic Precipitators at all three of its US plants to scrub the last few kilogrammes of lead from its stack emissions. It’s an expensive piece of kit — upwards of $25 million — but maybe this is the price to pay to be permitted to operate well into the future. Total lead emissions have now been measured at less than 4kg per year. There is an engaging sign at the front of RSR and ECOBAT plants revealing that the whole plant, making tens of thousands of tonnes per year, emits less lead than a 1950s Chevy driven 15,000 miles on leaded gasoline. Other lead producers will be taking similar actions to ensure Best Practice. However, there is no choice other than to always keep improving to be permitted to make lead in future. In lead, we are nobody’s friend. Not environmentally, not politically. A necessary evil at best. That’s the outside perception. So what do we do? We keep innovating. We circle the wagons; act like family; share information; and stand by the conviction that there is no advantage to anybody from compromising the health of competitors’ employees or contamination of somebody else’s real estate. The best way to protect ourselves individually is to collectively protect the industry as a whole.

BOOK REVIEW The following pages — extracted from Lead–Acid Batteries for Future Automobiles — give a flavour of the latest handbook on the subject.

Lead–Acid Batteries for Future Automobiles Writing a book review on a technical subject is always a challenge. And even more so when you’re trying to evaluate the work of top academic and technical experts on a subject. So, approaching Lead–Acid Batteries for Future Automobiles was always going to be a challenge for a reviewer. The four editors of the book — David Rand, Pat Moseley, Eckhard Karden and Juergen Garche — have each spent a lifetime within the lead, energy storage or automotive industry. They are household names known to most of the battery community. Moreover, the list of contributors is a Who’s Who of the industry. It ranges from luminaries as diverse as David Prengaman, nicknamed the ‘Lead Pope’ for his encyclopaedic and authoritative knowledge of the metal to Norbert Maleschitz, a senior automotive expert, to Johnson Controls’ Eberhard Meissener, who appears to file a new patent every other month. So, technically, this book is not one where errors will easily be found (if they exist at all) but rather hard scientific and technological information. The book’s aim is not to theorise or necessarily open up new vistas of research — though understandably this is bound to happen — but act as a primer. For example, if you want to find out the current state of thinking on start–stop AGM batteries, then go to chapter 6... Together with the a profound summary of lead–acid basics provided by senior researchers, this excellent book should be more than useful for both automotive engineers who need to use and better understand batteries, and for battery makers who want to sharpen their customer focus. But where it goes beyond being a

primer on the subject matter is its implicit understanding of what makes the automotive industry tick. Experts from the car industry and automotive supply base, address topics such as the impact of battery design on performance, battery sensors, stop–start and recuperation strategies, power-supply design, dual-battery systems, and last, but not least, battery testing protocols under simulated field performance. The abiding necessity of car manufacturers to seek ways to reduce cost will ensure that varieties of lead–acid battery will continue to be considered as options wherever they are able to perform the required function.  This means that, in the short-term, the enhanced flooded battery (EFB) may prove sufficient to retain the market for lead–acid in vehicles with a 12V battery. The lower the cost, the lower the weight and the higher the dynamic charge-acceptance (DCA) of the lead– acid baseline product for a given design of vehicle, the less attractive will be any alternative that invokes not only a higher price but also extra vehicle integration effort. To strengthen the position of lead– acid technology, prospective areas of research are, at least: cell design, thinner plates, more corrosion-resistant alloys for positive grids, greater utilization of active materials, additives for enhancing negative-plate performance and a long and deep cycle-life. Come what may, batteries are part of the solution to the world’s transport and related energy challenges and there is every prospect that lead– acid technology will be included in the drive towards a decarbonized future. The conclusions of the book — and

But where it goes beyond being a primer on the subject matter is its implicit understanding of what makes the automotive industry tick.

where the lead battery industry will stand in the future — may not be palatable to some. Yes, lead won’t play a huge role in the future world of electric vehicles (though it will have a role — is there a single pure–battery or hybrid design that does not have a lead–acid battery in it as well as a lithium one?). Given its proven capabilities as an attractively priced and well known power supply for other applications, lead–acid chemistry is destined to play a huge role in the coming revolution of renewable energy storage. And of which automotive batteries are just one part.


Editors: Jürgen Garche, Eckhard Karden, Patrick Moseley, David Rand eBook ISBN: 9780444637031 Hardcover ISBN: 9780444637000 Imprint: Elsevier Published date: March 7, 2017 Page count: 706 Hardcover: $191.25 eBook: $187 Bundle (print+eBook): $267

Batteries International • Summer 2017 • 95

THE CARBON EFFECT One of the most interesting chapters in Lead–Acid Batteries for Future Automobiles, written by Ken Peters, David Rand and Pat Moseley — figures hugely known to the lead battery industry — deals with the addition of carbon to improve performance. Batteries International has been granted an exclusive licence to print an abbreviated and edited extract.

The addition of carbon to lead battery negative plates Fundamental shortcomings of the lead–acid battery when used in automotive applications were overcome by the addition to the negative plate of a group of materials known as expanders. In recent times, the demands placed on the battery in new generations of automobile have become increasingly more challenging. The resulting limits on the operational life of the battery have once more been traced to the negative plate. The situation has again been rectified to a considerable degree through the use of additives — of which .

The addition of carbon

The benefits of including additional carbon in the negative active-material beyond the level that is normal for the ‘expander’ function were demonstrated by the work of Nakamura and Shiomi, who made negative plates that contained up to 10 times the customary level of carbon. The actual amounts were not disclosed but, based on typical practice, were believed to be about 2.0 wt.% of the negative mass. The trials, which were directed towards both electric vehicle and photovoltaic power applications, were undertaken with VRLA batteries that operated under PSoC conditions to minimize overcharge effects. Each of the duty schedules was likely to have entailed relatively short bursts of charge at high current densities. Batteries with standard levels of carbon failed quickly due to the build-up of lead sulfate in the negative plate. By contrast, the associated positive plate was fully charged. Batteries with extra carbon enjoyed appreciably longer operating lives. More recent developments have revealed that the additional carbon enhances charge efficiency under highrate charging conditions such as occur in vehicles with regenerative braking. Whereas the advantages have been

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demonstrated, an unequivocal understanding of the means by which carbon assists the recharge of lead–acid batteries has yet to be reached. Such knowledge will provide a deeper appreciation of the functional relationship between product and required duty, which is essential for the future development and design of cells for new and emerging applications of leadacid technology.

Types of battery configuration

The configuration of the negative plate in a conventional lead–acid battery is compared in Figure 1 with alternatives in which additional carbon has been incorporated in various ways, as follows: (i) C o n v e n t i o n a l lead–acid batteries (see Figure 1 Figure 1: Schematics of negative-plate (a)) with no ad- configurations without and with additional carbon. ditional carbon in the negative plate, ie above that the negative plate and then paste typically included in the expandin the normal way, see Figure 1 er formulation, exhibit a sharply(b), although it must be acknowldeclining DCA during HRPSoC edged that supplementary water operation. Individual lead-acid is required to maintain a satiscells in long strings are also likely factory rheology. Batteries with to suffer a divergence in state-ofsuch plates exhibit a somewhat charge during PSoC cycling at improved DCA but small carbon any charge/discharge rate. particles may become isolated and lose efficacy, as described be(ii) The simplest way to incorporate low. additional carbon in a conventional lead–acid battery is to mix (iii) Axion Power International Inc. it with the basic ingredients of offers a PbC battery that has a

THE CARBON EFFECT negative plate with carbon as the sole active material; see Figure 1 (c). All other components are similar to those found in a conventional lead–acid battery. Given that there is no lead sulfate to limit charge-acceptance at the negative plate (the reaction involves the storage of protons, H+), the technology sustains DCA well. The carbon acts as a capacitor to provide not only a high degree of DCA but also to enable self-balancing of series-connected cells during PSoC cycling. The PbC battery does, however, suffer from two disadvantages, namely, a specific energy lower than that of the conventional counterpart and a voltage that varies with the state-of-charge, typical for capacitors. (iv) The UltraBattery — a CSIRO invention that is under commercial development by Furukawa Battery Co (Japan), East Penn Manufacturing (USA), and Ecoult (Australia) — has a compound negative plate in which one section consists of the usual sponge lead active-material and the other is composed of supercapacitorgrade carbon. As with the Axion PbC design, all other components of the battery are conventional; see Figure 1 (d). In addition to providing a sustained DCA during high-rate HRPSoC operation, the UltraBattery provides self-balancing of individual cells in long seriesconnected strings in the same manner as does the Axion. A road test of a Honda Insight moderate-hybrid, in which the original nickel–metal-hydride (Ni-MH) battery had been replaced by an UltraBattery of the same voltage (144 V), was continued for 100,000 miles (160,000 km) at the Millbrook Proving Ground in the UK. At the end of the test, the battery was still fully functional. Moreover, the 12 individual 12-V modules were matched together better than at the start of the test and, moreover, without the intervention of any external equalization. A similar project, which involved the replacement of a NiMH battery in a Honda Civic with an UltraBattery, ran for 150,000 miles (240,000 km) in Arizona and again the individual

Various empirical studies have provided evidence that the addition of certain forms of carbon can invest the negative plate with improved charge-acceptance and/ or can accommodate the electro-deposition of lead while sustaining a healthy kinetic hindrance for the evolution of hydrogen. modules remained fully balanced without any electronic support. Self-balancing of the UltraBattery has also been observed in stationary energy-storage applications by the Ecoult Company. (Comprehensive details of the design and performance of the UltraBattery are given elsewhere within the book.) (v) A concept evolved by ArcActive Limited has the lead grid replaced by a porous carbon material which has been ‘activated’ by an electric-arc process; see Figure 1 (e). The result is a configuration that might be viewed as analogous to the UltraBattery but with the carbon layer under the negative active-material instead of above. Similar designs have been proposed by Kirchev et al, Czerwinski et al, and Firefly, respectively. The ArcActive cell sustains DCA well, as shown in Figure 2, but its behaviour in long strings has yet to be reported.

Understanding the ‘carbon effect’

Various empirical studies have provided evidence that the addition of certain forms of carbon can invest the negative plate with improved chargeacceptance and/or can accommodate the electro-deposition of lead while sustaining a healthy kinetic hindrance for the evolution of hydrogen. The amount of carbon addition is limited to around 2wt.% of the negative active-material, largely due to the electrode processing parameters. In recent years, there has been much discussion over the mechanism by which the carbon component can enhance performance. The effectiveness of any particular form of carbon in this role is likely to be influenced by a number of factors that include: • the presence of metal contaminants at the carbon surface; • surface functional groups; • electronic conductivity; • the size of any pores in the carbon; • the affinity of the carbon for lead; • interaction with the organic component of the expander mix;

Figure 2: Dynamic charge-acceptance (DCA) of the ArcActive cell is sustained through PSoC cycling in contrast to that of a conventional VRLA cell (absorptive glass-mat technology).

Batteries International • Summer 2017 • 97

THE CARBON EFFECT • wettability by the aqueous electrolyte; • specific surface area. The challenge of the optimization process is to identify which properties are the important ones and this can only be achieved through a full understanding of the mechanism(s). As many as eight different functions have been proposed but the growing body of evidence points to just three candidates that are the most likely to have a significant individual effect. The situ-

ation remains complicated, however, because all three can be operative simultaneously. The first function of carbon is to serve as a capacitive buffer to absorb charge current in excess of that which can be accommodated by the Faradaic (ie electrochemical) reaction; see Figure 3. A conventional negative electrode will itself have an attendant doublelayer but the capacitive function (normally in the range 0.4F to 1.0F per Ah) only becomes noticeable when

the surface-area is magnified appreciably by the addition of an appropriate form of carbon. The second effect of carbon is to extend the area of the electrode microstructure on which the electrochemical charge and discharge reactions can take place. During the charge reaction, lead can be deposited on the additional surface, as shown in Figure 4. For carbon to perform either of these two functions to best effect, it should be in an sp2 hybridized form, eg graphite. The third way in which carbon can modify the behaviour of the negative active-material is by means of physical effects, for instance by obstructing the growth of lead sulfate crystals and/or by maintaining channels for irrigation of the electrode by the electrolyte. In both these cases, there is no need for the carbon to be in a conductive form. Each of the above three actions of carbon is considered in more detail, as follows.

Capacitance: current flows during and after a charge event

Figure 3: Schematic of positive current fluxes during and after a short charge event on a negative plate that contains carbon.

When a charge event applied to a lead–acid cell is discontinued, although the external current is zero the double-layer remains charged and this results in a local current between the component materials of the negative active-mass. The current is caused by the discharging of the double-layer via the Faradaic reaction and thereby the electrode potential changes to its equilibrium value with a characteristic time constant. The amount of charge involved can be substantial if the surface-area of conducting material is augmented by the inclusion of an appropriate form of carbon. The time constant, τ, for the equilibration process can be estimated by equating the double-layer discharge current to the charging current that is going into the Faradaic reaction and can be approximated as: τ = RTC / Fio

Figure 4: Lead crystals electro-deposited on a carbon surface.

The second effect of carbon is to extend the area of the electrode microstructure on which the electrochemical charge and discharge reactions can take place. 98 • Batteries International • Summer 2017

where: R is the universal gas constant (8.3145 J mole-1 K-1); T is the absolute temperature (K); C is the specific capacitance (F cm-2); F is the Faraday constant (96,458 As mole-1); io is the exchange-current density (A cm-2). Reactions that proceed relatively quickly have a small time constant, whereas those that are kinetically sluggish result in a large time con-


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THE CARBON EFFECT Recently, it has been shown that cyclic voltammetry can be used to quantify the capacitive contribution to the charge-acceptance. stant. By way of example, the zinc electrode has rapid kinetics with an exchange current of around 10-2 A cm-2 that gives rise to a time constant of the order of 50μs. Alternatively, the nickel hydroxide electrode has a time constant of around 5 ms. Since both these time constants are so short, the involvement of the equilibration process outlined above has been largely ignored for both the zinc and the nickel electrode systems. By contrast, the kinetics of the electrode reactions in a lead-acid cell are much slower, namely: 4 × 10-7 A cm-2 at the positive plate, and 4.96 × 10-6 A cm-2 at the negative. With an augmented carbon inventory, the negative plate can contribute a specific capacitance of up to 30 μF cm-2 whereby the time constant can be of the order of seconds and the charge equilibration (shown as function 3 in Figure 3) can be regarded as a significant process that follows the removal of the external charging voltage. Under HRPSoC conditions, charge from external events, such as regenerative braking in vehicle applications, is taken up by the double-layer and thus boosts DCA efficiency. When the external input is discontinued, this charge is re-equilibrated between the double-layer and the Faradaic reaction. Recently, it has been shown that cyclic voltammetry can be used to quantify the capacitive contribution to the charge-acceptance. The regions of a cyclic voltammogram that arise, respectively, from the Faradaic deposition of lead, the capacitive charging and the Faradaic evolution of hydrogen are illustrated in Figure 5. The relative location of the three regions is significant. The area that represents hydrogen evolution has moved to the right (ie to a more positive potential) due to the addition of carbon. Simultaneously, the current flowing into the capacitance at all values of potential has expanded. To take advantage of this latter feature without invoking an increase in water electrolysis, it is necessary with

100 • Batteries International • Summer 2017

Figure 5: Identification of contributions from lead deposition (Faradaic), double-layer adsorption/desorption (capacitive) and hydrogen evolution (Faradaic) to cyclic voltammograms for lead and carbon electrodes (carbon black, acetylene black, graphite).

Figure 6: Charge capacity (coulombs) for lead deposition, capacitance and hydrogen evolution for mixtures lead + carbon black (CB-2), lead + acetylene black (AB) and lead + graphite (G) compared with that for a bare lead electrode (Pb).

a flooded cell to limit the potential or the duration of charge events, and with a valve-regulated cell to depend on the efficient operation of the oxygen cycle (even at low states-of-charge). Significantly, it has been observed that the dominating process in the electrode reaction is the double-layer capacitance (non-Faradaic process) when the charge and the discharge cycles are limited to 5s of duration. If the charge and the discharge durations are between 30s and 50s, then the electrochemical reactions (Faradaic processes), related to lead sulfate

dissolution or lead deposition, dominate. Although the introduction of extra carbon may reduce the hydrogen evolution over-potential, it is possible for cells thus-treated to provide a long operational life without excessive loss of water provided that the charge events to which they are exposed are limited in duration or potential. The relative amounts of charge to the abovementioned three reactions on three different forms of carbon are compared with those on a bare lead electrode in Figure 6. All three


Figure 7: Schematic illustration of how Faradaic reactions of the negative plate can take place on both the lead and carbon surfaces [37]. EAC stands for electrochemically active carbon.

Cycle tests under HRPSoC conditions of cells that contain extra carbon have provided strong evidence that the electrochemical and chemical processes can take place not only on the surface of lead metal but also on the surface of carbon. carbons provide significantly higher charge capacity than the lead-only electrode. The charge capacity of lead electrodeposition for carbon black, acetylene black, graphite and lead during the reduction cycle is 8.9mC, 3.5mC, 6.9mC and 2.3mC, respectively. The charge capacity of the carbon black (44.9mC) is about double that of the acetylene black (22.6mC). By comparison, the graphite powder does not display any capacitive behaviour due to its much lower surface area but it does have notable gassing characteristics.

Extending the conducting surface-area to assist electrochemistry

Cycle tests under HRPSoC conditions of cells that contain extra carbon have provided strong evidence that the electrochemical and chemical processes can take place not only on the surface of lead metal but also on the surface of carbon; see Figure 7. Subsequent research has confirmed that two electrical systems are operating on carbon at the negative plate, namely: (i) a capacitive system, which involves high-rate charging and discharging of the electric double-layer; (ii) the conventional lead electrochemical system, which comprises the oxidation of lead to lead sulfate during discharge and the

reverse process during charge. The capacitive process has been found to dominate during cycling with charge and discharge processes each of 5-s duration, whereas and the electrochemical reactions dominate during cycling with longer pulses. These observations are consistent with the above calculation of the time constant for the transfer of charge between the two component materials of the negative electrode.

Physical processes

Studies have indicated that the carbon added to the negative active-material acts as a steric hindrance to the crystallization of lead sulfate and thus helps to maintain a high surface-area for the discharge product. In support of this theory, it has been reported that HRPSoC cycle-life is enhanced when titanium dioxide (a poorer electronic conductor), rather than graphite, is used as the additive. Whereas cycle-life is improved by using either titanium dioxide or graphite (to different extents), the effect of the latter is not necessarily due to its conductivity alone. It has also been advocated that ‘activated’ carbon increases the porosity of the negative electrode by providing an additional structural skeleton that facilitates diffusion of the electrolyte solution from the surface to the interior of the plate. As a result, sufficient sulfuric acid is supplied to keep pace

with the electrode reaction during HRPSoC operation. The same work has demonstrated that longer cycle-lives under HRPSoC duty are achieved with carbon of larger particle size (ie micron-size rather than nanometre). This information has given rise to the view that small particles of carbon can become progressively buried within crystals of lead sulfate and accordingly their effectiveness is lost. Other investigations have revealed that carbon additives can alter the pore structure of the negative electrode and one consequence is that the access of SO42- ions to the innermost pores is impeded. On the other hand, H+ ions may still diffuse out of the pores and allow the pH to rise locally to a value at which α-PbO is formed. This phase, which is clearly visible in X-ray diffraction records, is deleterious to the continued function of the negative active-material because the formation of the oxide is irreversible.

A possible pitfall — hydrogen evolution

The addition of carbon to the negative active-mass can serve to augment the surface area of the electrode substantially and in such cases it is common for there to be an increase in the hydrogen evolution rate (HER) during charging. The HER may be increased by: (i) a reduction in the hydrogen overpotential; (ii) an increase in the applied potential; (iii) an increase in the surface area of the active mass; (iv) the presence of certain impurities in the carbon. Reduction in surface area to suppress the HER is likely to be counterproductive because both the capacitive and the charge mechanism have a positive dependency on surface area. Some control over hydrogen evolution might be exercised by limiting the potential that is applied to the cell via the battery management system. Nevertheless, efforts to limit the hydrogen evolution that results from the carbon additions have focused on the materials involved, their purity, surface functional groups, and ‘second-phase‘ additives. There are marked variations in hydrogen gassing behaviour between the different classes of carbon (graphite, carbon black, and activated carbon). A recent study has, as expected,

Batteries International • Summer 2017 • 101


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THE CARBON EFFECT Evidently, more research is required to complete the understanding of the range of factors that affect the HER on carbons. Clearly, the materials should be free of elements that reduce the hydrogen overpotential and, building on this conclusion, it has been found that certain other elements actually serve to suppress the evolution of hydrogen at the negative plate. shown that the presence of a significant concentration of iron invests graphite with a high level of hydrogen evolution. The same study reported that graphites and carbon black materials both have notably higher specific currents (A g-1) than activated carbon materials. This latter observation is of particular importance as it contradicts the commonly-held belief that gassing is purely related to carbon surface area. Evidently, more research is required to complete the understanding of the range of factors that affect the HER on carbons. Clearly, the materials should be free of elements that reduce the hydrogen overpotential and, building on this conclusion, it has been found that certain other elements actually serve to suppress the evolution of hydrogen at the negative plate. For instance, it has been proposed that the carbons used in the UltraBattery should be accompanied by compounds of elements such as zinc, cadmium, bismuth, lead or silver. It is worth noting here that, following the demonstration of long operational life in vehicles that are subjected to HRPSoC duty, UltraBattery technology is being deployed in two new OEM vehicles.

Best choice of carbon

Carbon can be found in various forms with a very wide range of physical properties, which depend very strongly on the respective electronic properties of the atoms. The principal allotropes of the element are: (i) diamond, in which the carbon atoms are sp3 hybridized so that the material is very hard and electronically resistive; (ii) graphite, in which the atoms are sp2 hybridized and invest the material with a softer, layered structure that exhibits significant conductivity along the planes of its hexagonal structure. The physical properties of diamond and graphite are listed in Table 1. In the context of the materials present in the negative plate of a lead–acid cell, it is worth noting that the thermal conductivity of graphite is approximately four times that of lead (35.3 W m-1 K-1) and therefore the presence of graphite will assist heat distribution within the negative active-material. The resistivity of graphite (both parallel to and perpendicular to the basal plane, see Table 1) is greater than that of lead (2.08 × 10-7Ω m). Consequently, early theories that the benefits gained by the addition of carbon are due to an improvement in the conductivity of the negative active-

material appear to be groundless - except when the electrode is discharged to such an extent that almost all of the sponge lead is replaced by lead sulfate. A wide range of amorphous, or poorly crystalline, substances can be prepared in which both sp2 and sp3 carbon atoms are present. Such materials exhibit physical properties that are intermediate between those of the diamond and graphite ‘end-members‘, but also are strongly influenced by other parameters associated with materials. Particle size can be anywhere between a few nanometres and tens of microns, whereas surface-areas can vary from a few m2 g-1 (graphite) to over 2000 m2 g-1 (activated carbons and carbon blacks). Activated carbons are mainly amorphous with a fine pore structure. Carbon blacks are composed of agglomerates of interconnected clusters within which there are regions that are ordered and have the graphite structure. In the absence of other factors, electrical conductivity is likely to follow the sequence graphite > carbon blacks > activated carbons. The surfaces of these materials, however, can accommodate a range of atoms or groups of atoms that exercise considerable influence on properties such as wettability, double-layer formation, and chemical reactivity. Impurity levels are also important. Depending on the production process, industrial carbons can contain up to 10,000 ppm of ‘foreign’ elements that can include various amounts of iron, nickel, copper, zinc, silicon, potassium, and sulfur. In view of the need to restrict the evolution of hydrogen during charging, it is, of course, particularly important to prevent or minimize the presence of those impurities that would promote such gassing.

Table 1. Physical properties of diamond and graphite. Property

Diamond Graphite

Crystal structure


Orbital hybridization

sp3 sp2

Covalent radius, pm*


Density, g cm

3.515 2.267

Mohs hardness



Hexagonal 73 ~1

Heat capacity, J mol-1 K-1 6.155


Thermal conductivity, W m-1 K-1 ~2200


Resistivity, Ω m

~3 × 10-3 (c axis)

~ 10


~4 × 10-6 (a axis)

*picometres; 100 pm = 1 angstrom (Å).

Batteries International • Summer 2017 • 103

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THE CARBON EFFECT As discussed above, there are at least three ways by which the presence of carbon can modify the performance of the negative plate of a lead-acid battery, namely, via: (i) a capacitive contribution, (ii) extension of the surface-area on which the electrochemical charge and discharge processes can take place; (iii) physical processes. The capacitive process (i) is favoured by carbon that has large surface-area,

is conductive, and is in contact with the current-collector (grid). It is not necessary, however, for the carbon to be mixed intimately with the sponge lead component of the negative electrode. The surface-area effect (ii) also requires the carbon to be conductive and in contact with the current-collector. On the other hand, given that carbon promotes a bulk rather than a surface process, the surface-area can be less than that required to instigate the capacitive process.

Carbon deployed to take advantage of physical processes (iii) does not have to be conducting, but it must be intimately mixed with the sponge lead and should not be very finely-divided or its efficacy will wane over time. In view of the conflicting requirements for the carbon to function in these several ways, it is not surprising that workers who are seeking to optimize the HRPSoC performance of lead-acid batteries have resorted to evaluating combinations of different types of carbon.

The chapter from Lead–Acid Batteries for Future Automobiles was written by (from left to right): Ken Peters, David Rand and Pat Moseley ESSENTIAL






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Batteries International • Summer 2017 • 105


Time to embrace new ways for big storage


t was exactly 3.48pm on September 28 last year when the power went off across Southern Australia. The electricity network for the entire state collapsed as a ferocious storm flattened pylons, levelled power lines and triggered automatic shutdowns. For Adelaide-based energy storage developer 1414 Degrees, the firm, like thousands of businesses, was without power for 20 hours. Its executive chairman Kevin Moriarty says: “If you take load-following coal generators out of action you are at the mercy of storms and interconnectors. “No one saw it coming.” The political furore that followed the storms placed the state of South Australia at odds with the commonwealth government. Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull blamed the power outage on too much intermittent renewable energy, namely wind. That view is too simplistic. Even a grid network with no renewables would not have escaped from a storm of such ferocity. However, this March Jay Weatherill, premier for the state of South Australia, announced a package of measures totalling A$550 million ($420 million) to secure the state’s energy supplies. The biggest investment will go towards a new 250MW gas-fired power plant. It also includes up to A$150 million

Even a grid network with no renewables would not have escaped from a storm of such ferocity.

106 • Batteries International • Summer 2017

AUSTRALIA A storm that paralysed the electricity supply of an entire Australian state last September had some unexpected consequences — a backlash against renewable energy but also the decision to invest huge amounts in energy storage. Tesla may have won the lion’s part of the contracts but the political furore has been instructive.

for a mega-battery, built by the private sector by next summer, to integrate renewable energy into the grid and improve resiliency. The move was unprecedented. The plan provides the energy minister for South Australia with powers to order a generator to be switched on if more supply is needed — a responsibility usually held only by the Australian Electricity Market Operator (AEMO). In the space of just a few months, large-scale battery energy storage has attracted plenty of publicity as the potential salve to the state’s energy troubles. This March, Tesla founder Elon Musk promised to fix the state’s energy woes with a 100MW battery.

He also offered to build the battery for free if it wasn’t ready within 100 days. It was a perfect marketing ploy for Tesla which this July won the contract. It has put an end to a tumultous period for the political life of the state and government policy in the large. Mike Ottaviano, managing director of Carnegie Clean Energy, which is developing grid-scale battery storage projects in Australia, says: “The events in South Australia since last September have certainly been a catalyst for change — but, in the rest of the world, other energy markets have been adapting rules to acquire services that energy storage can provide and address the impact that

renewables are having and plug gaps in the grid. “Large-scale battery storage can be deployed in a matter of months, and that makes it highly disruptive.” That disruptive element is exacerbated when coupled with ground-mounted solar PV, he believes, which can also be developed quickly. “The result is gigawatt-scale capacity, whereas a traditional power plant would take far longer to develop and construct,” Ottaviano says. Still, South Australia has helped throw the country up the rankings in terms of the most attractive market for big grid batteries. Other states have issued similarly large tenders, including Victoria and, most recently, Queensland, which has included a 100MW energy storage tender as part of a bigger 400MW renewables invitation. “Elon Musk is a great promoter — the Steve Jobs of energy storage — but not a lot has emerged as a surprise. How energy storage got on to the agenda for Australia doesn’t matter, but the fact is that now it is and it is a big business opportunity for us,” Ottaviano says. One of the drivers is the aggressive build-out of gigawatts of solar PV in Australia. “As the penetration of renewables continues, storage is needed and that’s attracting global players, a couple of which

Today VRFB systems are not bankable. That could change soon though and a large multinational industrial player like Sumitomo is likely to be instrumental in changing that.” – Mike Ottaviano, Carnegie Clean Energy

Batteries International • Summer 2017 • 107

AUSTRALIA see Australia as a major market for grid-scale energy storage,” says Ottaviano. In the long term Australia will invest in more pumped hydro capacity, such as the expansion of the Snowy Mountains Scheme, which when built was one of the largest infrastructure projects in the world. There are also proposals for the Kidston pumped hydro development in Queensland and for the Cultana pumped hydro project on the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia, as well as plans to further exploit Tasmania’s established hydro facilities.

Some strategically placed energy storage in the few hundreds of megawatts range can be implemented much more quickly, supporting integration of higher amounts of renewables and helping to provide grid resiliency, to complement the longer term investments in pumped hydro. While few argue about the role that energy storage has to play, one question is whether lithium-ion battery storage is the most competitive in terms of cost for delivering these benefits. Kevin Moriarty, executive chairman

“If you want to get energy costs down — and they could rise as much as 30% in eastern Australia — you need to provide long-term security of supply, with more renewables in the mix, but without a subsidy.” — Kevin Moriarty, 1414 Degrees

Independent review heralds shake-up of Australia’s electricity sector Australia’s National Electricity Market (NEM) is the longest geographically connected power system in the world. It supplies the states and territories of eastern and southern Australia, including New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. About 80% of Australia’s electricity supply and demand is conducted via the NEM. Like other large electricity markets the NEM was designed when traditional generation, including coal, gas and hydropower, provided most of the electricity. Changes, including new technologies, variable renewable electricity and a concurrent fall in demand for electricity from the NEM, due to increasing energy productivity, efficiency and more distributed self-generation, are placing more complex demands on the market. Catalysts, most recently the storm in South Australia in September 2016, have shown the NEM is

108 • Batteries International • Summer 2017

failing energy consumers. To make the market fit for purpose, a preliminary report of the Independent Review into the Future Security of the National Electricity Market was published in December 2016, by Alan Finkel, the Australian government’s chief scientist. The findings of the report are not a surprise to anyone familiar with the challenges forcing adaptation among other big electricity grid systems around the world. One of the big problems facing the NEM is that system security and reliability is compromised as more variable generation, from wind and solar resources, is connected up to the grid, displacing synchronous generators in the form of coal and gas as well as hydro. To maintain power system security, parameters such as system inertia, fault levels, instantaneous load and generation balance, instantaneous reactive power balance, frequency and

of energy storage firm, 1414 degrees says South Australia doesn’t have a shortage of power but the timing of when it is produced is the issue, exacerbated by baseload generation being taken off the grid and reliance on variable renewables increasing, where generators, like operators of wind farms, are paid in renewable energy certificates to put power into the grid regardless of demand. “It’s a distorted market. The primary reason why solar-plus-storage at the residential level is attracting customers is because of subsidies and rising energy prices,” he says. “ Lithium- ion batteries are affordable, partly because the price we pay for electricity is continuing to go up. If you want to get energy costs down — and they could rise as much as 30% in eastern Australia — you need to provide long-term security of supply, with more renewables in the mix, but without subsidy.”

system voltage need to be controlled within narrow ranges to avoid major disruptions to power supply. Frequency control is a high priority challenge. The report acknowledges that several technologies can address these issues. They include synchronous condensers — spinning synchronous motors whose shafts are not connected to a mechanical load and consume very little real energy. In addition to providing inertia, they can generate or absorb reactive power to help to stabilize the system voltage and supply fault current contributions to the network. Synchronous condensers can be reconfigured from decommissioned synchronous generators found in gas-fired power plants, for instance. Then there is ‘synthetic inertia’. Controllers are available that convert the non-synchronous mechanical inertia of a wind turbine into synthetic inertia. These are compulsory, for example all new wind turbines installed in Québec, Canada have this function. Synthetic inertia can also be supplied by energy storage systems, typically comprising batteries connected to power conversion systems. The stored energy can be used for power

AUSTRALIA HOT CHIPS: THERMAL ENERGY STORAGE BY MELTING SILICON Silicon is an abundant material, found in sand, clay and dirt in its oxide form, silica. Silicon is used to make processers in every phone, laptop and electronic device on the market today and is the basis of the cells found in most solar PV panels. But there is another use for the material. Silicon heated to a high temperature to its melting point — 1414°C to be exact — becomes a remarkably dense energy storage device, storing large amounts of latent heat. One tonne of silicon can hold half a megawatt of energy.

system tasks including the provision of synthetic inertia, reactive power control and system restart. Fast interruption of loads to correct demand and supply imbalances, known as demand side response, is also an option and is being used in electricity markets in the US and also the UK. Though there is an ancillary services market in the NEM for provision of frequency control,

By exploiting this characteristic, Australian company 1414 Degrees is bringing to market a versatile thermal storage technology. The intellectual property centres on the design to enable storage of energy in silicon at very high charge rates and efficient regeneration of electricity with saleable hot air or water, at temperatures around 500°C, that can displace gas heating for industrial processes and district heating. A typical lithium-ion battery’s efficiency is around 80%, which equates to the

amount that can be recovered, while the remaining 20% is lost as heat. The grid-scale units the company is developing will have an efficiency of 55%, determined by the turbine efficiency. The industrial units will have an electrical efficiency of 40%. However, overall efficiency is boosted to above 80% when the output heat from the turbines is also used to provide heat for manufacturing and industrial processes or district heating, which are major uses for electricity in the first place.

voltage support and services, this has been undervalued as these ancillary services were a byproduct of system inertia provided by large fossil fuel generators. As these are retired, ancillary services are becoming more valuable. At the state-level the South Australian government is attempting to address this issue with its Energy Security Target, but there is still a long way to go. The Finkel review advises that

a mix of market mechanisms and regulatory requirements can be used to allow the most cost-effective technologies to maintain power system security and reliability. Australia’s grid operator and the grid’s regulator are investigating ways in which the market can be adapted to fairly procure and remunerate ancillary services, like frequency response. The Finkel review’s consultation period ended in June.

TO QUOTE FROM AN OFFICIAL STATEMENT ISSUED AT THE TIME. “Our report blueprint will deliver four key benefits for the electricity system: • future reliability • increased security • rewarding consumers • lower emissions We use three pillars to achieve these outcomes: orderly transition measures, system planning and stronger governance. Under the orderly transition pillar, the review panel concluded that a Clean Energy Target is the most effective mechanism to reduce emissions while supporting security and reliability. Existing large electricity generators will be required to

give a three years’ notice of closure. This will signal investment opportunities for new generation and give communities time to adjust to the loss of a large employer. The orderly transition would be underpinned by agreement from Australian, state and territory governments to a national emissions reduction trajectory. During the transition, security will be achieved through obligations on new generators to provide essential services to maintain voltage and frequency. Further, new generators will be required to guarantee supply of electricity when needed at a level

determined following regional assessments by the market operator. The second pillar of the blueprint, system planning, recommends a system-wide grid plan to inform network investment decisions and ensure security is preserved in each region. This would also include a list of potential priority projects to enable development of renewable energy zones. The third pillar of stronger governance calls for a new Energy Security Board to drive implementation of the blueprint and deliver an annual health check on the state of the electricity system.

Batteries International • Summer 2017 • 109


Stephen Irish, managing director, commercial of Hyperdrive Innovation reflects on how the greater interconnectivity of devices will become a powerful tool in home energy storage and management.

Power at your fingertips: the dawning of the internet of energy The Internet of Things — the interconnectivity of devices over the internet — has a large role to play in global sustainability. The IoT can facilitate the monitoring of air quality and noise levels, regulate traffic and vehicle access, and provide an intelligent platform for warning systems and irrigation. It also enables home energy storage and management, which can significantly bring down bills while lowering a household’s carbon footprint. In the UK, for example, almost 40% of the country’s total consumption can be attributed to the electricity and gas used in buildings. Imagine any energy-consuming appliance in the home such as heating, washers, tumble driers and lighting, being connected to the IoT and all talking to each other on one platform to optimize use and actively manage demand. Any surplus energy can be stored in batteries on-site, reducing the dependency on the grid and unpredictable supplies from renewable sources such as wind and solar. De-coupling the peaks and troughs of supply and demand is where energy storage can play an essential role. Although the economic, environmental and energy supply benefits are clear, several challenges remain, pre-

venting the widespread adoption of home energy storage solutions. These are threefold: interoperability, cybersecurity and lack of appropriate infrastructure.

The challenges

First, technological fragmentation poses as a significant barrier. Energy use cannot be monitored if devices in a home operate on different networks and are unable to share data. This is the concept of interoperability and refers to the linking together of all devices. In other words, your dishwasher needs to be able to communicate with your dryer and oven in the same language. The second significant challenge, one that applies to the IoT in general, is keeping networks secure. With the increasing quantity of connected devices — over 40 billion projected by 2020 — and the growing number of cyber-attacks by skilled and sophisticated hackers, manufacturers must ensure that a highly robust security component is built into their IoT-compatible products. Even a minor vulnerability can be exploited to effectively bring down an entire network or database. Finally, IoT-based home energy storage necessitates that grids be robust

and flexible to facilitate fluctuating demand response. Home energy storage solutions can enable households to sell energy that’s not required back to the grid. Most grids around the world can only currently accommodate a unidirectional transfer of power. A multistakeholder focus on developing new or modified networks for an integrated IoT infrastructure is key.

Cogs in the machine

Despite the hurdles, several countries are already making notable progress, especially Japan and the US: the two nations are expected to become the largest energy storage markets, generating a third of market revenues (totalling $50 billion) over the next 10 years. Other countries such as South Africa, Kenya and the Philippines are also making significant headway. At the city level (and citywide developments must be acknowledged considering the beneficial impact of energy storage on communities), Ontario, Canada is making leaps and bounds to build up its energy storage system. The city’s utility sector has shown significant support for this, combined with a clean-tech-friendly ecosystem developed by both the national and local governments. Certain pilot projects and schemes

Batteries International • Summer 2017 • 111

THE INTERNET OF THINGS are helping to demonstrate the farreaching potential of home energy storage. Take US power utility Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) which has selected energy storage firm Green Charge to participate in its distributed energy resources management pilot. Green Charge will develop energy storage systems for PG&E customers in San Jose, California. These will allow the city to store energy during offpeak hours, and supply the city with the stored energy via the grid network during peak hours. A key factor in this trend is the declining costs of lithium-ion batteries which has increased production. Some people say that lithium-on batteries are predicted to become the mainstream energy-storage technology, with over 80% of global installations including these solutions within the next decade. A study by Navigant Research even suggests that without lithium-on technology, the US power grid would collapse due to demand pressures. Some people may be worried about the safety implications of having a stack of these batteries in their home. However, according to the Energy Storage Association, lithium-ion batteries are ultimately determined by the attributes of system design, regardless of the electrochemistry. Battery manufacturers are being supported by global utility companies who are capitalizing on the increased interest in energy storage. It is expected that global utilities will spend $774 million on customer engagement technologies by 2022. Furthermore, linking smart meters to the IoT will enable utility companies to provide their customers with data and transparency while supporting the expansion of their own smart grid developments. Smart meter adoption in Europe, for example, is projected to increase by 28% over the next 10 years.

Political will

In addition to private sector growth and the expansion of markets for smart homes technology, governmentbacked initiatives focused on clean energy infrastructure have significant pull in attracting investors to the home energy storage market. The political will in Ontario was instrumental in establishing in the city as a leader in energy storage in the country by allowing for stability and quality control of its power solutions.

Although the economic, environmental and energy supply benefits are clear, several challenges remain, preventing the widespread adoption of home energy storage solutions. These are threefold: interoperability, cybersecurity and lack of appropriate infrastructure — Stephen Irish, Hyperdrive It also stands as a shining example to leaders to encourage clean-tech environments within their communities. Other governments have declared their commitment to going green, signalling a welcome for energy storage solutions to be part of their strategy. Stockholm, for example, aims to be fossil-fuel free by 2040, Frankfurt seeks to achieve 100% renewable energy supply by 2050, Seoul aims to be 20% self-sufficient in sustainable electricity by 2020, 40% of domestic gridlinked PV installations in Germany (the largest PV user so far) now have battery backup, and the city of London looks to ban all emissions within the City by 2040, and throughout the capital by 2050. Certain private sector initiatives such as The Energy Systems Innovation Platform (ESIP), led by The Carbon Trust in the UK, are allowing for developers to devise solutions to overcome investment deterrents and address the gaps where government support is lacking. These include transparent analysis and discussion of issues relating to regulation, lack of transparency among decision makers, and longterm plans to ensure accessibility for investors to join the market.

A sunny outlook

Although the existing barriers for the wide scale rollout of home energy storage solutions seem extensive, the forecasts point towards a bright outlook for households and the industry as a whole. Analyst firm IHS Markit predicts that global energy storage capacity is expected to reach 21GWh by 2025, from 1.4GWh in 2015. Deutsche Bank reports that technological advancement could make energy storage a solution that could be deployed on a large scale within the next five years. The key drivers vary in scope and depth across a range of geographies but fall broadly within the categories of the level of high-speed broadband coverage, infrastructure developments, political will, legal frameworks and private sector innovation, including in cybersecurity. We are heading towards the Internet of Energy by becoming a much more technologically integrated society. Although growing urban density — up 1.84% per year between 2015 and 2020 — and the subsequent expansion of cities have been cited as factors contributing to a larger carbon footprint, the IoT might be the redeeming factor in reducing environmental harm and propel us forward into a low-carbon future.

Batteries International • Summer 2017 • 113

EVENT REVIEW Pb2017, 20th International ILA Conference on Lead Berlin, Germany • June 28-30

Batteries the prime force behind the future of the lead industry

ILA’s Bush: “time to contrast the positives of lead to the downsides of other technologies”

114 • Batteries International • Summer 2017

The International Lead Association held its 20th conference (Pb2017) in Berlin with a series of presentations showing yet again that the future of lead is now inextricably bound up with the future of lead batteries. Andy Bush, managing director of the ILA, said the lead industry had too long been on the defensive and “it was time to contrast the positives of lead to the downsides of other technologies”. He said ILA was now “starting to drive a far more proactive agenda, and central to that effort is ensuring lead and lead batteries get the positive recognition they deserve. “Just as importantly, we must be prepared to contrast those positives to the challenges faced by other battery chemistries,” he said. “Regulatory driven substitution of lead batteries, which are safe, sustainable, low cost and proven, for other technologies such as lithium ion with all the cost, safety, recycling and other challenges this brings simply makes no sense.” One of the themes underpinning the conference — and its pre-meeting workshop on lead occupational exposure management — was the notion that improvements can be made for almost every aspect of the lead industry. Norbert Maleschitz, vice president for Exide Europe, forcefully made the point that a huge list of improvements, from calcium tin alloys to continuous casting to advanced carbon additives, were the result of the past 25 years’ development. He looked forward to continued improvements in dynamic charge acceptance, to greater use of carbon blacks, graphenes and graphites in pushing out performance. The arrival in a major way of startstop cars — where lead batteries are a hugely cost-effective way to increase auto performance — should give the industry a solid price advantage over the next generation of electric vehicles. The conference as a whole looked

at improvements and news across the entire industry from smelting to the latest research. Tim Ellis, vice president for research at RSR, for example, was able to show how the very tools used to look at how lithium cells were developed was being used by RSR, East Penn and the Argonne Laboratory to view the insides of the crystal structures within a lead battery in real time charging and discharging. Astonishing. There were many other excellent papers including lead price forecasts, usage of lead in China, blood lead levels, and a particularly strong one from the ILA’S Steve Binks. Binks made the point that the industry needed to go on the attack, given that there was a strong regulatory pressure to replace lead, a tried and tested product that is perfectly recyclable, with lithium, which is neither tried nor tested. This is especially the case in the light of everything from the $4 billion recall of Samsung mobile batteries to the mounting fears over aircraft safety with the growing number of lithium fires of laptops, iPads and the like. On a reflective note, Andy Bush compared the presentations of the first such conference held in 1962 and today’s agenda. The first conference programme focused on various applications of lead sheet and lead chemicals, with just a modest session on the growing market for lead batteries. But the session that attracted the most papers — 12 in all — was on lead cable sheathing. How odd to think the first paper on health and the environment appeared in 1971. “In those days,” he said. “Lead batteries accounted for just 30% of lead used — now the figure is 85%. This means that we’re now in a world where  the future of lead rests almost entirely on the future for lead batteries.” The date and location of the 21st International Lead Conference will be announced later.

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The Battery and Energy Storage

CONFERENCE WATCH MONTHLY The definitive guide to battery energy storage conferences and meetings for the year ahead

SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE Contact Jade Beevor

FORTHCOMING EVENTS 2nd International Conference on Battery & Fuel Cell Technology Rome, Italy July 27-28 Battery Tech 2017 will impact an attractive moment to meet the people in the research field and development; therefore it takes a delight in opening a gate to meet the ability in the field, young researchers and potential speakers. The conference also includes essential topics on technologies related to batteries and fuel cells, especially on what we accomplished so far and what we will succeed in future. Our conference is going to deliver numerous keynote sessions, plenary speeches and poster presentations by the eminent scientists and students in the field of batteries and fuel cells. Through this we can achieve great knowledge in modern advancements of batteries and emphasize current challenges in battery and fuel cell technology.

EES North America San Francisco, USA July 11-13, 2017 Covering the entire value chain of innovative battery and energy storage technologies, ees North America is the ideal platform for all stakeholders in the rapidly growing energy storage market. It takes place in the epicenter of the US storage market: California. Co-located with Intersolar North America, North America’s most-attended solar event, ees North America provides the best opportunity to ex-

plore energy storage systems in combination with PV and beyond. In 2016, more than 100 energy storage exhibitors and 18,244 visitors participated in the co-located events. ees North America is part of the ees global exhibition series. Together with ees Europe in Munich, and ees India in Mumbai, ees events are represented on three continents. Contact Dorothea Eisenhardt Tel: +49 7231 58598-174

Energy storage seminars from Shmuel De-Leon 2017/2018 Schedule


Local Partner


Indianapolis, USA


Aug 28-29

Ballerup, Denmark


Nov 13-14

Madrid, Spain


Jan 23-24, 2018

Oulu, Finland


Jan 29

Tutorial AABC, Mainz, Germany

Cambridge EnerTech

Feb 8-9

Appenzell, Switzerland


Mar 12-13

Vimercate, Italy


Apr 23-25

Greenville, SC, USA



Wezep, Netherlands

Dr Ten

Contact Email:

Energy Storage North America San Diego, California August 8-10 Energy Storage North America (ESNA), the largest gathering of policy, technology and market leaders in energy storage, will hold its annual event in San Diego this August. Mirroring the growth and maturation of the storage industry at large, ESNA last year grew in its attendee numbers, expo floor space, and the number of organizations represented at its conference and expo. More than 1,900 industry professionals attended ESNA 2016 hailing from more than 1,000 different organizations and 25 countries. The nearly 15,000-square-foot expo floor, the largest ever for Energy Storage North America, provided over 100 exhibitors with an opportunity to showcase the latest software and hardware storage technologies, systems and services. Senior executives from utilities, grid operators, investors and storage developers took part in panel sessions alongside elected officials and regulators to discuss the changing regulatory landscape, the process of valuing benefits of storage and the latest system deployments and assets, among other trending industry topics. In total, last year’s ESNA conference featured nearly 150 speakers on 21 different panel sessions, six keynote addresses and eight in-depth workshops. Contact Inga Otgon Email: Tel: +1 312 621-5820

Batteries International • Summer 2017 • 117

FORTHCOMING EVENTS The 2nd Asia (Guangzhou) Battery Sourcing Fair 2017 Guangzhou, China August 16-18

GBF Asia engages in the battery and associated applications in the field of power and energy storage. It also focus on displaying the whole production chain of battery materials, and equipment. With a determined aim, the trading and technical exchange of battery, energy storage industry is well advanced along with the great promotion of new technology & new equipment of battery. To strike roots in China, GBF Asia actively forays into Asian even the global battery markets in various sectors. And the visitors are mainly the manufacturing enterprises, dealers, agencies, import & export merchants, oversea buyers in industries of battery, new energy vehicle, bus, electric vehicle, forklift, unmanned aerial vehicle, electric power, communications, wind and solar energy power generation, micro-grid, distributed energy, consumer electronics, medical treatment, tools, instrument, lighting, vessel, military equipment, rail transit, etc. In July 2016, GBF was elected to the governmental exhibition project, which was supported by the People’s Government of Guangdong Province. Due to the beneficial government support, GBF Asia will be the high-end trade platform in Asian and global new energy battery industry.

Offshore Battery Days 2017 Oslo, Norway August 22-24 The 2nd Conference for Oil & Gas, Marine, Subsea and Aquaculture batteries will meet to discuss and provide a platform for technological innovations and business opportunities with the latest updates in that fields in Norway and abroad. The conference is the only oil and gas, marine, subsea and aquaculture battery dedicated conference, bringing together participants from leading private and public companies, start-ups, investors, academics and businesses that are interested in the offshore battery field. Seniors speakers from Norway and abroad will participate. The conference will be held in English. It also includes an exhibition. Contact Shmuel De-Leon Email: Tel: + 972 77 501 0792

Electric, Power & Renewable Energy 2017 Jakarta, Indonesia September 6-9 ASEAN’s largest electric and power exhibition takes place in south-east Asia’s most dynamic market, Indonesia. The last show attracted 943 companies and 20,215 trade visitors. The exhibition provides an ideal plat-

form for key decision makers within the industry, allowing major equipment importers, distributors and agents to network and discuss new business opportunities in this rapidly evolving industry. Contact Wiwiek Roberto Tel: +62 21 2525 320

Battery Congress Frankfurt, Germany September 12-13 To provide a forum for engineers, managers, scientists, academic researchers, and industry executives to exchange advances in battery technology and applications and management systems. This forum will address key topics and issues related to OEMs, suppliers (all tiers), component manufacturers, governmental and non-governmental agencies. It will also provide a network to support educational research and publish technical findings in conference proceedings and technical magazines. This forum would provide a conference, exposition and publication dedicated to the research integration of new battery technologies in vehicular and other energy system applications. Contact Email: Tel: +1 734 997 9249 Web: battery-congress

The Battery Show


Intersolar South America 2017 São Paulo, Brazil August 22-24 Intersolar South America takes place at the Expo Center Norte in São Paulo, Brazil on August 22-24, 2017 and has a focus on the areas of photovoltaics, PV production technologies, energy storage and solar thermal technologies. With 11,500+ visitors, 1,500+ conference attendees and 180 exhibitors, Intersolar has become the most important platform for manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, service providers, investors and partners of the solar industry.

The Battery Show Exhibition & Conference is a showcase of advanced battery technology for electric & hybrid vehicles, utility & renewable energy support, portable electronics, medical technology, military and telecommunications.

Contact Banu Bektas Email: Tel: +49 7231 58598-211

Facts & Figures With more than seven years of exponential growth, The Battery Show proves to be North America’s leading event for cutting-edge battery tech-

118 • Batteries International • Summer 2017

Novi Michigan USA • September 12-14 nology. Here’s some facts and figures from 2016: there were 6,936 attendees, 171 speakers, 28 countries and 535 exhibitors. Contact Caroline Kirkman Email: caroline.kirkman@smartershows. com Tel: Europe: +44 1273 916300 Tel: US toll free: +1 855 436 8683



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FORTHCOMING EVENTS 17th Asian Battery Conference 5th International Secondary Lead Conference

Solar Power International Las Vegas – USA September 12-15 Solar Power International is powered by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA). SPI held its inaugural show in 2003 and was designed to serve and advance the solar energy industry by bringing together the people, products, and professional development opportunities that drive the solar industry and are forging its bright future. This event focuses solely on creating an environment that fosters the exchange of ideas, knowledge and expertise for furthering solar energy development in the US. Unlike other solar conferences, all proceeds from SPI support the expansion of the solar energy industry through SEIA and SEPA’s year-round research and education activities, and SEIA’s extensive advocacy efforts. SPI’s primary mission is to deliver on the missions of both SEIA and SEPA in a way that strengthens the solar energy industry domestically and globally, through networking and education, and by creating an energetic and engaging marketplace to connect buyers and suppliers. Contact Tel: +1 703 738 9460

22nd International Congress for Battery Recycling ICBR 2017

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia • September 19-22 The aim of this conference is to share and increase knowledge over all segments of this vital industry, which as we all know produces more than 65% of the world’s lead supply. No other metal industry comes close. We will bring together all aspects of secondary lead smelting; discussing plant design, smelting regimes, refractories, burner design, slag formation and structures, pollution and environmental control amongst other presentations. It is a further aim of the conference to open up for discussion all aspects of plant operations and control as to give not only operators, but people interested in secondary smelting a better understanding of the processes involved in the industry. Over the years, the conference content and its drivers have of course changed – from a very technical and scientific format to one that now also addresses the commercial and socio economic aspects of a growing, developing industry. At the time of 1ABC, back in 1988, the world lead tonnage con-

120 • Batteries International • Summer 2017

sumed was 5.5 million tonnes with 65% entering the battery market. Today we consume more than 11 million tonnes, with 85% being converted to batteries. The range and type of batteries we now produce have also changed during this period with VRLA a standard product and designs for stop-start vehicles becoming commonplace. It’s a far cry from 2ABC, when the market was dominated by the use of antimonial alloys and when many Asian producers were only starting to think about converting the negative into a calcium alloy and producing their first ‘hybrid’ battery. So it is with this history and background that the organizers welcome all delegates to the 17ABC in Kuala Lumpur, which aims to deliver an enhanced knowledge and a greater appreciation of our wonderful and growing industry. Contact Email: Tel: +61 3 9870 2611

Lisbon, Portugal September 20-22

The ICBR is the international platform for discussion of the latest developments and challenges of battery recycling, bringing together many decision makers in the battery recycling chain such as battery producers, recyclers, collection schemes, policy-makers, transport companies and many more. This top quality congress in battery recycling will focus on: • Safety aspects with lithium primary

FORTHCOMING EVENTS ees/Intersolar Middle East 2017

and lithium rechargeable batteries • Battery technologies development

Dubai, United Arab Emirates September 25-27

• Urban mobility: The gate to e-mobility?

The organizers of Intersolar, the world’s leading exhibition and conference for the solar industry, have been active in the Gulf region for the past three years. With Dubai, Intersolar Middle East has secured the ideal venue to reach all of the Gulf States as well as emerging solar markets such as Egypt, Jordan, and Morocco. The event’s exhibition and conference both focus on the areas of photovoltaics, PV production technologies, energy storage and solar thermal technologies. Since being founded, Intersolar has become the most important industry platform for manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, service providers and partners of the global solar industry. Intersolar Middle East offers you the best possibilities to network with policy makers and government officials from the MENA region. Increase your profits in one of the most lucrative emerging solar markets and benefit from direct access to key buyers from across the Middle East and Northern Africa.

• Update of the review of the Batteries Directive 2006/66/EC • Energy storage: Opportunities for a second use of batteries? • Energy storage and e-mobility: Complementary technologies? • Economic aspects of collection or take back schemes • New trends in battery recycling technologies: Primary and rechargeable • Eco-design: A critical approach to batteries removability? • International developments in batteries collection and recycling An exhibition  area  is integrated into the conference facilities, where vendors meet their clients. Cocktail receptions and a networking dinner create an excellent atmosphere to get in touch with business partners and colleagues. Contact Jeanette Duttlinger Tel: +41 62 785 10 00 Email:

Contact Susanne Bregazzi Email: Tel: +49-7231-58598-0

Interbattery 2017

Seoul, Korea • September 27-29 InterBattery, sponsored by Korea’s ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, and directed by Korea Battery Industry Association and Coex, is Korea’s biggest secondary-cell battery convention that was first launched in 2013. InterBattery is Korea’s only battery industry exhibition that simultaneously accommodates the fast-growing Mobile market, automobile industry, as well as ESS and EV markets, and allows for the buyers and manufacturers to naturally and most efficient-

Batteries 2017

ly interact while learning about the newest products and trends. Furthermore, the global conference The Battery Conference will be in session at the same time, allowing for the opportunity to listen to international opinion leaders, exchange influential ideas, and estimate the future of the industry. Contact Tel: +822-6000-1393 Email:

Nice, France • October 3-6 The market for batteries and their components has experienced a strong double-digit growth for 10 years and several positive factors should ensure that the rally continues. Firstly, this growth is based on a continuously changing portable electronics market (laptops, smartphones, tablets and now hybrid computers). Secondly, the electrification of the automobile still remains a strong driving force. While electric vehicles remain a niche market, it is a large market for batteries. On top of that, energy storage for renewable energy integration, telecom base stations, back-up or UPS are even more promising. Lithium-ion batteries, thanks to better energy density, longer lifetime, higher discharge current and lower self-discharge try to compete with lead-acid batteries and penetrate those markets despite higher capital cost and safety concerns. The cost of ownership for lithium-ion could be in certain circumstances better than lead-acid. For 18 years, the batteries event still remains one of the world’s most attractive events and the meeting place of technologies (lead-acid, NiMH, Li-ion, post Li-ion), applications (from micro batteries to large format batteries) and of the value chain (chemists OEMs and end users) Contact Tel: +33 1 70 94 65 35

Batteries International • Summer 2017 • 121

FORTHCOMING EVENTS EVS30: 30th International Electric Vehicle Symposium & Exhibition + World of Energy Solutions

UK Construction Week

Stuttgart, Germany October 9-11 EVS30: the Electric Vehicle Symposium & Exhibition, is the industry meeting point for the entire electro-mobility industry. Manufacturers, users and decisionmakers can get the latest picture of all forms of electric mobility in Stuttgart and discuss new trends and possible uses of electric power transmission. Discover at the trade fair, how battery and storage, fuel cell technologies and hydrogen technologies will affect the future energy industries. Contact (EVS30) Sandra Bilz Email: Tel: +49 711 656960 5704 (World of Energy Solutions) Silke Frank Tel. +49 711 656960-55 Email: html

NEC Birmingham, England • October 10-12 Offering a wide ranging programme that explores a range of key issues, UK Construction Week works with key industry leaders and organizations to address policy issues, develop skills and personal development, and seek out, recognise and reward talent and ability. Alongside the largest product showcase in the industry, UK Construction Week provides the perfect platform to network and open new business op-

portunities like never before. Bringing together nine shows under one roof, UK Construction Week is the biggest construction trade event the UK has seen in years. The event unites over 650 exhibitors with an audience of over 30,000 visitors. Contact Email:

Intelec 2017

Gold Coast, Australia • October 22-26 Intelec is an international annual technical conference which, for the past 38 years, has been the premier forum for the science and engineering of energy systems for Information and Communications Technologies (ICT). Research and technical papers explore the needs and trends in the subject areas of power conversion, energy storage, and high-reliability and mission-critical powering infrastructure. Topics include DC power plants, powering architectures, converters, inverters, batteries, fuel cells, grounding, physical and thermal designs, building and equipment cooling systems. Tutorials are included in the technical program as well as a comprehensive exhibition of products and equipment. INTELEC has a long-held reputa-

122 • Batteries International • Summer 2017

tion as the premium international forum where emerging trends and key issues about powering communications resources are canvassed among academia, industry and infrastructure operators. ICT networks are no longer quarantined to traditional telecom carriers or data centres. Increasingly, large scale critical digital networks are designed and operated by a range of industries including oil & gas, mining, rail and aviation. Our theme, Driving Innovation in ICT Energy Infrastructure reflects the international reality that as research and technology developments continue to deliver never-ending convergence opportunities, innovation is the vital element for the delivery of reliable and resilient communications energy systems.

INTELEC 2017 will boast an exciting conference program of knowledge tutorials, presentations of research and developments, workshops and keynote addresses, to encourage engagement, dialogue, networking, and the sharing of ideas. And the technical program will be emphasized and reinforced with an Industry Exhibition showcasing the latest in power conversion equipment, energy storage options, and infrastructure integration design. Industry sectors facing the challenges of powering high-value ICT infrastructure will find INTELEC  2017 a rich and valuable source of technical know-how and product information. Contact

Kuala Lumpur

Lead & Battery Week Live! Monday 18 – Friday 22 September 2017 Kuala Lumpur International Convention Centre

monday 18 – tuesday 19 September 2017

Tuesday 19 – Friday 22 September 2017

Provides a forum for researchers, technicians, end users and marketers whose work involves the many aspects of secondary lead smelting and refining.

Designed for battery industry executives, customers, marketers, academia, researchers, sales teams, reseller networks and suppliers.

This series of Conferences is recognised as the premier event dedicated to the ‘world of secondary lead’. The Conference brings together all aspects of secondary lead smelting, plant design, smelting regimes, refractories, burner design, slag formation and structures, pollution and environmental control and also discusses the markets.

• 160 trade booths in Asia will be held as part of a week of •conference 850+ delegates • English to Chinese simultaneous translations • Two big networking events The exhibition will feature an impressive line-up of • 15+ parallel events international speakers, a full social program and a sparked • 55+ presentations up exhibition across a dynamic floorplan of 140 booths.

Register now to attend Asia’s #1 Lead-acid Battery Conference and Exhibition.

The Conference will provide anyone with an interest in the secondary lead industry a better understanding of the process involved in the industry.

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titanium partner

supporting supporting sponsors sponsors

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Media partners


Shanghai hosts The 9th Chinese Renewable Energy Conference & Exhibition in November

The 9th Chinese Renewable Energy Conference & Exhibition

Dubai, United Arab Emirates October 23-25 Dubai Solar Show is an important B2B platform for the public & private sectors to make deals, build partnerships, review the latest solarenergy technologies, learn about current and future projects in the region opportunities to take part in solarenergy projects and programmes. Contact Tel: +971 4 322 3031 Email:

Lithium Battery Materials & Chemistries 2017 Arlington, USA October 31 - November 1 This conference will provide in-depth coverage on the chemistries, both current and next-generation, that are shaping the future of energy storage. From novel electrode/electrolyte materials to higher-capacity cathode/anode structures, this conference will explore how to economically increase battery energy density. Topics will include, but are not limited to: • Current & future lithium battery market overview • Most recent advancements in lithium-ion technology • Breakthroughs in next-generation lithium technologies • Improved battery materials • Nickel manganese cobalt cathodes • Silicon anodes • Novel electrolytes • Solid-state batteries • Commercialization Contact

124 • Batteries International • Summer 2017

Shanghai, China November 2-4 Reasons to attend Exhibitors: 300+ Exhibition space: 20,000m2 + Keynote speakers: 150+ Forums: 20+ Visitor attendances: 10,000+ Professionals: 1000+ Overseas delegations: 30+ Topics include • The development and maintenance of PV stations • Changing patterns of global renewable energy industry • How to find suitable overseas partners to jointly develop the China market • Distributed PV resource location • Advanced PV technology and the latest standards • Financing modes and business innovation for renewable energy industry Contact Tel: +86 510 81827276 Email:

Battery Safety 2017 Arlington, Virginia, USA November 2 - November 3 Higher energy and higher use lead to higher risk. While research continues to boost the energy storage capability of lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) and leads to expanding applications and consumer use, the task of implementing effective safety strategies falls on regulatory authorities, cell manufacturers, R&D engineers and forensic scientists. Accurate tests and models are critical for predicting and controlling the complex electrochemical, thermal and mechanical behavior of LIBs while forensic investigations and regulations

are required for safe transport. The Battery Safety 2017  conference continues this vital dialogue to integrate and implement LIB safety to meet ever-increasing energy demands. We invite battery safety specialists, regulators, forensic scientists, manufacturers, BMS experts, pack designers, chemists and electrical engineers who are improving battery safety to submit a proposal for consideration of a podium or poster presentation. Contact

Energy Storage Summit Japan Tokyo, Japan November 7 -8 ESSJ – Energy Storage Summit Japan – is an annual international event organized by Messe Dusseldorf Japan. It is an energy-business platform where a summit and an exhibition take place for two days in Tokyo. We highly value the rising demand of energy storage from the standpoint of sustainable society. The event was designed to match all manner of  seekers and providers of “energy storage, power infrastructure, and deep insights into the relevant economic climate”. C-suite executives from around the world account for about 60% of the total participants, hence great opportunities to have business meetings efficiently. More to the point, speakers invited from world-renowned institutions share their exclusive insights into energy storage and its future trends, thereby raising awareness of sustainable society sure-footedly. ESSJ is going to be the one-and-only event that helps you make headway in your business, project finance, distributed generation, FEMS, CEMS, DESS, CSR, BCP, etc. Contact

FORTHCOMING EVENTS Energy Storage Innovations (ESI)

ees India

Santa Clara, California, USA November 15-16 The event brings together different players in the value chain, from material & technology developers to integrators to end-users, providing insight on forthcoming technologies, material selection, market trends and latest products. The event assesses the most exciting battery technology developments from world-leading companies, start-ups and research institutes in: • New form and structural factors of future batteries such as thin-film, flexible, bendable, rollable, foldable, large-area and micro-batteries • New manufacturing techniques • Promising materials for emerging battery technologies • Emerging applications including flexible wearable devices, Internet of Things, electric vehicles and gridstorage application • Integration with other components like displays, energy harvesters, etc. • A focus on commercialization: End users and integrators from a diverse range of markets present their needs, requirements and case studies Network with potential adopters/ end users and see the current products and state of the technology at the event exhibition Contact Corinne Jennings Email: show/en/

1st Medical Battery Conference Dusseldorf, Germany November 16-17 Shmuel De-Leon Energy and RRC Power solution have decided to support that battery industry segment’s growth with a dedicated yearly conference that will be a place to discuss and provide a platform for technological innovations and business opportunities. The conference will discuss the latest advances in the medical batteries found worldwide. • All presentations will be in English. • An exhibition will run alongside the conference. Contact

Mumbai, India • December 5 - December 7 ees India (electrical energy storage) is the major platform for storage technologies reshaping India’s energy sector and enhancing grid reliability ees is the industry hotspot for suppliers, manufacturers, distributors and users of stationary and mobile electrical energy storage solutions. Covering the entire value chain of innovative battery and energy storage technologies — from components and production to specific user application — ees™, a special exhibition at Intersolar India, is the ideal platform for all stakeholders in the rapidly growing energy storage market. Intersolar India will be hosting and highlighting the special exhibition „ees India“ to extend and round up electrical energy storage innovations and programs. ees India is the industry hotspot for suppliers, manufacturers, distributors and users of stationary and mobile electrical energy storage solutions. Covering the entire value chain of innovative battery and energy storage technologies

— from components and production to specific user application — is the ideal platform for all stakeholders in the rapidly growing energy storage market. The focus at ees is on energy storage solutions suited to energy systems with increasing amounts of renewable energy sources attracting investors, utilities, installers, manufacturers and project developers from all over the world. The huge economic growth in India and the strong engagement of the Indian government for energy security and renewable energy, the potential market for electrical energy storage in India is expected to be tremendous in the future. With the exclusive location of the exhibition and conference in Mumbai, the financial and commercial capital of India, ees India will globally attract powerful buying power for electrical energy storage innovations. Contact

Batteries International • Summer 2017 • 125


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Contact Karen Hampton: or call +44 7792 852337

d r o w t s a l e Th Health alert as Sorfin runs amok at ABC Warning. Something healthy for a conference. Yes, not something we expect from a conference that doesn’t involve golf or a lengthy walk — 50 metres max — to a hotel bar. But Sorfin Yoshimura has come up with something unusual. And not what you’ll expect in every ABC conference

bag — a pedometer. The challenge? Who can walk the most steps in the three-day event? “We’re branding it as ‘Run with Sorfin Yoshimura’ and hopefully it’ll be a fun event to enhance the overall spirit of the 17 ABC,” says Scott Fink, president of Sorfin. “Not forgetting the prize too!”

Scott won’t be drawn about the prize — or the Batteries International guess that at least 60,000 steps will be needed to win (about 1,000 times more than we expect to do). But our guess is that a pair of shoes is likely to be a high probability winner. And a pack of Odour Eaters just in case.

ABC — have pity on the organizers

Red carpet “I didn’t know that they knew I was coming,” said Karen Hampton, publisher of Batteries International, as she looked at the red carpet outside her hotel in central Sofia. Inside she nodded approvingly at the burly plainclothes security guys trying to blend in at the marbled reception. The whirl of police sirens outside added to her smiles: “They know I’m English and must be protected on my travels down to the LABAT conference in Varna.” She was yet more graciously pleased when she found that her hire car had been spiked on a fork lift and taken to a more secure place where bombs could be detected and detonated if need be. Told the next day that the Bulgarian president had stayed the night, she sighed: “I do hope they left the red carpet out for him too. “Hotels can be so heartless and confused sometimes.”

“We’re victims of our own success,” Mark (the Australian one), the organizer of the Asia Battery Conference told Batteries International last week. “We’ve got too many exhibitors — it’s coming close to 170 now. “I know,” said the other organizer, Mark (the nice one), “the hotel’s going to be hard pushed to fit us all in. “But we are slumming it this year, cobba. The conference hotel isn’t a seven star — just an Asian six star.” “Yeah, the suffering we do for the good of this industry…”

Badges of honour

Spoils of war: another BCI, another chest of medals

Batteries International • Summer 2017 • 127

d r o w t s a l e Th

Destiny awaits the faithful Scene. A casino in Varna, Bulgaria. The time, 3.30am and two battery heroes are hard at work. “I’ve got an infallible system,” said Hero no 1: “I follow him [Hero no 2] but bet surreptitiously on his numbers — that way they don’t recognise we’re together. That confuses the casino because we double our winnings. Clever, yes?” Meanwhile, the Master of Roulette had his own system. “I bet on the number of the years I’ve been married, 35; then the age my wife and I first met, 18; and then the day of our wedding, 26,” he said. The system clearly worked. 5am. The two walked out of the casino some 1,000 euros the better. “But not a word of my winnings to the wife,” said Hero no 2. “I’d hate the missus to know that I’m still sloppy about her.”

Talking of La Hampton … The real reason that Karen Hampton, publisher of this mighty magazine — and another title which “is also about electron thingies” — attends so many conferences has emerged. Freebies. Cynical but true. Fresh from winning a high res camera for her golf skills from the kind folk at Maccor, she popped in to Battcon

this May to see what was on offer. “The quality of the pens is usually high, though the memory sticks rarely have more than 2GB,” La Hampton said. “But this year, I won a ladies Pulsar time piece from Rick Tressler LLC . “Obviously it’s a firm to watch,” she chuckled merrily (once more) at her own joke.

BCI conference — new greetings from the heavens Standing on the hotel patio in the gentle evening sun, hardly a head was turned at the BCI opening reception as a lone plane criss-crossed the Jacksonville, Florida skies welcoming the delegates. “I wasn’t amused,” one attendee later told Batteries International. “Networking 128 • Batteries International • Summer 2017

over free beers is all about focus. You’ve got to reach a steady intake of five strong beers an hour while talking about handicaps, putting greens and where to play the next morning. “BCI receptions can be hell sometimes. Work, work, work.”





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