The first. And still the best A celebration of 25 years of the battery business Quarter century heroes Who've been the movers and shakers of the industry A life in energy storage David Rand and the road towards the UltraBattery
The VRLA revolution The challenging route from Devitt to mass adoption Virtual power plants Energy storage moves into the utility business
Bringing the industry together
T AS L E TH
M O R F ES L : TA D R WO
IDE S RK A ED TH
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CONTENTS BIRTHDAY SPECIAL: THE 100TH ISSUE
Chaos, opportunity and 100 more issues ahead ...
HAPPY BIRTHDAY BATTERIES INTERNATIONAL!
... and a big thank you for all those who sent us those well-wishing cards!
THE ROAD LESS TRAVELLED: A TIMELINE
A short history of battery storage milestones, from 1990 till now
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE LEAD ACID BATTERY
THE ALABC STORY
VRLA BATTERIES — THE FIRST HALF CENTURY
CHARITABLE GIVING: THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS
100TH ISSUE BATTERY PIONEERS
The way we were
John Devitt, David Prengaman, Michael Thackeray, Ken Peters, Detchko Pavlov, Stanley Whittingham, Maria Skyllas-Kazacos, Lan Lam and Jun Furukuwa
SADLY NO LONGER WITH US
Alvin Salkind, electrochemist; Vladmir Bagotsky, space power; Tom Bacon, fuel cell pioneer; DeLight Breidegam Jr, manufacturer, philanthropist; Gordon Ulsh, Exide turn-around king; Sally Miksiewicz, leader in advanced lead; Bill Wylam, maintenance free batter champion; Brian Conway, the father of supercapacitors; Otto Jache, creator of the gel battery; Jim Sudworth, master of molten salt and Ernst Voss, discoverer of a-PbO2
An industry with a heart 44
DAVID RAND: AN ELECTROCHEMICAL JOURNEY
EARLY DAYS AT BATTERIES INTERNATIONAL
HOW VRLA ALL BEGAN: PATENT NO 3,862,861
WORKER PROTECTION AND RESPONSIBLE CARE
An electrochemical journey 94
AUSTRALIAN RESIDENTIAL SOLAR PLUS STORAGE MARKET 117 PEOPLE NEWS
Amber Kinetics appoints Bakholdin as CTO • ILA appoints health scientist • UE Technologies appoints co-founder of ESA as present and former US Saft sales VP joins firm • ALABC elects executive board, new technical programme to be approved in September
Supercaps to the fore!
Tesla acquisition of SolarCity provides yet another business model developing • Starwood Energy invests $100 million to Stem, brings project finance pool to $350 million • Greensmith Energy, Wärtsilä form partnership agreement • AGL prepares ‘world’s largest virtual power plant’ • Gaelectric to get further EU funds for CAES project • Imergy goes into ABC insolvency agreement — intellectual property and assets up for sale • EnSync sells first PPAs, opens up Hawaii • National Grid tenders for grid services problematic for developers RES snares battery project ahead of launch of UK’s frequency response market • Doosan acquires 1Energy, MESA co-founder Kaplan stays on as COO • GE Ventures takes stake in Sonnen www.batteriesinternational.com
Down-under plugged in
Batteries International • Summer 2016 • 1
Argonne, East Penn and RSR to research unused performance potential of lead • Solar Impulse 2 circumnavigates globe using solar and NMC only • Skeleton announces new energy storage system release in rising challenge to lead • Nissan denies plans to sell its battery business but press speculation continues • UK National Grid picks seven winning battery firms for EFR contracts, only lithium chosen • Axion PbC batteries tested for European automotive suitability, expands in China
RISK ASSESSMENT — THE KEY TO COMMERCIAL VIABILITY Risk assessment
Energy storage technology requires substantial financing and that means substantial risk The view from Standard & Poor’s
HYBRIDIZING ENERGY AND POWER FOR THE GRID
Maxwell Technologies looks at how supercaps and storage work well together.
TESTING ENERGY STORAGE FOR NEXT-GEN PRODUCT LINES 149 Craig Brunk, sales director at Bitrode talks about the current state of the testing market
The last word — who was Rapper T from the East?176
VIRTUAL POWER PLANTS
• Loading weight to take weight off the load Despite a proliferation of highly nuanced business models, utilities, solar-and-storage companies continue to fine-tune their approach to using energy storage as part of a virtual power plant. • New York pilots solar-plus-storage VPP The REV initiative — the ‘reforming energy vision’ of New York State — has a virtual power plant pilot that may serve as the first steps to creating a template for the future.
EVENT REVIEW, EUROBAT IN BERLIN
THE LAST WORD
Wedding of the century for Alena and Alessandro • The mystery rapper at the BCI • Letter from America • The great BCI-ELBC feud • Storm over Asia as ABC picks new destination hotel • Wedding of the century
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Disclaimer: Although we believe in the accuracy and completeness of the information contained in this magazine, Mustard Seed Publishing makes no warranties or representation about this. Nor should anything contained within it should be construed as constituting an offer to buy or sell securities, or constitute advice in relation to the buying or selling of investments.
2 • Batteries International • Summer 2016
WIRTZ AWARDED PATENT FOR THE KEY PROCESS STEP IN PRODUCING PUNCHED POSITIVE GRIDS. From the world of Wirtz comes a new process that is so innovative, it’s been awarded a patent. This patented process will make longer lasting batteries. Patented PowerBond™ Grid Technology changes the shape of grid wires and adds texture to all surfaces, improving the bond between the grid and active material. This extends plate and battery life – a sales advantage for you. The Controlled PowerBond Processes does not change grid weight (tolerance is still ±1 gram per grid). By processing PowerBond grids through our pasting systems you can produce plates with tolerances of ±2 grams of paste weight and ±0.002” or 0.05 mm of plate thickness. Fully Automatic Continuous Plate Making Systems make every step of grid, plate, and plate stacking fully automatic. You get the highest technology and closest tolerance for the longest life batteries at the lowest material and labor cost. Learn how the PowerBond process can help you, call +1 810 987 7600 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Wirtz PowerBond Grid TM
Our newly patented PowerBondTM reforming process applies a textured surface to all areas of the grid, which improve the bond between the grid and the active material that extends plate and battery life.
INNOVATION. PERFORMANCE. RELIABILITY.
EDITORIAL Mike Halls • email@example.com
Chaos, opportunity and 100 more issues ahead This is our 100th issue — normally a celebration for a magazine to pat itself on its back and talk about its humble origins in the potting shed/ garage/back bedroom. But rather than talk about something that is only of marginal interest to the world, we’d like to focus on our very real fears facing us in the next 100 issues. Overall, assuming no huge disruptions such as global conflicts, the larger picture looks positive. Or that’s if you care to believe what the research outfits are saying. For us, pretty much every day we’re bombarded with optimistic forecasts — always, always optimistic — that the UPS market will be growing by blah per cent, HEV sector will grow by a further blah per cent. The Global Tree Trimmer Market? Indeed we recently learnt — this isn’t even hyperbole — that the Global Tree Trimmer Market is to expand by a compound annual growth rate of 4.57% between 2016 and 2020, with the market driver being “the growing interest in backyard beautification”. Leaving aside the precision of these forecasts — the second figure after the decimal point is always amusing not 4.6% but 4.57%!— their value can be dubious. Any compilation of HEV predictions made, for example, around 2010 shows such a range of numbers to be almost valueless for any supplier trying to work out budgets for the years ahead. The fact of the matter is that history is chaotic and the battery industry like most industries buckles under the weight of that chaos. Two recent examples highlight the problem of making forecasts and that favourite of 20:20 backward vi4 • Batteries International • 100th Edition • 2016
sion apologists, the law of unintended consequences. The first was the high-tech lithium bubble of 2009. In a frenzy of speculation — spiced up with a huge dollop of US government money — private investors bought into the story that A123 Systems was going to be the most valuable stock on the planet. When the company floated on Wall Street in September that year, the company reached a valuation of almost half a billion dollars — without ever once trading at a profit. That same week Fisker Automotive received $529 million as a loan from the US Department of Energy to make the electric vehicles of the future. Three years later both were bankrupt. The unintended consequence of it all was that the splendidly conservative lead battery bought into the lithium failure with a vengeance. They believed what they wanted to believe. And that was that lithium was a waste of time, money and space. They ignored the fact that the wall of money that had gone into developing the chemistry and the products was inevitably going to produce payback of some kind. The key issues of dynamic charge acceptance (DCA) and high rate partial state of charge (HRPSoC) cycling were always important issues in the lead community. But after the bankruptcies — in fact at least a year before they happened — the sentiment was that the enemy had been defeated, or was about to be. And so any sense of urgency that the barbarians were at the gate fled. Only a few — honourable mentions going to the ALABC, Hammond and East Penn — realised that the race
was still on. The result is where we are today. The second example is the Tohoku earthquake in March 2011. It was the fourth most powerful since records started in 1900. The tremors off the coast of Japan created a tsunami and waves some 40 metres high, flooded and then collapsed the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. This was a level seven (the highest) accident ranking on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale. The politics of disaster Within days of the disaster, huge anti-nuclear protests swept across Germany. It changed from a topic that was peripheral to most people’s lives to a must-change policy. The government caved in to the protests and two months later it announced that it would close all of its nuclear power plants by 2022. Previous talk for the phase-out was for 2036. Seeking to profit from the chaos Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, said the nuclear power phase-out would give the country a competitive edge in leading the way to the widespread use of renewables. She was right and Germany has become — with California — a world leader in distributed energy. Moreover, combining the unintended consequence of lead battery makers’ disregard of the threat of lithium and the Japanese nuclear disaster has given lithium the chance to scorch the field. So although the rosy picture of steady growth in energy storage could — despite everything — be the case when Batteries International issue 200 comes along, the road to 2041 is going to be full of surprises. All the more so in that in the near www.batteriesinternational.com
EDITORIAL Mike Halls • firstname.lastname@example.org term the world of energy storage looks set to be turned topsy-turvy in the 12 months ahead, let alone 25 years down the line. The reasons are political. Next year the United States, the most powerful nation on earth, will be led by one of two people with distinctive anti-battery perspectives. At its very simplest, Hillary Clinton, running for the Democrats, has committed herself to getting rid of lead from the US following two scandals — lead pollution in the drinking water of a Michigan town and the need for a huge clean-up at an Exide smelter in California. Meanwhile, from the Republican camp Donald Trump seems to be clear that energy storage — a healthy preoccupation of the Obama administration — will be put on the back burner as will issues such as climate change. Rather than look at renewables, the drive will be to open up the country’s shuttered coal mines. (Perversely this is the exact opposite of what the Chinese are doing — their anticipated targets of 100GW solar and 200GW wind in renewables by 2020 look set to be exceeded and they are reducing coal consumption accordingly.)
vour leaving the EU, a banking crisis in Italy looks set to do yet further damage to the euro and currency union. The list could go on, the troubled economies of Greece, Spain and Portugal spring to mind. The question now being debated in some parts of the EU is not just whether deep reforms are needed — most heads of government think they are — but whether they can be enacted. US/EU sanctions on Russia for the troubles in the Ukraine — which hit Turkish and Italian battery firm suppliers hard — now look set to be intensified. For certain there will be no early lifting of them. Some 5,000 Nato troops were sent this summer to Russia’s borders ostensibly to pre-
Complicated EU posturings Politics of a different kind are set to dominate the battery industry in the coming months in Europe, where the political and regulatory situations are not looking promising. In the near term, haggling over the REACH regulations banning the use of lead in EU manufacturing will continue to advance and, as the cynical will point out, be stalled at the same time. But overshadowing this there are darker clouds gathering. Like those in the US, their origin is political and, as a consequence, are unpredictable. The UK’s referendum decision to leave the EU in the next couple of years has thrown the rest of the EU into confusion. Parts of the German government are known secretly to have wished to have been able to have done the same. Polls in France suggest that roughly half the electorate would fa-
vent a land grab in the Baltics. Meanwhile in the US Donald Trump has talked about walking away from the Nato commitment that any attack on one Nato country is an attack on all 28 of them — making such a land grab more possible. David Weinberg, counsel for Battery Council International, addressing this year’s May conference said when talking about some of these issues that he had never seen such a difficult outlook for the industry in the 30 years he had been representing it. But rather than look at this situation and despair we should remember a phrase from the fifth century BC warrior Sun Tzu in his military classic The Art of War. “In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity,” he wrote. And the present limbo in the automotive and grid storage markets is ripe to be exploited — if you can think how.
So why shouldn’t a battery manufacturer use its resources and prime assets to move into the solar farming business, complete with storage? Or team up with, say, LG Chem and make ESS?
Because the question at the end of the day is how can you create change that will work to your advantage? Charles Darwin, the creator of the theory of evolution, once said: “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” One of the frontrunners in the survival stakes has to be East Penn, whose chief executive Dan Langdon announced this spring plans to move into manufacturing lithium ion cells and energy storage systems and to move from a lead battery manufacturing company to an energy storage company. A bright future awaits — or could await — those ready to leap into something new. Changing business models So why shouldn’t a battery manufacturer uses its resources and prime assets to move into the solar farming business, complete with storage? Why shouldn’t a lead battery manufacturer team up with say a LG Chem or Panasonic and start developing hybrid storage systems? Some of the lead batteries now being made can cycle some tens of thousands of times — why not team up with a panel maker and move into the solar lighting business (a potentially huge industry)? In a rapidly changing industry what advantages are there to remaining locked in to an old business model? Irrespective of whether Tesla will succeed or not, one of the many interesting things about the firm is the fact that it’s constantly changing. And, if its planned $2.6 billion acquisition of SolarCity takes place, it’ll no longer be a car company with a sideline in residential energy storage. Rather it’ll be a one commentator called it, “the go-to energy solutions brand”. As we come to almost an anniversary of DeLight Breidegam’s death it’s worth remembering one of his thoughts on making East Penn the success it became. He used to say that those who wanted to wait and see before introducing new technology or methods had decided to go out of business — they just hadn’t decided the date yet. Batteries International • 100th Edition • 2016 • 5
Safety Should Never Be An Afterthought All Maccor channels are designed with safety hardware to disconnect the device under test (DUT) in the event of a battery failure. With Maccor there is no need for a redundant safety monitoring system which adds cost to the system and takes up additional lab space. You simply program the safety limits in the test procedure and then if any of these limits or the separate channel safeties are exceeded there is an isolation relay integrated into each channel that opens to place the DUT into a safe open circuit voltage condition. The programmable Maccor safeties are not just limited to current, voltage, power, and temperature but also include user defined mathematical functions. In addition there are watchdog timers integrated into the Maccor systems to place the DUT in a safe open circuit condition in the event of a communication failure (i.e. the control PC locking up). With MacNotify you can configure the system to send an email if a channel is suspended for any reason. You can also program an email to be sent at a specific point in the test procedure.
Coulombic Efficiency Testing Coulombic efficiency measurements are increasingly being used to measure the effects of material changes on battery performance. It is believed that these measurements can indicate changes in performance more quickly as opposed to a complete cycle life test which in many cases is not feasible due to time constraints. Coulombic Efficiency is defined as , where Q is Capacity. The only variables needed to calculate capacity are current and time. The more accurate these measurements are, the more accurate capacity will be and thus the more accurate coulombic efficiency values will be. This also requires accurate control of cell temperature. Maccor offers industry leading measurement and control capability.
Typical Maccor System (as shown)
These safety features were designed into the very first Maccor test systems because from the beginning lithium batteries had high energy densities and the potential for violent failures which could cause severe damage to a facility and the people that work there. With Maccor these dangers were very important from the beginning and remain very important today.
No other device or equipment is needed
Maccor Model 4200 Test System • 16 Independent Test Channels • 4 Current Ranges
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“Batteries In ternational h as always bee committed n to reporting on the leadin edge of batte g ry news. For the past 25 years (and 1 00 is go-to resourc sues!) they’ve been the e for everyo ne dustry, from entry level to in this inCEO. Happ Birthday, Bat y teries Intern ational! It’s b a pleasure st een aying up to dat and we look forward to m e with you any more ye ars together.”
ional 00 Issue ational gazine for your 1 atteries Intern Internat ernational Ma B s ie r late Batteries Int e congratulate atu e ngr t co t ur We W niversary 0th Issue and yo and your 25 An thday Ba urrtic10 ir yo r B les Batteries fo e y te a in da p az p to a p ag th u cid M d vendors wi nt and contact toiv the Lead A Ha and anufacturers an me th Ann ersary ine for battery m for advertise25 blication t 5 yeAs aa prrints ma!al wgazas a rket place for us u p t ery lways a good ma n e r ba ll s tion e tt e Interna s for th cesfo suce m beagst aaznd in a prinall t the or the la f an exc . f o Battery Market. u hinsd it wish you s beA up to r o Battery world cid EAM y a ith e T d‐A w hol e Lea s h e w the y or d th icles from 25 wit and vend Management an g teresting art rs re in tu The CMWTEC k ac h fresh and in r wit uf ng an o goi m ep w d – ke nal was next 25 years an teries Internatio at pleasure B s le tic ar te .de da r us for www.cmwtec team. market place fo d od n go a a s y ay w il al Lead tz, Fam d contact to the John Wir advertisement an t. th
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Thank you Batteries International on your Silver Jubilee & 100th issue... brilliant reporting ... great humor.. & very informative .....much needs to be done , and we look upon to your support in the coming years. With Best wishes from Arvind Tuli & Raj Kumar Bansal of Sparco India & Ajoy Raychaudhu ri of Battery Foundation International & IBRX India 2017,
So old and still full of energy! Happy Birthday to Batteries International! The best of everything that’s what HADI Accumachines wishes to all of you at the magazine. You are our constant companions in the market and you are the glue, that holds our business together with the news and rumors, the conferences and the reports and articles. Many thanks for that! And in 10 years time, HADI will turn 100 too ... but 100 years! and hopefully we will celebrate together. Best regards from Germany!
8 • Batteries International • 100th Edition • 2016
Happy Birthday Ba tteries Internationa l! Thanks for your co ntinued support fo r the show and I look forward to the next 25 issues! Steve Bryan | Event Director
We are proud to have a mutually beneficial relationship with Batteries International during the past 25years and look forward to many more years to come. Many happy returns from the team at Sovema!
25 YEARS SERVING THE INDUSTRY AND STILL GOING STRONG
artner inating p sh m lu il n a fre en riads of lways be BI has a ustr y offering my columns. l in the ind on with insightfu o ti a d but als rm fo in us update p n e m e k le it so does es a s deserv Not only it support y . a n w o ti e th apprecia best u all the I wish yo ricam Celal Sa
“ECOBAT a re d congratulation elighted to offer their s to Batteries Internationa on their 25th l Anniversary and on their centenary issu e. We would li ke to thank B atteries Internationa l for their co mmitment to our industry , their wise in sights and th comprehensi eir ve in the sector ben ventory of information efits from in reading their magazine ov er the last 25 ye ars. It is alw a pleasure to ays work with th e Batteries Internationa l team and w e look forwa continuing ou rd to r successful co llaboration a promotion of nd EC the future.’’ … OBAT and our sector in says Rob Har Director of ECOBAT in ris; Managing Europe.
r first 25 years. ou y d an e su is h 0t 10 r ou Congratulations on y r Group! ou n ow sh e av h ou y t or Thank you for the supp xt 25 years. ne r ou y of rt pa g in be Look forward to
“100 issue s strong an d just gettin Congratula g started! tions to Ba tteries Inte on celebra rnational ting 25 ye ars informed o n the curre of keeping us well nt and futu re state of our indust ry.”
Batteries International • 100th Edition • 2016 • 9
In more than 70 years the tools we use have changed quite a bit.
Nearing the end of World War II, three men in the small town of Burr Oak, Mich. shared a vision to start a company committed to designing and supplying quality tools, dies and gauges for the expanding U.S. manufacturing industry. After securing financing and a suitable building, Burr OAK Tool and Gauge Company was off and running and the first real job was accepted. Even with heavy on-the-fly learning and a notable lack of proper equipment, the job was delivered on time through innovation, imagination and hard work. These values would be ingrained in the culture of Burr OAK Tool for years to come.
Newell A. Franks Founder
By the early 1950s, Burr OAK Tool ventured into the heating and air conditioning industry becoming a trusted supplier to many customers. The company began to focus efforts on the design and building of equipment for that industry and the first punching die was built in 1959. Today, Burr OAK Tool has installed more than 2,800 dies. 2008
What hasn’t changed is our commitment to innovation, imagination and hard work. By the mid-1960s, the tooling technology from Burr Oak Tool exceeded the capabilities of any stamping press on the market. To meet that need, Oak Press Solutions was founded. In 1965, Oak Press Solutions designed their first high speed punching press. Today, Oak Press Solutions has over 2,300 presses (and counting) installed globally. Fast forward to 2008 and the building of our very first Battery Grid Punching System. It included a battery grid punching die designed and built by Burr Oak Tool. Now, we are building our 28th battery grid system and our 70th battery grid die. With the same innovation, imagination and hard work used by our founders, Oak Press Solutions is working on the next generation of battery grid punching equipment. Contact us to see how grids made with Oak Equipment can help improve your productivity, quality and profitability.
Oak Press Solutions Inc.
504 Wade Street • Sturgis, MI 49091 • U.S.A. email: email@example.com www.oak-battery.com
25 YEARS SERVING THE INDUSTRY AND STILL GOING STRONG
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one at Ha mmond G congratu roup wou late ld like to issue. Thro Batteries Interna tional on ughout th their 100 e years w work and th e have en de joyed you look forw dication to the ba r ttery indu ard to wh stry. We at the futu re brings.
‘Warm congratulations on your 100th and for your unfailing support for the lead battery industry.’ From your friends at ILA and ALABC.
Thank you “Batteries International” fo r 100 wonderful issues full of information, knowledge and fun. Special gratitude goes to Karen and Mike. And Happy silve r birthday! ZESAR Team.
From all of us at itment to the I. Your comm B. ay hd rt Bi extraordinary. Happy sues has been is 0 10 es er su is ov 0 ry indust e next 10 t to see what th We cannot wai will contain! imura LTD ent, Sorfin Yosh id es Pr , nk Fi t Scot
12 • Batteries International • 100th Edition • 2016
Congrats to the BI-team for 25 years of successful business and congrats for the issue 100. We from Inbatec are proud to be part of it. Thanks for everything. Christian Papmahl
We wish Batteries International Magazine A very happy 25th Birthday We all look forward to the next 100issues!
25 YEARS SERVING THE INDUSTRY AND STILL GOING STRONG
Maxwell Techno logies congratula tes Batteries International ma gazine to its 100 years of success. It’s been a great pleasure working with your team of professionals . Longevity spea ks for itself - he to the next years re’s of excellent achie vements!
to nt Power, I’d like On behalf of Rege es! ish w y ar y annivers extend huge happ l na io at rn te ries In Not only has Batte e th of e ic vo E premiere proven to be TH y, an m to e’s er dustry. H Battery Storage in t es fin y’s str as the indu many more years publication! Laura Jones, CEO
Happy 100th issue from everyone at OAK Press Solutio ns… Many things in the battery industry ha ve changed over the pa st 25 years, but the one constant is the dedication Batteries Internatio nal has shown in providing the latest news and technical information relating to this industry. Keep up the great work!!
‘We at MAC Engi neering would lik e to congratulate ev eryone at BI on their 100th issue. From the very beginning, both Mike and Karen have done a tremendo us job not for their magaz ine but always co only nsidering opportu for us suppliers nities that could get ou r name and ideas more effectively. out They are truly lea ders in this indu and we look forw stry ard to wishing th em HB on their issue. Congrats 200th to the whole te am at BI, well de and keep up the served great work’ Best Regards, Do uglas Bornas
BUON COMPLEANNNO BATTERIES INTERNATIONAL! Thank you for being part of the OMI family for all these years! Melissa Maggioni
s from Batteries Dear Colleague International, ttery ppened in the ba ha gs in th o In 1991 tw ased the Asahi Kasei rele world: Sony and ry and lithium-ion batte first commercial . Since ional it’s first issue Batteries Internat for 100 ged. Thank you then things chan ws from knowledge and ne issues of battery preciate ! We at Froetek ap the battery world of what eping us updated your efforts in ke stry. All the around our indu happens in and ng! best and keep goi
Batteries International • 100th Edition • 2016 • 13
Raise your performance
A QUARTER CENTURY OF BATTERY DEVELOPMENT
A short and deliberately selective history of technological advances in the world of energy storage over the past 25 years.
The road less travelled — a short history of battery storage from 1990 till now An overview of the past quarter century of battery development is almost impossible to give without taking sides over which chemistry should be promoted or which will achieve dominance in the next 25 years. Talk about “horses for courses” — energy storage suited to its application — has always missed the point. The battery of choice for the car — with some billion running around the world as we speak — is the lead acid battery. Despite the arrival of competing chemistries many forecasts suggest that the number of automotive lead
16 • Batteries International • 100th Edition • 2016
batteries driving around the world will reach 2 billion by 2035. The death of the lead battery community has been predicted for — at least — the last 40 years. David Wilson, a former head of the International Lead Association, says that the death of the lead acid battery had been anticipated from his very first years in the industry. Irrespective of their strength as a commercial product, lead batteries now compete in a world where other chemistries dominate — and rightly so. Although NiMH was part of the brave new world that seemed to sup-
plant lead batteries in the 1990s, advances in its chemistry proved limited. Meanwhile, lithium ion has gradually advanced up the energy chain from being the powerhouse in laptop computers and the earliest mobile phones to claims by car maker Tesla that they will power the cars of the future. (That is before fuel cells make the next technology leap, says Tesla founder Elon Musk.) But as this technological history of batteries shows, the world of innovation continues to throw up new opportunities and challenges for all chemistries.
A QUARTER CENTURY OF BATTERY DEVELOPMENT
The 1990s New battery technologies enable the development of cordless and portable devices (power tools, mobile phones, lap-top computers, PDAs, digital cameras, personal care items) and consequently boost demand for batteries. Increased volumes bring prices down, reinforcing demand. Attempts at using lead batteries for electric vehicles with General Motor’s EV1 programme, that eventually failed, showed there was a potential for EVs. Ford’s Ecostar programme, a fleet of more than 100 cars, looked at sodium sulfur batteries — then a very novel battery — in the early 1990s, but eventually diverted research into fuel cells. Meanwhile, great strides were being made in lead battery manufacturing, with everything from better formation systems to better paste making arriving on the scene. 1990
Commercialization of the NiMH battery after a relatively short period of development of only four years is helped by the fact that the new NiMH cells could be made using the same equipment that had been used to manufacture NiCad cells.
Welsh firm Atraverda founded to commercialize bipolar lead acid batteries using Ebonex ceramic — a metallic-type conductor having a conductivity comparable to carbon but with superior oxidation resistance. The crystal structure of the titanium suboxides makes for a combination of corrosion resistance, oxidation resistance and electrical conductivity. Commercialization of the product is troubled by management conflicts and the advantages of the battery such as reduced levels of lead are hampered by difficulties in putting them onto a commercial production line.
1990 The first volume introduction of lithium secondary cells for consumer applications after more than 10 years of development.
1995 English stuntman, swimming professional and inventor Trevor Baylis devises a method of producing a practical long-lasting supply of electricity from a wind-up spring. Using springs to generate electricity is nothing new, but before Baylis’ invention, the energy tended to be produced for only a short duration. Baylis devised a clockwork battery by connecting the spring through a gear box, which releases the energy slowly to a dynamo. This was later adapted to feed the energy into rechargeable cells.
Batteries International • 100th Edition • 2016 • 17
30 years serving the industry from our New york office
A QUARTER CENTURY OF BATTERY DEVELOPMENT 1991
Carbon nanotubes, or Buckytubes, are discovered by the Japanese electron microscopist Sumio Iijima, who was studying the material deposited on the cathode during the arc-evaporation synthesis of fullerenes. Buckytubes can exhibit either semiconducting or metallic properties. They also have the intrinsic characteristics desired in the nanomaterials used as electrodes in batteries and capacitors: a tremendously high surface area (~1000 m2/g), good electrical conductivity, and very importantly, a linear geometry which makes their surface highly accessible to the electrolyte. Buckytubes have the highest reversible capacity of any carbon material that can be used in lithium ion batteries.
Introduction of the pouch cell made possible by lithium PLI technology.
two others injured when the containment enclosure weighing 2,000Kg fails to protect them from shrapnel when a high speed rotor fails.
Duracell and Intel develops the Smart Battery system for Intelligent Batteries and proposes the specification with its associated SMBus as an industry standard.
Researchers Theodore Poehler and Peter Searson at The Johns Hopkins University demonstrate an all-plastic battery using doped polymer, polypyrrole (five-membered ring structured organic molecule, capable of redox reactions), composite electrodes in place of the conventional electrode materials.
1991 Swiss scientist Michael Grätzel and co-workers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology patent the Grätzel solar cell, a regenerative battery depending for its operation on a photoelectrochemical process similar to photosynthesis. 1992
1995 On-cell battery condition indicator or fuel gauge for consumer primary cells introduced by Energizer. 1995 BMW abandons flywheel energy storage after a test technician is killed and
1998 48MWh Sodium sulfur load-levelling battery delivering 6 MW for eight hours installed by NGK for Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO).
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Austria-born Karl Kordesch of Canada patents the reusable alkaline battery the so-called (RAM) Rechargeable Alkaline Manganese battery. Kordesch holds 150 patents on battery and fuel cell technology. 1993 John Cooper, working at the Lawrence Livermore Labs, patents the zinc air refuellable battery, using a cell chemistry first demonstrated by Heise and Schumacher in 1932. The battery is charged with an alkaline electrolyte and zinc pellets, which are consumed in the process to form zinc oxide and potassium zincate. Refuelling takes about 10 minutes. These short refuelling times, made possible with mechanical charging, are attractive for EV applications. The spent electrolyte is recycled. 1994 Bellcore patent on Plastic Lithium Ion (PLI) technology granted. Lithium polymer cells with a solid polymer electrolyte. The solid state battery.
Speak to us! Energy Storage Journal is always eager to hear market comment. So much so, we’ve dedicated two areas of the magazine just for you to tell it as it is.
The first is our section called COMMENT — which rather says it all. Here give us your views about what our industry is doing well (or badly) or just needs to open a discussion, this is where to air your views.
The second is called CONFERENCE IN PRINT. Here we’re looking for scholarly articles looking at the nuts and bolts of what we do. We’re looking for technical papers that can explain advances in chemistry or technology.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Disclaimer: Our editorial board necessarily vets every article that we print and will impartially approve pieces that it believes will be interesting and supportive of the energy storage industry and related products. Articles submitted should not be marketing pieces.
Batteries International • 100th Edition • 2016 • 19
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A QUARTER CENTURY OF BATTERY DEVELOPMENT
The 2000s The decade was spent (again) forecasting that lead was dead. The conclusion was reached after a variety of developments, mostly the rise of fuel cells and the application of NiMH in electric vehicles. Towards the end of the decade, however, vast insertions of US government money, mainly into lithium ion chemistry, caused a speculative investment spike in electric vehicles which was to end mostly in tears in the years to come. 2000 Indian chemist Sukant Tripathy, working at the University of Massachusetts, demonstrates polymer photovoltaic cells for making flexible solar panels using nanotechnology. 2001 Russian scientists’ work on developing the lead carbon battery begins the commercialization and eventual creation of Axion Power. The PbC is similar to a standard lead acid battery but uses the standard lead acid battery positive electrode and a super-capacitor negative electrode. The specific type of activated carbon it uses has an extremely high surface area and has been formulated for use in electrochemical applications. During charge and discharge, the positive electrode undergoes the same chemical reaction that occurs in a conventional lead acid battery. The main difference in the PbC battery is the replacement of the lead negative electrode with an activated carbon electrode that, being a supercap, does not undergo a chemical reaction at all. 2002 Various patents are filed on nanomaterials used in lithium and other batteries to achieve increases in charge and discharge rates of 10 to 100 times. 2002 Commercialization of solid state lithium polymer thin film batteries based on patents from ORNL. 2003 Teeters, Korzhova and Fisher, working at the University of Tulsa in the USA,
patent the nanobattery so small they can fit 60 of them across the width of a human hair. 2003 RWE, the German multi-utilities group and new owners of National Power (now renamed Innogy), pull the plug on the Regenesys battery project before the battery is completed despite spending $250 million over 14 years. 2003
The world’s biggest battery was connected to provide emergency power to Fairbanks, Alaska’s second-largest city. Without power lines between Alaska and the rest of the US, the state is an electrical island. The $35 million rechargeable battery contains 13,760 large Nickel-Cadmium cells in FOUR strings weighing a total of 1,300 tonnes and covering 2,000 square metres. The battery can provide 40MW of power for up to seven minutes while diesel backup generators are started.
Finnish metallurgist Rainer Partanen patents the rechargeable aluminium air battery using nanotechnology to achieve very high energy densities. 2004 Toshiba demonstrates a direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC) small enough to power mobile phones. The fuel cell provides an output of 100mW from a cell measuring 22x56x4.5mm. A single charge of 2cc of methanol will power an MP3 player for 20 hours.
2001 John Smalley, working at the US Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Lab, announces the development of nanowires, organic molecules called oligophenylenevinylene (OPV). These molecules are essentially “chains” of repeating links made up of carbon and hydrogen atoms that allow a very fast rate of electron transfer down the chain acting as extremely fine, low resistance wires only one molecule in diameter.
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A QUARTER CENTURY OF BATTERY DEVELOPMENT 2003 Worldwide battery sales — a snapshot • Total world sales value $48 billion. • Sales value of small rechargeable batteries $7.6 billion. • More than 110 million automotive lead acid batteries were manufactured for more than 650 million vehicles on the world’s roads. 81% of sales were to the replacement market. • Sales value of industrial batteries for traction and standby power applications - $14 billion. • 500,000 electric bicycles per year sold in China. • The HEV/EV battery market is expected to grow at an AAGR of more than 50% to nearly $250 million in 2008. • Total battery demand expected to exceed $60 billion by 2006 and $65 billion by 2008.
CSIRO researchers David Rand and Lan Lam awarded patent for the UltraBattery. This is a hybrid device that combines ultracapacitor technology with lead acid battery technology in a single cell with a common electrolyte. Physically, UltraBattery has a single positive electrode and a twin negative electrode – one part carbon, one part lead, in a common electrolyte. Together these make up the negative electrode of the UltraBattery unit, but specifically the carbon is the electrode of the capacitor and lead is the electrode of the lead-acid cell. The single positive electrode (lead oxide) is typical of all lead acid batteries and is common to the lead acid cell and the ultracapacitor. This technology (specifically the addition of the carbon electrode) gives UltraBattery different performance characteristics from conventional VRLA batteries. In particular UltraBattery technology suffers significantly less from the development of permanent (or hard) sulfation on the negative battery electrode – a problem commonly exhibited in conventional lead acid batteries.
US firm Firefly Energy received first of several US patents for its carbon-graphite foam lead acid battery technology based on a material sciences innovation discovered by Caterpillar Inc. Unlike conventional lead acid batteries, this lasts longer, is smaller, weighs less because of the reduction of lead, sheds heat more effectively and can be re-charged more quickly. Unfortunately Firefly is unable to commercialize the technology.
Korean bioengineer Ki Bang Lee, working at Singapore’s Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, develops a paper battery powered by urine which can be used as a simple, cheap and disposable power source for home health tests for diabetes and other ailments.
Researchers at MIT’s Laboratory for Electromagnetic and Electronic Systems (LEES), John Kassakian, Joel Schindall and Riccardo Signorelli, succeeds in growing straight single wall nanotubes (SWNT) with diameters varying from 0.7 to 2 nanometres and lengths of several tens of microns
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2005 Masaharu Satoh, working at NEC in Japan, reveals details of a high C rate Organic Radical Battery (ORB). This is a low-capacity battery which runs for only a short period but can be charged and discharged at 100C. 2005 Fraser Armstrong, working at Oxford University, demonstrates the prototype of a biofuel cell which uses as fuel the small amounts of free hydrogen available in the atmosphere and an enzyme to promote oxidation, rather than an expensive catalyst.
(one 30,000th the diameter of a human hair and 100,000 times as long as they are wide) which they use to make enhanced double layer capacitors with major performance improvements. 2007 Apple launches the iPhone, a revolutionary, Internet-capable smart phone. With the idea of a rechargeable battery that is not removable — capable of lasting the life of the phone — this is to set the benchmark for battery management systems and batteries for the next decade and beyond. 2007 Sony announces a Sugar Battery, a Biofuel Cell using glucose as fuel with enzymes for catalysts, developed by Tsuyonobu Hatazawa and Professor Kenji Kano from Kyoto University. It consists of an anode and a cathode separated by a proton-conducting membrane. A renewable fuel, such as a sugar, is oxidised by microorganisms at the anode, generating electrons and protons. The protons migrate through the membrane to the cathode while the electrons are transferred to the cathode by an external circuit. The electrons and protons combine with oxygen at the cathode to form water. 2008 American inventor Lonnie Johnson discovers a breakthrough method of turning heat into electrical energy that he uses in a new form of thermoelectric battery.
A QUARTER CENTURY OF BATTERY DEVELOPMENT
The 2010s The 2010s have been characterized by a huge R&D spend in lithium ion battery chemistry. Investment, mainly from governments and particularly that in the US, that had seemed wasted at the start of the decade, returned to bite the lead acid battery community, which had been suffering from minimal research programmes except for those still coming from ALABC, East Penn, Hammond and Trojan. Incremental changes in the price point per kWh for lithium versus lead batteries narrowed the competitive gap between the two chemistries. The sudden arrival of renewable energy in scale in the mid2010s caught utilities off guard, but meant that grid balancing functions were needed to account for intermittency. The arrival of residential PV electricity began to change business models forever. Lead lost out to lithium, but given the industry is still emerging there is scope for advanced lead batteries to compete. What lead lost to lithium it made up for in spades with EFB and VRLA batteries throwing off the challenge of pure electric vehicles as they dominate the large and still rapidly growing stop-start market. 2011
Researchers Yu-Chueh Hung, WeiTing Hsu and Ting-Yu Lin at the Institute of Photonics Technologies at Taiwan’s National University (TNU), working with Ljiljana Fruk at the Centre for Functional Nanostructures at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in Germany, demonstrates a photo-induced write-once read-manytimes (WORM) organic memory device based on DNA biopolymer nanocomposite (published in AIP Applied Physics Letters). In other words they shows that DNA can be used as a data storage medium.
Researchers Donald Sadoway and David Bradwell, working at MIT, produce working prototypes of a liquid metal battery using magnesium-antimony molten salts.
Following on the previous year’s research in Taiwan’s TNU and Karlsruhe’s KIT, Harvard researchers George Church and Sri Kosuri takes a major step towards producing a practical DNA Data Storage device by successfully storing 700 terabytes of data (5.5 petabytes) in a single gram of DNA.
Aqua Metals demonstrates novel way of recycling lead acid batteries without the use of smelting. Commercialization of the technology continues with launch of new factory in 2016.
2013 Hammond releases K2 range of expanders offering step change in lead acid battery performance, particularly in terms of cyclability in partial state of charge and offering performance benefits that can be adjusted to varying temperature ranges and demands.
Contributed by Barry Lawson from his Electropaedia web site www.mpoweruk.com, Batteries International staff, and suggestions from readers.
Batteries International • 100th Edition • 2016 • 23
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HISTORY OF LEAD The history of the lead acid battery has been one of constant improvements — very rarely has it been in huge leaps forward but mostly it’s been slow and steady modifications. Or that was until the VRLA battery arrived and the challenges it threw up. By David Rand.
Moving on from one iteration to the next in lead battery performance Gustave Planté’s invention of the lead acid battery came at an opportune time, the availability of industrial-scale electricity was accompanied by a rapid expansion in lead acid manufacture. A decisive step in the commercialization of the lead acid battery was made by Camille Alphonse Faure who, in 1880, coated the lead sheets with a paste of lead oxides, sulfuric acid and water. On curing the plates at a warm temperature in a humid atmosphere, the paste changed to a mixture of basic lead sulfates which adhered to the lead electrode. During charging the cured paste was converted into electrochemically active material (or the active mass) and thereby gave a substantial increase in capacity compared with the Planté cell. Soon the idea developed of cutting rectangular holes out of the lead plates to lighten their weight and also to provide receptacles into which the paste could be packed. So was born the modern pasted-plate battery which is by far the most common type of lead acid battery in use today. The first major market was for stand-by batteries to provide emergency power to essential equipment in electricity-generating stations and at other critical sites. For such large battery applications, it is notable that no other battery chemistry has been able to compete on cost grounds with the lead acid system. Towards the end of the 19th century, electric cars appeared on the roads and were powered mostly by lead acid.
Batteries also began to be used for illumination in railway coaches as well as for powering railway signalling systems, the electrical equipment of ships, and radio receiving-transmitting equipment. With the advent of the internal-combustion engine, the lead acid battery was first employed in road vehicles for lighting, then later also for engine starting, and now additionally for the whole range of electrical duties expected in the modern vehicle. The market for off-road traction batteries has also expanded and in almost all cases it is the lead acid system that predominates when the requirement is for stored energy of more than a few hundred watt-hours. By 1910, the construction of lead acid batteries involved the use of an asphalt-coated and sealed wooden container, wooden separators, thick plates, and inter-cell connections made through the cover by the use of heavy lead posts and links. The first important change came in the early 1920s when the more acidresistant, hard rubber case was developed and came into use. During the next 30 years, basic battery construction changed little, although activematerial performance was enhanced through the use of additives and through raw material improvements. Significant advances were also made in grid technology — it’s worth noting that in 1881, J Scudamore Sellon had demonstrated the appreciable mechanical and electrochemical benefits to be gained by replacing the pure-
The market for off-road traction batteries has also expanded and in almost all cases it is the lead acid system that predominates when the requirement is for stored energy of more than a few hundred watt-hours. www.batteriesinternational.com
lead grids of Faure plates with lead antimony counterparts). Increases in the efficiency of the manufacturing process were also achieved during this period, especially following the introduction of machine pasting of plates. During the late 1950s, onepiece covers that were epoxy sealed to the cases were introduced. The case and cover material, however, remained hard rubber and inter-cell connections were still made through the cover. Lower-resistance separators, which were made of phenolicresin-impregnated cellulose fibre, also came into use and obviously raised the electrical performance of cells. Machine stacking of battery plates became common and thereby reduced the level of manual labour involved in battery manufacture. In the early 1960s, a method was devised for automatically joining plates of the same polarity within a cell element. Simultaneously, a technique for connecting the cells within a battery in series through the cell walls was developed. This markedly reduced both the internal resistance of the battery and the amount of connecting or ‘top’ lead needed. Major advances were also made in plate design and production techniques that gave rise to more efficient batteries with high specific power. In the late 1960s, the injection-moulded polypropylene case and cover were introduced and gave the lead acid battery a durable, thin wall, lightweight container. Moreover, the thin outside walls and cell partitions permitted the use of more active material without increasing the external weight or volume of the battery. Finally, the performance and life of the batteries were both enhanced through the availability of low-resistance, highly durable, plastic separators.
Batteries International • 100th Edition • 2016 • 25
Managing power deMands is our specialty. We’re well aware that today’s automobiles are hungry for power. That’s why we focus on delivering ultracapacitor cell technology that is compact, power-dense, and able to meet the needs of your automobile’s high-power applications. The future is in action today — 1.7 million cars on the road rely on Maxwell’s ultracapacitors for start-stop. Our high-purity activated carbon and patented dry manufacturing process are central to the design of our cells, which can work alone or alongside the vehicle’s batteries. Energy storage for automotive architectures is changing. Focus on giving your customers the ultimate driving experience. Leave high power demands in our hands.
HISTORY OF LEAD Meanwhile, a technological explosion was waiting in the wings. Classical lead acid batteries are flooded systems. That is, the electrolyte medium is a free liquid to a level above the top of the plates and above the busbars. This has the disadvantage that the cells have to be vented to release the gases liberated during charging, namely, oxygen at the positive electrode and hydrogen at the negative. As a consequence, not only is water lost (and thus has to be replaced by regular maintenance operation), but also the battery may be used only in the upright position, otherwise leakage of the sulfuric acid solution takes place. Also, the released gases carry a very fine mist of sulfuric acid that is highly corrosive. Thus efforts were made to develop sealed batteries that would not require topping up with water and would be safe under all conditions of use and abuse. At first, such attempts revolved around the catalytic recombination of the gases within the battery, but this idea proved to be impractical. Success came, however, with the invention of the valve-regulated lead acid (VRLA) battery. The first commercial units were introduced by Sonnenschein in the late 1960s and by Gates Energy Products in the early 1970s. These were, respectively, the gel and absorptive glass mat (AGM) technologies. In the VRLA design, oxygen evolved during charging transfers through a gas space to the negative electrode where it is reduced (recombined) back to water. This process is known as the internal oxygen-recombination cycle. There are two alternative techniques for providing the gas space. One cell design has the electrolyte immobilized as a gel; the other has the electrolyte held within an AGM separator. Gas passes through fissures in the gel, or through channels in the AGM. A corresponding recombination cycle for hydrogen is not possible because oxidation of the gas at the positive electrode is far too slow. This feature, together with the fact that oxygen recombination is not complete (the efficiency is typically 93% to 99%), requires each cell to be fitted with a one-way valve as a safeguard against excessive pressure build-up — hence, the term valve-regulated. The VRLA battery can be employed in any orientation, and thus gives equipment design engineers a much
Success came, however, with the invention of the valve-regulated lead acid (VRLA) battery. The first commercial units were introduced by Sonnenschein in the late 1960s and by Gates Energy Products in the early 1970s. greater degree of flexibility. Antimony is not included in the grid alloys of VRLA cells because this element lowers the hydrogen over-potential and therefore encourages gassing at the negative electrode during charging. Care must be taken against the introduction of other elements that might act similarly. Today, lead calcium tin alloys are preferred by manufacturers of VRLA batteries for float duties, and lead tin for cycling applications. Initially, there was a vexatious problem to be solved, namely, the propensity of batteries employing non-antimonial grids to suffer a rapid loss of capacity early in the projected life of the cell, particularly under deep-discharge conditions. It was found that the adverse behaviour, loosely termed the ‘antimony-free effect’, originated from the positive plate. Given the serious commercial ramifications of the effect, both the lead suppliers and the battery industry soon recognized the need for a consolidated programme, coupled with a forum for the global exchange of ideas on how to eliminate the problem. This prompted the successive formation of the Asian Battery Conference in 1986 (organized by the Australian lead industry), the European Lead Battery Conference in 1988 (organized by the Lead Development Association, LDA), and the LABAT Conference in 1989 (organized by the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences) — all of which continue to this day. The knowledge and advice gathered via the scientific and technological network that evolved from the above three conferences proved invaluable to the International Lead-Zinc Research Organization (ILZRO) in establishing the Advanced Lead Acid Battery Consortium — ALABC — in March 1992. Its prime purpose was to combat the threat from the alternative battery systems that were to be developed under the management of the US Advanced Battery Consortium (USABC) following legislation in California for the implementation of zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs). The battery specifications for such vehicles were set by the USABC
and included a target life of 500 cycles under the Simplified Federal Urban Driving Schedule (SFUDS) — a performance that VRLA batteries could not achieve at that time. Consequently, in 1992, a joint ILZRO LDA meeting was held during the Third European Lead Battery Conference to develop a consolidated strategy in search of a remedy for the antimony-free effect (which had, in fact, first been diagnosed by Jeanne Burbank way back in 1964! Since it had been found that batteries using lead-antimony alloys with antimony contents < 2 wt.% were also subject to the phenomenon, it was decided to refer to the effect as premature capacity loss (PCL), a term that had been recommended by CSIRO’s Tony Hollenkamp in the previous year. The ALABC subsequently formed a PCL Study Group, which first met at the Second LABAT Conference in 1993. After robust discussion, the competing theories of PCL were defined and grouped under two categories, namely: • PCL-1, caused by deleterious events at the positive grid | active-material interface; • PCL-2, caused by gradual inactivation of the active-material itself. Eventually, a unified explanation of PCL was developed, in which capacity loss falls on a continuous scale. The position where a cell lies on this scale is determined by the rate and location at which the connectivity of the active material (ie the apparent density) declines to the critical value where conductivity is compromised. The final key to solving the PCL puzzle, therefore, was to squeeze more life into cells via a controlled level of separator compression to minimize positive-plate expansion. Apparatus such as the CSIRO piston cell was developed to determine the optimum conditions for a given type of AGM separator. The results of the studies, together with other improvements in cell design, enabled VRLA batteries to meet cyclelife targets. Thus, in 1995, Pat Moseley, the manager of the ALABC, was able to state confidently that: “PCL is in retreat.”
Batteries International • 100th Edition • 2016 • 27
THE ALABC STORY For the past quarter century, the Advanced Lead-Acid Battery Consortium — chronologically more or less parallel in time with Batteries International — has represented the advancing technology of the industry.
The ALABC story— from its foundations to dynamic charge acceptance It’s odd to think some of the heaviest smogs over Los Angeles in the 1970s and 1980s were to give birth to the ALABC — the Advanced Lead-Acid Battery Consortium. But the connection is valid. In 1990 the California Air Resources Board introduced landmark legislation requiring that 10% of all cars sold in the state by 2013 had to be zero emission vehicles. With almost 25 years to clean up their act the Big Three automobile firms in the US put their heads together. And when two or more of the Big Three are gathered together, federal purses open like magic. So in early 1991 the US Department of Energy announced a three-year,
$262 million programme. The result was the US Advanced Battery Consortium, the ALABC. Its mandate was to research battery technologies for electric vehicles. But for all its virtues, and it had many, the USABC had one particular quirk — it decided that it would research all energy storage possibilities bar one. The lead acid battery. “It’s dinosaur technology,” said one DoE official at the time, dismissing in a phrase what had been the industry workhorse for over a century. Realizing the implications of USABC — that the very life of the entire lead acid business was potentially at stake — the industry was left reeling. It was more than blatant unfairness,
The key figure in the fight back at the beginning was Jerry Cole, head of the ILZRO, the US-based International Lead Zinc Research Organization. ALABC ORGANIZATIONAL PRINCIPLES Jerry Cole, founding father of the ALABC, wrote: “The major goal of the ALABC is to optimize the research potential of the membership and the partnering organizations to get rapid solutions for the new, specific applications-related problems lead acid batteries can have to maintain their dominant position in the more rapidly changing battery market. As a result of the united research efforts, results are obtained in a much shorter time and at a much lower price compared to single company studies. “ALABC studies are organized in one to three-year programmes devoted to the most important current and future market demands. The programmes comprise several projects dealing with various aspects of the particular solution. These programmes are arranged to catalyse the development of advanced, better than all existing lead acid batteries. “After identifying the battery features to be enhanced for the particular application, the best experts’ ideas are gathered and projects are initiated. The project team can be from one company but usually experts from several leading companies are involved.”
28 • Batteries International • 100th Edition • 2016
the discriminatory nature of where the funding was being directed was absurd. The key figure in the fight back at the beginning was Jerry Cole, head of the ILZRO, the US-based International Lead Zinc Research Organization. For a long time the ILZRO had provided a spirited defence against the attacks made by the rise and rise of an environmental movement that increasingly seemed more concerned with image than scientific fact. But Cole knew he had to take this further. He proposed the idea of a counter body — also to receive funding from the US government if possible — that would promote research into lead as a source of motive power in the new kind of vehicles envisaged. The crucial meeting — or perhaps more strictly one of the several crucial get-togethers — in the formation of the ALABC took place in June 1991 in California. Cole gathered a group of battery manufacturers, smelters and other sections of the lead acid battery community and presented them with a simple proposition: could they create an organization that would look at the role of the lead acid battery as a source of automotive power? He outlined several proposals for a way forward. And they liked them. The next step was to take what was essentially a flip-chart presentation for the ALABC and flesh it out into a master plan they could sell to the industry.
Fleshing out the master plan
In July Bob Nelson joined the ALABC as its programme manager and his first job was to do just that. “It was agreed early on that the focus would be on optimizing VRLA batteries for electric vehicle use,” he later wrote, “so roughly half of the programme
THE ALABC STORY would be fundamental research that would benefit all lead acid application areas.” This in turn was refined to research in three areas: active materials and cycle life; grids/alloys/top lead and materials; and charging, battery management and electric vehicle battery testing. That general approach has — broadly speaking — remained in place to this very day. Another policy decision taken early on was that ALABC would be an open consortium with free sharing of all research among its members (although steps were taken to protect proprietary product information) — again a defining characteristic of the present ALABC. Nelson recalled his satisfaction over this. “The high point of my association with the ALABC was to see technical representatives from different lead acid companies from different countries and continents sitting around the same table expressing an interest in joining an international effort to improve lead acid batteries,” he wrote. “This may not sound like such a big deal now but in those days most com-
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panies jealously guarded their secrets and were loathe to interact with other manufacturers on serious technical matters.” In March 1992 the ALABC was formally created as a separate organization but under the umbrella of the ILZRO with its own resources and a planned expenditure of close to $5 million a year — most of which was derived from the members. Although many of the great and good of the battery industry took part in the formation of the ALABC, the three figures that dominated its early years were Cole, Nelson and the tireless — and unpaid — work of David Prengaman, “I agreed to become the technical director of the consortium and RSR al-
lowed me the time to spend to assure the success of the group,” Prengaman told Batteries International. Now in his 70s, “the lead pope”, as he has sometimes been called, is still active for the organization in the background.
The early programmes
In the first and second ALABC programmes — and the 40+ projects carried out within them between 1992 and 1999 — the prime goal was to develop batteries suitable for electric vehicles. The lead acid batteries targeted in 1992 EVs were supposed to be highly durable and cost effective at deep discharge, which required reconsideration of all major components and
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Batteries International • 100th Edition • 2016 • 29
THE ALABC STORY parameters of the cell. Almost all the materials used in the battery – lead alloys, grids, pastes and active materials, separators, additives, boxes and valves – needed to be improved. The interest in EV batteries declined in the third programme ending in 2002, when it became clear that neither lead acid nor any other battery at that time was able to offer the energy, speed of recharge and cycle life required for the power source of future electric vehicles. Nevertheless, the EV studies resulted in a dramatic improvement of most parameters of lead acid batteries and paved the way for developing the next generation of batteries for low emission transportation. Despite their low price, lead acid batteries were not ready for electric vehicles because they didn’t last long, needed long recharge, were heavy and sulphuric acid could leak from some of them. Carmakers considered two solutions: to improve lead acid batteries and/or develop better alternatives based on nickel, lithium and the like. Previous experience with golf carts, mining and industrial carts and forklift trucks showed that problems in the positive plate shorten the cycle life of lead acid batteries at deep cycling. The effect was called “premature capacity loss”, or PCL effect. Some of the batteries could be recovered by proper recharge (reversible PCL), others – no (irreversible PCL). In 14 projects, teams from the Australian, Bulgarian, German, French and Czech electrochemical schools along with Tudor, Hagen, Hawker, CMP, Battelle Europe, Metaleurope, FIAMM etc, explained and presented the effects and mechanisms. CSIRO’s
“Lead batteries provide a unique combination of performance, low cost, safety and reliability that we believe no other battery technology can match… However, it is important that lead batteries can adapt and improve such that this continues to be the case” — Andy Bush, ILA group under David Rand, who was to be programme manager in 2003, headed up the solution. It was found that the reversible (PCL-1) effect is caused by the accumulation of phases of high ohmic resistance in the grid-positive/active mass (PAM) interface; while the PCL2 is a result of degradation of the rigid, elastic and conductive bonds be-
tween the lead dioxide particles forming the PAM structure. The ALABC studies also resulted in developing technological solutions for dramatic suppression or full elimination of this problem. Another problem with lead acid batteries in EV applications was the need for fast recharge. Recharge time needed to be reduced from a couple of hours down to a couple of minutes – like filling a fuel tank. Lead alloys were another battery component that were optimized to provide high mechanical strength to the grids and the top lead, to keep corrosion rates low and to maintain as low as possible rates of hydrogen and oxygen evolution. The role of alloy additives like Sn in the positive grid for suppressing the PCL effects had also to be considered. Four alloy projects were carried out by Mike Mayer and Norman Bagshaw, CSIRO and RSR. All this required rewriting the battery science of years before. The efforts of the best researchers, battery manufacturers, suppliers and electric engineers were combined in 47 projects in these first seven years. By the time the third programme was put in place for 2000-2002, it was clear that neither lead acid nor any other battery was able to offer substantial improvements in most aspects of lead acid batteries such as the energy, speed of recharge and cycle life for pure EVs. That said, it was also clear that part of the propulsion energy for a vehicle could be provided by the battery — through tapping into the regenerative power afforded when braking. The ALABC’s focus changed from pure electric vehicles to hybrids.
Proof of the pudding … how the UltraBattery compares with a regular VRLA one Regular versus UltraBattery in HEV screening test
• Capacity change on cycling: from 9.0 Ah to 5.6 Ah • Loss in 1000 cycles: 5.5% • Life: 7,000 cycles
30 • Batteries International • 100th Edition • 2016
• Capacity change on cycling: from 7.3 Ah to 6.0 Ah • Loss in 1000 cycles: 0.55% • Life: > 31,000 cycles
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THE ALABC STORY The next large target was to be developing batteries for dual voltage – 42V/14V vehicles. The automakers wanted to replace the 12-volt electric system in the vehicles with a dual voltage (12V/42V) system which offered the benefits of higher power and smaller current devices in the vehicle, as well as easy attachment of an “idle stop” system. They hoped to reduce CO2 emissions and boost the automotive industry by improving fuel economy. Between 2000 and 2007, four projects focusing on 42V batteries were carried out: one by the CSIRO, one by the EALABC involving Exide (CMP), FIAMM, Land Rover, Provector and the Universities of Sheffield and War-
wick (ISOLAB-42), one by Exide (Tudor and CMP) and CSIRO, and by KEEP and Cranfield University (ISOTEST). It was eventually to lead to one of the great successes of the ALABC — the UltraBattery. Tapping regen power meant that the battery was continually being partially charged and discharged. One of the primary problems with a battery in a high rate partial state of charge is the rapid onset of negative plate sulfation — shorter battery life, less power delivery and poorer recharging.
The CSIRO connection
Australian research organization CSIRO found that a combination of
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a battery and an electrochemical ultracapacitor operating in sulfuric acid — where a high surface area carbon electrode is connected in parallel to the negative plate and uses the high capacitance of the positive plate — solved the partial state of charge problem. The first patent was granted in 2005 to research head David Rand and Lan Lam the research manager. A fuller patent was released in 2007. This has since been put into commercial products — in stationary batteries, cars and the grid. UltraBattery technology has been licensed to the Furukawa Battery in Japan and East Penn Manufacturing in the US. Testing the new UltraBatteries in research and factory labs showed that they were good enough to compete with NiMH batteries. These results, however, did not automatically open the door to the market. It was necessary to demonstrate the batteries on the road and get the approval of the automotive industry for using LC batteries in real vehicles. The first UltraBatteries were successfully tested in Millbrook, UK (Honda Insight vehicle) and easily exceeded the 100,000 miles target. CSIRO and Cleantech Ventures also invested in technology start-up Ecoult, a spin-off which became an East Penn subsidiary, to develop and commercialize battery-based storage solutions. Ecoult battery technology aims to deliver a low-cost, high-performance, high-power, stationary energy storage solution suitable for gridconnected and remote applications. Because of the research achievements already made, for the moment, ALABC projects were based on carbon added advanced lead acid batteries with optimized grid designs. In all, some 100 projects have been worked on these past 20 years. As time went by, ALABC research that identified modifications that improve VRLA performance significantly have changed to initiatives that turn theory into practice, particularly for their deployment in hybrid vehicles. Since the design features had not been tried in combination or tested in the field, the ALABC moved to providing practical demonstrations from January 2006 and theoretical studies formed the basis for building a working model, which was lab tested — and then evaluated in the field. The ALABC in its seventh programme phase, which ended in 2012, chose to use half of them as demonstrations. A quarter of them studied
THE ALABC STORY the mechanisms of action of the carbon additives on the NAM. Indeed, a large amount of the recent ALABC projects were based on carbon-added advanced lead acid batteries with optimized grid designs. In the fourth programme, for example, seven projects were focused on additives to the NAM for getting satisfactory performance at HRPSoC: two by the CSIRO and one by Hammond, Borregaard-Lignotech and Northstar. The idea of using a high surface area in the negative plate was further developed by other ALABC members. A variety of designs using carbon as an additive to the lead acid battery appeared. This design is registered under the logo “LC batteries”. Later on this developed into some 12 projects looking dor the best carbons for lead–acid batteries, their concentration and combinations. These projects were with Hammond (involving also Northstar and the University of Chicago), Axion Power, the TU of Brno, the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and Exide Technologies, Spain. In a later programme for the early 2010s some 12 projects studied the mechanisms of action of the carbon additives on NAM (with CoolOhm, USA, with the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and with the Technical University of Brno, Czech Republic), and one (with EnerG2, USA) aimed at estimating the influence of carbon on the rate of hydrogen evolution. “The results since the ALABC was founded have been impressive,” says Boris Monahov, programme manager of the ALABC who took over from Pat Moseley in 2010. Indeed the whole landscape of how lead acid batteries are perceived is changing rapidly. Over the past two decades, as technological fads have come and gone, the ALABC has steadily delivered measurable improvements — and on several occasions step changes — in yet better VRLA batteries.
Research programmes ahead?
The focus of the ALABC research changed — see page box — as part of the initiatives proposed by the ILA in its restructuring. The last general assembly meeting of the new 2016-2018 ALABC Programme held in September in Malta approved a new strategy aimed at ensuring lead batteries remain the product of choice in automotive and industrial energy storage applications. The announcement followed deci-
sions made at the San Antonio general assembly in May, which agreed it was essential that the ALABC identify and fund, in the future, the highest impact work that would result in tangible benefits in the performance of lead acid batteries. The work of ALABC is a key component in part of the International Lead Association’s larger strategy — a three pronged approach which involves communication, regulatory defence and product development. “Lead batteries provide a unique combination of performance, low cost, safety and reliability that we believe no other battery technology can match,” says Andy Bush, managing director of ILA. “However, it is important that lead batteries can adapt and improve such that this continues to be the case”.
The new 2016-2018 programme consists of four work areas — two technical research and development and two technical communication ones. The goal of the technical R&D programmes is to ensure that advanced lead batteries in automotive 12V and 48V applications and in industrial and energy storage applications continue to deliver the required performance at a lower cost than alternative technologies. The ALABC membership is discussing quantifiable targets that will be set to ensure future R&D projects deliver on the overall goal of the consortium. The research for the automotive programme will specifically focus on improving DCA (dynamic charge acceptance) and lifetime at a Partial State of Charge (PSoC).
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THE ALABC STORY “The high point of my association with the ALABC was to see technical representatives from different lead acid companies from different countries and continents sitting around the same table expressing an interest in joining an international effort to improve lead acid batteries.” — Bob Nelson
Similarly the technical R&D programme for industrial and energy storage applications will set targets for improving cycle life at PSOC and longer deep cycle life. Recent improvements in lead battery performance have brought some products up to a level equivalent to lithium titanate batteries. Boris Monahov, programme manager at ALABC, said: “This gives us a clear line for future development work for this three-year period. We’re very
34 • Batteries International • 100th Edition • 2016
excited about the future of R&D.” The full details of which technical programmes will be advanced and what their budget allocations will be had yet to be announced as this magazine went to press. The strategy also contains two information transfer programmes aimed at communicating the current benefits of lead batteries to end users, such as car manufacturers and energy storage specifiers. Among other things, the automotive programme will involve analysing and communicating the results of previous demonstration programmes to car manufacturers. The other programme, which will focus on energy storage, will involve
documenting the technical parameters that demonstrate the superior performance that lead batteries can bring to renewable energy storage and utilities applications. “A priority for ALABC is to ensure that end user specifiers for utilities, renewable energy storage and domestic users are aware that current lead batteries are already providing an excellent option,” says Alistair Davidson, director for products and sustainability at the ILA. The new programme has already raised close to $3 million of investment for the next three years. The research is called “pre-competitive”, which means that its findings are open to all of the ALABC’s 72 members.
HALF CENTURY OF THE VRLA BATTERY While the history of its invention and its revolutionary chemistry is one fascinating story, the route to commercial success for the VRLA battery is equally as complex and intriguing. Some of this prefigured the arrival of Batteries International, but the story continues to this day.
From conception to mass production … to start-stop The first company to seriously look at developing the VRLA battery further was Gates Rubber Corporation, which also registered the first patent for this in 1972 — for in-depth story go to page 110. The Gates Corporation was one of the largest privately held companies
in the US with its operations mainly focused on the automotive sector, industrial rubber products and petroleum property development. Gates Rubber Company, the largest of its subsidiaries, generated about 75% of the company’s total revenues and is considered the world’s largest non-tire
rubber company. The company moved into battery making in the 1960s and developed the original VRLA battery – as outlined in the previous article. But its eventual commercialization came about as the result of an unlikely encounter and eventual technical collab-
Batteries International • 100th Edition • 2016 • 35
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HALF CENTURY OF THE VRLA BATTERY
“The telecoms industry was the first to truly understand the potential of the technology and embrace it. They developed a six volt battery and BT rolled it out on a big scale and other telecoms companies followed.” oration with Chloride in the 1970s. Gates had been advised by the Arthur D Little Organisation that small sealed rechargeable batteries, suitable for use in cordless tools, would be a good product to sell in forecourts alongside their other automobile equipment. The company employed a group of researchers and scientists, mostly experienced in small alkaline cells such as nickel-cadmium, popular at that time but expensive. In the 1950s scientists at AFA in Germany developed and produced small nickel-cadmium cells that worked on the basis that oxygen evolved during recharge recombined at the cadmium negative electrode, producing water. They required no maintenance, could be sealed and were popular in portable tools, equipment and alarms. The Gates team included John Devitt and the late Don McLelland, coinventors of their 1972 patent. Their work, starting in 1965, concentrated mostly on lower cost batteries such as nickel zinc and lead acid. Other than this programme, the company had little background or experience of main-stream battery manufacture and production. Separately, Chloride had been working on a similar concept for some time. The catalyst for the work had been the success of the nickel cadmi-
38 • Batteries International • 100th Edition • 2016
um cells now being used increasingly in portable tools and equipment. As well as being sealed units, maintenance free and with the ability to convert oxygen to water during recharge at the cadmium electrode, they were also spill proof with no noxious and dangerous gases emissions. The Chloride work explored whether similar designs and mechanisms would function in lead acid cells. At the time, gel batteries with immobilized electrolyte were used for this market, the principal manufacturer being Accumalatoren Sonnenschein. They were unspillable but the gels were subject to drying out and cracking with rapid loss of performance. Ken Peters was to be instrumental in the commercial development of the VRLA battery. He joined The Chloride Electrical Storage Company at its new R&D facility under the direction of Montefiore Barak — a charismatic New Zealander who was one of the outstanding research leaders of his generation. His early assignments included the development of a plating process for torpedo batteries for the UK Admiralty, the development of impregnated cellulose separators for SLI batteries, .subsequently manufactured at Chloride plants, and the assessment and qualification of leady oxides made in
a new design of oxide mill. He was made manager of the lead acid development group in 1957 with a staff of graduate chemists, engineers and technicians engaged in process and product development, including the study of oxides, additives/expanders, alloys, grid, plate and cell designs. High antimonial alloys were standard in the industry and with the use of grain, refining additives to improve casting and ductility, the antimony content was progressively reduced, giving corrosion resistant grids and reduced water loss in service. An extensive range of expanders were studied to optimize the performance and improve the stability of negative plates. Several patents were filed and in some instances the work was published externally. A report on negative plates was produced for the Advanced Lead Acid Battery Consortium (ALABC) in 1997. In 1958, Chloride Group, The Electric Storage Battery Co in the USA and Accumulatoren Fabriken Aktiengesellschaft (AFA, later Varta) in Germany, the three dominant battery makers at that time, signed a technical exchange agreement. Executives from the two companies had regular meetings in the US, Germany or the UK to discuss and exchange technology with eminent electrochemists. This arrangement was subsequently ruled illegal and was cancelled after a few years. Among the research topics in the early years were studies on the charge acceptance and charging efficiency of positive and negative plates by measuring the rates of cathodic hydrogen and anodic oxygen evolution at different charge rates and temperatures. It demonstrated the high charge efficiency of the negative plate, remaining at 100% for a time dependent on rate and temperature. The study was presented at the International Power Sources Symposium (IPSS) in 1970. Alongside this work, Peters studied the oxidation of negative plates, primarily to assess the feasibility of an oxygen recombination cycle similar to that in sealed Ni/Cd cells... finding good recombination efficiencies at high charging rates was feasible with saturation being the main controlling parameter. Subsequently, several hundred D cells were made with wound electrodes but the performance was relatively poor and since Chloride had little presence in the small consumer battery market the development was
HALF CENTURY OF THE VRLA BATTERY shelved. Its work was presented and compared with the performance of similar size Ni-Cd and Leclanche cells at the 1972 IPSS meeting.
A chance encounter
It was a chance meeting at the 1972 conference that brought the two companies together. At that meeting, Don McClelland of Gates Rubber Company approached Peters to discuss the concept. With his co-inventor John Devitt, McClelland had been working along similar lines and subsequently sent Peters some 50 D size sealed lead cells for testing. They used highly porous and compressible glass filter paper as separator (the main inventive claim of US patent 3862861, published in 1975) and the cells had high power capability, cycled well and could be charged extensively without water loss. After testing, Peters suggested to his management that a similar approach but with prismatic designs rather than wound cylindrical shape could be used in Chloride’s main industrial and automotive business to substantial benefit and early in 1973 he was invited to Denver, Colorado, to attend a meeting of the Gates Board of Management. They had little experience or background of the battery industry and a detailed explanation of the technology and the potential market was presented. A joint working group with Gates was set up to consider the way forward. Gates was keen to keep the wound cell design but its manufacturing process was slow, expensive with high scrap levels and it was difficult to see how this approach could be used to manufacture the larger batteries needed for industrial and automotive applications in the numbers required and at acceptable cost. Different approaches were agreed. Gates would continue to develop
Chloride’s factory in Clifton Junction, Manchester as Peters would have known it when he started in the 1950s
The main Gates factory in Denver, Colorado (before demolition)
GATES DABBLES IN EUROPE Independent of Chloride, Gates developed the idea for different markets. A company called Varley Batteries in the UK was manufacturing aircraft batteries and Gates, believing the VRLA battery would work well in this sector, wanted part of the business. Gates acquired Varley and it adopted the Cyclon technology and offered a prismatic version of
the AGM product to several aircraft manufacturers. These gained approval for a variety of aircraft including the BAe 125 and 146 business jets, the Harrier and its derivative the AV8B, and some F16 variants as the first alternatives to the normal NiCd batteries. Gates also operated through Optima Batteries with production of the first AGM automotive batteries
sold under the Optima brand name in 1987. After import rights for the Optima AGM battery were secured by a Norwegian company called Gylling Teledata, distribution increased and two years later, in 1992, Gylling purchased Optima Batteries from Gates Rubber. In 2000, Optima Batteries came to Johnson Controls through acquisition.
Batteries International • 100th Edition • 2016 • 39
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HALF CENTURY OF THE VRLA BATTERY and produce small wound consumer batteries as it originally targeted and Chloride, in exchange for advice on improving Gates manufacturing operations, would develop and manufacture larger prismatic designs for the automotive and industrial markets free of patent constraints and royalties. The year was 1974 and by this point Chloride had the green light to start developing industrial scale prototypes. Over the next few months, the original technology was refined in several ways. A key breakthrough was enhancing the separator technology. This was a key component of the design and the patent claims. Purity, stability in the corrosive environment and a highly porous microcapillary structure to hold the necessary amounts of electrolyte and allow sufficient gas transport were essential. Gates had used custom-made and expensive microfine glass filter paper. Chloride refined what was needed and found a suitable supplier in the UK to manufacture at an acceptable cost. Extensive trials were carried out to define design parameters. Methods of acid filling, formation schedules and assembly procedures were developed and low pressure one-way valves designed together with structural improvements to the container.
“The automotive market is so price sensitive, it could never have been commercially successful at that time irrespective of whether they had better technology...
The rapidly growing Telecom and UPS market was considered initially and British Telecom, a major customer, were approached. The conventional back-up power supply at that time was large Plante cells located in central stations usually in the basement of buildings in large conurbations, often with open top units which required frequent maintenance and resulted in a noxious and hazardous working atmosphere. BT was concerned about this arrangement and wanted to move to distributed and localised power supplies, seriously considering the use of the more expensive Ni-Cd cells in place of lead acid. The newly designed valve regulated lead acid cells were smaller with much higher power ratings than existing batteries and with no water losses or gases evolved. They could be located on power racks or cupboards in offices or where most convenient to the end user. Chloride started to develop designs in plastic containers specifically for the telecoms sector. Cells were supplied to British
“…. it was in stark contrast to the standby power business, where there was a tolerance for life and performance advantages.” Telecom for trials in 1978/9 and produc.”tion commenced in 1983. By 1989 BT had installed 500,000 2V/100Ah valve regulated cells in power racks in their System X digital telephone exchanges and were installing them at a rate of 120,000 per year. In 1990 they reported reliability, based on mean time between failure exceeded their target. Within a few years distributed power supplies with similar valve regulated cells were adopted worldwide. Fitted in racks and cupboards where required, with zero maintenance and no noxious fumes, they were space saving and more reliable. Chloride was by far the biggest supplier to this sector in the 1980s and 90s.
Tungstone, which was to become part of the Hawker Siddeley Group, was also targeting the telecoms sector, offering a very similar product and competing directly with Chloride. It worked extensively with BT and had a good share of the business. Subsequently similar VRLA designs were adopted worldwide for Telecom systems and also for use in Emergency Power (UPS) where the low internal resistance and high power performance was a major benefit. Other manufacturers, with the exception of the Yuasa Battery Corporation of Japan, paid royalties to the Gates Corporation for the 20-year duration of its patents. Yuasa appealed against the Gates patent on the
Batteries International • 100th Edition • 2016 • 41
HALF CENTURY OF THE VRLA BATTERY grounds it had prior art of the use of glass microfiber separators, a primary claim in the Gates patents. It succeeded in its court case against Gates. The patent side of this was interesting. Gates’ original patent officially ran out in 1992, but extensions were
possible of commercial introduction was delayed. Because of their agreement, Chloride never paid Gates royalties. Other companies including Tungstone did, while Yuasa won a patent case against Gates claiming knowledge of some prior art.
“You have to remember that in the 1980s and 1990s there was no real benefit to using valve regulated batteries as such because people were simply not sensitive to their benefits. Manufacturers and customers simply bought based on price and little else. They just wanted any battery to do the job.” – Ken Peters
Geoffrey May, now a consultant but formerly an executive at both Chloride and Tungstone, says that the telecoms industry was the first to truly understand the potential of the technology and embrace it. “They developed a six volt battery and that was very successful. BT rolled it out on a big scale and other telecoms companies followed,” May says. All this relates to the AGM form of the battery. The development of the gel version was taken up by German company Accumulatorenfabrik Sonnenschein. With gel electrolyte the separator was no longer such a critical, hard-tomake component, and cycle life was increased, in some cases dramatically.
The move into automotive
Ken Peters was to be instrumental in the commercial development of the VRLA battery. He joined The Chloride Electrical Storage Company at its new R&D facility under the direction of Montefiore Barak — a charismatic New Zealander who was one of the outstanding research leaders of his generation.
42 • Batteries International • 100th Edition • 2016
At the same time as the standby battery work, in the mid-to-late 1980s chloride started work on a design suitable for use in automotives. For the same reason the technology had been successful in telecoms it was believed it could also revolutionize the batteries being used in cars. The company started developing valve regulated car batteries with similar beneficial features ie leak and spill proof, zero maintenance, improved cycling and with a much improved cranking performance plus dual terminals (top and side), multiple holddowns, a carrying handle and stackable features, all novel at the time. The first market where this was really tested was in Australia, mainly because of concern that Pacific Dunlop, its main competitor, would launch its newly developed Pulsar battery and threaten its business. Production of this battery (TorqueStarter) started in Brisbane, Australia, in 1984. The battery was a success – not in the original equipment market but instead by being marketed as a better option in the replacement market. Backed by a strong marketing operation, the battery flourished for a few years before Pacific Dunlop acquired Chloride in Australia and phased the battery out in favour of its own technology, which included Pulsar. Chloride then looked to roll the design at its other plants including the Dagenham factory in the UK, Benoni in South Africa and Tampa, Florida in the US. Successful manufacture required tighter component tolerance and higher purity levels, all at a higher cost, estimated at ~10%. Several attempts were made, partic-
HALF CENTURY OF THE VRLA BATTERY ularly in the USA, to persuade vehicle manufacturers to accept the TorqueStarter design as original equipment but existing batteries were adequate and the higher cost was not acceptable. The batteries made in Tampa and Benoni had quality problems with early failures and production ceased a year later. In Australia and the UK, after good early sales, demand decreased due to the price, and production stopped three years later. “Torquestarter was a good battery with distinctly beneficial features but the higher cost of purchase was difficult to justify,” says Peters. “Some 20 years later with demands for improved fuel economy and low emissions, car manufacturers are now prepared to modify the car’s electrical system and the improved features of VRLA designs can be very advantageous. “Since these batteries are truly maintenance free and unspillable, designers are amenable to locating the battery away from the engine compartment and in positions where easy access is not essential. “The support provided by the compressed glass separator results in a more durable battery with service life much improved on cycling and on difficult terrain. They are lighter than flooded designs and with the low internal resistance, starting power is much superior. As a consequence they are usually preferred in the cleaner stop-start mini-hybrid vehicles.” More recently, similar valve regulated designs have been used in advanced designs of cars, providing freedom for location and improved cycling performance, and supporting changes aim to improve fuel economy and reduce emissions. Peters says: “You have to remember that in the 1980s and 1990s there was no real benefit to using valve regulated batteries as such because people were simply not sensitive to their benefits. Manufacturers and customers simply bought based on price and little else. They just wanted any battery to do the job.” Peters says that when manufactured correctly, it was a very good product. “It was an excellent design. The batteries were stackable, easy to handle, they had multiple terminals. We also developed very high quality manufacturing out there but that wasn’t always easy in other parts of the world.” The 10% to 20% extra cost was
seen as prohibitive despite the benefits. “The market was all based on price, there was no benefit to the car maker and people saw existing batteries as adequate. It was very difficult to gain traction,” Peters says. It has only been in the past decade that the VRLA battery has enjoyed breakthroughs in the automotive market and these have been driven by pressure on manufacturers to lower emissions and reduce the carbon footprint of vehicles. May agrees that there was a fundamental reluctance in the automotive market to buy a more expensive product despite its proved better performance. “That market is so price sensitive, it could never have been commercially successful at that time irrespective of whether they had better technology specifications,” he says. “It was in stark contrast to the standby power business where there was a tolerance for life and performance advantages. The automotive industry took some years before industry got its head around the technical solutions this could offer. Also, the development and take-up of start-stop technology has been particularly important to the development of VRLA batteries in this field.” Peters says that while different car makers have different views on which battery they prefer, he believes the VRLA battery still has a strong future in the automotive market. “The concept still holds tremendous potential with the designs now allowing for huge power density. I think this will be the future for lead acid batteries,” he says. Gates later sold its UK business to Hawker Batteries, then part of BTR/ Invensys, when it became Hawker Energy Products. It extended the range of prismatic batteries from the aircraft battery range to standby power, which became the backbone of the business. Gates had by then moved its US battery manufacturing from Denver to Warrensburg in Missouri and when the original Gates patent on VRLA batteries expired, the revenue stream that it had enjoyed dried up and it also sold this business to Hawker. Both of these companies have expanded over the years and are now part of EnerSys which acquired them from Invensys. The thin-plate pure lead product it supplies is only made by a limited number of companies and is a premium product compared to other types of VRLA battery.
In the last 15 or more years, VRLA AGM batteries have become the principal product offer for standby batteries, are important for micro-hybrid/ start-stop applications for automotive and are used in a wide range of batteries for cyclic service. China dominates as the leading supplier for small and larger standby batteries and all major battery manufacturers have full ranges in their product portfolio. Peters retired from Chloride in 1991 and has since advised battery companies and suppliers in the USA and Europe. He was a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Power Sources for 20 years and has served on the Technical Advisory Committee of European Lead Acid Battery Conference for 25 years. May continues to work as a consultant in many aspects of the industry.
Peters with battery legend Ernst Voss in a conference in the 1970s
Peters with AFA research director Hans Bode (middle) and Chloride technical director Montefiore Barak, sometime in the 1960s
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CHARITABLE GIVING WITHIN THE INDUSTRY The batteries industry has always proven to be one of the more charitable sectors. It’s not so much seen — because it’s not spoken about — but it’s real and goes on beneath the surface.
The kindness of strangers It’s a secret undercurrent running through the recent ELBC meetings in Malta. The organizers, the International Lead Association and EcoBat, pay for three PhD students to attend the conference — all expenses paid. They’ve done this for years. It’s a gift from one generation of the lead industry to the next. But the ILA generosity is only the tip of an iceberg that runs underneath a whole industry. At the same event Wirtz Manufacturing chose to give a huge display monitor to a local charity — a gift that it now regularly does. Goonvean Fibres set the idea in motion a couple of years ago at an ABC meeting. Across the industry, charitable giving has been a hallmark of some of the most prominent battery players. East Penn’s DeLight Breidegam Jr and his wife Helen gave away millions of dollars to medical trusts and educational foundations. Other firms such as Bitrode, the US testing firm based in St Louis, have historically been active players in huge charity funding events — where Batteries International has been involved — such as the local Variety charity which hosts a Dinner with the Stars. Coincidentally St Louis is reckoned the most charitable city within the US. Tell us more about your charitable giving: email@example.com
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CASE STUDY: ENTEK Carri Moffat, Entek recounts: “Our Coats for Kids program started around 30 years ago. Some of the employees (we were a young company) wanted to do a Christmas present for the founder Jim Young, and knowing he was a strong advocate for giving back to the community, they came up with the idea of donating coats to local school kids in need rather than giving him a thank you plaque or something. The idea stuck. “When I started in 1992, I remember that our process at the time was to get a group of about 10 employees together (our ‘committee’) to take the funds we had collected, head to the local mall, divide up the list we had and shop for the coats. That year it was 68, and I remember thinking what an incredible thing that just a few people could make an impact on so many. “Any money we had left over after the coats were purchased was doled out to organizations within our community (food bank, senior centers, etc). A few years later we started buying blankets for the local shelter. “Every year as our list of needed coats got larger, we’d have the same conversation, “How are we going to manage to get all of these?” But every year the employees have
come through (remember, this is not a ‘corporate’ event, it’s completely funded by employees. We’ve never had to turn down a coat request. I started heading up the committee, gosh, about 11 years ago? At that point I was looking for a way to make our money go further and started partnering with local businesses to take advantage of some cost savings. “We kind of make our ‘shopping day’ a thing. The committee members meet on a designated night at our partner store and we spend hours shopping for, sorting out and purchasing hundreds of coats. And the store usually brings in employees to dedicate completely to our endeavors. “It’s a fun night for them as well. “In 2013 we formed an actual non-profit. We work with local school districts and other organizations that support children, and they are the ones that put together the lists for us of needed coats. There are privacy issues, so the schools are our distribution point – we don’t get to meet the children directly (although they send us wonderful thank you’s!). “There are always so many heartwarming stories about kids who have never had a new item of clothing… ever, and how proud they are to wear their coats.”
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100TH ISSUE BATTERY PIONEERS: JOHN DEVITT Sealed lead acid batteries had been the goal of the battery industry since the time of Gaston Planté. But it was only in the 1960s that real advances were made. John Devitt was a key figure and early pioneer in the development of the first VRLA battery.
John Devitt and the sealed lead acid battery
On April 13, 1965, John Devitt, a 40-year-old electrical engineer, sent a memo to George Jenkins, head of research of the Gates Rubber Company, in Denver, Colorado. The nine page memo entitled “Lead-Acid Sealed Cells” was to revolutionize the battery industry. Briefly, Devitt’s proposal recommended the development of a cell which would perform in a manner similar to that of the sealed nickelcadmium batteries then being sold. The proposed cell would provide high-rate discharge capability and thus would employ a spirally-wound electrode configuration. Importantly, it would use less expensive materials. Devitt decided to become an electrical engineer in his third grade. By then he was making his own electromagnets, inspired by his mother’s highschool physics book. “By the late 1940s, I was in graduate
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school at the University of Colorado Boulder, studying advanced electrical engineering,” says Devitt. “As I was also a musician, I was leading the university jazz band — where, by the way, the best players were engineering students! I was to send the written Dixieland chart music when we were finished with it to a fellow named Harry Sparkes Jr in New Jersey (Harry was a friend of the man who had written these charts).” And here co-incidence, call it fate, intervened. “Soon after this, I met up with him and his father, Harry Sparkes Sr, in New York.” Sparkes Sr, who also happened to be vice-president of the AMF Corporation, agreed to read young Devitt’s degree-winning Masters thesis: an ingenious timing system for the Pikes Peak annual auto races. “In 1950, when the time came for Sparkes to pick a chief engineer for his forthcoming battery factory in
Colorado Springs, he tagged me,” says Devitt. “The objective was to manufacture silver-oxide/zinc batteries for air-to-air Navy missiles. At that time no one had come up with a reliable solution. So it was up to us. “I was always the homework type, so I found articles in the Electrochemical Society publications by the Army Signal Corps guys, who had done it. By then my direct boss was Sam Auchincloss, another AMF vice-president. (He had been general MacArthur’s assistant signal officer in the Pacific during WW2 and knew the folks at the US Army Signal Corps Laboratories in Ft. Monmouth, who had done the successful work.) Sam and I went there, picked up the good recipes, and the rest was history.” Between 1943 and 1955, Devitt had been on the US Naval Reserve. He would only ever hold the rank of lieutenant because the Navy preferred that he concentrate on battery development. In 1955, not wishing to follow the AMF factory re-location to North Carolina, Devitt remained in Denver, where he helped set up what later became Power Systems Division of Whittaker Corporation. The Whittaker batteries, dry during storage, could be quickly filled with electrolyte by a self-contained mechanism which activated a fully charged battery. The factory was the main source of batteries for the Minuteman, Polaris and Poseidon ICBM missiles. Devitt created and managed engineering and manufacture of these. “But before long,” says Devitt, “I became bored with the bureaucratic nonsense connected with defence procurement and decided to go into civilian work.” In the early 1960s, he was chief engineer of the Metron Instrument Company, developing electronic measuring devices and optical equipment.
100TH ISSUE BATTERY PIONEERS: JOHN DEVITT “Our main obstacle was the conflict between providing enough reactive acid in the cell while allowing oxygen gas, generated at the positive electrode, to pass directly through a gas space to recombine at the negative surface…” Gates and the battery business
Meanwhile other forces were about to shape his destiny and here fate came in the form of a firm called Gates, then the largest manufacturer of rubber belts and hoses in the world. In the 1960s, it was privately owned by the Gates family; Charlie Gates was CEO, and ran the company his way. That included an unusual willingness to experiment with new types of products and even completely diverse enterprises. The local Denver grapevine one day yielded the news that Gates was interested in going into the battery business. Devitt leapt at the opportunity. He joined them in January 1965. Three months later, he submitted the historic memo. One object of his pre-Gates civilian battery investigations had been sealed nickel-cadmium cells, which he had heard described at the autumn 1960 meeting of the Electrochemical Society. Another object of his earlier, preliminary work was to find, if available, more-or-less maintenance free lead-acid batteries. The only ones then worth studying were made by Sonnenschein in Germany and were, at that time, imported by Globe Union. These were called “gel cells” because of the siliceous addition to the acid, which turned it into a stiff jelly and kept it from running out of the battery when it was in a spillable position. “In 1965 the sealed, spirally-wound nickel cadmium cells operated successfully because they employed oxygen recombination at the negative electrode during the inevitable overcharging which occurs,” he says. “This feature had been recognized by many lead-acid researchers as a desirable way to improve battery usefulness, but none of them had been able to ac-
complish it to a useful degree. “Our main obstacle was the conflict between providing enough reactive acid in the cell while allowing oxygen gas, generated at the positive electrode, to pass directly through a gas space to recombine at the negative surface. Put simply, the separator between the electrodes could not be wet and dry at the same time! “At first, we had no idea what combination of new ideas would solve this riddle…” So in 1967, Devitt and his 12-strong team, in particular co-patent holder Donald McClelland, began work on the research and development of small cylindrical lead/acid cells containing spirally wound electrodes. The first “Gates D-Cell” was shown to the board on November 10 that year. Four years later, in mid-1971, the resulting products were offered for sale by Gates Energy Products: one cell equivalent in size to the conventional manganese dioxide D-cell, and another, the X-cell, having twice the capacity.
An early form of AGM
These cells were the first to use a separator material consisting of microfiber glass paper, now generally termed “absorbent glass mat” (AGM). This material, the last of scores of tries using diverse separator materials, has the remarkable ability to absorb enough acid to carry out its stoichiometric role in the classic lead-acid reaction equation, yet remain slightly unsaturated to the extent permitting direct passage of oxygen to the damp negative plate surface. (The alkaline electrolyte in a nickel cadmium cell has no quantitative role in reactions within that cell.) Oxygen recombination in a lead acid cell can go on indefinitely, limited only by heat dissipation and lead corrosion. A number of technical developments were later incorporated including substantial compression of the plate-separator assembly. This greatly lengthened the service life of these first valve-regulated cells. Although the pressure-relief check valve used in these cells is crucially important, the valve does not regulate the cell. This designation for these batteries, now well embedded in practice, is unfortunate. The valve prevents oxygen (air) entering the cell, and also provides some pressure rise, enhancing reaction kinetics. In the following years, many sizes
… put simply, the separator between the electrodes could not be wet and dry at the same time! of rectangular batteries using these principles have been manufactured throughout the world. Based on his development more than 100 battery plants throughout the world produce VRLA batteries for UPS, traction, automobile, telecommunication, and HEV applications. Devitt recalls: “George Saul and I were at the annual Army Signal Corps meeting in Atlantic City in about 1971 and we had several of the then saleable D-cells (they were flying out of the pilot plant). George was a sensational salesman I had picked up from GE. We took a D-cell — the one with two Amp tabs protruding from the top, exactly as still sold now, and showed it to the guys in the Eveready hospitality suite. “Then we did what has become the famous paper clip trick: Straighten out an ordinary paper clip and then (with covered fingers) set it on top of the two terminals. It quickly glows bright-red hot and melts. We knew that the short-circuit current of the cell was over 200 amperes! This was at least an order of magnitude greater than Eveready could do.” In 1972 Devitt left Gates to go freelance and has operated a consulting engineering business which emphasizes laboratory development of new products as well as general consulting work in America, Europe and Asia. Some completed projects include the first maintenance-free batteries for the General Battery Corporation; leadchloride plates including initial production machines; making lead acid cells and batteries equivalent to about 100 automotive batteries (all R&D); low-cost fluoborate battery for automatic fire alarms; an automatic surgical soap dispenser; a battery-testing laboratory; and international assignments including assisting managers in South Korea and Taiwan and much more. Devitt has won a galaxy of awards. Perhaps a phrase from the International Lead Award he won makes the point best of all: his work at Gates produced the largest single boost to total lead sales of any invention in the 20th century.
Batteries International • 100th Edition • 2016 • 47
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100TH ISSUE BATTERY PIONEERS: DAVID PRENGAMAN The modern day lead acid battery would be very different — both more expensive and less efficient — were it not for the contribution of David Prengaman, one of the world’s top specialists in the metallurgy of lead alloys and related energy storage.
The Lead Pope R David Prengaman of Dallas, Texas is one of the top specialists in the fields of metallurgy of lead alloys and lead acid batteries, in particular the innovation of lead anodes for electrowinning metals and recycling processes for lead acid batteries to produce high quality lead and lead alloys. The German company, Metallgesellschaft, once aptly nicknamed him “The Lead Pope”. A crucial moment for him happened when he was 14 years old. Prengaman was selected to attend the Joe Berg Science seminars. These involved visits to many company facilities and laboratories in the Pittsburgh area to see scientists or engineers at work. The first factory they visited was Pittsburgh Steel Company’s metallurgical laboratory. When it was his turn to look into the microscope at the various steel samples, he said: “It was as though I had looked at them all my life. I knew then that I wanted to be a metallurgical engineer.” Prengerman attended the Carnegie Institute of Technology, graduating with his BS degree in 1965 and in 1967 his Masters in metallurgy and materials science. His research was into the development of rolling textures in high chromium, high nickel stainless steels and the properties and corrosion resistance of these materials. He was accepted to do a PhD but Carl Long, director of research for St Joe Lead Company, convinced him to join the firm as a researcher. Prengaman’s work at St Joe involved the development of rolled lead calcium tin alloys. The rolling process developed structures and rolling textures which made the material very resistant to corrosion. Delco was interested in the new material because they had such severe cracking in their cast lead antimony alloys that they were scrapping as many as a third of their battery grids. The new rolled expanded metal material did not crack and grids could be produced at 10
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“He is undoubtedly the world’s expert on lead metallurgy, plus many other metals. And he is uniquely accessible to all battery folk. He is the pioneer on many of our best alloys, so essential to a really good battery.” times the speed. One of the benefits of the change in grid material was the fact that it did not contain antimony, which was not transferred to the negative plate to cause gassing — thus maintenancefree batteries. In 1973, Prengaman moved to Atlanta to join Evans Metal. While he was there, the chief engineer from Delco visited Atlanta to meet him and the owner of Taracorp. They made
a proposal that they would build a lead rolling plant which would supply all five Delco factories with strip if Prengaman would operate the plant. He refused because at that time all the metal for the rolled grids came from primary lead, and the lead calcium alloy-rolled expanded metal grids would make the lead antimony alloys which the smelter produced obsolete. “When they turned down the offer from Delco, I was ready to look for
100TH ISSUE BATTERY PIONEERS: DAVID PRENGAMAN another position. Within a week I saw an ad in a trade magazine that RSR, a major battery-recycling company, was looking for a chief engineer. Replying to the ad, I indicated that I was not interested in the chief engineer’s position, but I thought that RSR would be interested in talking to me.”
R&D at RSR
Prengaman was hired to start an R&D group and provide technical assistance to battery customers. He spent most of the first year working with Delco to build their new rolling plant and expand battery grid production lines. “The main problem of the lead recycling process at that time was the production of pure lead which could be used as an active material in the battery. The impurities were too high and the refining, as well as the analytical techniques to remove and analyze the impurities in the lead, were not developed.” So Prengaman and his colleagues set about developing new refining practices to remove the major gassing elements in pure lead to make it suitable for battery oxide. In addition, with only AA instruments available at the time, they developed new techniques to analyze these elements in the lead at very low levels. Necessity is the mother of invention. To extract the newly solidified lead strip from the aluminium mould, they adapted the wringer part of an old washing machine because it had rubber rolls which could grip the lead and pull it out of the mould continuously. “We called the original casting machine Maytag 1 after the most famous washing machine in the 1960s in the US,” he said. By 1975, the RSR team had developed and introduced the first low antimony maintenance-free battery grid alloy, which could be cast on conventional grid casting equipment without cracking. It is called R275. “In the late 1970s we set up a pilot plant to recycle the active materials in the battery by leaching and electrowinning the lead. This produced pure lead, but improvements made to the smelting process at RSR recycling plants made the process economical.” In the early 1980s the Environmental Protection Agency declared that the slag from the battery recycling was hazardous waste. So Prengaman and his team developed an improved recycling process using an electric furnace to clean the slag and produce a
“My most successful invention was the development of the rolled lead calcium tin alloys for positive grids of lead acid batteries. The same alloy and rolling technique is also used in the new rolled punched battery grids used to reduce grid weight and extend battery life.”
Towards the ALABC
In the mid-1980s Prengaman was part of a team which looked for acquisitions in Europe, primarily battery recycling factories. They would acquire factories in the UK, France, Italy, Germany, Austria, South Africa and Saudi Arabia in the mid and late 1990s. Prengaman worked to make these factories profitable and environmentally ahead of the regulations. During the same period, Prengaman went on to develop rolled lead anodes for copper and zinc electrowinning. The anodes were based on the rolled lead calcium tin alloys which he had developed for battery grids. These anodes have become the dominant anodes for copper mines worldwide. About 95% of mines use these anodes for the recovery of copper in low-cost operations by RSR and the affiliated companies of the Ecobat group which produce anodes. “In the mid-1990s the vehicle profiles changed with the air now flowing over the vehicle instead of through the front grill. This caused the engine compartment to become very hot and battery life to become much shorter.
In 1999 I developed an alloy called 007, which had silver added to a lead calcium tin alloy. The alloy was called 007 because the active material would “bond” to this grid compared to other alloys with silver, which had to be specially treated to accept the paste.” In 1996, Prengaman became president of RSR Technologies, Inc which provides research and development services to RSR Corporation, the European and South African Eco-Bat Group, and their customers for battery recycling. Alongside his innovative work at RSR, Prengaman has chaired a number of committees, published extensively on these subjects, served in various positions in the industry and received a galaxy of awards. He is now retired but an active participant in the industry. According to John Devitt, a key figure in the development of the first VRLA battery and who has known Prengaman for many years: “Dave is undoubtedly the world’s expert on lead metallurgy, plus many other metals. And he is uniquely accessible to all battery folk. He is the pioneer on many of our best alloys, so essential to a really good battery.”
Batteries International • 100th Edition • 2016 • 51
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100TH ISSUE BATTERY PIONEERS: MICHAEL THACKERAY Within days of arriving at Oxford University in 1981, South African electrochemist Michael Thackeray made a remarkable discovery that was eventually to have deep implications for lithium battery development.
Putting lithium in its place The recent pioneers of the lithium battery are diverse — an academic piece of research here, a minor breakthrough there — but Michael Thackeray has been an essential figure in putting lithium in its place at the heart of the computing revolution that has transformed the world this past 20 years. Thackeray’s early post-graduate research work was spent at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), where he joined the Crystallography Division of the National Physical Research Laboratory in Pretoria, his home town. He was to remain at CSIR, off and on, for two decades. Here lithium electrochemistry fascinated him. Moreover, the first generation of room temperature, primary (non-rechargeable) lithium cells was being produced by industry — it was one of the hottest research topics. In 1980, Thackeray applied to do research with John Goodenough, an Oxford University professor and then the world expert on lithium as an energy storage source. The plan was to spend a post-doctoral period with him to learn the art of room temperature lithium electrochemistry. Goodenough had recently pioneered the discovery of LiCoO2 as a lithium insertion electrode.
Because his earlier work at CSIR on the electrochemical behaviour of iron oxide electrodes in high-temperature lithium cells had shown that, in the charged state, iron oxide spinel structures were formed, Thackeray had arrived in Oxford with several spinel samples, including magnetite, Fe3O4, and Hausmannite, Mn3O4. “At my first meeting with Goodenough, I suggested my research plan to investigate the electrochemical behaviour of spinels at room temperature. Goodenough responded gently with the comment, ‘Well, you do know that spinels are like gems, stable linephases… so where is the space in the structure to accommodate the inserted lithium ions during discharge? By all
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President Bush looked at Thackeray and said: “You are asking me for greater financial support?” Thackeray said ‘yes’. The rest has become history. means try, but I suggest that you look around the laboratory to see what other projects are going on.” The mineral ‘spinel’ (MgAl2O4) is a semi-precious gem. Goodenough then left for a visit to India. He returned two weeks later to a very different situation. Thackeray immediately set to work, first conducting a chemical reaction of lithium with Fe3O4 at room temperature to mimic the electrochemical reaction. Thackeray observed that the magnetic Fe3O4 particles, which clung to the magnetic stirrer in the reaction vessel, gradually fell away from the stirrer on the addition of the lithium reagent, n-butyl-lithium — evidence of iron reduction and reaction between lithium and the spinel structure. On obtaining the powder X-ray diffraction pattern and a compositional analysis of the lithiated product, Thackeray determined that, on lithia-
tion, the cubic unit cell of the Fe3O4 host structure had expanded by approximately 3% and that there were changes in the relative intensities of the diffraction peaks, confirming the lithium insertion process. On Goodenough’s return from India, Thackeray recalls: “I told him that lithium was indeed going into the spinel, Fe3O4. Goodenough immediately led me into his office, saying ‘Sit down, tell me all.’” Refinement of the LixFe3O4 data showed that during the lithiation of magnetite, Fetet[Fe2]octO4, the [Fe2] octO4 spinel framework (with iron in octahedral sites) had remained intact, whereas the iron that resided in tetrahedral sites outside the framework were displaced into neighboring empty octahedral sites to make place for the uptake of one lithium ion to generate a rock salt structure (LiFe)oct[Fe2] octO4; ie, without iron extrusion as in high-temperature cells.
100TH ISSUE BATTERY PIONEERS: MICHAEL THACKERAY Thackeray reported the results of the refinement to Goodenough with similar findings for Hausmannite (Mn3O4) that, on lithiation, formed the corresponding ordered rock salt structure (LiMn)oct[Mn2]octO4. The results had immediate scientific and technological implications. Goodenough, familiar with the spinel structure from his earlier research on their magnetic properties, suggested an investigation of the lithium spinel Litet[Mn2]octO4, which accommodated lithium by the same principle as Fe3O4 and Mn3O4 to form the ordered rock salt configuration (Li2) oct[Mn2]octO4; in this case, the interstitial space of the [Mn2]octO4 spinel framework contained only lithium ions that could migrate, unimpeded, through a three-dimensional network of face-sharing tetrahedra and octahedra, providing fast kinetics and a high power electrode. This reaction occurred electrochemically at 3V in a lithium cell. Because the concept of spinel electrodes had originated at CSIR, Goodenough graciously agreed to cede title of the spinel patent that was filed to SAIDCOR, one of the South African sponsors of Thackeray’s visit to Oxford, later to be licensed to industry. Over recent years, Li[Mn2]O4 has been widely exploited. It is often used as a blend in the cathodes of lithiumion batteries, notably for portable electronics and electric vehicles, such as the all-electric Nissan Leaf and the hybrid-electric Chevy Volt.
Return to CSIR
Thackeray returned to South Africa at the end of 1982. He remained at CSIR, where he established a new battery team to build on the lithium battery materials research he had initiated, while providing R&D support to the South African battery industry, including among others, Zebra Power Systems, Willard Batteries, a producer of lead acid batteries, and Delta EMD, a manufacturer of electrolytic manganese dioxide (EMD) for the alkaline (Zn/MnO2) battery market. Over the next 10 years, Thackeray and his CSIR team continued to innovate the design of new lithium battery electrode materials, structures and compositions, first focusing, on his return from Oxford, on the family of lithium spinels containing manganese, vanadium or iron. In 1994, Ernst Ferg, Gummow, de Kock and Thackeray demonstrated that safe 2.5V lithium-ion cells could
be fabricated by coupling a lithium titanate spinel anode (Li4Ti5O12), which operates 1.5V above the potential of metallic lithium, with high voltage cathodes, notably a stabilized Li1+xMn2-xO4 spinel — a system that is being exploited for devices requiring high power batteries, such as hybrid electric vehicles. The CSIR team adopted strategies to engineer and patent new lithium insertion materials, which included manganese oxide electrodes with one-dimensional, two-dimensional and three-dimensional pathways for lithium-ion transport; they were successful on all three counts, designing and evaluating lithia-stabilized alphaMnO2, lithia-stabilized layered-MnO2 and lithia-stabilized spinel-MnO2 electrode materials, respectively. Anhydrous-layered MnO2 structures were unknown at the time. Here chance, or good fortune, intervened. At an Electrochemical Society Meeting in Toronto in October 1992, Thackeray met Don Vissers, head of the Battery Department at Argonne National Laboratory. Vissers invited Thackeray to lead a materials R&D effort at Argonne for a new lithium-polymer battery project to be sponsored by the US Department of Energy and the United States Advanced Battery Consortium (USABC). Thackeray, sensing a bright future for lithium battery technology and recognizing an excellent opportunity, accepted. He and his family left in January 1994. As with CSIR and Oxford, Thackeray got off to a quick start — within two months of his arrival, while working on a high energy, all solid state, lithium-polymer battery project for electric vehicles supported by the US Department of Energy, 3M Corporation and Hydro-Quebec, he had identified a lithia-stabilized vanadium oxide cathode material (based on his earlier research at CSIR) that provided the 3M/HQ cells with 30% more energy and superior power relative to the original material being used. This materials technology was later transferred to, and scaled up by, 3M and implemented by Hydro-Quebec/ Avestor in commercial battery products for stationary energy storage. However, subsequent problems related to lithium dendrite formation and short circuiting on long-term cycling ultimately led to the withdrawal of the batteries from the market. Towards the end of the 1990s, noticing that other research groups
A POLITICAL DIMENSION Oddly enough, Thackeray helped change the direction of the lithium ion industry in a political way as well as a scientific one. In March 2007, he received an invitation to meet George Bush, the US president, at the White House for discussions with eight others on US energy policy relating to lithium ion batteries and biofuels. Thackeray highlighted the fact that the US had fallen way behind Japan, Korea and China in lithium ion battery technology, despite the ability of the US to continually innovate in the field; that lithium ion batteries were becoming a strategic commodity; and that it was necessary for US national laboratories, industry and academia to come together to address the issue, to play ‘catch up’ and narrow the technological gap. President Bush looked at Thackeray and said “You are asking me for greater financial support?” Thackeray replied in the affirmative. The rest has become history. That conversation — albeit through a circuitous route with Thackeray just one of the major players — ended in the most extensive US government funding for the research and commercialization of advanced batteries. Much of the North American energy storage landscape that we see today is a result of this. were initiating studies on Li2MnO3, Thackeray, Johnson, Khalil Amine, Jaekook Kim and an expanding Argonne team intensified their efforts to exploit composite ‘layeredlayered’ xLi2MnO3•(1-x)LiMO2 (M=Mn, Ni, Co) and ‘layered-spinel’ xLi2MnO3•(1-x)LiM2O4 (M-Mn, Li, Ni, Co) electrode structures, which formed the basis of a broad patent portfolio. Argonne’s intellectual property was subsequently licensed worldwide to major lithium battery materials and cell manufacturers. The first generation Chevy Volt, in particular, uses a lithium-ion battery with a blend of the Argonne composite materials and stabilized LiMn2O4 spinel in the cathode.
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100TH ISSUE BATTERY PIONEERS: KEN PETERS The development and commercialization of the valve regulated lead acid battery has been one of Ken Peters’ great contributions to the industry.
VRLA: the next step For the past 30 years Ken Peters has been at the very heart of the development of the VRLA battery, effectively passing the baton on from John Devitt in terms of its commercialization. But Ken Peters’ story starts in 1953 when he joined Chloride Electrical Storage Company at its Clifton Junction plant in Manchester. In those days the global battery industry was dominated by three companies. The Electric Storage Battery Company (ESB) with more than 70% of the North American market, Accumulatoren-Fabrik AG (AFA) — now known as Varta — with factories throughout Europe, and Chloride, with plants in the UK and in all of its old Imperial empire countries. These companies were almost selfsufficient in materials and components. The Clifton Junction factory employed more than 3,000 workers to produce two million car batteries a year, tubular motive power cells, Planté and flat plate stationary cells, submarine, aircraft and signals defence batteries with smelters, alloy, oxide and separator production lines and on the same site, expanders and additive preparation facilities. As a trainee, Peters worked in all the manufacturing areas. There was little automatic equipment and he was involved in installing and operating the plant’s first automatic Winkel pasting machines. He joined the research department, which later moved to a new technical centre away from the demands of the manufacturing plant and was equipped with the most advanced analytical and test facilities. The technical director was Montefiore Barak, a Rhodes scholar from New Zealand. His impact on Peters’ attitudes to the industry was huge — Barak was outward looking and instrumental in starting the International Power Source Symposium (IPSS); Peters was there at the inaugural meeting in October 1958. “It was unique within the industry at that time,” he recalls. “Companies did not share even limited technical and test data, and it was the principal industry conference for many years. “Until about 1960 all the major
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“I think the major impact of my time in batteries was in converting and applying the Gates invention to the commercial battery field.” battery companies were more or less self contained in terms of their technology, so they did their own development of virtually everything and up to then, any innovations, either design or additives, separators, alloys, containers and the like were developed in-house and closely guarded. R&D consisted of electrical engineers, material scientists as well as electrochemists and designers. “But after 1960, separate and independent companies were set up to supply materials and knowhow. Nowadays if a battery maker requires a special expander, separator or whatever, they contact the suppliers.” Peters was immediately involved in a range of programmes including the manufacture of electrodeposited plates for torpedo batteries for the UK Admiralty and the development of impregnated cellulose separators. “One early and successful job we did,” says Peters, “was to assess and qualify leady oxides produced in a new Chloride designed oxide mill fitted with in-built classifiers and temperature controls, the forerunner of many later installed at numerous factories. I learned a lot about the rheology of battery pastes during that work.”
“Maintenance free car batteries were topical and we studied gassing rates and impurity influences and developed and patented low antimonial alloys producing ductile thin grids which could be cast on automatic machines. This was before the widespread use of calcium alloys, a technology adopted initially from ESB which had developed these alloys for telecom batteries.” Chloride sponsored basic research at several UK universities and as industrial supervisor, Peters visited and contributed to numerous publications in academic journals. In 1960, Chloride, ESB and AFA (Varta) signed a technical exchange agreement. All three companies employed experienced and well-known electrochemists and researchers. Paul Ruetschi, Alvin Salkind and David Boden worked for ESB while alongside Hans Bode, a professor and also research director at AFA, was Ernst Voss, Dietrich Berndt and Eberhard Meissner. “We had regular meetings at the three research centres. But in 1968 this arrangement was deemed to be unlawful and cooperation stopped,” says Peters. Positive electrodes were the princi-
100TH ISSUE BATTERY PIONEERS: KEN PETERS pal interest of researchers in the 1960s with studies on the polymorphs of lead dioxide, on how to increase cycle life and corrosion resistance, how to improve the efficiency of the active material and of course to develop and make low maintenance or maintenance free batteries. In the latter case the objective was not so much to limit water additions but to market a ‘fit and forget’ battery which was highly desirable to both car makers and the private customer.
Adapting Ni/Cd to lead
In 1964 Peters started work on a programme which subsequently had a major influence on battery design. At that time, sealed rechargeable Ni/Cd cells that were leak proof and lost no water in service due to recombination of oxygen at the negative plate inhibiting hydrogen evolution, were popular for portable equipment. Earlier gas recombination devices used expensive and inefficient catalytic systems. “The same recombination approach seemed possible with lead and we started work to study its feasibility,” says Peters. “At that time I was also particularly interested in charge acceptance, not just of the cell or battery as a whole, but the individual charge acceptance of the plates. I measured this by monitoring the cathodic hydrogen and anodic oxygen evolution at different rates and temperatures and at different states of charge. Of specific interest was the high charge factor of the negative plate with 100% charging efficiency, that is no hydrogen evolution, until the plates were almost fully charged over a wide range of charging rates and temperatures. “High charging rates with good recombination efficiencies were possible with separator saturation being the main controlling parameter. Subsequently we made several hundred D sized cells with wound lead electrodes and Porvic separators, the most porous separator available at that time. There were cost benefits over alkaline cells but the output was relatively poor and with no great enthusiasm for this work within the company, it was shelved.” Although the project was no longer live, at this point fate intervened with a series of meetings that were to help change the face of the battery industry forever. “I later presented a performance comparison of three types of D cell (primary Leclanché, alkaline and lead
acid) at the IPSS conference in 1971,” says Peters. “At the same meeting I was approached by Don McClelland of Gates Rubber Company. I didn’t know Don nor the company, whose principal business was tyres and hoses. Gates apparently had similar ideas some years earlier and had formed a venture group specifically to develop batteries for cordless equipment, nickel/zinc and lead acid being the obvious candidates. “McClelland sent me 50 wound, D size lead acid cells which we tested and I reported to my management that they were rather special.” The reason for this was that the highly porous resilient and compressible glass separators maintained close contact with the plate surfaces and resulted in cells which had high power capability, cycled well and, says Gates, could be charged, seemingly, forever without water loss. “I suggested a similar design approach could be used in Chloride’s main industrial and automotive batteries with very beneficial effects. Subsequently I was invited to visit Gates at their Denver head office for discussions with their management board.”
Under John Devitt, Gates had put together an experienced team: both Devitt and McClelland had worked on nickel/zinc and silver/zinc cells; Will Bundy, who had spent many years with the National Lead Company; and a young electrochemist named Kathryn Bullock, later to become president of The Electrochemical Society. “I was invited to the Gates board meeting to validate, and possibly explain, the claims of their scientists,” says Peters. “Their interest in batteries was based on advice given to them by ADL, that small rechargeable wound cells for cordless equipment could conveniently be marketed on garage forecourts alongside their tyres and hoses. Subsequently a joint working group was set up to review the situation.” Over the following months the group had several further meetings. The Gates team was keen to stick to their wound cell design but their manufacturing process was slow and expensive with very high scrap levels. High purity, and expensive, lead, litharge and red lead were used with high density pastes and formation over several days. The separators were high quality glass filter papers bought
from the UK and although they were exploring cheaper US supplies, nothing had been qualified. “It was difficult to see how Gates’ approach could be used to manufacture the larger batteries needed for industrial and automotive applications in the numbers required and at acceptable cost,” says Peters. “We agreed to follow different approaches. Gates would pursue its wound cell approach for the cordless appliance market while Chloride would consider how its existing manufacturing plant, such as the casting and pasting machines, could be used to make products with the same beneficial features as the Gates cell.”
Range of batteries
Peters went on to develop a range of telecom and UPS standby batteries using more or less conventional methods. Plates wrapped in compressed glass microfibre separator were inserted in strong plastic containers fitted with one-way valves. New processes and equipment for acid filling and formation were developed and a source of good quality glass microfibre paper was found. “Our new valve regulated cells had appreciably higher volumetric energy density than the existing batteries,” says Peters. “Power outputs were better and with no water losses or gases evolved they could be located on power racks in offices or where most convenient to the end user. Our first prototype designs were supplied to British Telecom for trials in the late 1970s and production began at the Clifton Junction factory in 1983.” The success of the new batteries was astonishing. By 1989 BT had installed 500,000 2v/100Ah valve regulated cells in power racks in its system X digital telephone exchanges, and was installing them at a rate of 120,000 per year. Within a few years distributed power supplies with similar valve regulated designs were adopted by telecom companies everywhere. “Parallel with the standby battery programme we were developing valve regulated car batteries with similar beneficial features; leak and spill proof, improved cycling and a much higher cranking performance than equivalent flooded batteries,” says Peters. “I think the major impact of my time in batteries was in converting and applying the Gates invention to the commercial battery field.”
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100TH ISSUE BATTERY PIONEERS: DETCHKO PAVLOV For the last 60 years Detchko Pavlov has been at the cutting edge of finding new ways to enhance the performance of lead acid batteries.
A lifetime in lead nology and Metallurgy and the Faculties of Chemistry and Physics of the Sofia State University — have been breaking new ground in understanding the processes at work in a battery. In 1961, Pavlov obtained a one-year posting at the Institut du Radium, Marie and Pierre Curie Laboratory in Paris, France, working for the laboratory director, professor Haisinski, who had once worked with Marie Curie. Haisinski directed Pavlov towards research on the chemistry of complex anode processes and in particular moving research into practical applications.
“Detchko? He’s forgotten more about lead than I’ve ever known!“ The tribute coming from John Devitt, inventor of the VRLA battery and no intellectual slouch himself, is an indication of how much Detchko Pavlov has been admired and respected for half a century now. His academic career started in 1948 when he obtained a place to read chemical engineering at the State University in Sofia. In 1953, after graduating with a degree in electrochemistry from the Higher Institute of Chemical Technology and Metallurgy in Sofia, he was invited to join the department. It was headed by professor Stefan Hristov, a pioneer in the application of quantum mechanics to electrochemistry. In the same department working alongside him as an assistant professor was a shy, pretty girl, Svetla Raitcheva, who had just completed her higher education at the D Mendeleev Chemical Technical Institute in Moscow and already had a reputation for academic brilliance and a fearsome intellect.
Their scientific collaboration grew into a friendship and ultimately, marriage. Svetla went on to earn her PhD in quantum chemistry and became first an associate professor and then a full professor. (She eventually chaired the Department of Physical Chemistry and also became head of the institute.) At the 1960 National Congress of Chemists, Pavlov had reported the results of his research into polarography. Impressed, academician Kaishev, director of the department of electrochemistry at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, invited Pavlov to join the department. It was an auspicious time to specialize. Bulgaria had begun to concentrate its manufacturing efforts in producing electric forklift trucks and Pavlov was assigned the task of researching how to improve lead acid batteries. For the next half a century, working on the fourth floor of Building 10 on the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences campus, Pavlov and his team of some 25 co-workers — the best graduates from the University of Chemical Tech-
In 1967, Pavlov and his colleague, professor Evgeni Budevski, established the Central Laboratory of Electrochemical Power Sources (CLEPS), in which he became the head of the Lead Acid Battery Department (LABD). Following the discovery of rich deposits of lead ores in southern Bulgaria, in the mid-1960s, the country became the major supplier of forklift trucks and batteries to the USSR and other eastern bloc countries. Alongside their scientific research, the LABD scientists actively supported the Bulgarian battery industry with new technologies, transfer of knowledge and genuine theoretical modelling. For example, Pavlov and colleague Vasil Iliev proved that when polymer additives are added to the battery, its power at low temperatures increases. Their scientific contribution paid off. The starter batteries produced in the Bulgarian “Start” factory in Dobritch continued to work well in freezing and sub-zero temperatures. With Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, East Germany and Tyumen unable to provide anything comparable, Bulgarian batteries were bought in large quantities, starting at 300,000 units and rising. In return, Bulgaria received 12,000-15,000 automobiles per year from the Zhiguli-Lada factory in the Soviet city of Toliati. The range of studies conducted by Pavlov and his team has been extensive. These include: the kinetics of
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100TH ISSUE BATTERY PIONEERS: DETCHKO PAVLOV electrochemical processes; electrochemistry of lead electrodes; semiconductor properties and structure of lead oxides, lead sulphate and basic lead sulphates; processes related to all stages of the technology of battery manufacture including paste mixing, curing, drying, pickling and formation; structures of lead and lead oxide active masses; processes taking place inside the battery during its storage, operation and rest; electrochemistry of antimony and tin electrodes; processes of oxygen evolution and its recombination back to water; thermal phenomena in VRLAB and the mechanism of the processes causing thermal runaway in VRLAB, degradation processes and the ways to suppress or avoid them. Of special note was the way Pavlov and his team investigated the way in which expanders affected the performance of negative lead acid battery plates and how they could be improved. This led to the creation of a new generation of highly efficient organic ligno-sulphonate expanders. The team also revealed the mechanism of the processes taking place in the AGM separator and developed a modified, better AGM with programmable properties. In consequence, Pavlov and his team have been granted 33 patents, in Bulgaria and abroad. He also developed a lecture course “Processes that occur during battery manufacture” and “Essentials of Lead Acid Batteries”, which he has presented in 17 countries worldwide.
A second family
With his researches came international acknowledgement as Pavlov’s team’s work was recognised for its worth. One of the more charming characteristics of Pavlov — who has a reputation for being a modest, easy-going person — is the way that he has never distinguished his work from that of his team. Indeed when his wife was alive the two often referred to the team as their second family. Pavlov was awarded a Doctor of Science degree in 1984 — a belated qualification. Fully occupied at CLEPS, he simply had not found the time to make a conventional approach. So when he submitted his thesis, the Scientific Council of Physical Chemistry — the toughest in Bulgaria — agreed that this was not merely a PhD work, but something much bigger. They awarded him a DSc.
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Admirers say the genius of Pavlov has been in the way he can pinpoint where a problem might be occurring in, say, a piece of battery production or use, then strip the processes down to fundamental methods. Once the process has been elaborated he is also famous for the clarity of his writing so that not just academics but any production engineer can use it to their practical or theoretical ends. From 1988, he was the driving force behind the success of the LABAT series of conferences which have since been held every three years. As testimony to their importance, the proceedings of these meetings have been published as special issues of the Journal of Power Sources. He has also served for many years as a distinguished member of the International Advisory Board of the journal. Pavlov initiated the decision of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences to award battery scientists and experts with the Gaston Planté medal for outstanding contributions. Up to now, 11 battery men from seven countries have received this award. In the early 1990s with the Republic of Bulgaria undergoing rapid democratic changes — and the economy being hit by rising inflation and falling standards of living — Pavlov realized there was a risk that the department he had been building up for more than 25 years could fall apart. He introduced what he called “the American approach to science” — essentially using commercial partners to boost his research efforts. Before long he had persuaded international concerns such as Varta Research in Germany, ALABC in the USA and Oerlikon in Switzerland to offer his department remunerative several-year contracts to develop production technologies.
In 1997 he was elected a full member, or academician of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. This is the highest scientific rank in eastern Europe. It is only when one academician dies that a new one can be elected. That year he also became adviser and cooperative member of the ITE Battery Research Institute, Nagoya, Japan. Pavlov and his team — research scientists Geno Papazov, Stefan Ruevski, Temelaki Rogachev, Boris Monahov,
Pavlov and his wife Svetla Rycheva
Galia Petkova, Mitko Dimitrov, Plamen Nikolov, Maria Matrakova and others have written extensively and some 195 papers have been published in international scientific journals. Todate, these have been cited more than 2,700 times in scientific literature worldwide. Often, just one of these papers would go through as many as 16 drafts before he was satisfied. Among his more recent monographs is “Essentials of Lead-Acid Batteries”, published in 2006. The value of Pavlov’s contribution has been acknowledged through a huge range of awards and honours. Admirers say the genius of Pavlov has been in the way he can pinpoint where a problem might be occurring in, say, a piece of battery production or use, then strip the processes down to fundamental methods. Once the process has been elaborated he is also famous for the clarity of his writing so that not just academics but any production engineer can use it to their practical or theoretical ends.
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100TH ISSUE BATTERY PIONEERS: STANLEY WHITTINGHAM The creation of the lithium ion battery cell was the work — often collaborative but equally often on a competitive basis — of a handful of scientists around the world. Stanley Whittingham is one of that elite handful that can claim to be one of the lithium battery’s founding fathers.
Reaching into the depths to unleash lithium’s power
It was so 1970s. Diversification was the new name of the corporate game. In 1972 it seemed a no-brainer for Exxon Research and Engineering to look at alternative energy production and storage. And so, with the deepest pockets of perhaps the most profitable oil giant in the world, it set about seeking the best scientists in the world for the project. Among this elite was a 31-year-old graduate, then a more than up-andcoming researcher at Stanford University, by the name of Stanley Whittingham. Exxon’s investment in Whittingham and this scientific elite paid off. Following his investigations of the properties of tantalum disulfide, Whittingham and his colleagues made a remarkable discovery. Their breakthrough? Understanding the role of
intercalation electrodes in battery reactions. And this would eventually result in the first commercial lithium rechargeable batteries. The batteries were based on a titanium disulfide cathode and a lithium-aluminum anode. Although other entities including General Motors, Sohio and the US Argonne National Laboratory were developing lithium-based batteries at the same time, only Whittingham’s invention worked at room temperature.
The implications for the oil major — and the rest of the world — could have been tremendous. In 1976, Forbes magazine declared that “the electric car’s rebirth is as sure as the need to end our dependence on imported oil”. However, such enthusiasm had died out by the end of the decade. Profiting
from Whittingham’s pioneering breakthrough, Japan later turned lithium ion batteries into a highly profitable industry. Michael Whittingham’s career really took off after leaving Oxford with his DPhil in 1967. After a short spell doing research work for the Gas Council, he realised that to obtain an academic or an industrial job, he had to go the US, and where better than the warmth of California? In February 1968 he became a post-doctoral fellow, investigating solid-state electrochemistry under professor Robert Huggins at Stanford University. It was quite a switch. “In the UK, France and Germany, solid-state chemistry was a respectable subject,” he recalls. “Chemistry departments did solid-state chemistry. In the US you could count the number of solid-state chemists on the fingers of one hand. So I went to a materials science department, not to a chemistry department.” But the turning point of his career was fast approaching. In 1971, his published findings on fast-ion transport, particularly in the conductivity of the solid electrolyte beta-alumina, won Whittingham the Young Author Award of the Electrochemical Society. And this was the springboard to greater things. “Soon after the award, I was approached by Ted Geballe, professor of applied physics, who had been asked to find people to go to Exxon which was starting up a new corporate research lab in Linden, New Jersey,” he says. Their mission? They wanted to be prepared for the company to survive when oil ran out — a major theme of corporate thinking in the 1970s. Although he was torn between the conflicting offer of a job in the material science department at Cornell University, Exxon made Whittingham an offer he could not refuse. They included him in a six-strong interdisciplinary group, led by physical chemist Fred
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100TH ISSUE BATTERY PIONEERS: STANLEY WHITTINGHAM Gamble, who had also been at Stanford, alongside an organic chemist and several physicists. “If you needed something for your research you asked for it, and it would be there in a week. Money was no issue,” Whittingham says. “They invested in a research laboratory like they invested in drilling oil. You expect one out of five wells/ideas to pay off. The Exxon research team began to look at tantalum disulfides. They found that by intercalating different atoms or molecules between the sheets of tantalum disulphide, they could change the superconductivity transition temperature. The potassium compound showed the highest superconductivity. Whittingham realized that this compound was very stable, unlike potassium metal, so the reaction must involve a lot of energy. So this suggested the possible use for this intercalation reaction for electrical energy storage. “We looked at lithium and sodium, not potassium, because it turns out that potassium is very dangerous. We also looked at the titanium disulfides, because they are lighter in weight than tantalum, and moreover were good electronic conductors,” he says. Meanwhile a Japanese company had come out with a carbon fluoride battery which was used by fisherman for night fishing. “And that was a primary battery,” he says. “This was the beginning of interest in lithium batteries.”
The patents arrive
Towards the end of 1972 Whittingham and his colleagues informed their Exxon bosses that they had a new battery, and patents were filed within a year. Within a couple of years Exxon Enterprises wheeled out prototype 45Ah lithium cells and started work on hybrid vehicles. The Exxon battery promised to make a huge impact. At the time, Bell Labs had built up a similar research group, again made up of chemists and physicists from Stanford. “We were competing head-on for a while, also in publications. If you look at our publications on the battery, you will see a lot of basic science with no mention of batteries at all. Exxon came up with the key patents early on,” he says. “These early batteries were quite remarkable, and some of the smaller ones, used for marketing, are sill operating today, more than 35 years later. “We had an incredibly good patent attorney. They would write up your invention and then ask you: why can’t you do it this or that way? And they
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provoked us into building a battery fully charged or fully discharged.” The latter is the way almost all of today’s batteries are constructed. In 1977, Whittingham teamed up with John Goodenough to publish a book called “Solid State Chemistry of Energy Conversion and Storage”. To better disseminate information about the field, in 1981, Whittingham launched a new journal “Solid State Ionics”, which he would edit for the next 20 years. “Exxon was run by scientists and engineers, not by lawyers or MBAs. Their philosophy was that if you were a good scientist then you might also be a good director,” he says. “So within a few years I became director of their chemical engineering division. I was responsible for technology, for synthetic fuels in those days, chemical plants, and refineries. It sounded challenging at the time and I stayed there four years.” By this time Whittingham was missing doing any pure scientific research himself. In 1984, he went to work at the Schlumberger-Doll Research Centre in Ridgefield, Connecticut. “Schlumberger was the Rolls-Royce of the oil field. They built very expensive analytical logging equipment which they put down oil wells to determine whether there was any oil down there and what the rock foundations were like,” he says. “What they did not have were chemists, those who tried to understand what these measurements actually meant. They did have a large number of physicists and electrical engineers building the instruments. Then they decided to build up a basic rock science group, the job of which was to try to understand what was measured.” For the next four years, Whittingham headed this analytical group, bringing together instrument builders and chemical engineers. It was more satisfying than his managerial post at Exxon. Four years later, with US industrial research activities starting to slow up, Whittingham realised that it was time to move on. After 16 years in industry, in 1988, he joined the Binghamton campus of the State University of New York as a professor of chemistry to initiate an academic programme in materials chemistry. By this time Japanese companies, in particular Sony, had made great strides in the commercialization of lithium rechargeable batteries. When Whittingham returned to battery research,
This centre has as its goal a fundamental understanding of the electrode reactions in lithium batteries. Without such an understanding the ultimate limits of energy storage will never be met. the Japanese lead was becoming dominant, embodied in a raft of patents. For five years, he worked as the university’s vice provost for research and outreach. He also was vice-chair of the Research Foundation of the State University of New York for six years. Whittingham’s group made efforts to develop a hydrothermal synthesis of new materials, initially of vanadium compounds, then used the technique to make cathode materials. It is now being used commercially for the manufacture of lithium iron phosphate by Phostech/ Süd-Chemie in Montreal, Canada. The group also developed a fundamental understanding of the olivine cathode and of a new tin-based anode.
Taking it to the limit
This centre has as its goal a fundamental understanding of the electrode reactions in lithium batteries. Without such an understanding the ultimate limits of energy storage will never be met. The centre comprises top scientists from around the country, including MIT, Cambridge, Berkeley and Michigan. Regarded as one of the fathers of the lithium ion battery, Whittingham received from the Electrochemical Society the Battery Research Award in 2004, and was elected a fellow in 2006 for his contributions to lithium battery science and technology. In 2010, he received the American Chemical Society-NERM Award for Achievements in the Chemical Sciences, and the GreentechMedia top 40 innovators for contributions to advancing green technology. In 2012 he received the Yeager Award from the International Battery Association for his life-time contributions to lithium batteries. Still at Binghamton, Whittingham’s recent work has been focusing on the synthesis and characterization of novel microporous and nano-oxides and phosphates for possible electrochemical and sensor applications.
100TH ISSUE BATTERY PIONEERS: JOHAN COETZER Developing a battery consisting of molten sodium was always going to be a challenge. But sodium sulfur and sodium nickel batteries are still around.
Molten salt and zebras... The spike in oil prices in 1974 sent the developed world into a tizzy. The sudden reality was that the days of cheap energy were over. And an oil price of $12 was the trigger for an entire generation of scientists to start a worldwide quest for alternative energy sources and improved batteries for energy storage. One of those unsung scientists who were to make a major contribution to battery technology was a South African called Johan Coetzer. After receiving his PhD in 1968 he joined the X-ray crystallography division of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in Pretoria. The work involved the study of molecular structures of single crystal materials by means of X-ray investigations. Coetzer decided to investigate the structure/electrochemical properties of silver iodide-amine iodide solid electrolytes that showed anomalously high Ag+ ion conductivity at room temperature. This project heralded the start of a 20-year period when CSIR and South Africa would make major contributions to advancing international battery science and technology. The discovery of the Na+ ion conducting solid electrolyte, ‘-Al2O3’, by Neill Weber and Joseph Kummer at Ford Motor Company in 1967 had opened the door to the possibility of developing a non-aqueous, high energy and high temperature (350°C) sodium-sulfur (Na/S) battery to replace lead-acid and nickel-cadmium batteries, particularly for electric vehicles and stationary energy storage. By 1975, development of this system was well under way in the US and Europe. At the same time, another high-temperature battery, based on a lithium aluminium-iron sulphide (LiAl/FeS2) electrochemical couple and a molten salt (LiCl, KCl) electrolyte, was under development at the Argonne National Laboratory in the US. Would the ultimate answer to energy storage lie in high temperature sodium or lithium based batteries? Because molten sodium and sul-
The apartheid problems of South Africa and the international boycotts against the country made it difficult to operate openly so they code-named the project ‘Zebra’ for ‘Zeolite Battery Research in Africa’. fur are highly reactive and combine violently if the ceramic ‘-Al2O3’ solid electrolyte in Na/S cells ruptures, and because molten sulfur is highly corrosive, Coetzer proposed the idea of using the pores within zeolitic structures to immobilize and contain the sulfur in a solid electrode matrix, thereby enhancing safety and minimizing corrosion. This concept was first evaluated in high temperature LiAl/LiCl, KCl/Zeolite-sulfur cells using Argonne’s cell configuration. This study prompted Coetzer to consider alternative electrodes for Argonne’s technology and his thinking moved away from FeS2 and zeolite-sulfur to iron chloride electrodes,
the initial studies being conducted on chlorinated iron carbides, ‘FexCCly’ and, subsequently, simply iron dichloride, FeCl2. The early battery work and the ideas being generated at CSIR did not go unnoticed. In 1976, Coetzer elicited the interest of industry and, in particular, Roger Wedlake of De Beers who, recognizing the future potential of electric vehicles, persuaded senior management at De Beers and Anglo American Corporation to invest in CSIR’s battery initiatives along with the South African Inventions Development Corporation (SAIDCOR) that was affiliated to CSIR. In 1977, a formal agreement between CSIR, SAIDCOR, De Beers and
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100TH ISSUE BATTERY PIONEERS: JOHAN COETZER Anglo American was signed. Significant progress was made and, within two years, several key patents had been filed internationally; potential partners abroad were identified to help drive CSIR’s battery technologies forward. In 1979, visits were made to Argonne National Laboratory in the US and to the Atomic Energy Research Establishment at Harwell, UK where the Li/FeSx and Na/S technologies, respectively, were in advanced stages of development. Argonne declined the offer to collaborate, ostensibly because of the political sensitivities in South Africa at the time. However, Ron Dell and Roger Bones, who had participated with British Rail in the development of NaS batteries, and sensing the technological and safety limitations of the NaS system, welcomed the South African delegation in anticipation of developing an alternative system. A huge advantage of the early collaboration with AERE was that it gave CSIR scientists immediate access to sodium-sulfur technology that enabled the evaluation of CSIR’s zeolitesulfur and iron-chloride electrodes in the sophisticated sodium-sulfur battery configuration. The apartheid problems of South Africa and the international boycotts against the country made it difficult for CSIR/De Beers/Anglo American to operate openly with Harwell and Beta R&D. For this reason, the collaboration was undertaken without public exposure.
Code name ‘Zebra’
Dell and Bones code-named the project ‘Zebra’ for ‘Zeolite Battery Research in Africa’. “Perhaps a fitting description of the Zebra can be the following: a unique and robust creature that is equally at home in the dry, scorching plains of Central Africa, where the temperatures can reach over 40°C in summer, as in the desolate, cold mountains of the Southern Cape, where sub-zero temperatures are common during the winter months,” says Coetzer. “And then it has a mighty good kick too!” Because the zeolite-sulfur electrode was solid, a molten salt NaAlCl4 electrolyte (melting point of 155°C) was added to the electrode compartment to enable rapid Na+-ion diffusion between the zeolite-sulfur and sodium electrodes via the solid ‘-Al2O3’ electrolyte. The early results on Na/
Zeolite-sulfur cells were not promising, largely because the zeolite component added considerable extra weight to the system, thereby yielding lower energy per unit mass compared with the pure NaS battery. Fortunately, the sodium-sulfur battery configuration was also suitable for evaluating the iron chloride electrodes being developed by Coetzer and his team for the Argonne-type high temperature lithium battery. In the sodium cell configuration, the reaction is simply: 2 Na + FeCl2 = 2 NaCl + Fe It was Roy Galloway at CSIR who first realized and demonstrated that, unlike LiAl/FeSx, LiAl/FeCl2 and Na/S cells that are assembled in the charged state with highly reactive LiAl and Na negative electrodes (anodes), CSIR’s sodium-iron chloride cells could be assembled in the discharged state using a simple mixture of table salt (NaCl) and iron metal powders in the positive electrode (cathode), thereby circumventing the difficulty and hazards of handling LiAl alloy or metallic sodium. Galloway also showed that the Na/ NiCl2 electrochemical couple offered a slightly higher cell voltage (2.58 V) and was more stable than the Na/ FeCl2 couple (2.35 V) to electrochemical cycling, making it the preferred system. Despite the demise of CSIR’s Na/ Zeolite-sulfur technology, the name ‘Zebra’ persisted and is still in use today to describe sodium-metal chloride batteries, although the acronym was later changed to represent ‘Zero Emission Battery Research Activity’. Significant progress was made by CSIR and Harwell in the early 1980s in demonstrating the feasibility of sodium/metal chloride battery technology. In 1982, recognizing the need to scale up the production and expedite the evaluation of Zebra batteries, Anglo American acquired facilities in Derby, UK and established the company Beta R&D to manufacture ‘-Al2O3’ tubes, cells and batteries under the management of Jim Sudworth, a pioneer of Na/S technology from British Rail. By 1984, a multi kWh Zebra battery had been built and demonstrated in an electric test vehicle. In 1986, CSIR divested from the Zebra project with most of the CSIR team joining Anglo American and moving to new facilities Zebra Power Systems Pty Ltd outside Pretoria. Johan Coetzer was appointed manag-
ing director and later a director of the holding company, Dynamic Power Systems, which formed part of the Anglo American Industrial Corporation (AMIC). The first car tested at Zebra Power Systems was a converted Suzuki minibus powered by a locally assembled 40kWh battery consisting of all-iron Zebra electrodes. The following year, Coetzer was awarded the gold medal of the South African Academy of Science and Arts for his pioneering contribution to battery technology. Over the next 10 to 15 years in a joint effort between Zebra Power Systems, Harwell, Beta R&D and Daimler Benz, Germany, outstanding progress was made in optimizing Zebra battery technology. For example, to increase the power-to-energy ratio of the cell, in 1991, Coetzer and Tony Meintjes developed a cell with a convoluted beta alumina tube which both increased the surface area and reduced the thickness of the positive electrode. This became known as the monolith cell.
In the meantime energy storage had moved from the theoretically practical to the commercially possible. By 1998 AAB had taken the development of the Zebra battery to the point where it was ready to be put into production. Pilot lines in Derby and Berlin were producing batteries at the rate of up to 20 per month. Johan Coetzer remained involved with the programme at Beta R&D in Derby until 2001 as a part-time consultant. In 2002 he left the battery scene to concentrate on his farming activities, which had continued in parallel over the years. The contributions made by Johan Coetzer and his colleagues to advancing battery technology have largely been forgotten by the mainstream energy storage industry but his legacy lives on. Major advances continue to be made in molten salt battery application and design, although their commercial value is still in doubt. While entire fleets of electric vehicles are still on the road powered by Coetzer’s Zebra battery, others are taking the battery chemistry to yet more exciting places. Italian battery manufacturer FIAMM has continued the exploration into molten salt batteries with its FZSoNick (sodium nickel) battery range.
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100TH ISSUE BATTERY PIONEERS: MARIA SKYLLAS-KAZACOS The idea of flow batteries goes back to NASA research in the 1970s, but the honour of converting theory into practice using vanadium belongs to Maria Skyllas-Kazacos. Flow batteries are now an increasing part of utilities’ armoury for energy storage and grid balancing.
Maria Skyllas-Kazacos aka… Lady Vanadium To Maria Skyllas-Kazacos goes the honour of turning the early idea of a flow battery — where energy is stored in an ion exchange between two pumped liquids separated by a membrane — into something practical. And something commercially possible too. Maria was born in 1951 in the chaos of post-civil war Greece, but moved to Sydney aged three. A remarkable scientific aptitude led her to the University of New South Wales in an age when it was uncommon for girls to go to university. She graduated with a first class degree and the University Medal in Industrial Chemistry at the University of New South Wales in 1974. For a PhD she researched the electrochemistry of molten salts. In 1978, PhD in hand — and with a prestigious CSIRO Postdoctoral Fellowship — she moved to John Broadhead’s battery group in Bell Telephone Laboratories at Murray Hill, New Jersey. She gained valuable experience in lead acid batteries and identified a new ionic species that forms as an intermediate during the charge-discharge reactions at the positive electrode. The result was her first single author paper published in the Journal of the Electrochemical Society that was to later earn her the Royal Australian Chemical Institute’s Bloom-Guttmann Prize for the best young author under 30. Despite a permanent position at Bell Labs on offer, in 1980 she moved back to Australia after winning the prestigious Queen Elizabeth II fellowship. This enabled her to continue her research in liquid junction solar cells in the School of Physics at the University of New South Wales. In 1982 Skyllas became a lecturer in the School of Chemical Engineering and Industrial Chemistry at the university.
In the V-Fuel lab in 2008 with husband Michael and son George
Meanwhile, professor Bob Robins invited her to join a research project on lead acid batteries funded by a National Energy Research Development and Demonstration Council of Australia grant. Then she had her eureka moment with vanadium. Chlorides of vanadium were generated in 1830 by Nils Gabriel Sefström. He named the new element vanadium after the Germanic goddess of beauty and fertility, Vanadis. The use of vanadium in batteries had been suggested earlier by NASA researchers and by others in 1978, but no one had previously used vanadium redox couples in a working flow battery. A reason for this was the low solubility of pentavalent vanadium compounds in acidic solutions that would limit the practical energy density of such a system. The fact that vanadium exists in several oxidation states, however, made it an excellent candidate for a single
element flow battery that might overcome the problem of cross contamination observed with the Fe/Cr battery by NASA researchers in the 1970s and 80s. Maria began some preliminary electrochemical studies on vanadium electrolytes to confirm its viability. Her preliminary studies with VCl3 solutions in H2SO4 showed good reversibility for the V(II)/V(III) and V(IV)/V(V) couples. However, further research was needed to optimize the solution chemistry to achieve a practical system. When new funding arrived, Maria set out to explore the possibility of producing concentrated V(V) solutions by oxidizing 2M VOSO4 (Vanadyl sulphate), a much more soluble form of vanadium. Together with newly appointed research fellow Miron Rychcik, a 2M vanadium electrolyte was produced and tested, the results giving rise to the filing of the first all-vanadium redox flow battery
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100TH ISSUE BATTERY PIONEERS: MARIA SKYLLAS-KAZACOS patent in 1986. This was the start of a 25-year programme that continues to this day. During the early years, development efforts were hampered by the lack of suitable off-the-shelf membranes and other cell components. In particular the use of VOSO4 for electrolyte production was found to be uneconomical from the outset. One of the first tasks was to develop a process that would allow the use of the much cheaper V2O5 compound for electrolyte production ($5/ kg compared with more than $400/kg for VOSO4). Her pioneering work meant she had to take charge of tasks such as producing electrolytes, novel plastic electrodes, and new modified membranes, as well as developing mathematical models and designs for battery technology and components, through to prototype testing and manufacturing trials in conjunction with industrial licences. She became a senior lecturer at the university in 1986, associate professor in 1988 and professor in 1993. In 1987, a small feature on her battery in the university magazine attracted the interest of the local media in Australia. Almost over night, the vanadium redox flow (VRF) battery was featured in newspaper articles around the world. In the wake of the media attention, Australian vanadium mining company Agnew Clough acquired an exclusive international licence to the VRF battery technology that led to three years of industrial funding to further develop the battery technology at the University of New South Wales. But financial problems in the company led to the return of the technology to the University in 1991. Two years later, construction firm Thai Gypsum Products was granted a licence to the technology for south-east Asia. Around the same time, KashimaKita Electric Power Corporation, a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation, was drawn to the technology as a way to use vanadium waste extracted from power station soot. This led to the granting of a licence to Kashima-Kita Electric Power Corporation and Mitsubishi Chemicals in 1993 that was followed by a five year R&D collaboration programme between the Japanese companies and the University of New South Wales research team, leading to further advances in stack design, improved ma-
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Maria set out to explore the possibility of producing concentrated V(V) solutions by oxidizing 2M VOSO4 a much more soluble form of vanadium. A 2M vanadium electrolyte was produced and tested — the results giving rise to the filing of the first all-vanadium redox flow battery patent in 1986. terials and control systems. Maria continued at the university and since 1993 has been professor at the School of Chemical Engineering and industrial chemistry director of the Centre for Electrochemical and Minerals Processing, which she founded. From 1993 a number of field trials of the vanadium battery were undertaken both by UNSW and the university’s licensees in Thailand and Japan. As part of the R&D collaboration programmes with the licensees, regular trips between Sydney, Bangkok and Japan maintained a close relationship that culminated in several field trials, the first of which was the installation of a 5kW/15kWh battery in the first vanadium-powered solar demonstration house just outside of Bangkok. To demonstrate the vanadium battery in a mobile application, a 36V prototype was installed in an electric golf cart at UNSW in 1994, where it was subjected to more than two and a half years of off-road testing by the development team. A new improved 3M vanadium had been undergoing bench-testing since late 1997 and was subsequently evaluated in the golf cart battery. Preliminary results were promising, but further long-term testing would still be needed before a practical 3M vanadium electrolyte with energy density of more than 35Wh/kg would be available for commercial application. Further research into air regeneration of the positive electrolyte was also explored as a means of doubling this to more than 70 kW/kg. In 1998, however, the vanadium battery patents were sold by the University of New South Wales to the Australian listed company Pinnacle
VRB, but rather than speeding up the commercial development of the battery, corporate restructurings and take-overs followed that ended with the patents being acquired by the Canadian company VRB Power and later Prudent Energy in China, with no further involvement of the UNSW team in its commercialization. In the meantime, however, Maria was keen to explore new electrolytes for a high energy density vanadium redox flow battery and in 2001, filed the first patent on a new vanadium polyhalide flow battery that led to the second generation vanadium bromide flow battery with almost double the energy density of the original vanadium sulphate system. The technology was licensed to the Australian company V-Fuel, however difficulties in attracting investment income in Australia saw the company folding in 2010 with the patent rights returned to the University. Further development of the G2 V/Br is continuing as part of an R&D collaboration between UNSW and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and progress has been made with new low-cost bromine complexing agents and membranes. Maria Skyllas-Kazacos’s contribution to the development of flow batteries is widely recognized. More than 20 medium to large-scale VRB systems have been installed by Sumitomo Electric Industries in Japan, US, Europe and Australia for the storage of wind and solar energy and for load levelling at power stations and back-up power. Skyllas-Kazacos has more than 250 publications including more than 40 patents and patent applications to her name. She is professor emeritus at the University of New South Wales.
Chlorides of vanadium were generated in 1830 by Nils Gabriel Sefström. He named the new element vanadium after the Germanic goddess of beauty and fertility, Vanadis. www.batteriesinternational.com
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BATTERY HEROES: LAN LAM, JUN FURUKUWA Revolutionary. Perhaps that’s the only word for what was eventually to become the UltraBattery. The next leap forward in lead acid technology would not exist if it weren’t for the combined efforts of two particular men — Jun Furukawa and Lan Lam.
The UltraBattery Two — taking concept to reality It should probably called the beer mat that made history. But go back more than a decade and two CSIRO researchers, scribbling on a beer mat, are talking excitedly about a possible new battery. “What if,” says one, “we add a supercap to the battery mix?” “And use that to counter difficulties with operating in partial state of charge conditions?” says the other. “The cycling potential would be awesome.” It’s the start of the new millennium and sitting just outside a conference held in Nice that year are David Rand, head of the CSIRO battery research division, and Lan Lam, his chief research scientist. Both are Australian. Fittingly the beer mat was for Fosters, the national beer. The discussion was to have huge consequences for the battery industry and led to the creation of the UltraBattery — perhaps the nearest equivalent to a battery having the capabilities of a lithium ion one but at a fraction of the cost. Two years later the first patent for the UltraBattery emerged, with David Rand and Lan Lam as co-creators. But the stage was not yet set. Turning the idea into a practical product was not a reality. To do this would require the ideas and hard work of another. It would take another two years and involve the contribution of another brilliant CSIRO battery scientist — Jun Furukuwa.
Lan Lam was born in Vietnam in 1953 amid turbulent times during the Second Indochina War. After graduating from high school, he went to Japan in 1972 as an overseas student. He obtained his Bachelor of Engineering (1977) and Master of Engineering (1979) degrees at Yokohama National University, and his Doctor of Engineering degree (1982) at the To-
“CSIRO’s Lan Lam and I started our collaborative development and completed a prototype UltraBattery FTZ12-UB with the size of a lead acid battery for motorcycles in mid-2006, just a little more than one and a half years into the collaboration.” — Jun Furukawa kyo Institute of Technology, Japan. He subsequently worked at Toshin Industrial, an electroplating company for switches and connectors, as a chief of Research and Development Laboratory, until August 1987. He was
responsible for the research and development of plating machines, plating solutions, gold recovery, pollution treatment, quality control and staff training. The big breakthrough in his career
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BATTERY HEROES: LAN LAM, JUN FURUKUWA “We created a new technology that is 70% cheaper than the current batteries used in hybrid electric cars, and can also be made in existing manufacturing facilities. It was always my dream to create a better battery — I knew the success of hybrid electric vehicles was dependent on it.” — Lan Lam and, eventually for the whole lead battery industry, was when Lan Lam joined CSIRO in 1988. In 1988, Lam joined Rand at the CSIRO’s Battery Research Group division as research leader for a succession of projects. The list is impressive: technology for improved battery manufacture (GNB Australia); tin-dioxide coated glass flakes/spheres for enhanced battery performance (Monsanto Chemical, and Owens Corning Fiberglas Corporation); minor elements in lead for batteries (Pasminco); orifice pasting of battery plates (Wirtz Manufacturing); fast-charging techniques for electric-vehicle batteries (ALABC); elucidation of early failure of original equipment automotive batteries (Holden); determination of maximum acceptable levels for impurities in lead used in the production of valve-regulated lead-acid batteries on stand-by duty (ALABC); and a novel technique (Novel Pulse device) to ensure battery
THE ULTRABATTERY The UltraBattery is a hybrid, long-life lead-acid energy storage device. It combines the fast charging rates of an ultracapacitor technology with the energy storage potential of a lead-acid battery technology in a hybrid device with a single common electrolyte. Combining these two technologies in one cell means that UltraBattery works efficiently in a Partial State of Charge (PSoC). Compared with conventional VRLA batteries, UltraBattery provides more energy and costs less over its lifetime when used in variable power applications. The technology is more efficient, and is also safe and recyclable. The battery is generally reckoned to offer around 80% of the ability of lithium ion batteries in PSoC for grid functions while costing less than a third of the price.
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reliability in 42V powernets for new generation automobiles (ALABC). In 2002, when David Rand was redeployed by CSIRO to help advance Australian efforts in the development of hydrogen, Lam became the senior principal research scientist in the Energy Storage Theme of CSIRO Energy Technology. By 2003, instigated by David Rand, Lam and colleagues began to develop a highly efficient hybrid battery combining a supercapacitor and a traditional lead-acid battery. And the rest was history. Meanwhile, Jun Furukuwa was coming at the industry from a different direction. Jun Furukawa is the cathode to Lam’s anode when it comes to the invention of the UltraBattery. In the spring of 1980 he joined Furukuwa Battery (no relation) and his first task was the research and development of lead acid batteries for electric buses at the Kyoto Municipal Transportation Bureau. The next year, he researched a method of manufacturing a Pb-CaSn alloy strip for lead acid batteries through continuous cast rolling, its aging characteristics, and its application to batteries. Furukawa was later assigned to the Space Technology Department, where he was involved in the fabrication of a flight model in the development of the space Ni-Cd battery (commissioned by the National Space Development Agency of Japan) and in its qualification tests at NASDA’s Tsukuba Space Center. The developed batteries were loaded on satellites such as the MOS-1 and the ETS-5. Just over a year later, Jun Furukawa worked on the R&D of a ceramic seal terminal by the Active Metal method (Ti-Ni alloy) for space alkaline batteries such as Ni-Cd and Ni-H2. Furukawa led a Ni-MH Battery Development Group. Having innovated a metal-Ni hydrogen storage battery, with its negative electrode being a modification of spherical nickel hydroxide, a positive electrode and
a separator, the Japanese team developed sealed Ni-MH batteries, integrating these components and processes for manufacturing electrodes and batteries. Much of his early research work was involved in designing better battery support for Japan’s space programme and Li-ion batteries, made smaller and lighter than Ni-MH, had led to a drop in prices. This was to prove an outstanding technology but had limited commercial success in part due to the arrival of Li-ion batteries. The next few years until 2006 saw the Japanese battery innovator turn his mind to the challenge of the day: VRLA. He was assigned to the Technology Development Department and appointed leader of the MV Team and Iwaki Development Centre’s Second Group. The challenge was the improvement of 36V valve-regulated lead-acid batteries for next-generation 42V-system automobiles, which meant examining positive and negative electrodes, battery structure, evaluation test methods, and heat dissipation mechanisms. Since 2004, in collaboration with CSIRO, Furukawa has been part of the team questing for that Holy Grail: the UltraBattery. “CSIRO’s Lan Lam and I started our collaborative development and completed a prototype UltraBattery FTZ12-UB with the size of a lead acid battery for motorcycles in mid-2006, just a little more than one and a half years into the collaboration,” he says. “We then participated in the ALABC’s in-vehicle test project on a Honda HEV, known as Insight. “The in-vehicle test started at the end of 2006 and went on smoothly to achieve our original target of 50,000 miles in just half a year. “We continued the test with a doubled target of 100,000 miles and also achieved this target in January 2008.” This was a first in the history of lead acid storage batteries. In March 2009, Furukawa and Lan Lam won the 2009 Technical Development Award of the Electrochemical Society of Japan for the Development of the Ultra Battery. In 2008, the UltraBattery was licensed to East Penn Manufacturing, one of the top lead acid battery companies in the US. The technology has also been licensed to Furukawa Battery Co in Japan and is also under licensing negotiation with companies in Europe, China, India, South Africa and Australia.
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SADLY NO LONGER WITH US No review of the past 25 years of the industry would be complete without some mention of the leaders that have died — and their legacy.
Passing the baton from generation to generation Looking back over some quarter of a century in the life of a publication is a difficult one, especially when we look back at those that have died but made huge contributions to the battery world. We’ve selected five giants, in our opinion, that are especially worthy of note in their own particular fields — DeLight Breidegam, representing the best of battery manufacturing excellence and human decency in growing East Penn from scratch; Gordon Ulsh for combining the best of corporate intelligence and humanity; Otto Jache for his astonishing electrochemical contribution to the lead battery industry; Jim Sudworth as the man who took the odd sidelined chemistry of sodium sulfur and made it into a respectable battery technology; and the genius of Stan Ovshinsky, the polymath who, among other things, put NiMH batteries into the first generation of practical electrical vehicles. We have also assembled another set of people who have left a legacy that we must still continue to respect. Four academics immediately sprang to mind when we compiled this: Vladimir Bagotsky, Tom Bacon, Jeanne Burbank
and Brian Conway. Bagotsky was the genius who created practical silver-zinc, mercury-zinc batteries for the first Russian spaceships and also the first textbook on electrochemical kinetics. Bacon also deserves mention for putting batteries into space — for him the US Apollo missions — but his major achievement has been to make fuel cells respectable. He was the engineer who developed the first practical hydrogenoxygen fuel cell. Burbank achieved an international reputation as an all-round lead battery expert but was particularly noted for her work using X-rays and electron microscopy to better understand corrosion in batteries. Conway is best known as the father of the supercapacitor — and all the more
so since he coined the term! And then there’s Al Salkind, one of the greatest electrochemists of his generation, who passed on just last year. We had a wide range of non-academic business people that merited attention but in the end plumped for two special people who were as much known for their easy-going popularity as their vision of where the battery industry should go. Bill Wylam was the driving force in creating market acceptance for the maintenance free — VRLA — battery when it persuaded General Motors to manufacture them and put them in their cars. Sally Miksiewicz, similarly, was the driving force behind taking an advanced lead product, the UltraBattery, and making it mainstream.
Looking back over some quarter of a century in the life a publication is a difficult one, especially when we look back at those that have died but who made huge contributions to the battery world.
Top row from left to right: Alvin Salkind, Sergeevich Bagotsky, Tom Bacon, Sally Miksiewicz, Gordon Ulsh Bottom row from left to right: Bill Wylam, Jeanne Burbank, DeLight Breidegam Jr, Brian Conway (top), Jim Sudworth (below), Otto Jache
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SADLY NO LONGER WITH US
Alvin Salkind (1927-2015)
Electrochemist Al Salkind, one of the greatest electrochemists of his generation — and a true pioneer in shaping our understanding of the processes involved in batteries of all types — died in June 2015. A prodigious IQ of well above 150 helped propel him through bachelors and masters degrees and a doctorate at the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn better now known as New York University. He learned electronic repair in the Eddy program of the US Navy. Most of his graduate studies were part-time, while he worked at Usalite, a small manufacturer of dry and special cells, and Sonotone, where he was a senior engineer responsible for nickel-cadmium cell components. In his doctoral training, his major field was chemical engineering and his minor fields were chemistry and X-ray physics. In 1958, Salkind started work as head of a research group at the central labs of ESB Inc (common trade or divisional names included Exide, Rayovac, Grant, Edison, Willard) in Yardley, which is near Princeton in Pennsylvania. While at ESB Inc he took research management courses at Penn State University and as a member of the Industrial Research Institute he took spe-
cial research management training at Harvard Business School. In the 1960s ESB supplied Ernest Yeager of Case-Western Reserve University with the catalyzed silver electrodes for his mercury-amalgam fuel cell designs. In 1970 Salkind became president of the Research Lab Corporation and a vice-president of the parent NYSE listed company. ESB had licensees, technology collaboration agreements and equity interests throughout the world and at one point owned the Chloride Battery Company in the UK. The agreements included the NIFE (Jungner) company in Oskarshamn Sweden, where Uno Falk was chief engineer; on alkaline batteries, Varta in Kelkheim Germany, where H Bode was research director; on lead-acid and dry cells (Voss was also there); Hellesens in Denmark on dry cells; Toshiba in Japan; Century in Australia; Tudor
in Spain; Microlite in Brazil; and more. During the 1970s Salkind collaborated with Yeager in editing Techniques of Electrochemistry published by Wiley. The book became an instant classic. A Russian translation was published by Mir. Total sales have since approached 20,000. In 1980, Salkind assisted Yeager in starting the Center for Electrochemical Sciences at Case as a part-time visiting professor and executive director of the centre. In 1974, ESB was acquired by INCO but in 1979 closed the central lab. Salkind returned to teaching with two half-time appointments. The first was as a tenured full professor in the Rutgers Medical School, where he was head of a bioengineering division of the department of surgery. There he developed battery powered medical implants. The second was as a professor and later associate dean of the Rutgers School of Engineering. He founded the Rutgers Center for Energy Storage Materials and Engineering, where improved silver-zinc and lead-acid batteries were developed. His consulting engineering company, Alvin J Salkind Associates, has carried out projects across the Americas, Europe, Asia and Australia. After retiring from Rutgers in 2004, Salkind became a part-time faculty member and lecturer at the University of Miami, City University (NYC), and at the University of Adelaide in Australia. He was a visiting professor at the Academy of Science (Moscow), Technical University (Graz), Academies of Science in Belgrade, Serbia, and Zagreb, Croatia, in Japan, and at the Chinese Academy of Science in Jilin. Salkind has been the author or editor of 11 other books and volumes. He is the author of more than two dozen patents, 120 technical peer-reviewed papers, and more than 400 articles. Just before he died Salkind said he was organizing an LLC to study advanced energy storage battery systems, especially suited for locations with no grid. “There are bright and willing people everywhere. Take time to learn from them. The world is a small place and needs preserving,” he said.
From being the first to build a battery into an X-ray port tracking structure with state of charge, to runins with Einstein’s assistant, to his resolution of the structure of AgO using neutron diffraction, to his time with Nobel Laureate Rudy Marcus — Salkind’s impact in electrochemistry has been vast and immense. Batteries International • 100th Edition • 2016 • 79
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Vladimir Sergeevich Bagotsky (1920–2012)
Putting power into difficult spaces Vladimir Sergeevich Bagotsky is best known for two things: his work on developing batteries that could function in different and demanding environments and his theoretical and practical research into electrochemical power sources. After graduating from Moscow State University he held a research position at the Department of Electrochemistry and the most important result of this period was his participation in a joint publication, in 1952, of the Kinetics of Electrode Processes — it was the first textbook on electrochemical kinetics. Between 1949 and 1965, Bagotsky worked at the All-Union Research Institute of Power Sources. He contributed substantially to the development of a series of innovative batteries for submarines, aircraft, and spacecraft, most notably silver-zinc batteries, mercury-zinc batteries, water-activated batteries, and thermal reserve batteries. The first space satellite, Sputnik,
which was launched on October 4, 1957, was equipped with three silverzinc batteries made under Bagotsky’s supervision. The Sputnik-1 transmitted signals for 22 days before its batteries failed. Later, other Soviet spacecraft, including the Vostok with Yuri Gagarin in 1961, were equipped with these batteries. For these achievements, in 1959 Bagotsky was awarded the degree of Doctor of Technical Sciences without even being required to present a thesis. By this time, he had been twice awarded the Order of the Red Banner (1956 and 1957), and in 1961, he was finally awarded the Order of Lenin, the highest decoration bestowed by the Soviet Union. When Frumkin founded the Institute of Electrochemistry in 1958, he invited Bagotsky to work as head of the power sources division. It was during this period that systematic studies of various basic aspects of electrochemical power sources — electrocatalysis,
electrode kinetics on porous electrodes, electrochemical intercalation — were initiated. From 1960, Bagotsky became a leader of fuel cell development in the Soviet Union, and from 1980 he supervised the Russian R&D related to lithium batteries. After retirement, Bagotsky moved to the US and continued his professional activity publishing the second extended edition of Fundamentals of Electrochemistry in 2006) and Fuel Cells: Problems and Solutions in 2009.
Tom Bacon (1904–1992)
Fuel cell pioneer Francis Thomas Bacon is best known for his work with the fuel cells he developed that were used in NASA’s Apollo programme between 1961 and 1975 and which first put men on the moon. But his major achievement was being the engineer who developed the first practical hydrogen-oxygen fuel cell. Bacon spent most of his life working on fuel cells both at home and later on in research labs. He was a firm believer that the fuel cell would be the power horse of the automotive industry in the 21st century. He began experimenting in his home in his 20s but it was only in 1940 that he was able to start full-time work on the hydrogen oxygen fuel cell at King’s College, London and later at Trinity Hall at Cambridge University. Partly by dint of hard work — rumour was
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that there was never a day when he not in the laboratory — and partly by admirable ingenuity he was able to present a working six-cell fuel cell battery at an exhibition in London, producing 0.8 V per cell at 230 mA/cm-2. In 1949, he demonstrated a 5 kW 40-cell battery, with an operating efficiency of 60%. The patents for the fuel cell were ultimately licensed by Pratt and Whitney as part of a successful bid to provide electrical power for NASA’s Project Apollo. In January 1954 he was awarded a US patent “Alkaline primary cells…. An electrical primary cell comprising a container, an electrode of nickel mounted in said container and having a coating of nickel oxide, in which lithium is incorporated and an alkaline electrolyte in contact with said electrode.”
He made enough progress with the alkali cell to present large-scale demonstrations. One of the first of these demonstrations consisted of a 1959 Allis-Chalmers farm tractor powered by a stack of 1,008 cells. With 15,000 watts of power, the tractor generated enough power to pull a weight of about 3,000 pounds.
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DeLight Breidegam Jr (1928-2015)
Manufacturer, philanthropist DeLight Breidegam Jr, the co-founder of East Penn Manufacturing, was as widely respected for his creation of a battery manufacturing giant in the US as his ethical business creed to employees, suppliers and customers. Part of the genius of the firm was the work culture DeLight created. Employees saw themselves as part of a family united in a business rather than having a traditional confrontational bosswork relationship. The East Penn story started on October 3, 1946 when DeLight Jr was discharged from the US Air Force. It was his 20th birthday and the day he and his father co-founded East Penn. The business proposition was simple: the war had made materials for new batteries scarce, but there was a great demand for rebuilt batteries to allow the returning soldiers to restart mothballed cars and trucks. The two DeLights collected old batteries and rebuilt them. The following year the Breidegams took on a partner, Karl Gasche, a MIT engineering graduate who became vicepresident, and it was incorporated as East Penn Manufacturing Company. As raw materials became available, instead of rebuilding old batteries the company made new car batteries. Their product line was named Deka — being the first letters of DeLight and Karl. Manufacturing batteries in quantity involved the need to smelt lead for the
new batteries, and so the fledgling firm built a small smelter nearby. This was also the first building of what would one day become two million square feet of operations on nearly 500 acres. In 1950 they had just six staff though the Deka brand was already being recognized for its quality and price. But then growth was fast and sizeable. It had 350 staff in 1971 reached 700 five years later. East Penn produced more than a million batteries in a year for the first time in 1976. . Nowadays East Penn makes more than 125,000 a day. From 1969 onwards he was an active participant and occasional head of lead industry bodies. The company also made history in environmental protection. Here DeLight early on had seen the way the battery industry needed to go. “People thought that waste was normal,” he said in a later interview. “Then in the 1960s, the environmental stuff started to come. Some people threw their hands up and said, ‘There’s no way.’ And I always said, ‘Well ... heck, we’re going to try.’” Today it recycles some 30,000 batteries a day, including the acid and plastic. In 1992, the annual battery total passed the five million mark. East Penn was now a state-of-the-art industry model, fully prepared for the 21st century. Every stage of the manufacturing process was computer-aided and the most tedious jobs were now
fully automated. East Penn has regularly been voted one of the best places to work in Pennsylvania. It has a long history too of retaining staff with many employees now into their third and fourth decades of employment with the firm. The firm’s persistent interest in new technology has propelled it to the front in lead acid battery manufacturing. In 2008, East Penn entered into an exclusive agreement with Furukawa Battery, a Japanese battery manufacturing company, and CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization), the Australian national science agency, to release the revolutionary UltraBattery technology in North America that would be manufactured by East Penn. The UltraBattery is a completely new class of advanced lead acid technology that combines the added benefit of an asymmetric supercapacitor. This provides an optimal balance of energy storage with quick charge acceptance, power discharge and longer life spans than existing technology in the marketplace. The UltraBattery can challenge the advances of lithium ion batteries as it can operate in a partial state of charge at a far more competitive price. East Penn holds the exclusive license to develop, test and release the UltraBattery technology for reserve power applications through its subsidiary, Ecoult. DeLight had a profound interest in moving ahead with new technology. East Penn has long had a reputation for being ahead of its rivals in machinery and manufacturing processes. “He used to say that those who said ‘wait and see’ before introducing new technology or methods had decided to go out of business — they just hadn’t decided the date yet,” says Dan Langdon. DeLight was a practising Christian. He was also a highly generous donor to the community. “DeLight provided infrastructure and scholarships at Moravian College that transformed the face of the campus and the futures and lives of hundreds of our current students and graduates alike,” says Bryon Grigsby, the college president. Perhaps the last word about his life and the corporate philosophy he fostered should come from him. “I grew up so humbly, I never had anything. Now, I live in a nice home, I drive a good car compared to what I used to. That’s about it. But I like to go in the plant and see what they’re doing and pat a guy on the back and tell him I think he’s doing a hell of a good job for us. And if he makes me some money, I’ll share it with him.”
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Exide turn-around king Gordon Ulsh, the man behind the astonishing turn-around of Exide in the late 2000s — bringing it out from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and into sound health — died suddenly on February 1. Both the career of Ulsh and the man himself were the stuff of legend. Born from humble stock in Valparaiso, Indiana in 1946, he never forgot his origins or ever regarded himself as more important than the workers on the shop floor. Although Ulsh is best remembered for his turn-around of Exide, by the time he had reached there in 2005, he had already had an astonishing — and varied — career working in and around the US automotive industry. He spent the first 16 years of his career working in progressively senior positions at Ford Motor Company and then became a vice president of operations at a Cooper Industries subsidiary. He later headed up the $3.8 billion worldwide aftermarket division of Federal-Mogul Corp, which had acquired Cooper Industries in 1998. He became Federal-Mogul’s president and chief operating officer in 1999. Key to his later work at Exide was his understanding of financial operations and his awareness of what investors were looking for. He joined Exide from FleetPride, the largest US distributor of truck parts,
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where as president and CEO, he was responsible for a recapitalization and financial restructuring which helped the company at a critical moment in its development. But to understand Ulsh’s achievement at Exide one needs to understand the tremendous mess the company had got itself into in the years running up to his appointment in April 2005. For a start, he was the fifth president of the firm in just eight years. The very size of Exide had created its own set of problems — most particularly in that the economies of scale had been lost in scale itself. In April 2002, Exide filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. In May 2004, a financial package whereby the firm’s debt was reduced by $1.3 billion was approved and Exide emerged from Chapter 11. Inevitably shareholders were burnt as were key suppliers and customers. Ulsh, talking to Batteries International in 2009, said: “Perhaps the key problem was one of low morale. There was no questioning the competence and expertise of many of the management or their dedication to Exide, but morale was very low.” The situation was compounded by the fact that even before the move into Chapter 11, many of the firm’s key staff had been drifting away. Staff morale, low from within, was also taking numerous hits from the outside.
“The only thing that erases self-doubt is success,” Ulsh said. “Turning around morale is the constant reinforcement of successes, be they small or large. “People call it ‘celebrate success’. You really have to thank people and praise them, and after just a little bit of celebration, you raise the bar so that we keep trying to get better the next time.” Ulsh never subscribed to the idea that the chief executive had to have an overwhelming, all-encompassing ‘vision thing’. His immediate strategy was a classic for a large firm with serious cashflow problems. There was an immediate clamp-down on costs, a freeze on new hires and a vice-like grip on capital expenditures which, for the immediate interim, could only be approved by Ulsh himself. “With that in place it soon became clear we could start defining what kind of service model we wanted to develop. As such, we didn’t have a set plan for how we were going to operate. We knew that we were going to have to bend our plans to fit circumstances.” Unpleasant decisions also had to be made early on. Exide shut down its automotive battery plant in Shreveport, Louisiana, closed its operations in Ireland, and shrunk its operations in Greece. After the first months at the head of Exide, Ulsh steered the development and emergence of a more formalized operations improvement programme. The initiative was called ‘Take Charge!’, and it was designed to build upon the lean manufacturing ExCELL system already in place. The immediate aim of Take Charge! was to empower teams of employees to identify opportunities to eliminate wasteful practices, reduce variability and cut costs in all aspects of the business. Ulsh realized that at the same time as Take Charge! was launched, he needed to devise common metrics for performance. This meant that it would be possible to compare costs, staffing levels and output across, for example, Exide’s 10 recycling facilities around the world. Ways of achieving greater productivity took other forms. Ulsh told staff initially in the US, and later in its European operations, that there would be no salary raises in the year ahead. He put the idea simply — there was not enough money to go around. For extra money to be available, more money had to be created. Productivity had to go up. Ulsh retired from Exide — a dramatically improved firm — in June 2010.
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Sally Miksiewicz (1962-2014)
Leader in advanced lead Sally Miksiewicz, chief executive officer of East Penn Manufacturing, will be remembered for the legacy she leaves the lead battery business in being the first battery manufacturer to take the UltraBattery seriously — still perhaps the best alternative advanced lead battery on the market. As part of this she grew close to Ecoult, which had commercialized the product from CSIRO, the Australian research institute that invented it. In the end she led the way and acquired Ecoult for East Penn. She started work at the family company in June 1984 after graduating with a BA in business management and sociology. Sally was the daughter of DeLight Breidegam, who founded East Penn on his return from the Second World War. DeLight was keen that Sally learnt the family business from the ground up. She started in sales.
In her 30 years with the firm she progressed from junior positions to ever more senior ones, eventually moving from being in charge of her own territory to a sales director of one of East Penn’s divisions and then into greater management positions. She was fortunate to be around in the massive expansion of the company during the 1980s and 1990s when East Penn rolled out warehouses across the US and Canada and branched out into other product segments requiring battery power from marine applications, to golf carts, to wheelchairs. She later worked closely with the personnel department — work that rounded out her understanding and belief that it was possible to create a corporation that could think and act like a family. Before her appointment as chief executive of East Penn in 2009 she was vice chairman and secretary of the corporation, working in government affairs and
leadership development, among other duties. Sally had many business accomplishments, but one that will be remembered is the way that she pushed for East Penn’s adoption and manufacture of the UltraBattery, a landmark that drastically improved lead acid battery performance, under partial state-of-charge conditions. At first East Penn’s interest was mostly in automotive applications of the UltraBattery but Sally, realizing its potential, also pushed for developing it for stationary and other applications. She was the key figure in getting US Department of Energy support for a 3MW advanced battery frequency regulation project.
Bill Wylam (1935-2014)
Maintenance free battery champion Bill Wylam, one of the best-known figures in the US battery industry of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, will best be remembered for the way he led General Motors to adopt the so-called ‘maintenance free’ battery and so changed the face of the lead acid battery industry. His first job, immediately after graduating, was with the Delco Remy Division of General Motors. He was to work for the corporation and its subsidiary for the next 40 years in a variety of senior positions including chief engineer, batteries, director of international manufacturing and director of technology development. Wylam ultimately was the mastermind in moving GM from the thenstandard antimony-based batteries to the so-called Delco Freedom batteries where the lead-calcium grids are stronger, more resistant to overcharging, gas-
sing and the like and where battery life was longer. The result would be a complete rethink of GM’s operations. Plants to build the new batteries were needed and, since GM was already a global player, there was an international perspective. The result was that Bill — with a cast of hundreds of engineers reporting to him — was responsible for the creation of plants across the world manufacturing everything from the new expanded grids in huge automated lines to the new casing. He fought for at least two decades against GM’s notion that a battery was a commoditized product rather than a source of value. By the late 1980s GM had five manufacturing plants in the US, another in Canada, yet another in Brazil, South Korea, France, Mexico and a joint ven-
ture in Saudi Arabia. Each plant was able to pump out some 7,500 to 10,000 batteries a day. Wylam was also one of the earliest to see the potential of outsourcing suppliers to developing nations and he created large joint venture companies in Korea and China for producing automotive starters, generators, ignition systems and batteries in the mid to late 1980s. He is equally well remembered for his work on the motor and battery system for the GM EV1 electric vehicle — the 1997 forerunner of the Chevrolet Bolt, which goes into production later this year.
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Brian Conway (1927-2005)
The father of supercapacitors Brian Conway — better known as the father of the supercapacitor (he even coined the term) — was born in Farnborough, UK in January 1927. He attended Imperial College London, where he became part of an elite group of 10 researchers led by electrochemist John Bockris. Bockris and Conway attended discussions at the Faraday Society where they met a famous group of Russian electrochemists — including Alexander Frumkin, the founder of the Institute of Electrochemistry of the USSR Academy of Sciences, and Boris Kabanov, later a senior figure in the institute — with whom he kept in contact in later years. Conway joined the Chester Beatty Cancer Research Institute, University of London, in 1949. In 1954, Conway moved to the University of Pennsylvania to join his former PhD supervisor, John Bockris.
He stayed until 1956, when he was persuaded by chemical kinetics pioneer professor Keith Laidler to apply for a faculty position at the chemistry department of the University of Ottawa. Conway — later a Canadian citizen — stayed there for 49 years. He became a full professor in 1962 and four years later chairman of the department. Conway worked on nearly all aspects of electrochemistry: the electrified interface, ion solvation, adsorption, electrode kinetics, oxide film formation, electrocatalysis, rechargeable batteries and electrochemical capacitors. Between 1975 and 1980, he carried out extensive work on the ruthenium oxide type of electrochemical capacitor. In 1991 he coined the term ‘supercapacitor’ as the explanation for increased capacitance by surface redox reactions with faradaic charge transfer between electrodes and ions.
Conway’s work in applied electrochemistry has allowed the development of rechargeable, compact batteries and supercapacitors for cellular phones. In the early 2000s, Axion Power International developed its e3 Supercell, a low-cost battery-supercapacitor hybrid that uses the same cases, materials, internal components and manufacturing equipment as conventional leadacid batteries. Conway collaborated with East Penn and Sandia National Laboratories, a testing facility owned by the US Department of Energy and managed by Lockheed Martin Corp.
The way we were. The Royal College of Science Electrochemistry Group, 1947-1948. Front row, second from right Brian Conway, seated two further from right, John Bockris, friend and mentor
Jeanne Burbank (1915–2002)
X-ray analysis of batteries Jeanne Burbank was one of the earliest battery pioneers interested in exploring the crystalline structure of lead acid batteries and developing various X-ray techniques to probe them. She was also arguably the first woman to prove that parity was possible in the male-dominated lead industry and military. Burbank’s story starts after the death of her husband in 1946 and her return to Washington, DC where she worked as a research chemist for the Naval Research Laboratory, specializing in the microstructure of lead acid submarine batteries. In 1949, she co-authored a report “Phosphate Coatings on Steel”, then in 1952, “Positive-grid Corrosion in the Lead-acid Cell: Corrosion Rates of Tin Alloys and the Effect of Acid Concentration on Corrosion” and “Subgrain Structure in Lead and Lead- antimony Alloys.” In 1958, she received her first patent for a battery grid and plate. During the 1960s, Burbank and her
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colleague Charles Wales developed the electrolytic cell for X-ray diffraction studies of electrodes, such as silver, to provide analysis for battery companies such as Gates and Johnson Controls. Burbank was a leader in the difficult analysis of the entirely different roles played by the two polymorphs of lead dioxide in the battery operation. One markedly increased the physical stability of PbO2, while the other was the principal source of reactive energy. Significant groups in the US and Germany were struggling with this question, which influenced both battery design and the processing of materials in manufacture. The cooperative work resulted in a better understanding of the crystallographic structure of active materials. Her colleague, Al Simon, of Arlington, Virginia, did parallel studies with the very latest technology from a scanning electron microscope. She was a recipient of numerous awards. In 1969, she received the sixth
annual William Blum Award from the National Capital Section of the Electrochemical Society. The commendation said: “Your methods of applying X-ray and electron microscopy to the materials and components of lead-acid and silver-zinc batteries have made a substantial contribution to the understanding of battery grid corrosion and active materials reactions.” She published more than 35 articles in professional journals, and received numerous awards for her work and publications.
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Creator of gel battery Theodor Sonnenschein didn’t realise it at the time. But when in 1910 he set up his factory Akkumulatoren Fabrik — its speciality, starter batteries — he was providing the breeding ground for a generation of gel-based batteries that were to transform the energy storage industry a couple of generations later. Sonnenschein’s unknown protégé was Otto Jache, born in Berlin in 1915. The first half of Jache’s life was clouded by the destructive pall of war. He never knew his father, who died in the First World War, and his 20s and 30s were overshadowed by the Second World War and its aftermath. After school, Jache went to work as a chemical engineering technician, first for engineering firm C Lorenz and then at the Edeleanu petroleum refinery in Berlin. As the clouds of war descended in 1939 Jache, like millions of others, became a soldier, fighting for Germany in France and later in Finland. As the war started to unravel and the Germans started to retreat he was forced to make a dash from Finland, when it signed the armistice in September 1944, to his homeland. In a marathon journey more suited to a movie he es-
caped via Norway, accompanied by a Norwegian, Reidum Ingrid Karlsen, who had collaborated with the Germans and was also fleeing for her life. Reidum was later to become his wife. Immediate post-war Germany faced the seemingly impossible task of regaining its place in the industrial world. But Sonnenschein managed to set up a new factory in Hessen and its staff included the “Chemoteckniker” Otto Jache. Jache’s first job at Büdingen was to cast lead grids for pasting together into positive and negative plates. For small batteries, these could be as much as 12 plates. To transport quantities of these around, with his fellow workers, Jache designed and built electric trolleys to replace the horse-drawn ones. In terms of living quarters, everyone at Sonnenschein had to make do with what was available. For the next 30 years, Otto Jache’s home was to be a converted former ammunition depot, just 200 metres from the factory. It was here that his three children grew up. This proximity to his laboratory would mean that Otto could — and did — work into the night as he did not have far to get home. In 1957 a change of management sought to improve the batteries which
were used in small electronics equipment. Such batteries were tilt-proof but only operated when upright. For Jache it was an opportunity to be seized. It was also a revolution in the making — as significant as John Devitt and Don McLelland’s pioneering development of the VRLA battery. Otto Jache formed a team to research dryfit batteries which could be used in transistor radios, photoflashes and the like. His team found that leadcalcium (PbCa) gave a cleaner step from charging to H2-emission and avoided the formation of poisonous SbH3. Silica immobilized the electrolyte. Oxidation of the negative plates by air was hampered by a valve, integrated in the cover. The first dryfit gel batteries were two cell 1Ah, Type 2Ax2, delivered in October 1958, although Jache’s patent was filed the year before. As they came to be accepted, these dryfits were used in telecommunications for gliders and even, as one report once said, “environmentally important applications like toilets for cats and golf carts”. Jache’s invention, the first truly maintenance-free battery, had been born. Within a decade it was to become the international standard for batteries. In 1965 the first dryfit licence contract was established with Globe Union. In 1978 larger gel-filled cells for industrial batteries from 24 up to 120 volts were developed. These were to remain in production until 1984. Jache was to remain an innovator and battery pioneer for the rest of his life and his patent list of refinements pay attribute to his application and intelligence. In his last years he was also a popular figure on the conference circuit and was entered as the 14th member of the exclusive electrochemist club known as Alpha/Beta. Jache died on January 10, 1993, aged 78. Unlike other battery pioneers such as his contemporary Sam Ruben he never received any awards for his contribution to the world’s technology. Because of its gel technology and the export and worldwide service of its gel batteries since the 1960s, Sonnenschein became well known as a technology and quality leader throughout the world. In 1991, this good reputation was transferred to CEAC, which in 1995 was bought by Exide Technologies in the US.
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Jim Sudworth (1939-2013)
Master of molten salt
Jim Sudworth, one of the key figures in the development of the molten salt battery, died in November 2013 in Schenectady, New York. He was one of the foremost experts in sodium metal chloride and sodium sulfur batteries — and quite literally wrote the book on sodium sulphur. He was also the leading figure in developing and commercializing the sodium metal chloride battery. Born in the north of England in 1939, he left school at the age of 16 with rudimentary qualifications. However, by dint of hard work, a good brain and tenacity he obtained a degree from the UK’s Royal Society for Chemistry. After a number of positions leveraging his expertise in chemistry, he began his work in energy storage in 1965 for Chloride, then one of the top three battery manufacturers in the world. In 1967, he joined British Rail at its new technology centre in Derby which, among other things, aimed to adapt the research of two Ford scientists who had been developing a sodium sulfur battery and applying that to the rail business. He rapidly became the head of the electrochemistry section at British Rail and for the next 15 years, was responsible for directing a team of up to 40 scientists and technicians in the development and production of beta alumina (the ceramic electrolyte used in sodium sulfur batteries) as well as cells and batteries. After the abrupt shutdown of the project in the economic crisis of 1981,
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he suggested to two colleagues that they should effect a management buyout of British Rail’s defunct operations. It was to be both successful as a business — he became managing director of Beta Research and Development — and created a cutting edge research institution. Over the next two decades Beta R&D was to establish the pedigree of sodium sulfur as an energy storage medium and — through incorporating Johan Coetzer’s Zebra battery — the commercialization of the sodium metal chloride battery. Fleets of vehicles running across Europe are indebted to Jim’s pioneering research. “His professional legacy is evident in monumental battery factories in Switzerland and America and the hundreds of lives those factories have enriched,” said a family statement after his death. Moreover, he was responsible for finding a host of other applications for the sodium metal chloride battery. These vary from a battery for downhole operations in the oil and gas industry, a high power version of the battery for hybrid vehicle operation and a battery that powers a NATO rescue submarine (and which is still in operation). In September 2007, Beta R&D was acquired by General Electric Transportation Division, and is assisting in the development of sodium nickel chloride batteries for telecom, UPS, hybrid locomotive and utility applications. Three years later GE Energy Storage invested more than £1.7 million in the technol-
ogy with Sudworth at the heart of the development of its stationary power, ‘Durathon’, business. GE is in the process of reorganizing the technology which, however, has not lived up to expectations. In 1985 with Roger Tilley, Sudworth co-authored the seminal book “The Sodium Sulfur Battery” which remains the industry textbook to this day. In January 2003, he was awarded the Earnest Yeager Memorial Award from the International Battery Association. At a personal level, he was also a man much loved by family and friends, as much for his abilities as the way he deployed them. “Jim devoted much of his life to developing new batteries aimed at revolutionizing the way energy is used. His work took him to many countries where he became known for both his intellect and his wit,” said a colleague. “Jim did not just work, he developed relationships — mentoring younger acquaintances and pushing more experienced colleagues to excel in their work.” Another close colleague told Batteries International: “It was Jim’s energy, vision and persistence that allowed all of us to meet, develop friendships and literally launch a new business. Few people are lucky enough to share in the experience of so much creation… many fewer actually drive it to happen. Jim had a unique ability to improve the lives of people around him. I’m fortunate to have been able to call him a friend.”
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Ernst Voss (1923-2004)
Discoverer of α-Pb02 Ernst Voss was born on August 29, 1923, in Nortorf in the state of Holstein in Germany. Like many of his generation his life was disrupted by the Second World War — he was drafted into the army in 1942 and taken prisoner in 1944, and detained in the US until the Armistice. Unable to study chemistry at Hamburg University — all the places were occupied in 1946 — he obtained a free chemistry university place with studies in classical philology at Hamburg University. But he started studying chemistry full time in 1948 and finished in 1953 with the Diplom-Chemiker degree. In 1955 he was awarded a doctorate from the same university. His doctoral thesis, devoted to structures of hexafluorometallalates, was inspired by the lectures of professor Hans Heinrich Bode. As with David Rand, who had a mentor in John Agar, it was Bode who supported Voss in his electrochemical ambitions by finding him a post as co-researcher in the central research laboratory of Accumulatoren-fabrik at Kelkheim near Frankfurt am Main, Germany. That same year was also momentous as he married Ruth Steiner. Their daughter Erdmuthe was born in 1958, their son Wolfgang in 1963. For nine years, Voss researched lead acid batteries in depth. In 1964, he became manager of the department for product research and development and widened his activities to include studies on nickel cadmium cells. In 1973, he was appointed manager of the technology department for primary and new systems and his researches were starting to bring him more international reputation. This position allowed him to become acquainted with many different types of primary systems including zinc carbon, alkaline manganese, zinc sil-
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ver oxide, and lithium organic cells. Despite this extra work Voss still pursued his research and studies on both lead acid and nickel cadmium cells. In 1978, Voss was made department director and received authorization to represent VARTA Batterie in legal matters. During 1976–77, he joined a research program in lithium iron sulfide molten salt batteries at the Argonne National Laboratory in the US. He then established and inaugurated a similar program at VARTA’s R&D lab. This work was continued for many years under his supervision. Voss was appointed director of the research and development centre of VARTA Batterie in Kelkheim in 1981, which involved information, planning, patents, government contracts and contacts with universities. Mainly Voss worked at understanding the behaviour of lead acid batteries. He was the inventor, or a co-inventor, of 47 patents. These included: Brightening and stabilizing the color of metal salts of naphthene and ethylhexanic acids and their solutions (1957–1960); lead storage battery with solidified electrolyte and process of making same (1963–64); galvanic cell with solid fluoride ion-conductive electrolyte (1975–1976); and polyacetylene cell with ceramic solid electrolyte (1983–1985). His work was reported in 54 papers published in various prestigious scientific journals. In one early
paper he reported with H. Bode his discovery of α-PbO2 in Zeitschrift für Elektrochemie, Berichte der Bunsengesellschaft für physikalische Chemie 60 (1956): 1053. α-PbO2 is distinguished from the α-PbO2 modification by its capacity and lifetime. Practically he dealt with phosphoric acid additives for lead acid batteries. Together with August Winsel he developed the “Kugelhaufen Modell” (aggregate-of-spheres model) of the PbO2-PbSO4 electrode, explaining the capacity dependence on currents and additives on a theoretical basic. In 1985 he was elected to work as an expert on batteries and fuel cells for the Commission of the European Communities, Directorate XII, in Brussels. In 1987 Voss collaborated with Hiroshi Shimotake as general editor of Progress in Batteries and Solar Cells. He also worked on the editorial board of the Journal of Power Sources. Voss retired from VARTA Batterie in September, 1988, after 33 years with the company. He continued to work for VARTA as consultant until 1993 and was, among others, responsible for scientific grants of the Herbert-QuandtStiftung der VARTA. During this time he was still active in attending international battery conferences. During the LABAT meeting in 1989, Voss was selected to become the first recipient of the prestigious Gaston Planté Medal, awarded by the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.
In an early paper written with Hans Bode about his discovery of α-PbO2 in Zeitschrift für Elektrochemie, Berichte der Bunsengesellschaft für physikalische Chemie, α-PbO2 is distinguished from the α-PbO2 modification by its capacity and lifetime. www.batteriesinternational.com
THE NEW GENERATION OF WATERING PLUGS
DAVID RAND: AN ELECTROCHEMICAL JOURNEY David Rand has been at the heart of the energy storage world for the past 50 years. His academic achievements — he is the co-inventor of the UltraBattery and one of the electrochemists that solved the early 1990s puzzle of PCL — have been matched by a stimulating presence in the life of the industry. Mike Halls reports
Taking theory to the limits in pursuit of the better battery It’s odd what shapes the life scientific. For some people it’s a long process that they slip into. But for others — and David Rand is one of them — there is a eureka moment. For David, aged 12, that moment was a talk about Faraday on a school scientific outing. “I was mesmerized,” he recalls. “Suddenly, I knew what I wanted to do with my life. It was to become a research scientist!” David Anthony James Rand was born in October 1942 in Haslemere, a charming village in the south of England. His father a senior Royal Navy officer later responsible for degaussing — removing the magnetic field around ships, which otherwise leaves them vulnerable to mines and torpedoes — gave him an early appetite in science.
His practical interest certainly started early. An 11th birthday present of a Lott’s chemistry set characteristically resulted in gunpowder followed by controlled — and uncontrolled — explosions. At school, he excelled academically and also on the sports field and the stage. (Even, now, in his 70s he continues as a football referee.) 1961 was to prove a pivotal year in his life. That summer he won an Open Exhibition to Trinity Hall, a college in the University of Cambridge. It was also the year he met Gwen, who became his long-suffering partner, though it took a further four years before this relationship flourished. Cambridge in the early 1960s was an extraordinary place. Behind the walls of colleges that looked as if they had been sleeping for centuries an
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DAVID RAND: AN ELECTROCHEMICAL JOURNEY Cambridge in the early 1960s was an extraordinary place. Behind the walls of colleges that looked as if they had been sleeping for centuries an intellectual revolution had been going on intellectual revolution had been going on. Five Nobel prizes to the university were awarded in 1962 — think Crick, Watson and Wilkins for determining the structure of DNA, or Perutz and Kendrew for their analysis of blood proteins. David recalls a studied casualness about this intellectual foment. “You couldn’t get into some of the lectures if you didn’t arrive an hour beforehand,” he recalls. “Yet those same lecturers could be found chatting in the bars of an evening. Indeed, I was often the unpaid drinks waiter at their intimate bashes.”
‘Thanks but no thanks’
The famous Footlights theatre group, which was to throw up classic comedies such as Monty Python and the Goodies, was on the brink of its heyday. David auditioned for the Footlights in his first year. John Cleese and Tim Brooke-Taylor sniffed and said: “Thanks, but no thanks”. After graduating in 1964, Rand wanted to follow up his degree with a PhD. He had been offered two places — one at Cambridge and another at the newly-founded University of East Anglia. Then fate dealt him a very unexpected card. It was from the man who was probably to prove the most important in his academic life and hence his later career — John Agar. The good fortune was the fact that Agar, a quiet, unassuming but absolutely brilliant scientist — his seminal papers in the late 1930s ended the so-called ‘Great Nernstian Hiatus’ — chose Rand without him even applying for the post. Rand remembers the profound effect Agar had on his studies. “We were all in awe of him,” he says. “He encouraged us to be rigorous, openminded and disciplined. These serious qualities have underpinned my worklife ever since.” On top of the guidance and encouragement from Agar himself, Rand got to know Agar’s friend Tom Bacon, who had built in a nearby facility the ground-breaking alkaline fuel cell used in the Apollo space vehicles. Half a century later, Rand maintains a keen
interest in hydrogen energy and fuel cell technology. In the middle of the 1960s Britain was rapidly changing and the social revolution crossing the country swept over Cambridge too. David, now as president of the Graduate Union organized ‘beat dances’ — hiring notable performers such as Chuck Berry and Eric Clapton with his new band Cream. The Beatles’ Paul McCartney was even expected to attend a joint birthday party David was having with friends but failed to show. The consequences were to last a lifetime. A horde of gate-crashers turned up — including Gwen who had returned to Cambridge after a year of teaching in Norwich — to see McCartney. The evening descended into chaos and the police had to move in to dispel the crowd. The appearance of Gwen as an uninvited guest to David’s birthday party sparked something more. They started dating. The following year, 1966, they were engaged. At the end of March 1967, they were married. Other forces were about to shape their lives. Agar, after a year’s sabbatical which included a visit to the Division of Mineral Chemistry — part of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Melbourne, Australia — returned to the UK. Agar enthused about CSIRO. “It’s probably the best research outfit in your field in the world,” he said. “They’re looking for a researcher — it’s right up your street. This is an opportunity you can’t miss.” The rest is history. Rand applied for the job and was accepted.
‘Ten pound poms’
A handful of weeks later, Rand and wife Gwen became what was then popularly called ‘Ten Pound Poms’. The Australian government had an immigration scheme looking for skilled British people. The offer was a simple one. Anyone choosing to move to Australia would only pay £10 for their trip there, on condition they worked in the country for two years.
The appearance of Gwen as an uninvited guest to David’s birthday party sparked something more. They started dating. The following year, 1966, they were engaged. At the end of March 1967 they were married Batteries International • 100th Edition • 2016 • 95
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DAVID RAND: AN ELECTROCHEMICAL JOURNEY THE WORLD SOLAR CHALLENGE David Rand has been a key figure of the World Solar Challenge (WSC) — one of the more unusual ways of testing battery development — in which a solar-powered vehicle has to cover some 3000 km of the Australian Outback from Darwin in the north to Adelaide in the south and use battery storage as an essential means for the efficient management of the photovoltaic energy. In 1987, Rand formulated the battery regulations for the inaugural event and remains in his role as the WSC Chief Energy Scientist after a further 12 meetings. The impact of the WSC extends
well beyond raising awareness of solar technology and a number of its automotive sub-sets. Most importantly the students, scientists, engineers and enthusiasts who design, build and operate solar cars gain a deep understanding of the importance of energy efficiency. “These are among the people who will shape our future,” says Rand. The World Solar Challenge has provided automobile manufacturers — Ford, General Motors, Honda, Nissan, Mitsubishi and Toyota have all competed — with a valuable test bed for the development of both electric and hybrid electric cars
David and Gwen threw themselves into the ways of their new country with a vigour. Soon their family was boosted by the arrival of three children: Simon (1971), Timothy (1973) and Toby (1977). Work went well. His mission was to develop better electrocatalysts for methanol fuel cells, then an exciting field of research that promised a way of side-lining hydrogen as a difficult fuel to work with. (Alas, even today, the system has failed to meet expectation.) There followed research campaigns by Rand into novel electrochemical sensors to enhance the beneficiation of mineral sulfide ores, advanced secondary batteries, and hydrogen energy systems. In 1977 Rand was effectively promoted. CSIRO offered him a choice between setting up a photovoltaic group or, his choice, establishing a Novel Battery Technologies Group (NBTG). As part of his remit, he was sent on a world study tour to discover how various battery manufacturers and research units were advancing ranges and capabilities of their products. First-hand, he learnt about various battery systems, particularly lead-acid, nickel-zinc and, during a three-month project at Imperial College with Brian Steele, embryonic lithium-ion chemistry. He also made a string of friends and contacts that lasts to this day.
A tucker bag of new ideas
Faraday’s last resting place: but inspiration for generations to come
Rand came back with a tucker bag of new ideas for research that spawned a prolific output of work — a fresh report or journal publication was pushed out almost every month and together covered a range of battery chemistries that included zinc-bromine, nickelzinc, vanadium redox, and rechargeable zinc-manganese dioxide. Although lead-acid was a mature technology, Rand made it a policy to explore all avenues of research to enhance its performance. An Xray diffraction technique, PEAKS, was devised to determine the phase composition of positive active-material and thereby provide companies with new knowledge about the chemistry of battery constituents during manufacture and service. This, in turn, allowed optimization of processing, control of product quality, increased productivity and diagnosis of production problems, as well as the explosion of much industry folklore that could inhibit advances in practice.
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DAVID RAND: AN ELECTROCHEMICAL JOURNEY
With first born Simon: from the look of the sideburns, about 1972
Toby and Tim for that period in their life when they were shorter than their Dad
A new generation of serious research was coming to the fore from figures as diverse as Ernst Voss, Detchko Pavlov, John Devitt, Eugene Valeriote, Herbert Giess, Katherine Bullock, Jürgen Garche, Eberhard Meissner, Frank Fleming, David Prengaman, Ken Peters, Barry Culpin, Bob Nelson, Paul Ruetschi and Pat Moseley On occasions, his research prefigured — by a generation — areas of investigation that are hot topics today. In the CSIRO archives, for example, you’ll find a 1978 study of the effect of regenerative braking on leadacid performance sponsored by Lucas. “The 1970s and the 1980s were a golden time to be an electrochemist studying lead-acid batteries,” says Rand. “The giants of the industry — think Johnson Controls, VARTA, Yuasa, Japan Storage and Chloride, or some of the major research labs such as CLEPS (now IESS) in Bulgaria and Cominco in Canada— were making huge advances cell performance. “A new generation of serious research was coming to the fore from figures as diverse as Ernst Voss, Detchko Pavlov, John Devitt, Eugene Valeriote, Herbert Giess, Katherine Bullock, Jürgen Garche, Eberhard Meissner, Frank Fleming, David Prengaman, Ken Peters, Barry Culpin, Bob Nelson, Paul Ruetschi and Pat Moseley.”
Gwen and David Rand will celebrate their 50th anniversary in 2017
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Rand too had established a substantial reputation of his own during this period and in 1991 he was awarded the Faraday Medal by the Electrochemistry Group of the Royal Society of Chemistry. Interestingly, although Rand is most thought of nowadays in terms of lead-acid batteries the award citation was far wider: ‘Over the past 25 years David has made many significant contributions in different areas of electrochemistry including fuel cells, electrocatalysis, sulfide mineral processing and more www.batteriesinternational.com
DAVID RAND: AN ELECTROCHEMICAL JOURNEY recently battery systems. In particular, his successful development of methods that allow the systematic study of the physicochemical properties of lead-acid battery constituents and their influence has led to important advances in this battery technology.’ But it was two years later that Rand became the equivalent of a household name in the lead battery industry. The reason was the then seemingly intractable problem facing manufacturers and users alike. The shorthand for the problem was PCL — premature capacity loss which drastically shortens the life of lead batteries under deep cycling. It was particularly prevalent in designs that used grids made from antimony-free or lead-calcium alloys to reduce water loss. Moreover, it was independent of plate design or how the paste was applied. The problem occurred with both flooded batteries and the then new wave of VRLA technology which had taken the telecoms world by storm in the early 1980s.
Dealing with PCL
Rand, who was working with the ALABC at the time, initiated and then took the chair of the World Study Group into Premature Capacity Loss of Lead-Acid Batteries in 1993. This was formalized in an ALABC programme when Rand became temporary manager of the consortium in 1994. A notable contribution towards understanding the phenomenon was made by Rand and his project leaders: Tony Hollenkamp, Russell Newnham, Kathy McGregor and Lan Lam “The final piece of the puzzle, was compression,” says Rand. “And that gave us ways to defeat PCL.” A seminal explanation of the PCL effect by Tony Hollenkamp was published. In related work by Rand’s NBTG, the formulation and application of fast-charging algorithms led to the discovery of the advantageous effect of pulsed-current charging on extending the cycle-life of batteries with grids made from low-antimonial lead or lead-calcium alloys. Two other important commercial
An irrational love of an obscure football club jumped to the next generation
outcomes have resulted from the research of Rand and his CSIRO team. The first initiative is less wellknown and was the creation of the Energel/SunGEL batteries. The batteries were of immense interest to the Australian government which was looking at ways to improve living standards in some of the rural and distant locations in the country. Rand had acquired a detailed understanding of the demands placed on batteries in so-called remote-area power supplies (RAPS) by undertaking several expeditions to tune a facility on Coconut Island in the Torres Straits, north of Australia. The remote island, population 149, sits close to the equator and is famous for its sea
On occasions, his research prefigured — by a generation — areas of investigation that are hot topics today. In the CSIRO archives, for example, you’ll find a 1978 study of the effect of regenerative braking on lead-acid performance sponsored by Lucas www.batteriesinternational.com
turtles, hammer head sharks, and vicious Moray eels.
Beyond Coconut Island
The Energel/SunGEL batteries — which eventually were to have thick positive plates made with an ultra-pure form of lead produced by Pasminco — were designed specifically to store energy from solar applications and thereby enabled isolated locations to move off diesel-powered generation. The work of Russell Newnham showed that exceptional cycle-life (Ah-throughput) could be obtained by operating batteries within a partial state-of-charge (PSoC) window. This is believed to be the first published demonstration of the beneficial effect. Attracted by this finding, the WHO engaged Rand and Newnham to set the battery specifications for solar refrigerators employed in the Vaccine Cold Chain. The batteries were later employed in a project set up by ILZRO (the parent of the ALABC) in two villages
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DAVID RAND: AN ELECTROCHEMICAL JOURNEY in a remote area of Peru. This initiative proved its worth by showing how electricity could be brought to regions where the only source of power was diesel generators and where an area the size of Texas had just 20 miles of paved road. The second commercial contribution from CSIRO, and arguably one of the big leaps in lead battery technology for a generation, is the UltraBattery, for which Rand is a coinventor with Lan Lam. It is the first lead-based hybrid battery incorporating a supercapacitor. The UltraBattery differs from a conventional one in its ability to provide and accept a high rates of discharge and charge, respectively, for long periods of time. The idea came from an unlikely conversation in a bar outside a conference in Nice in 2003. Rand and Lan Lam — drawing on a beer mat — wondered what would happen if the fast charge of a supercap was put into a lead battery. Its potential within micro- and medium-hybrids could be immense, A road test of a Honda Insight medium-hybrid, in which the original Ni-MH battery had been replaced by an UltraBattery of the same voltage, was tested for 100 000 miles in the UK. At the end of the test, the battery was still fully functional. In a similar project, a Honda Civic fitted with an UltraBattery pack ran for 150 000 miles on roads in Phoenix, Arizona. In addition to its deployment in HEVs, the technology is capable of supporting electricity grid balancing functions that have become critical with the arrival of intermittent power from renewable sources.
The first UltraBattery patent
The first patent for the UltraBattery was granted in 2005 with Rand and Lan Lam as the authors. While being developed by CSIRO, the Japanese government helped fund the project through Furukuwa Battery. In 2007, East Penn Manufacturing in the US was brought in to help further the technology. CSIRO set up a commercial company that year called Ecoult. A more fully formed patent was released by Lan Lam and research scientist Jan Furukuwa in 2008. Its adoption went to Furukawa Battery (no relation to Jan Furukuwa) and to Ecoult which was bought up by East Penn Manufacturing in 2010. The UltraBattery continues to be refined further and is still regarded as the best — and certainly the most
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Coconut Island population 149, sits close to the equator and is famous for sea turtles, hammer head sharks, vicious Moray eels and testing of RAPS batteries
cost-effective — alternative to lithium batteries that lead can provide. It can match the performance of lithium performance in many ways but at a much cheaper price. Rand’s contribution to the above two battery products should not detract from the huge amount of other activities in which he has been involved over the years. These have been at a governmental level representing Australia — he and Gwen became Australian citizens in 2008 — nationally and internationally in examining the role of hydrogen as part of the country’s search for a sustainable energy policy. Rand has been a key figure in the technical assessment of papers presented at the major lead battery conferences run in Asia and Europe. He continues as the chairman of the Technical Programme Committee of the ABC — he was there at the first conference in Hong Kong in 1987 — and as a member of the Technical Committee of its later European counterpart the ELBC. Rand retired from full-time work at CSIRO in December 2008 but remains as an Honorary Research Fellow. He is still an active researcher and a lively participant in the life of the industry. Perhaps one of the nicest tributes to David came as part of a tribute related to the Faraday Medal and published in the Journal of Power Sources. The eminent electrochemist Brian McNicol said, that: “Quite apart from his scientific findings that have had such influence, David has over the years been a persuasive advocate of the role of alternative power sources in society. “In many respects, he has been an inspiration to us all, never fearing to be controversial when the need rose. His energetic participation in, and the leadership of, scientific meetings has been greatly appreciated by the electrochemical community.”
The first Asian Battery Conference — Bangkok,1986
RAND’S RESEARCH HAS BEEN RECOGNIZED BOTH NATIONALLY AND INTERNATIONALLY. 1991: The Faraday Medal of the Royal Society of Chemistry (UK) 1996: The UNESCO Gaston Planté Medal 2000: The CSIRO Chairman’s Medal 2003: The Australian Centenary Medal 2006: The R.H. Stokes Medal of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute 2008: The International Energy Agency Hydrogen Implementing Agreement Angel Award 2008: The CSIRO Medal for Research Achievement 2013: Member of the Order of Australia In 1998, he was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering and in 2000, the University of Cambridge awarded him a Doctor of Science (ScD). He is the co-author of: Batteries for Electric Vehicles (Research Studies Press, 1997); Understanding Batteries (The Royal Society of Chemistry, 2001); Clean Energy (The Royal Society of Chemistry, 2004); Hydrogen Energy: Challenges and Prospects (The Royal Society of Chemistry, 2001); and, Towards Sustainable Road Transport (Elsevier, 2005). He is co-editor of Power Sources for Electric Vehicles (Elsevier, 1984); Valve-Regulated Lead–Acid Batteries (Elsevier, 2004); the recently published five-volume Encyclopaedia of Electrochemical Power Sources (Elsevier, 2009); and, 32 Australian and overseas conference proceedings. Rand was the Asia-Pacific editor of the Journal of Power Sources for 31 years.
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EARLY DAYS AT BATTERIES INTERNATIONAL The life, times and happy founding of the magazine were all down to the entrepreneurial skills and knowledge of Don Gribble.
Creating a publishing legacy Theories of destiny aside, chance plays a huge role in the affairs of mankind. And if the UK’s Electric Vehicle Association had been doing better some quarter of a century ago, this story could not be told. But for Don Gribble, head of the EVA in the late 1980s, times were proving tough. The EVA — a creature of its time and ahead of its time at the same moment — was in difficulties. The dreams of popularizing the electric car were proving difficult to substantiate. Membership fees were dwindling and Don, who had a long experience in the battery world, was increasingly relying on consultancy work for the Lead Development Association (now the ILA). In his mid-50s his future prospects for work were bleak. But Don was not a quitter and remembering his time as a journalist some 30 years earlier working for The Engineer, he came up with a rescue plan. Why not set up a magazine for the industry? he thought. “In the US there was the Batteryman, which was well liked but generally regarded as rather lightweight,” he says. “And there was also a technical journal that was over the heads of most of the business. There was a market gap.” He spent some time wondering what
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he was going to call the magazine but the solution presented itself in a simple analysis of what the content was going to be. “It wasn’t about energy as such, nor was it about cars — though automotive batteries was going to be a huge part of its remit — but it was simply going to be about batteries. And since I didn’t want it to be a UK title, especially as those were the years when we finally saw the end of British battery manufacturing, it had to be an international title. “Batteries International seemed to say it all.” As anyone involved in publishing can tell you, setting up a magazine from scratch is an enormous task. The immediate question is the product itself. How many pages it is going to be? Who are the readers going to be? What is the so-called URP (unique readership proposition)? What kind of stories will you run? What kind of features will fit your URP? What kind of writing style will it be? And from these basic questions a host of other questions immediately arrive — from the balance of the story mix to the relationship the magazine will have with advertising and, of course, the commercial relationship it will have with editorial integrity.
Oddly enough, although these are vital questions for a magazine, the fact is that publishing is a commercial business. And all the normal logic behind setting up a business have to be addressed. For a start-up magazine the biggest problem is invariably cashflow. There are two main revenue streams for a magazine — advertising and subscriptions. Advertisers never like to pay in advance — especially for a start-up issue — and then only when they see the distribution. Subscribers aren’t likely to pay up front for a magazine that they have yet to see. A combination of two factors helped Don turn his plans into reality. The first was £5,000, a legacy from the death of his mother which allowed him the cushion of time to get the magazine ready before invoices. The second was just plain luck. Although from the beginning it was a two-person operation — just himself and his wife Mary — Gribble had a co-partner and part-time sales person, Hugh Colliemore, a charismatic and gifted salesman. His outgoings in terms of staff costs were minimal and he was amazed to find that most of his advertisers paid in advance. “I was cash-flow positive from the outset,” he recalls. “The magazine filled a niche in the market and by the end of the first year it had provided me with a living.” Don remembers with fondness his early struggles to get the magazine recognised — he even tried to interest the Lead Development Association (now the ILA) into taking a stake. “If they’d done so, their investment would have paid for itself several times over.” After five years of running the magazine — including making Chinese translations of the contents for some shows — and representing it around the world, Don called it a day. A giant publishing house known as Euromoney was interested in the title and he was minded to retire, “while I still had life enough in me to enjoy my retirement”, he says. The sale of the magazine provided him with a lump sum and pension that has lasted him well. But most importantly for the history of the industry he has left a publishing legacy that continues to serve the battery markets.
VLRA BATTERIES: THE BEGINNING Batteries International spoke to John Devitt who, now 91, recalls how he conceived of the first absorbent glass mat battery and the challenges that he and Don McLelland had to overcome to create prototypes that could be manufactured.
Patent no 3,862,861: the key that opened up VRLA It all started with a memo. A nine page memorandum to George Jenkins, head of research at Gates Rubber Company. The memo subject line?
Lead-Acid Sealed Cells. Moreover, the author, John Devitt, a battery research manager, had only fledgling knowledge of lead batteries.
“Perhaps best of all, only Jenkins stood between me and Charlie Gates. In retrospect, the whole thing was too good to be true. No more bureaucrats. No more waiting for an unpredictable board meeting.” — John Devitt www.batteriesinternational.com
Not exactly the stuff of legend. But those nine pages were to create the largest shake-up to the lead battery industry since 1881 and the days of Camille Faure. It was April 1965. Devitt has started working for Gates just three months beforehand. And half a century later the world is still coming to terms with the consequences. “This memo didn’t just come out of the woodwork,” recalls Devitt. “For most of the preceding 15 years I’d managed two battery factories in succession; both of them supplied a number of different silver-zinc batteries to the US Department of Defense. “All were destined to be used in either missiles or torpedoes. One of the factories was the principal source of batteries for the main electrical power of the Minuteman, Polaris and Poseidon ICBM missiles. I also directed the development of these products.” At the time Gates was the largest manufacturer of rubber belts and hoses in the world. In 1965 it was privately held by the Gates family: “Charlie Gates was CEO, and he ran the company his way,” says Devitt. “That included an unusual willingness to experiment with new types of products, and even completely diverse enterprises. “The local grapevine one day yielded the news that Gates was interested in going into the battery business. I had for some time wished to become involved with non-military batteries — even lead batteries, then by far the largest portion of the overall battery business, including dry cells and the rest. “A very unusual environment greeted me at Gates. Charlie could decide a new idea was a good one in the morning and by afternoon someone’s work was going in a new direction. And it turned out that Jenkins, my new VP, was very skilled in finding new R&D areas to whet Charlie’s appetite. Jen-
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VLRA BATTERIES: THE BEGINNING It is fascinating to note that the original D-cell development was carried out by McClelland and Devitt, neither of whom had any previous experience with lead acid cells, together with some technicians who had no battery background! kins was also an expert at summarizing for Gates (both were engineers) the technical intrigues involved with a possible new enterprise. “Perhaps best of all, only Jenkins stood between me and Charlie Gates. In retrospect, the whole thing was too good to be true. No more bureaucrats. No more waiting for an unpredictable board meeting.” Gates’ interest in battery manufacturing was based on advice from a consultant who had been charged with the task of finding diversification opportunities. Work on nickel-cadmium and nickel-zinc battery systems was recommended. One result was that Devitt began a serious nickelzinc sealed-cell development project in 1965. “But only a small feasibility study was authorized for the lead acid cell,” he says. “This latter opportunity, however, was exploited unmercifully. Vendor contacts were established and much library work was done. Grids were planned to be made of longitudinally expanded lead sheet purchased from vendors. This decision was based upon Devitt’s only previous battery experience: 12 years in the development and manufacture of silver oxide zinc primary and secondary batteries. Expanded silver and copper sheet materials were used in those batteries. Grid material and oxides were procured in 1965, but used only in relatively few preliminary experiments. About two years passed after that April memo, during which Gates’ management thought about the idea of lead batteries – which would have been a major departure from the traditional rubber manufacturing business. “That 24-month delay gave us priceless time in which many contacts with sources of materials and information could be used to permit plans to be made,” he says. By mid-1967 a clear go-ahead had finally been received and Devitt’s team moved rapidly. The team itself was an unusual one and more characteristic of Devitt’s thought processes than traditional hiring or interviewing techniques. “Some
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chemical background was an obvious plus but I was more interested in how an answer was arrived at than in its accuracy,” he says. “Some interviews lasted well over an hour. It must be mentioned that the team which developed the battery consisted, for the period beginning with the first experiments and ending with sales to customers, of only four people with a relevant technical degree – the rest having wholly diverse backgrounds. “These latter folk were classified as technicians. Not one had ever worked in an activity similar to the one they were about to enter, and noone ever quit the project while I was there.” Here it is worth introducing co-patentee Don McLelland, who had given a paper on silver zinc batteries at a Electrochemical Society meeting in 1965. Devitt had met him there, liked him and thought he fitted the bill perfectly for his research plans. When he learned that McLelland’s wife’s parents lived near the battery project he said: “It was a simple matter to entice them from their residence in California.” At the beginning McLelland investigated some electrochemical details of other battery types being considered, but for the final three years of the total of seven invested in lead acid cells, he directed the work on the D- and X-cells while Devitt became involved with business plans and other details for the future. (It is fascinating to note that the original D-cell development was carried out by McClelland and Devitt, neither of whom had any previous experience with lead/acid cells, together with some technicians who had no battery background!) But to go back to Devitt’s first plans. He had been particularly fascinated by investigations into sealed nickelcadmium cells, which he had heard described at the 1960 meeting of the Electrochemical Society. The oxygen cycle employed in these was, he reckoned, one of the major breakthroughs in battery science. In these cells, advantage is taken of
KEY TECHNOLOGICAL INNOVATIONS The following lead acid cell design elements are reckoned to have been first commercially introduced in the Gates’ D-cell: • expanded grids • spirally-wound cell elements • plate compression for increased cycle life • glass microfiber separators • direct oxygen transport across the separator • internal expansion ‘pop-rivet’ terminals, and • rubber-cap Bunsen valve. the fact that, in electrode reactions, no electrolyte is consumed. The liquid needs to be present only in sufficient amount to transport ions from one electrode to the other. So if there is a wettable, fibrous separator between the electrodes, it can be merely damp, or ‘starved’ of liquid. During overcharge, if the negative cadmium plate is of substantially larger coulombic capacity than the positive, there will be oxygen evolution within the cell before hydrogen gassing begins. Oxygen diffuses through the separator pores to the cadmium surfaces and reacts to form water, and this situation can continue indefinitely without either hydrogen or oxygen escaping from the cell. Practical Ni-Cd cells are made using thin, spirally-wound plates in the cylindrical units and are capable of high-rate discharges and charges. Another object of his preliminary work was to find, if available, more or less maintenance-free lead acid batteries. The only ones worth studying, Devitt reckoned, were those made by Sonnenschein in Germany and, at that time, imported by Globe Union (later Johnson Controls). These were called gel cells because of the silicaceous addition to the acid which turned it into a stiff jelly and kept it from running out of the battery when it was in a spillable position. Unlike the Ni-Cd cells, this battery did not use oxygen recombination. It was basically designed and made as a flooded battery with non-spillable acid electrolyte. “The batteries I purchased were shipped with full charging instructions which cautioned against using voltages above the gassing potential. In addition, the gas exit of the battery
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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.”
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VLRA BATTERIES: THE BEGINNING contained a rubber umbrella valve, used simply as a check valve, allowing gas exit but not entry,” says Devitt. “On testing it held no measurable internal pressure; so there is no question that it was not an early VRLA battery. Particularly when new, its negative plates were buried in acid gel. This material also tended to slow down the electrode kinetics to such a degree that true high-rate performance was not available. “With this background it was not difficult to suppose that an extremely attractive objective might be the development of a small lead acid cell with as many of the characteristics of the sealed Ni-Cd cell as could be achieved. “Our new, future product would be high rate, as sealed as possible, nonspillable of course, and quite inexpensive because of the much lower materials cost.” “All of the early work was devoted to learning ‘The Art of Lead Batteries’, almost none of it being recognizable in terms of silver-zinc technology,” says Devitt. “Valuable advice was obtained from Everett Ritchie of Eagle Picher and John Nees of National Lead. Both oxide vendors were then valuable sources of battery design and processing information.” Everett had been working on an
ILZRO contract which resulted in probably the most complete data on paste formulations, curing and so on published anywhere. The recommendations from this source resulted in both positive and negative recipes, which found their way into the finished products. The first D cells which cycled well were made in October 1967 by Marvin Walker, a technician, and Devitt. They were housed in polystyrene pill containers. Their design included expanded lead calcium grids and paste recipes based upon Ritchie’s recommendations. The separators were a special phenolic-treated cellulosic paper which was flexible enough to wind up. The cells were sealed as well as tape and glue would permit. As sometimes happens, their performance was not significantly exceeded by cells made during most of the following year. Also in 1967 the team became aware of the unspillable miners’ lamp batteries which used a latexbound diatomaceous earth separator. It proved a dead end — design did not yield usable ideas. But by the end of 1967 the D-cell capacity specification had been established at 2.5 Ah, a value still used today. Devitt had also conducted the first exploration of the market for this
product, with a very positive result. 1968 was occupied with work in optimizing formulations, processing parameters and mechanical details. A 960-cell computerized cell-cycling and data-recording installation was planned and implemented. Every cell could be cycled individually. “Our pilot plant began operating in early 1969,” says Devitt. “It could, on short notice, transform an idea into enough test cells to be placed on the big tester to give a meaningful answer. This combination of pilot plant and large tester was a key factor in our realizing the relatively short total D-cell development time of less than four years.” But the separator was still a problem. A large number of synthetic nonwovens and treated papers were tried, in many combinations. Drip coffee filters were even tried at one point. By the end of 1968 McClelland was directing the D-cell project on a fulltime basis. During the first half of 1969, D-cell cycle life was still limited by water loss. Further design optimization was done, including grid alloy experiments. “Because of our use of expanded grids, alloy choices depended more on their successful passage through
A carbon copy of the memo that changed lead batteries forever
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VLRA BATTERIES: THE BEGINNING THE PROPOSED OBJECTIVES The proposal recommended the development of a cell which would perform in a manner similar to that of the nickel-cadmium cell. The proposed cell would provide highrate discharge capability and thus would employ a spirally-wound electrode configuration. The commercial significance of the cell was understood to be: (i) a cycle life adequate for many applications, combined with (ii) very low material costs - as little as one-tenth that of the nickel-cadmium cell. It could thus be made in larger sizes and thus open up new the expanding machine, and our ability to paste and wind the electrodes, than on such important considerations as corrosion and growth in the positive,” says Devitt. “In the middle of 1969, the scene began to change fast. Some cells containing a layer of treated cellulose paper and a layer of Whatman GF83 filter paper (microfiber glass) began to exhibit abnormally low water loss. As 1970 proceeded it became obvious that we were at last on the road to a true starved electrolyte, recombination design. A company Devitt had used as a
application areas. Prospective markets included engine starting, portable medical and electronic equipment and power tools. The list of development problems to be solved was never changed after this initial presentation, says Devitt. The most serious ones were felt to be: (i) provision of an adequate volume of acid, yet preventing any escape of acid; (ii) need to reduce or eliminate water loss during the life of the cell, and (iii) reduction or elimination of cell damage during prolonged storage in the discharged supplier of absorbent cellulose paper for silver-zinc cells (tea-bag paper!), CH Dexter Company, had mentioned its expertise in making various types of fiberglass paper, including those grades made of microfibers. “Enquiries led to their furnishing us with a Type 225 which, as was our habit, was first used in combination with other materials,” he says. “At last it was used alone. Many test cells later it was apparent that our cells now failed, at a life of hundreds of cycles, from grid corrosion and growth, with little or no readilymeasurable water loss. Final design optimization included many plate compression experiments. In the 1960s it was commonly said that ‘lead-calcium batteries do not cycle well’. But the batteries in question did not typically incorporate any significant retention of the positive active material. Early in the project Devitt started to conclude that an abnormally large pressure applied to the active material surface might accomplish two things. First, it might reduce the electronic resistance in the interface between the grid and lead dioxide to such a level that there would be no inclination for a sulfate or oxide layer to form.
state. As part of this the memo noted that “the oxygen recombination reaction used in alkaline cells appears to have no direct counterpart in the lead acid system”. The crucial advantage of the alkaline cell, wherein no electrolyte component is quantitatively consumed during discharge, was recognized. The sealed nickel cadmium cell operates very well with very little electrolyte. So the oxygen cycle potential of the proposed cell was viewed as unlikely, but nonetheless desirable. And second, at the same time, ‘shedding’ of material would be impossible, and, again, electronic contact between particles of active material might prevent their becoming either detached or inactive. “Accordingly, we employed that most ideal of dimensionally-stable structures, the cylinder, as our retention device,” he says. “One has only to vary the length of the spiral electrodes and separators to obtain any degree of initial compression desired.” This technique proved to be a vital element in the design of a long-lived cell. As experience was gained in pilot-plant production of the D-cell, a number of processing difficulties were recognized. The element winder was a persistent mechanical problem. “It is no exaggeration to say that the formation of a starved cell was by far the most troublesome operation.” Deliveries to customers started going well in 1971 and larger cell sizes were introduced. In the early 1970s the grid form was changed to the use of a punched configuration. This avoided the dimensional instability of the expanded grid, which passed through the machinery only with great difficulty, says Devitt. The punched grid could also be made of pure lead, or a low-tin alloy, without losing its ability to be processed, as the punched configuration is inherently mechanically stable. Lastly, the plate lugs could be made solid, for much-improved terminal connections. The basic patent was filed in 1972 and awarded in 1975 on the Gates’ recombination technology, US Patent No 3 862 861 to D.H. McClelland and J.L. Devitt, was licensed throughout the world, and forms the basis for AGM technology.
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WORKER PROTECTION Environmentally sound management of used lead batteries continues to be an issue that needs addressing, writes Bob Tolliday of the International Lead Association.
How the lead industry encourages responsible care around the world One of the long-term aims of the lead industry has been to share knowledge on the sound management of lead, in particular the recycling of lead batteries, in developing countries and those regions in transition. The Lead Action 21 (LA21) programme of the International Lead Association (ILA) was established to provide a focus for members to share past, present and future initiatives designed to encourage and embed the principles of sustainable development throughout the lead producing world. Effective management practices can reduce the risks of human and environmental exposure resulting from lead recycling and bring about significant improvements in public health. In Central America and the Caribbean, for example, ILA has been involved for many years in resolving lead emission and discharge problems and has given guidance on the design and process technology optimization for two new secondary lead plants. More than $20 million has been spent to bring the lead recycling plant in Costa Rica and the Meteoro VERI facility in the Dominican Republic
into line with technical guidelines for environmentally sound management of waste lead batteries derived under the Basel Convention. Lead Action 21 has also produced a series of freely available guidance notes (www.ila-lead.org/responsibility/guidance-notes) on Working Safely with Lead, which explain in a nontechnical way how to manage and minimize the risks of lead exposure. These complement a widely regarded set of benchmark tools that are being used by ILA with agencies, governments, regulators and NGOs in countries ranging from Costa Rica to Senegal and India and more recently in China and Indonesia. One of the key issues identified in the developing world has been the lack of understanding of the risks of improper used lead-acid battery (ULAB) collection and recycling by both regulators and operators. In this respect a Benchmarking Assessment Tool, developed by ILA with the China Non-ferrous Metals Industry Association (CNIA) and the Basel Convention Regional Centre for Asia and the Pacific, has been an ideal au-
Andy Bush, managing director of ILA with the Chinese government delegation led by Lin, Yeo
diting and assessment tool for regulators. It allows a quick and easy-to-use qualitative assessment of environmental and health and safety performance, based on benchmarks set by global leaders in the lead industry. The tool compares the recovery and recycling procedures and processes with the industry’s well-established good practices and identifies key areas in ULAB recovery and recycling operations that should be improved to minimize occupational and environmental exposure to lead. A recent example of the benchmarking tool in action was when Brian Wilson, of ILA, gave a presentation on cost-effective mitigation measures for the environmentally sound management (ESM) of ULAB at a workshop in Jakarta, Indonesia, organized by the Basel Convention Regional Centre for South East Asia. The workshop delegates visited the PT Muhtomas’s ULAB recycling plant so that the delegates could see ESM in action. In China, ILA has also worked with the NGO Pure Earth, under a European Union-funded project managed by Yeo Lin, a professor at Zhejiang University. The objective of this project was to share the lead risk reduction strategies developed in the EU and North America with the Chinese lead battery industry and recycling sector. ILA and the Association of European Automotive and Industrial Battery Manufacturers (EUROBAT) also co-hosted a visit by a Chinese government delegation to London that included not only seminar sessions on the effective implementation of European environmental legislation, but site visits to the battery manufacturing plants of Johnson Controls in Germany and EnerSys Power Systems
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WORKER PROTECTION in France. The China LAB manufacturing and ULAB recycling project is now in its final phase, but already some of the ILA members of the Advanced Lead Acid Battery Consortium (ALABC) in China have benefitted from the transfer of environmentally sound methods of work. The introduction of cleaner technologies and a clear political mandate had led to a dramatic transformation in environmental performance and reduction in the risk of occupational exposure in Chinese operations. ILA has also worked alongside the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), whose objective has been to encourage governments to introduce measures to deal with lead emissions from lead battery recycling facilities in the developing world. Over a series of meetings this year ILA represented the views of the lead industry and was instrumental in the decision to make a change from the original strategy which called for the substitution and elimination of leadacid batteries to tackle the issues discussed. Brian Wilson took part in UN-sponsored meetings and workshops in the Dominican Republic and Jakarta to explain the lead risk management mitigation measures introduced in several countries in the developing world and demonstrate how ULAB recycling has become a sustainable non-polluting industry. As a result, during its recent Environment Assembly (UNEA2) in Nairobi, the United Nations Environmental Programme passed a resolution, put forward by Burkina Faso, to encourage regions that have not yet done so to adopt control measures to reduce the health impacts resulting from poor management of used lead batteries. The Nairobi resolution called on countries to adopt laws and regulations to encourage extended producer responsibility to collect waste lead-acid batteries, so as to ensure that those batteries are recycled in an environmentally sound manner, and to address emissions and exposures through appropriate standards. There are encouraging signs to show that sound principles of responsible care for the recycling of lead batteries are making significant progress in the developing world and ILA intends to continue its LA21 programme of support by working alongside the local industry, regional bodies, governments and NGOs.
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DEMONSTRATING THE ILA BENCHMARK TOOL IN INDIA When ILA visited Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, in India, in 2014 it demonstrated the use and application of the Benchmarking Assessment Tool (BAT) to environmental technicians and engineers from the states’ Pollution Control Boards. The events were held with representatives from the India Lead Zinc Development Association and the not-for-profit Pure Earth. At the Chennai workshop a visit was made to the Pondy Oxides and Chemicals ULAB Recycling plant in the Kancheepuram District
of Tamil Nadu to undertake a BAT exercise. Meanwhile delegates at the Bangalore workshop saw a video of operations at a ULAB recycling plant and made observations on procedures shown in the video as the ULABs are collected, stored, packaged, transported and recycled. On the second day of the workshops the delegates presented their observations from the inspections and outlined their recommendations for improvements to bring the operation in line with the good practices highlighted on the BAT form.
VOLUNTARY TARGETS ADD FURTHER PROTECTION FOR INDUSTRY WORKERS The protection of the workforce is an important part of any industry sustainability programme and lead producers and miners across the globe have taken action in recent years by introducing voluntary targets to reduce exposure to lead that go beyond current international regulations. ILA member companies are committed to continuous improvement in reducing employee lead exposures and are currently working towards reducing blood lead levels for all employees to below 30 microgrammes per decilitre (µg/dl) by the end of this year — covering more than 7,000 workers in the lead industry in Europe, North America and Australia. The programme, which also involved several best practice sharing workshops, is a major step forward in worker protection across the lead industry worldwide.
“ILA member companies have made good progress in reducing employee lead exposure and the majority are well on target to achieving the goal of having no employees with a blood lead exceeding 30 µg/dl by the end of 2016,” says ILA regulatory affairs director Steve Binks. “Companies recognize the need to continue to focus on employee health and there are plans to establish more ambitious blood lead reduction targets in the future.” The ILA programme aligns lead producers with a similar commitment made by the battery industry through EUROBAT (Association of European Automotive and Industrial Battery Manufacturers) and BCI in the USA (Battery Council International) and goes beyond the requirements of the European Union binding biological limit value for lead in blood of 70µg/dl and the US OSHA removal limit of 50µg/dl.
AUSTRALIAN RESIDENTIAL STORAGE UPTAKE Australia has been widely hailed as the next place to be for PV uptake. Now its uptake of solar-plus-storage is positive for the whole of Asia.
Solar-plus-storage down under More than a million and a half solar systems are installed in Australia, which means 17% of its households, according to Sydney-based consultancy Sunwiz. Thanks to a generous feed-in tariff scheme and high levels of solar radiation, Australia’s total solar PV installed capacity stands at 5GW. That is about 9% of the country’s total electricity generation capacity. Regions with the highest share of homes with rooftop solar PV are Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia. As happened in Europe — particularly in Germany and the UK — the FiT incentive to support the installation of rooftop solar PV in Australia has contributed towards the growth in demand. It has helped create a competitive market for the technology. However, the FiTs, which vary between states in Australia, are being slashed — by up to 90% in some cases. This provides little incentive for homeowners to export unused energy generated back to the grid. With electricity costs also rising, homeowners are seeing great poten-
tial for battery storage since it allows them to use their free, solar energy at night at a fraction of their off-peak rates. Australia’s solar-plus-storage potential made headlines last year, when a host of home energy storage players — Tesla included — announced it as their next export market. Some have formed partnerships with utilities to help unlock demand for their technology. They include Japanese consumer electronics brand Panasonic, which had already announced in mid-2015 pilots of its home storage system with ActewAGL, Red Energy and Ergon Energy, in homes of those utilities’ customers with solar installed. The batteries are being used for peak shaving and will provide data on how solar-plus-storage systems should be deployed in the residential market. Several other energy storage system providers are also targeting Australia, including Germany’s Sonnen, as well as US companies Sunverge, which supplies energy storage systems and virtual power plant software, and mi-
cro-inverter maker Enphase. “Australia is seen as a core market alongside Germany and the US because of Australia’s relative wealth, its high energy costs and its high penetration of solar,” says Chris Parratt, who oversees Sonnen’s Australian subsidiary, which was set up in April. The initial stock of Sonnen’s latest home storage system Eco 8, which is a modular product, has just arrived in Australia. Parratt expects that Australian households will require capacities between 4kWh and 8kWh based on existing solar generation. Sonnen has signed up several national partners in Australasia that can supply and install its systems across the region, including True Value Solar, Energy Matters, Zen Energy and Madison Australia. “Payback depends on specific energy rates, which differ across Australia, and household consumption. As long as the system is sized correctly, payback can occur in eight to 10 years,” says Parratt. Features of Sonnen’s system that will appeal to customers and the grid in
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AUSTRALIAN RESIDENTIAL STORAGE UPTAKE Australia include tariff arbitrage and demand response, by responding to high price events from the wholesale market, as well as other grid services.
Peak shaving trials
Enphase has arranged beta trials for its all-in-one AC Battery with SA Power Networks in South Australia and Genesis Energy in New Zealand. These trials are part of the company’s efforts to reach new customers and enable utilities to use its technology to support the grid as more solar is added, in addition to supplying its microinverters, energy storage systems and related home energy products to solar installers in the region. Enphase is unable to disclose data from the trials, as they form part of its review into how batteries interact with the grid, especially during peak demand times for electricity. Separately, Enphase also has other programmes and pilots with utilities to see how the company’s micro-in-
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verters can support the feed-in of solar PV electricity. In Australia, the company announced a partnership with Energy Australia in March 2015, where it has exclusive rights to provide its microinverters and access to its MyEnlighten platform to Energy Australia’s residential customers. This is Enphase’s first utility-level partnership in Asia-Pacific and Enphase micro-inverters are installed with the systems of 98.5% of Energy Australia’s solar residential customers. The company’s micro-inverters are also qualified in Queensland with an export control feature that meets the state’s energy regulatory requirements. Enphase is in discussions with Ergon Energy and Energex as they can influence regulatory decisions based on solar PV export controls in Queensland. Following beta trials, Enphase’s AC battery will be available in Australia and New Zealand by the end of the year. Already the company has registered interest for 60,000 units for installation over the next 12 months from its distribution and installation partners, which include AC Solar Warehouse, One Stop Warehouse, RFI and Solar + Solutions in Australia and Solar Partners NZ and YHI in New Zealand. Nathan Dunn, managing director of Enphase Asia-Pacific, says: “This has far exceeded our expectations where we had initially forecast for orders of 12,000 units before the end of 2016. We are continuing discussions with our partners as there is a strong interest for battery storage from households, particularly in Australia. It’s been our strongest performing market to date.” Enphase’s network includes more than a thousand installers in Australasia and based on internal estimates, the company leads the Australian micro-inverter market with an approximate market share of 10% in the overall inverter segment and 40% in New Zealand. “There is potential for home energy storage to grow in Australia due to the relatively low cost of entry, which will appeal to the PV retrofit market of homes with 1kW-5kW-sized solar systems as well as the demand for new residential installations,” says Dunn. At a policy level, there has been keen interest in battery storage and how it can potentially alleviate electricity demand during peak periods. In states
“Australia is seen as a core market alongside Germany and the US because of Australia’s relative wealth, its high energy costs and its high penetration of solar” — Chris Parratt, Sonnen Australia such as South Australia and Victoria, trials of residential solar-plus-storage systems have been set up to investigate how the technology can support energy use from the grid. Just over 75% of New Zealand’s electricity comes from renewable resources (primarily hydropower and geothermal power). While the government has not prioritized the uptake of household PV, a study by the University of Otago has found that 58% of households would like to generate their own electricity. About 9,000 of the 1.6 million households in New Zealand have rooftop solar PV systems. “In terms of storage, we believe the market potential for New Zealand remains smaller at this stage and this can be attributed to the policy neutral environment towards energy — unlike Australia, New Zealand homeowners do not receive any feed-in tariffs or subsidies for rooftop solar,” Dunn says. Using Enphase’s AC Battery, homeowners can achieve sustainable selfconsumption or store solar energy generated for use at times when gridsupplied energy rates are at their peak.
Software is key
The company has developed a cloudbased energy management platform that can integrate the storage system and other home energy products from
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AUSTRALIAN RESIDENTIAL STORAGE UPTAKE Enphase with smart devices for intelligent home energy use. The home’s solar generation, energy storage and consumption can be monitored from any web-enabled device. Enphase’s hardware is software-defined, networked and monitored by a robust global platform with bi-directional communication capability. This has benefits at system level for homeowners, at fleet level for installers, at grid level for utilities, and at a global level for the company. Dunn says: “For example, solar PV despite all its potential has brought with it many challenges for the grid. Being an uncontrollable generation source, its output is intermittent and not 100% predictable. Storage holds the key to being able to level out solar’s sometimes sudden impact on grid voltages by acting as a reserve for excess power. “To help utilities manage grid voltages, it is essential that the storage assets on their grid are smart and offer bi-directional communication — what Enphase offers. This allows for a much more dynamic, adaptive management of grid conditions.” Each Enphase AC Battery module provides 1.2kWh and because of its modular design, homeowners can choose the appropriate size of their solar battery storage should they wish to add more Enphase battery storage in the future. The system is AC-coupled, which makes it compatible with any solar PV system, and means there is no high voltage DC in the storage system, making it much safer than DC-coupled batteries. AC-coupled systems offer equivalent efficiency to DC-coupled systems with advantages in flexibility, reliability and safety. They are also more incrementally scalable with much better scope to right-size the storage system and avoid over investing in extra capacity that is not needed. Around a 10-year payback in Australia and New Zealand is possible with Enphase’s home storage system, based on the average increasing market rate for power. The return on investment varies depending on various factors, including grid power prices, the amount of excess solar energy available to store, the level of nighttime grid power usage in the home and so forth. In New Zealand, Sunverge has installed 300 systems through its partner, Auckland-based utility Vector Ltd. Systems are 11.65kWh to 12kWh
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Enphase’s AC battery system: modifiable by smart phone
Nathan Dunn, Enphase Asia-Pacific: “Australia’s been our strongest market to date.”
in size. Vector did not have a solar programme in place, which other utilities have had. “However, utility wanted to address the issues that adding more renewables causes the grid, such as capacity constraint. So it decided to enter the solar market with a solarplus-storage programme,” says Sunverge chief executive Ken Munson. Customers have been able to buy the system at a discounted price from Vector. Customers benefit from lower bills and reliability. Deploying the assets as a virtual power plant, using Sunverge’s software platform, enables
the utility to manage the grid without making big investments otherwise needed. AGL is one of Australia’s largest utilities and the largest owner, operator and developer of renewable energy generation plants in the country. With every residential solar PV installation, the energy firm provides a monitoring device that analyses customers’ solar power system production performance and home energy consumption so they can see how much electricity they are saving. Earlier this year AGL completed a demand response trial with 68 resi-
“Our customers were keen to be part of a potential solution. Consumers are looking for greater control of their energy consumption and management. Storage can help them achieve this” — Jason Clark, AGL www.batteriesinternational.com
AUSTRALIAN RESIDENTIAL STORAGE UPTAKE SOLAR-PLUS-STORAGE ROLLOUTS IN AUSTRALASIA Investment bank Morgan Stanley predicts the solar-plus-storage market in Australia will go from around 2,000 Australian homes now to reach one million households by 2020. In a high case scenario, this could even reach two million by that time. Australia already has the highest solar per capita of any country in the world. Morgan Stanley, however, admits that its estimate is the most bullish of rival investment banks. In June 2015 Australia Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) announced several solar-plus-storage projects as part of an A$2.5 billion fund to invest in commercially viable projects that are intended to reduce the cost and increase the use of renewable energy in Australia. Following the announcement, in the second half of 2015 ActewAGL trialled Panasonic’s battery energy storage systems in Canberra homes as part of the ACT government’s next generation energy storage pilot. ActewAGL had worked with Panasonic for two years to prepare for the trial. In the pilot the 8kWh battery systems were coupled to homeowners’ solar PV systems to store the excess solar generation accumulated during the day to power the homes at night. As part of an ACT government programme, Canberra residents can purchase subsidized energy storage systems. Queensland-based energy firm Ergon Energy also trialled Panasonic’s home storage systems among residential customers in its service territory. Since trialling Panasonic’s battery system in 2015, Red Energy (Snowy Hydro’s retail energy business) now offers three solar-plus-storage packages. The 3kW package generates on average 11.7kWh of electricity a day in Sydney — more in summer, less in winter time. The 4kWh package generates on average 15.6 kWh of electricity a day in Sydney and the 5kW system, 19.5kWh. Flow batteries too Redflow, based in Brisbane, is bringing to market a hybrid flow battery using zinc and bromine called ZCell which is suitable for the home
Redflow chairman Simon Hackett, pictured with the company’s battery, is also one of its biggest investors. He believes there is an opportunity for Australian state governments to offer home battery storage incentives to consumers and to fund this incentive by repurposing existing, committed government expenditure. This would involve inviting consumers to voluntarily trade in the residual life of their solar PV FIT in exchange for funding to buy a home battery energy storage system, both eliminating a long-term forward liability for state governments and initiating home energy storage demand in Australia.
as well as commercial operations such as offices. Its smallest home energy storage system, the 10kWh ZCell, started shipping in June for commercialization in the second half of this year. The household battery is about the size of an air-conditioning unit. The amount of energy per square centimetre is similar to Tesla’s Powerwall. Price-wise the system is competitive with the other energy storage systems available on the market, which are based on lithium ion chemistry. The company has worked with end users, such as utilities, as well as research organisations, for demonstration and trial purposes. Utility partners include Powerco, which is New Zealand’s secondlargest electricity distribution company with around 315,000 customers on North Island. Powerco has exclusive rights to distribute Redflow’s battery system through its subsidiary Basepower, which supplies reliable power for remote homes and farms. One of Redflow’s earliest partners was Ausgrid, a New South Wales
utility. In conjunction with the Australian government’s Smart Grid, Smart City trial, RedFlow installed 60 residential energy storage units in Newcastle and the Hunter Valley. More recently Redflow supplied 30 of its home storage units for installation and integration within Ergon Energy’s electricity supply network in Queensland, as part of the Australian Government’s Advanced Electricity Storage Technologies (AEST) programme. The systems were used for managing peak electricity demand within three locations in Ergon Energy’s rural network and were remotely monitored by both RedFlow and Ergon Energy. In June 2016, Redflow teamed up with Australian inverter maker Redback Technologies to help bring its ZCell home battery to market. The tie-up followed months of testing the battery’s compatibility with Redback’s solar PV hybrid inverter. ZCell is also compatible with inverters from Netherlands-based Victron Energy, and Redflow is exploring opportunities in Europe for its battery storage technology.
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AUSTRALIAN RESIDENTIAL STORAGE UPTAKE dential customers in Victoria, with network provider United Energy. Only a few of the homes had batteries installed integrated with their existing solar PV systems. The 11.65kWh systems, made by US company Sunverge, were deployed to six individual customers, and controlled to deliver energy in aggregate using Sunverge’s virtual power plant software. AGL’s general manager for distributed energy services Jason Clark says: “It was important to have storage in the trial as we see demand response being delivered by a fleet of devices, including controllable loads and energy storage. Therefore this trial was devised to replicate what we believe a future state of the industry may look like.” AGL is planning further trials, building on the knowledge gained from this one and including other elements. The energy retailer wants to increase the size of these trials to be able to demonstrate deliverable outcomes and services to the market and network, with participating customers sharing the benefits. Two key features of the Sunverge platform that attracted AGL are the software’s ability to integrate multiple hardware technologies within a single platform and a complex rules engine developed specifically for energy storage systems. “This enables us to control a fleet of batteries for multiple stakeholders,” says Clark. In the trial, AGL’s customers were happy with the storage devices and implementation as well as the delivery. “Our customers were keen to be part of a potential solution. Consumers are looking for greater control of their energy consumption and management. Storage can help them achieve this,” says Clark. Earlier in 2016, AGL announced an AS$20 million ($15 million) stake in Sunverge. As well as Sunverge’s battery storage systems, AGL also offers its retail electricity customers a smaller system from AUO, as part of a range that can meet the self-consumption needs of different households, large and small. The energy retailer offers upfront sale and financing options up to five years. However, energy storage is still an early adopters’ market and will be for a while yet even though there is big interest in the technology. Clark says the company’s online AGL Power Advantage Club, where people can join and be updated on new information about storage and other distributed energy
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2,000 1,800 1,600 1,400 1,200 1,000 800 600 400 200 0 2015e
n High n Base n Low
Take-up estimate scenarios (‘000s) Sources: Morgan Stanley Research. Base Case Shown in Blue
According to Morgan Stanley, retrofits including batteries will be another factor in greater solar+storage penetration
solutions and trends, has a growing base of more than 5,000 subscribers. AGL has also developed a mobile app that customers can use to monitor and manage all their energy consumption, including gas and electricity usage, as well as solar PV system and battery storage performance, from their smart phone. The Australian Energy Market Operator forecasts the integrated PV and electricity storage system uptake will “start slowly”, picking up especially after 2020 and reaching about 3.8GW
of installed capacity within 20 years. Clark says: “Storage will play a key role in the future of the Australian energy market. Because we have such a high level of solar penetration, many customers are looking to storage to enable them to use more of their solar output. As battery prices continue to decline, storage will continue to seem a more attractive proposition. This dynamic, coupled with such a competitive retail market, will result in storage moving past the early adoption stage in the next two to five years.”
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Amber Kinetics appoints Daniel Bakholdin as CTO Daniel Bakholdin — a well known veteran in flywheel development and commercialization — was appointed chief technology officer for the US firm Amber Kinetics. He will be responsible for advancing the commercialization of the company’s four-hour discharge duration steel flywheel technology. Ed Chiao, chief executive officer at Amber Kinetics said: “Bakholdin has been in the flywheel and turbo machinery industry for
more than 20 years and has shipped over 1,000 commercial flywheels. He brings major bona fides to our flywheel commercialization efforts.” Bakholdin has 26 years of experience in engineering and management. He cofounded Pentadyne Power Corp, where he worked as vice president of mechanical engineering and later oversaw production engineering as vice president of sustaining engineering.
“Bakholdin has been in the flywheel and turbo machinery industry for more than 20 years and has shipped over 1,000 commercial flywheels. He brings major bona fides to our flywheel commercialization efforts.”
ILA appoints senior scientist for health Cris Williams has been appointed as the International Lead Association’s new senior scientist-health with responsibility for providing in depth expertise on toxicological science associated with lead exposures. He will be based in ILA’s offices in North Carolina in the US. Williams previously worked for the consulting firm Ramboll Environ and has more than 21 years of experience in applied toxicology, quantitative risk assessment and public health. He is a member of the Society of Toxicology and the author or co-author of more than 30 peerreviewed publications in toxicology and risk assessment. In addition, he has
worked as a peer reviewer for several toxicology and risk assessment journals. Williams will provide health science support for the lead industry and the lead battery industry and joins a team that includes Jasim Chowdhury who provides scientific support in the environmental area. Steve Binks, ILA’s regulatory affairs director said “He joins ILA at a very opportune time with the health effects of lead taking centre stage in the regulatory landscape. His knowledge and experience will be critical for lead producers and downstream users to help ensure that any new regulations appropriately reflect the current science and are proportionate to the risks to human health.”
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Pentadyne, now Powerthru, develops and manufactures flywheel energy storage systems for power quality and power recycling applications. Bakholdin invented or co-invented much of the technology utilized in Powerthru’s machines. Bakholdin was previously a consultant to a range of power and energy tech startups. Concurrently, he was a director of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies magnetic propulsion and levitation development laboratory. From 2012 to 2014, he was chief operating officer of Rotonix USA. Rotonix developed a 1MW energy storage flywheel system for power quality and recycling applications. Bakholdin orchestrated the company’s US-based R&D and Rotating Group production facility. He also oversaw the establishment and tooling of Rotonix China’s production facility in Beijing. From 2008 to 2011, Bakholdin was chief operating officer at Advanced Turbine Designs, a company developing a 5kW microturbine gen-set for distributed power generation and residential combined heat and power applications. He is also a co-founder and
Bakholdin: appointed chief technology officer for the US firm Amber Kinetics.
former president of Quadradyne (acquired by Pentadyne), the HEV project manager at Capstone Turbine Corp and manager of design engineering and testing at Rosen Motors, an innovative developer of flywheel power systems. Amber Kinetics (formerly Berkeley Energy Sciences Corp), was co-founded by Ed Chiao and Seth Sanders, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the University of California-Berkeley. Amber Kinetics was incubated at the University of C a l i f o r n i a - B e r k e l e y ’s Skydeck before launching commercial operations in 2013.
Lowry joins Nano One For the record Joe Lowry joined Nano One as a strategic adviser to the company in April. Lowry has worked for top lithium producers in the US, Japan and China, and, Nano One says the firm, “has extensive worldwide market experience, a large contact base and a good pulse on the lithium market”.
Lowry is widely respected and known as one of the world’s experts in the lithium sector. After a two-decade tenure working in senior positions in leading international lithium companies, Lowry formed Global Lithium as an advisory firm in 2012.
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UE Technologies appoints co-founder of ESA as president and former US Saft sales VP joins vanadium flow firm UniEnergy Technologies, the US Vanadium flow battery firm appointed Rick Winter, the chief operating officer in June as president with full P&L responsibility and accountability for daily operations of the company. Winter continues as COO. Winter, a well known industry figure not least because of his role as a co-founder of the Electric Storage Association and his tenure as chairman of the body, has helped shape the industry’s embrace of energy storage. He joined UET in 2013 and subsequently managed the launch of UET’s product lines, the Uni.System and the ReFlex, and guided the company from a standing start to 80MWh in deployments, orders, and awards. “UET is now tripling its manufacturing and engineering floor space to meet growing demand and enable 100MW annual production at its current facility,” says the firm. Winter has 28 years’ experience innovating and implementing grid storage technologies. He has been a driving force in the transition of the grid storage industry from its early stages, to the strategic imperative for grid flexibility and the stability it has today. During this time, he helped build the US Electricity Storage Association from its inception in 1991, serving twice as chairman and as a board member for 18 years. In 2011, he was awarded the Phil Symons award for his “instrumental role in the evolution of storage technologies in both the utility and battery manufacturing industries”. With a focus on producti-
zation, Winter has hands-on experience evaluating grid impacts of distributed generation systems including batteries, flywheels, microturbines, photovoltaics and diesel generators. Winter’s background ranges from managing the storage technologies programme at Pacific Gas & Electric, America’s largest investor-owned utility, to deploying remote area hybrid power systems in Australia’s Torres Strait. He has led product development at five advanced battery companies, in the process creating the world’s first flow battery product by leveraging advanced zinc-bromide technology from Austria (the 100kW/100kWh PowerBlock), and leading development of iron-chromium batteries for cell towers in India. Winter invented the single loop flow battery membrane in his garage (Patent number 8039161), going on to found Primus Power and raise $30 million in capital. He holds 17 US patents and numerous abroad with a further 10 US patents pending. Winter led the innovation team that created the world’s first commercial flow battery product (the 100kW PowerBlock) while he was vice president of engineering at PowerCell. At the end of June UET appointed Blake Frye, former vice president for sales for Saft America, as its senior vice president of global sales. Frye will be in charge of deployment and sales of UET’s vanadium flow energy storage systems. “Frye’s broad industry experience and technical expertise makes him uniquely
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Winter: ESA co-founder
Frye: new senior sales VP
qualified to provide value to customers, end-users, and channel partners, as well as to advise on the advantages of flow batteries compared with other technologies,” says UET. Frye started as a sales manager with Saft in 2001 becoming a vice president for sales and marketing in North America in 2004, a director of Saft Group in 2007 and finally a VP of sales for energy storage in 2010 where he led the creation and growth of its energy storage business. “He closed multiple largescale contracts with utilities, renewable developers, transit authorities, and the US Department of Defence, with projects located in California, Hawaii, the northeastern US, Alaska, Arizona, Canada, Bolivia, Mexico, and the Caribbean basin,” says the firm. Earlier in his 15-year career at Saft, Frye managed marketing, business development, and communications for two Saft international business units selling lithium and nickel metal hydride batteries with over $400 million in annual revenues. Frye has extensive technical expertise from his six years at Energizer from 1995, where he was responsible for product development including novel technologies for new
rechargeable battery products. Frye holds three US patents, and his team at Saft was recognized by the Energy Storage Association in 2015 with the Brad Roberts Outstanding Industry Achievement Award. “After many years of direct interactions with customers, it is clear the advanced vanadium flow batteries developed at UET and now deployed at megawatt-scale are an industry game-changer,” said Frye. UET’s core technology is a so-called third generation vanadium flow battery, with a breakthrough electrolyte first developed at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) with support from the US Department Of Energy’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability. “Our vanadium flow energy storage systems partner well with solar energy because of the long-life of the batteries and their ability to facilitate the integration of increasing renewable resources into the grid,” says Frye. “By working together with a leading utility and national laboratories, we will develop metrics for evaluating renewable energy and storage integration and demonstrate the benefits of leading energy storage technology to the US’s grid modernization efforts.”
PEOPLE NEWS Crown’s Blackwelder joins VSI as new CFO Jesse Blackwelder took over as chief financial officer of VSI Global — a portfolio company of investment firms Lakewood Capital, and Spartacus — on July 11. He was most recently CFO of Crown Battery Manufacturing, where he headed the company’s finance function, including numerous data analysis initiatives that contributed to the company achieving the highest profits in its history. Roger Knight, managing partner of Lakewood Capital and Spartacus Partners, said, “Since our acquisition of VSI Global in February 2015, we have been putting in place the infrastructure and building blocks to ensure state-of-the-art service. Blackwelder is an integral part of that process.”
Alevo appoints Dybwad as new chief executive officer
Dybwad: heads executive team
Alevo appointed Per Dybwad in May as its chief executive while the founder and executive chairman Jostein Eikeland passes on his CEO responsibilities to Dybwad. Dybwad was elected to the Alevo board of directors in March. He joins from Dentware Scandinavia where he was CEO and director of the publicly traded 3D printing company. He has previously worked for a short time at Maxwell Technologies, the ultracapacitor firm as director of sales, marketing and business development for the firm’s high voltage business unit. “Dybwad will lead the executive team, initially focusing on achieving the company’s manufacturing and commercial development and global deployment,” says the firm. “Dybwad brings over 30 years’
international management experience to Alevo and his expertise includes energy distribution and storage, medtech and pharma, environmental technology, materials science, financial services and consumer goods.
ViZn Energy appoints Williams and Bar-Lev to board positions
decades’ experience in renewables, was most recently president of Duke Energy Renewables. At Duke he headed the integrated renewable energy business which Leeward says delivered high growth results and a strong operational track record. Before that he was senior vice president of development for Duke Energy’s commercial unit, where he created Duke Energy’s solar and biomass business and managed a national development pipeline. He has also been a vice president of General Electric’s Power Systems business as well as GE Capital Group.
American Lithium chooses Swan for advisory board
Williams: strategic advisory experience
ViZn Energy Systems, the zinc/iron flow battery firm. has appointed Kent Williams to the company’s board of directors. Joshua Bar-Lev has joined ViZn’s advisory board. Williams is a strategic adviser to several alternative energy companies focused on plug-in electric vehicle (PHEV) drive trains and new battery technologies. Bar-Lev was the vice president of regulatory affairs for BrightSource Energy, a builder of utility-scale solar power plants, from its start-up in 2004 until he retired in May 2011. He was responsible for government relations, regulatory policy and permitting for BrightSource and was on their executive management committee. Previously, he was chief counsel at the Pacific Gas & Electric Company. “Williams and Bar-Lev have over 80 years of successful leadership roles and strategic business experience in the energy industry and are heavyhitters in the business world and each possesses impressive energy industry experience,” said ViZn chief executive Ron Van Dell.
Leeward Renewable picks Wolf as new chief executive Leeward Renewable Energy, an affiliate of ArcLight Capital, appointed Gregory Wolf in July as its chief executive officer. Wolf, who has more than two
American Lithium has appointed lithium battery expert, David Swan to the company’s advisory board. Swan has more than 30 years’ professional experience in clean and efficient energy conversion and storage systems, specializing in the design and application of lithium battery technology for automotive and aerospace applications. “Swan is internationally recognized for his research, development and commercialization of advanced energy storage systems and has consulted to all major global automotive and supplier companies including BMW, Toyota, Honda, Chrysler, Daimler, General Motors and Ballard Power Systems,” says American Lithium. In 2006, the California Air Resources Board appointed Swan to its Zero Emission Vehicle Expert Review Panel where he liaised with all leading technology developers and every major automobile manufacturer. Between 1995-2000, Swan was chief scientist at AeroVironment, a technology company working on electric transportation as well as unmanned aircraft systems for the US defence department. He was responsible for energy storage activities including development and testing of battery systems for electric and hybrid vehicles including all aspects of General Motors’ hybrid vehicle battery programme, and development of fuel cell and hydrogen storage systems for AeroVironment’s solar-powered aircraft. His pedigree is impressive. Swan was appointed to the Technical Committee of the US governmentindustry R&D initiative, Partnership for A New Generation of Vehicles,
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PEOPLE NEWS a cooperative research programme between the government and USCAR (the US Council for Automotive Research). He has also been appointed to the California South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) Locomotive Propulsion Task Force and is a past member of the Society of Automotive Engineers and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Swan has seven patents in his field with others pending. He is the author of over 40 published papers on fluid mechanics, applied electrochemistry and electric vehicle technology, and has contributed to numerous textbooks.
SunEdison appoints new finance heads, Dubel as Chapter 11 CEO
on matters related to restructuring. Dubel will report directly to SunEdison’s board of directors. In June SunEdison appointed new heads for its finance team, including Philip Gund, as chief financial officer and Salvatore LoBiondo as a senior vice president and corporate controller Gund and LoBiondo are senior managing directors with Ankura Consulting Group, a business advisory and expert services firm. Gund is a senior managing director of Ankura Consulting Group, with more than 30 years of professional experience, including 26 working with debtor companies, creditors, investors, and court-appointed officials. He was most recently chief restructuring officer at Vivaro Corporation, one of the largest pre-paid phone card companies, and as an adviser to Infrastructure and Energy Alternatives, an alternative energy construction company. LoBiondo is a senior managing director of Ankura Consulting Group and has led restructurings across diverse industries, often working in advisory and interim management roles.
Leclanché chooses Feintuch Communications for North American PR Chatila: steps down
SunEdison appointed John Dubel as its chief executive officer, effective from June 22. He takes over from Ahmad Chatila, the former president and CEO who steps down that day. Dubel will continue as SunEdison’s chief restructuring officer. The firm is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. He started at the firm at the end of April. Chatila joined SunEdison in 2009 and led the company through a series of aggressive acquisitions where, some critics say, that made the company grow too quickly. In 2009, semiconductor company MEMC Electronic Materials spent $200 million buying solar startup SunEdison, which was founded by entrepreneur Jigar Shah. In 2013, the conglomerate changed its name to SunEdison, and in 2015 sold off its semiconductor business, choosing to focus solely on clean energy. Dubel has over 30 years’ experience advising boards and companies
Leclanché, the Swiss battery energy storage system provider, has hired Feintuch Communications for what it calls, “its public relations agency of record for corporate and trade public relations in North America”. Leclanché recently established a North American subsidiary in Dallas headed by Bryan Urban. “The North American market represents a tremendous growth opportunity for Leclanché as the demand for stationary and mobile battery energy storage systems has increased exponentially in the last few years,” said Urban.
Manz joins Johnson Matthey
Anna Manz will join Johnson Matthey’s board of directors in October, succeeding Den Jones as group finance director. Jones had announced in March his intention to step down as group finance director; he left the company at the end of July. Manz joins from Diageo where she was group strategy director and a member of Diageo’s executive committee.
Alta Energy takes Bettis as sales VP Alta Energy, a solar analytics and procurement company has recruited Mark Bettis as vice president of sales. Bettis was previously vice president of sales and marketing for REC Solar, a firm providing grid-tied solar electric design and installation for commercial customers nationwide. His solar experience includes sales and marketing positions at SunLink, Tioga Energy, Delta Electronics and Schott Solar.
Axion Power appoints Corcoran as director and chair of audit committee
Corcoran: board director
Axion Power International appointed Michael Corcoran in May as a board director and chairman of the audit committee. Corcoran is a partner with GVP Partners a company he founded in 2008 to provide governance, risk and compliance advisory services. He has helped several global companies implement and operate automated enterprise risk and compliance programs. Before GVP Partners, he was a partner with Deloitte & Touche from 2005 to 2008 and headed the business risk advisory practice along the US east coast. Separately the firm announced in April that it had appointed Richard Bogan as its new chief executive and chairman with Donald Farley, as its vice chairman. Axion said: “The realignment is consistent with the company’s traditional combination of the CEO and chairman roles and is as a result of the transfer of leadership responsibilities to Bogan. Farley will continue to play a prominent role as vice chairman and will focus on strategic growth initiatives and partnering opportunities.”
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ALABC elects executive board, new technical programme to be approved in September For the record ALABC member companies gathered in May in San Antonio, Texas, at the first meeting of the Advanced Lead Acid Battery Consortium’s general assembly to discuss preparations for the 2016-2018 programme. It also elected a new executive body for programme oversight. The new executive committee consists of: Lee Puckett of Atomized Prod-
ucts Group, Peiliang She of China Shoto/Shuangdeng Group, Tammy Stankey of Doe Run, Bob Flicker of East Penn Manufacturing, Norbert Maleschitz of Exide Technologies, Terry Murphy of Hammond Group, Andreas Sieverdingbeck of Recylex, Tim Ellis of RSR, and Paul Kolisnyk of Teck Metals. “The research that ALABC supports enables in-
Terry Murphy, Bob Flicker and Tammy Stankey
credible innovation in the lead-based battery market,” said Stankey. “The executive committee is charged with providing oversight to the research programs and helping to transfer research results to the marketplace. “I am confident that together, as an organization and committee, we will be able to advance the effectiveness and market applications of lead-based batteries.” Tim Ellis was also elected ALABC chairman for a second two year term. The meeting included discussions regarding the review and prioritization of 20 new research proposals for the 2016-2018 programme, as well as 11 proposals validated from the earlier 2013-2015 program.
Kayslee Kayser has been appointed as Midwest regional account manager for Battery Watering Technologies. He is responsible for new and existing accounts in the Midwest. He has spent the last five years working in sales and customer service.
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Tesla acquisition of SolarCity provides yet another business model developing Tesla Motors agreed in August to buy SolarCity, the US’s largest rooftop solar installer for $2.6 billion. Although not finalized as Batteries International went to press, the acquisition offers a more comprehensive business model for energy storage in the future. Elon Musk, the chief executive of Tesla and also chairman of SolarCity, says he expects two-thirds of shareholders to approve the deal which should be finalized in the last quarter of the year. “Essentially it’s yet another step in the evolution of Tesla. Initially it was a car company making high-end electric vehicles, it then morphed — probably predictably — into that of a lithium ion contract battery manufacturer capable of feeding the Teslas with the EV batteries at a competitive (if as yet unproven) rate,” says one commentator. “As part of the volumes required to realise the economies of scale needed for the EV side to work, the company moved the excess volumes — these are potential volumes — into the residential side of the renewables business with its PowerWall. “It may have been effective but it wasn’t a particularly subtle move on Tesla’s part, the market for residential storage of renewables, at least in the last year or so has been swept by competitors. Sonnen, for example, is disposing of something like 10,000 units this year.” According to Elon Musk, the chief executive of Tesla and chairman of SolarCity — he owns roughly a fifth in each company according to S&P’s Global Market Intelligence — the deal was a “no brainer” in what it provided. “We would be the world’s only vertically integrated energy company offer-
ing end-to-end clean energy products to our customers. This would start with the car that you drive and the energy that you use to charge it, and would extend to how everything else in your home or business is powered,” he said. More simply, it would be one-stop shopping for renewables — you’d buy the panels for the roof and their installation, store their energy in the PowerWall, which would then look after the house’s power needs — and then plug in your Tesla, or EV, to take you to work or shopping. Which sounds brilliantly simple. However, there are too many variants in the business model that cause complications from the price of energy. Predictably analysts have a huge range of opinions over the acquisition. Some say Tesla should focus more on making its car products successful before assuming more debt. Others talk about it being a bail-out of SolarCity. Initial reaction to the talk of the merger was negative and Tesla stock fell 10% in the week of the announcement. Both companies “are burning cash at a furious rate,” according to the Wall Street Journal. “SolarCity went through $2.6 billion in 2015 while Tesla spent $2.2 billion.” But that was well known already. Another analyst called the acquisition a bail out of what was effectively a sister firm to Tesla. In one sense the debt levels are a side issue — albeit an important one. SolarCity has over $6 billion in liabilities, according to Reuters, the news agency, but these are balanced by regular and predictable income streams. SolarCity is however the largest player in the US
residential market with roughly a third of all the business. There are synergies too. A joint company might be able to achieve cost savings of over $150 million in the first full year after closing the transaction, Musk said. The merger could fix this, transforming Tesla’s roughly 200 showrooms around the world into one-stop shops for homeowners and motorists. The biggest area of savings may come from lowering SolarCity’s cost to obtain customers by using Tesla’s strong brand recognition on top of its retail store locations. Moreover, it’s the potential income that continue to stop Tesla’s buoyant share price from slipping too far. Musk’s vision — and a noble one, despite the excessive hype — is dependent on a host of variables varying from the appetite of consumers wanting to move to an electric vehicle and also adopting a home residential system and the price of solar at the time. As a brand name, and one of a small group of market leaders, the acquisition is more related to the reputation of Musk as the great innovator rather than the vulnerability his companies have in terms of sales, the arrival of new technologies, and at its simplest, its affordability. From SolarCity’s viewpoint it can only succeed if it gets bigger. In a June interview Lyndon Rive, chief executive of SolarCity said the company wants to function at some point as a distributed power plant that, using its network of panels and batteries. To do that, it needs a lot of SolarCity panels and Tesla batteries in a lot of homes.
Lyndon Rive, chief executive of SolarCity said the company wants to function at some point as a distributed power plant that, using its network of panels and batteries. To do that, it needs a lot of SolarCity panels and Tesla batteries in a lot of homes.
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NEW WAVE AquaRefining
Aqua Metals is revolutionizing lead recycling. We believe the industry is ready for the future and weâ€™re here to help facilitate it with AquaRefined lead products and our modular equipment. We invite you to come take a look for yourself to learn more about our fundamentally non-polluting technologies and favorable economics.
SPOTLIGHT ON: As the Bessemer process for steel propelled the industrial revolution, and the Pilkington process made glass production massively scalable, Aqua Metals AquaRefining™ has the potential to have the same impact on the battery industry.
Aqua Metals: The Company That Wants To Make Lead Green (And Profitable) Aqua Metals is revolutionizing lead recycling and disrupting the way batteries will be manufactured, distributed, collected, and recycled. We have developed and commercialized new technologies and processes that allow lead to be recycled with favorable economics using a room temperature hydro-metallurgical process which vastly reduces the environmental impact of lead recycling. We believe the industry is ready for the future and we’re here to help facilitate it with superior purity AquaRefined lead products and through licensing our modular equipment, technologies, and processes. We invite you to come take a look for yourself to learn more about our fundamentally non-polluting technologies and favorable economics. It Starts With What Battery Recyclers Don’t Need Anymore The greatest recycling success story on Earth is lead. Lead is recycled more than paper, glass, aluminum, or steel and is a $22B+ global for-profit industry. Lead acid batteries are the only truly recyclable battery product in the market. Lead recycling industry profits are a key underpinning to the lead acid battery industry’s sustainability. Comparatively, other battery chemistries are not recycled but rather waste-managed; where a small percentage is recovered and the remainder ends up as landfill, airborne pollutants, or other emissions. These waste management-based solutions typically require
government subsidies as they are not-for-profit activities—meaning they’re not economically sustainable. There has been a lot of discussion and some action around alternative chemistries, but Aqua Metals believes that lead acid is here to stay because of it’s strategic advantages—lower costs for products, lower cost of operation, for-profit recycling, mature global businesses and networks in place to feed and support the ecosystem of battery production: distribution, collection, and recycling. A growing challenge to the entire lead acid industry is how to manage the environmental impact and conform to ever increasing environmental regulations and emission ceilings for recycling activities. Leaders of other battery chemistries have gained market share in certain areas and have stunted the growth of the lead acid industry by exploiting just this weakness. What we realized the lead acid battery industry needed when we founded Aqua Metals three years ago was a much cleaner way to recycle its batteries paired with favorable economics to further differentiate lead acid from alternatives, and support the growth of the industry. The industry needed to evolve from recyclability to sustainability.
We focused on fundamentally re-inventing the thousands-year-old pyrotechnical process of smelting to accomplish most of that goal—radically reducing capital requirements to build and operate AquaRefining recycling facilities while also radically reducing emissions. By doing so, we’ve eliminated the bunkers, the carbon flux materials, the furnaces, the smokestacks, the slag, the environmentally hazardous disposal costs and risks, and the expensive high-risk plant jobs nobody wants. This entire ecosystem will be replaced by modular AquaRefining with wet processes throughout the plant, far better business models to build and operate the plant, and strong support from regulators who are pressing for change.
Aqua Metals AquaRefining Module
AQUA METALS IS READY TO SELL LEAD PRODUCTS AND LICENSE AND PARTNER WITH THE INDUSTRY First AquaRefinery Open for Business Aqua Metals has completed the world’s first AquaRefinery in the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center in McCarran, Nevada. We are in final commissioning and startup and capacity ramp up through the end of 2016. Our Alameda, CA headquarters is where we engineer and assemble our modules. We are students of history. As Bessemer did with steel and Pilkington did with glass, we’ve chosen to not simply be an equipment vendor, but an operator as well. This means we design for operability and can work with any and all battery recyclers, distributors, and manufacturers who want our lead products or want to buy the technology to launch or augment their own plants with AquaRefining.
Starwood Energy invests $100 million to Stem, brings project finance pool to $350 million Stem, the US software-driven energy storage company, announced mid-August that its project financing pool now exceeds $350 million following the addition of up to $100 million in new money from investment affiliates of Starwood Energy Group Global, a private investment firm focused on energy infrastructure. John Carrington, CEO of, Stem plans to use its pool of capital to support project finance deals for its projects. Each of these is set up as a special purpose entity that is funded through non-recourse project financing. The project company then signs a lease for Stem’s so-called “storage-as-a-service”. Stem created its energy storage project financing model in 2013 and says it is now the global leader in energy storage for commercial and industrial facilities with more than 75MWh of projects deployed or under
contract across more than 480 locations across the US. GTM Research estimates that the firm has more than a 50% share of the behind the meter market. “Third-party financing enables companies such as Safeway, Wells Fargo, and Adobe to subscribe to our storage-as-a-service solution with no upfront costs for equipment or installation,” says the firm. “Customers benefit from intelligent storage that automatically reduces energy use during peak demand times, lowers monthly electricity bills by up to 20%, and provides a revenue stream from services that help balance the electric grid.” Madison Grose, a senior managing director at Starwood Energy said: “Distributed energy resources such as those provided by Stem will be part of the foundation of the future electric grid. The Stem financing
is an attractive investment that facilitates lower energy storage costs and wider adoption of clean energy solutions — it’s a win/win for our investors, Stem’s customers and the environment.” According to a GTM Research, the US market for behind-the-meter energy storage grew more than 400% in 2015. By 2021, this sector is expected to account for up to 49% of the total energy storage market. “This financing vehicle gives our customers access to capital and allows them to achieve the benefits of intelligent energy storage without making a major investment,’ said Carrington. “Support from Starwood Energy helps solidify Stem’s position as a well financed, industry leader in providing intelligent energy storage solutions.” As Stem brings on more storage projects, Carrington
Greensmith Energy, Wärtsilä form partnership agreement Greensmith Energy, one of the largest US providers of energy storage software and integration services, entered into a cooperation agreement with Wärtsilä, the international technology firm, in July. This enables Wärtsilä to deliver energy storage systems integrated with solar PV, and Wärtsilä Smart Power Generation power plants, jointly forming a hybrid energy solution. Greensmith will provide its GEMS software platform to provide the control for the system. Wärtsilä, a company known for its multifuel power plants, says it will leverage its installed base and provide global EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) and
O&M (operation and maintenance) services to customers worldwide. The two firms said: “As a combined market solution, Wärtsilä and Greensmith will provide sustainable, reliable, and affordable power — particularly in countries and regions with limited or small electrical grids.” Separately, Greensmith Energy launched its behindthe-meter energy storage solution, Omni4 in June. Greensmith’s Omni4 is a plug-and-play product suitable for a variety of customers including utilities, developers, building operators and energy partners. Omni4 comes in four configurable sizes — 100kW, 250kW, 500kW and 1MW. All Omni4 systems come
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deployment ready and include fully-integrated outdoor-rated enclosures, batteries, AC/DC protection, power conversion, thermal management, fire suppression and advanced software controls. Greensmith announced mid-August that AltaGas has selected the firm as the software provider and system integrator for a 20MW/80MWh system in Pomona, California. The project will be put on a fasttrack basis and the firms say they expect this to be completed by the end of the year. The firm says it is now on track to install 200MW of cumulative operating capacity. It was recently voted as being one of the fastest growing energy storage companies.
hopes to reduce the firm’s cost of capital by adding economies of scale and demonstrating the validity of its business model to a wider audience of investors. Carrington says Stem has already cut itss cost of capital in half over the past 18 months. Stem was one of 10 winners of an auction to supply demand response to Consolidated Edison. Under the agreement with Con Ed, Stem will install up to 857kW of battery storage in New York City by 2018. Last November, Southern California Edison awarded Stem a contract to provide 85MW of distributed behind-the-meter storage for buildings in the West Los Angeles Basin. For customers, Stem’s battery systems are similar to a demand response service. It can shave peak load and capture savings from avoided demand charges. Aggregating its grid management tools across multiple customers, Stem can then turn around and offer to help utilities manage their grid. Stem’s primary project financing comes from Generate Capital, a specialty finance company. Generate’s work with Stem brings a version of the solar financing model to energy storage, supporting its mission to rebuild energy systems using high-impact, proven technology solutions. Other project financing is also provided by Clean Feet Investors. In addition to Starwood Stem is funded by a consortium of investors including Angeleno Group, Iberdrola (Inversiones Financieras Perseo) GE Ventures, Constellation Technology Ventures, Total Energy Ventures, Mitsui, RWE Supply & Trading, and Mithril Capital Management
AGL prepares ‘world’s largest virtual power plant’ Australia energy retailer AGL, working with the federal government’s Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), is commissioning Sunverge Energy, the Californian energy storage firm, to develop what it says will be the world’s largest virtual power plant. “This project is the world’s largest, the first of its kind and an innovative solution to both help customers manage their energy bills and at the same time contribute to grid stability,” said AGL chief executive Andy Vesey. “This project is core to our strategy of being a manager of distributed energy resources. It also leverages our investment in Sunverge and helps us to continue to improve the digital customer experience.”
Sunverge and AGL have partnered on storage installations in Australia since 2015, and earlier this year AGL became an investor in Sunverge. The AGL virtual power plant will be capable of storing 7MWh of energy, with an output equivalent to a 5MW solar peaking plant — this is enough power for 1,000 homes. It will also provide greater grid stability, demonstrate alternative ways to manage peaks in demand and support the higher penetration of intermittent, renewable generation on the grid. The project will be rolled out in three phases over a period of approximately 18 months. In the first phase, running until April 2017, the first 150 customers in metropolitan Adelaide will be eligible to buy a discounted Sun-
verge SIS 5kW/7.7kWh energy storage system for A$3,500 ($2,700) which includes hardware, software and installation. “For customers with sufficient excess solar generation, this is expected to result in a seven-year payback period,” says AGL. “Consumers currently without solar will be able to purchase a solar system of the appropriate size for their needs with their battery.” Later phases will see an offering to narrower zones within metropolitan Adelaide where peak demand management and other network support services can be demonstrated. AGL says it hopes the project can show how relationships between electricity networks, retailers, consumers and the market operator can create new
sources of value and stability in a renewable energy future. The overall project cost is approximately A$20 million, with ARENA providing conditional approval of A$5 million as part of its Advancing Renewables Program, which aims to support the penetration of renewables on the grid. “The AGL and ARENA Virtual Power Plant is remarkable today, but in five years’ time large-scale VPPs will be everywhere,” said Ken Munson, cofounder and CEO of Sunverge Energy. “By helping to build a stronger, more efficient and more reliable grid, VPPs deliver tremendous value to utilities, their customers and the environment.” Sunverge has deployed hundreds of Solar Integration Systems in Australia and New Zealand, reducing peak load by 48% and providing more than 6,100 hours of backup power over the past 12 months.
Gaelectric to get further EU funds for CAES project Gaelectric, the Irish renewable energy and energy storage group, announced in August it is to receive some €8.28 million ($9.4 million) in funding from the European Union to develop a compressed-air energy storage (CAES) in Larne, Northern Ireland. The 330MW project had already been designated as a European Project of Common Interest in 2013, and had been awarded EU grant support of €6.5 million for front-end engineering and design studies. This latest award is for the drilling of an appraisal well, and detailed studies into the design and commercial structure of the project. This facility will generate up to 330MW of power for periods of up to six hours. It will create demand of
up to 200MW during its compression cycle. This is enough to meet the electricity needs of more than 200,000 homes, and create demand on the system of 250MW.
The project involves the creation of two storage caverns within salt deposits which are a feature of the east Antrim coastal areas of Northern Ireland. These caverns will be located at
depths of greater than 1400 metres below ground. The project has been designed to allow its replication at other suitable sites in the UK and the European mainland.
Kokam to build 36MW ESS for Kepco South Korea’s largest utility, Korea Electric Power Corporation — better known as Kepco — has awarded Kokam a contract to develop a 36MW/13MWh energy Storage System (ESS) for frequency regulation at the Non-Gong substation in South Korea. Work started in June and should be completed by the end of the year. The project features a combination of two
Kokam lithium ion battery technologies: its ultra high power nickel manganese cobalt battery technology and its NANO battery technology. This is not Kokam’s first project with Kepco. In March, Kokam announced that it had deployed two ultra high power nickel manganese cobalt batteries (a 24MW/9MWh and a 16MW/6MWh system) along with a
16MW/5MWh lithium titanate oxide system. This provides Kepco with 56MW of energy storage capacity for frequency regulation. When the new 36MW ESS project is completed, Kokam will have deployed 92MW of energy storage capacity for frequency regulation for Kepco, and the total worldwide capacity of ESSs using its batteries will total 132MW.
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Imergy goes into ABC insolvency agreement — intellectual property and assets up for sale Sherwood Partners, the US insolvency adviser, has been engaged by Imergy, the vanadium flow battery firm, to market and sell the company’s assets. On July 18 Imergy entered into an Assignment for the Benefit of Creditors (ABC), a form of insolvency under Californian state law. The collapse of Imergy had been widely anticipated. It follows the collapse of solar firm, SunEdison in the spring. Imergy had been partnered with SunEdison on a huge Indian rural electrification programme where SunEdison had agreed to buy up to
1,000 of Imergy’s 30kw units over the next three years. SunEdison was an equity investor in Imergy. Last December the firms announced they were working together on a 5MW/20MWh flow battery for the Independent Electricity System Operator, an Ontario, Canada utility. Sherwood says now that it is the so-called “assignee” of Imergy, “we take control and work through the problems of the company. These problems are transferred to the assignee. The management team, investors and the board can then move forward with their lives and
everyday business. Also, the personal liability of directors and officers for running an insolvent company ceases to be an issue once the assignment of assets occurs.” Imergy has ceased operations and dismissed its staff. However, some key former employees to help with the sale of the intellectual property and related assets. Some of the claims such as the ability to cut the cost of manufacturing the batteries from $500kWh to under $300kWh were contentious. The IP could well provoke interest given Imergy, which was part of Deeya Energy until 2013, had distinct dif-
ferences from other flow battery firms. It originally worked on an iron-chromium chemistry but shifted to vanadium three years ago. It moved from using sulphuric acid as an electrolyte to another electrolyte developed by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. One advantage was its ability to use so-called “dirty vanadium”. It claimed to be the first flow battery company able to use secondary resources of vanadium from mining slag, fly ash and other environmental waste. The battery could stay stable up to 55°C without the need for cooling.
EnSync sells first PPAs, opens up Hawaii EnSync Energy Systems, the US energy management system company, announced in August the sale of multiple projects in Hawaii to AEP OnSite Partners, a subsidiary of American Electric Power. The sale of these projects is EnSync Energy’s first transaction of a portfolio of project power purchase agreements (PPAs) and includes a major portion of EnSync Energy’s PPA backlog reported at the end of our third quarter. The first solar-plus-storage PPA is a watershed moment for Hawaii, which has one of the most aggressive renewable portfolio standards in the US. In June last year it signed into a law a target of using 100% renewable energy for its electricity by 2045. All of the systems are sited behind-the-meter at condominiums or university campus buildings on Oahu and the Island of Hawaii, and represent the first ever solar plus storage PPAs in Hawaii. EnSync will provide project services through a contract
with AEP OnSite Partners. “We’re very pleased to complete this transaction with AEP OnSite Partners, a recognized leader in renewable energy investments and this sale, which could be the first of its kind in the renewable energy market, and provides validation of our PPA business model,” says Brad Hansen, chief executive of EnSync Energy. “When we entered the Hawaiian market with our PPA business model featuring
leading energy management and energy storage systems, it was novel and unique in the islands. Since that time our pipeline and backlog of PPAs has continued to build and we look forward to continuing this growth over the coming quarters and years.” EnSync Energy has built a position in the Hawaiian market, and through its subsidiary company, Holu Energy, has developed a project pipeline in the islands. These projects are the first
AMS tied up with Opus One Advanced Microgrid Solutions, a developer of energy storage systems for electric utility grid support, and Opus One Solutions, a smart grid software engineering company, agreed a tie-up in July to provide utilities with a platform for real-time management and optimization of the
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electric grid. AMS and Opus One say they will pair advanced energy storage systems with real-time grid level energy management software to bring utilities grid visibility, control, and optimization. This will support widespread deployment and operation of distributed energy
integrated solar and storage projects in Hawaii. In 2015, EnSync incorporated power purchase agreements into its portfolio of offerings, enabling electricity savings for customers and providing a stable financial yield for investors. EnSync is a global corporation, with a joint venture in AnHui, China at Meineng Energy, as well as a strategic partnership with Solar Power. EnSync was formerly known as ZBB Energy. resources, including renewable energy. “In addition to the benefits to utilities, the solutions provided by AMS and Opus One will help customers optimize their energy strategies while contributing to a stronger, more resilient grid,” they say. “This partnership gives AMS and Opus One a competitive edge in
Doosan acquires 1Energy, MESA co-founder Kaplan stays on as COO Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction, a Koreabased power generation technology firm, acquired US-firm 1Energy Systems in mid-July. 1Energy was founded in 2011 to develop the software needed to automatically integrate distributed energy resources into electric power systems. 1Energy will be renamed Doosan GridTech and will remain in Seattle, operating as a new business division of DHIC. “By accelerating the growth of 1Energy, the acquisition furthers Doosan’s expansion into technology solutions to manage and operate an increasingly digital, distributed electric grid,” say the two firms. Daejin Choi, vice president of DHIC for nearly
seven years, will relocate to Seattle to become CEO of Doosan GridTech. New Doosan GridTech employees will be hired in Seattle, joining 1Energy employees and Doosan personnel relocating from Korea. “Wind and solar power, energy storage and the advent of electric vehicles are changing how the grid operates,” said David Kaplan, 1Energy CEO who will become COO of Doosan GridTech. “As Doosan GridTech, we’ll scale rapidly to deliver more field-based intelligence and continue our leadership in cross-industry efforts, such as Modular Energy Storage Architecture (MESA) open standards, to deliver more costeffective and functional
solutions on behalf of customers.” Kaplan, who was a central figure in creating MESA, says standards are necessary to scale any technology. The personal computer industry grew to millions of units per year, while driving down prices, after software and hardware components were standardized. MESA standards will allow connections between energy storage system components, freeing utilities and vendors to grow storage through market processes. “While battery storage technologies are improving all the time, they are only as good as the software that operates them,” Kaplan said. “Doosan GridTech provides the advanced software — the intelligence
that controls complex operations — to truly break open the opportunities of battery storage, enabling utilities to meet the challenge of managing distributed resources and capture new value streams across the grid.” Ji Taik Chung, DHIC vice chairman said: “Doosan’s global customers are confronting two critical, longterm trends: Increased electrification of the world’s energy systems driven by public policies to reduce carbon emissions, and the declining costs of technology, especially renewable energy and battery storage.” 1Energy has roughly 30MW of energy storage projects using its platform, with about half of that in the US.
GE Ventures takes stake in Sonnen GE Ventures announced in June that it had bought a stake in Germany’s Sonnen for an undisclosed sum to boost its presence in the fast-growing market for battery systems built to store solar power. “This is an extraordinary endorsement of Sonnen,” said one industry commentator. “It’s not just about an investor covering its bases so much as not to miss out on an opportunity that may happen, but one taking a stake in what it reckons will be a major player in the sector.” GE’s unit is paying a “mid double-digit million-euro” sum for a minority stake in the company, according to a statement by the Bavariabased Sonnen and reported in the press. The company said other investors are considering taking stakes in Sonnen, whose ownership includes
founder Christoph Ostermann and four private equity funds. Ostermann recently announced the firm was seeking an investment round of up to €50 million. Sonnen claims to be Europe’s biggest maker of lithium-battery systems for solar storage. It competes with Tesla Motors Powerwall home battery and Bosch
Power Tec. This year it claimed that it had shipped more sonnenBatterie than Tesla’s Powerwall. Ostermann later was quoted in the press as saying: “With GE Ventures, we have not only partnered with one of the world’s largest power and water technology companies but gained a supporter for our
vision of a sustainable and affordable energy future for all.” “Sonnen is helping to reshape the energy industry,” said Jonathan Pulitzer, managing director at GE Ventures. “We believe in Sonnen’s vision. that’s why we are excited to be a partner to provide clean and affordable energy to all.”
The world’s ‘largest’ battery for north China For the record, Rongke Power a partner and affiliate of UniEnergy Technologies said in May it plans to deploy the world’s largest battery — a vanadium flow battery — rated at 800MWh. UET and Rongke Power have worked closely together since 2012 to develop large-scale vanadium flow batteries.
The battery arrays approved by the China National Energy Administration will be made up of 10 20MW/80MWh VFB systems deployed on the Dalian peninsula, which during extreme weather events has experienced stress on the electricity grid. After commissioning, the VFB battery will
be able to peak-shave approximately 8% of Dalian’s expected load in 2020. The VFB battery will be built at Rongke Power’s new factory to be opened this autumn, with a phase 1 capacity of 300MW of VFB electrode stacks, a phase 2 capacity of 1GW, and a phase 3 capacity of 3GW.
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Argonne, East Penn and RSR to research unused performance potential of lead Argonne National Laboratory and RSR Technologies and East Penn Manufacturing have agreed to work together under a standard US government cooperative research and development agreement. The agreement has already started and the collaboration period will run over two phases for 15 months. RSR and East Penn to use Argonne’s state-of-theart analytic technologies to accelerate lead battery research.
Tests undertaken will investigate the fundamental transport processes in lead batteries using a variety of characterization techniques available at Argonne. Scientists at Argonne who will be assigned to the project have extensive experience in synchrotron X-ray techniques, in particular for characterizing materials under controlled electrochemical conditions. It will involve the fabrication of model electrodes and the utilization of high
energy X-ray techniques, high resolution three dimensional imaging and other technologies. “We’ve known for years that the core limitation is the utilization of lead inside the batteries. Lead based technology has significant unused performance potential that can be tapped by improving active material utilization inside the battery,” said Timothy Ellis, president of RSR Technologies in Dallas, Texas. “The lead battery industry
has not had enough access to the right analytic tools to thoroughly investigate this phenomenon. This new collaboration will enable us to use Argonne’s technical facilities so that we hopefully will uncover what has been unknown for many years.” Bob Flicker, chief operating officer of East Penn said “We look forward to discovering new improvements in the electrochemical efficiencies that will help us even better serve a powerhungry market.”
Solar Impulse 2 circumnavigates globe using solar and NMC only The sky could literally be no limit to the potential applications for Kokam’s Ultra High Energy nickel manganese cobalt batteries that on July 26 successfully helped to land the first round-the-world fuel-less aircraft, the Solar Impulse 2, in the UAE. The solar-powered aircraft, crewed by two pilots, Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg, arrived safely in Abu Dhabi on July 26. It had flown 40,000 kilometres to get there, using solar power by day and by night, strapped to its wings, four of Kokam’s lithium batteries. The voyage had not all been plain flying. After taking off from Abu Dhabi in March 2015, with a scheduled finish date of August the same year, the batteries overheated in the longest leg between Japan and Hawaii, and in July the plane was forced to stop while they were replaced and a cooling system fitted. This took nine months. Speaking to Batteries International on August 31, Ike Hong, vice president of
power solutions at Kokam (and also company founder J Hong’s son), said that although the batteries had not in fact suffered any damage, the company had no choice but to replace them since “1% risk is too much”. The flight resumed from Hawaii in April 2016 when it flew to California, followed by New York City, across the Atlantic Ocean to Spain, then Egypt for its final leg to Abu Dhabi in July. “Industry leaders” who Hong would not name were interested in Kokam’s NMC batteries because of their unique offering, he said. “They are looking for a lot more challenge,” he said. “They need better, lighter technology, and we are continually developing our batteries to meet the need. “Our batteries are already being used in space, the military, submarines, torpedoes— they are never going to be super commercialized, but no other battery manufacturer makes anything similar, and we want to dif-
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ferentiate ourselves.” Hong said one of the main applications for the Ultra High Density NMC batteries was unmanned flying machines — or drones — because while there were cheaper alternatives, they did not offer the same return on investment. “They are more expensive to make than Chinese batteries, which are 30%40% cheaper and used a lot in drones. But ours offer 40%-50% more flying time. Other batteries have to be replaced after 60 times of use, whereas ours have a life cycle of a couple of hundred,” he said. For the Solar Impulse 2, made by the Swiss firm of
the same name, the batteries were a stage further developed than those used on the aircraft’s predecessor in 2010, the Solar Impulse 1. “For the Solar Impulse 1, the cells were 87 Ampere hours per cell. On the Solar Impulse 2, we developed 150 Ah cells. The capacity was almost double, but the weight was not,” said Hong. “Weight is still a key issue. To fly for hundreds of hours without landing is a real challenge. Industry progress will come from much lighter but very highenergy lithium batteries. As this is achieved, greater possibilities for non-stop solarpowered flight open up.”
Skeleton announces new energy storage system release in rising challenge to lead Ultracapacitor manufacturer Skeleton Technologies confirmed on August 24 that it was developing a new energy storage system “along similar lines” to its SkelRack product, a module designed for automated production lines and grid applications. SkelRack is based on Skeleton’s SkelCap ultracapacitor cells, which provide the highest power and energy density on the market, the company claims. Taavi Madiberk, cofounder of Skeleton, told Batteries International in spring 2015 that the company was on track to produce ultracaps that could challenge lead acid energy density by 2017.
Energy density is a key development challenge for the ultracap market and is fundamental if the technology is to eventually replace battery storage. Skeleton did not give further details of the new storage system, but said it would be released “in the coming weeks”. The Estonia-based company announced on August 3 that it had been handed $15 million by Malaysian venture capital firm FirstFloor Capital in the latest round of funding for Skeleton. The money would be spent on “finalizng our scale-up in Estonia and developing our scaling-up of our factory operations in Germany, which we ex-
Taavi Madiberk, cofounder of Skeleton
pect to be online by the first quarter of 2017”, said cofounder Taavi Madiberk. “This would move us from high-end production closer to the mass market,” he said, without giving further details. On July 4, Skeleton Technologies signed a partner-
ship with French firm Flying Whales to power heavy-lift airships for industrial applications in France and China. The firm will help design and build hybrid propulsion for the Flying Whales’ LCA60T electric power systems using its graphenebased supercapacitors.
Nissan denies plans to sell its battery business but press speculation continues
in AESC. It claimed that Nissan was in talks with overseas companies including Chinese firms as well as Panasonic, which makes batteries for automaker Tesla. Our insider said he believed people haven’t realised the impact that GM’s new Bolt would have on the EV market next year because of its 60kWh battery. “No one can keep up,” he said. “Even Tesla is still a year away with its Model 3.”
Speculation over the presumed sale of Nissan’s battery business, Automotive Energy Supply Corporation, to electronics maker Panasonic continued in August. Although the car manufacturer continued to deny claims of a possible sale, media reports and analysts continued to think otherwise. AESC is a joint venture between Nissan and NEC. Stuart Boyd, an official for Nissan in the UK, told Batteries International that the speculation was “not based on any announcement by us”, although he did not deny the claim. One leading industry analyst says he would not be surprised if the automaker were looking for a buyer. The problem, though, was finding one. He said the future was in bringing a 60 kWh battery to market to match General Motors’ Chevrolet Bolt, which comes out in January. “Who would want to buy
it?” he said. “In October, Nissan will release a 30kWh battery pack. Next year it will bring out a 40kWh pack. A 60kWh pack is at least a year away, and that’s a long time in this industry. “I don’t even know if Panasonic would want to buy it, because of complications with its relationship with
China, Japan and Korea. Maybe Panasonic would buy it for political reasons. But it makes cylindrical cells, where AESC makes pouch cells.” According to Japan’s Nikkei Daily, which broke the story in early August, “two people with knowledge of the matter” said the automaker wanted to sell its 51% stake
Musk unveils Tesla’s latest battery pack for ‘fastest car in the world’ Tesla founder Elon Musk unveiled on August 23 the latest battery pack for the automaker’s Model S and X cars that he claims extends the range beyond 300 miles. The Model S P100D can also accelerate to 60mph from zero in 2.5 seconds, he said, calling the upgraded battery “a profound milestone” in the fastest production car on the market today. “The Model S P100D
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with Ludicrous mode is the third fastest accelerating production car ever produced,” says Tesla, and although faster cars have been made in the past by Porsche and Ferrari, they were no longer produced and were never for the mass market. Musk said his goal was “to build a great electric car that everyone can afford”. Sales of electric vehicles in the US have not lived
up to forecasts, according to Bloomberg, which said sales in 2015 were 17% lower than in 2014, perhaps because of cheaper fuel prices. But the EV market is bound to heat up with General Motors, BMW, Hyundai and Ford all confirming they will launch electric vehicles in 2017. GM will bring out a Chevrolet Bolt, BMW an i3, Hyundai an Ioniq Electric and Ford a new Focus, although none has claimed a range of 300 miles.
UK National Grid picks seven winning battery firms for EFR contracts, only lithium chosen Seven battery firms won UK National Grid contracts on August 26 to provide 200MW sub-second enhanced frequency response support to the grid. It is the first time that batteries will be used for grid-scale energy storage in the UK. The bid winners have all signed four-year contracts, which will begin on or before March 1, 2018. Lead-acid battery manufacturer Belectric, which confirmed on September 1 that it was being bought by German utility RWE, said it had won its 10MW bid with a lithium-ion version of its Energy Buffer Unit, which is also produced with lead-acid batteries. The National Grid invited tenders on April 15 and by the closing date of July 15 had whittled 37 bids down
to just eight, with one of the winners, energy investor Low Carbon, being handed a total of 50MW in two contracts, one in Kent, one in Cumbria. The six other providers, RES, Eon UK, EDF Energy Renewables, Element Power and Vattenfall, will all supply lithium-ion technology. Cordi O’Hara, the director of UK System Operator at the National Grid, said: “We are constantly looking to the future to understand how we can make the most of the energy available to us. “This project is at the very core of our power responsive work, to balance the grid by the most efficient means possible, saving money and energy. “These awards show that we can work with industry to bring forward new technology and I believe storage
has much to contribute to the flexible energy system of tomorrow. This is the beginning of an exciting new chapter for the industry.” Adam Sims, senior account manager at the National Grid, said the beauty of batteries lay in their flexibility. “You can use them for congestion management, frequency response, all sorts of things,” he said. “Costs are going down and we think it’s going to be a major penetration into storage in the UK. “We have looked at other countries and how they use them, and Germany is the biggest player. But the model they look for is very short term, far smaller scale. We have a different approach. “We want to give people certainty over a longer period of time to drive costs down. It will be a four-year investment
time for the right balance.” “The requirement for EFR is driven by the change in generation mix from thermal plant to renewable plant,” said Gilly West, an official, at the UK National Grid, who said the new systems would need to transform existing EFR provision times from more than ten seconds to less than one. “The different technical characteristics result in the system frequency becoming less stable, with smaller imbalances in supply and demand creating larger fluctuations than previously experienced. “With fast acting battery technologies becoming financially viable, EFR is an economic solution to this issue that also creates a route to market for a new class of technology.”
Axion PbC batteries tested for European automotive suitability, expands in China Testing of Axion Power International’s lead carbon batteries is to start in September at Belgium at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and the Battery Innovation Centre of MOBI Research Group. The PbC batteries will be evaluated for automotive applications based on real world driving conditions and vehicle types available in the EU, said the firm. The Battery Innovation Centre of MOBI Research Group is the main Belgian centre for research and development of energy storage systems for traction and stationary applications. It offers state-of-theart testing facilities and modelling for rechargeable energy storage systems. Separately, Axion Power announced in July that it had reached an agreement with Chinese state-owned
battery firm Fengfan to introduce its chemistry to China. Chief executive officer Richard Bogan said that following a trip to China in May, Fengfan had agreed to help Axion commercialize its PbC technology. Officials from the Chi-
nese firm made a return visit to Pennsylvania, where Axion is based, at the end of July. A number of Axion’s batteries are with Fengfan for testing and validation. The move would mark a shift in focus for Fengfan, which calls itself the best
lead-acid battery provider in China, and until now has concentrated on traditional lead-acid batteries which it sells to more than 30 automobile companies. The principal focus of the batteries will be short-term storage for renewable energy, said a Fengfan official.
Global BESS to expand 10-fold by 2020 Market analyst GlobalData said in a report released on August 23 that the global capacity of installed batterybacked energy storage systems would rise almost 10-fold by 2020 from its current 1.5GW to 14GW. The market is being driven by the increasing number of renewable installations and a greater
focus on grid stability across the world, the report says. GlobalData’s power analyst Swati Gupta said climate concerns, government initiatives and consumer efforts were all resulting in the increased deployment of wind and solar resources, but the variability of power made it hard for electricity providers to smooth
out the power supply. “BESSs are being installed into electricity grids to make the power supply from renewable energy sources smoother and more reliable,” he said. Gupta said the US had the largest BESS market, valued at £750 million in 2015. He predicted that would be worth around $1.7 billion by 2020.
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ENERGY STORAGE FINANCE: GAUGING RISK Energy storage technology — seen by many as the final piece in the global energy transition puzzle — requires significant financing. Attracting investment, depends largely on understanding and quantifying the associated risks, says Michael Wilkins from credit risk ratings firm Standard & Poor’s.
Risk assessment — the key to making energy storage commercially viable Power generation from renewable resources has increased its presence across the world’s energy grids in the past decade. Moreover the cost of this electricity is reaching — or has reached grid parity — in many countries. However, full dependence on renewable energy sources is limited due to the unpredictable supply of natural resources. Large wind projects, for example, typically generate more energy at night when demand is low. Energy storage is crucial to unlocking the full potential of renewable energy as it helps to balance the natural intermittency in supply. In the case of wind power, energy storage can play a key role in load levelling by storing low-cost electricity until demand, and, therefore prices increase during the day. Without such storage, renewables are unlikely to account for a majority share of a country’s power generation mix. This is particularly pertinent given leading estimates which predict that the world will need 150GW of battery storage if it is to double the share of renewable power generation by 2030. Prompted by the declining price of battery storage technology, the need for greater energy security and relief for aging electricity networks, a growing number of governments are starting to show enthusiasm in energy storage. Recent figures from the UK National Infrastructure Commission, for example, estimate that the country could save £8 billion ($11 billion) per year through the incorporation of smart power with a mix of intercon-
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nection, energy storage, and demand flexibility. A number of key government policy initiatives designed to encourage the uptake of storage are coming into play all over the world. For instance, in California legislation stipulates that investor-owned utilities must procure
1.3GW of energy storage by 2020 — coinciding with the state’s target for achieving 33% of power from renewables. Elsewhere, Puerto Rico was one of the first jurisdictions to require that renewable energy projects include storage as a means of short-term load
In most project finance cases, when looking at a project’s technology track record, we would expect to assess it as commercially proven because we would expect most projects to use off-the-shelf technology. However, that type of technology is not yet the norm for energy storage projects. ANNOUNCED UTILITY-SCALE GLOBAL ENERGY STORAGE PROJECTS* (Megawatts) 450 400 350 300 250 200 150 100 50 0 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4
*Excluding pumped hydro. Source: United Nations Energy Programme Copyright © 2016 by Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC. All rights reserved.
ENERGY STORAGE FINANCE: GAUGING RISK most important considerations investors should take into account when assessing energy storage projects:
Battery storage projects, if used for generation purposes and supplied by a single variable renewable energy source, will face resource risk, which, in our opinion, is one of the biggest risks in renewable energy systems. balancing. Policies that require the implementation of energy storage alongside renewable energy are likely to become the norm as they ensure that renewable energy projects do not add to the current strain on networks through intermittency. Recent mergers and acquisitions point to this structural shift in global energy systems. Earlier this year, energy giant, Total SA approved a $1.1 billion takeover of Saft Groupe, a producer of energy storage systems. The move represented the biggest acquisition of an energy storage provider to date. At the same time, many new and innovative technologies are emerging causing the energy storage market to expand. These developments are widely seen as following a similar trajectory to solar and wind power projects in their need for both government and private sector financing. Much like renewable energy projects, energy storage presents high upfront costs and a fairly long payback period. However, unlike renewable technologies, which primarily rely on pre-
dictable and fixed structures financed through debt, equity or PPA (power purchase agreements), energy storage has the potential for multiple-use applications, enabling various revenue streams, and potentially shortening payback periods. Energy storage offers a world of opportunities for investors; it also presents significant challenges. Although the costs associated with energy storage technology are declining rapidly, they are still relatively high. Moreover, energy storage projects have implicit risks. The associated financial and technical implications need to be identified and assessed. For energy storage projects to become commercially viable, investors must be satisfied that the systems they are investing in are able to store and deliver the quantity of energy required at any given time — and at the right price to ensure a satisfactory level of return. At S&P Global Ratings, six main factors contribute to our view of a project’s credit risk profile: planning, construction, operations, resources, counterparties, and the market. Highlighted below are some of the
Etorage projects have implicit risks. The associated financial and technical implications need to be identified and assessed. For projects to become commercially viable, investors must be satisfied the systems they are investing in can store and deliver the quantity of energy required at any given time — and at the right price to ensure a satisfactory level of return.
Project planning risk is relatively low down on our agenda for energy storage compared with that in renewable energy assets. This is because storage modules are typically smaller than wind turbines or solar panels, often able to fit into standard shipping containers, and are therefore unlikely to face similar opposition to their aesthetics and implementation.
In general, storage projects, such as battery modular units, are classified as simple building tasks that require minimal construction on site. Construction risk is therefore relatively low. However, risk does emerge when interfacing such assets with other projects, such as solar or wind, because there is limited practical experience of this in the market. This is why one key credit factor that contributes to construction risk is technology.
When we assess a project’s operations phase stand-alone credit profile (SACP), we first determine its business risk profile, which we call the operations-phase business assessment. The OPBA can be thought of as a measure of how risky a project’s operations are. It ranges from a scale of 1 (lowest risk) to 12 (highest). To arrive at the OBPA value, we assess market and performance risks, both key factors.
Asset class operations stability
Our assessment of asset class operations stability indicates the risk that a project’s cashflow will differ from expectations as a result of it being unable to meet the services or products. Energy storage on a large-scale re-
Grid connected energy storage projects (as of May 31, 2016) Technology type
Projects (% of total)
Power from rated entities (MW)
Power from rated entities (% of total)
Electro-mechanical Hydrogen Total
MW--Megawatts. Source: U.S. DOE Global Energy Storage Database.
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ENERGY STORAGE FINANCE: GAUGING RISK
Our view of market risk reflects the extent to which a project is exposed to market changes. For example, in the case of energy storage projects our analysis of regulatory support and predictability, barriers to entry, delivery cost relative to peers’ and transmission access would help us determine whether a project is able to compete in the market with its competitors given general economic trends.
Reliance on third parties to make payments or perform under a wide range of agreements — such as revenues, construction and equipment supply — is a common feature in project finance. For energy storage projects, equipment counterparties, that deal with interconnection issues, in particular will be a key focus of our assessment. The relatively few players in the battery storage industry, and equipment providers in particular, are not easily interchangeable. Some larger players have entered the market recently, but many of the advancements seem to be coming from smaller players, which may expose projects to their credit risk.
Assessment in this area predominantly focuses on the extent to which a
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Additional Cost of Storage
350 300 250 200 150 100 50
Battery storage projects, if used for generation purposes and supplied by a single variable renewable energy source, will face resource risk, which, in our opinion, is one of the biggest risks in renewable energy systems. This is mainly due to renewable power purchasing agreements which stipulate that suppliers are only paid for the volumes delivered. Assessment of resource risk is aimed at determining whether the raw material will be available in the quantity and quality needed to meet production and performance expectations.
LCOE ($ per MWH)
LCOE COMPARISON INCLUDING ADDITIONAL STORAGE COST FOR H2 2015*
quires highly sophisticated technology that encompasses complex electrical components and interlinkages between these components and sometimes other infrastructure outside the project. Initially, it is likely we will assign asset class operations stability a high score (indicating higher risk) until a track record of operational stability is established.
* Based on storage assets providing 50% of capacity and two hours of storage, with a $800/ Kilowatt hour total installed cost and 1% operation and maintenance costs. LCOE: Levelized cost of electricity. MWH: Megawatt hour. CCGT: Combined cycle gas turbine. OW: Onshore wind. PV: Photovoltaic (solar): United Nations Environment Programme data. Copyright © 2016 by Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC. All rights reserved
Assessment of resource risk is aimed at determining whether the raw material will be available in the quantity and quality needed to meet production and performance expectations. project may face operating challenges, based on the technology deployed. More specifically, the previous performance of the system, equipment, and material, as well as how its design addresses site-specific challenges are scrutinized. In most project finance cases, when looking at a project’s technology track record, we would expect to assess it as commercially proven because we would expect most projects to use offthe-shelf technology. However, that type of technology is not yet the norm for energy storage projects, given that the sector is relatively new and evolving rapidly. Unless the storage technology has a proven track record, with large amounts of industry data demonstrating a good operating performance at a similar scale and under similar operating conditions, technological performance is likely to be assessed as negative until more data is available. It is without a doubt that energy storage is likely to become one of the most essential contributors to efforts to decarbonize the power sector. It is a rapidly evolving area showing encour-
aging rates of price decline, which is bringing it toward large-scale commercial viability. Right now, the risks are abundant as the industry goes through the early stages of transition. But these risks will reduce over the next few years as the technology becomes a mainstream participant in the power sector.
Michael Wilkins is managing director for infrastructure finance at S&P Global Ratings
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GRID TECHNOLOGIES, ULTRACAPACITORS Kimberly McGrath, director of business development at Maxwell Technologies discusses how the combination of supercaps and storage offers an economic way forward for grid development.
Hybridizing energy and power for the grid Gaston County, North Carolina. It’s not the most famous spot in the US. Or not yet. But in terms of grid energy storage, it’s one of the hottest sites in what could be the cutting edge of how renewable energy will be integrated into the grid. Guodian China and Duke Energy, the US utility, recently commissioned hybrid battery-ultracapacitor energy storage systems to stack multiple grid services into a single solution. The hybrid system capitalizes on the strong points of each technology: batteries for long-term energy storage and ultracapacitors for high power.
Ultracapacitors support battery performance by removing high peak power demand, which in turn, over time, mitigates battery capacity degradation. This mitigates the need to oversize batteries to meet system lifetime requirements. When cloud cover or other weather events cause solar power fluctuations on the grid, this hybrid system leverages ultracapacitors’ high power and fast response capabilities. Ultracapacitors support battery performance by removing high peak power demand, which in turn, over time, mitigates battery capacity degradation. This way, the batteries have an optimized performance for energy shifting of solar on the distribution circuit. This hybrid approach maximizes utility system value by simultaneously delivering these grid services at an overall lower system cost. What does this in-field example of a hybrid battery-ultracapacitor energy storage system mean for the future grid?
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More renewable energy is being added to the grid each year, and utility and grid owners are under pressure to implement solutions that help to deliver clean, reliable power to end users — and at the same time, they must find a way to minimize operating costs and increase returns. The answer to this challenge is to integrate fast-responding energy storage, such as ultracapacitors, which can enhance renewable energy production by reducing — and in many cases, eliminating — the problems of intermittency. Take the examples of frequency response and wind power smoothing. In the case of frequency response, balance must be maintained on a second-to-second basis between electricity demand and generation to maintain grid stability. The tight frequency envelope has to be managed in second to sub-second time-frames to prevent system collapse. Wind generators in particular should consider this factor — energy storage assets can be leveraged with ultracapacitors to provide frequency response. Ultracapacitors are also an advantage for wind power smoothing. More intermittent renewable generation is penetrating the grid, and variations in wind power output can create faults on local transmission lines and result in poor quality power to the end customer. Ultracapacitors can respond to these variations within milliseconds and prevent problems associated with power output fluctuations. Implementing ultracapacitors to rapidly deliver quality power ameliorates revenue loss associated with curtailment and can also help avoid expenditures for transmission line upgrades. In addition, the growing demand for power quality has led suppliers to seek out new options for turbine wind pitch technologies. Ultracapacitors have emerged as a
practical solution for wind pitch control, due to ultracapacitors’ ability to produce high-quality, reliable power, provide faster charge and discharge cycles, a longer lifetime, and reliable performance in colder temperatures. Ultracapacitors offer these benefits and more — without dramatic increases in operating costs. Energy storage systems that implement ultracapacitors significantly improve generation quality and reliability while at the same time offer operators a new frontier of financial savings. The Duke Energy battery-ultracapacitor hybrid system acts as an illustration to utility and grid audiences worldwide on what the future of energy storage could look like. The energy density of batteries paired with the high power, fast response ability of ultracapacitors continues to demonstrate success in the field and may very well be setting the new standard for grid energy storage.
Kimberly McGrath is director of business development for Maxwell Technologies and has spent her career in the field of energy storage applications and technology development. She writes about the latest in ultracapacitor technology at http://www.maxwell.com/blog/ category/ultracapacitors
POINTS OF VIEW: BITRODE CORPORATION
Energy Storage Journal interviewed Craig Brunk, sales director at Bitrode for his take on the current state of the testing market and the direction it’ll go in the next few years.
Testing times as new generation of energy storage products appears What do you think are going to be the most interesting markets for testing in the coming years? We are seeing a broad spectrum of activity within what we we’d call growth markets. The transportation sector is looking at lead acid developments to 48 volts for consumer transportation as well as 1000+ volts for advanced chemistry batteries for off-road and mass transportation applications. We receive more requests for micro-grid applications — standalone islands, remote/rural locations, and the like — at this time, but we don’t see a lot of test equipment activity for applications relating to grid peak storage or frequency regulation. Another area that we see growth in is in the re-purposing of used EV/ EHV batteries. There is still a lot of life in EV/EHV batteries after they are no longer ideal for transportation use.
And in terms of geographical location, where do you think will be the new hot spots for testing? In the past 12 months we have seen a great amount of activity from China and in India. While the North American market still remains as a stronghold in R&D of both lead acid and advanced chemistry batteries, the Indian and Asian markets are leaning heavily on equipment for the testing of advanced chemistries.
Will Brazil be the next Shenzhen? We do see activity in Brazil and we are always hoping for growth in the South American market, but the volatility of the Brazilian market seems to change even within the time taken from when we quote a project and the expected PO [purchase order] date.
In terms of the technological advances in testing, what areas do you think are going to be the most exciting — greater precision, greater predictability for lower cycling, totally new products and the like? Or all? Customers continue to ask for faster and more accurate test equipment. There is a spec war going on globally. R&D lab equipment being used for material research requires high level of resolution and accuracy. There is always the economic tradeoff between cost and requirement. I believe that all test equipment suppliers are working to understand this now.
Where do you see Bitrode as part of this? We take pride in our reliability and the ability to prove what we put on our spec sheets. Our R&D depart-
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POINTS OF VIEW: BITRODE CORPORATION One thing we know for sure, the need for energy storage will grow and grow in the future. The wildcards are always weight, safety, cycles, power density, cost and cost. ment is constantly being challenged to meet the escalating requirements of our customers and not take short cuts. We are in development of three to four new product platforms that we believe will give customer’s the value they expect from Bitrode testers and meet their high demands for precision and reliability.
What are your thoughts on new forms of potential secondary batteries such as lithium air, magnesium ion … Bitrode’s product line is chemistry neutral; we build testers for cell testing, module testing and pack testing. Our R&D lab and university customers don’t typically disclose their proprietary development programs and proprietary test algorithms. Our Windows-based VisuaLCN software is fully capable and easily programmable by users to develop test profiles for each variation of battery chemistry.
How do you think the testing industry will evolve in the years to come? At the end of the day, customers want to work with suppliers that have experience in the industry, a track record of proven results and responsiveness to requests for equipment flexibility, technology, service and performance. Natural selection will eliminate those that can’t meet these requirements.
Will the industry consolidate? That’s a maybe! Digatron and Firing Circuits merged in 1988. Sovema purchased Bitrode in 2008. It’s been quite a while since a merger or acquisition has taken place. Perhaps 2018 will be the next year for change? (laughs!)
Become more specialized? Power electronics are the heart of battery testing equipment. If anything, I would see expansion of our company and our competitors ex-
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panding into adjacent space markets that use power electronics.
Or will the industry become more collaborative as per some of your collaborations with GM? Collaboration and integration are becoming more and more common. Bitrode has partnered with Gamry for integration of EIS (electrochemical impedance spectroscopy) capabilities and we have integrated with many environmental chamber suppliers for turnkey installations. We have also been approached about providing complete turnkey test room facilities. Many customers will be looking at one-stop shopping in the future.
Has development in lead battery testing more or less reached an end game if lead batteries can’t be used meaningfully in HRPSoC applications? Lead acid batteries have always been the workhorse of the energy storage market. We believe that our lead acid customers continue to provide innovative products for future needs — 48V automotive batteries for the micro-hybrid vehicles are a prime example of continued R&D and investment in lead acid technology.
How do you see the automotive and energy storage markets of the future developing? And what kind of pace will that be? One thing we know for sure, the need for energy storage will grow and grow in the future. The wildcards are always weight, safety, cycles, power density, cost (... and cost!). In terms of pace, it’s happening now! The automotive industry has created a media frenzy with automotive developments from Tesla, Google and Apple. Their development is highly visible to the consumer in the street.
The automotive sector has become a leader in electrification and the need for energy storage. What consumers don’t read about in USA Today is about the developers of non-traditional energy generators and the storage of this generated energy. Growth and development is happening simultaneously in the automotive and grid storage industries, it’s only that the automotive industry is getting the byline.
When — or if — do you see lithium ion becoming the major battery chemistry in grid or automotive markets? As soon as price and power density meet the needs of the consumer. Perhaps it won’t be lithium ion technology that will be the final chemistry that gets us to the needed cost/benefit ratio, but it appears to be a great technology that we are all learning from and could take us to that next battery chemistry.
Will it be price as the major consideration? Yes. For the most we all have a fixed budget to live on. Until electrification and battery storage costs reach a level that the consumer is willing to pay for and see a net benefit of, we will continue to use power from natural resources power such as oil, gas, coal and the like as well as nuclear power in supplying our power needs.
What worries you most about the evolution of today’s large scale storage markets? The evolution is not fast enough for us in the battery industry. We all would like to see additional R&D dollars granted over the next five to 10 years to help us break dependence on non-green energy generation and the storage of distributed energy.
I would see expansion of our company and our competitors expanding into adjacent space markets that use power electronics. www.batteriesinternational.com
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BATTERIES AS VIRTUAL POWER PLANTS
Loading weight to take weight off the load Despite a proliferation of highly nuanced business models, utilities and solar-and-storage companies continue to fine-tune their approach to using energy storage as part of a virtual power plant, reports Sara Verbruggen.
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BATTERIES AS VIRTUAL POWER PLANTS
n the US a variety of drivers, which vary by region or state, are responsible for the growing demand for solar-plus-storage. In Hawaii, where its island grids are straining under the pressure that peak generation from renewables — mainly rooftop solar — exerts, consumers face some of the highest energy costs, meaning an investment in a solarplus-storage system can pay for itself within 61/2 years. However, back-up is emerging as a key selling point across many parts of the US. In states such as Utah and South Dakota, back-up goes hand in hand with customers wanting more energy independence. In New York, a recently announced pilot led by Con Edison intends to find out what residential electricity customers are prepared to pay for resiliency. Unlike Germany, the largest residential solar-plus-storage market by installed capacity and demand, where the technology might achieve payback in 10 years — that’s with an incentive — in the US the conversation has always been about monetizing solarplus-storage. That requires joined-up thinking among utilities, technology providers, regulators and the buy-in, of course, from energy customers. To monetize solar-plus-storage a battery must cater to multiple parties, each of which derives a saving or a
revenue stream from the asset. First the battery’s primary application must be for the customer’s benefit, such as back-up and energy bill savings, by increasing solar consumption. The remaining capacity of the individual storage unit can also be harnessed, along with other units, to provide grid balancing. Eventually, the grid as a whole is expected to benefit from distributed storage on the tips of the network because growth in renewable energy, like rooftop solar, is decoupled from the need to make investments in expanding the grid. But an odd benefit all the same. This requires utilities working with technology providers to see how distributed solar-plus-storage can be deployed as virtual power plants on their networks, in doing so extending the potential for rooftop solar PV uptake.
The Molokai solution
On the Hawaiian island of Molokai, the end of net metering has paved the way for solar-plus-storage. But the grid is unable to connect any of the tail-end of net-metering customers. So the utility Hawaiian Electric Companies (HECO) is working with energy storage and software developer E-Gear. E-Gear was set up by Chris DeBone and Steve Godmere, the founders of solar installer Hawaii Energy Connection.
An E-Gear energy storage system installed in Hawaii, where the company is working with HECO on a small virtual power plant pilot on the island of Molokai, using storage to enable further integration of the remaining rooftop solar PV systems under the net metering programme which has now come to an end.
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BATTERIES AS VIRTUAL POWER PLANTS “It’s very apt to take CAISO’s duck curve and apply it to Hawaii, where Kaua’i’s grid is already experiencing these extreme effects where traditional generation plants have to be ramped up to meet the peak evening energy demand that solar cannot” — Bob Rudd, SolarCity E-Gear’s offering consists of a hardware and software platform that enables self-consumption for the residential electricity customer but which connects individual systems in a network and makes them act as a single virtual power plant that the utility can control and manage. “How does energy storage compare with solar PV? In 2016, you have to be fast, nimble and quick to market. This is a long way from dumb rooftop solar PV systems,” says DeBone. On Hawaii some solar installers have branched out into installing batteries and solar, systems that can enable consumers to virtually go off-grid by taking solar and pumping it into batteries — DC-coupling. “What’s left is scraps for the utilities, when consumers start taking loads off the grid. This grid defection is not the way to go. What consumers want is lower bills and security of supply. They shouldn’t have to go virtually off-grid to achieve this,” DeBone says. E-Gear has developed a proprietary energy management controller — a
circuit board with software embedded in it that interfaces with cloudware. Every system installed is interconnected in the cloud. The company has sourced an AC battery from Eguana Technologies in Canada, which comprises Eguana’s bidirectional inverter connected to a lithium ion battery module from LG Chem. However, the energy management control and software developed by EGear is hardware agnostic.
The software tools, including those for aggregation, which E-Gear has developed, enable the consumer to have functions such as self-consumption and back-up. But the tools also allow a party such as an installer, an aggregator or a utility to manage fleets, which collectively can be deployed as virtual power plants. The software is open platform/ protocol — Sunspec — so that it can be overlaid over different inverter hardware makes. In the pilot on Molokai, HECO is
buying 10 of E-Gear’s energy storage systems, which will interface directly with the utility’s own grid software. “The problem faced on Molokai is that renewables penetration has reached such high levels no new rooftop solar can be added as it will create system level problems. “This is because large amounts of intermittent solar generation are now causing frequency and contingency issues on the island. The existing fossil fuel generators are not able to idle down far enough on some peak solar days,” says DeBone. When California Independent System Operator (CAISO) presented its now-notorious duck curve chart, it was based on a prediction into how the grid would look with increasing amounts of solar capacity connected, becoming more acute towards the end of this decade. More solar means greater reliance on base load power generation. On some of Hawaii’s grids the duck curve has already come home to roost and utilities are turning to solar integrated
CAISO DUCK CURVE CAISO’s duck curve chart shows the amount of dispatchable resources that have to come online as more and more solar is connected to the grid, until 2020. As the evening begins in California, generation output from solar panels recedes, occurring when consumers returning home from work turn on appliances and switch lights on, which drives up electricity consumption. To fill the gap more megawatts of dispatchable reserves, gas plants mainly, have to be powered up. The problem is exacerbated in the winter months when days are shorter. CAISO’s duck curve is equally applicable to Hawaii’s island grids now, which are feeling the impacts of rooftop solar penetration.
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Growing need for flexibility starting 2015
BATTERIES AS VIRTUAL POWER PLANTS with battery storage to alleviate the problem. On a neighbouring island, Kauai, the local utility, Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) signed a power purchase agreement with SolarCity in September 2015 for electricity from what will be the largest integrated solar PV and battery storage facility project commissioned to date. The facility when fully operational at the end of 2016 will supply power from stored solar energy to the grid in the evening — when demand is highest. The 52MWh battery system will feed up to 13MW of electricity into the grid to shave the amount of conventional power generation needed to meet the evening peak, which lasts from 5pm to 10pm. Bob Rudd, vice president of energy storage and microgrids at SolarCity, says: “It’s very apt to take CAISO’s duck curve and apply it to Hawaii, where Kaua’i’s grid is already experiencing these extreme effects where traditional generation plants have to be ramped up to meet the peak evening energy demand that solar cannot.”
“As Hawaii nears 100% renewable energy levels, there will likely be a need for storage at the transmission, distribution and meter levels but the recent interest is in what storage at the meter or circuit level can do, because it can do a lot, with the right software” — Chris DeBone, E-Gear Though the solar and storage facility will meet 5% of the island’s energy demand over the year, which does not sound like much, it will meet between 20%-25% of evening peak demand, as the 13MW can offset the 55MW of base-load generation. The integrated battery gives KIUC the opportunity to use solar PV as a dispatchable resource, operating it like a thermal generation plant, by scheduling how much power they need it to provide at various times. On Molokai, there are about 100 remaining net-metering customers that are in the queue. It doesn’t necessarily mean that HECO will need to install a storage system with the remaining 90. It may mean that the peak shift-
ALOHA SOLAR … AND STORAGE Net metering may be over but storage extends the prospects of solar on the Hawaiian islands. In 2015 the energy regulator, Hawaii Public Utilities Commission, decided to end net metering. For Hawaii to reach its 100% renewable energy target, growing the installed capacity of intermittent rooftop solar requires dealing with energy storage. Think the California Independent System Operator’s infamous duck curve, only on Hawaii it is already happening, traditional generators have to be ramped to balance out the growing gap between peak solar generation, which does not correspond with demand patterns, and the period at which solar generation drops off in the evening, while electricity demand increases. In the place of the net metering programme are two programmes for new solar customers to choose from, a grid supply tariff or a selfsupply tariff, both of which facilitate combination of solar-plus-storage. PV customers that opt for the grid supply tariff can export electricity to
the grid, but are compensated at half the retail rate, which is about $0.15/kWh, and reflects the average cost of wholesale electricity across the islands. Any solar used at home offsets the retail rate but the export rate is fixed. However it is the customer selfsupply tariff that will become the option for many customers, since the customer grid supply tariff is capped by the Hawaiian Public Utilities Commission at 25MW of distributed solar on Oahu, 5MW on Maui, Lanai and Molokai, and 5MW on Hawaii itself. Those levels are likely to be reached by the end of 2016. The customer self-supply tariff is intended only for solar PV installations that are configured to not export any electricity to the grid. Customers do not receive any compensation for any electricity inadvertently exported. The self-supply tariff will ensure that batteries become a necessity if distributed solar is to continue to ensure that Hawaii hits its 100% renewables by 2045.
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GLOBAL FOOTPRINT FOR YOUR GLOBAL NEEDS
H MMOND THE CHANGE CATALYST
2016 InnovatIon award wInner
BATTERIES AS VIRTUAL POWER PLANTS “Our products are available for less than it might cost to build traditional generation from fossil fuel plants or T&D infrastructure investments. Grid needs that can be addressed include peak demand shaving, voltage and reactive power support, frequency regulation, and grid situational intelligence” — Ryan Hanley, Solar City
ing that the one battery enables and the grid services that the batteries in aggregate can provide, could allow a further two or three more customers to be grid-connected just with rooftop solar. DeBone describes Hawaii as a petri dish of problems that larger, more resilient, usually mainland grids will come to face in future. On the islands, which are really a group of separate microgrids, these problems have occurred in a compressed amount of time. “As Hawaii nears 100% renewable energy levels, there will likely be a need for storage at the transmission, distribution and meter levels but the recent interest is in what storage at the meter or circuit level can do, because it can do a lot, with the right software,” says DeBone. The first storage projects to mitigate intermittent wind and solar built on the islands of Hawaii were bulk storage plants designed for energy shifting but little more. Now intelligent distributed energy resources in the form of solar-plusstorage systems promise a more sophisticated solution. Not only do these systems control loads in the home, when to charge up and release power, and where to send it, they also let the utility access some of the capacity that is not being used to perform critical grid services such as frequency response and reactive power. In the pilot on Molokai, E-Gear’s storage systems will allow HECO to deploy a suite of tools including frequency control, voltage control, fast frequency responses, power factor and control as well as time shifting to ease the duck curve effect.
E-Gear’s storage units are autonomously programmed to start charging, taking into consideration their location in relation to the sun’s trajectory.
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On the eastern side of the island, the sun is up earlier than on the west. Vice versa, the sun sets later in the western side of the island than on the east, so depending on where each storage system is located on the island they are programmed accordingly. E-Gear also has a pilot in California in Fontana, with Southern California Edison and the Electric Power Research Institute, where nine new homes all on one distribution connection will have solar and storage installed to demonstrate that they can have zero impact on the grid. With battery prices falling and solarplus-storage becoming more affordable each year, it could be a blueprint for all new homes construction in future, says DeBone. E-Gear has five dealers in southern California and just took possession of a warehouse in the state. It will shortly begin exporting its battery systems there. In Hawaii, E-Gear continues to establish further dealerships. Business is brisk and picking up, it says, with the company having ordered a container of battery systems, about 500kWh worth. This is already sold, with the company placing repeat orders.
PG&E, SolarCity pilot
SolarCity, one of the largest rooftop solar installation businesses in the US, announced a project in July with investor owner utility Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E). In the pilot, which starts in September and runs until December 2017, 150 residential customers in San Jose, in California, will have smart inverters, with their rooftop solar systems installed. Some of the participants will also have residential battery storage systems installed. PG&E will coordinate the smart inverters and behind the meter battery storage to improve electric distribution planning and operations. For the pilot SolarCity is enrolling
new customers in addition to installing the systems within some of its existing customer base in the San Jose. As they are installed, the smart inverters and storage systems will be integrated into SolarCity’s software control platform Gridlogic. PG&E is running several pilot programmes to demonstrate different technologies and use cases, some of which include smart inverters on their own and some thatinclude smart inverters paired with batteries. SolarCity is to take part in both versions of the project, by providing smart inverters paired with solar PV, as well as smart inverters paired with batteries.
Smart inverters — either paired only with solar, or paired with solar and batteries — offer a host of grid benefits, including improving power quality, supporting voltage regulation needs, providing reactive power support, reducing line losses, and enabling dynamic control of PV generation output. “By deploying smart inverters along with solar PV, this project will offer services that would otherwise have been performed by traditional grid investments,” says SolarCity’s Ryan Hanley, vice president of grid engineering solutions at SolarCity. Energy storage systems paired with smart inverters offer all the benefits of smart inverters, but with additional capabilities enabled by the battery. Battery storage systems can provide services such as peak shaving, dynamic capacity, spinning reserves, frequency regulation, and frequency response. They can be dispatched almost instantaneously to provide additional power when it’s needed most, whereas traditional generators often take between 20 and 60 minutes to respond to grid operator control signals. “By installing smart inverters and home batteries together, pilot participants will be able to provide a wider
BATTERIES AS VIRTUAL POWER PLANTS
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range of services to the grid,â€? says Hanley. A virtual power plant is not anasset that a utility owns and operates in the traditional sense, so there have to be some adaptations to how such platforms are connected to the grid, to respond to the utilityâ€™s commands without actually being controlled by the utility. SolarCity â€”Â soon to become part of Tesla after a sale price of $2.6 billion has apparently been agreed â€” is providing PG&E with two ways to control its virtual power plant of aggregated smart inverters through its Grid Logic software control platform.Â
Hanley says: â€œThe first control method is directly through the Grid Logic user interface, which SolarCity offers to utilities and grid operators to control the portfolio of distributed energy resources. â€œThrough the Grid Logic interface, utilities can control both the individual smart inverter or battery assets in the pilot, as well as aggregate and control the entire portfolio as a fleet.
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The second control method is through integration with a utility Distributed & Energy Resource Management System jbicorp.com (DERMS) platform.â€? In this project, SolarCityâ€™s software will be integrated with General Elec& tricâ€™s DERMS platform. â€œPG&E will issue controls that are then passed through SolarCityâ€™s Grid Logic software controls, to control the smart inverters and battery management systems,â€? says Hanley. Once control through Grid Logic and DERMS is established, PG&E and SolarCity will demonstrate the ability of the asset portfolio to carry out several technical use cases. These include
ties and grid operators. Hanley says: â€œOur products are 22325 W. 51it might cost to available forSt. lessRt. than Genoa, Ohio 43430 USA from fosbuild traditional generation firstname.lastname@example.org fuel plants or T&D infrastructure investments. Grid needs that can be addressed include peak demand shav(419) 855-3389/p ing, voltage and reactive power sup(419) 855-3226/f port, frequency regulation, and grid situational intelligence.
Batteries International â€˘ 100th Edition â€˘ 2016 â€˘ 159
BATTERIES AS VIRTUAL POWER PLANTS “Hawaii — a petri dish of problems that larger, more resilient, usually mainland grids will come to face in future.”
“On the islands, which are really a group of separate microgrids, these problems have occurred in a short amount of time.”
including demand response, and voltage response/optimization applications. In its partnership with Sonnen, Enbala is able to overlay its distributed energy control and aggregation software over Sonnen’s energy storage technology. The partnership will allow utilities and energy companies, including third party energy service providers, to control and manage solar-plus-storage resources as virtual power plants to provide grid ancillary services. Sonnen is not the first provider of meter-level energy storage systems using Enbala’s software. It is also used by two other energy storage system providers, which are active in the commercial and industrial segment but which prefer not to publicize that they use the company’s software technology.
Customer base “These frequently use distributed energy resources, such as smart solar connected inverters, or batteries, that are already deployed, and so are available to utilities at a discount to traditional investments needed to meet these needs.” Given the company’s integrated product offering, large customer base, operational scale, and full-service support, SolarCity is in a strong position as an energy services provider for utilities and grid operators. “The company’s Grid Logic platform comes pre-integrated with the systems it installs. As the number one residential solar provider in America, we already have an extensive customer base and can rapidly deploy new distributed energy resource portfolios across the country,” says Hanley. Germany-headquartered Sonnen is working with several utilities, spanning cooperatives, municipal utilities as well as investor-owned utilities that will be piloting its systems to see how they perform aggregated as virtual power plants. These will be an-
nounced later this year. Recently Sonnen partnered with Enbala Networks, a vendor of aggregation software, which is looking to integrate distributed energy storage systems into its platform and take this offering to utilities.
Third party software
“From a utility’s perspective they don’t want a Sonnen software platform as well as various other platforms to manage,” says Boris von Bormann, chief executive of US subsidiary Sonnen Inc. “They want to manage these units in the same way, which means that third party software providers, independent of storage system manufacturers, will be important.” Enbala was set up seven years ago, initially to design software for manipulating energy loads for purposes of frequency regulation for PJM Interconnection and continues to manage 10MW of aggregated loads for PJM. When Enbala’s chief executive Bud Vos joined, the company began extending the software into other areas,
As well as trialling various different types of distributed energy resources, such as solarplus-storage systems connected to advanced software control platforms, the virtual power plant pilots taking place will help inform new policy and regulation. 160 • Batteries International • 100th Edition • 2016
Enbala’s customers include utilities, grid operators and energy service providers, mainly in North America. Vos says: “We teamed up after Sonnen could see that unlike the grid system in Germany, which is unified, the system in the US is very different across the various states.” In the US Sonnen wants to focus on improving its storage system technology, including the behind the meter energy management system controls side, which addresses how its systems interact with the rooftop solar PV system as well as the different loads in the house or the building. The partnership allows Sonnen to focus on expanding its distribution network with installers while Enbala can target utilities and grid operators. Regional markets that the partnership will focus on include Hawaii, California and Texas. As well as trialling various different types of distributed energy resources, such as solar-plus-storage systems connected to advanced software control platforms, the virtual power plant pilots taking place will help inform new policy and regulation. This is critical if utilities are to be able to adapt what their role is going to be in future — how they continue, fundamentally, to manage the grid and maintain a good quality of service, affordably, but not doing it the traditional way of building as many power stations as possible or expanding the grid network via conventional means of installing new cables, wires and transformers.
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BATTERIES AS VIRTUAL POWER PLANTS
The REV initiative — the ‘reforming energy vision’ of New York State — has a pilot that may serve as the first steps in creating a template for the future.
New York pilots solar-plus-storage VPP Sunverge is another end-to-end energy storage provider that has invested in a platform for networking and aggregating its energy storage systems together. The company has partnered with several utilities on pilots in the US as well as in New Zealand and Australia. As part of New York’s Reforming Energy Vision (REV), this June New
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York utility Con Edison, US solar module maker and installer Sunpower and Sunverge announced a $15 million pilot, the largest to deploy residential solar-plus-storage systems. In this, 300 homes in Brooklyn and Queens will have solar panels leased from Sunpower and energy storage systems from Sunverge installed and connected. These will be aggregated
together to operate as a virtual power plant to test various applications, including peak shaving, capacity markets and transmission and distribution deferral. Con Edison will own the energy storage systems. One of REV’s goals is for New York to reach a target of 50% renewable energy by 2030. To do so, Con Edison
BATTERIES AS VIRTUAL POWER PLANTS has been trying to understand how it can incentivize adoption of rooftop solar by customers and how the utility itself can deploy the technology for distribution grid expansion deferral. In New York State, Con Edison is second after National Grid in terms of installed solar PV capacity. Nearly 10,000 of Con Edison’s customers have had rooftop solar installed, totalling 115MW, and the utility receives about 4,000 applications a year. It’s not much compared with a typical Californian investor-owned utility, which might have more than 100,000 solar customers amounting to several hundred megawatts of installed capacity, and which could be dealing with thousands of applications every month. “Solar-plus-storage in load pockets that can be reliably dispatched could eliminate or offset the need for additional T&D equipment, which results in bill savings for all customers,” says Griffin Reilly, an engineer leading the project at Con Edison. “Eventually, if many solar-plus-storage systems are dispatched when needed, they could offset the need to run a more carbon costly peaking unit that’s on the bulk transmission system.” All participants in the pilot will be new solar customers and single family households.
The implementation plan for the pilot is happening in three phases. The deadline is to have all 300 systems installed and operational by the end of 2017. As soon as the first solar-plusstorage system is installed and connected, Con Edison will begin testing the system’s capability as a dispatch tool, using Sunverge’s platform. The first phase began on July 18 with Sunpower, which has the role of an energy services provider in the pilot, promoting offers to customers for integrated solar-plus-storage systems through the value proposition of resiliency services. Though outage rates have been declining as a result of Con Edison’s storm hardening investments, there are still customers that want the extra peace of mind that they will have power in the event the grid does go down. Usually these customers buy a back-up generator. Reilly says: “Solar-plus-storage will be cheaper than most backup generators, in this programme, and will provide power automatically with no interruption and without the need to
“The goal is for this programme to become the new normal, by allowing the battery systems to be used and partially paid for by the grid, which lowers the cost for resiliency for individual homeowners.” refill a gas tank. This is an attractive offering for customers. “The goal is for this programme to become the new normal, by allowing the battery systems to be used and partially paid for by the grid, which lowers the cost for resiliency for the individual homeowners.” Sunpower is doing the marketing, customer acquisition, permitting, installation and O&M for all systems in the virtual power plant pilot, which is to run through to the end of 2018. Phase one will test customers’ willingness to pay for resiliency and the knowledge created during the phase will inform Sunpower on how to finance, or offset, the cost of energy storage deployment. In addition to understanding what revenues can be made from resiliency payments the pilot will also enable Sunpower to understand what it can earn from dispatch payments using a virtual power plant based on solarplus-storage units. Sunpower will retain all resiliency payments during the pilot and in exchange for that right it is lowering the total cost of the project that Con Edison is paying from the start. This way it shares the risk of what the total payments might be and a range of prices are being tested. The second phase will demonstrate system control. Sunverge’s virtual power plant software will not run in Con Edison’s control centres. The utility is creating a communication bridge that will allow its own control software to speak with Sunverge, which operates the energy storage systems, either independently or in aggregate, and will evaluate their performance under a variety of different scenarios. Work is under way to create a connection between Con Edison’s control environment and Sunverge’s. The operator screens are being built in-house by Con Edison’s supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) engineers. “Ultimately the goal is to be able to send commands and receive data from our one control platform to multiple third party platforms. This is the first of such connections,” says Reilly.
Connecting to Sunverge’s hub means creating a standard in terms of how Con Edison talks to that hub. “We send out the instructions, such as we want 150 units deployed in the day ahead market, and the hub takes the instruction and acts accordingly, communicating it to the units in the virtual power plant. Our SCADA is not controlling individual units but Sunverge’s system will execute the commands,” says Reilly.
Standardizing that communication and way of connecting with third parties will be important since Con Edison wants it to be a flexible platform, potentially connecting with demand response loads as well. “We have systems that give automatic notices to our demand response participants but the project with Sunpower and Sunverge will be a first for creating this bridge communication. However, we are several years away from a single platform that controls all distributed and demand response loads and energy resources,” Reilly says.
“Solar-plus-storage in load pockets that can be reliably dispatched could eliminate or offset the need for additional T&D equipment, which results in bill savings for all customers.” — Griffin Reilly Batteries International • 100th Edition • 2016 • 163
30 years serving the industry from our New york office
BATTERIES AS VIRTUAL POWER PLANTS “With the Sunverge control platform, utilities can use the battery energy storage system to its full extent and it can be counted on as an integral part of the distribution system.” — Ken Munson, Sunverge The third phase of the pilot is to test market participation and rate design. Con Edison will investigate and test methods for optimizing dispatch, since no process exists to do so. This requires dispatching the solar-plusstorage systems on the grid, without actually participating in the market. As more of the 300 units come online, the utility will have a greater understanding of how they work as a virtual power plant asset. If the systems are deployed in the capacity market and have to provide 4MW of capacity over four hours, it will allow Con Edison to see how to value firm capacity of 100 units as an example and see how many units will be needed to meet the minimum output threshold.
Testing for size
Con Edison will also evaluate the various existing market opportunities to monetize the wholesale market benefits of the virtual power plant for services other than capacity, such as for frequency regulation and reserves, in a similar manner, by seeing how many units will be required. Under REV, extensive regulatory reforms are reshaping the state’s electricity industry and the business practices of utilities. This is to enable entities such as Con Edison to engage the ser-
“Regardless of ownership, we believe all stakeholders derive the greatest value when the units are controlled by the utility.” www.batteriesinternational.com
vices of third party service providers. The third and final phase of the pilot with Sunpower and Sunverge will identify future opportunities to capture value that evolves over time through REV’s Track Two process. REV is split into three tracks. “The first is about defining a distributed system platform provider, the role that Con Edison is taking on. Track Two is about how these entities will be regulated and incentivized and the third track is about large-scale renewables and meeting the ‘50 by 30’ clean energy standard goals, so the regulatory framework of Track Two may yield distribution markets that do not exist today,” says Reilly. In addition, alternative residential rate design use cases, as well as dispatch options, will be explored in the final phase of the pilot to examine optimal use of the solar-plus-storage systems for each use case. “Two use cases considered in our filing are residential demand charges and time of use rates. If we dispatch the units for time of use, they will use as little energy from the grid as possible during the highest cost hours. We can show how the units performed, and what the energy cost savings would be through shadow billing. This could be enough to incentivize solar-plusstorage directly through customer bill savings, rather than through market participation,” he says. Time of use would also offset peak demand, leading to transmission and distribution (T&D) savings for all. “We’re looking at all the ways a residential battery could potentially recover the stacked value within to bring them to this technology faster,” says Reilly.
Ultimately Con Edison does not want to be involved in owning solarplus-storage units, even though it owns the storage assets for the purposes of the pilot. Ken Munson, chief executive of Sunverge, says: “Regardless of ownership, we believe all stakeholders derive the greatest value when the units are controlled by the utility.” Traditional tariff-based systems only address one value stream, like peak load reduction as an example, and are often discounted by the utility in integrated resource planning because the utilities have limited visibility into system availability and performance. “With the Sunverge control platform, utilities can use the battery energy storage system to its full extent and it can be counted on as an integral part of the distribution system. That is what Con Edison is focused on achieving,” says Munson.
Testing best cases
The pilot will allow Con Edison to develop and test a wide range of use cases that informs it on how best to work with third party owners while maintaining direct control over the systems. “This is similar to the methods the New York Independent Service Operator (NYISO) uses to control large generating plants,” Munson says. “In future, we would pay for the third party to control distributed energy resources in a way we designate, and that designation would come through an automatic control system we would have to set up, similar to what we are doing with the SCADA bridge to Sunverge. That’s why we are doing that, to test and learn for future connections,” says Reilly. Looking ahead, Munson says: “We see the market taking shape through our services being offered directly to utilities and through third-party market participants such as large solar distributors. “Sunpower provides valuable expertise in customer acquisition, solar finance, post-sales support and O&M for utility clients. “In the future, we’ll likely partner with enterprise software providers such as energy trading and risk management, advanced distribution management systems, energy management systems, and distributed energy resource management systems vendors, as well as downstream hardware integrators that bring battery and inverter systems to market.”
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THE INS AND OUTS OF A VIRTUAL POWER PLANT “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts” may be a cliché — but it is apt for describing the principle of virtual power plants.
As more and more rooftop solar PV is built and connected to the grid, utilities are coming under immense pressure to maintain grid infrastructure and quality of supply, provide good levels of service and continue to expand the network’s generation and supply infrastructure as electricity demand rises, especially peak demand. Virtual power plant technology turns rooftop solar and other types of distributed assets from the problem into the solution. While networking and aggregating smart inverters connecting rooftop solar PV systems to the grid can provide grid support, such as voltage regulation and reactive power support, connecting solarplus-storage systems can benefit the individual customer and provide unique grid benefits, such as peak shaving, frequency response and spinning reserves. As these fleets expand, utilities can defer costly expansion works, be it new distribution equipment or even peaking plants. Everyone
benefits, from the energy customer at the ends of the grid to utilities and operators, as investment in expanding the grid can be administered more cost-effectively. Like conventional generation plants, a virtual power plant is always on and always available but is much more efficient and cleaner, as well as being less expensive. The hardware in virtual power plants, such as solar PV, smart inverters, batteries, even loads — appliances and devices that use electricity such as heating and air conditioning units in demand response initiatives — are brought to life using advanced software, automatically dispatching and optimizing these hardware units that are linked to the wholesale power markets. Elements needed for a virtual power plant include connectivity between the platform running the virtual power plant and the customer sites as well as computing power close to the devices being controlled, according to virtual
power plant software vendor Enbala Networks. With Enbala’s Symphony platform, the field devices are distributed computing nodes that interface with distributed energy resources, like solar-plus-storage systems, to optimize routines and relay information to the platform’s server. The server consists of three software components that serve different functions. One handles forecasting and optimization, another manages the distributed energy resources, and a third handles resource control and dispatch for energy market interface and interaction. This market interaction is how virtual power plants derive their value. By providing a comprehensive interface to grid operations and market systems, a virtual power plant opens up the means to incentivize customers to take part in the programme and generate revenues from market participation. Virtual power plant technology should include, according to Enbala: • A dynamic bidding and market interface that can provide market bids, forecasts and operational network information • Evaluation of all available market opportunities and grid service requirements for the network • Real-time measurement, verification and evaluation capabilities • Support for web service interfaces Cutting-edge virtual power plant software can deal with a mix of demand response loads and distributed energy resources of different sizes and descriptions. The technology needs to be robust and rapid enough to accommodate customer constraints. The system understands the flexibility and ramping characteristics of each distributed energy resource or demand response load and dispatches them within customerdefined constraints as needed.
Navigant Research forecasts a fivefold increase in virtual power plant capacity by 2023 With major utilities such as Con Edison in New York and Pacific Gas & Electric in California working with emerging energy service providers, like solar installers, software vendors and energy storage technology suppliers to deploy the various technological components that make up virtual power plants, the prediction seems realistic and will help transform grids in the coming years.
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EVENT REVIEW: EUROBAT EVENT REVIEW: EUROBAT June 16-17, 2016 • Berlin, Germany
REACH authorization the focus for latest EUROBAT AGM and forum What is there to dislike about the annual EUROBAT forum? The simple answer is nothing. The format is straightforward, short and designed to be concise — unlike most conferences nowadays, which seem to be keen to sneak in an extra day. On the Thursday afternoon, EUROBAT members listen to presentations on what the organization has been doing and vote on issues such as financing approvals for the following year. Since almost all of the discussions have been well thought out in advance — EUROBAT is probably the most efficient trade organization that this correspondent has come across — the voting is rarely contentious but the rubber-stamping is useful as a record. In the evening, a gala dinner brings the EUROBAT members together in a suitably interesting spot — this year’s conference was held in Berlin and the dinner and pre-evening drinks were held at the Classic Remise Museum, a centre for vintage cars. It was an appropriate spot — given the full title of EUROBAT is the Association of European Automotive and Industrial Battery Manufacturers — but also a fun one, where it is possible to wander round with a glass of champagne and look at 1930s touring cars. The following morning the regular format consists of a series of presentations and group discussions. But the topics are always worthy of mention, as were this year’s discussions — particularly those on the complexity and progress of the REACH authorization process and its impact on the European battery sector. Karsten Kurz from Exide Technologies and the chair of EUROBAT’s Committee on Environmental Matters explained why the REACH process would represent a disproportionate burden for the EU battery industry. Lead compounds for the use in batteries are well regulated under existing EU and national laws, while the REACH authorization process is a costly process that would not apply to imported batteries. There are no alternatives to the use
of the lead compounds in the manufacture of batteries and there are no exposure risks for consumers. EUROBAT and its global partners are conducting successful occupational exposure reduction programmes to ensure the health of European workers. Martin Wieske, occupational health and safety, chemical policy, German non-Ferrous Metals Association (WVM), remarked that occupational exposure limits for metals pay back and should continue. The cross industry initiative linking REACH and OSH legislation comes at the right time. Perhaps the highlight of the first session was the round-up of work achieved and work to come by Steve Binks, the regulatory affairs director of the ILA. He illustrated in detail the costs of the REACH authorization process but was also unafraid of admitting that despite everyone’s best efforts, REACH was still percolating through the EU admin process. One highly interesting part of his presentation showed the voting rights of the 29 EU members. “We are now reaching a critical point in the REACH authorization process for the four lead compounds that are essential for the manufacture of lead based batteries in Europe,” he said, “with a decision recommending prioritizing these substances expected to be delivered by the European Chemicals Agency to the European Commission in October. “We still believe that authorization under REACH is not a proportionate regulatory action given the extensive existing legislation available to control the risks of using lead. REACH authorization would not impact on imports of lead batteries and may therefore significantly undermine the competitiveness of the European battery industry without delivering any additional benefit in control of risk to human health.” Binks said the case for exemption of battery use of lead compounds had four elements to it. • The use is restricted to the manufacturing of lead-based batteries as all
four compounds are transformed into other substances during the manufacturing process such that only trace amounts (<0.1%) are present in the finished battery (which is in any case a sealed unit and operates in a closed loop) • This existing workplace legislation provides binding and enforceable requirements for the control of risks from industrial use of lead in battery manufacturing. In having a binding occupational exposure and biological limit for lead and lead compounds, supported by additional measures such as medical surveillance, Council Directive 98/24/EC ensures that harmonized EU-wide standards constitute minimum requirements relating to the protection of health • Employee health surveillance (in the form of routine blood lead measurements) demonstrates the effectiveness of the measures already in place under the existing EU workplace legislation in controlling the risk to human health • Provisions already exist in both the EU ELV and Battery Directives to encourage substitution of heavy metals (including lead) in batteries where technically feasible. The second session focused on the services from battery energy storage and their role in Europe’s energy framework. The session was opened by a keynote speech from Henrik Dam, DG Energy, who discussed the importance of batteries in the framework of the Energy Union package. The European Commission is working on the SET Plan with the objective of becoming competitive in the global battery sector: to do so, the EU needs a Research & Innovation strategy for all types of batteries, including energy storage and e-mobility. The third panel discussed the contribution of batteries to the decarbonisation of road transport in smart cities. Next EUROBAT AGM and Forum is June 8-9 in Brussels, Belgium.
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FORTHCOMING EVENTS 2016 Energy Storage, North America
San Diego, California, USA October 4-6 Energy Storage North America is North America’s largest energy storage conference and exhibition, recognized and recommended for its focus on projects, customers, and deal-making. More than 2,000 attendees from dozens of countries will come together to learn, strategize, network, and ultimately shape this fastgrowing market. The theme this year is Building the Ecosystem for Cost Effective Applications of Energy Storage in North America Contact Daniela Knoll E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: +1 312 621-5838
CIREC Week — Building Chile’s 21st Century Energy System Santiago, Chile October 17-20 CIREC WEEK is back! From October 17-20, over 600 senior level attendees will come together at Casa Piedra- Santiago, Chile, all with the aim of driving the marketplace forward. CIREC has been design to provide you with the best insights into coping with an evolving market, while offering the knowledge and a platform to build business relationships and make effective commercial decisions for future project development. Contact +44 20 7099 0600 www.greenpowerglobal.com
INTELEC 2016 Austin, Texas, USA October 23-27 INTELEC has an extensive 35-year history in the field of power and energy in the communications industry and is a unique source of technical information. It is an annual conference which examines and analyzes the latest developments in communications energy systems and related power processing devices and circuits. Technical papers provide results of research and new developments in power electronics and communications power systems. Topics include DC power plants, powering architectures, AC systems, DC-DC converters, batteries, grounding, physical and thermal design, alternative power, such as solar, wind, fuel cells, turbine and diesel engine generators, and building and equipment cooling systems. Contact Tel: +1 512 343 2626 www.intelec2016.org
168 • Batteries International • 100th Edition • 2016
Birmingham, UK • October 18-20 Energy 2016 is back for its second year at the Birmingham NEC as part of UK Construction Week. Already backed by leading industry bodies such as the REA (Renewable Energy Association), the STA (Solar Trade Association), BPVA (British Photovoltaic Association), the EMA (Energy Managers Association), the Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA) and many more, Energy 2016 will unite key business players in renewables, innovation and power generation. Bringing together engineers, project and energy managers, developers, architects and academics, the show will be the perfect platform to showcase new solutions, meet new contacts and learn new skills. Energy 2016 supporter, REA will shape the majority of the show’s educational content and host three halfday conferences in a purpose built seminar theatre. The talks will uncover recent developments within energy storage and focus the other half day on renewable energy for the built environment. As the organization that has promoted sustainable energy usage and highlighted key improvements to the capacity market, the REA is a leading voice in the renewables conversation. The conferences will provide essential information to help the sector work together and pre-empt future difficulties. Energy 2016 will now span two halls of the NEC and play host to several feature areas. Central to the space will be the Energy Hub, a dynamic platform for the show’s comprehensive seminar content. Incorporating a mix of live debates, CPD seminars, keynote speeches and workshops, the Energy Hub content will address the core issues in the industry today
as well as give insight into the latest regulations, policies and technologies. Another area that is certain to garner attention will be the central bar, which will be lit up by Pavegen’s innovative solar flooring. This technology converts energy from footsteps into renewable electricity and is integrated into the tiles discreetly. Energy 2016 will also host a VIP lounge bringing a string of high profile buyers and visitors to the show. The Energy 2016 VIP section will be located within the show’s footprint offering exhibitors the unique opportunity to interact with some of the biggest players in the industry. Nathan Garnett, events director at Media 10 – the organisers of Energy 2016 and UK Construction Week, said: “The energy sector is one of the most important and dynamic industries in the UK. Especially with REA’s involvement this year with three workshops on energy storage, this show can play a key role in the development of a greener, smarter and more efficient Britain.” Some of the exhibitors already signed up to the show include utility provider Scottish Power, global renewable energy provider RES Ltd, energy storage pioneers Cumulus Energy Storage and smart flooring experts Pavegen. Energy 2016 is free to attend and is part of UK Construction Week.. UKCW consists of nine shows under one roof, Timber Expo, Build Show, Civils Expo, Plant & Machinery Live, Energy 2016, Smart Buildings 2016, Surface & Materials Show, HVAC 2016 and Grand Designs Live. Contact Marlon Cera-Marle Tel: +44 203 225 5299 Email: email@example.com
FORTHCOMING EVENTS 2016 BIREC
São Paulo, Brazil November 7-10 Seizing the opportunity and overcoming challenges in Brazil’s high-risk highreward renewable energy sector: higher returns, more investment and optimised project development. BIREC is the must-attend event for domestic and international decision makers looking to develop, grow and succeed in the Brazilian wind and solar energy markets. Contact Tel: +44 20 7099 0600 www.greenpowerglobal.com
Energy Storage Summit, Japan Tokyo, Japan November 8-9
Mumbai, India • October 19-21 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. In conjunction with Intersolar India, it is the country’s largest exhibition and conference for the solar industry. It takes place annually at the Bombay
Capture 2016 Milton Keynes, England November 1 Capture 2016 will address the role for energy storage in the new energy infrastructure and consider the latest developments, strategies and opportunities within UK energy storage. Through a combination of conference discussions and networking the event will provide a platform for stakeholders to discuss key debates and accelerate growth within the UK energy storage industry. The conference will address the current status of the industry and provide a strategic overview of the development needed to enable energy storage technology to flourish in the UK. Capture 2016 will also feature a break-out exhibition showcasing the latest technologies and solutions from across the energy storage industry. The exhibition will also host networking throughout the course of the day, bringing together government officials, project developers, operators, utilities and investors
Exhibition Centre in Mumbai. The event’s exhibition and conference both focus on the areas of photovoltaics, PV production technologies, energy storage and solar thermal technologies. In 2015, 200 international exhibitors and around 11,000 visitors attended Intersolar India. Some 100 speakers and about 680 attendees discussed current industry topics and shed light on the conditions surrounding technological, market and political developments at the accompanying conference. Contact Tel: +49 7231 58598 0 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.intersolar.in with manufacturers and system providers. For more information on attending, exhibiting or sponsoring please get in touch with Eric Lewis, Sales at Charles Maxwell Ltd. Contact Tel: +44 151 230 2106 Email: email@example.com www.captureenergystorage.com
To achieve low-carbon, sustainable societies, the production and storage of renewable energies is a subject which is of concern to scientists, politicians, and businesses all over the world. It is for this reason that Messe Düsseldorf Japan will hold the 3rd Energy Storage Summit Japan, an international conference and expo on November 8-9, 2016, at Belle Salle Shibuya First in Tokyo. The Energy Storage Summit Japan 2016 brings — again — together leading international company representatives, policymakers and scientists from Europe, the US, India and China with their Japanese counterparts. They will discusse energy market deregulation and explore business opportunities this presents for Japan. Additional topics cover energy storage applications like e-mobility, residential and industrial batteries, hydrogen storage, thermal storage, and solutions for renewable energy integration, smart grid, micro grid, off grid and decentralized energy supply, as well as the cost efficiency and bankability of energy storage solutions. Contact Tel.: +81 3 52 10 99 51 Fax: +81 3 52 10 99 59 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org https://essj.messe-dus.co.jp/jp/energystorage-summit-japan
Batteries International • 100th Edition • 2016 • 169
April 4 - 6, 2017 Sindelfingen, Stuttgart, Germany Europe’s exhibition and conference for advanced battery manufacturing and technology
3,000+ 200+ visitors expected
80+ exhibitors already confirmed!
“The Battery Show has become the must-attend event for the industry and we recognize the EU is a gateway to the Asian markets” Jeff Norris, CEO, Paraclete Energy
Save the date for our sister show
Industry sectors • • • • • • •
Battery/Cell manufacturers Automotive Engineering Utilities Power tools Manufacturers Materials
Sept 12-14, 2017 Novi Michigan, USA
Book your stand today Contact Steve Bryan
email@example.com + 44 (0) 1273 916 316
FORTHCOMING EVENTS 2016 Solar Asset Management Europe 2016
IranREC 2016: Iran Renewable Energy Congress Tehran, Iran December 4-8
Milan, Italy • November 9-10 Solar Asset Management is Solarplaza’s flagship event and widely considered as Europe’s leading conference dedicated to optimization of the operational phase of PV plants and portfolios For the third year in a row, Solar Asset Management Europe will bring together the leading investors, owners and service providers in the European PV industry. The event provides an unparalleled networking opportunity, as well as the best way to learn about innovations and best practices for optimizing performance, management and financial returns of PV assets. This must-attend event is fully ded-
icated to the operational phase of PV assets. It will contain: • 400+ attendees, representing the value chain from service provider to asset manager and investors • 50+ leading experts on stage sharing their vision, expertise and experience • 30+ sponsors and exhibitors profiling themselves and their leading products/services Contact Stefano Cruccu Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Shushan Khachatryan Email: email@example.com
Iran Renewable Energy Congress 2016 (IranREC 2016) is designed to help you access the Iranian renewable energy sector. A need for greater energy security, falling global oil and gas prices and rising domestic power demand has led to a committed focus on renewable energy development in Iran. The Iranian government and policy makers have set an ambitious renewable energy target of 5GW by 2020. Following the sanctions relief coming into effect and Iran re-entering the international trade and financial markets now is the time to coordinate your strategy for this new renewables market. Our high quality, content lead programme will provide in-depth analysis of the prospects in the Iranian renewables space and highlight best practice in project development and financing. IranREC 2016 is truly the first and only event dedicated to bringing the international and domestic communities together to discuss the critical challenges and issues facing Iran’s clean energy sector, backed up by the expertise you need to navigate the business landscape and the government figures that will be driving the reform. IranREC 2016 is not a trade show and is not open to the general public. This will be reflected in the levels of senior decision-makers and budget holders who will attend. Don’t miss this chance to capitalise on the country’s growing commitment to green energy – 5GW of electricity from renewable sources by 2020! Contact Tel: +44 20 7099 0600
Batteries International • 100th Edition • 2016 • 171
FORTHCOMING EVENTS 2016 US Energy Storage Summit 2016 San Francisco, USA December 7-8 Now in its second year, the US Energy Storage Summit — organized by the Energy Storage Association — will bring together utilities, financiers, regulators, technology innovators, and storage practitioners for two full days of data-intensive presentations, analyst-led panel sessions with industry leaders, and extensive highlevel networking. We will kick-off the event with an overview of the current energy storage market on both sides of the meter, examining utility strategies, policies, and market designs. On Day 2, we’ll take a closer look at emerging technologies, business models and financing strategies. Contact Tel: +1 202 293-0537 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Powergeneration Week Orlando, Florida, USA December 11-15 As the world’s largest power generation event, boasting 20,000 attendees and over 1,400 exhibitors from around the world, Power Generation Week is designed to connect key suppliers and service providers with influential decision makers in the domestic and international power sector. Attendees and exhibitors can take advantage of attending an event that truly covers every aspect of the power generation industry. Over 300 industry experts will present new solutions and innovations for the future in 70+ conference sessions offering full conference attendees a chance to earn 10 PDH credit hours. Contact Tel: +1 888 299-8016 Tel: +1 918 831-9160
Energy Storage, India 2017 Mumbai, India January 11-13, 2017 Deliberations at Energy Storage India 2016 demonstrated a wider consensus that energy storage is the game changing technology that will help India leapfrog its energy infrastructure within the next decade. Leading ESS companies of the world – AES & Panasonic unveiled huge interest in the Indian market with their participation at Energy Storage India 2015. There are exciting times ahead for energy storage in India! The 2016 conference attracted 720 delegates from 16+ countries. 80+ speakers shared their knowledge and
172 • Batteries International • 100th Edition • 2016
views with the participants leaving a prominent image of the show. ESI yet again proved to be the largest and finest gathering ever held in India showcasing the niche topics and discussions.
Contact Ms Shradha Malik E-mail: email@example.com Tel: +91 11 4855 0059 Cell: +91-9871192345 www.esiexpo.in www.md-india.com
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Energy Storage Journal is always eager to hear market comment. So much so, we’ve dedicated two areas of the magazine just for you to tell it as it is. The first is our section called COMMENT — which rather says it all. Here give us your views about what our industry is doing well (or badly) or just needs to open a discussion, this is where to air your views.
The second is called CONFERENCE IN PRINT. Here we’re looking for scholarly articles looking at the nuts and bolts of what we do. We’re looking for technical papers that can explain advances in chemistry or technology.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Disclaimer: Our editorial board necessarily vets every article that we print and will impartially approve pieces that it believes will be interesting and supportive of the energy storage industry and related products. Articles submitted should not be marketing pieces.
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Batteries International • 100th Edition • 2016 • 173
ELECTRICAL ENERGY STORAGE (EES) | EUROPE
ees Europe — Europe‘s largest exhibition for one of the fastest-growing markets Charging the future Innovative storage solutions form the basis of a sustainable power supply from renewable sources. They decouple power generation from consumption and make an intelligent and sustainable energy system possible – from the stabilization of power grids through to e-mobility. From May 31–June 2, 2017, ees Europe, the continent’s largest and most visited exhibition for batteries and energy storage systems, will create a professional platform for manufacturers, suppliers,
distributors, research institutes and users of stationary and mobile storage solutions for electrical energy – along the entire value chain of battery and energy storage technologies. ees Europe grows by 40% Even after the great success of 2015, ees Europe recorded substantial growth again in 2016. The exhibition space expanded by more than 40% to over 12,000 sqm, and
EXHIBITION SPACE AT EES EUROPE (GROSS, IN SQM)
An exhibition space of 17.500 sqm and around 270 exhibitors are expected at ees Europe 2017
ENERGY STORAGE EXHIBITORS AT EES EUROPE
Quick facts: 2017 exhibition data Dates
May 31-June 2, 2017
9:00am-6:00pm | Wednesday, May 31, 2017 9:00am-6:00pm | Thursday, June 1, 2017 9:00am-5:00pm | Friday, June 2, 2017
Messe München 81823 Munich, Germany Hall B1-B2
Exhibitors 430 (expected, including energy storage exhibitors of Intersolar Europe) Visitors
212 battery and energy storage manufacturers showcased their products and services at ees Europe – an increase of 35% from the previous year. Together with Intersolar Europe, which takes place at the same time, an impressive 369 of the total 1,077 exhibitors presented innovative energy storage services, products and solutions. And the success story continues: An exhibition space of 17.500 sqm and around 270 exhibitors are expected at ees Europe 2017.
40,000+ (expected total number of ees and Intersolar Europe visitors)
ELECTRICAL ENERGY STORAGE (EES) | EUROPE
Packed halls, excitement and a dynamic atmosphere: ees and Intersolar Europe 2016 A fantastic atmosphere and perfect solar-weather: Together with the parallel event Intersolar Europe, ees Europe sent the market a positive signal. Even in the run up, both exhibitions were already seeing considerable success, with exhibition space booked out two months in advance.
The two exhibitions greeted over 44,000 visitors from 160 nations over 66,000 sqm. Again it proved to be a must-attend event for those driving forward the energy storage industry, smart renewable energy supply and sustainable mobility solutions.
it proved to be a mustattend event for those driving forward the energy storage industry
d r o w t s a l e Th
Wedding of the century for Alena and Alessandro
And so to St Petersburg, Russia and the opulent, moated Castle Bip, where the wedding of the year — more like wedding of the century — between Alena Bog and Alessandro Fossemo was held. The couple, from Sovema Global, are both well known and hugely liked by the battery industry. “As weddings go this was quite simply the best ever. The bride looked stunning and the handsome, and very lucky, groom made the perfect couple,” said Karen Hampton, publisher of Batteries International. There was a cacophony of languages — reflecting the select nature of the Russian, Italian and English-speaking guests. A harpist played the couple into the little chapel where solemn vows were taken and the groom made a decent stab of answering in Russian — Da! he said. “It was traditionally Russian and Italian, and as with tradition, everyone cried. No, not me, I just had
something in my eye,” she said. Then followed a nine-course meal which was presented over the whole evening and an endless glass of wine accompaniment. In between each course came such varied entertainment as Cossack dancers, opera singers, a Russian gypsy quartet and even a real dancing bear. There is a Russian tradition which says the happy couple have to eat from some traditional bread and whoever manages to take the biggest bite is then thought to rule the marriage – we are checking photographic evidence as we go to press, and the solemnity of the outcome cannot be overstated. “This is an event that I will never forget, the couple gave their guests a memory to treasure — which I will — forever. To the happy couple, Alena and Alessandro and from this guest, I’m looking forward to our anniversary next year in Italy!”
Mystery rapper silences BCI convention Scene: A noisy dualling piano bar in San Antonio, Texas. The time 11pm. A crowd of burly battery folk from the north-eastern bit of North America are solidly drinking beers and toasting the health of Mark Thorsby, BCI head. “Great speech today,” they say. “His best ever. Less than a minute. If they could only make the presentations the same length.” Suddenly one of their number leaps up on to a stool. The bar falls silent but the pianos play on as the Anonymous Batteryman gives a rendition of the world-famous Doug E Fresh rap. Word perfect too. The crowd go wild but the Anonymous Batteryman, known only as ‘Rapper T from the East’, slips silently out into the night.
176 • Batteries International • 100th Edition • 2016
Mike Mayer walks away from crash The indefatigable Mike Mayer — known to generations of battery engineers as the Fixer — leapt out of the wreck of his car in August near Chobham after an unfortunate traffic incident. “Don’t worry about me,” the highbrow Mike told this magazine. “I’m alright, I just need to adjust the alternator timing on the clutch belt’s dynamo gizmo — you know the one that controls the wheel flange arches — and I’ll soon be heading home. “Talking of heading home, time to defreeze some chocolate with my new green environmentally friendly technique.” www.batteriesinternational.com
THE NEWEST ROTARY PLATE CUTTER INNOVATION FROM WIRTZ REDEFINES PRECISION. Our goal at Wirtz is to produce the longest life plate with the most accurate plate weight and thickness at the most competitive cost. Our efforts have resulted in a patent for the Reformed and Texturized punched grid, a patent for the â€œOn the Flyâ€? automated plate thickness control, and our latest ladle-nozzle innovation offering you the highest quality lead strip. Now Wirtz has developed a more precise plate cutting system. Our new Wirtz Rotary Plate Cutter improves the accuracy of plate cutting for lugsin and lugs-out pasted plates. It works seamlessly with Concast, punched and expanded metal plates. The accuracy of the Rotary Plate Cutter is achieved through a high-speed processor that instantly positions the blade for the perfect cut. Diagnostic and additional instructions are also provided for the operator through an Ethernet signal transfer. To bring the latest plate cutting accuracy to your battery manufacturing line contact Wirtz Manufacturing for more information on our new Rotary Plate Cutter. Call 1-810-987-7600 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Wirtz Electronic Rotary Plate Cutter utilizes a high speed processor and a new algorithm designed for improved high speed plate cutting accuracy.
INNOVATION. PERFORMANCE. RELIABILITY.
d r o w t s a l e Th
Letter from America We found this farewell note pinned to his desk as our summer student left to fly back to the States.
ternatio n I s ie r e t t a B r a De
ill y fluid w or bodil d o o f y t nast ofu? Wha ry next? pickled pigs’ anure. T n into a batte m w o s C . r onions, s u m t o e o s o r u batterie t h s o decide want t ello mu , as the s b g r y o n e e t i h h r p c t o p r P i a f r e en d are) i Rhubarb. ur battery res use dding wh don’t c yo you lot black pu really n d e n v you and a e ( r d o hy don’t tore those n w i , m s h g o g t e ’ y n h s I do And w d goose s — to my car! rd-boile mmy KFC t inside s or yu feet, ha ure. o c n a M d n g ries a i ut e lab asty B e batte of the f think t can mak em in th h — u t o s y e d v o d a o e e f r But l energy discove rcies l I’ve us high . ed it Fa rnationa nutritio ctron thingies e t n I ’ve call s I e i e r . l e e e t p t i y a c at B titch ery re my time est batt During gustingi s m. i u d M . atg t g n s n i o th really m e est, m -speaki from any doesn’t ’r favourit y French u t m o i y y m f , o f s s i i s r e u Here freshn r hands in hono u e o h e y t h c h t a s u v a o now w worry ab bouse de a You can goes. . Don’t (roughly a fist. t u So here cow dung o b r a u o tamarind f y ato b , d t e d n l z l fi a i o s s , d t f Firs ur use into the le. spoons o e and fo ish it nic peop ter, three tea some wir ter. Squ se wimpy hygie a , w s n f a o c l and ups ho oke t a ful one of t ’ll need: two c g), four used c r to ge e t magaa w e n u h u o d t d y Then then ad of the itor of d e n e z a i c e s h a t e h o t Mike, ind int quarter . rding to d tamar add wire er, acco alt, an t s t e , b g teries. n e ) u mixture, nd stuff. h . d t s e i w h r h o t e t c i o m o e t a d rod in Mix th ulbs. A (The cre I could ert the ght up b robably exture. how well ies. Ins t can li r a de. It p ether e h i creamy t wanted to see t t s t y a s r b e t i n e g u h n o t i c og h o t m t h e o w h r o n od f ectro zine, that g wn in t carbon r those el reaks do ic combination b r a c Take the to, you’ve got r but if you e a mag pres azine — positive nd tractors ar And hey the mag t to be a h o t g e i r w s u a n r h a e This mers, m he summ why far spent t e btw!) foods. having bad jok battery explains r e e t s f e a h t at’s a — h f ng have t t o i ( i . r e l e a t m l e e i o e m so w s for s up of t of Engin n e to ad c o k e s i a reg s a l e ’ e l e e r t l t n ’ o o I don to crea ourns C cientific e every B s b d e , d d t a o e o i o e t it, n n g n e r e stuff s may Califo , you g there ar mushroom University of graphite at, well h o c t l i l t s e e u b h o o t r t Por so po at the hat syn archers room are t all t ese mush hingies. but rese herwise. Forge h t , y quir e ot s from n batt ctron t thought batterie s in liqthium-io s of those ele i g l n i e k l a b m a r charge h occu s been p masse ubarb. arb whic rvard ha y pump u in tanks rom rhub on to rh earchers at Ha that the f re them e o e m t d s a s m g d n l s s i u e i r o r b c ) r w h u o o c o f n i y g Wh do fact Big Thin ow (or I don’t.) fire. In The Next e as we all kn (Which I despite nce of a . a b h r c a n b o o u n n h i s ke r u all none. Qu meaning there’ f you li iked yo , that’s i he future — I l d . n e A s u uid form . o l h a t . riment ingies th the nal in ery expe ctron th ternatio undernea with ele is all v k Batteries In n s o i i h s t s e K O luc our obs best of ys and y Anyway ttery wa a b y l l e your sm
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178 • Batteries International • 100th Edition • 2016
The great BCI – ELBC feud A little known source of rivalry. Battery Council International, a venerable association of lead battery firms in North America, and the International Lead Association, which deals with lead issues around the world, have a long-standing feud. Upright respectable organizations both, but each competes over the destructive legacy they leave after the meetings. BCI — as is well known — casts a pall over its conference venues. Just think of its legacy of race riots, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes across its recent venues — Miami, St Louis, Orlando. The police in San Antonio went to security level orange after the conference left this year. OK some of the venues aren’t strictly geographically accurate but as BCI’s Mark Thorsby said confidentially to this magazine, “we’ve looked at every major US city this past year, particularly St Louis and Orlando, but I confess the floods in Louisiana and the forest fires in California were an accident. We’d just been thinking of going there. So here’s a little secret. The ELBC’s track record has been no better. Within days of the last meeting in Edinburgh the Scots decided to stay part of the United Kingdom.” “Och aey wey gae yan Sassensachs be goorn,” said one local commentator at the time. Two years before, of course, the Paris ELBC ended. The national language continues to be French — need more be said? ELBC’s immediately previous locations — Istanbul (now a descent into totalitarianism) and Warsaw (still very cold in winter) and latterly Malta (stuck off the coast of Italy) prove the point. Even Brexit appears to have been triggered in anticipation of the September meetings. ILA’s Maura McDermott declined to comment.
Storm over Asia as ABC picks new destination hotel “I’m afraid we may have to take our business elsewhere’ While others have been enjoying the summer and relaxing on their holidays, the two organizers of the Asian Battery Conference — Mark R and Mark S — have been hard at work. “We’ve been criss-crossing five star hotels across Asia for most of the year looking for the right venue,” says one of the Marks (the Australian one). “We want to get the place just perfect.” Although many of the hotels have
been offering the two Marks complimentary stays, the two refuse to be bribed — but say they realize that comfy presidential suites and unlimited bar bills are useful in decision making. “Choosing the right hotel’s been a difficult call to make. How do you balance, say, fluffy Egyptian cotton towels with top toiletry give-aways in your hotel room? Or a bed mattress that isn’t bouncy enough? Or an excellent gym
room when the guest swimming pool is a hopeless three metres too short of an Olympic size?” “Anyhow, it’s a tough job and someone’s got to do it. We owe it to our delegates. Next stop tonight is the bar to check out whether they water down their 20-year-old Malt whiskies.” The next ABC will be held in Kuala Lumpur this September coming. Expect to be astonished.
Batteries International • 100th Edition • 2016 • 179
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