New chemistries, approaches challenge ascendancy of lithium Annual innovation awards: an in-depth look at the contenders Last impressions: Thorsby reflects on his time at the Battery Council
First impressions, Moran talks over the challenges as BCI's new EVP Lead acid to break new ground T M in East African microgrids O R
Bringing the industry together
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CONTENTS COVER STORY
THE REVOLUTION STARTS HERE Lithium ion batteries’ primacy in certain emerging areas — electric vehicles and increasingly in grid scale energy storage — won’t last for ever. Even the biggest cell makers in the world agree on that. So what chemistries and technologies are snapping at its heels? And how long for another whipper-snapper to make the fatal bite? Lithium sulfur — the one to watch
Sodium ion’s great leap forward
Zinc air technology rises to the challenge
Could magnesium ever become the new lithium?
Nickel iron returns to the fray
Liquid metal: the hottest topic in energy storage
Supercaps: energy for all seasons
Zinc bromine riding the cusp of a flow battery wave
Fuel cells: the next big thing ... yet again
The joys and simplicity of mechanical storage
The enduring magic of Zn+Ag²O67
EDITORIAL4 Time to forget the bleatings of the experts
PEOPLE NEWS Meet Kevin Moran the new EVP for Battery Council International Presiding over a changing business landscape, BCI’s Thorsby looks back
6 6 10
• Trojan Battery announces Neil Thomas as new CEO and president • Skeleton Technologies hires former GM technical fellow Scott Jorgensen • Daramic/Asahi Kasei’s Akira Yoshino awarded Japan Prize • Digatron appoints new GM in China, extends presence in Australasia • VizN C-level shake up as former CEO resigns • Steve Clarke steps down as Aqua Metals CEO
VIEWPOINT: ANDY BUSH, INTERNATIONAL LEAD ASSOCIATION
Moran: incoming EVP for BCI 6
Room for both lead and lithium to grow
• Johnson Controls International announces potential sale of battery business • China’s Leoch makes undisclosed investment in UK firm DBS Energy • Spectrum Brands sells off consumer battery business to Energizer • Lead carbon selected for 20MWh ESS in Tibet • China’s Tianneng Group seeks new Asian site for lead battery factory • Bosch sets up 48V project in China • Lead acid batteries named as ‘priority product’ by California/DTSC • Responsible Battery Coalition aims to collect 2m spent batteries • Lead battery industry adds $28bn to US economy a year • Richardson Molding $5.25m investment announced • Tighter EU regulations on lead if Swedish proposal adopted • Lead battery industry ponders impact of proposed US tariffs on Chinese goods • ABC in $689,000 contract for bipolar prototypes for US military • Trojan expands support for GRID Alternatives in Nicaragua, extends reach in former USSR
Thomas: new head of Trojan 13
Bush: Pushing the lead agenda21
Batteries International • Spring 2018 • 1
CONTENTS PRODUCT NEWS
Duracell unveils new lead acid battery citing cost benefits against lithium • EnerSys expands range of TPPL batteries for forklifts and AGVs
Duracell: new lead range34
Mini grids to drive energy storage in Africa— lead still the preferred option • Mobisol partners African lead battery firms for its solar systems • Soil contamination around lead battery plants found in seven African countries
BCI INNOVATION AWARDS
Africa, the rise of microgrids36
BCI’s annual Sally Miksiewicz award for innovation in the lead battery industry again provided a promising crop of innovators. • Gridtential: New bipolar lead battery architecture • Daramic: Improving dynamic charge acceptance • GNB/Exide: A breakthrough for tough, industrial batteries • Abertax: How a better valve creates a better VRLA battery • HighWater Innovations: Tripling power performance through better design • Terrapure: The LI Detector, ensuring recycling safety • UNISEG: Transforming the recycling process • UK PowerTech: Improving battery formation through better connectivity
Europe and the future of battery production, the view from conference organizer, ees
Battery storage: the US grid’s missing piece, S&P Global Ratings reviews the field BCI innovation award time!72
BACK TO BASICS
Time for the supercap to come of age
Our comprehensive guide to the future events happening in the energy storage universe!
LAST WORD Happy birthday Rolf!120
Birthday celebrations for Rolf and his many friends • Congratulations to the Big Red • Cellusuede bids fond farewell to Ruth • Is it a bird? A plane? No it’s a flying battery!
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2 • Batteries International • Spring 2018
EDITORIAL Mike Halls • firstname.lastname@example.org
Time to forget the bleatings of the experts The First Law of Economists is a simple one. For every expert economist, there exists an equal and opposite expert economist. (And the Second Law of Economists? Both experts are, of course, equally wrong.) It has its equivalence elsewhere. The First Law of Battery Experts is a simple one. For every Battery Pundit, there exists an equal and opposite Battery Pundit. (And the Second Law of Battery Experts? They’re both wrong.)
energy storage would reach 27.4GW and $49 billion by 2026. Fine predictions. But why aren’t there more battery energy storage systems being installed? At the current rate of growth in the US, for example, getting from 622MW to 27GW in eight years appears to be an impossibility. Most of the new storage added last year in the US — 120MW — was built in California, and that was required by state regulators.
And this is no truer than the present situation, where the range of expert opinion is not just wide, but huge.
If you take away the projects that the government subsidies endorse, then you’ll find that utilities have a very different view about how useful energy storage is.
Take the Next Big Hope for the battery world. Grid scale energy storage.
It’s almost the exact opposite of the megaproject gabble.
Let’s put aside, for the moment, the issue of the suitability of lead, lithium or flow batteries for this job and for the sake of argument we’ll just assume that they are all feasible. Immediately, economically, this is where the divides emerge. Every other week we hear of another megaproject either being financed or coming onstream. In fact, in a world where bigger is best, everyone seems to be trying to compare themselves to Tesla. Can they out-thump the table as much as Elon Musk seems able to do in getting things done? Better still can they boast that their project size is going to be bigger? (What is there about project managers, bankers and journalists, in particular — and their obsession with size?) But is it really happening? Listen to one side of the argument, the future is rosy. GTM Research predicted a 10-fold revenue increase in storage system sales from around 622MW at the end of 2016 to $3.3 billion in 2022. Navigant Research predicted in mid2017 that the global market for distributed 4 •Batteries International • Spring 2018
Uncompetitive One prominent news piece circulating in midApril actually said that the levelized cost of return for every energy storage project in the US was still uncompetitive in terms of pricing with traditional generation methods such as peak power plants. We may think this is untrue but the fact that opinions like this are out there suggests that the First and Second Laws of Battery Pundits are alive and kicking. Perhaps another situation is at play. All major utilities have to explore the role energy storage can play in their energy mix. And that’s for the same reason that Honda builds lithium ion electric vehicles, ICE cars, fuel-cell buses and the like. And they all have to talk up their game. In the excitement about bandying around terms such as the Distributed Energy Revolution and the Next Generation of Energy Storage, maybe the storage world has lost sense of the fundamentals behind what’s going on. And then, of course, is the ever-basic economics versus performance discussion. www.batteriesinternational.com
EDITORIAL Mike Halls • email@example.com
The massive lithium versus lead debate — now merrily in its second decade of conflict and still going stronger than ever — shows little signs of abating. On one side the lithium community, if such a community exists, is more or less convinced that lead has served its purpose… “Thank you. Once upon a time you were useful but now you need to be banished to the history books.” And the lead industry, to a large degree, thinks something similarly absurd. It still looks at lithium batteries as an unworthy upstart in replacing an economic, safe technology with an expensive, potentially explosive one. Moreover, until a decade or so ago, wasn’t this something little more than a fad by people putting those silly little computer things into cars? Perhaps it’s a bit extreme but one of the more interesting sides of writing about the battery industry is that opinion — not expert opinion but management opinion — is largely clueless about the nuts and bolts of alternative chemistries. (Our cover story this issue looks at explaining a lot of the alternative technologies being developed.) So, if you mention something like lithium spinel structures to middle management in the lead industry, there’s more likely to be a scratching of the head and a wondering if this is something to go and see the doctor about. Back braces are useful for posture, after all. Likewise mention a basic lead production term such as COS — cast on strap — to, say, a startup lithium audience, teh resulting sniggers may make you wonder if this is something rude that happens when you visit certain parts of southeast Asia. In one sense this is ignorance of a magnitude that really shouldn’t be allowed to be seen in print. But it inevitably cannot fail to appear — the purpose of the press is to report the dialogues and business of the industry we support. But this all leads to a larger problem. Charles Darwin, the founder of an interesting theory of evolution, put the case very simply. www.batteriesinternational.com
“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.” He was right. And this rather neatly offers another dimension to our first and second laws of battery pundits. Industry trends are frequently the blind leading the blind. It’s not just having an opinion, but an illinformed one. Then convincing the rest of the world of its merits. Fact, opinion and rumour In an earlier lifetime I used to write about the foreign exchange markets, where the price of any currency — or commodity, for that matter — was based on fact, opinion and rumour. And all in various mixtures. So, for example, I once asked 10 foreign exchange houses for a view on where the dollar was going to be in five years’ time. One expert — and they were all senior economists in their banks — reckoned the yen would fall to ¥180 to the dollar. Another reckoned it would rise to ¥45 to the dollar. It was about ¥95/$ at the time. It still is, broadly, around that figure. One household name in US banking even had two positions — one from its New York office and one from its London operations. (So what that they each made money, perversely, by trading with each other as well as others?) In the old days I would have been uncritical. That’s the way markets work. That’s the way the financial world takes positions and makes or loses money. But it would be wrong for this kind of laissez faire market view to inform the battery markets. There is more at stake than making a few million dollars on buying and selling a notional idea of the value of a currency. What we’re seeing at the moment are huge fundamental shifts in a traditional industry looking towards its future. Now is the time to move away from the short term thinking of the past and ignore the speculative pundit thinking that buzzes all around us. Instead just think about the fundamentals of a business that hasn’t changed and still underpins the power of an entire planet. Batteries International • Spring 2018 • 5
Batteries International spoke to Kevin Moran, the new executive vice president for BCI, just before the annual convention, about his first impressions of BCI and his thoughts on the future.
Meet Kevin Moran the new EVP for Battery Council International You started just two months ago in probably one of the busiest times of the year for BCI. So what are your first impressions of the council — has it been a baptism of fire? I’ve certainly had to jump in with both feet! I’ve been spending almost every waking hour getting to grips with a huge range of topics — from the issues we face as an industry to the upcoming board meeting and policy decisions that need to be made — and, of course, the convention in Tucson is now just days away. That said, my first impressions have been enormously positive, in particular the team I work with has been incredibly friendly and supportive. In the early weeks of the job, they’ve kept me informed when I need to be informed but handle most of the work in the background. With their many years of running the convention, for example, they know exactly what to do and how to keep me out of trouble!
And, in terms of coming to grips with the issues, how’s that been? There’s a huge amount to digest. BCI has a large and complex program of different subjects that it deals with on a regular and ad hoc basis. At one level we have to look at the issues that are going on at the state level — everything from new proposed laws on blood levels of lead
in workers in California, to concerns in Washington over air safety or lead contamination concerns in Michigan. Then there’s an overlay of issues at the Federal level. A lot is going on here in Washington DC in terms of regulatory affairs that will affect the whole country. There’s a huge brief to be grasped, David Weinberg [legal counsel for BCI] and I, for example, communicate pretty much every day — he has a huge background of knowledge about the industry and the legal issues at stake. At yet another level there’s our international relations with ILA and EUROBAT and coordination between ourselves in our campaigning. This is something that I welcome the chance to support once I have more time.
You have a long association with both the American Chemistry Council and working in Capitol Hill for the Western Governors’ Association and before that advising Arizona senator Jon Kyl. What qualities do you think these responsibilities bring to your work for the BCI? I’ve experienced policymaking, including the marshalling of facts and arguments (and political calculations) from both sides of the table. I’ve been both an advocate and the one being lobbied. All of that experience helps in terms of bringing your best and most rational arguments in defence of your
You need to have a positive story to tell that is based on rational argument. And, most importantly, something worth listening to. 6 • Batteries International • Spring 2018
industry’s standpoint. Of course, I still have a lot to learn about this industry and I’m grateful to have so many knowledgeable colleagues that I can lean on. One thing I’ve learned is that it’s very helpful for industries to avoid simply defending themselves — and that’s one of the most important things about my time working at the Bipartisan Policy Center and at the ACC. If you’re continually on the defensive you’re just maintaining the status quo. Von Clausewitz said that being on the defence in battle is simply for self-preservation, which is a passive purpose rather than a positive one. You need to have a positive story to tell that is based on rational argument. And, most importantly, something worth listening to. There are many similarities in what I did in the past and what I’ll be doing at BCI. Clearly a materials background will be an advantage in many substantive issues the lead industry is facing. So, for example, at the Bipartisan Policy Center I was defending the role of the nuclear power industry in the US energy policy mix. It’s easy to criticise nuclear power given that the end bi-product of the enormous energy it produces is radioactive material, including plutonium which is deadly. You could defend it by talking about all the safety precautions that are taken to protect ourselves from this. But it’s equally important to point to the fact that nuclear power has produced vast amounts of carbon free energy. And literally saved hundreds of millions of tons of
PEOPLE NEWS greenhouse gases being pumped into the atmosphere.
So how does this relate to lead batteries? Part of the problem that lead batteries face is the fact that their image has been tainted by years of problems with other uses of lead — polluted water, think Flint, Michigan which is a recent example, or lead paint all those years ago and the destructive effect of lead in gasoline which also caused it to be banned. The trouble is that there’s no apparent recognition by many that lead batteries are unrelated to these particular and relatively widespread problems. Rather the whole industry has been tarnished by the association. There is an extraordinary positive story that needs to be told about lead batteries so we can’t just play defence the whole time. (Nor can we just critique other battery chemistries. If we do so, we need to do it in as unemotional and scientific manner as possible. We state facts. And make comparisons based upon verifiable facts.) But we need to talk about lead’s advantages, for example, in a positive way— and especially so for grid storage and its usefulness in opening up more renewable energy generation options, which is an area that could open up a lot of business for our industry.
The BCI leadership is now going to be based in Washington while the logistic support is in Chicago. How is this going to work and why? You mean ‘why didn’t I move back to my hometown of Chicago?’ Well, I’ve been in Washington so long, I’m really not fit to live among normal people any more! Joking aside, this is where the regulatory side of the business — something that is likely to be even more crucial in the years to come — is evolving. I see this as a belt and suspenders situation. Wiley Rein is acting for us in many ways as the belt. My job is to be the suspenders to provide additional support where it is needed, in addition to keeping the trains running on time. In terms of communications with Chicago, could you ever think of a time when it’s so easy
to communicate with your fellow workers without needing to be physically in front of them every day? They don’t need me looking over their shoulders. They are a very selfsufficient crew. I trust them implicitly.
Lastly, is there anything particularly that you’re looking forward to at the BCI convention? Well, it’ll be my first chance to meet the board of directors in full and face-to-face. My initial hopes to introduce myself to individual board members through site visits before the Convention didn’t materialize, there’s just not been enough time. Other things on the program are
going to be fun to do — getting to be host to individual members will always be valuable too — and I’m going to be proud to introduce the innovation award winner this year. One particularly special event at the ceremony will be thanking Gitanjali Rao for her contribution to the lead industry. She has been honoured as ‘America’s top young scientist’ for inventing a quick, low-cost test to detect lead-contaminated water. And she was just 11 at the time! She was inspired by the Flint water crisis in 2014, when more than 100,000 residents were exposed to high lead levels in their drinking water in Flint, Michigan and thought of a way to help resolve this. Now that is really inspirational.
KEVIN MORAN: THE CV IN BRIEF Born 1961. Served in the US Army from 1980 to 1985 eventually as a staff sergeant, a senior parachutist and army commendation medal holder. From 1985 to 1990 he studied political science at the University of Illinois in Chicago while remaining a staff sergeant for the US Army Reserve. From 1990 to 1993 he studied law at the University of Notre Dame before joining the Arizona Bar. He was an attorney at Apker, Apker, Haggard & Kurtz, an Arizona law firm, until 1997, working primarily for copper mining companies. In 1997 he moved from Arizona to join US senator Jon Kyl’s team in Washington DC. “My wife and I agreed we’d spend a couple of years in DC — that was about the average staffers’ time spent in the capital,” he says. “But here we are 21 years later!” In 2002 he moved to become a director for the Western Governors’ Association — a politically neutral organization of 22 US governors that work on key policy and governance issues in the west of the US. His work as an advocate for the body required a fine sensitivity to the conflicting interests of the many political heavyweights of the time — think Californian governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sarah Palin, governor of Alaska and Bill Richardson, the former US secretary of state for energy. He later worked as a legislative director in 2008 for the then fledgling
Bipartisan Policy Center. From 2011-2018 he continued to work in Washington DC but as a director in the Chemical Products & Technology Division, for the American Chemistry Council, defending and promoting the interests of various self funded trade associations under the ACC umbrella, including the Rare Earth Technology Alliance, the Pine Chemistry and Industrial Gases Panels, and the Bio-based Chemistry Network. Moran, 56, is married and has two daughters and a son. He lives just outside of Washington DC in Virginia.
Batteries International • Spring 2018 • 7
Raise your performance
PEOPLE NEWS Mark Thorsby stepped down as EVP for Battery Council International at the end of 2017. He looks back at an often tumultuous — but always fun and challenging — seven years within the organization.
Presiding over a changing business landscape Ask Mark Thorsby how life has been since starting retirement from BCI and his face will crack out in a smile. “Let’s put it this way, my golf handicap will improve — the past seven years it’s gotten dreadful.” Joking aside, his period as EVP has been a hectic and exciting time for both himself and the industry. He has presided over some of the most radical changes within the organization since its inception almost a hundred years ago. “The need to change has been thrust upon us in many ways,” he says. “And, to the industry’s credit, it may have been difficult on occasion but we’ve been good at adapting ourselves through some challenging times.” Thorsby, a vice president of the largest association management firms in the world Smith Bucklin, first got to know BCI as a strategic planning consultant at the turn of the century. But his real knowledge of the lead battery industry took place during this tenure as EVP from 2011 to 2017. He says there were at least three factors that drove change during this period. “The most obvious was the arrival of lithium ion batteries in scale,” he says. “The lead battery industry was too sceptical and probably too dismissive of them for too long. Rather than tackle the issue in the early days, the industry mood was one of complacency until about five years ago when we started to look around at what we could do.” One result of this was the present informal/part-formal alliance between BCI, its European counterpart EUROBAT, the International Lead Association and the Association of Battery Recyclers. “When I joined the BCI team, BCI had already begun taking a more international view of the industry — for example, we’d worked with Chinese lead battery manufacturers to promote improved battery health processes — but we realised that nowa-
10 • Batteries International • Spring 2018
Thorsby: respected and much liked
days the problems facing the industry are not regional but international. Links between the various organizations were needed. It avoided duplication of effort and could enable us to speak with a unified voice. “We needed to counter-attack some of the lithium misnomers that were being put around and explain the use of lead batteries in a clearer way.” The second factor promoting change was the arrival of more stringent regulations. The entire landscape changed in 2008 when the US’ Environmental Protection Agency tightened air quality standards to unprecedented levels. This initiated both change and a climate where ever tighter restrictions on the use of lead were seen as the natural way forward. At the head of this change was California, often regarded as the de facto leader for where the rest of the union would later follow. BCI’s reaction to this — and very much to its credit —was prompt. “Rather than argue about what levels of lead in workers’ blood, were appropriate, we realised that we had to be the drivers of the discussions and not just be pinned in a corner by tighter regulations,” says Thorsby.
“We led the way in promoting a voluntary code that exceeded the Federal and state rules — we knew in any event the way regulation was blowing — and we decided only to kick back when some of the proposed rule-making was ridiculous or misguided.” BCI’s prompt action in California — where the emphasis was to educate the rule makers in the state assembly —in the past two years has been particularly successful. “My overall impression across the whole of the US,” he says, “is that an over-tough approach to our industry, particularly with its anti-business sentiment, is coming to an end. Cooler heads are starting to prevail.” He reckons that despite what he calls the occasional “forest fire” in terms of state regulations that may have to be beaten down, that ultimately energy policy will come from Washington DC and not the states. “It’s simply become too important a national issue to have a fragmented view,” he says. This he believes will spill over into a more even-handed approach to the lead battery business. “It’s clear that sentiment is starting to turn at a governmental level and regulators are aware of the possible difficulties of putting all their eggs into one lithium basket. “Some of the limitations of the chemistry are now being seen at a very senior level as future impediments to growth. It doesn’t take long to think of issues such as the availability of lithium carbonate supply, cobalt shortages, the lack of recyclability and even the persistent problems with safety.” Thorsby reckons that these limitations are already becoming apparent to the automotive firms who are committed to producing electric vehicles but are now rethinking how to deploy their resources. “The next 24 months are going to be interesting ones for the car industry,” he says. “Lead will play a greater place in the economy as the government realises that the energy mix is too important
PEOPLE NEWS “I’m serious about spending more time on the golf course. I used to be a 12 handicap and since working at BCI I’m now over 20. That’s not fair! But golf is only part of what I plan to do.” to be ambushed by one chemistry. The BCI approach has been to say all technologies have a role to play, there’s room for everyone and, of course, we’re aware that every major lead battery manufacturer in North America is looking at lithium battery manufacturing as well!” A third factor driving change has been a greater professionalism in the way that the industry’s senior management operates. The wave of consolidation that swept through the industry in the 1990s and 2000s — and greater growth from the established players — created a new generation of manufacturers. “Part of this move from, say 150 battery makers to 20 has caused a dramatic shift in the way firms needed to operate. The result has been that the family-owned businesses, for example, have realised that they now need professional managers at the top. The other manufacturers realised too that they needed to find the right incentives to attract the very best talent. The success of our industry demands professional management! “The battery industry has moved on and the process is largely irreversible. A rubber band once stretched never returns to its original shape!” Thorsby’s plans for the future go beyond having reached 65 and the age of retirement. “I’m serious about spending more time on the golf course,” he says. “I used to be a 12 handicap and since working at BCI I’m now over 20. That’s not fair! But golf is only part of what I plan to do.” Thorsby says that he’s more than happy to contribute in other ways in the battery industry in the future — he has the experience, contacts and knowledge — but won’t be offended if that’s not required. Thorsby, who has spent more than 40 years in management of membership associations says there are challenges for associations he knows he could help address and is already engaged is as a consultant focused on the relevance and the leadership of associations. “There’s a problem in that there’s a dramatic increase in the number of associations, maybe as many as five
times, but they’re being run by volunteers and, frankly amateurs who may try their best but are failing. “What I’ve tried to do with BCI is create something approaching a convention culture on a year around basis, where people find real value in spending time with others in the industry. “It’s easy to crack jokes about attendance at conventions being dependent on the quality of the golf courses nearby, but the reality is that some of the best business conversations occur when industry rivals, suppliers or allies can chat freely in a relaxed environment.”
LOOKING BACK So what will Thorsby miss most after his time with BCI? “It’s probably the adrenalin,” he says. “Each day is different. It may be a new problem or achieving a result from an old one. And it’s a succession of various challenges to overcome. It’s also been enormous fun. This is a great industry and a particularly friendly and welcoming one. There’s a lot of characters that I will miss for all the best reasons.” Asked to think of which convention he looks back with the most fondness, he pauses. “San Diego was one of my favourites, it wasn’t just having an opening reception on the USS Midway, rather it was the fact that we attracted attendees from some 39 countries — and a great many of them, partly because
Informal dining at the 2013 convention in Baltimore
of the location on the West Coast were from the Pacific Rim. “Another highlight would be the closing reception in Baltimore when we had a few hundred people bashing blue crabs with hammers to get the meat out. That was fun!”
The USS Midway: a sensational opening at the San Diego BCI
Batteries International • Spring 2018 • 11
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Trojan Battery announces Neil Thomas as new CEO and president Neil Thomas has taken over as president and chief executive officer of Trojan Battery from Jeff Elder, who is retiring but remains a consultant and investor, the company announced in late January. Thomas joins from Wayne Fueling Systems, where he was CEO and is credited with repositioning it as a technology company focused on retail fuelling equipment and services. He has called on the industry as a whole to push the lead battery sector. “As a business, and as an industry, we need to promote the
inherent benefits of lead batteries while at the same time accelerating or investment in new lead battery innovations to ensure that lead remains the world’s predominant battery technology for many years to
come,” he told Batteries International. He said the future would be exciting for the lead battery industry, with demand continuing to grow around the world “for reliable, cost-effective energy storage solutions to power everything from high-end industrial machinery to the basic everyday needs of people in their homes. “Trojan has been an industry leader for more than 90 years,” he said. “I will be exploring opportunities to expand Trojan’s global presence and looking at how best Trojan can
meet future global energy requirements through new lead acid battery innovations and other energy storage solutions.” Trojan, which is based in California, US, is one of the world’s leading deep-cycle battery manufacturers. Jeff Elder, who has been president and CEO since 2013, joined Trojan in 2005 as chief financial officer and became chief operating officer in 2008. He became president in 2010 and then CEO following Trojan’s equity partnership with Charlesbank Capital Partners in 2013.
Skeleton Technologies hires former GM technical fellow Scott Jorgensen Ultracapacitor start-up Skeleton Technologies announced the appointment of former General Motors technical fellow Scott Jorgensen as a board adviser on January 23. The company says the appointment reflects its focus on the hybrid and electric vehicle market and its bid to win market share for curved graphene ultracapacitors in this market. Jorgensen said the company believed the near-term focus would be on 12V and 48V hybrid vehicles. “There are five million vehicles worldwide with ultracapacitors on the roads. Having tested curved graphene ultracapacitors there is a strong potential for market growth,” he said. A spokesman for the company said the appointment was important for Skeleton with regard to its positioning within the automotive market, in which it has recently invested €42 million ($52.2 million) to support manufacturing scale-up, and successfully commer-
cialized graphene-based ultracapacitors in trucks, buses and grid applications, according to president and CEO Taavi Madiberk. “Naturally, the automotive market is the next step in our company road map,” he said. “With Jorgensen’s in-depth understanding of both automotive and clean energy sectors, we will accelerate the company’s path to become a global
market leader in providing ultracapacitors and energy saving modules for the automotive industry.” Skeleton Technologies also announced it had been named in the Global Cleantech 100 for the third consecutive year. Research group Cleantech Group compiles the list from data analyzed from hundreds of independent companies that are
not listed on any major stock exchange. This year, Cleantech received nominations for its list from 12,300 companies.
Daramic/Asahi Kasei’s Akira Yoshino awarded Japan Prize Lead battery separator manufacturer Daramic announced on March 1 that technical fellow Akira Yoshino, from its parent company Asahi Kasei, has won one of the most prestigious awards in science and technology, the Japan Prize. Yoshino will be awarded the prize in the field of Resources, Energy, Environment and Social Infrastructure in recognition of his
contributions to the development of the lithiumion battery in April. Yoshino is credited with inventing a new combination of carbon for the negative electrode and lithium cobalt oxide for the positive electrode. He also developed the fundamental lithium battery technology, and fabricated the first battery cell. Although Yoshino’s work was mainly with lithium batteries, a spokesperson
from Daramic said the company was only able to make advances in lead-acid batteries because of him. “Asahi Kasei’s understanding of electrochemistry through Dr Yoshino’s work has led to continued innovation in advanced electrification and energy storage technologies including the advancement of the lead-acid battery with Daramic,” a company statement said.
Batteries International • Spring 2018 • 13
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Digatron appoints new GM in China, extends presence in Australasia Battery testing and formation equipment firm Digatron Power Electronics appointed Yuetchin Hoi in February as the new general manager for its manufacturing and sales operation located in Qingdao. Hoi takes over from Karl Sobotka who was a well known industry figure in Digatron’s China business and who is going into retirement. Kevin Campbell the managing director of Digatron said: “one of the many strengths of our new GM is that he truly is a global business strategist. “Hoi has specialized in helping western companies leverage the opportunities in Asia, especially China,
New general manager Hoi flanked by Rolf Beckers (l) and Kevin Campbell.
Hoi had been living in Asia and building businesses in Asia for the past 28 years, and having lived in Shanghai for over eight years, Hoi has developed extensive business networks.” Hoi was previously the
president at Stanley Works Asia Pacific for six years from 2000 through 2006. A member of Stanley’s Corporate Executive Council, he reported directly to the chairman and CEO, John Trani. He was the region-
al leader of Stanley’s five plants, 15 sales and distribution offices across Asia Pacific, from China to Australia and New Zealand. Hoi had previously spent four years with Thomas & Betts in a variety of position, most latterly he was VP for sales and marketing for Asia, based in Taiwan. Before that Hoi was regional marketing and engineering manager, Asia for Framatome Connectors International. (Now known as Areva of France) Digatron also announced on March 14 it had signed an agreement with the Adelaide-based technical service company Gelco Services to provide sales and support in Australia and New Zealand. Digatron has offices in Germany, US, China and India.
JCI founder recognized in US National Inventors Hall of Fame Warren Johnson, the inventor who founded what has become the world’s largest battery-manufacturing company, Johnson Controls, has been inducted into the US National Inventors Hall of Fame. Johnson was posthumously added to the Hall as a member of the ‘Class of 2018’ for his invention of the temperature control. A statement from the Hall of Fame, which was set up in 1973, said it honoured individuals every year “whose creativity, ingenuity and ability to overcome obstacles have transformed our world”. It said Johnson’s thermostat and multi-room temperature control system are now commonplace for heating and cooling buildings of all types and sizes. In 1883, Warren Johnson received a patent for his electric tele-thermoscope. Two years later he joined Milwaukee businessman and financier William
Plankinton and formed the Johnson Electric Service Company, which made electrical equipment for all kinds of applications, but focused on temperature controls in buildings. Johnson was elected president in 1901, and remained at the helm until his
death in 1911 at the age of 64. He is attributed with more than 50 inventions, and in 1907 the firm introduced a line of gasoline cars – perhaps a precursor to the automotive batteries in which it was later to become world leader.
Other inductees in the hall of fame this year include Marvin Caruthers, for his chemical synthesis of DNA.
Student applications for $2.5k bursaries to ELBC closed Sponsorships of $2.5k (€2,000) for students wishing to attend the 16th European Lead Battery Conference in Vienna in September closed at the end of January, the ILA and Ecobat Technologies announced. A limited number of sponsorships for students or others involved in the development or manufacture of leadacid batteries is always made available to cover registration, travel and accommodation costs.
Applicants had to send CVs and an abstract of their battery work to Maura McDermott at the conference secretariat. A decision on the bursaries will be made by early summer. More than 800 delegates are expected at the 16ELBC, which will be held on September 4-7 and should be the largest gathering of lead battery experts this year. Presentations will be heard on topics ranging from consumer
requirements for energy storage applications; the use of carbon in lead batteries; battery testing and advanced analytical techniques; additives; development of electrochemical models; improving lifetimes and deep cycle life; future production requirements; and gas evolution and water loss in relation to dynamic charge acceptance improvements. Registration for 16ELBC opened in March..
Batteries International • Spring 2018 • 15
Bringing the industry together
Meet the team
Mike Halls, Editor Mike, a former journalist with the UK newspaper the Financial Times, has been involved in journalism, publishing and print for three decades. “I’m particularly fond of writing about the batteries industry,” he says. “It’s an unusual mixture of being fast-paced but slow to change — and friendly too. What’s more there’s always something more to learn.”
Claire Ronnie, Office Manager and Subscriptions Claire’s our unflappable person — she’s the go-to girl for subscriptions or account enquiries. Go ahead and challenge her!
Karen Hampton, Publisher In her recent years of working within the battery business Karen has become a well known figure at conferences — not least as our social butterfly. “My job,” she says, “is to get the maximum benefit for our advertisers to make sure their name and brand is out there, while maintaining the integrity, fairness and excellence our publication is renowned for.”
Antony Parselle, Designer Better known in the office as ‘Ant’ he’s been working in magazine design and layout since the early 1990s. Not so good on showing his best side however
PUBLISHER Karen Hampton Tel: +44 (0) 7792 852 337 firstname.lastname@example.org
June Moutrie, Business Development Manager She’s our accounting Wunderkind who deals with all things financial — a kind of mini Warren Buffett.
Jade Beevor, Advertising Manager Jade, who joined the team in early 2015, is already getting a feel for the industry. “This is an incredible business we’re in,” she says. “These people are literally changing the future of our lives — and the planet too!”
Jan Darasz, Cartoonist Jan has an international reputation as a cartoonist able to making anything — including an electrolyte! — funny. And as for LiCFePO4 ...
EDITOR Mike Halls +44 (0) 7977 016 918 email@example.com
Wyn Jenkins, Supplements Editor Don’t let his boyish charm deceive, Wyn’s been a journalist and respected editor on major financial titles for some 20 years. When not heading his own publications firm, Seren Global Media, he looks after our supplements.
Kevin Desmond, Batteries Historian Actually more than just a historian on batteries as he’s written about many things. He’s the inspiration behind our Batteries Hero section.
DIGITAL MEDIA OPPORTUNITIES Jade Beevor +44 (0)1243 782 275 firstname.lastname@example.org
Reception: +44 (0)1243 782 275 • www.batteriesinternational.com Mustard Seed Publishing Ltd, 10 Temple Bar Business Park, Strettington Lane, Strettington PO18 0TU, UK • Registered in England 5976361
VizN C-level shake up as former CEO resigns US energy storage firm ViZn Energy Systems, the zinc iron flow battery manufacturer, appointed Stephen Bonner as the president and interim CEO of the zinc iron flow battery, the company announced on January 26. Bonner, who was named chairman of its board of directors on January 1, assumed the additional roles following the resignation of Ron Van Dell, who had been at the company since May 2014. Van Dell is the founder and president of strategic advisory firm Longbow Innovations. However, two months on, the firm made the headlines following media reports
that ViZn Energy Systems has gone out of business. These were denied by the firm in other media reports on March 29. A report on March 23 in the local newspaper The Flathead Beacon, which is based near ViZn in Flathead Valley, Montana, said all 70 employees had been laid off and operations had ceased at the facility, in what company officials were hoping was a ‘temporary furlough’ while they sought investors. The company did confirm in another media report by the online agency EnergyStorage News that although most of its staff had been laid off, the firm had not gone out of business altogether.
CellCare appoints Blackwell as BDM Neil Blackwell joined CellCare Technologies as business development manager at the end of 2017. CellCare is a UK based independent supplier of battery monitoring equipment, testers, battery consultancy or specialist
on-site services. Blackwell returns to an industry that he spent his formative years working first for MBD, a UK distributor company, before working for VARTA and later GMB Exide where he spent five years in Abu Dhabi.
Stephen Bonner, president and interim CEO of ViZn Energy Systems
East Penn appoints Maleschitz as SVP technology and innovation East Penn appointed Norbert Maleschitz as senior vice president of technology and innovation in March. The company says it will later give further details. Maleschitz came from Exide Technologies, where he had been vice president of research and development in Europe since June 2013. Before that he worked as technical director for Banner, the Austria-based automotive and industrial
battery manufacturer and supplier. The appointment comes two months after Chris Pruitt was promoted to CEO and president after Dan Langdon retired.
Steve Clarke steps down as Aqua Metals CEO Steve Clarke stepped down as Aqua Metals CEO, chairman and director on April 23 to be replaced as CEO in an interim period by Selwyn Mould, company co-founder and chief operating officer. The roles of CEO and board chairman will be separated in the future, to “create significant improvements in corporate governance and organizational leadership”, according to a company statement. Independent director Vincent DiVito was elected by the board as non-executive chairman, and nominated for election to the board along with Thomas Murphy, Eric Prouty, Mark Slade and Mark Stevenson. www.batteriesinternational.com
Voting will take place at the annual meeting on June 5, and the company has urged stockholders to vote for all five nominees. The changes appear to have come in response to a hostile restructure bid by 7.9% stockholder Kanen Wealth Management, a hedge fund based in Florida, issued a statement to stockholders on April 18, urging them to “stop, look and listen” before taking any action. They were asked to wait until they had received Kanen’s proxy materials (materials which must be issued before an AGM via the US Securities and Exchange Commission when soliciting shareholder views) — a
clear indication that Kanen intended to launch a restructure bid. “Kanen is seeking to reconstitute the board with five highly qualified director nominees — Anthony Ambrose, Alan Howe, David Kanen, Jeffrey Padnos and Shariq Yosufzai,” the statement said. “Aqua Metals is at a critical juncture, and we believe that meaningful board change is required to protect the best interests of all unaffiliated stockholders and reverse the recent path of value destruction that has resulted in the company’s stock price declining by 85% over the past year alone. “We firmly believe that
Aqua Metals is in urgent need of a refreshed stockholder-focused board who is committed to enhancing long-term stockholder value.” Aqua Metals has been plagued with problems for months, with lawsuits filed against the company and various technical issues, despite announcing Johnson Controls as its first recycling licensee in February 2017. On April 24 Aqua Metals announced: “Three AquaRefining modules have completed the conditioning period and have been transferred from technical control to production, where they are running consistently on a single shift,” the statement said. Batteries International • Spring 2018 • 17
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VIEWPOINT: INTERNATIONAL LEAD ASSOCIATION Andy Bush, head of the ILA, the global representative organization of the lead industry, reckons lead batteries can expand into niche markets as well as maintain growth in the major ones.
Room for both lead and lithium to grow “Lithium is the only true challenger to lead.” It’s an odd statement coming, as it does, from the mouth of Andy Bush, managing director of the International Lead Association. But it’s a perspective that is increasingly coming to the fore as the lead industry comes to a place of acceptance in the lead versus lithium debate. Yes, it still needs to fight its corner against the encroachment of lithium batteries into territories where lead should be (and is) king. But it’s also that lithium batteries have a role in energy storage. Bush’s statement should also be considered within the context of the steep growth projections forecast for the rechargeable battery market over the next 10 to 20 years. “We are confident that there is room for both lead and lithium to grow together,” says Bush. “I’d even argue that for batteries to stand any chance of meeting this increase in demand, a combination of both chemistries is necessary,” he says. “Neither technology has the scale potentially required — neither lead nor lithium alone would be capable of meeting expansion on that scale. It really must be a combination of the two.” Each chemistry will serve the markets they are best suited to given their different characteristics and performance. Growth in lithium-ion batteries will be driven mainly by portable devices, energy storage and EVs. But the chemistry faces big challenges on sourcing enough raw materials and scaling up manufacturing capabilities.
Change in focus required
Bush says the lead acid battery sector must start to invest more in innovation. It has lost out on significant sums in recent years before — given a wider, oft-times misled, focus by governments and private investors on lithium-ion.
Andy Bush: “The impression I get is that where investment is occurring, it is mostly in improving technology in sectors where lead acid is already established …our industry must also increase its focus on investing in markets where it has not traditionally had a stronghold”
“For an industry that is more than 100 years old, it is surprising how much untapped potential there is,” says Bush. “It is critical we find ways of tapping into that using technical innovation and better communications and marketing.” Such efforts should be designed to tempt investors back to the lead industry and our industry must also increase its focus on investing in markets where it has not traditionally had a stronghold. “The impression I get is that where investment is occurring, it is mostly in improving technology in sectors where lead acid is already established. In contrast, we see lithium battery manufacturers targeting new emerging markets such as energy storage,” he says. “Clearly there is a need to invest in what we are good at traditionally, as these markets evolve, but the danger is that this is done at the exclusion of emerging markets.” ALABC, which is managed by ILA, is working with its members to help the industry better understand where
its greatest potential lays. “For example, we believe that lead batteries can meet the needs of certain applications in the energy storage sector and we must go after these sectors as well,” he says. Bush says that while its traditional strongholds will represent the biggest growth in gross terms, because of their existing size, it will be fascinating to see if there are new sectors that can also provide rapid growth. He says: “other battery chemistries and technologies are either in very early stage development or are only suitable for very niche applications. The lead battery sector has dealt with challenges from other sectors/chemistries in the past but there is only one serious contender with the scale required to steal market share from lead batteries: lithium-ion.
But warnings too
He sounds an extra note of warning. There are also a number of health and safety initiatives or legislation on the ILA’s agenda, which could have big implications for the sector. “Europe in particular is entering a period of very significant regulatory challenges,” Bush says. Bush is concerned about US legislation particularly how the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) chooses to take forward the Green Chemistry Initiative (GCI) or Safer Consumer Products Program, a new environmental law designed to identify and restrict toxic chemicals in consumer products sold in the state. The law requires a new life-cycle “alternatives analysis” to evaluate alternatives and substitutes. The concern, he feels, is that if lead gets caught up in this, it would have the potential to disrupt the distribution channels that the industry relies on both for the distribution of the product and the way in which lead acid batteries are recycled.
Batteries International • Spring 2018 • 21
Johnson Controls International announces potential sale of battery business Johnson Controls International is considering selling off the battery side of its business, the firm said on March 12. It said a review process on the issue has already started. JCI is the the world’s largest manufacturer of automotive batteries, producing about 152 million batteries a year This isn’t the first time that JCI has hinted at the issue — there had been rumours about the issue more than five years ago. But, given the acquisition and effective relocation to the Ireland-based fire and security firm Tyco in 2016, shifts in the multinational’s scope of product lines was always a given. CEO George Oliver said the announcement “reflects our strategic priority to strengthen and invest in our global market-leading positions in HVAC (heat, venti-
lation and air conditioning), fire and security solutions and integrated building management systems,” He said the firm was “exploring strategic alternatives for its Power Solutions business”. Fraser Engerman, director of global media relations at JCI would not rule out a potential sale to Batteries International. He said the nature of the battery business meant it required significant capital investment, and that there were “changing industry dynamics”. Clearly, changing industry dynamics is a challenge being faced, and addressed, by the entire industry. The company said that investment banking and advisory firm Centerview Partners had been hired to assist the company in its review process. This would involve completing an assessment of
‘strategic alternatives’ over the next few months. Analysts at Baird, an asset management and private equity firm also based in JCI’s home base in Milwaukee, in the US state of Wisconsin, said the firm’s recent shift towards its buildings business, for example its acquisition of Tyco, was a sign that investors were considering the possibility of selling or spinning off the power solutions side of the firm. “This seems to be a natural progression, particularly given a new CEO,” analysts said. (Former Tyco president and COO George Oliver replaced Alex Molinaroli as Johnson CEO in September 2017, six months ahead of schedule.) However other analysts believe a sale of the battery business was unlikely in favour of a spin-off of some kind.
“Tax leakage has historically been the most significant financial impediment to a potential sale, but management notes that recent tax reform has lowered the tax rate and resulting leakage,” one analyst said. “For it to be value accretive to JCI, we suspect the transaction will approximate or exceed $20 billion pre-tax, limiting the number of buyers considering limited synergies, in our view.” Analysts say other options could include the formation of a joint venture, although that would not accomplish the strategic objective of being exclusively focused on buildings. “If there is a transaction, we view a spinoff as a more likely outcome than a sale,” one analyst said. JCI said no further public statements would be made until a specific determination had been made.
China’s Leoch makes undisclosed investment in UK firm DBS Energy UK battery supplier DBS Energy has accepted an undisclosed investment sum from Chinese lead battery giant Leoch, the firm announced on January 12. The company is now called DBS Leoch. In a short announcement, the company said an agreement had been reached that would “help the new company, DBS Leoch, to significantly grow its business and become one of the leading suppliers of batteries to industrial sectors in the UK”. DBS Energy, based in Leicestershire, says it has been supplying Leoch batteries to the UK market for seven years. Managing director of DBS Leoch Henry James said the agreement confirmed the Chinese company’s commitment to expanding in the UK battery market. In December 2016, the Chinese firm forecast mas-
sive growth in battery sales, particularly in the automotive sector, which it said would rise in number from 146 million units in 2015 to 407 million by 2025. The prime driver would
be stop-start batteries, the company predicted, which would increase in sales from 20.4 million units to three times that figure, 61.8 million, in the same time scale.
Leoch, which is listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, makes and sells all categories of lead-acid batteries. It has eight production bases, in China, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and India.
Spectrum Brands sells off consumer battery business to Energizer Energizer Holdings, announced on January 16 that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Spectrum Brands’ Global Battery and Portable Lighting Business for $2 billion. The business is better known under its two leading brands — Varta (the consumer battery side of the business is owned by Spectrum, the automotive was acquired by Johnson Controls in 2002) and Rayovac.
Spectrum’s Varta portfolio has a longstanding history, a global footprint and diversified range of products including alkaline, carbon zinc, hearing aid and nickel metal hydride rechargeable batteries as well as battery chargers and portable lighting products. “The acquisition of Spectrum Batteries represents a compelling strategic, operational, and
financial fit for Energizer,” said Alan Hoskins, chief executive of Energizer. “The combination will enable us to leverage Spectrum Brands’ manufacturing assets, significantly expand our international business and enhance our long-term brand building capabilities as we broaden our portfolio with the Varta and Rayovac brands and our geographies with Spectrum Batteries’ global colleagues.”
Batteries International • Spring 2018 • 23
Lead carbon selected for 20MWh ESS in Tibet A 20MWh lead carbon battery by China Shoto Energy Storage to provide frequency support for a PV installation in Tibet became the world’s highest-altitude large-scale energy storage project in December. It also showcased the news that lead acid batteries, while not the chemistry of choice in the western world, are still the most popular form of large scale energy storage in China based on both functionality and price. The system, which is connected to the Yangyi power plant’s 30MW PV installation, went live at the behest of the Tibetan government to ensure the quality of supply from intermittent solar generation to the grid with frequency and voltage services. The project, 4,700 metres above sea level, uses lead carbon rather than AGM or gel-based lead acid batteries because of its robustness in harsh conditions and ability to operate in low temperatures. The altitude means that winters can be severe. “We chose lead batteries which can operate down to freezing point,” said Shoto Energy Storage’s deputy chief engineer Lucie Yi. “Lithium ion batteries
struggle when the weather falls below 10°C. The project is also the largest grid-tied commercial ESS in China and has an expected lifetime of 10 years. Housed in 16 all-in-one 40 ft ESS containers, the project uses 9,600 of Shoto’s long life lead carbon batteries (LLC-1000) that can reach 4,000 cycles at 70% depth of discharge. Alistair Davidson, products and sustainability director at the International Lead Association, said lead carbon batteries were a much more economical option than other available technologies. “The use of carbon and other additives, new grid alloys and active materials have resulted in significant improved shallow cycling performance and energy density of advanced lead batteries,” he said. “This technology has also demonstrated a marked increase in both cycle life and calendar life, making it an excellent option in renewable and utility energy storage applications such as this. The technology also works well across multiple applications, including at high altitude.”
Lucie Yi said there were four factors that the company took into account before choosing lead carbon for the ESS. “First is investment costs, which are low, second this battery has a good cycling performance for its life span; third is the lower operating temperature; and fourth is the battery can be recycled easier at its end of life, for lithium ion it is not so easy,” she said. “The technology uses activated carbon on the negative electrode. The carbon has two roles in this battery; it increases the acceptance of the charge so charging is easier and faster and secondly it enables the battery to have a longer cycle life. “Because the battery is being charged from solar generation, which is not always stable because sometimes there is not enough sunshine to charge the battery, in a normal AGM or gel lead acid battery you get some aging problems — sulfation —at the negative plate. “When the crystals of lead sulfate become too big the plate is damaged and the battery’s lifetime is shortened. With this technology, growth of these crystals is
China’s Tianneng Group seeks new Asian site for lead battery factory
This followed the introduction of a 4% consumption tax on lead batteries introduced in January 2016 to curb excess lead battery manufacture. Scott Fink, president of Sorfin Yoshimura, says this was part of a larger trend that he had seen for some time and expected it to continue. “There has been a lot of pressure on Chinese manufacturers, with larger companies increasing their global relevance and realizing they need facilities in other areas,” he said.
Tianneng Group, one of China’s largest lead acid battery makers, said in March it was considering setting up a factory in another — as yet unspecified — Asian country to produce 100,000 tonnes of lead batteries a year. Tianneng said it would also expand capacity in China by 20%, according to a Reuters report, in which chairman Zhang Tianren said the company, was con-
sidering Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Pakistan or Bangladesh for the new facility. A decision on location will be made later this year. It comes just over a year after the firm announced a production expansion of lead acid batteries a year at its facility in Changxing, China. Zhang said various Chinese battery firms had already set up offshore locations in south-east Asia.
24 • Batteries International • Spring 2018
stopped or made difficult to form on the plate, making the battery’s lifetime longer. “In China lots of energy storage projects use lead carbon, especially for commercial use in industrial parks for peak shifting services because it’s cheap; so a lot of projects use these batteries in this type of application. “The main reason for the project is to improve the quality of supply. Before the output quality of the 30MW PV was not good enough to put on the electricity grid, so the government would ask the PV firm to stop production at certain times during the day, so to avoid that they wanted an energy storage system installed.” China Shoto Energy Storage is part of the Shuangdeng Group of companies and is a member of the Advanced Lead Acid Battery Consortium.
Bosch sets up 48V project in China German automotive components supplier Bosch has launched a 48-volt battery project in Wuxi, east China’s Jiangsu Province, the city government announced at the end of March via the state news agency.. Construction of the workshops and facilities has started, according to local officials. The 48-volt batteries are expected to be widely used in both electric and fuel vehicles, according to Bosch Automotive Systems (Wuxi) Co., Ltd., the subsidiary company Bosch set up in 2015 which is running the project. The project aims to generate the equivalent of $1.38 billion annually after operations begin in 2021.
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Lead acid batteries named as ‘priority product’ by California\DTSC The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers — a coalition including major manufacturers such as General Motors, Mitsubishi, Volkswagen, and Volvo — are continuing to try and put pressure on California’s authorities to drop plans to make lead acid batteries ‘priority products’. Lead acid batteries are one of seven product categories named in the Department of Toxic Substance Control’s 2018-2020 draft priority products work plan. These represent the candidates from which the DTSC may select ‘priority products’. Once a product-chemical combination is designated, manufacturers must either undertake an alternatives analysis or phase out the substance’s use. Manufacturers of goods classified as priority products, which so far consist of spray polyurethane foam, paint stripper with methylene chloride and certain children’s foam-padded sleeping products, must perform an Alternatives Analysis, the details of which are laid out in a 235-page document. Once the AA has been completed, which could take up to two years, the Department of Toxic Substances Control decides its regulatory response — and failure to comply with that could result in the product being taken off the market. One of the stipulations in the AA would be for manufacturers to demonstrate they had sought alternatives to their products. However, Karl Palmer, chief of the Safer Consumer Products Branch under the DTSC, told Batteries International the department was willing to work with the lead battery industry, which had responded positively to the proposal and
had already carried a lot of the work that would be needed to complete an Alternative Analysis. He said there were two main criteria why any product would be treated as a potential priority product: if the chemical concerned had the potential for harm; and if there was potential exposure to that product that could result in a significant or widespread adverse impact on people or the environment. While recognizing the high recycling rate of lead batteries (up to 99%, according to BCI), Palmer cited the Exide Technologies recycling plant issue at Vernon as one example of possible dangers that had to be borne in mind. In a 16-page joint letter to the DTSC on December 15, the Association of Global Automakers and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers said there was minimal risk of lead exposure to the public or environment; there were already extensive state and federal regulations addressing lead and LABs; an evaluation of LABs in Europe regularly
26 • Batteries International • Spring 2018
led to exemptions for LABs under the end-of-life directive; and no widely available alternatives had yet been developed that were functionally acceptable. The letter cited BCI’s National Recycling Rate Study, released last November, which showed LABs had a recycling rate of 99.3%. As all electric vehicles require a LAB for their 12V net stabilization, the growth of the EV industry could also be harmed by such a listing, the letter said. BCI director of strategic communications Lisa Dry said the BCI was encouraging the DTSC to “look beyond the hype of some newer chemistries and their future potential and instead focus on the real benefits delivered by lead batteries today. “Lead batteries do not meet the program’s criteria of potential exposure or potential adverse impact that must be present to be named a priority product,” she said. “We also believe that the sustainability aspects of lead batteries are closely aligned with California’s
US Golden State proposes ban on petrol cars from 2040 The US state of California could ban the sale of new petrol cars from 2040 under a proposed Clean Cars Act, which would stop car registrations being accepted for vehicles not classed as having zero emissions. Democratic Assembly member Phil Ting introduced the bill in the state legislature on January 3 in what he said was a bid to address climate change. The law would exempt vehicles weighing more
than 10,001 pounds (4.5 tonnes). Amandine Muskus, manager, environment and energy with the Association of Global Automakers, an auto representative group that represents companies including Honda, Aston Martin, Toyota and Ferrari, told Batteries International the bill is typical of the state’s efforts to play a leadership role in anything to do with ‘green’ legislation. “It’s also to do with
desire to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For example, start-stop engine technology, made possible by advanced lead batteries, reduces fuel consumption from 3% to 5% depending on driving conditions. By 2020 this same technology will help eliminate two million tons of vehicle greenhouse gas emissions annually in the US.” The decision as to whether lead batteries will be selected as a priority product should be made while Batteries International is going to press. But even if they are selected, it did not necessarily mean a death knell to the industry, said Palmer. “They just need to continue the high level of engagement with us and let us know if they have concerns and if we pick leadacid batteries as a priority product we are committed to working with them, to go through the process in a transparent, clear, scientifically sound productive manner,” he said. “We’ve had a good relationship with them so far and we expect that to continue.” flying in the face of the current federal administration, which isn’t seen as doing anything,” she said. Other parts of the world have also announced a ban on the sale of ICE vehicles in the future most notably France and the UK from 2040, Germany and India from 2030. Austria, Denmark, Ireland, Japan, the Netherlands, Portugal, Korea and Spain have set official targets for electric car sales. “The US doesn’t have a federal policy, but at least eight states have set out similar goals,” said a commentator.
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Responsible Battery Coalition aims to collect 2m spent batteries A group of lead battery makers, recyclers, retailers and users launched an initiative on February 14 that aims to collect an estimated two million batteries currently lying unused in US citizens’ back yards. If successful, it says the recycling rate of lead batteries in the US will reach 100%, where now it is just over 99%, according to Battery Council International. Calling itself the Responsible Battery Coalition
the group, which includes Johnson Controls, Ford Motor Company, Honda and Walmart, is calling on people to take any old lead batteries to their nearest participating auto parts retailer, which will ensure they are properly recycled. Quoting the latest automotive industry research, executive director of the coalition Pat Hayes said 12% of consumers still had a spent vehicle battery at home that was not in the closed recycling loop.
“That’s enough batteries to equal the weight of 1,000 semi-trucks or enough to line the length of 8,000 football fields,” he said. The coalition says it will use a combination of online advertising and social media to get the message across to consumers. “The recycling of vehicle batteries is one of the great achievements in protecting public and environmental health,” said Ramon Sanchez, who is chair of the
coalition’s science advisory board. “With 99% of the vehicle batteries in North America currently being recycled, we are reducing pollution including the greenhouse emissions caused from sourcing new battery materials. “Getting the remaining two million batteries recycled will make this positive impact even better.” Other members of the Responsible Battery Coalition include Federal Express, Advance Auto Parts, AutoZone, Canadian Energy, O’Reilly Auto Parts, Club Car and LafargeHolcim.
Lead battery industry adds $28bn to US economy a year A study released on February 1 claims the US lead battery manufacturing and recycling industries produced a $28 billion economic benefit for the US economy in 2016 and employed more than 20,000, with a broader impact of nearly 95,000 jobs. Employees who enter the lead battery industry, including many high school graduates, can expect higher than average salaries of more than $83,000 for recycling and mining positions, while manufacturing employees see similarly high salaries — averaging more than $62,000, says the report. The Economic Contribution of the US Lead Battery Industry by the Economic Development Research Group, commissioned by BCI through its arm Essential Energy Everyday, said employees earned a total of $6 billion a year in the industry. The increasing demand for energy storage in renewable energy facilities, as well as lead batteries’ essential uses in the nation’s infrastructure that encompasses transport, logistics, communications and critical back-up power, produced a direct economic output of
$11.2 billion from battery manufacture and recycling, the report said. “Our industry is proud of its contribution to the national economy and role as a provider of green manufacturing jobs,” said BCI president Jeff Elder. “Compared to many other private industry sectors, salaries in the lead battery industry are 59% higher for mining and recycling workers, and 19% higher for manufacturing workers. These jobs assure a foot-
28 • Batteries International • Spring 2018
hold to the middle class in an era when manufacturing jobs are in decline “As demand for renewable energy increases, the need for sustainable and cost-effective energy storage increases as well. The lead battery industry’s circular economy helps create an extremely sustainable, environmentally friendly form of energy storage that produces significant economic benefits for the communities where we operate.”
Residents tested for blood near Exide recycling plant Children and pregnant women near an Exide Technologies battery recycling plant in Muncie, in the US state of Indiana, are being tested for lead in their blood in tests by the state department of health, Exide confirmed to Batteries International on February 13. The recycling plant has been operating since 1989, and is one of two Exide battery recycling plants operating in the US, the other is at Canon Hollow, Missouri. Its former Vernon plant,
near Los Angeles, has been shut down, with millions of dollars being paid out for clean-up work at the site. “Exide maintains OSHA-compliant hygiene practices designed to prevent employees from leaving its facilities with lead or other chemical residue on their clothes,” said Melissa Floyd, director of corporate communications. “Exide is aware of two isolated instances from the Delaware County Health Department report. The
In a different study, Leadacid Battery Market Size, Growth, Trends and 2022 Forecasts, research firm Technavio said that globally the industry would register revenue of more than $65 billion between 2018 and 2022. It said the increasing focus of governments on legalizing battery recycling and improving efficiency was helping to drive growth, along with increasing the deployment of microgrids. most effective preventative measure to avoid lead leaving the facility is the complete compliance of our employees to all safety policies and procedures. “Exide has re-educated our Muncie plant employees on our policies and procedures, proper hygiene practices and lead awareness. Exide places the utmost importance on the health safety of our employees, their families and the communities in which we operate and we are coordinating with the Indiana State Health Department, which is providing a free blood lead testing clinic in the community this week.”
Richardson Molding $5.25m investment announced US plastics moulding company Richardson Molding announced a $5.25 million investment in its manufacturing facility in Philadelphia, Missouri mid-February, earmarking at least $3 million for equipment. Richardson Molding makes plastic casing and injection-molded parts primarily for the lead-acid battery market, but it also supports other battery chemistries. The announcement comes a month after Steve Dyer was appointed CEO following the acquisition of the firm by private investment firm Owner Resource Group. “We have served the
lead-acid battery industry since its inception,” Dyer told Batteries International. “However, we are an energy storage solution provider. We are chemistry agnostic in that, regardless of chemistry, we can produce a polymeric product to contain the energy provided to the customer.” Dyer said the money would be spent in two main areas: enhancing production capability (facilities and equipment) and “expanding machine and facility capacity to support new industries and customers to ensure Richardson Molding’s longterm financial health. “The investment is being made to support many stra-
tegic initiatives,” said Dyer. “We are experiencing strong demand in our core markets and have seen a nice recovery in stationary stand-by power applications. “One certainly doesn’t garner external financial investment without a sense of confidence in a return for that investment. Given the install base of lead-acid batteries globally, combined with the industry’s incredibly high recyclable rate, and the technology’s competitive power ratios, we believe strongly that the lead-acid battery industry has a lot of life left in it.” Dyer began his more than 25-year career in the lead battery business as a quality
Tighter EU regulations on lead if Swedish proposal adopted A public consultation on whether to identify lead as a ‘substance of very high concern’ ended on April 23, when the European Chemicals Agency will decide whether to add the metal to the EU’s REACH candidate list. The decision will almost certainly be to add it to the list, invoking a raft of regulations that are bound to have an impact on the lead battery industry, which makes up 85% of the EU’s lead use. REACH — Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals – is the legislation implemented in 2007 by the European Chemicals Agency under the EU. It orders products that meet certain criteria to be added to a ‘candidate list’, which then necessitates informing downstream users of the presence of that particular substance within a product and leads to the possibility of it being in-
cluded on the ‘authorization list’, which entails more farreaching regulations, including finding an alternative. In February, Sweden’s Chemical Agency proposed that lead should be classified as a SVHC (substance of very high concern) and a public consultation including parties such as member states and organizations like Eurobat and the ILA was launched. But as Steve Binks, director of regulatory affairs at the International Lead Association, says, because lead meets certain REACH criteria — it already has a harmonized classification as a reproductive toxicant — parties involved in the public consultation will have no option but to vote for its inclusion on the candidate list. Once on the candidate list, a further process is gone through to determine whether the product must then be added to an ‘authorization list’, which means permis-
sion must then be sought from the European Chemicals Agency prior to its sale or even use. “After that, the commission and member states will have another chance to question whether authorization is proportionate, but at this stage there is no discretion,” Binks told Batteries International. “The implications are that in the early 2020s, if the process progresses at speed then all users of lead in Europe will have to have authorization to continue. “They should grant an exemption from authorization because there’s already legislation in the End-of-Life Directive that exempts lead batteries. Every three to five years this has to be reviewed by the car industry to make the point that there are no alternatives. “So even though it’s already regulated, but we would still have to justify to the regulator that there is
analyst. “I have found that investing in people and processes, speaking with data, and striving daily for incremental continuous improvement typically leads to increasing value,” he said. “When one can create real value for the customer, that breeds an environment that produces sustainable results. We serve some of the best customers on the planet and my commitment from day one of appointment has always been to enhance our service to our long-term partners.” The Mississippi Development Authority, Tennessee Valley Authority and Development Partnership, a local economic development organization Community, have agreed tax incentives to help the firm with the expansion. no alternative available and there are socio-economic benefits to using lead batteries.” In fact the ruling would apply to all major battery chemistries, said Binks, since they also contained substances that had similar issues. Where four lead compounds had to have exemptions — two lead oxides and two lead sulfates — he said lithium batteries had the same issue with cobalt, and nickel cadmium batteries with cadmium. “All would have to go through the REACH process, so it would have an impact on all batteries,” he said. As well as the reproductive toxicant criterion which qualified substances for the candidate list, other criteria included substances that were persistent, bio-accumulative and toxic; persistent and very bio-accumulative; and substances which gave rise to an equivalent level of concern to all of those above, and with scientific evidence of probable serious effects to human health or the environment.
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Lead battery industry ponders impact of proposed US tariffs on Chinese goods Lead acid battery separators have been added to the US administration’s list of Chinese products that could be hit with tariffs of 25% in an ongoing tit-fortat trade battle between China and the US. More than 1,300 products were added to the Section 301 document, released on April 3, and while lead batteries themselves are not on the list, “parts of lead acid storage batteries, including separators therefor” are listed under reference numbers 85079040 and 85079080. “The US Trade Representative has determined that the acts, policies, and practices of the Government of China related to technology transfer, intellectual property, and innovation covered in the investigation are unreasonable or discrimina-
tory and burden or restrict US commerce,” the document says, calling for public comments on the issue and proposing the 25% duty on Chinese goods. The move came after China said it would impose tariffs on US goods including soy beans, frozen pork and fruit from the US which in itself was a response to Donald Trump’s proposal to add a 25% tariff to imported steel and 10% on aluminium. Global lead battery separator manufacturer Daramic says the proposal will not affect its business since it is strategically placed around the world. “If the trade war intensifies, it could impact companies with large import/ export businesses,” said global marketing director Dawn Heng. “We would
recommend the battery industry get a local sourcing strategy to avoid potential cross-country risks. “With regard to Daramic, one of our key advantages is our global footprint, where we have 10 plants in each strategic region (US, Europe, China, India, Thailand), and they are almost all regionally balanced on supply and demand. “In fact, we see our advantage even more clearly now with the trade actions between China and the US.” Unlike lead acid batteries, lithium cells themselves are included on the list as well as parts of lithium batteries. Responding to the tariffs, the Energy Storage Association said it anticipated that the inclusion of Chinese battery components in the tariffs would be likely to have a negligible impact on the
ABC in $689,000 contract for bipolar prototypes for US military Bipolar lead acid battery firm Advanced Battery Concepts will design prototype batteries for the US Defense Logistics Agency in a move that could lead to its batteries being acquired by the air force and navy, the DLA announced on March 15. The commitment by the US military — never known for being concerned about price when quality is at stake — underpins the endorsement that ABC will receive if the firm’s batteries are accepted. The GreenSeal AGM batteries will replace the US army’s 4HN and 2HN flooded lead acid batteries and eliminate the need to open cells and refill them with acid. The codes 4HN and 2HN relate to military specifications for waterproof lead
acid batteries with specific sizes and performance requirements in 12-volt and 24-volt. “The bipolar design uses electrodes with positive material on one side and negative on the other in a simple stacked, thin planer geometry,” said Reed Shick, director of intellectual property at ABC. “The thin electrodes have a short acid diffusion distance for high power and the uniform current through the battery yields high energy compared to spiral wound or prismatic batteries. The use of ViaLock internal structural support in an over-moulded case makes the batteries very robust and vibration resistant. “The expected performance improvements include 50% improved capac-
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ity and energy at the C20 rate, 35% improved CCA, 100% improved cycle life (100% DOD C/2 to 50% capacity) and 300% improved vibration resistance.” Ten drop-in handmade ABC prototypes will be prepared in four months for testing at the US Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center as part of a phased contract that ABC has proposed, said the DLA’s media relations chief Michelle McCaskill. A manufacturing line will then be set up to produce another 10 for testing and evaluation over 12 months. ABC’s CEO Ed Shaffer told Batteries International he believed the company’s new Bipolar+ technology, which allows the GreenSeal design to be adapted for dif-
growth of the energy storage market. “Nonetheless, ESA is concerned by the battery tariffs because the administration is creating unnecessary uncertainty for the US energy storage market,” said ESA CEO Kelly Speakes-Backman. “If these tariffs are adopted, the companies and people who plan, build and service battery storage facilities will be faced with risk that may inhibit storage deployment, even as the US looks to strengthen its energy infrastructure and enhance resilience.” Battery Council International director of strategic communications Lisa Dry told Batteries International that the policy committee was “reviewing the proposed tariffs and what they mean to the industry”. ferent fitment, voltage and capacity requirements, was the key factor behind the US Army’s decision to trial the batteries. “Passing the military specification testing will continue to reinforce the readiness of GreenSeal technology for a broad array of military uses,” he said. “Even better, it will show the suitability of the technology for a multitude of applications outside of the military, including SLI. “ABC has currently licensed our technology to four major battery producers with more in process. At the end of the project, ABC and our licensees will have a clear path to sell GreenSeal batteries to the US military and we look forward to broad commercialization of the technology by our licensees into these and other markets.” Two of ABC’s four licensees produce AGM batteries for the DLA.
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Trojan expands support for GRID Alternatives in Nicaragua, extends reach in former USSR Deep-cycle battery manufacturer Trojan Battery has pledged more support for the GRID Alternatives programme, which helps communities in countries where electricity services are unreliable, the firm announced in mid-March. It also announced new representative arrangements in the former USSR. Trojan says it will provide flooded, AGM and gel batteries as needed based on project installations in Nicaragua, Mexico and Nepal, and is planning to send a team of volunteers to Nicaragua to install a solar system there for a women’s coffee co-operative. Last year, Trojan sent a team to install an off-grid solar system for a school and health clinic in Nicaragua. Its True Deep-Cycle AGM Solar batteries were launched at the Intersolar Europe conference in May 2017. They were specifically engineered for deep-cycle applications and honed for solar applications with the capability of
operating within a wide temperature range, making them ideal for harsher and more demanding environments, the company said, and without the need for watering. Oakland, California-based GRID Alternatives is a non-profit organization that organizes various groups to install solar power and energy efficiency for low-income and remote communities. It has already installed 166 systems in 34 communities, including one in Sindhupalchok, Nepal, where a 16kW solar microgrid with battery bank and inverters were connected to supply each house with electricity in 2016. The batteries in this case were Trojan’s industrial batteries, which the company imported into Nepal “because of their high quality”, said Jenean Smith, director of international programs with GRID Alternatives. The project was funded by individual donations and travellers who paid fees to travel to Nepal with them.
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“We are working on another microgrid in Nepal that we will install this October that is funded by a corporate sponsor,” she said. “One of Trojan’s corporate core values is to help provide energy access to off-grid communities in the US and abroad,” said Bryan Godber, senior vice president of global market development.
Trojan in former USSR
Deep-cycle battery maker Trojan Battery expanded its distribution network in the former USSR in April, with the appointment of two local distribution companies in Lithuania and Azerbaijan. On April 5, the company announced that local firm Rovel Trading would distribute Trojan’s batteries to customers in Azerbaijan for floor cleaning machines, golf cars, marine, material handling, telecoms and renewable energy applications. “Designating Rovel Trading as a Trojan master distributor for Azerbaijan enables us to provide customers in the Caucasian region with a wide range of advanced battery products,” said Michael Grundke, general manager for EMA at Trojan. “By working closely with local distributors Trojan continues its international expansion strategy to provide batteries that optimize the operation of our customers’ equipment and applications.” Five days after the announcement on April 10, Trojan said it had appointed Lithuanian distributor Girupois.LT to supply industries such as warehouse management, marine, trucking and recreation vehicles. Girupis is already a leading battery distributor in Lithuania, Trojan said, where there were many opportunities for Trojan’s batteries to be installed. Closer to home, Trojan Battery’s wholly-owned subsidiary Trojan Battery Sales revealed a new residential energy storage products to customers in southeastern US. Homeowners installing the new PowerHouse Grid Energy Storage Unit, which includes Trojan’s Solar AGM batteries, will be eligible for rebates by the local utility JEA.
NEWS East Penn opens new facility in Iowa Lead battery manufacturer East Penn announced the opening of a facility on February 7 in Oelwein, Iowa that will fill, form, finish and distribute lead-acid batteries. East Penn chief operating officer Bob Flicker had announced the new $70 million facility in November 2015, when $3.1 million in tax credits from the Iowa Economic Development Authority and $1.75 million in loans were also pledged. The site has been built on 40 acres to the south east of Oelwein 10 years after distribution operations began there. Last month East Penn was named the Most Valuable Supplier by the Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association for the third successive year.
The filing of the law suits, as such, does not mean that any wrongdoing has occurred but that possible evidence of this may be shown in a court of law. Meanwhile, Aqua Metals, soldiers on. On February 12, the company announced the success of its solution to a ‘sticky lead’ problem, in which lead recovered during the company’s Aqua Refining process
had been left hanging on the module’s exit chutes. An electrolyser retro-fit design had been installed on one full module had been operated for more than 20 hours over a four-day period. Lead produced in the process has been converted into ingots, the company said, and the electrolyser is being applied to all 16 AquaRefining modules.
Three separate lawsuits were filed with the US District Court, Northern District of California, with complaints going back to May 2016 against the firm.
Law suits filed against Aqua Metals, company resolves technical problem A court deadline to apply for the position of lead plaintiff against battery recycling firm Aqua Metals passed on February 13, a day after the firm announced it had approved a solution to a ‘sticky lead’ problem with its technology. Three separate lawsuits were filed with the US District Court, Northern District of California, with complaints going back to May 2016 against the firm. A lead plaintiff will be selected to represent all of the investors and the suits will be consolidated into one case before going in front of a judge. The complaints include: Aqua Metals’ breaking and separating process not operating reliably or efficiently; breaking and separating negatively impacting output; Aqua Metals modules being used for experimentation and not production; module operators assisting with lead removal; the ramp-up process being hindered or delayed; the release of false and misleading statements regarding business operations and prospects; and Aqua Metals being aware of and ignoring material unresolved deficiencies in its recycling process which prevented large-scale development.
Batteries International • Spring 2018 • 33
Duracell unveils new lead acid battery citing cost benefits against lithium Duracell, the US battery firm, best known for its small alkaline batteries, unveiled a 12V 660Wh AGM sealed lead-acid battery at the 2018 CES conference in Las Vegas in January. The reason for choosing lead-acid over lithium was cost, according to Doug Broadhurst, senior director of marketing and product design at Battery-Biz, the sole licensed partner for manufacturing and distributing many Duracell products. “The decision was made because we feel there is a need in the market for a high capacity unit at an aggressive price point,” he told Batteries International. “Most Li-ion solutions that are close to the capacity of our unit cost
twice as much.” The battery, the PowerSource 660 — the unit has a capacity of 660Wh — would be ideal for recreational activities such as camping, said Broadhurst, as well as for emergency backup power at home. “It has a UPS feature that can be used to prevent equipment like computers from losing power in the event of an unexpected power outage. “In terms of home back-up, this is not a unit that will plug in at the breaker and power an entire home, however it will keep critical appliances up and running during power outages. Broadhurst says the battery can be expected to last for five to 10 years,
EnerSys expands range of TPPL batteries for forklifts and AGVs TPPL battery manufacturer EnerSys has expanded its NexSys range of batteries for forklift trucks and automated guided vehicles, the firm announced on March 19. AGVs are portable robots that follow wires or other guidance markers along floors in warehouses, or sometimes navigate by laser or magnet. The NexSys 2V TPPL cells are built using pure lead plates that are much thinner than lead calcium/antimony grids, allowing many more electrodes to be fitted in the same space, increasing battery capacity and boosting power density. The new range includes taller (370mm-675mm) cells, which means volume and capacity are increased, and because they can be charged over brief periods like rest breaks or even shift changes, the vehicles are in use virtually continuously and do not have to be parked to recharge or have their batteries removed while doing so. EnerSys PR account director Christopher Butcher said the use of lithium batteries in industrial trucks, which was currently less than 2%, was bound to rise, especially when the price dropped as a result of the boom in electric car use. “The share of lithium-ion technology is likely to rise in particular with small, manually operated industrial
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trucks with little space available in the equipment,” he said. Lead acid, he said, would continue to score well in the heavy-duty sector. “Modern advancements, such as TPPL batteries or the square tube design, can enable lead acid batteries to meet more stringent demands in the intralogistics sector for productivity, flexible charging and performance,” he said. Butcher said the complexity of lithium batteries meant there was more risk associated with the technology. The electronics within them, he said, meant the risk of faults and outages was far higher, and this unreliability came at the cost of greater technical complexity. “A common aspect of all types of lithium-ion cells is that they are more sensitive to certain operating conditions and external factors than leadacid batteries,” he said, which meant that they needed a battery management system to monitor charging and discharging. “This BMS usually has a direct interface to the electric vehicle. A consequence of this close integration of lithium ion batteries into the vehicle
depending on usage and maintenance. The battery will retail in the spring at an estimated price of $500. It also has an option to connect solar panels to it. electronics is that most industrial truck manufacturers make and install their own lithium ion battery systems. “Manufacturers are reluctant to give external parties access to the CAN bus (controller area network) of their forklift trucks – a prerequisite for integrating batteries from ‘independent’ suppliers. For operators of industrial trucks, this means they have to buy their lithium ion batteries from the equipment manufacturer, not from the manufacturer of their choice. “By contrast, lead acid batteries from different manufacturers are mutually compatible, so a wide variety of vehicles can be equipped with batteries from a single supplier.” Butcher also said the sustainability of lead batteries (which contain chiefly lead, sulphuric acid and plastic) meant they were almost completely recyclable, whereas lithium batteries first needed a chemical analysis before even recycling was even considered. “The difficulty of recycling is also indicated by the target stated in the EU Battery Directive (2006/66/EC) – one of the most advanced recycling directives in the world – which sets a goal of just 50% by weight for lithium batteries,” he said. The new batteries are available in standard and fast configurations so the right combination of battery, charger and monitoring system can be specified, the company says.
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Mini grids to drive energy storage in Africa— lead still the preferred option Up to 200,000 battery-backed mini grid systems could be installed in Africa by 2040 as the region struggles to connect nearly 140 million people to electricity, a summit in Nairobi discussed on March 21-22. By far the most dominant battery chemistry is lead. Representatives from governments, utility companies and private sector power developers told the fourth annual Africa Mini Grids Summit in the Kenyan capital that expansion would be supported mainly by imported batteries, dominated by lead batteries because of their cheaper cost. “Lead acid is still the dominant choice for the African market although different versions are in use depending on the consumer’s priorities,” said Laurent Grimaud, managing partner at Francebased Ergos Energy Partners, a consultancy. Ergos is working with a telecommunications firm in East Africa to install infrastructure in off-grid areas with lead batteries as the energy storage option. “Gel batteries are a better option for such areas because of their lower maintenance demand,” he said, adding that
Lead acid is still the dominant choice for the African market although different versions are in use depending on the consumer’s priorities other lead battery options in the market currently included wet cell and absorbed glass mat. “Battery energy storage is procured by various entities that are developing mini grids mainly from imports because of the inadequate manufacturing capacity in the region,” said Kamal Gupta, sales consultant with Schneider Electric. Schneider supplies a gel version of lead acid batteries with its VillaSmart system, a hybrid solar PV micro grid system that replaces diesel-powered systems in off-grid areas. “With less than 15% of rural households in Sub-Saharan Africa (excluding South Africa) having access to electricity, strategies for creating commercially viable small power producers and mini grids in rural areas are critically needed,” said Maggie Tan, CEO of event organizer Magenta Global. In West Africa, some 128,000 mini
grids have been approved for construction by 2030 by countries that are members of the Economic Community of West African States at an estimated cost of $3.7 billion. Some of the off-grid systems include PV systems, solar home systems, small wind turbines, solar residential systems and hybrids with renewable energy sources as the primary system and a generator back-up powered by diesel, gasoline or liquefied petroleum gas. In Tanzania, lithium ion batteries power more than 60% of the mini grids owned by government. “Tanzania opted to use lithium ion batteries in all state-operated mini grid systems because of the lack of capacity to recycle lead acid batteries,” said Robert Wang’oe, head of commercial business at JUMEME Rural Power Supply, a private mini-grid operator in Tanzania. Shem Oirere, Nairobi
SOIL CONTAMINATION AROUND LEAD BATTERY PLANTS FOUND IN SEVEN Lead has been found at up to 65 times the naturally occurring level in soil near lead battery manufacturing and recycling plants in seven African countries, according to a January report. Soil Contamination from Lead Battery Manufacturing and Recycling in Seven African Countries was co-authored by Perry Gottesfeld, executive director of the US-based NGO Occupational Knowledge International, which develops strategies to reduce exposure to industrial pollutants. The countries named were Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania and Tunisia, and the report, which was published in the journal Environmental Research, said many of the plants in these countries were situated near local communities and schools. “We collected 118 soil samples at 15 recycling plants and one battery manufacturing site and analyzed them for total lead,” the report abstract said. “Lead levels in soils
36 • Batteries International • Spring 2018
ranged from <40-140,000 mg/kg. Overall mean lead concentrations were ~23,200 mg/kg but average lead levels were 22-fold greater for soil samples from inside plant sites than from those collected outside these facilities. “Lead concentrations in soil samples from communities surrounding these plants were ~2600 mg/kg.” According to the Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, lead occurs naturally in soil at 15mg/kg-40mg/kg — which means the soil tested in these countries had a more than 65 times greater concentration. Andreas Manhart, senior researcher, sustainable products and material flows with the Oeko Insitut, a European research and consultancy organization, said lead acid battery recycling was “hugely problematic in many developing countries and emerging economies”. “Although there are a number of
modern and more-or-less responsible facilities operating in developing countries — I saw a quite positive example in Nigeria in November — these companies are economically beaten by poorly performing smelters who do not care much about health and safety or the environment. “Labour is cheap and widely abundant in many developing countries and those poorly performing countries willingly accept that workers drop out for health reasons. And if sick workers seek medical treatment on their own — many smelters have no medical check-ups or blood-lead tests — they are hardly ever tested for lead poisoning, simply because the symptoms are taken for malaria or any other infectious disease.” Manhart says that small scale and backyard recycling is also an issue: in many countries the whole collection system is widely informal and the acid drained somewhere on the way to a facility (without any treatment). Battery breaking is also very common in
Mobisol partners African lead battery firms for its solar systems Solar power company Mobisol has partnered African lead-acid battery manufacturers to supply its solar systems in Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda in a closed-loop programme, the company confirmed to Batteries International on February 27. Berlin-based Mobisol has partnered Associated Battery Manufacturers in Kenya, Phenix Recycling in Tanzania and Enviroserve in Rwanda, who will supply their batteries to Mobisol customers in their countries and then organize battery collection and replacement through their localized networks. Corporate sustainability manager Paula Berger told Batteries International that the firm had selected lead batteries because they were ideal for its residential solar systems, which needed reliable, cheap and above all recyclable stationary storage. “We are one of the few companies offering decentralized solar solutions that are not based on lithium,” said Berger. “We started selling in Africa in 2013, so these first versions are starting to break down because the batteries last four or five years, sometimes less,
AFRICAN COUNTRIES informal sectors and battery repair and refurbishing is also still widespread in developing countries. Such practices are sometimes coupled with smallscale artisanal smelters. In December, the UN Environmental Assembly meeting in Nairobi made a resolution to combat backyard recycling in Africa, which included measures to encourage the sound management of waste lead acid batteries. “As the lead battery industry in Africa continues to expand, it is expected that the number and size of lead battery recycling plants will grow to meet the forecast demand,” the Occupational Knowledge International report said. “There is an immediate need to address exposures in surrounding communities, emissions from this industry and to regulate site closure financing procedures to ensure that we do not leave behind a legacy of lead contamination that will impact millions in communities throughout Africa.”
Mobisol in action in Tanzania
and we need an end-of-life solution. “We got in touch with the International Lead Association and asked them how to go about this, and they put us in touch with ABM in Kenya. We already worked with ABM’s battery brand Chloride Exide and this is why the partnership is very good for us, so we set up an action plan with them. “Before, when the customer’s battery stopped working they might sell it to informal recyclers or substitute it for a car battery, but they’re not good for this application and have environmental risks. “We have 1,000 freelancers in these countries, many of them in rural areas, who replace our customers’ batteries for them — so they have a contact person.” Lead battery recycling in Africa came under the spotlight at a UN meeting in Nairobi in December, when the UNEA3 resolved to promote the environmentally sound management of waste lead acid batteries. (See story to the left.) Lead was found at up to 65 times the naturally occurring level in soil near battery plants in Cameroon, Ghana, Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania, Tunisia and Kenya, according to the January report Soil Contamination from Lead Battery Manufacturing and Recycling in Seven African Countries by the NGO Occupational Knowledge International. However Kenya’s ABM, according to Berger, has facilities that are “way ahead” of many other battery firms. ABM managing director Guy Jack said the partnership was ideal for Mobisol as ABM already had collection
“Mobisol needed a mechanism whereby their customers had somewhere to take the spent batteries to—and our networks collect, recycle and convert them into lead.” – Guy Jack, Associated Battery Manufacturers networks, its own lead smelter and recycling plant. “They needed a mechanism whereby their customers had somewhere to take the spent batteries to — and our networks collect, recycle and convert them into lead,” he said. “At the moment we’re not talking huge volumes, but over the next few years we hope to roll out several systems a month, eventually to wider central and eastern Africa.” Mobisol has started selling its systems in bulk to companies in the Ivory Coast and Ethiopia, which will set up their own operating systems to collect and recycle the batteries. Berger says there are already 100,000 systems operating in Africa
Batteries International • Spring 2018 • 37
COVER STORY: ALTERNATIVE BATTERY TECHNOLOGIES
The revolution Lithium ion batteries’ primacy as the energy storage medium of choice won’t last for ever. Even the biggest cell makers in the world agree on that. From one corner of the industry (the noisy one), Elon Musk is already musing about whether the future for electric vehicles — and by extension the world of large scale energy storage — will be that of fuel cells. From the other corner a variety of sounds (mostly muted) another set of carmakers won’t give anything away and continue to keep all their bases covered. But a revolution of sorts in the way that energy storage operates is on its way. Our understanding of the future
38 • Batteries International • Spring 2018
is that the new energy landscape will be populated by a variety of chemistries (and, yes, lead remaining the key player). So it may be a little as five years away before we see the supremacy of lithium ion challenged. It could well be 25. But we all know it’s coming. This set the editorial team of Batteries International thinking. We held a meeting with our colleagues from the sister magazine Energy Storage Journal to discuss this and we decided that
we would choose a variety of different battery chemistries that could provide the challenge to lithium at some point. At that point we also decided to look at secondary batteries that aren’t properly defined as batteries because they are mechanical. But they do occupy the same market space — flywheels are a viable alternative for UPS systems. Our choice is unashamedly idiosyncratic — we may all write about energy storage but it would be ridiculous to think that mere journalists should
COVER STORY: ALTERNATIVE BATTERY TECHNOLOGIES
starts here! call themselves experts and predict the way that markets will move. One of our first picks was for lithium sulfur. For a long time, it’s been tipped as an outsider, an esoteric chemistry that could only reach niche markets, but we know its development curve is already showing vast progress. Another early pick was nickel zinc was based on the fact that this was one of the oldest battery pairs, dating to the turn of the last century. Although it had been largely side-lined and made virtually redundant in the late 1970s. a new wave of companies were looking at the chemistry. Magnesium batteries seemed to be a strong contender for inclusion — even though it was probably the least likely
to have a place in the energy storage armoury for a generation. Zinc air too was reckoned an interesting outsider in that development work had largely been focused on reducing the size of the battery — while grid storage was all about opportunities from scale. Again it was interesting in that some firms were exploring using the metal in totally new formats. Then, despite the recent failure of Aquion, the technology behind sodium ion batteries is solid and, theoretically at least, we could see the emergence of truly affordable energy storage. Well at some point, anyway. But what look at alternative storage could dare to ignore the exciting world of liquid metal batteries since
this is a technology just ready to break out. Likewise supercaps. Again this has moved on and is already proving itself in a variety of applications — so far the pairing with batteries is widening this out further and further. Flow batteries have been around for some time but there continues to be questions over the metal’s availability and price, so we were pleased to include the zinc bromine couple as a technology worth watching Fuel cells seemed to merit inclusion but given that it effectively burns a fuel, one cannot strictly call it a battery. We hope you find our choices interesting.
Batteries International • Spring 2018 • 39
COVER STORY: ALTERNATIVE BATTERY TECHNOLOGIES Lithium sulfur could well become the successor to lithium ion batteries. The chemistry is safer, the power greater and the material costs lower. But the road to commercialization continues to be a long one.
Lithium sulfur — the one to watch The lithium sulfur story dates back to the very early days of research into lithium as a potential cell for a battery. In the 1970s lithium ion and lithium sulfur were being investigated at the same time. However, it took until the 1990s for lithium ion batteries to be commercialized, and arguably another 20 years before industry realized the chemistry could be scaled up and for it to become the darling of the energy storage and motive industry. While lithium ion’s success has continued to spiral upwards, lithium sulfur has fallen by the wayside. A major difficulty in Li-S materials and cell development is the extremely complex reaction mechanism involved in the conversion of elemental sulfur (S8) to the final reduction product, lithium sulfide (Li2S). During the discharge of a Li-S cell, elemental sulfur is reduced to a soluble form of intermediate species, socalled lithium polysulfides, which are soluble in the electrolyte and diffuse out from the cathode structure. As the discharge process continues, the length of the soluble polysulfides chain is reduced, which affects the viscosity of the electrolyte. The final discharge product, Li2 S2/ Li2S, is a solid and insulating material that passivates the electronically conductive surface of the cathode, causing premature end of discharge and an increase of the internal resistance, which eventually can lead to increased heat generation in large format cells. The charge process is equally difficult, where solid products are oxidized back to the soluble form, which in turn are converted to elemental sulfur. Another main limitation in the performance of Li-S cells arises from the use of a lithium metal anode. Although contributing to the high theoretical and gravimetric energies, lithium metal is an significant cause of the relatively short cycle life of Li-S 40 • Batteries International • Spring 2018
cells (hundreds of cycles when tested in realistic conditions compared with thousands for lithium ion cells). Lithium is a highly electronegative element. Because of this, almost all organic solvents will spontaneously react with the anode, causing electrolyte degradation. In addition, any polysulfides that diffuse to the anode surface will be electrochemically reduced to a lower-order polysulfide, causing coulombic inefficiency and irreversible loss of active material from the cathode. But the days of lithium sulfur being lithium ion’s poor cousin are changing. Solutions found in the laboratory have emerged on the manufacturing line. And the next big hurdle to commercialization will be in bringing down cost. The key will be moving from niche applications, including the aerospace and military markets, to motive and finally energy storage, when the technology is fully ma-
“Commercialization is not a black and white thing. In the next two to three years we hope to have our technology in some specific applications in the aerospace and military sectors.” — David Ainsworth, Oxis
tured, and the economies of scale can match, and even beat, lithium ion.
Showing potential Lithium sulfur batteries won’t be as diversified as lithium ion because they have one active material (sulfur), whereas lithium ion has four or five different variant materials it can use, depending on the application. The technology’s gravimetrical energy density is limited through the cathode material, says David Ainsworth, chief technical officer at Oxis Energy. There are other issues, including capacity fade/high solubility/ polysulfides/materials loss/sulfation/ electrolyte stability/anode failure. But scientists are predominantly focusing on protecting the lithium metal anode from its reactive surrounding to enhance cycle life. In March last year Victor Batista, a professor of chemistry at Yale University in the US, announced the creation of a new protective coating. This was made from graphene, a one atom thick carbon structure, and an organic dendrimer, a polymer that has a tree-like branching structure. Results showed that the film had an average thickness of 90 nanometers. The film kept the lithium sulfur compounds together in one place, preventing them from leaching into the electrolyte and degrading the cell’s performance. Where the technology shows the biggest promise is in its specific energy density, which in theory is three to five times that of conventional lithium ion. Lithium ion boasts between 100Wh/kg-240Wh/kg, depending on the specific materials used, the power and safety margins required and cost. With lithium sulfur the maximum being achieved to date is around 400Wh/kg. However, it is difficult to know what is happening elsewhere because what’s being achieved and what is being published are two different things. It’s difficult to gauge what stage bigger companies are at because they don’t tend to publicize their findings, says Ainsworth. Oxis Energy, a UK firm that has been pioneering the research and commercialization of lithium sulfur batteries since 2000, is targeting the www.batteriesinternational.com
COVER STORY: ALTERNATIVE BATTERY TECHNOLOGIES 450Wh/kg goal by the end of this year. Its research plan is to reach 500Wh/kg by the end of 2019. “The 500Wh/kg is a milestone figure in the battery industry and a future goal,” says Ainsworth. “At 400Wh/kg the argument is that it could stay at that, and instead improve credible factors in performance like power and cycle life. Cost is not critical until you reach large scale manufacturing.” Then there’s the trade off between gravimetrical energy and cycling: the higher the energy density the lower the cyclability. For example, Oxis reports its cells achieve up to 200 cycles on 400Wh/kg cell designs, but halve the energy density and they can reach more than 1,000 cycles. Another hurdle to commercialization is the speed of charging and discharging, which is not as high as some lithium ion technologies. There is also lots of work being conducted on issues such as partial state of charge technology, extending cycle life, and lowering the depth of discharge where data suggest lithium sulfur will be a good fit and will lend itself better to stationary storage applications.
Commercialization Ainsworth believes that the pathway to mass commercialization is a twostep process, with any new technology required to fill primary benefits. The first stage is to make a 400Wh/ kg battery that has decent cycle life and that can target niche markets where the cells are several thousand dollars per Wh/kg. As the market matures, production will increase. Oxis is taking that first step towards building a pilot scale facility to service those niche markets, but has no long term plans to build a mass production plant for the electric vehicle and energy storage markets. When discussing the ESS, much like EVs, there are niches within the market where a system might only be required at the kW scale (such as Tesla’s Powerwall), and that will be purely driven by cost. “Commercialization is not a black and white thing. In the next two to three years we hope to have our technology in some specific applications in the aerospace and military sectors,” Ainsworth says. “Applications such as drones, which require high gravimetrical energy but not such long cycle life and lower power, suits the technology well. In terms of conwww.batteriesinternational.com
Lithium sulfur: energy density aspirations
sumer products, which include EVs, we are talking around five years.” Barely a handful of firms are pushing out commercial products. Oxis is the largest player but it is not a onehorse race. Sion Power, for example, has developed its Licerion product, and has been partnering with BASF, the chemicals giant, and using Airbus Defence and Space, the aerospace firm, to commercialize the product. At the end of January the firm announced it would begin full production of Licerion by the end of the year, anticipating that it would reach the 500Wh/kg level. “The Licerion rechargeable lithium metal technology will offer the unmanned aerial vehicle and electric vehicle markets an unparalleled 500Wh/kg, 1,000Wh/L, and 450 cycles when released,” the firm said. Other firms known to be looking at the chemistry are PolyPlus in a more generic way, exploring lithium chemistries as a whole avenue of approaches to the metal as a battery. According to press reports, Sony
Source: Sion Power
announced a couple of years ago that it planned to offer a lithium sulfur cell for use in small electronic products by 2020. However, there is no way a new technology can get to the costs seen by lithium ion until it is widely adopted, and any new contender for lithium ion’s crown will have to go head-to-head in a price race. The steadily increasing number of global gigafactories insures the economy of supply remains firmly in the established chemistry’s corner. “You have to consider manufacturing on quite a large scale to see costs come down low enough to suit static energy storage,” says Ainsworth. “With lithium ion the primary advantage is the cost at scale. “Gravimetrical energy is not necessarily an advantage; if you go and ask a manufacturer if they want lower costs or higher gravimetrical energy, they will usually go for lower costs. That said lithium sulfur could represent a very cheap technology in the future.”
OXIS EXPANDS INTO BRAZIL Oxis received a £3.7 million ($5.3 million) investment in February from Aerotec, a Brazilian fund managed by venture capital/private equity firm Confrapar. The Aerotec investment paves the way for Oxis to open a subsidiary in Brazil. The Brazilian team will be trained at Oxis’ headquarters in Oxford in the UK, prior to creating a research and development centre in Belo Horizonte, the capital of the
Brazilian state of Minas Gerais. The company will initially focus on commercial expansion throughout Latin America, and will soon address the aviation, defence and heavy electric vehicle markets worldwide. Oxis will also explore the lithium deposits in Minas Gerais, and is evaluating the composition of the graphene products available in the state and how they would complement the Li-S chemistry.
Batteries International • Spring 2018 • 41
COVER STORY: ALTERNATIVE BATTERY TECHNOLOGIES
Sodium ion’s great Sodium ion batteries offered a resource that was cheap, easily recyclable and cost effective. Or so it seemed until recently. Although the essential understanding of the chemistry remains unchanged, the economic fundamentals remain a challenge. In 2014 sodium ion batteries made the jump from the lab to the market place. The reason? The installation of a 1MWh battery developed by US manufacturer Aquion Energy and placed alongside a PV array at a private estate in Hawaii. It was a groundbreaking moment in suggesting that the ESS market could be open to all comers and all chemistries. But the promise of the chemistry took a turn as Aquion, a company once tipped to become as big as Tesla — including a proposed billion dollar valuation — struggled and fell into Chapter 11 insolvency last year. Aquion originally used a mix of activated carbon and titanium phosphate NaTi2(PO4)3 that relied mostly on pseudocapacitance to store charge, resulting in a low energy density and a tilted voltage-charge slope. In many ways, titanium phosphate is similar to iron phosphate used in some other batteries, but with a low (anodic) electrode potential. The initial electrolyte was an aqueous sodium sulfate solution. Later a more soluble <5M NaClO4 was used. But the chemistry continues to move on. Aquion, and most particularly its IP, has been bought and is set to move its headquarters to China. But researchers are still working on the technology. UK-based Faradion recieved just over £3 million ($4.2 million) in funding in January 2017 to move to large scale prototype production of its sodium ion technology. And UK and US scientists have been busy perfecting the chemistry with advances being made in many areas to date, including the electrodes, cell testing and electrolytes, while further work is required on its additives and binders. A sodium ion battery is similar to a lithium ion battery in many respects but safety and abundance of its core material makes it a viable replacement — at least in the laboratory.
42 • Batteries International • Spring 2018
Sodium is in the same group as lithium on the periodic table, and both intercalate into mixed metal oxide cathodes and carbon anode materials, says Emma Kendrick, from WMG, at UK-based University of Warwick. “Thus making them suitable for the ‘rocking chair’ type battery. They also both have low potentials making them good for improved energy density over lead acid battery systems.” Another benefit is the cheapness of materials, around $30/kg for NMC and $10/kg for sodium salt. This
“The technology has not yet been proven in devices, and for widespread adoption to occur demonstrators must show that the technology has a long lifetime, is safer than lithium ion and cheaper” — Emma Kendrick
meant that last October, scientists at Stanford University could unveil a sodium cathode that cost less than a lithium ion battery cathode to build, but with the same storage capacity. At the time, postdoctoral scholar Min Ah Lee at the institute said the claim was based on the full-cell energy density for graphite-NMC lithium cells and their phosphorous-sodium cells, which meant the cost per kWh for NMC in a typical lithium cell was about $48/kWh, compared to $35/ kWh for the university’s Na6C6O6 cell. Then there is sodium ion performance. Kendrick says the theoretical energy densities depend upon the materials, but ‘theoretical’ normally meant unachievable. “If you are interested in achievable energy densities, then we have shown already 250Wh/L and have predicted with this same technology and further optimization we can get 320Wh/L. If the anode is changed for an alloy anode then 500Wh/L could be achieved,” she says. Min Ah Lee said last October that in a half cell (versus sodium metal anode), the specific energy density of the technology was 726 Wh/kg and the maximum specific power was around 3,151 W/kg. However, she added the caveat that the value was normal to “only” cathode mass. “In a full cell (versus phosphorous), the energy density normal to total anode and cathode mass was 281 Wh/kg and we did not conduct any rate tests of full cells for getting high power density number as it would be limited not by our cathode but by the anode that we used as one of possible candidates,” Lee told Energy Storage Journal. “I remember when considering the total mass for battery casing, it should be roughly one third, and this should be carefully optimized in an industry level.” While work continues to boost the performance of the cathode, the technology is still limited by the per-
COVER STORY: ALTERNATIVE BATTERY TECHNOLOGIES
leap forward “So it is this sodium that I extract from sea water, and of which I compose my ingredients, I owe all to the ocean; it produces electricity, and electricity gives heat, light, motion, and, in a word, life to the Nautilus.” — Jules Verne’s 1870 novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea formance of its other electrode, with Stanford researchers currently working on developing better sodium anodes. Other than Aquion’s Hawaiian installation, and another 25kWh sodium ion battery installed over a day and a half by UK-firm Wattstor in Ireland, the technology has not yet been proven in devices. For widespread adoption to occur demonstrators must show that the technology has a long life-time, is safer than lithium ion and cheaper, says Kendrick. “The lower cost is related to the materials, and to realise that cost, the same manufacturing lines must be
used. Therefore for this to be adopted I believe the larger cell manufacturing companies must buy in to this technology.” She foresees sodium ion cells being manufactured in the same formats as lithium ion, ie pouch and 18650 formats, with the larger being more useful for residential, industrial and grid scale applications. With the Stanford technology, Lee says mass production of their cathode materials and the resource myoinositol — which naturally occurs in human body foods, particularly in corn, nuts and fruits — is already available commercially as an overthe-counter nutritional supplement.
The abundance and affordability of the basic materials means that sodium ion, if made on the same manufacturing lines as lithium ion, can be up to 30% cheaper as an alternative. Cycle life will also be a factor, with Kendrick saying it will depend on what variation of the chemistry is used. “Prussian white systems have been shown to exhibit remarkable cycle life — but they are high power and not high energy,” she said. So when can we expect sodium ion to become an ESS technology of choice? Kendrick says that within two to three years the technology will be commercially available, but adds a cautious ‘hopefully’.
TIAMAT, THE BABYLONIAN GODDESS OF THE SALT SEA Last November a French start-up company called Tiamat was set up to commercialize the manufacture of sodium ion batteries. With several dozens of functional prototypes in place Tiamat hopes to launch larger scale production by 2020. The batteries will be 3.5V and 90Wh/kg (roughly the equivalent of a LiFePO4 battery). “These batteries have better performance,” says the firm. “They have a life expectancy of over 10 years, compared with three to four under continuous use conditions. They also charge and recharge 10 times faster than lithium ion ones. “The major asset is the use of sodium, a less expensive and more abundant element than lithium (2.6% of sodium is found
in the earth’s crust, versus 0.06% of lithium). Sodium is found everywhere on the planet, in particular in sea water, in the form of sodium chloride (NaCl) whereas lithium resources are located in only a few regions of the globe. (Argentina, Chile and Bolivia hold two thirds of the world’s lithium.)” Tiamat says its initial focus will be on fleets of rental vehicles, which require short recharge times and need service continuity for users. “With sodium ion technology we can envisage new everyday uses, such as electric vehicles with 200km of autonomy that recharge in a few minutes,” says the firm. In the longer term its greater affordability and manufacturing output makes them an ideal candidate for stationary storage. The firm is a natural extension
of some research carried out in November 2015, where a team as part of RS2E designed the first sodium ion battery prototype in the 18650 format used for lithium ion batteries. RS2E is the French network for electrochemical energy storage, whose researchers came mainly from CNRS (France’s national centre for scientific research, CEA (the country’s alternative energies and atomic energy commission) and several French universities.
Batteries International • Spring 2018 • 43
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COVER STORY: ALTERNATIVE BATTERY TECHNOLOGIES Zinc air technology, for primary batteries, has been around a long time — it’s been the staple of specialist markets such as hearing aids for decades. But it has now found renewed life in secondary battery formats completely — even as a flow battery.
Zinc air technology rises to the challenge It’s a long road from a primary battery powering a hearing aid or watch to a secoincndary cell being used in grid-scale applications, but zinc air is beginning to tread that path. The story began in 1878, when a porous platinized carbon air electrode was found to work on Georges Leclanche’s wet cell, which was patented 12 years earlier. In 1896 the National Carbon Company began marketing a dry cell version of the technology for widespread consumer use with its paper-lined, sealed, six inch, 1.5 volt Columbia battery. Advances in the technology have meant smaller button and prismatic cells were able to be used in personal devices such as hearing aids. In 1996 Slovenian inventor Miro Zoric developed a rechargeable version of the battery. The following
year he commercialized a battery that was used in the first AC-based drive trains to power small and midsized buses in Singapore. More recently chemical engineers at the University of Sydney, Australia, and the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, announced they had developed a way of producing a bifunctional oxygen electrocatalyst that could enable easier cycling of the cell. Researchers from the institutes published a paper in the Advanced Materials journal in August 2017 which said trials of the battery developed with the new catalysts had demonstrated improved rechargeability — including less than a 10% battery efficacy drop over 60 discharging/charging cycles of 120 hours. According to the paper’s lead author, professor Yuan Chen, the new method produced a family of new high-performance and low-cost catalysts, rather than the traditional expensive precious metal catalysts, that used materials including platinum and iridium oxide. The new catalysts are produced through the simultaneous control of the composition, size and crystallinity of metal oxides of elements such as iron, cobalt and nickel.
The dawn of Eos In 2004, Steven Amendola filed patents for a zinc hybrid cathode technology. Four years later he founded US firm Eos Energy Storage with Michael Oster in 2008 to develop and commercialize the technol-
“Solving the uncontrolled growth of dendrites on electrodes associated with the chemistry is the biggest problem facing the technology.” — Suresh Singh, ZincNyx 46 • Batteries International • Spring 2018
ogy. Eos is the name of the Greek goddess of the dawn and refers to Amendola’s ambition to bring about a new dawn in energy storage. Details on the chemistry are still proprietary, but involve stacking cells made with six ingredients, including titanium, salt water and carbon. Importantly, especially when trying to break into the ESS market, the company’s technology is capable of performing grid scale services such as frequency control, peak shaving and demand response. The company’s Aurora 1000|4000 1MW/4MWh system was launched in January 2017, in partnership with Siemens. Using an aqueous electrolyte, the product costs $160/kWh — the company hopes to bring that cost down to $95 per usable kWh by 2022 — and boasts a 5,000 cycle life at 100% depth of discharge. Last October Eos installed and commissioned a 250kW/1MWh system in the US state of New Jersey, and in April 2017 announced plans to install a 1MW/4MWh system in Brazil using Northern Power’s FlexPhase power conversion technology and intelligent controls. In 2009, metal air firm Fluidic said it had solved the uncontrolled growth of dendrites on electrodes associated with the chemistry, which according to Suresh Singh, president at zinc air flow battery company ZincNyx Energy Solutions, is the biggest problem facing the technology. Fluidic’s development enabled it to commercialize a viable, rechargeable zinc air battery for critical backup power, microgrids/off-grid and grid-scale service applications. The Arizona, US, company has plans to reach an installed energy storage cost below $100/kWh through cell chemistry advancements, product architecture improvements and www.batteriesinternational.com
COVER STORY: ALTERNATIVE BATTERY TECHNOLOGIES
Last October Eos installed and commissioned a 250kW/1MWh system in the US state of New Jersey economy of scale. In March 2017 one of its systems, owned by Indonesian telecom operator Indosat, fulfilled its five-year warranty, in effect proving the realworld application credentials of the technology.
And flow batteries too Canadian firm ZincNyx, a 100% owned subsidiary of MGX Minerals as of the end of January, has developed a zinc air flow battery based on its patented zinc air fuel cell technology, that it says will reach the MWplus scale, has an eight hour duration and 20 year life cycle, but most importantly — if it is to usurp lithium ion — is safe, flexible, and cheap. ZincNyx’s system consists of three main subsystems: a regenerator, fuel tank system that offers scalable storage capacity, and a cell stack, with a common electrolyte composed of fine particles of zinc suspended in a potassium hydroxide solution. Its patented system uses the negative of dendritic growth as a positive by allowing them to grow in its regenerator under controlled conditions, where it is then used as fuel. The regenerator takes power from the source (grid) to generate the zinc particles, which are stored in the fuel tank. When power is required from the system, the zinc fuel is pumped into the cell stack and electricity is generated. The zincate produced by the reaction is returned to the tank and eventually converted back to zinc particles in the regenerator, thereby completing the cycle. Zinc is conserved within the system and does not have to be replaced. The system also uses a sodium carbonate impregnated electrode that converts sodium carbonates into metal ions, the characteristics of which are a trade secret, says Singh. www.batteriesinternational.com
Lithium’s cobalt supply is tightening, its recycling infrastructure is still in its infancy at best, and the technology’s safety is questioned by no-fly bans on commercial planes. This makes a technology that contains no toxic, explosive or combustible materials and readily available materials a potential game changer for the ESS industry. Because zinc air uses commonly available materials, the technology is virtually 100% recyclable, which means little ends up in a landfill, giving it credentials that only lead acid can boast. A recycling infrastructure, albeit of zinc air hearing aids, is already well established with US stores such as Radio Shack, Pay Less and KMart participating. It doesn’t, therefore, require a huge leap of faith to see how a process involving the extraction of zinc and other toxic metals while the remaining harmless materials are sent
to land fills could be scaled up to include industrial-scale batteries. The company has had beta test systems operating for a year, and expects to have pilot systems operating at customer sites by mid-2019, with shipments expected later that year for industrial/commercial and micro-grid applications. To date its system’s scalability goes from 5kW to 1MW with a specific energy of 42Wh/kg. Its target applications include grid-scale services such as renewables firming, peak shaving, and supporting an electric vehicle charging support. The costs of zinc air may also pave the way for greater adoption. Firstly, cheap materials can bring the incremental cost of the technology down to less than $25/kWh, and its insensitivity to the number, and depth-of-discharge, of cycles means its levelized cost of stored energy can match alternative technologies. The MW-plus scale system will target the industrial and commercial industries, remote micro-grid, mobile phone tower and generator replacement applications. In January the company began development of a scaled-up 20kW system that offers end-users lower costs, higher energy density and the ability to serve a broader market segment over its existing 5kW systems.
ZincNyx’s system consists of three main subsystems: a regenerator, fuel tank system that offers scalable storage capacity, and a cell stack, with a common electrolyte composed of fine particles of zinc suspended in a potassium hydroxide solution. Batteries International • Spring 2018 • 47
COVER STORY: ALTERNATIVE BATTERY TECHNOLOGIES Until recently magnesium-based batteries had one handicap: they were not rechargeable. But the race to tap the energy density of the metal — it has two available electrons, not one, like lithium — is on, as the first signs of secondary batteries emerge.
Could magnesium ever become the new lithium?
Magnesium batteries in their primary form have a long, if not distinguished, life. The first batteries using the technology were available by 1943 using a water activated silver chloride/magnesium chemistry. In 1968 the US military began using the technology until it was replaced with lithium thionyl chloride 15 years later. Critically, these were primary batteries, and no use in the plethora of applications for which lead acid was traditionally used, and which lithium ion and other technologies are beginning to dominate, especially in new large-scale projects that require the ESS to be paired with renewable energy sources, and the battery capable of performing a number of critical grid services. Development of magnesium secondary cells remains an active topic of research, with researchers exploring ways of fully exploiting the chemistry’s volumetric energy density. This research includes the use of solid-state electrolytes that use a solid magnesium anode, which in turn requires a deintercalated cathode. Unlike today’s current state-of-theart batteries, which use a potentially flammable liquid electrolyte, using solid-state technology also improves the inherent stability of the batteries under extreme conditions, prevent48 • Batteries International • Spring 2018
ing catastrophic failure, while enabling manufacturers to minimize the size of the battery. However, swapping the liquid electrolyte for a solid one is proving difficult, and it is hard to estimate how long it will be before a solidstate magnesium battery will be commercially manufactured. One of the biggest hurdles to commercialization of reversible magnesium batteries is the electrolyte. Solid-state batteries replace liquid electrolyte with a solid capable of shuttling back and forth ions. By replacing the liquid with a solid one, researchers hope to separate more effectively the chemistry of the anode from the cathode. Its other big
Magnesium batteries can achieve cell-level volumetric energy densities of ~750Wh/l at a cost of ~$100/kWh … as a comparison, stateof-the-art lithium ion technology can reach a cell-level energy density of ~480Wh/l at a cost of ~$230/kWh
advantage is the fact that it can use a magnesium metal that limits the development of dendrites. But the liquid electrolyte has several limitations, including a low boiling point, corrosion, low transference number, and difficult synthesis. Despite this, it remains the only type found in prototypes so far because magnesium is thought to move quicker through liquids. However, as lithium ion’s high-profile battery explosions demonstrate, a liquid electrolyte and dendritic formation make any battery potentially flammable. A solid-state conductor is thought to be far more fire resistant. A breakthrough came last December when a team of researchers at the US Department of Energy’s Joint Center for Energy Storage Research hub announced they had discovered the fastest magnesium ion solid-state conductor to date. It was a major step towards increasing the chemistry’s energy density and safety. Stymied by the unavailability of a suitable liquid electrolyte, researchers at the Lawrence National Berkeley Laboratory decided to leapfrog this difficult hurdle and make an electrolyte using a material called magnesium scandium selenide. The discovery, according to Brian Ingram, a materials scientist at JCESR/Argonne, provides direct evidence that magnesium can effectively move in a solid material at room temperature, which was previously not considered an option. News of the discovery, which offers magnesium mobility comparable to solid-state electrolytes for lithium batteries, was published in Nature Communications in a paper titled High Magnesium Mobility in Ternary Spinel Chalcogenides. The lead authors were Pieremanuele Canepa, Shou-Hang Bo, Sai Gautam Gopalakrishnan and Gerbrand Ceder. www.batteriesinternational.com
COVER STORY: ALTERNATIVE BATTERY TECHNOLOGIES Canepa says the material is a potential game changer for the technology because magnesium migration in solids had always been regarded as poor. “This is because magnesium is a +2 ion, which exhibits strong electrostatic interactions with anion species such as O2- or S2- in oxides and sulfides, respectively,” he says. “MgSc2Se4 and MgSc2S4 are two solids in the new family of MgSc2X4 compounds that can indeed migrate magnesium at good rates. “Due to the high magnesium diffusivity in the material, MgSc2Se4 could pave the way to make magnesium-based batteries a commercial success.” But commercialization is proving tricky. Ingram points to the technology’s lack of a functioning high voltage electrode for its lack of commercial success to date. Solving this would pave the way to enabling a high energy density storage, and a paired electrolyte. “In order to achieve a cost-competitive battery relative to today’s lithium ion chemistries, a functioning high voltage positive electrode must be developed in conjunction with a stable electrolyte,” he says. Canepa says the other issue is poor magnesium diffusivity in materials curbs the development of energy dense cathode materials, especially oxides, and hence prevents the full exploitation of the superior volumetric energy density of a magnesiummetal based battery. Techno-economic modelling based on experimental and theoretic results of the JCESR program predict that magnesium batteries can achieve energy densities nearly 50% greater than today’s state-of-the-art commercial lithium batteries at a substantially lower cost, says Ingram. “The association of two electrons per Mg, relative to a single electron per Li, provides a pathway to this increase in energy density.” From a theoretical techno-economic study, magnesium batteries can achieve cell-level volumetric energy densities of ~750Wh/l at a cost of ~$100/kWh, which is in line with the targets set by the United States Advanced Battery Consortium and the Department of Energy for electric vehicles. As a comparison, state-ofthe-art lithium ion technology can reach a cell-level energy density of ~480Wh/l at a cost of ~$230/kWh. www.batteriesinternational.com
However, swapping the liquid electrolyte for a solid one is proving difficult, and it is hard to estimate how long it will be before a solid-state magnesium battery will be commercially manufactured. Commercialization How long before we see reports of magnesium batteries being chosen for large-scale ESS projects? The answer is no one really knows. In 2016 reports abounded that Saitama Industrial Technology Center, in partnership with vehicle OEM Honda, had developed a practical magnesium rechargeable battery. There is still no launch date for this. Canepa is pragmatic. He says that if the technology’s problems can be solved it could still be 10-20 years, “but this is a very, very rough estimate”, he points out. Ingram is also cautious, saying: “It is very difficult to predict when a magnesium battery, much less a solid-state magnesium battery, will be commercially available. These chemistries are in early-stage development; however, at this time we believe there are no show-stopping impediments to realizing the benefits of magnesium within the next decade.” One issue is that, for now, prototypes remain at the coin cell level. But if the technical problems mentioned earlier can be solved, Canepa
believes the technology could be scaled up to MW plus level. When pushed on what he sees as the main applications for this technology, Ingram says any application that requires small volumes would suit it. Speculatively, if the above issues are solved, Canepa thinks the technology could be used in automotive applications and maybe micro-grids. This is because of the availability of the transition metal, mostly cobalt, an essential ingredient for cathodes in lithium ion technology, ahead of a global shortage in the next five years with increasing consumption of lithium ion batteries, alongside the well known safety and thermal runaway issues faced by this technology. He says: “The interesting aspect here is that magnesium has a lower price than lithium and it’s readily extractable from sea water. In addition, magnesium can be plated and stripped at reasonable current densities without forming dendrites. This is the game changer versus a technology mounting lithium metal, which still doesn’t exist.”
IT’S EARLY DAYS YET The first record of a rechargeable magnesium cell appears in 2000 by Doron Aurbach, an Israeli research scientist who continues to be at the cutting edge of development. The barriers to producing a commercially useful magnesium battery continue to be the lack of practical electrolytes and cathode materials, though progress continues to be made in both fields. Aurbach’s first cell was based on a chevrel-type Mo6S8 cathode with a magnesium organohaloaluminate/THF electrolyte. In 2014 a team led by Jetti Vatsala Rani at the CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical technology (CSIRIICT) in Hyderabad announced: “The Mg-ions from the anode diffuse into the graphite layers of
the cathode during discharge and while charging they revert back to the anode. The ionic liquid used as electrolyte was prepared in house. “The capacity of the cell is 5mAh at a voltage of approximately 2.0V vs Mg, studies are in progress to improve the capacity of the battery. The cycle life of the battery is established for 800 to 900 cycles. As of now, the shelf life of the battery is estimated at two to three years. The electrode materials are reusable and also biodegradable.” Although the announcement made headlines across India, little progress has subsequently been reported. This is perhaps not as unusual as it might seem as it frequently takes at least a decade for work achieved in the laboratory to reach the production line.
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COVER STORY: ALTERNATIVE BATTERY TECHNOLOGIES Nickel iron technology is neither new nor mainstream. But although its use has been sidelined to special functionality, it has a place in the energy storage world. And possibly a greater role to play in larger scale systems of the future.
Nickel iron returns to the fray As long ago as the turn of the last cen- battery conference, demonstrated how founder of Encell, was because “everytury Thomas Edison, the great US in- he resuscitated a defunct 80-year-old one thought you had to make it in a ventor, said nickel iron technology was battery from the 1930s. pocket cell design due to iron migra“far superior to batteries using lead Nickel iron batteries continue to be tion”. plates and acid”. His faith in the bat- manufactured though nowadays they The technology’s use fell further in teries was such that he wanted them to are mostly made in India and China. the 1980s, when portable consumer be the battery of choice for the first genOne interesting start-up in the US — electronics meant that rechargeable eration of electric vehicles in the 1900s. Encell Technology — says it has revi- batteries needed to be smaller and First patented by Swedish inventor talized the technology and the battery lighter, and so lithium ion batteries beWaldemar Jungner in the late 1890s, is now suitable for large-scale storage came the standard. They had higher Edison also issued a number of US pat- applications. voltages than the nickel cadmium and ents in the early 1900s. The battery was The company says its fused iron bat- nickel metal hydride batteries, but belater used in various applications from tery is capable of 15,000, full 80% cause they work through intercalation the main DC supply in V-2 rockets in depth of discharge cycles; requires (shuttling) of lithium ions between elecWorld War II, to railroad signalling, minimal maintenance (you add deion- trodes, they had to be made with thin forklifts, mining equipment and stand- ized water to the cells about every six electrodes to maintain any reasonable by power applications. months if they are in daily use) to reach rate capability. Its manufacturing history started its estimated 20-year life span. with production in Sweden of nickel Its cell architecture has historically How it works iron batteries (among others) at the Ac- held its active materials in nickel plated The battery has a nickel oxide-hydroxkumulator Aktiebolaget Jungner from steel tubes or perforated pockets. This, ide cathode and an iron anode, with a 1900. says Rob Guyton, chairman and co- potassium hydroxide (lye can be used This was followed in 1901 as a substitute) electrolyte. with The Edison Storage It harnesses energy from the Battery Company manu- “We invented a super low cost way of rusting process in a reducfacturing nickel iron batter- fusing the iron particles together creating tion/oxidation (redox) reversies about a year or so later. ible reaction of the electrodes. When the company was a much higher surface area electrode The reactions take place at bought by Exide Battery with high rate kinetics. We can get the the interfacial surface of the Corporation in 1972, man- same amp hour capacity as a pocket cell electrodes and the aqueous ufacturing of the battery based electrolyte; the cathode constructed electrode in a fraction of the stopped three years later. gives up an electron by way Since then the technology size” — Rob Guyton, Encell of giving hydrogen to the has fallen out of favour: cost electrolyte so it can change and rated capacity caused in from hydroxide to oxyhypart by the pouch cell ardroxide, and reduces by acchitecture meant lead acid cepting an electron by way of was always going to take accepting hydrogen from the the market share and nickel electrolyte. The anode underiron the specialist parts. goes a simultaneous redox reOn paper the nickel iron action oxidizing from iron to battery has many admiiron hydroxide and reversing rable characteristics. It’s back to iron again. robustness to abuse (over“The reason that this chemcharge, over-discharge, and istry cycles so much longer short-circuiting), an operthan other chemistries is that ating temperature range the reaction takes place at the between -30°C to 60°C, surface of the particles and which means costs can be doesn’t require shuttling ions spared on climate control back and forth like a lithium for these batteries, making it ion battery,” says Guyton. ideal for harsh applications. “Also, the iron hydroxides Its robustness is such that a are highly insoluble in the few years ago a speaker at electrolyte which is good and Battcon, the international bad. It is good because you
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COVER STORY: ALTERNATIVE BATTERY TECHNOLOGIES have extremely long cycle life since you are not losing active material into the electrolyte like you do when cycling nickel cadmium, nickel zinc and lead acid type batteries.” When the metal ions are soluble they move around in the electrolyte and often don’t return to their original location on the electrode — leading to the build up of dendrites that short out the battery. Iron oxides are 1,000 times less soluble than zinc and 100 times less than cadmium. “The downside to low solubility is that it can lead to high internal resistance, manifesting in slow charge and discharge rates of the traditional pocket cell designed nickel iron batteries still being made by everyone else making nickel iron batteries, except Encell,” says Guyton. Since iron oxides the minute it is exposed to air, Edison decided the only way to keep the oxidized particles on the conductive substrate material was to pack it like tea into a metal ‘tea bag’ that was formed into, or welded onto, the substrate. “So the particles, although packed tight, are only lightly touching and therefore don’t have good electrical connectivity. This method of making the battery is expensive and it causes the poor charge and discharge characteristics of the standard nickel iron battery,” says Guyton. “We invented a super low cost way of fusing the iron particles together creating a much higher surface area electrode with high rate kinetics. We can get the same amp hour capacity as a pocket cell constructed electrode in a fraction of the size.” So the technology is durable, potentially lower cost, and its energy density concerns have been addressed. The real test will be when it is used in grid-scale applications, when a battery is required to balance capacity loads, stabilize voltage and frequency, and manage peak loads, among a host of other services. Importantly, especially in today’s ESS market, any technology hoping to break the grip of lithium ion and flow batteries on the large-scale applications must be able to be paired with renewable energy sources such as PV/wind. This includes having the necessary rate capability to handle being charged by intermittent sources and a cycle and calendar life that lasts as long as the PV solar panels. Guyton says that because his company’s focus is on microgrid applications where the energy storage system is paired with a renewable energy
source, predominantly PV solar. “In these applications the ideal charge and discharge rates are C/4 to C/5 — essentially charging while the sun is shining,” says Guyton. “To provide the best value to this customer base, we took cost out of the cell by using less conductive material for the current collectors. “So, this cell is recommended at a C/2 charge/discharge rate. If a customer has an application that requires rate, we can upgrade the current collectors and the battery can perform at a higher rate. We are starting to get serious interest from customers in the emerging commercial and industrial, behind the meter market because of the batteries’ unique combination of power capability, safety and really low levelized cost of stored energy.” What is making Encell’s technology a more viable option for larger energy storage applications is the fusing process of the iron particles, which lends itself to very large strings of cells — which makes the cells, in part, self balancing so you don’t have to use expensive, active battery management at the cell level like other chemistries, particularly lithium ion. Also, the kinetics of the electrodes allow for large capacity cells, says Guyton. “The cells don’t have any capacity fade for the first 8,400 cycles, driving maintenance costs down on long term storage applications. So when you combine high capacity cells that can be safely used in large voltage strings ,eg 1000V, it works well for the larger energy storage applications,” says Guyton. New and emerging technologies live and die by their ability to make their way from the laboratory to the market place. So what needs to be done for nickel iron batteries to be manufactured at a commercial scale? Encell, says Guyton, is in the process of scaling up high volume production. Cost is another factor when considering commercialization, and Encell claims to on par with the main ESS technologies lithium ion and flow batteries when comparing $ per kWh. However, Guyton says that when using more precise measurements, like the levelized cost of stored energy, where critical factors such as cycle life, lifetime maintenance, capacity fade, watt hour efficiency, and initial purchase price are accounted for, the technology makes more financial sense for future ESS projects. He says his company’s LCOE is less than $0.04/kWh, which he believes true lithium ion or flow batteries can-
not reach. “One of the problems in the industry is confusion around lithium ion batteries, particularly because the best attributes of different types of lithium ion batteries get combined into one unicorn,” says Guyton. “If you are buying the really inexpensive lithium cobalt oxide or NMC cells from second tier Chinese OEMs, you aren’t going to get the cycle life of a much more expensive Sony lithium titanate battery.”
CHARACTERISTICS OF STANDARD NICKEL-IRON BATTERY Advantages • Very robust. • Withstands overcharge and over-discharge. • Accepts high depth of discharge — deep cycling. • Can remain discharged for long periods without damage, whereas a lead acid battery needs to be stored in a charged state. • The ability of this system to survive frequent cycling is due to the low solubility of the reactants in the electrolyte, potassium hydroxide. • Lifetime of 30 years possible. • Can be cost effective over longer periods. Shortcomings • Low cell voltage. • Heavy and bulky. • The low reactivity of the active components limits the high rate performance of the cells. The cells take a charge slowly, and give it up slowly. • Low coulombic efficiency, typically less than 65%. • Steep voltage drop-off with state of charge. • Low energy density. • High self discharge rate. • More pronounced hydrogen gassing than nickel-cadmium. • High initial costs. Source: Electropaedia
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COVER STORY: ALTERNATIVE BATTERY TECHNOLOGIES With its dream of developing the next generation of batteries, Ambri invented the liquid metal battery. But the big question is whether it can make the jump from kWh laboratory testing to MWh energy storage systems.
Liquid metal: the hottest topic in energy storage In 2005, the committee planning the new Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Energy Initiative was looking to develop a new battery. At the time the institute was focused on lithium ion batteries, but Donald Sadoway, the institution’s professor of materials chemistry, had another idea after talking with his colleague professor Ceder, who was engaged with MIT’s Energy Initiative. Sadoway had 40 years working with extreme electrochemical processes, ranging from aluminium smelting to lithium polymer batteries. He had a team of students and post-doctoral fellows, chief among them David Bradwell, who played a pivotal role in advancing the technology. They began to work on a liquid metal battery. Five years later, Bradwell and Sadoway, along with Luis Ortiz, cofounded Ambri with the goal of commercializing the technology they had invented. Before spinning out Ambri, while at MIT, Sadoway and Bradwell worked on this novel battery platform, with all three active components in liquid form as the battery operates. The two liquid metal electrodes are separated by a molten salt electrolyte. These liquid layers float on top of each other based on density differences and immiscibility. The original cell chemistry had the negative electrode (anode) floating as the top liquid layer in the cell made of low density, low-cost, lightweight liquid magnesium. The positive electrode (cathode), pooled as the bottom liquid layer in the cell, was made of high-density liquid antimony. Sadoway and Bradwell came up with these two metals when searching the periodic table for a pair of metals that would meet the constraints of being earth abundant, low cost, suitably low melting points, have sufficient density differences and a high mutual reactivity. The magnesium-antimony liquid metal battery discharges by spontane-
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Sadoway and Bradwell: wanted to invent a technology that could meet a price point, and not just invent a ‘nice new technology’.
ously releasing electrical current from the magnesium atoms in the negative electrode, which causes them to lose two electrons to make magnesium ions (Mg2+), which then dissolve into the molten salt electrolyte. These magnesium ions migrate across the electrolyte and accept two electrons at the surface of the antimony positive electrode, which then mix together to form an Mg-Sb alloy. During this process, electrons flow through a circuit connected to both electrodes, providing electrical power. In order to keep the electrodes and electrolyte in a liquid state, the cells must operate above 500°C. To charge the battery, the current is reversed and this forces the magnesium to de-alloy and return to the upper electrode, restoring the initial constitution of the battery.
Powered from within
Sadoway and his team initially built a 1Wh cell. They operated hundreds of cells to test out a plurality of liq-
uid metal battery chemistries, not just magnesium and antimony. Following this success they were able to build a 20Wh, 200Wh and a 1kWh cell. The process that inspired Sadoway — aluminium smelting using the HallHéroult process — has a reputation of consuming massive amounts of electrical energy, with some smelters consuming GWhs of electricity every day. It is even, sometimes, disparagingly referred to as ‘congealed electricity’. In fact CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, calculates the embodied energy (the overall energy required to make the material) for aluminium is 211GJ per tonne, compared to 22.7 GJ per tonne for steel. In 2016, after spending several years developing other critical cell and system components, such as a high temperature seal for each cell, Ambri built its first in-house prototype system that proved critical performance metrics of the technology, such as questions that were previously faced by the aluminium smelting process. “A common question we get is ‘doesn’t your battery require a lot of energy to stay hot’,” says Bradwell, now Ambri’s senior vice president of commercialization and chief technology officer. “But it only needs energy to take it up to the operating temperature of 500°C. For a 1MWh scale battery you will need about 3MWh to heat it. “Once at operating temperature the current passing between the electrodes generates enough heat to keep it at its optimum operating temperature. “The battery runs at 80%-85% efficiency and the rest of that energy is released as heat by the cells. Our thermally insulated containers retain that heat to keep the cells warm, so as long as the battery is cycled once every one to two days, the system is self-heated, and requires no extra energy input to stay hot,” says Bradwell.
COVER STORY: ALTERNATIVE BATTERY TECHNOLOGIES Real world applications
The high operating temperatures and liquid constituents mean that the technology is not suited to mobile applications. But its system-level energy density of a 1MWh system in a 10 foot ISO shipping container makes it comparable to lithium ion batteries and better than lead acid batteries. The technology’s niche lies in stationary applications that regularly require daily, full depth of discharge, four to eight-hour duration services. The focus of Ambri is on multiple hour, charge and discharge services, which lends itself to the peak demand and peak shifting markets. “This can be on the grid at the right price point as more renewables are integrated onto the grid,” says Bradwell. “We see the need for peak-shifting batteries increasing significantly over the next 10 or more years, and there is growing demand for this sort of a battery. “Our long term vision has always been to target grid scale applications. Lithium ion could move from its regular use in 15-minute, frequency regulation to longer duration services, and you’re already seeing this at some levels, but there’s the question of cost. “Economies of scale may lessen the weight of that argument, but the perceived shortcoming in the materials supply chain in the next five years will be a much bigger hurdle for the chemistry to navigate. “Multiple hour duration storage is where the market is going. We straddle the long and short duration markets. Lithium ion is coming down in cost and shifting from the higher power to higher energy applications. However, one of the key advantages compared to many other emerging battery technologies is that we are pretty close to the energy density and footprint of lithium ion systems. “But we’ve got a technology that’s very low cost, and has a very long life span.”
Low cost gigawatt plant
On paper, a technology that can straddle application services, offers long cycle life, is made from abundant materials and is safe sounds like the ideal energy storage solution. But those descriptions can be applied to flow batteries, and the fortunes of companies in that market are at best fluctuating, with some big names in the sector folding. The driver for adoption is cost, and Ambri has been tracking prices closely.
“Our long term vision has always been to target grid scale applications. Lithium ion could move from its regular use in 15-minute, frequency regulation to longer duration services, and you’re already seeing this at some levels, but there’s the question of cost.” So close, in fact, it says they were set to ramp up production and were preparing to deploy their battery into the field when they decided instead to modify the cell design and chemistry amid falling lithium ion prices. The company says it is building towards commercializing its cells in the next two years, when it will start deploying systems. “When we started at MIT we wanted to invent a technology that could meet a price point and not just invent a nice new technology,” says Bradwell. “Lithium ion prices have dropped since we started Ambri, so we have had to pivot a few times to stay below future cost projections, and we feel good about the cost opportunity against even optimistic future lithium ion cost projections. “But we decided to not discuss cost projections because we are still in development mode, and until the product is finalized, things can change. We didn’t want to add to the noise of the marketplace as just one more aspirational vendor that is excited about the potential of their pre-commercial technology and is not yet at scaled manufacturing. “Plus, as a start-up company, we need to be able to price to the market, not our costs.” Bradwell, however, does disclose the capital required for a factory making their liquid metal batteries at a gigawatt-hour scale. He puts the price of a new factory at around $30 to $40 million, equipment, cap-ex, and building upgrades included. Compare that with some lithium gigafactories, which have reasonable economics, but require billions of dollars of investment to achieve. “Our factory cost is very low and we still achieve high volume scaled manufacturing costs for a relatively small capital requirement,” he says. So how close is Ambri to entering the battery market? “We’re still in the development mode,” says Bradwell, “but when we do enter the market we are targeting systems that are housed in 10 foot shipping containers at the 1MWh size,
with a product that can scale to be the lowest cost product in the marketplace.” He says the technology is scalable up to tens or hundreds of megawatt-hours. The key will be if, and when, liquid metal can make the jump from kWh laboratory testing to MWh field-ready storage system.
CYCLES AND LIFETIMES Bradwell says the chemistry has demonstrated more than 4,000 cycles under accelerated conditions, with no degradation. Some early cells have operated for thousands of cycles after more than four years of continuous operation, and continue to run today. So how many years does it take until the battery reaches 80% of its initial capacity — a standard metric for specifying the lifespan of a battery? “Looking at our data, if we assume one cycle per day, the data extrapolates to suggest that our cell chemistry could last for 360 years,” says Bradwell. “ Of course, we don’t think our system will last for that long because something other than the electrodes or electrolyte will degrade, but the fundamentals of the chemistry are extremely stable, and this could allow for an extremely long lifespan system. “We are targeting a 10 to 20 year lifespan, but we may ultimately find that the technology can last for many decades. We haven’t demonstrated this yet, but the chemistry doesn’t seem to degrade, which is very different from other batteries. “Other chemistries suffer, particularly due to irreversible reactions between the electrolyte and the electrodes, but common degradation mechanisms like this simply aren’t active in our cell chemistry, so it doesn’t degrade in the same way as, say, lithium ion or lead acid.”
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COVER STORY: ALTERNATIVE BATTERY TECHNOLOGIES The supercapacitor is unique in that its potential begins when used with a battery — whether in mobile or stationary applications. Vehicle OEMs have embraced the technology, but how long before the stationary market catches up?
Supercaps: energy for all seasons Supercapacitors are a different sort of energy storage. One would be hard pushed to even describe them as a rechargeable battery, given that they’re not electrochemical. But they can accept and deliver charge much faster than a regular battery, as well as having a cycle life that can tolerate more cycles than secondary batteries. Supercapacitors have long been used for applications where this high power capability is important: cars, buses, trains, cranes, elevators and even wind turbines, rather than for applications that require higher energy density and long duration energy storage. The technology doesn’t have the same problems as batteries with lower life cycles, limited temperature range and lower voltages. Battery designers and end users take these things for granted in legacy batteries with customers tacitly acknowledging they will incur additional costs when they have to change the battery every two years or so. Supercapacitors solve this problem, says Mark McGough CEO of Ioxus, but it will take a while before designers will really understand those benefits. “For the market a key issue is the total cost of ownership, which is significant if you don’t have to change the battery every two years,” he says. When entering a market, it can be useful to cover as many applications as possible, and supercapacitors work in a myriad of applications, helped in part by their ability to operate in temperatures up to around 85oC. In stationary applications they can be used in wind turbines in the pitch control systems; in energy storage systems they are ideal for short term injections of power to prevent dips or sags, and capture power during spikes. They have been deployed in mobile applications such as trains for energy recuperation and traction; hybrid buses where they are used in parallel or
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in series hybrid systems for capturing energy and then acceleration to reduce fuel consumption; mild hybrid cars use them for start/stop in the place of, or in addition to, a battery, to reduce noise and vibration and increase reliability of starts and fuel efficiency.
Fast cycling for mobile apps
Supercapacitors can be used as a drop- in replacement for lead acid SLI batteries, with Ioxus designing its uSTART product to replace a group 31 battery — the most common battery footprint for commercial vehicles in North America. “The Group 31 battery is the bread and butter solution for vehicles and the drop-in uSTART is a replacement for one of the vehicle’s batteries, and on top of that there is a built-in jump start, which can charge itself from a low battery to initiate a jump,” says McGough. The product has not yet been used on passenger cars, although there are many examples of supercapacitors being deployed in passenger cars, but heavy duty truck OEMs are designing uSTARTs into their vehicles, which are scheduled to appear from the third quarter this year. McGough doesn’t think supercapacitor use in vehicles will be at the expense of other batteries. “Lithium ion is actually complementary to supercapacitors. We don’t look at lithium ion as the enemy,” he says. Instead he sees a future where vehicle OEMs will use a small pack of supercapacitors somewhere outside the engine department. “There will be centralized energy storage in the vehicle in a single location and that’s where they think the market will go for on-board applications. Supercapacitors will play an important role in that, not necessarily replacing batteries all together but using a single battery and a single set of
supercapacitors for the power requirements. So the base load is covered by the battery and the spikes of power covered by the supercapacitors.” US firm Maxwell Technologies is already established in the motive market. At the beginning of 2017 it announced a definitive agreement with China railway firm CRRC Qingdao Sifang Rolling Stock Research Institute, to localize the manufacture of its supercapacitor-based modules for use in the country’s energy bus market. CRRC-SRI exclusively used Maxwell’s 2.7V and 3V supercapacitor cells in local production lines to manufacture the modules. The previous year the San Diego company had unveiled a lithium ion capacitor, developed in conjunction with CRRC-SRI, designed for rapid energy regeneration in the train’s trolley system. That same year the company unveiled a 51V module for hybrid buses and other high-duty cycle applications. The module used Maxwell’s 2.85V, 3,400-farad supercapacitor cell. Despite these developments in the mobile markets, McGough doesn’t think the technology will reach the same maturity as legacy batteries in his career, instead there will be continued evolution of transportation, and more and more specifically passenger car applications.
Smoothing renewable spikes
The global energy mix is at the beginning of a seismic shift towards the incorporation of renewable solar and wind generated power. The International Energy Agency reports that renewables accounted for almost two-thirds of global net capacity additions in 2016, with almost 165GW coming online. The agency predicts a further 920GW of renewable capacity will be installed by 2022. “The inherent volatility of these re-
COVER STORY: ALTERNATIVE BATTERY TECHNOLOGIES newable resources is resulting in new grid stability and reliability issues on the utility distribution, sub-transmission and transmission networks,” said Kim McGrath, Maxwell’s senior director business development and technical marketing. “Without viable power quality delivery solutions such as fast responding energy storage, it will cost billions in grid infrastructure upgrades to allow these less stable resources to enter the grid. “The number of grid power quality issues is increasing rapidly, and the need to respond to grid events ever faster is also increasing.” Grid level storage is categorized as being of long or short-term duration. Supercapacitors fall squarely in the latter. In grid applications they can be used for frequency regulation services, which McGrath believes will grow as countries develop smarter grids. Early markets establishing policy development to enable fast responding storage include South Australia, the UK and certain areas in the US, mainly due to them having higher levels of renewable energy generation. Other regions are expected to establish their own fast response policies in the next couple of years and will be a key factor to market growth and the placing of specific monetary value to storage. Supercapacitors are a solution to voltage and power quality issues in utility grids and microgrids across generation, transmission and distribution, requiring response at the millisecond
“Without viable power quality delivery solutions it will cost billions in grid infrastructure upgrades to allow these less stable resources to enter the grid.” — Kim McGrath, Maxwell www.batteriesinternational.com
A NEW TECHNOLOGY FOR NEW PROBLEMS A very modern application is for pitch control on wind turbines and manoeuvring the blades. Because wind doesn’t always blow in the same spot or same speed companies found they needed a device that could quickly change the direction of the blades, slow them down or even stop them for safety reasons. Historically, legacy batteries catered for these services, but there are difficulties with replacing them at unsafe heights, especially with offshore applications. Now, more and more companies are turning to supercapacitors, which can charge and discharge quickly to pitch the blades, move them to or from strong winds and execute emergency shut downs. McGough, a former president of Maxwell, said: “This is why I love the supercapacitor market. I left Maxwell because I could see the US market would take a while to develop and I wanted to invest my career in a more productive space. I could see the market would develop and it has, it’s grown at a much faster pace than the battery market. “Much faster than lead acid, for example. I like Abraham Maslow’s phase ‘When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail’ to describe the battery industry. “So if you are only used to batteries, that’s what you use. Supercapacitors are an alternative to that.” Under nominal operating conditions supercapacitors are safe. However, there is a perceived danger with the electrolyte, especially in Japan, which has banned the use of acetonitrile (ACN) electrolytes in the timescale to enter these markets. The technology’s key benefits lie in being able to deliver fast voltage sag mitigation, fast frequency response, as well as solar and wind power smoothing services. “Although the costs of storage are coming down as economies of scale are being achieved, the diverse nature of grid applications cannot be served with a single type of storage, which is optimized for storage capacity and energy shifting as opposed to power quality,” said McGrath. “Utility customers need to extend their current capabilities with fast response, deep discharge and micro cy-
technology. However it is still common for supercapacitor manufacturers to primarily use ACN outside Japan. The danger is because the material gives off poisonous hydrogen cyanide gas if heated too high, but only when the fire is oxygen starved. “There’s a perceived safety issue with ACN in Japan, but the rest of the world doesn’t necessarily see it as a safety concern, although under extreme high temp adiabatic burn conditions ACN has a by-product of cyanide, so there are concerns there,” said McGough. To counter this, and reach the lucrative Japanese market, Ioxus’s pouch and cylindrical cells can be made using either ACN or propylenecarbonate electrolytes, which is legal in Japan. ACN is used as a solvent because, with the appropriate level and type of salt, it has a high ionic conductivity resulting in low ESR (equivalent series resistance), thus a higher power density, and a wider temperature range than propylenecarbonate, says McGough. “A capacitor’s performance is proportional to the surface area that can capture ionic charges and the square of the voltage, so if you optimize both of these, you can get a better supercapacitor. “ACN offers lower ESR and that gives you better power. “Propylene-carbonate does not have those same safety concerns, but it does sacrifice performance. The concerns, however, are just in Japan and, by and large, in most areas of the world this safety issue is not a concern.” cling combined with long asset life, to meet technical and economic requirements. “As such, there is strong financial project justification to provide for stacked functionality combining traditional battery based energy storage with fast responding and high power supercapacitor storage to achieve multi-functionality in a single system.” Supercapacitor systems can also be used as a buffer system on these battery energy storage systems to mitigate high peak power demand stress and extend lifetime to devices that degrade more quickly due to operating at high peak power (battery heating).
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COVER STORY: ALTERNATIVE BATTERY TECHNOLOGIES Flow batteries are gaining traction in the energy storage industry, and challenges to the traditional vanadium redox pair — first discovered in the 1980s — are emerging. The product is similar but the ingredients different.
Zinc bromine riding the cusp of a flow battery wave 2006 was a critical year for the redox flow battery industry. A critical couple of patents expired and the road to a fuller commercialization of the product opened up. Flow batteries have moved, more or less, to centre stage in the pantheon of viable energy storage products. Some analysts predict this sector is a market that could reach $4 billion by 2027. So much so that the world’s biggest energy storage system, being built in Dalian, China, will be a vanadium flow battery. When completed at the end of the year the 200MW/800MWh system will be twice as big as the largest lithium ion ESS. But while the vanadium flow battery has remained the staple product in the sector since its inventor, Maria SkyllasKazacos, first patented the first modern flow battery in 1986, since then other chemistries have risen in prominence. The zinc bromine battery is perhaps the latest truly commercial example of the technology. It relies on the reaction between a zinc cathode and a bromine anode. Conventional zinc bromide systems also have two tanks of electrolyte, one containing an aqueous solution of zinc,
the other bromine. It uses two pumps and flow loops with two sets of pipes carrying the electrolytes into the stacks. The system uses two separate loops because the electrodes in each battery cell are separated by a microporous, ion exchange membrane. Simon Hackett, flow battery firm Redflow’s non-executive director, describes a zinc bromine battery as a miniature zinc electroplating machine made of recyclable plastic. “When energy is being stored, the battery deposits zinc out of a zinc bromine solution on to special membranes inside the battery stack,” he said. “The zinc layer returns into the zinc bromine solution when energy is delivered from the battery back to a customer workload.” The process is also fully reversible, with the technology designed for a daily 100% depth of discharge cycling. At full discharge, all the zinc is returned to the solution and the battery is ready for the next cycle.
Smoothing the challenges
There are a number of issues however, and they are as much about commercialization, perception and power economics as they are about the technology, says Anthony Price, director at The Electricity Storage Network and consultants Swanbarton. “The technology details have been worked out and now it’s about commercialization and getting the message across that’s important,” he said. “We are pretty much at the same position with flow batteries as we were before. The fundamentals with the technology are sound and robust, and the specific applications with flow batteries are all represented.” The benefit of flow batteries is the
“Because of cost concerns I don’t think vanadium will ever take off commercially. As people look to the next generation of battery technology, there’s not a clear path for it to compete with lithium ion.” — Paul Kreiner, Primus Power 58 • Batteries International • Spring 2018
technology’s flexibility, allowing it to straddle three different but equally important grid services. First there are the minute-by-minute or second-bysecond services to handle fluctuations in supply, such as grid balancing and frequency services, which dominate the power markets. Then there’s time-shifting — longer duration storage that picks up chunks of energy and moves it from time A to time B. These peak shaving or load levelling services depend on what side of the meter the end user is on. This is an area the capacity markets have picked up on. Finally, there are services where the network has to have the capability to cover extra margins on peak loads — say when air conditioning units are all being turned on a sweltering hot day — but to do so at prices that do not require, say, an extra peaking plant. “ “The energy storage industry should present itself in this way,” says Price, “because energy storage has been prohibitively expensive to do this historically.” Price believes there will be a significant market for long duration storage, which is developing and dependent on costs. But commercialization of the technology is still in its infancy, and flow battery firms have folded — and continue to fold — in the wake of stiff competition from other energy storage chemistries. If the market took as much interest in flow batteries as Tesla, for example, it would be quite a different story, said Price. “However, lithium ion has the advantage of being used in mobile devices and EVs, and that’s the market sweet spot. But because it’s being used in upstream or down-stream applications there’s actually a lower marginal cost. This means a 100MW lithium ion system in Australia is marketed and achieved with what Price refers to as chump change — relatively insignificant mounts of money. “Instead of grand opening ceremonies, the flow battery companies have hard earned
COVER STORY: ALTERNATIVE BATTERY TECHNOLOGIES money and are not able to make that sort of gamble,” he said. “There’s a place for all technologies. Lithium has a long way to go in terms of very large scale, long duration projects. At the moment it has quite a lot of the market share and a number of problems, not least longevity and recyclability. Flow batteries can score points on that market because they are more recyclable, offer long duration, and certainly a lower cost while being flexible. “But a lithium battery can be moved and will always have a place in mobile and electric vehicle applications, and there will be a little way to go before flow batteries are used in EVs.”
Vanadium versus zinc bromine
The majority of discussion, and projects, involving flow batteries centre on vanadium redox technology. The big difference between vanadium and zinc bromine is the cost of the materials. Vanadium is fairly scarce while zinc and bromine are abundant, around a thousand times more so. The technology costs less. “Because of cost concerns I don’t think vanadium will ever take off commercially. As people look to the next generation of battery technology, there’s not a clear path for it to compete with lithium ion,” says Paul Kreiner, vice president of engineering for Primus Power. If vanadium solutions want a significant market share it will boil down to cost. If conventional zinc bromine wants to make in-roads it will have to simplify the way zinc is plated on to one electrode. That is difficult to do because it has to be smooth and uniform to prevent dendritic growth. In the case of conventional zinc bromine batteries that is particularly damaging because of the membrane. (For this reason the batteries need to be fully discharged every few days to prevent zinc dendrites from puncturing the separator. They may also need every few cycles to short the terminals across a low impedance shunt while running the electrolyte pump to fully remove zinc from the plates.) “The reason Primus will overcome those issues is twofold,” says Kreiner. “The chemistry enables lower cost, which addresses the vanadium issue; and second our unique technology enables the zinc plating. We have demonstrated that we can plate zinc five times thicker than conventional zinc bromine batteries, and we don’t use a membrane so the stack is more robust.”
“When energy is being stored, the battery deposits zinc out of a zinc bromine solution on to special membranes inside the battery stack.” — Simon Hackett, Redflow Primus uses titanium electrodes on both sides whereas conventional versions of the technology use graphite electrodes. This means it is more robust, and allows the company to plate more zinc, which in turn allows more energy on the electrodes so the result is a lower cost per kilowatt hour.
Road to commercialization
If zinc bromine is to make commercial gains in the next 10 years, there are three main factors to consider: cost, its long duration capabilities and safety. The longevity of the system and its inherent stability prevent degradation of the cell at the rate of alternative chemistries. Theoretically there are no shelf-life limitations as the battery contents are non-perishable. By contrast, lithium ion batteries are expected to fall to around 80% capacity after 10 years, although some warranties only guarantee 60%-70% capacity in that time frame. So end users either have to over size the battery in the first place, so it can still perform the required task after a decade, or factor in the cost of potential upgrades. If this degradation doesn’t happen as quickly in a flow battery, then added with cheaper materials the overall system cost per kilowatt-hour falls. But cost is only one factor; long duration services could also allow the technology a greater market penetration. “More and more research indicates, that the vast majority of energy storage requirements are served with long duration systems, so four to six hour duration at full power,” says Kreiner. “Flow batteries are better set for long term services rather than lithium ion’s short duration capabilities.
“The market will be in renewables integration in the long term, and that will be the most important and largest application for long duration energy storage. “We are getting to the point where power produced from renewables sources is practically free and the key barrier to future deployment is the fact it’s intermittent, and that’s where a long duration battery is important. “In the short term, I see the market as more behind the meter applications where customers can avoid high demand charges during peak times during the day. Although in the long term that will be a smaller proportion of the market, it is an important stepping stone and an area we predict zinc bromide can deliver. more”
HYDROGEN-BROMINE FLOW BATTERIES TOO? Trung Van Nguyen, professor of petroleum and chemical engineering at the University of Kansas, announced earlier this year he had designed an advanced hydrogen-bromine flow battery, Van Nguyen was able to increase the surface of the carbon electrode by 50 to 70 times more than usual by growing carbon nanotubes directly on the carbon fibres of a porous electrode, increasing its efficiency. The final steps ahead of a possible commercialization include the development of an effective catalyst — possibly rhodium sulfide — with a higher output and resistance.
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COVER STORY: ALTERNATIVE BATTERY TECHNOLOGIES The hype over fuel cells as the next source of mass power fizzled away a decade ago. But the rise of cheaper energy through renewables and the need for some form of storage has refocused attention on the chemistry.
Fuel cells: the next big thing ... yet again “Fuel cells? Mind-bogglingly stupid!” The comment, courtesy of Mr Elon Musk, is just one view on a power source that continues to divide the energy storage world. Yet interest in fuel cells continues to be huge. And growing, too. Automotive firms such as Toyota and Honda have made and sold cars powered by hydrogen fuel cells. Fuel cells are increasingly being seen in powering buses. General Motors, working with Honda, announced in January last year that the two would be mass producing hydrogen fuel cells by 2020 at GM’s Brownstone Michigan plant at an investment cost of $85 million. Their origin began in 1842, when Welshman Sir William Grove used zinc and platinum electrodes and combined hydrogen and oxygen to produce what he called a ‘gas voltaic’ battery. The technology took a step towards mainstream acknowledgment when NASA used proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells in seven missions to space, starting in the 1960s. But the cells, using pure oxygen and hydrogen, were small scale and expensive. They were commercially not viable. But times have changed. Last September Zion Market Research reckoned that PEM fuel cells had dominated the global fuel cell market in 2016 due to their use in a wide range of motive and stationary applications. The size of the market value — $3.6 billion in 2016 — is expected to rise by another $3 billion by 2022. Asia Pacific will be the fastest growing regional segment, led in the most part by an aggressive fuel cell policy in Japan. A full hydrogen network for filling cars is already in place over the islands. The report predicted the lack of infrastructure and the high cost of the fuel cell would be a major restraint for the global fuel cell market. However, projects like Siemens’ Energiepark Mainz, Germany could change
that with abundant, cheap hydrogen generation. The facility, which began operations in Germany in July 2015, turns excess wind energy into hydrogen, which is then used to power fuel cell vehicles in the geographical area. Fuel cells are also scalable, with companies such as The Netherland’s Nedstack producing cells from 10kW to multi-megawatt sizes to suit a wide variety of applications. There’s also the issue of safety. It is better to have a thermal incident, or thermal runaway, in a fuel cell where the fuel supply can be cut rather than in a lithium battery, which has had many high profile explosions.
But there are disadvantages too. Perhaps the biggest is the lack of infrastructure to support the widespread use of fuel cells. In the US, for example, there is a bare handful of dozens of fuelling stations (mostly in California) available compared to the hundreds of thousands of public EV charging points. Associated with this is the cost of splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen, which then needs to be compressed/liquefied into suitable containers and then shipped to fuelling stations. The ability to charge an EV off a household plug is not one of the options available. And then there is the price of the catalyst, platinum. It may take as much as 10 tonnes of ore to yield 30g of platinum. The market price of 1g of platinum is presently around $30. There is a continuing debate over whether there is enough platinum in the world to go round — most of the world’s resources are concentrated in one area in South Africa. Its high price, however, does mean that virtually all platinum is recycled. Charlie Freese, GM’s executive director of global fuel cell business, says that technology is already requiring less and less platinum to generate the same
amount of power. He cites the example of the first stacks the car firm made in 2007, which needed around 80g of platinum. But these are now down to around 12g and laboratory work suggest a 7g range is possible. Among the key players in the fuel cell market are: Plug Power, Toshiba Corporation, Nedstack Fuel Cell Technology, Ballard Power Systems, FuelCell Energy, AFC Energy, Panasonic Corporation, Doosan Corporation, Ceres Power Holdings, Hydrogenics Corporation, SFC Energy, Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies, Hydrogenics Corporation and Solvay. One benefit of PEM cells are their start-up time, which ranges from one second compared to the 10 minutes required for solid oxide fuel cells. They can also typically operate at 70°C90°C. This makes them ideal for mobile and portable applications due to their compactness, low weight, high power density and clean, pollutant free operation. Roel van de Pas, chief commercial officer at Nedstack, says his company engineers its cells for 30,000 hours of use and some of its longer running applications have demonstrated stack in situ achievements of more than 20,000 hours. “However,” he says, “there are other stacks, for instance for automotive or back-up power applications, that are engineered for far fewer running hours. In essence the engineering choices need to match the intended use. “Also — as opposed to many batteries — fuel cells allow for refurbishment and allow for reuse of more than 90% of the valuable materials.” Japan has high hopes of running the 2020 Olympics on fuel cells, from transportation to the Olympic flame itself. To do this, the government says it will spend ¥45.2 billion ($385 million) on fuel cell vehicle subsidies and hydrogen stations. Japan leads the world in subsidies for fuel cell vehicles — around three times
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COVER STORY: ALTERNATIVE BATTERY TECHNOLOGIES It’s very easy to integrate fuel cells in running a fleet of vehicles, rather than on individual vehicles. Fleets will be a good starting point for the technology in the short term. higher than for EVs — that is expected to lead to 6,000 hydrogen cars from Toyota and Honda reaching Japanese roads in the coming years. The subsidiaries also include more than 80% of the costs of building hydrogen stations in Tokyo, with plans in place for 35 new hydrogen stations. However, van de Pas believes the future of fuel cell deployment lies in them being used in combination with batteries to give end users the benefits of both technologies.
“We see lithium ion and fuel cells going hand in hand in the future,” says van de Pas. One such example might be fuel cell buses — these combine a battery to provide high current loads and the benefit of recuperating braking energy, while the fuel cells supply a base load of power and long driving range through their better power-toweight performance over other chemistries. “For long distance and high payload (weight critical) applications batteries don’t cater to the relevant requirements,” he says. “Here fuel cells are a perfect addition to the batteries. “Keep in mind that they only operate in one direction and that for recuperation of braking energy the application of batteries or ultra-caps makes perfect sense.” Klaus Scheffer, project manager at the Energiepark Mainz for Siemens Corporate Technology, also sees the market for fuel cells being more suited to use in cars at the kilowatt range. “The main applications for fuel cells will be for mobility in the short term,” he says. “For example in regions such as Mainz, Frankfurt or Weissbarton, where a facility such as Energiepark is located, then there are projects for local transportation to use fuel cell powered buses that will need fuelling stations near the park. “A lot of counties in Germany are investing in this type of technology, driven by the European Commission, because it’s very easy to integrate fuel cells in running a fleet of vehicles, rather than on individual ones. “Fleets will be a good starting point
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for the technology in the short term and this is already happening now.” One of the owners of the Energiepark is the municipality of Mainz, which is already running a bus fleet. “Now buses will come and drive around carbonfree with the hydrogen produced from wind farms,” says Scheffer. Stationary storage is also a good fit for PEM cells because they can be used in many different applications where both the energy and heat produced can be made useful, such as office blocks, where the heat can be used to warm the building and the energy to light the rooms. Although countries tend to discuss energy transition challenges from the perspective of power, in a country like the Netherlands around 40% of its national energy requirement is demand for heat. During 2013, the UK used 78% of the energy in non-transport applications (83,368 thousand tonnes of oil equivalent) for heat usage. “Fuel cells can be extremely efficient machines and especially in stationary applications if combined heat-andpower applications can be found,” says van de Pas.
Fuel cells are also scalable, with companies such as The Netherland’s Nedstack producing cells from 10kW to multi-megawatt electric sizes to suit a wide variety of applications
FUEL CELL DIFFERENCES A fuel cell is similar to a battery in that both have galvanic cells that generate electricity through electrochemical reactions; both have an anode and a cathode (in the case of fuel cells they are hydrogen and oxygen) that makes contact with an electrolyte; and have individual low-voltage DC which can be combined in series to attain high voltage and power. However, unlike batteries, the electrochemical device does not require recharging and the reaction continues as long as fuel and oxidants are supplied. The only byproducts of this reaction are water and heat. PEM fuel cells use a solid, acidified Teflon polymer film as the electrolyte to conduct hydrogen ions from the anode to the cathode where water is deposited. Fuel cells come in many different variations, primarily classified by the kind of electrolyte they use. The main types are alkali, molten carbonate, phosphoric acid, PEM and solid oxide. The first three use liquid electrolytes, the last two solids. The electrolyte determines the electrochemical reactions taking place in the cell, the kind of catalysts required, the fuel type, and the cell’s operating temperature range. The cells are also scalable. Within the PEM systems market, Nedstack aims to achieve an optimum power to volume and total cost of ownership by targeting applications with significant running hours. Van de Pas says such systems can be found in larger stationary applications such as chlor-alkali sites (where the company has several MW-scale units in the field), but equally fitting application profiles are seen in marine applications, larger commercial vehicles and other stationary applications. However, commercial readiness depends on the price and availability of hydrogen, which is still a factor limiting the rapid scale-up of fuel cell technologies. Nonetheless, as facilities such as Energiepark are brought online — to make use of excess renewable energy at times when the grid itself cannot accept it — the fuel cell technology market will grow further.
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COVER STORY: ALTERNATIVE BATTERY TECHNOLOGIES Could the idea of electrochemical energy storage be one of the last fantasies of the 20th and early 21st centuries? Perhaps secondary batteries should be mechanical instead? It may be a contradiction in terms but a lot of start-ups are pursuing this idea with a vengeance.
Not so weird but wonderful — technologies that could become mainstream within a decade Turning mechanical energy into electrical energy isn’t particularly new. The first practical hydroelectric facility — capable of powering just a couple of the new-fangled Swan light bulbs — date to a private house in the north of England in 1878. From there it grew and grew. By the early 1880s hydropower stations were being pioneered in the US and across Europe. But the concept of energy storage and hydroelectricity first happened in the 1890s in Italy and Switzerland with the first pumped hydro installations. Nowadays pumped hydro accounts for close on 98% of the world’s energy storage. But the principle of pumped hydro — use energy to pump water up a slope
and catch some of that energy through turbines on its way down — can be applied in a variety of other ways. What happens, say, when you put energy into pushing a train with heavy weights up a slope and capture electricity when it’s released? Or hoist a huge weight up a pit shaft and use pulleys to catch the energy on its release? Or pump air into a cavern and use the escaping air to drive turbines and generate power? All of these techniques — and a few others listed here —are now either being designed or are already commercially available. One interesting start-up is Gravity Power which, based in California, has devised a system that relies on two water-filled shafts, one wider than the other, which are connected at both ends. Water is pumped down through the
Gravity Power: megawatt demo plant being constructed in Weilheim, Bavaria
Gravitricity managing director Charlie Blair: “The difference with pumped hydro is that we don’t need a mountain with a loch or lake at the top, and we can react much faster”
New ways for pumped hydro
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smaller shaft to raise a piston in the larger shaft. When demand peaks, the piston is allowed to sink back down the main shaft, forcing water through a generator to create electricity. The system’s relatively compact nature means it can be installed close to areas of high demand, and extra modules can be added when more capacity is needed. Another bright spark on the horizon, working on a similar principle, comes from a UK start-up called Gravitricity, with a simple variation of pumped hydro. Instead of water being pumped up a hill, a large weight of up to 3,000 tonnes is raised/dropped from the bottom of a disused mine shaft. Gravitricity plans to equip these long-abandoned mine shafts with enormous weights and winches. Sur-
COVER STORY: ALTERNATIVE BATTERY TECHNOLOGIES plus power will be drawn from the grid to raise the underground weights closer to ground level. When the time comes to inject energy back into the grid, the weights can be released for a burst of power generation. The firm says the output duration can be between 15 minutes and eight hours. Although this is similar to pumped hydro it has one extra benefit — an almost instant (one-second) response to fluctuations, as well as a potential degradation-free operational lifespan of 50 years. Innovate UK, the British government funded agency, awarded the start-up a £650,000 ($1 million) grant earlier this year. A full scale demonstrator will be developed this year and the firm hopes to install a full scale prototype by 2020. Managing director Charlie Blair says the difference between pumped hydro is that “we don’t need a mountain with a loch or lake at the top, and we can react much faster”. He says the biggest single cost is the hole, and that is why the start-up is developing its technology using existing mine shafts, in the UK and also in South Africa. He reckons that as the technology advances, the cost of drilling will reduce significantly and will allow them to sink purpose-built shafts wherever they are required. The firm plans to build models from 1MW to 20MW. It says its total cost of ownership is far lower than the equivalent installation of a lithium ion storage facility.
A similar gravity propelled energy storage system is being developed in the hills of Tehachapi in California close to the Mojave desert. Tehachapi Pass Wind Farm is one of the first large-scale wind farms installed in the US with a capacity of around 700MW. The firm, known as ARES — Advanced Rail Energy Storage — uses rail cars carrying heavy blocks of concrete that are pushed to the top of a grade using excess power from renewable energy plants during off-peak hours when electricity demand is low. Similar to the Gravitricity model, when the grid requires energy to meet periods of high demand, the rail cars are released down the hill, generating electricity through regenerative braking. The company says the system can respond to increases or decreases in
Although the system requires sunshine to generate power, it doesn’t necessarily require the sun to be shining on the panels the whole time. The problem of intermittency has been avoided. demand in seconds. The time taken for powering the system will be longer than the Gravitricity model, given there is the question of momentum being built up with increasing speed. The firm says it has a charge/discharge efficiency of 80% — roughly the same as Gravitricity — which is roughly that of pumped hydro and can deliver constant power for periods of up to eight hours. The company has tested a pilot system on a 268 metre track and the company has been granted permission by the Nevada Public Utilities Commission to build the energy storage system in Nevada’s mountains. The US state of Nevada is ranked around third in the country in terms of existing solar installations. The firm envisages that by the 2020s a fleet of automated 300 tonne electric-traction-drive shuttle trains could be moving up and down a 7.2% grade slope, providing 50MW of power to balance the California electricity grid. The 34 shuttle units on the ARES system will operate on a 9.2 km track with an elevation differential between top and bottom of 640 meters). The firm’s ambitions are much greater, however. The rail track model used is scalable — shuttle trains can run in parallel and installations could range from 100MW with 200MWh of storage capacity, up to larger 2-3GW regional energy storage systems with 16-24GWh energy storage capacity. Jim Kelly, chief executive of the firm and a former senior vice president for Southern California Edison, says the system can be deployed at around half the cost of other available storage technologies.
Under the Dutch thinking, the maglev train would be travelling in a sealed, vacuum tight tunnel running at 2,000 km/h around a circular track with a 2.5 km radius. This energy
ARES pilot track. Rail cars carrying heavy blocks of concrete are pushed to the top of a grade using excess power from renewable energy plants. On release they return the energy stored.
Another version — still only at the theoretical level — is being explored in the Netherlands. This takes the concept of the kinetic energy flywheel further on a maglev train. A maglev train — magnetic levitation — use two sets of magnets, one set to repel and push the train up off the track as in levitation, then another set to move the floating train ahead at great speed taking advantage of the lack of friction.
Hawaiian Electric and Amber Kinetics are testing the 8 kW/32kWh storage system for local grid reliability and support and aid in the integration of renewable energy. One 8 kW unit can power approximately 25 homes for one hour
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COVER STORY: ALTERNATIVE BATTERY TECHNOLOGIES could be tapped and the inventor of the idea said it would be able to capture 10% of the Netherlands’ daily electricity requirement.
Far more practical are systems that use flywheel energy storage (FES). These introduce electric energy, which is stored in the form of kinetic energy. When short-term backup power is required the inertia allows the rotor to continue spinning and the resulting kinetic energy is converted to electricity. The flywheel rotates in a vacuum on bearings that are as frictionless as possible. Advanced FES systems have rotors made of high strength carbon-fibre composites, suspended by magnetic bearings, and spinning at speeds from 20,000 to more than 50,000 rpm in a vacuum enclosure. The amount of energy that can be stored in a flywheel is a function of the square of its rpm, making higher rotational speeds desirable. Flywheels can come up to speed in a matter of minutes — reaching their energy capacity much more quickly than some other forms of storage. Some of the key advantages of flywheel energy storage are low maintenance, long life (some flywheels are capable of well over 100,000 full depth of discharge cycles and the newest configurations are capable of even more than that, greater than 175,000 full depth of discharge cycles), and negligible environmental impact. Flywheels can bridge the gap between short-term ride-through power and long-term energy storage and
have been used in some UPS systems for nearly a decade. Two of the largest installations are an FES in Stephentown in New York built in 2011 with an output of 5MWh (20MW over 15 minutes) and a similar 20MW system in Hazle Township in Pennsylvania, built in 2014. Firms that are active in flywheel technology are ABB, which in February 2017 provided a battery and flywheel storage system for a microgrid in Alaska; Amber Kinetics (formerly known as Berkeley Energy Sciences Corporation); Powerthru; Temporal Power and Vycon Energy, which is part of Calnetix Technologies.
Another non-electrochemical way to store energy is in the form of heat. A profusion of new ideas has erupted in recent years. One of the basic ideas — pumped heat electrical storage (PHES) — is that electrical energy drives a heat pump that pumps heat from a cold tank to a hot tank. To recover the energy, the heat pump is reversed to become a heat engine. This takes heat from the hot store, delivers waste heat to the cold store, and produces mechanical work. When recovering electricity the heat engine drives a generator. A recent start-up, Isentropic, a company based in Cambridge in the UK, uses inert argon gas to transfer heat between two large tanks filled with gravel. Incoming energy drives a heat pump, compressing and heating the argon. This creates a temperature differential between the two tanks, with one at 500°C and the other at -160°C.
Isentropic uses inert argon gas to transfer heat between two large tanks filled with gravel. Incoming energy drives a heat pump, compressing and heating the argon. During periods of high demand, the heat pump runs in reverse as a heat engine, expanding and cooling the argon and generating electricity.
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During periods of high demand, the heat pump runs in reverse as a heat engine, expanding and cooling the argon and generating electricity. Isentropic says its system has an efficiency of between 72%-80%, depending on size. Another way to store heat energy is pairing it with solar generation.
Molten salt too
Concentrated solar power, in which computer-controlled mirrors focus the sun’s heat to a central point to boil water and turn a steam turbine, is well known. BrightSource Energy, a company based in Oakland, California, recently signed a deal with Southern California Edison to implement a system that stores this solar energy in molten salt. What’s unusual about this system is that, although it relies on the fact that the sun is shining to generate power, it doesn’t necessarily require the sun to be shining on the panels the whole time. The problem of intermittency — when clouds reduce the amount of electric power that PV panels can produce — is avoided. The storage system, called SolarPLUS, uses a heat exchanger to transfer some of the heat captured by the heliostats to the molten salt. It is then run back through the heat exchanger to drive the steam turbine when needed. This allows BrightSource’s plants to deliver energy even after dark, and gives utilities and grid operators more flexibility than solar power usually provides. BrightSource says it is planning to equip three of its plants with SolarPLUS.
BrightSource Energy’s storage system, uses a heat exchanger to transfer the heat captured by the heliostats to the molten salt. It is then run back through the heat exchanger to drive the steam turbine when needed.
COVER STORY: ALTERNATIVE BATTERY TECHNOLOGIES The scientists of the 18th century believed that silver was one of the metals tipped to be a source of power. They were right — but not, as Kevin Desmond, battery historian, reports — in any way that they would have recognized.
The enduring magic of Zn+Ag²O In the 1780s, Alessandro Volta repeated Galvani’s frog-twitching experiments many times with many different materials and when in the 1800s he finally revealed his ‘pile’, it consisted of alternating disks of zinc and silver. During the late 1830s, still in his early 20s, Alfred Smee a London surgeon developed what he called a Chemico Mechanical Battery. It consisted of six cells, and its positive plates were made of amalgamated zinc and the negative plates were coated in a ﬁnely divided layer of platinized silver, thus ensuring perfect contact with the exciting liquid:
dilute sulfuric acid. During the 1850s Gaston Planté was also experimenting with all manner of metals, from tin and silver to gold and platinum. Eventually he settled on lead. And, of course, the rest is history. During his search for the ideal alkaline storage battery, Swedish inventor Waldemar Jungner also made experiments with couples of silver oxide-iron and silver oxide-copper. A silver oxide-copper prototype was tested in the summer of 1899 by Svante Arrhenius, a Swedish professor, who obtained energy of no less than 40Wh/kg from this system; the
A silver oxide-copper prototype was tested in the summer of 1899 by Svante Arrhenius, a professor at Stockholm University, who obtained energy of no less than 40 Wh/kg from this system; the potential, however, was low, only 0.6V-0.8V www.batteriesinternational.com
potential, however, was low, only 0.6V-0.8V. Even before this, Jungner had worked with cadmium as an active material in negative electrodes, but that work had not been encouraging. In these preliminary experiments he used a mixture of cadmium and graphite, which he pressed into pockets, but such electrodes had poor efficiency. After unremitting experimental work, he succeeded, however, in producing a porous cadmium metal with acceptable mechanical and electrical properties by a chemical electrolytic method. This material, in combination with silver oxide, gave a cell with an energy content of about 40 Wh/kg and a voltage of about 1.1V. The silver systems were thus capable of storing large amounts of energy per unit of weight.
5A for 75 minutes
Over in France, during the 1930s Henri André had been working on battery development. After an almost endless series of experiments, written up in some 3,000 pages of notes, the ﬁrst industrial operation of his silver oxide couple was made in September 1936, when a cell delivered 5A for 75 minutes. This cell weighed 377g. Up to that time, André constructed all his cells with soluble negatives. After 1940, however, he reduced the electrolyte to make a more insoluble zinc electrode. In André’s ﬁrst US patent, granted in 1943, cellophane was used as a separator to retard the migration of silver specks from the positive to the negative electrodes, which had caused the early failure of previous versions. In the UK, Chloride Industrial Batteries at Swinton, near Manchester working along similar lines, made special primary silver oxide-zinc batteries for torpedoes for the Royal Navy. The research had been initiated by chief designer Robin Gray with Harold Jones and Norman Bagshaw. In 1962 they applied for a patent for “Deferred action type electric battery having electrolyte guiding
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COVER STORY: ALTERNATIVE BATTERY TECHNOLOGIES means…. This invention relates to electric cells comprising a casing containing an element consisting of electrodes and separators, of the type that is activated by introduction of liquid to the element shortly before use. Such a cell comprised an element consisting of silver oxide and zinc plates interleaved and separated by separators of suitable material such as absorbent paper or similar thin felt-like sheet material.” The drawing from the patent is pictured on the right. By this time, the Soviet Union had become interested in silver-zinc, and intensive work was done at the Moscow Academy of Sciences in the battery group of Vladimir Bagotsky. Between 1949 and 1965, Bagotsky worked at the All-Union Research Institute of Current Sources. He contributed substantially to the development of a series of innovative batteries for submarines, aircraft, and spacecraft, most notably silverzinc 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 power supply, with a mass of 51kg, was in the shape of an octagonal nut with the radio transmitter in its hole. 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. During the 1960s, researchers across NASA worked to resolve these challenges, making only minor improvements. However, outside NASA, the Astropower Laboratory of Douglas Aircraft Company had come up with an experimental cell using a novel, inorganic ceramic separator, which showed promise. The agency teamed up with the lab to advance the technology, and by 1972 NASA had tested and proven a battery that could be recharged shallowly, even after heat sterilization, some 400 to 500 times. It was a huge improvement, but well below the 10,000-cycle life of the nickel-cadmium batteries commonly used in space applications of the time. However silver-zinc batteries were one-third the size and provided a substantial weight savings — enough
68 • Batteries International • Spring 2018
to keep NASA on the trail. Throughout the 1970s, NASA helped develop chemistries with better performance and a new method to manufacture the batteries cheaply and efficiently. However, the rechargeable battery lasted longest if it were only drained a little bit — deeper discharge-recharge cycles caused it to fail more quickly. As a result, NASA has not made heavy use of the technology. During the late 1960s, several early
NASA spacecraft, including the Apollo command module, used silver-zinc batteries. The agency worked hard to make such batteries rechargeable, with some major advances made at Glenn Research Center, then called Lewis Research Center. Rechargeable silver-zinc batteries didn’t make it into space, but NASA’s research and development served as a starting point for anyone trying to develop them. The Apollo Lunar
The ﬁrst space satellite, Sputnik, which was launched on October 4, 1957, was equipped with three silverzinc batteries made under Bagotsky’s supervision www.batteriesinternational.com
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COVER STORY: ALTERNATIVE BATTERY TECHNOLOGIES Command module used fuel cells as its primary source, but peak power limitations required supplementation by silver-zinc batteries which became its sole power supply during re-entry after separation of the service module. Only these batteries were recharged in flight. After the Apollo 13 near-disaster in 1970, an auxiliary silver–zinc battery was added to the service module as a backup to the fuel cells. Zinc was used in the wheels and the batteries of the moon buggy. The Lunar Roving Vehicle was a zinc-silver battery-powered four-wheeled rover used on the moon in the last three missions of the Apollo program during 1971 and 1972. The wheels of the Lunar Rover were designed and manufactured so as to suit the surface and the environment of the moon. Made by General Motors Defence Research Laboratories in Santa Barbara, California, Ferenc Pavlics, the engineer, was given special recognition by NASA for developing the “resilient wheel” used tires made of zinc-coated steel strands attached to the rim and discs of aluminium. Power was provided by two 36volt zinc-silver-potassium hydroxide non-rechargeable batteries, yielding a range of 57 miles (92km). These were used to power the drive and steering motors and also a 36-volt utility outlet mounted on the front of the vehicle to power the TV camera. The three Lunar Rovers still remain on the Moon. The Apollo service modules used as crew ferries to the Skylab space station were powered by three silver– zinc batteries between undocking and SM jettison as the hydrogen and oxygen tanks could not store fuel cell reactants through the long stays at the station. During this time, the US company, Eveready Industries, commercialized the world’s first button-type silveroxide battery. In Japan, Hitachi Maxell, commercialized a buttontype silver-oxide battery for the first time in Japan in 1976. As Japanese quartz watches started to dominate the world market, sales
of silver-oxide batteries that drive them also grew. Along with the advances in IC chips in the computing machine field, electronic calculators became widely used, and compact calculators incorporating mainly silver-oxide batteries were produced in large volumes. Later, portable electronic game machines became popular with children, and this also contributed to the growth in the use of silver-oxide batteries.
Silver zinc batteries because of their high specific energy — until the arrival of lithium-ion cells, they had the highest specific energy — found their way into some specialist automotive applications. Perhaps the most notable was their deployment in the World Solar Challenge — a dash from Darwin in the north of Australia to Adelaide in the south — in cars powered only by photovoltaic panels. In the first event, held in 1987, roughly half of the 22-strong field used silver-zinc as their rechargeable power source. But by 1999 their use waned with the progressive development of lithium-ion batteries and their superior specific energy. From 2001 to the latest challenge in 2017, they have not been used at all. Traditional hearing aids run on disposable batteries, usually zinc-air based. As a result, hearing aid users have to replace their batteries every week or so. Changing the small batteries is no easy task, especially for the elderly who are their primary users. And to conserve battery life, users will often turn off the hearing aids for stretches of time, inevitably leaving them without hearing at inconvenient moments. Enter Ross Dueber, former vice president of Emerson Climate Technologies and Emerson Corporation. Before that Dueber had a successful career as an officer in the US Air Force which included R&D and specification of batteries for aircraft and space applications. In 1989, he received a patent for a cathode con-
Using NASA’s publicly available research as a jumping off point, ZMP began in the 1990s to develop silverzinc batteries that could last through more and deeper recharge cycles. www.batteriesinternational.com
tainer for sodium-sulfur cells. Dueber then concentrated on the silverzinc option, founding Zinc Matrix Power (now ZPower), in Camarillo, California. Using NASA’s publicly available research as a jumping-off point, ZMP began in the 1990s to develop silverzinc batteries that could last through more and deeper recharge cycles. The company has improved all four active components of the battery: the two electrodes, the electrolyte and the separators, earning some 100 new patents. The batteries can now survive up to 1,000 discharge cycles without losing significant capacity. The company launched its rechargeable hearing aid battery in 2013. Troy Renken plays a pivotal role in the long range planning and development of the electronics and packaging of ZPower’s silver-zinc battery technology. In 2015, the company was named a CES 2016 Innovation Awards Honoree. By 2017, nearly every major hearing aid manufacturer was offering select products with ZPower rechargeable microbatteries built in. ZPower has strategic partnerships with, and venture investments from, Intel, OnPoint Technologies — a venture capital fund of the US Army — and PowerVentures, a large private equity group.
Small is beautiful
As devices get smaller, more sophisticated and hungrier for energy. Dueber also launched the Battery Bowl Design Challenge, an undergraduate engineering competition where qualifying applicants develop and prototype a product or device that makes the best use of ZPower’s technology. Other firms have, of course, been active too. Most notably Sony in 2004 started producing the first silver-oxide batteries without added mercury. Because silver-oxide batteries become hazardous on the onset of leakage — this generally took five years from the time they are put into use (which coincides with their normal shelf life) — all silver-oxide batteries contained up to 0.2% mercury. The mercury was incorporated into the zinc anode to inhibit corrosion in the alkaline environment. Kevin Desmond is author of “Innovators in Battery Technology: Profiles of 95 Influential Electrochemists” published by McFarland & Company
Batteries International • Spring 2018 • 71
BCI INNOVATION AWARDS
A bright new landscape as invention comes to the fore For the last three years Battery Council International has presented an award — dedicated to the memory of East Penn’s chief executive Sally Breidegam — to the most innovative lead acid battery firm that year. In 2016, there were 17 entries and Hammond Group won the award with its Advanced Expander paste formulation. In 2017 there were seven strong entries with Northstar’s remote monitoring process taking the accolade. This year’s winner will be announced after we go to press. This year, eight companies — Abertax Technologies, Daramic, GNB Industrial Power, Gridtential Energy, Highwater Innovations, Terrapure Environmental, UNISEG Products and UK Power Tech — submitted entries for the 2017 Sally Breidegam Miksiewicz Innovation Award. Submissions were opened in December and remained open until February. Each submission was judged on eight areas: sustainability, safety, cost, performance, detail, uniqueness, value and quantifiablity. Sustainability – Does the submission show environmental stewardship and /or innovative recyclability? Submitters were asked to provide tangible aspirations, goals and objectives in helping to create a greener tomorrow. Safety — Does the submission show
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product or process stability and the ability to be safely commercialized? Submitters were asked to demonstrate a clear commitment to the best interest of the general public and industry from a safety standpoint. Cost — Can the submission be easily commercialized, provide cost-optimized advantages and be an affordable alternative to existing technologies and processes? Performance — Does the submission meet or exceed the needs for application and industry requirements? Submitters were asked to demonstrate how the innovation meets its intended key objectives, goals and benefits as well as other outstanding attributes. Detail — Does the submission provide adequate information that thoroughly explains the innovation?
Uniqueness — Is the submission the first of its kind to market or rarely used by other organizations? How does it differ from existing products? Submitters were asked to provide information about similar applications and clearly define what makes this product, process or discovery unique or innovative. Value — How does the submission directly benefit the lead battery industry? Can the value be quantified with numerical data, such as material reduction or pollution avoided? Can the product be utilized outside of the company that created it? Quantifiable — Does the information provided meet the criteria and clearly describe in numerical data the key measurable areas. Submissions that provided actual data received a higher score. >
BCI INNOVATION AWARDS
“Innovation is the thing that gives you the opportunity. It’s the promise of our future.” Sally Breidegam Miksiewicz
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BCI INNOVATION AWARDS
2016 winner: Hammond Advanced Expanders/LAB2 Hammond Group won the 2016 award on a joint package of achievements as its entry for the BCI Innovation Award, says its chief executive Terry Murphy. The first is the continuing expansion of its Advanced Expanders (AE), the second was its newly completed Lead Acid Battery Laboratory — known as LAB2. Advanced expanders provide lead acid batteries with dramatically improved dynamic charge acceptance while the LAB2 is dedicated to industry technical development. Its goal is to enable lead acid batteries to achieve 80% of lithium-ion’s technical performance. But at just 20% of its cost. Dynamic charge acceptance — the way batteries can accept and rapidly store large influxes of energy — is the next big thing for the lead acid business. It opens up two worlds — that of microhybrids in the automotive sector and the huge new areas of business with grid-scale storage. In laboratory testing and now in production batteries, Hammond has achieved an order-of-magnitude increase in dynamic charge acceptance while simultaneously increasing cycle life — see charts — show relative comparisons to Hammond’s control samples. The innovation — generically known as AE — does not require a change in other battery paste ingredients, grids, or plates. No change in any other material component or process. No new
tooling, production technique, distribution, use, scrap characterization, or recycling. AE represents a new expander family, with no safety concerns or known adverse effects. Moreover, AE is customizable according to the needs of the batteries being made and their in-service operating conditions. Hammond has a long tradition in producing lead chemicals for a variety of glass, ceramics, colour, and plastic applications. “We’ve always pioneered technical substitutes and advancements in answer to an ever changing market,” said CEO Terry Murphy. “We’ve been very successful adapting to industry’s shifting demand for lead-based chemicals.
AE PSoC cycling mprovement
Advanced Expanders enable PbA batteries to pass micro hybrid test
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Hammond has a history of developing world-class solutions when lead is challenged.” Since 2012, Hammond has focused on changing the lead-acid battery chemistry to compete with lithium ion. It also means adapting to changes in sources of lead demand. The nub of the problem between lead and lithium is mostly a question of price and recyclability. For advanced energy storage — power generation or hybrid vehicles — lithium-ion batteries meet most of the technical requirements, but are too expensive and not recycled. By contrast lead acid batteries are inexpensive and 100% recyclable, but don’t have the necessary cycle life. Hammond has amassed an impressive assembly of state of the art equipment in LAB2 — these range from multi-position testing equipment from Maccor and Bitrode, which can test up from mini-cells to SLI batteries to micro-hybrid and stationery testing. There is also general laboratory instruments such as units providing X-ray diffraction, BET Surface Area, UV/Vis spectroscopy. “One huge advantage that we can bring to bear is a rapid material and electrode screening process — typically we can make valid performance predictions within a couple of weeks,” says Murphy. “This is unheard of in an industry where typically it takes several months for a clear picture to emerge from research.”
AE charge acceptance improvement
Advanced Expanders provide a dramatic increase in charge acceptance
BCI INNOVATION AWARDS
2017 winner: Northstar ACE and remote monitoring NorthStar won the BCI Innovation Award on the basis of what Hans Lidén, its CEO, called its most groundbreaking innovation: NorthStar ACE (Advanced Connected Energy), which is an IoT service where it connects batteries to a cloud portal. This means that the battery users can review the battery health and status anytime from anywhere. Furthermore, the embedded battery sensor communicates with both the site technician and the power system, to ensure correct installation and settings. The device has been primarily launched for the telecom sector, but can quickly be expanded to new segments. “The project started in 2015 with a technology assessment to find a good solution for embedded sensors, and when this succeeded, we started developing the sensor communication system, including the cloud portal and mobile app,” Lidén says. “The work was initiated as part of a broader development strategy, where we analyzed and identified the future growth regions for telecom back-up power and concluded that the growth in remote regions, with challenging conditions, was significant. “This was a clear driver for developing a remote monitoring solution. In addition, our strategy is to continuously improve performance and sustainability of our products and we wanted to provide a solution which makes battery usage more efficient and prolongs battery life.” “The battery life will be prolonged as installation and settings are done correctly from the start, and the continuous monitoring enables corrective actions when needed and only when needed. Added benefits are better warehouse control, less scrapping and the like, which lowers operational costs. “An unmeasurable indirect consequence of better control of the reserve power, is less site downtime, which in turn means that lost revenue due to outages is reduced,” Lidén says. In terms of the wider world, Lidén says that remote monitoring of reserve power will have an impact on a
number of areas. It can, for example, be used in professional transportation, where truck drivers more and
more depend on power in their cabins when engine is off. Datacenters are another critical area, Lidén says, which depend on reliable reserve power. “With a better controlled back up power source, these applications will improve the situation for the users. Enabling remote monitoring also enables better use of renewable power instead of fossil fuels, as the variation of the main power source is compensated with better control of the backup power,” he says. Increaseed battery life and improved battery utilization means that less batteries are needed, which improves sustainability. Lidén says. “Furthermore, remote control eliminates a high portion of unnecessary transports to site, which again benefits the environment.”
“NorthStar ACE is an advanced solution in a simple package. The batteries look exactly the same on the outside as our traditional batteries, but with advanced features. As the world is talking about the Internet of Things, this may be the first example of connected energy.”
NorthStar’s ACE (Advanced Connected Energy), uses an IoT service where it connects batteries to a cloud portal — and from there to any internet connected device, here a smart phone.
Batteries International • Spring 2018 • 75
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BCI INNOVATION AWARDS: GRIDTENTIAL John Barton, chief executive of Gridtential Energy, explains why its Silicon Joule technology represents a massive opportunity for the lead acid batteries sector.
New bipolar lead battery architecture Gridtential Energy has applied for the BCI Innovation Award on the basis of its Silicon Joule technology, which combines the traditional benefits of lead acid batteries — low cost, recyclability, and safety — with a novel bipolar battery architecture. This stacked-cell architecture dramatically reduces the weight of the battery and provides it with the power density associated with lithium technology. John Barton, chief executive of Gridtential Energy, suggests that by integrating high-volume and low-cost solar manufacturing into the existing lead battery infrastructure, the company has devised an approach that is scalable and easily commercialized compared to other technologies that require novel processing techniques and custom manufacturing equipment. “Silicon Joule technology can also improve the performance of existing SLI and auxiliary batteries by delivering more cranking power over a wider operating range,” Barton says. “The
How the bipolar batteries stack up
improved power performance is also extremely important in backup applications, such as telecom and UPS, where the batteries are called upon to deliver large currents in sub-second time frames. “Overall, as demand in high-power applications increases across industries, the Silicon Joule technology’s flexible voltage scalability, thermal management system, recyclability, manufacturability and simplistic design deliver the high dynamic charge acceptance required to meet these evolving performance needs.” Founded in 2011, Gridtential’s material discovery — the use of treated silicon wafers inside the battery — led to the development of Silicon Joule technology. Gridtential has subsequently attracted the world’s largest battery suppliers, and is eying new storage markets across the globe as demand for 48V batteries increases for electric-hybrid vehicles. Barton says this innovation is important for the lead battery industry, which faces a unique set of challenges brought on by competition from lithium-ion and the reputation of lead commodities. “Silicon Joule battery technology leverages existing lead recycling infrastructures. But also the amount of lead used in the battery is reduced by up to 40%, significantly decreasing the overall weight of the battery. “Compared to traditional monoblocs, the Silicon Joule battery is lighter and has higher power densities. Gridtential’s approach to battery architecture is built upon a capital-light licensing model that partners with, rather than competes with, battery manufacturers.
This allows them to compete against new and emerging technology threats without gigascale capital investments. “Lithium alone cannot satisfy the global demand for storage,” he says. “As the global EV market heats up and major car manufacturers scramble to secure supply, lithium sourcing challenges loom on the horizon. The same applies to cobalt, which is often used in lithium-ion batteries.” Gridtential’s solution, based on a combination of silicon and lead, only taps two abundant materials with massive existing ecosystems, but is lower in cost and higher in power density. The lead industry does not have the same material availability issues that lithium does. Additionally, as the multibillion dollar market for 48V battery systems swells to keep pace with newly increased voltage standards in hybridelectric vehicles, Gridtential’s Silicon Joule Technology will provide its global battery manufacturing partners with an economic, scalable and reliable platform. Gridtential’s immediate focus is on 12V-48V mild hybrid automotive systems. However, it aims to offer power to a diverse range of technologies across an array of sectors, including material handling equipment, grid storage systems, mobile telephony, back-up power devices for cloud computing, and more. Barton encourages lead acid battery manufacturers to embrace this opportunity — and go big. “While Tesla is aiming for five gigafactories by 2020, existing lead acid battery manufacturers could license Gridtential’s Silicon Joule technology and convert their existing lines to compete with the evolving needs of the battery industry. That way, there could be roughly 70 lead acid gigafactories worldwide, with over 500GwH,” he says.
Batteries International • Spring 2018 • 77
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BCI INNOVATION AWARDS: DARAMIC Matt Wolski, product marketing manager, Daramic, explains how its Carbon Coated Separator Technology can help OEMs reduce CO2 emissions.
Improving dynamic charge acceptance Daramic has applied for the BCI Innovation Award on the basis of its Carbon Coated Separator Technology, which reduces sulfation crystal growth, delivering a more active surface area on the plates for improved conductance of the electrode. In short, it has created a separator that will increase the amount and speed of electrification. Matt Wolski, product marketing manager, Daramic says the Carbon Coated Separator Technology stemmed from analysis of carbon’s use in improving dynamic charge acceptance coupled with a patented application process. He says that Daramic is addressing opportunities to support market needs related to OEMs’ targets to reduce CO2 emissions. “As OEMs implement more advanced system architectures to meet these goals (such as start-stop), they are asking their batteries to do more, including voltage drop mitigation, robust operation in partial states of charge, and increasing dynamic charge acceptance,” Wolski says. “The Daramic Carbon Coated Separator Technology is one novel solution, as part of the Daramic EFB solution roadmap, to support this new battery working pattern.” Wolski says a team of electrochemists studied the fundamental effects of carbon inside the enhanced flooded lead acid battery including its support in advancing electrification in startstop vehicles. A number of individuals should be credited with the development of the Carbon Coated Separator Technology. These include: Eric Miller, director of product marketing; Susmitha Appikatla, R&D electrochemist; Kevin Whear, vice president, technology; and Matt Stainer, R&D and new product development. He says the innovation has the potential to benefit the batteries industry because of the improved dynamic change acceptance at the cell and battery levels as compared to standard separators. “Carbon applied directly to the separator, using a proprietary method, while being in contact with the nega-
tive active materials shows increased dynamic change acceptance at the cell and battery levels versus standard separators,” he says. “This has proven to slow the growth of lead sulfate crystals, which otherwise tend to grow more rapidly in batteries continuously operating in partial states of charge.” Conceptually, charging a lead acid battery is a relatively straightforward chemical reaction: electrons convert the crystalline lead sulfate into solid lead and produce sulfate ions. Yet this reaction can be constrained by many factors. If the electrolyte has been allowed to stratify, there will be localized high density of lead sulfate crystals that will constrain the charging reaction. Also the challenge is to get the incoming electrons to reach the lead sulfate crystals so that they can be reduced. The addition of carbon, whether to control crystal size or improve the conductance of lead electrode in a partial
state of charge, has already demonstrated great improvements. “However carbon also comes with the added side effect of increased water loss in the battery. While battery manufacturers often optimize carbon additions to the negative electrode around the best charge acceptance, they often encounter constraints associated with OEMs’ water loss specifications,” he says. In general, water loss or hydrogen evolution is associated with carbon but also with impurities coming from the lead, acid or from the manufacturing process. Beside impurities, antimony from the top lead will also become soluble in the acid and deposit on the negative electrode. “All of these factors impact water loss in the battery. Many battery manufacturers used a modified separator which serves to lower water loss so that they can optimize charge acceptance with the addition of carbon while simultaneously meeting strict water loss standards of the OEMs,” Wolski says. Daramic has come up with a solution: a carbon coated separator with a lower water loss feature that supports dynamic charge acceptance, while lower water loss. The innovation supports OEMs’ goals of reducing CO2 emissions over the next decade. “The separator advancements allows batteries to be improved in vehicles that have advanced architectures such as start-stop, which in turn reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” But in terms of a timeline for the roll out of the product there is still a long way to go. Daramic has not yet set a date for commercialization of the product. “It is very much in the development phase,” he says. “Currently, we have several design of experiments ongoing at the cell and battery levels to validate findings, while maximizing the benefit the solution provides as a component of the broader system,” he says.
Daramic has come up with a solution: a carbon coated separator with a lower water loss feature that supports dynamic charge acceptance, while lowering water loss. Batteries International • Spring 2018 • 79
BCI INNOVATION AWARDS: GNB/EXIDE Kai Ruth, senior product management Motive Power Europe, GNB Industrial Power, part of Exide Technologies, explains why its breakthrough battery technology is so unique.
A breakthrough for tough, industrial batteries GNB Industrial Power, part of Exide Technologies, has applied for the BCI Innovation Award on the basis of a new battery that comes in two forms: TENSOR is a unique high performance battery and TENSOR xGEL an innovative maintenance-free battery. Both have been designed for hard industrial use with the company labelling them the next generation of lead acid batteries. Kai Ruth, senior product management Motive Power Europe, GNB Industrial Power, part of Exide Technologies, says the innovative design of this traction battery technology shifts the performance of batteries of this type to a completely new level: “It has more power, is faster at recharging and has a higher efficiency than traditional batteries; meanwhile the gel variant is also maintenance-free.” The TENSOR batteries combine high performance and maximum uptime with long service life and high energy savings. These batteries are designed for all demanding applications in tough industrial environments and allow fast charging, the company says. The TENSOR battery will fully charge in four hours, is capable of intermediate and opportunity charging, can last up to 50% longer than standard batteries in cold environments and performs well at very low temperatures. This makes them ideal for heavy-duty trucks especially those that are operated outdoors throughout the year. The TENSOR xGEL represents a “fusion between high performance TENSOR technology and maintenance free gel technol-
80 • Batteries International • Spring 2018
ogy”. This has the same performance as a standard battery but outperforms a standard battery at low temperatures. It has the same charging time as a standard lead battery. It can fully charge in eight hours and is also capable of intermediate and opportunity charging. It is designed for mediumsize equipment, is tolerant of extreme temperatures, can be used indoors and outdoors. In terms of wider benefits, TENSOR batteries can increase the operating time of materials handling trucks. They have a significantly lower operating temperature which has a positive effect on the operational life. Additionally, their excellent energy efficiency ensures decreased energy costs and avoids carbon dioxide emissions. Compared to conventional traction batteries, an advantage of approximately 36% can be expected, the company says. The batteries achieve this performance through their innovative design. This includes a negative copper plate with a diamond structure, an optimized positive tubular plate, conductive parts with low electrical resistance, and the use of connectors with a higher cross section. Research on this project was kick-started by attempts to find solutions to some of the challenges faced by batteries operating in tough industrial en-
vironments where charge times could be too short and, traditional batteries struggled in extreme temperatures and also required regular maintenance. “The background of this was to solve issues for the customer about batteries’ lack of capacity and power, for example, when the length of recharging time was too long and the running time in cold environments too short or they were looking for a maintenance-free alternative,” he says. He says the design the company has come up with has the potential to transform parts of the industry where such batteries are required. “It is a breakthrough for the whole battery industry, because this innovation significantly extends the areas of application and the way batteries can be used in applications,” Ruth says. He believes it will make a big difference to companies working in the logistics sector, for example, as these batteries will mean less downtime and be more reliable. They are also better for the environment. “It solves issues for the customers and allows them to fulfil their intralogistics task with less downtime and more power. This has a very positive impact on the whole logistic sector which is booming due to the fantastic growth rate in the internet shopping business — and at the same time it saves energy and reduces CO2,” he says. In terms of future timelines for these batteries, the high-performance TENSOR battery is already established in the market while new maintenance-free variant TENSOR xGEL will be commercially available very shortly.
The TENSOR battery will fully charge in four hours, is capable of intermediate and opportunity charging, can last up to 50% longer than standard batteries in cold environments and performs well at very low temperatures. www.batteriesinternational.com
BCI INNOVATION AWARDS: ABERTAX ‘KD’ Merz for Abertax Technologies, explains why the one-valve battery lid for VRLA batteries is so important.
How a better valve creates a better VRLA battery Abertax Technologies has applied for the BCI Innovation Award on the basis of the one-valve battery lid for VRLA batteries, which it has developed and it claims will mean a more reliable and better performing lead acid battery. ‘KD’ Merz, vice president for technology at Abertax Technologies, who has worked on VRLA (gel) technology for more than 35 years, says that improvements can be made to a traditional VRLA battery — in either gel or AGM formats through improvements to the valve. These batteries don’t need watering during the service as the individual cells within a battery are closed with a safety or so called ‘one-way valve’. This has basically two functions: to avoid any ambient air penetrating inside the cells, and to keep a certain pressure inside the cells to limit the space of generated gas and support the internal recombination of the gases.
Abertax already produces a well known range of gas release valves
The efficiency of this recombination depends on the cell/battery design, the age of the battery, the charging regime and, to a high extent, on the valve quality. The tolerances of the opening and closing pressure should be as small as possible to keep the same internal pressure in all cells, Merz says. This can be achieved by a well designed membrane inside the valve and a high quality and clean production process. In fact the drying out of single cells is a main reason for the premature failure of VRLA batteries. But Abertax Technologies has developed a better design that avoids this. “A new approach to guarantee an equal pressure inside the cells can be achieved with just one high quality valve using a lid with a central degassing function,” Merz says. Abertax developed the valve with extreme low opening pressure tolerances of +/-25 mbar. The standard is more than +/-50mbar. However, different opening pressures result in different gassing rates and water loss and leads to premature failure. This new lid design guarantees the same pressure in each cell. Merz says that Abertax started looking at the development of a new valve technology some seven years ago and started developing this design specifically one and a half years ago. The company has now finished all the tests and is close to its first prototype. “This is going to see the sunlight — it is a new design that prevents a variation of pressures developing inside the battery. Currently, you need a safety valve on each cell; gas is generated and escapes through the valves. Where this system is unbalanced it can lead to failure of the battery.” The new design will mean a much better lifetime and as an additional
“We want to see the first batteries being sold this year — we have a battery company lined up to work with us”
‘KD’ Merz, Abertax Technologies
benefit since the charger can be controlled by the calibrated valve, it is thus a much more reliable and better performing lead acid battery. The design is now finished and a prototype is being built ahead of working with a major battery manufacturer. Eventually, he believes, this will be used in all VRLA batteries. It will also mean cost savings, making it even more appealing to manufacturers. “We want to see the first batteries being sold this year — we have a battery company lined up to work with us,” he says.
Batteries International • Spring 2018 • 81
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BCI INNOVATION AWARDS: HIGHWATER INNOVATIONS George Brilmyer, co-founder of HighWater Innovations, explains why the company is seeking a partner to take its innovation — the Go Battery — to the next level.
Tripling power performance through better design HighWater Innovations has applied for the BCI Innovation Award for the second time on the basis of further development of its invention called the GO Battery. This is a low-aspect ratio, spiral wound battery, which is designed for maximum power and life. It is specifically intended for use in hybrid electric vehicles at a fraction of the cost of current battery technologies such as nickel and lithium chemistries. George Brilmyer, co-founder of HighWater Innovations, says that the GO Battery — it stands for Geometrically Optimized — has achieved some 1,000W/kg in power performance to date with a clear development path to over 1,400W/kg. He says a conventional lead acid battery delivers some 350W/kg; lithium ion is now around 1,400W/kg (but more expensive); the Go Battery is already at 1,000W/kg and improving. “We are close to achieving three times the power of conventional VRLA batteries,” he says. “We are now approaching what is delivered by lithium ion batteries but at a fraction of the cost. At around $100 per kilowatt hour, we are in a similar price range to any lead acid battery — and that is a tenth of the cost of a lithium ion product. “Their costs are closer to $300-$400 a kilowatt hour because of the cost of the raw materials. “Raw lithium prices have increased a lot in the past few years and we need a solution — we know that lead acid can provide that with the right design.” HighWater Innovations’ co-founders, Brilmyer and Mike Gilchrist, formed the company specifically because they believed that the development of the hybrid electric vehicle market was being held back because of the cost effectiveness of the batteries used in these systems. They determined that VRLA batteries were the most viable option for solving this challenge. They are more environmentally friendly and much cheaper than the Ni-MH or Li ion batteries that have been used so far. The GO cell features a low aspect ratio spiral-wound construction with a stack-
able pack design. This single cell building block can be used to assemble high voltage batteries of any voltage and offers a wide range of form and fitment to the vehicle designer. The cells are also designed to stack and interlock to form a compact, air-cooled battery pack. The end cells in the pack will be thermally insulated so that all cells will be thermally matched and will therefore operate at the same temperature. They say the battery will produce more power and have an extended operating life compared to other VRLA batteries. Their low aspect ratio grids will increase the overall power capabilities in the HEV application. Meanwhile, its open central core is designed for improved thermal management. Conventional VRLA batteries can operate at temperatures of 40ºC-45ºC when operated in the High-Rate Partial State of Charge cycle but this high operating temperature shortens battery life so battery life can be increased by two times through a 10ºC decrease in operating pack temperature. But while the Go Battery is fully ready as a technology, HighWater Innovations is now seeking a partner to manufacturer it and help take it forward. “We are not battery manufacturers, we are innovators,” says Brilmyer. We want to get someone interested to take it forward — ideally one of the big battery makers. We need the OEMs to take a good look at it and help us develop a really compact design. “This is a truly innovative design, which has made a quantum leap forward for VRLA batteries — we haven’t achieved 10% more power, we have achieved 300% more. We need to take it to the next level now — and for that we need the right partner.”.
The GO battery is a series of cylindrical two-volt cells with four instead of two current take-off tabs, and a hole in the centre of the cell, through which air can pass. These twovolt cells can be stacked to form strings of any voltage
“We are close to achieving three times the power of conventional VRLA batteries. We are now approaching what is delivered by lithium ion batteries but at a fraction of the cost.” Batteries International • Spring 2018 • 83
BCI INNOVATION AWARDS: TERRAPURE Mixing lead acid and lithium ion batteries in the recycling stream can cause violent explosions. Terrapure says it has found a way to separate the two in the recycling stream.
The LI Detector – ensuring recycling safety Terrapure, a Canadian environmental services company, has applied for the BCI Innovation Award on the basis of an invention called the LI Detector, a device designed to separate lithium ion batteries from the lead battery recycling stream. Lithium ion batteries, which are often made to appear identical to automotive lead acid batteries, have come under increasing scrutiny recently for the potential danger when the explosive mixture of sulfuric acid and lithium come into contact. Several fires in recycling plants in the US have been blamed on these batteries. There is also the very real possibility of loss of life when the two battery chemistries are processed together. Michael Paszti, vice president of innovation, technology and business development at Terrapure, says: “Lithium ion batteries, pose an explosion and fire hazard if they enter the lead battery recycling process and as lithium ion batteries become more common in society the danger will increase.” Terrapure is a large battery recycler and has an interest in ensuring the safety of its operations, and equally, the well being of the industry. The LI Detector concept and prototype was developed in just over a year, once Terrapure had established what it was trying to achieve. The LI Detector works by using high frequency radio waves to detect lithium ion batteries by scanning for the unique charging and protection circuitry they use. The makers claim that, even when a battery is unpowered, it is easy to detect this circuitry. “The device is designed to be used — either mounted or hand held — at the front end of a lead recycling process. If lithium ion batteries are detected, it emits a signal that can be used as a trigger for an automatic response,” the firm says. As the use of lithium ion batteries becomes more commonplace, such detection devices will be critical at recycling
Lead acid and lithium ion batteries often look the same but in the battery breaking process the mix is explosive
plants to ensure health and safety. “The battery recycling industry faces a growing risk to equipment and personnel within lead battery breaking operations from lithium ion batteries. Some of the solutions proposed in the past have been impractical and very costly,” he says. “The LI Detector will be a game-changer in terms of effectiveness, cost, and ease of deployment.” While the LI Detector will reduce the dangers posed by lithium ion batteries it will ensure the continued high levels of recycling that exist in the lead sector. “One of the greatest attributes of lead batteries is their recyclability. The LI Detector ensures that lead battery recycling will continue to be safe and cost effective well into the future,” he says. In terms of the timeline the company is now working to, Paszti says that the next step is to develop a production unit based on the lessons learned from the prototype. “The technology is quite versatile —
being suited to hand-held or fixed configurations — which provides many options for how it can be deployed. This is a good thing, but also requires us to do some work to determine the best option,” he says. Terrapure says that it has developed a product that will make a positive contribution to the lead battery sector as well as health and safety more generally. Paszti says the development of the product was the result of efforts by a cross-functional team comprising representation from the business, operations, and innovation parts of the business. “Each area had a hand in balancing economic feasibility, operational practicality, and implementing the right technology,” he says. Key figures in this were, in addition to himself, Ryan Reid, executive vice president, resource recovery and Benoit Deschenes, vice president, manufacturing.
While the LI Detector will reduce the dangers posed by lithium ion batteries in the recycling stream it will ensure the continued high levels of recycling, that exist in the lead acid sector. Batteries International • Spring 2018 • 85
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BCI INNOVATION AWARDS: UNISEG David Bush, a director of UNISEG Products, explains why its Battery Transport & Storage container makes battery recycling safer and more efficient.
Transforming the recycling process UNISEG Products has applied for the BCI Innovation Award on the basis of its Battery Transport & Storage (BTS) container, which brings many benefits to the recycling process including better safety, increased efficiency, better compliancy and improved data transparency on what has been collected and when. David Bush, non-executive director of UNISEG Products, says the technology will make a big difference in very specific ways. It will reduce the amount of battery acid leaking into the environment, improve public safety of an accident eliminate unnecessary double handling of batteries, protect workers being exposed to acid burns and lead contamination — and also save money,” Bush says. The BTS container allows the batteries to be ergonomically loaded into a pallet while the rear, left and right hand panels help keep the batteries in place. When the container is full of batteries it can be closed, and secured. A fundamental difference of the BTS container as a replacement for a conventional wooden pallet is that it entails operating a closed loop container pool. After the containers are emptied at the reprocessing plants, they are collapsed and returned for redeployment. The firm suggests that BTS containers should be initially deployed at customer sites (used battery generators) and when full they are collected and an empty exchange container is delivered. The full BTS containers are consolidated at the collection company’s local holding yard before being shipped, usually in quantities of 20, to the battery processing plant. The plant then decants and washes the containers before stockpiling the empty containers ready for return. An independent costing by Kevin Jones, director of Fleetrak Consulting, demonstrated that despite the additional costs of washing and returning the BTS containers, on average there
is a saving of A$21 ($16) per tonne of batteries transported. These are due to the time and materials involved in preparing the batteries for transport on wood pallets and the efficiency gains of automatic unloading from the BTS container. The collection system records the details of each collection, using a “proof of delivery” app. Each container has a unique serial number which is displayed on the front and rear of the pallet, as a barcode and in human readable form. The POD app enables the driver’s smart phone, to capture the serial number of the pallet by scanning the bar code. UNISEG has investigated using networking devices for tracking the location of BTS containers by linking to the Internet-of-Things. Shortly containers will be fitted with an IoT device, including several sensors. This will provide live tracking of shipments including immediate accident reporting and useful data and statistics for the battery recycling industry and regulators. The development of the container started in 2010, when inventor and entrepreneur, Fenton Goddard, was helping a friend in his recycling business. He noticed that the transportation and storage of used lead acid batteries was neither safe nor efficient. Goddard thought there must be a better method and being a compulsive inventor he set about developing a container, specifically for this purpose. The first container was produced in 2015. Bush says the UN Basel Convention’s ‘Technical guidelines for the environmentally sound management of waste lead acid batteries’, states that used lead acid batteries must be transported inside sealed containers due to the risk of leakage. “Yet the majority of the world ignores this by using wood pallets for storing and transporting batteries,” he says.
The BTS container allows the batteries to be ergonomically loaded into a pallet while the rear, left and right hand panels help keep the batteries in place. When the container is full of batteries it can be closed, and secured
UNISEG Products’ main objective is now to supply the BTS containers to the world’s used lead acid battery recycling industry. It is gaining traction in Australia but there has been resistance from incumbent players in the industry. It has established a demonstration battery collection company, Battery Rescue Australia, in Perth where it has 100 BTS containers deployed at customers’ sites. “And we are about to embark on a significant expansion programme throughout Australia,” Bush says. The company is about to trial an Australian battery reprocessing firm over the automatic unloading of the batteries from the BTS container and it expects to conclude these tests by July. It is working on a revised model container, which will be lighter, stronger and cheaper than the current version. “This should be available within 12 months,” Bush says.
Batteries International • Spring 2018 • 87
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BCI INNOVATION AWARDS: UK POWERTECH Mark Rigby, managing director of UK PowerTech, explains why his innovation is in the manufacturing process — and why it could make such a profound difference to battery makers.
Improving battery formation through better connectivity UK PowerTech has applied for the BCI Innovation Award not only on the basis of a specific process or design that it has invented but on the basis of an improvement to the manufacturing process for batteries. Mark Rigby, managing director of UK PowerTech, says UK PowerTech has been involved in the industrial battery industry for over 25 years. Over the past 10 years he has provided connectors for linking batteries for charging in the formation areas of battery production. Rigby says that for most of his career he has wondered how much it costs to charge a battery — and how much energy is being lost in the process. He understood that connectors get dirty and corroded, are often not fitted correctly, and the process must be flawed in some ways. But he had never devised a method of calculating the extent of this problem. Increasingly, battery makers have been pushing the limits in terms of how quickly they can charge a battery post manufacturing. Formation times have dropped from 24 to six hours for SLI batteries due to advances in formation cooling technology, acid recirculation and switch-mode pulsing rectifiers. But the resulting fourfold increase in charging currents has exposed an inherent weakness in the connections between the batteries in the formation circuits. This is the high resistance interface between the connector head and the battery terminal. This resistance has several causes including a barrier layer on the connector head surface resulting from the hostile environment of the formation department; a reduced contact area from poorly fitted connectors due to the difficulty of making and then removing around 3,000 connectors per man in a single shift; heat generated during formation from high resistance joints; and connector damage due to battery terminals being occasional incorrectly manufactured, plus electrical arcing from damaged or loose connectors.
Since average SLI formation currents have increased from 15 to 60+ amps, the damage to batteries and the likelihood of formation room fires has increased. The resistance of the connection interface is responsible for higher voltage (giving higher energy losses), more heat generation and greater tendency for arcing and fires. “I realised that the connectors used had not changed in 25 years,” Rigby says. “These are important because they can cause resistance to taking the charge if they are not fitted correctly or are old or dirty. This was an energy storage problem that had not been quantified — every battery company in the world is using very old connectors and had never sees them as important.” Working with Mike McDonagh, a technical expert, they started looking at how these problems could be solved and by running efficiency tests using a range of connectors and different charging currents. “We realised that in some instances there was a loss of energy of around 11%,” Rigby says. “That equates to a lot of money for many companies. In total, he estimates that the losses from wasted energy, production scrap and warranty returns, amount to at least €147,000 ($180,000) per million SLI batteries produced each year Rigby says there has been a misconception that the connector size needs to be increased to cope with the higher currents. UK PowerTech formulated a two part plan. First, it developed a blueprint for changes to working practices to ensure that connectors are fitted correctly and maintained and cleaned better. Second, it developed a new type of connector. The UK Powertech P type connector is designed to alleviate all of the problems with the standard design. The design uses a split spring design head which will mould around the battery terminal even if placed unevenly. This design does not provide a resistance fit as typified by standard push fit
connectors. It is easily removed by an operator, there is no incentive to loosely fit connectors. Until recently, the connection problems associated with increasing formation currents had not been recognized by the industry. The standard connector design and working practices are at least 50 years old. “We needed a new way of connecting — it needs to be pressurized rather than resting on the battery terminal. While we think the P type connector is a breakthrough, the bigger point is educating customers on the best way to connect and disconnect batteries,” says Rigby. “Even our design can be fitted incorrectly so it’s about training and education to change the working processes within formation rooms. The connector is only part of the story. It is the entire process that we are looking to fix. It is an innovative idea because it is a completely different approach to solving a problem.” Its UK Powertech P type connector has an easy push fit, more corrosion resistant connector design with working practices which will minimize the build-up of a high resistance layer on the connector head. It is also easier to fit and remove which ensures that operators can easily make firm connections and also remove connectors easily. The ease of use is a critical parameter to enable the increased throughput of batteries. Rigby says its UK Powertech P type connector is gaining traction and he has had advanced conversations with some of the world’s biggest battery makers. He estimates that using the UK Powertech system it is possible for a medium sized SLI lead acid battery company to save at least €750,000 a year. Its additional benefits include: reduced energy usage; safer process with lower fire risk; higher battery throughput with less scrap and rework; fewer warranty returns; and better working conditions for operators.
Batteries International • Spring 2018 • 89
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Europe and the future of battery production The growing demand for batteries in the transportation sector and renewable energy systems is now being matched by a huge increase in production — and not just fed by the new factories across Asia, also in developments across Europe. Conference organizer ees gives an overview. Gigafactory. It’s an odd word, minted five years ago by Elon Musk in a fit of hype. He used ‘giga’ to describe Tesla’s plans for a new factory that would have an output larger than the then total world production capacity for lithium ion batteries. Since then gigafactories have emerged across the world — almost entirely in China and South Korea — but Europe has, or at least until recently, rather been left behind. But this is changing. Already plans are in place for at least three if not four gigafactories shortly to be built in Europe.
The one that most recently hit the headlines was the announcement on February 12 that the European Investment Bank had approved €52.5 million ($63 million) to new car manufacturer Northvolt to build a demonstration lithium ion manufacturing line in Västerås, Sweden. Northvolt’s chief executive Peter Carlsson — a former chief purchasing officer for Tesla — says that if all goes well, the firm will complete construction on the factory in 2023, at which point it will be able to produce 32GW hours of storage per year, making it
Though there was probably more hot air than substance in subsequent announcements, Gigafactory 2 was identified relatively recently as the site of Tesla subsidiary SolarCity in Buffalo, New York State. 92 • Batteries International • Spring 2018
the largest lithium ion battery factory in Europe for that year. But the headlines shouldn’t overshadow one existing project by a consortium known as TerraE Holding, which kicked off in Germany in early 2017 and also hit the headlines early this year with the launch of its Projekt Fab4Lib to develop large-scale mass production for lithium ion cells. The plan, according to Holger Gritzka, the chief executive and former manager of ThyssenKrupp, is to break ground on a new factory by the end of 2019 and to gradually extend manufacturing capacity to up to 34GWh a year by 2028. “The goal of Projekt Fab4Lib is to explore innovative solutions along the lithium ion technology value chain and validate these through demonstration projects,” a company spokesperson says.
“By the end of the project, participants will have developed a competitive manufacturing unit with a production capacity of approximately 6GWh. This unit can be multiplied in the future wherever and whatever extra capacity is required. “Topics like autonomous energy infrastructure, cell design, innovative production processes and materials, Industry 4.0 or recycling strategies will be the focus of 11 work packages. Each package will be headed by one partner and handled in teams.” The consortium consists of 19 companies and research institutes, including manufacturer of industrial battery modules BMZ Holding, Siemens and ThyssenKrupp Engineering. The project is funded by Germany’s ministry for education and research. But there are other moves afoot in Germany. Car manufacturers such as Daimler, BMW and VW are also forging ahead with plans to develop their own battery cells. The most advanced so far has been Daimler, which in 2017 announced a €500 million investment in expanding its plant in Kamenz. It produces its own battery packs through its whollyowned subsidiary ACCUmotive. Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, broke ground at the factory in May last year. “The automotive industry is facing a fundamental transformation and we see ourselves as the driving force behind this change,” Dieter Zetsche, chief executive for Daimler, said at the time. “The battery factory in Kamenz
is an important component in the implementation of our electric offensive. By 2022, we will have more than 10 purely electric passenger cars in series.” Battery production at the new plant should start this summer. The aim is to take annual lithium battery production up from 80,000 units to 320,000. Daimler has also announced further investment of around €500 million in battery-making operations in Asia. Meanwhile battery manufacturer Akasol opened a new production facility in Europe in Langen, Hesse in Germany last November. The plant can produce high-performance battery systems for up to 3,000 hybrid or electric vehicles or other large commercial vehicles each year,” said Akasol. If the number of battery cells car makers require continues to rise, investing in such endeavours in Europe will prove more worthwhile than importing parts from Asia. Moreover, doing so could give them a crucial edge in the fiercely competitive car market. Germany is well on its way to establishing its own value chain for battery storage systems, allowing it to meet its demands self-sufficiently. Machine and plant construction firms will benefit from this the most in the long run, since the transition in the automotive industry is also bringing about changes to Germany’s traditional industrial sector. Instead of focusing on manufacturing cylinders and camshafts for internal combustion engines, mechanical engineers can strike out in new directions thanks to the increase in battery production. This is an important development because to remain prosperous in the future, mechanical engineering firms must explore alternative, sustainable lines of business just like the automotive industry. German research activities are focusing heavily on developing battery technology. RWTH Aachen University, which is also an active member of the TerraE consortium, is conducting research along the entire energy storage value chain. The German Engineering Federation (VDMA) is also driving forward innovations along the battery production process chain by regularly bringing
SUPPLY NEEDS TO MEET DEMAND A new period of change — accelerated developments in battery production, new manufacturing technologies and the construction of assembly factories and facilities — is creating the basis for a wealth of opportunities for car manufacturers and suppliers. Consultancy firm Deloitte predicts that the market for batteries and fuel cells in Germany, China and NAFTA (US, Canada and Mexico) could grow from €5.5 billion to more than €81 billion by 2025. ees Europe – Europe’s largest and most-visited exhibition for batteries and energy storage systems – is dedicating an entire exhibition segment and an extensive presentation program to this important topic. The battery production sector is benefiting from the growing appeal of clean transport. For instance, the automotive industry has announced plans to step up its activities in the area of electric cars this year, with the likes of Audi, BMW, Mercedes and VW all intending to be in a position to compete with current market leader Tesla by 2025 by offering electric versions of at least 15-25% of their vehicle models. Meanwhile, in the area of energy supply, there is a growing need to store electricity generated from renewable sources such as photovoltaics, so that it can be used elsewhere and at a later point in time. This is because electricity storage systems are essential if the German government’s plan to increase the share of clean energy in the power supply to 50% by 2030 is to succeed. These developments mean that more batteries are needed across all energy sectors. Advances in battery production technology are vital to increase output rates and reduce costs.
Machine and plant construction firms will benefit from this the most in the long run, since the transition in the automotive industry is also bringing about change. Batteries International • Spring 2018 • 93
EUROPEAN PERSPECTIVE together researchers, manufacturers and users. The German government’s decision to provide TerraE with €5.5 million of funding over 18 months is further helping to step up battery cell production in Germany. Moreover, the European Commission believes that gigafactories are eligible for funding and is planning to invest €250 million a year in expanding new mass and batch production facilities in Europe. Research and development activities are also focusing on finding alternatives to using lithium and cobalt to manufacture batteries. The German Mineral Resources Agency (DERA) estimates that the global demand for lithium-ion batteries will at least double by 2025 from its current level of around 33,000 tonnes. Work has already begun on developing battery technology in such a way that will allow replacements to be found for materials such as cobalt that have the potential to become scarcer in the future. As well as recycling becoming more and more significant, it will lead to automobile manufacturers and other battery users placing increasing value on environmental and social standards to make the battery supply chain sustainable. Other European locations that are being discussed as potential gigafactory sites include Poland, Hungary and Cyprus..
GIGAFACTORIES 1, 2, 3, 4 AND 5? Elon Musk’s announcement of the first gigafactory in 2013, immediately sparked speculation that a second, third and more were in the pipeline. Though there was probably more hot air than substance in subsequent announcements, Gigafactory 2 was identified relatively recently as the site of Tesla’s subsidiary SolarCity in Buffalo, New York State. Speculation that Gigafactory 3 was going to be in Europe faded last year after Tesla signed a preliminary agreement with the city of Shanghai to manufacture cars there. Talk that Gigafactory 4 was to be based in Germany — in November 2016 Tesla took over German firm Grohmann Engineering — still remains despite rumours to the contrary. What is certain is that Musk, who announced in 2014 that he was looking to see what financial incentives four US states could
induce him to locate in one of them, has been playing a similar game. In the last two years, France, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Finland, Lithuania and Estonia have made representations about the merits of their own country as being a suitable base for a gigafactory.
Moreover, the European Commission believes that gigafactories are eligible for funding and is planning to invest €250 million a year in expanding new mass and batch production facilities in Europe.
Partners in the project are: TerraE Holding, StreetScooter, BMZ Batterien-Montage-Zentrum, SGL Group, Umicore, Custom Cells Itzehoe, Litarion, M+W Group, Manz, Siemens, ThyssenKrupp System Engineering, MEET Battery Research Center at the Westfälischen Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Chair of Production Engineering of E-Mobility Components (PEM) of Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen (RWTH), Zentrum für Sonnenenergieund Wasserstoff-Forschung Baden-Württemberg (ZSW), Öko-Institut – Institut für angewandte Ökologie and the associated partners Solvay Fluor, Leclanché and H&T Battery Components Group.
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VIEWPOINT: S&P GLOBAL RATINGS
Battery storage: the US grid’s missing piece Battery storage technology will be among the most disruptive developments that US energy markets have seen in some time. Less certain are the details: where and when might the industry make its mark, and which technologies could eventually lead the charge. Aneesh Prabhu, senior director, US Energy Infrastructure at S&P Global Ratings, offers his views on the market’s most pressing questions. America’s energy transition is starting to gather pace. Progress comes as state-level decarbonization initiatives begin to align with the falling costs of renewables and storage technologies. This latter development, advanced battery energy storage (ABES), is potentially among the most transformative advancements the power markets have seen in many years. Globally, advancements over the past five years have increased battery capacity at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25%. Though, to date, America’s grid only has around 700MW of installed battery capacity, the industry is primed for significant growth. Experts predict the US storage market could see a 9x
increase in deployment between 2017 and 2022, which is largely fuelled by ABES additions. Further, it is expected that annual deployment should cross the 1GW threshold by 2020. Many factors are converging to ease development. Yet, while ABES’ growth may seem inevitable, many questions remain: first, where and when might these developments arise? Second, which technologies might eventually dominate? The more progressive US states will likely ramp up their battery storage capacity within the next decade. This may begin in the coming years. And, while lithium-ion storage has taken the mantle as the early market leader,
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VIEWPOINT: S&P GLOBAL RATINGS Given that wealthy families will be among the first to transfer to home-based storage systems, regulators may deem passing the tariff burden to less wealthy consumers a form of regressive taxation. there may be other battery technologies following closely behind.
Regulators bolster batteries
Key to the American grid’s transformation is development at the state level. Advancements have been largely supported by renewable portfolio standards — voluntarily adjusted targets that mandate utilities to sell a minimum amount of renewable-generated electricity. Today, 29 states have adopted them, with some even looking to increase their commitments. Of course, this not only plays into the hands of battery developers, it also goes some way towards helping states meet their lofty renewables ambitions. Among the most zealous for battery development are California, Oregon and New York — three states where half of their power usage will be generated via renewables by 2030. Notably, California — along with New York and Massachusetts — is making significant investments to ease the transition. It is helped by regulatory incentives for battery storage as well as other transformative technologies.
In September 2016, California governor Jerry Brown signed AB1637, which extended such subsidies for battery storage incentives, and tacked on an additional requirement that the state’s largest investor-owned utilities add another 500 MW of battery storage capacity on their existing 1.325GW mandate.
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In September 2016, California governor Jerry Brown signed AB1637, which extended such subsidies, and tacked on an additional requirement that the state’s largest investor-owned utilities add another 500 MW of battery storage capacity to their existing 1.325GW mandate. This has played some part in California’s burgeoning battery capacity: the state has 4GW of utility-scale storage capacity under development across 149 projects. The ramifications for the Golden State’s incumbent gas-fired generators seem clear. It has ramped up renewables insofar as aging combustion turbine capacity is increasingly being used as peaking assets. Battery storage is, in turn, being used to fulfil backstop generator duties — a role previously managed by gas-fired peaking assets. And this battery revolution already brewing in California could eventually spread further afield. States such as Washington, Nevada, New Jersey and Oregon are also ramping up battery capacity, albeit on a smaller scale.
Could lithium-ion dominate the market?
Market participants are equally concerned with which battery technologies will eventually dominate — and whether these technologies can compete with the grid’s status quo. For now, lithium-ion presents itself as a solution for energy storage challenges in multiple industries and will likely remain the battery market leader for the next decade. This particular technology is the fastest growing in the industry, largely thanks to its high energy density, high power, low self-discharge and near100% efficiency. Further helping its case is its endorsement and development by large original equipment manufacturers. The likes of Samsung and Tesla feature in this group. That’s not to say that other technologies couldn’t eventually overtake, however. Among the likely candidates at the utility-scale level are lithium sulfur, magnesium-ion or zinc batteries — which are all under development in research laboratories today.
More esoteric technologies are undergoing testing, too. Prominent among them are liquid electrochemical systems: flow batteries. Because these batteries can be readily scaled up and linked together, they are being tipped for use for long-duration storage. Holding them back, however, is cost: most flow batteries use vanadium as an electrolyte — an expensive element. Of course, the next question is whether the economics of lithium-ion (and others) could dislodge the power markets more widely. In our view, this may take time. The average total capital costs of lithium-ion-stored energy sit at just over $400/MWh; energy from sodium batteries, meanwhile, costs well above $500/MWh. However, compare this to the economics of compressed air at just over $100/MWh. As such, an exodus of conventional power sources remains an unlikely scenario for the time being. There are technological and regulatory constraints to consider, too. This is especially the case for their application at residential properties. First, lithium-ion batteries were primarily developed for portable electronics. They are not designed for storing energy across seasons (for instance, excess power generated in the summer for use in winter). Second is the issue of paying for the incumbent grid. Should we see home-based battery installations rise, which would prompt many consumers to no longer use the grid, regulators may find themselves wondering who should pay for the existing grid’s maintenance. And given that wealthy families will be among the first to transfer to homebased storage systems, regulators may deem passing the tariff burden to less wealthy consumers a form of regressive taxation. Both these considerations in mind, it seems more probable that every household would remain connected to the central grid. This is also the case given that an average-sized rooftop could not accommodate a self-sufficient PV system, one that does not require a backup power source. Based on consumption patterns in California, a typical solar PV system supported by a battery could provide 80% of a household’s power in the summer but would only provide around 55% in the winter. Connection to the main grid, there-
VIEWPOINT: S&P GLOBAL RATINGS fore, would be necessary to help meet the customer’s peak load. And even if a PV system could equal the customer’s load throughout the year (thereby making the residence a netzero home) it still could not generate enough power to meet the customer’s demand at peak usage. According to our analysis, the only US state where solar-PV-plus-storage systems are not only economical but workable is Hawaii.
Bracing for change
So, what next for the battery industry — and the power markets, generally? While an imminent migration from the conventional grid remains improbable, we deem battery storage to be among the disruptive (and expedient) technologies required to serve the grid’s needs in the longer term. With renewable costs plummeting and utilities scrambling to maintain existing business models, an affordable battery could represent the missing piece of necessary infrastructure that prompts an upending of the US grid. Here lies the crux of the matter. The cost rationale for batteries does not improve even if battery capital costs reduce by half to around $250/kWh. Further, the economics seem to work only in markets where retail electricity rates are already much higher, such as in New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut. Given time, these solar-PV-plusstorage systems should dramatically decline in cost, however. At present we estimate that 65% of their overall costs are “soft costs”, which we believe could be partly eradicated. Once this happens, it could pave the way for many consumers to exit the grid, and instead combine solar, battery storage and a small, home-based generator (for use in extreme weather conditions). This would prompt a fullscale exodus — a phenomenon that some believe could happen within the next decade. What remains, then, is for the industry to begin bracing itself for change: the advent of disruption caused by batteries could soon be upon us – and once it is, there may be no going back.
“According to our analysis, the only US state where solar-PV-plus-storage systems are not only economical but workable is Hawaii” — Aneesh Prabhu, S&P Global Ratings
TECHNOLOGY BREAKTHROUGHS, THE RISKS Utilities most vulnerable to a battery technological breakthrough would be fully integrated utilities located in areas with above-average sun strength, serving customers with above-average incomes. These utilities would initially be most susceptible to declines in electricity sales given the desire of customers in sunny areas to take advantage of this improved power source and their ability to afford the steep upfront costs of installing an enhanced distributed generation system. Based on the states identified, there are 14 US utilities that we think could face increased risk if there were a battery technological breakthrough (see table). Although this list includes all three of California’s large electric utilities, these utilities have been proactive in managing their generation supply commitments, moving their utilities closer to a T&D-only model. Utility
Arizona Public Service Black Hills Energy Wyoming Public Service of Colorado El Paso Electric Entergy Texas Hawaiian Electric NV Energy PacifiCorp Pacific Gas & Electric San Diego Gas & Electric Southern California Edison Southwestern Electric Power Tucson Electric Power Westar Energy
Pinnacle West Capital Black Hills
Xcel Energy El Paso Electric Entergy Hawaiian Electric Industries Berkshire Hathaway Energy Berkshire Hathaway Energy PG&E Sempra Energy Edison International American Electric Power Fortis Great Plains Energy
Colorado Texas Texas Hawaii Nevada Utah, Wyoming California California California Texas Arizona Kansas
Source: S&P Global Ratings
While we think a disruptive technological breakthrough that will threaten the electric industry’s business model is more than a decade away, the risk of this occurring over the long term is real. Certainly, the electric utility industry has provided low-cost, reliable electricity for more than 100 years, a service that has underpinned US economic growth during this time. However, it is hard to imagine that by 2037 the electric utility industry will still deliver power in the same way it does today. Source: RatingsDirect: Future Shock: Will Better Batteries Dim Electric Utilities’ Prospects
Market participants are equally concerned with which battery technologies will eventually dominate … lithium-ion batteries were primarily developed for portable electronics, they are not designed for storing energy across seasons … among the likely candidates at the utility-scale level are lithium sulphur, magnesium-ion or zinc batteries. www.batteriesinternational.com
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BACK TO BASICS Isidor Buchmann, founder of the Battery University and chief executive of Cadex Electronics explains why how supercapacitor works and why it is becoming an important tool in the energy storage armoury.
Time for the supercap to come of age
Engineers at General Electric first experimented with an early version of a supercapacitor in 1957, but it was not until the 1990s that advances in materials and manufacturing methods led to improved performance and lower cost. www.batteriesinternational.com
The supercapacitor, also known as ultracapacitor or double-layer capacitor, differs from a regular capacitor in that it has very high capacitance. A capacitor stores energy by means of a static charge as opposed to an electrochemical reaction. Applying a voltage differential on the positive and negative plates charges the capacitor. This is similar to the buildup of electrical charge when walking on a carpet. Touching an object releases the energy through the finger. There are three types of capacitors and the most basic is the electrostatic capacitor with a dry separator. This classic capacitor has very low capacitance and is mainly used to tune radio frequencies and filtering. The size ranges from a few pico-farads (pf) to low microfarad (μF). The electrolytic capacitor provides higher capacitance than the electrostatic capacitor and is rated in microfarads (μF), which is a million times larger than a pico-farad. These capacitors deploy a moist separator and are used for filtering, buffering and signal coupling. Similar to a battery, the electrostatic capacity has a positive and negative that must be observed. The third type is the supercapacitor, rated in farads, which is thousands of times higher than the electrolytic capacitor. The supercapacitor is used for energy storage undergoing frequent charge and discharge cycles at high current and short duration. A farad is a unit of capacitance named after the English physicist Michael Faraday (1791–1867). One farad stores one coulomb of electrical charge when applying one volt. One microfarad is one million times smaller than a farad, and one pico-farad is again one million times smaller than the microfarad. Engineers at General Electric first experimented with an early version of a supercapacitor in 1957, but there were no known commercial applications. In 1966, Standard Oil rediscovered the effect of the double-layer capacitor by accident while working on experimental fuel cell designs. The double-layer greatly improved the ability to store energy. The company did not commercialize the invention and licensed it to NEC, who in 1978 marketed the technology as “su-
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BACK TO BASICS percapacitor” for computer memory backup. It was not until the 1990s that advances in materials and manufacturing methods led to improved performance and lower cost. The supercapacitor has evolved and crosses into battery technology by using special electrodes and electrolyte. While the basic Electrochemical Double Layer Capacitor (EDLC) depends on electrostatic action, the Asym-
metric Electrochemical Double Layer Capacitor (AEDLC) uses battery-like electrodes to gain higher energy density, but this has a shorter cycle life and other burdens that are shared with the battery. Graphene electrodes promise improvements to supercapacitors and batteries but such developments are 15 years away. Several types of electrodes have been
Graphene electrodes promise improvements to supercapacitors and batteries but such developments are 15 years away. Charge profile 60 50
40 30 Current
20 10 0 0
Time (Seconds) Figure 1: Charge profile of a supercapacitor. The voltage increases linearly during a constant current charge. When the capacitor is full, the current drops by default. Source: PPM Power
Discharge profile 60 50
40 Voltage 30 20 Current 10 0 0
Time (Seconds) Figure 2: Discharge profile of a supercapacitor. The voltage drops linearly on discharge. The optional DC-DC convertor maintains the wattage level by drawing higher current with dropping voltage. Source: PPM Power
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tried and the most common systems today are built on the electrochemical double-layer capacitor that is carbonbased, has an organic electrolyte and is easy to manufacture. All capacitors have voltage limits. While the electrostatic capacitor can be made to withstand high volts, the supercapacitor is confined to 2.5V– 2.7V. Voltages of 2.8V and higher are possible, but at a reduced service life. To get higher voltages, several supercapacitors are connected in series. Serial connection reduces the total capacitance and increases the internal resistance. Strings of more than three capacitors require voltage balancing to prevent any cell from going into overvoltage. Lithium ion batteries share a similar protection circuit. The specific energy of the supercapacitor ranges from 1Wh/kg to 30Wh/kg, 10 to 50 times less than Li ion. The discharge curve is another disadvantage. Whereas the electrochemical battery delivers a steady voltage in the usable power band, the voltage of the supercapacitor decreases on a linear scale, reducing the usable power spectrum. Take a 6V power source that is allowed to discharge to 4.5V before the equipment cuts off. By the time the supercapacitor reaches this voltage threshold, a linear discharge only delivers 44% of the energy; the remaining 56% is reserved. An optional DC-DC converter helps to recover the energy dwelling in the low voltage band, but this adds costs and introduces loss. A battery with a flat discharge curve, in comparison, delivers 90% to 95% of its energy reserve before reaching the voltage threshold. Figures 1 and 2 demonstrate voltage and current characteristics on charge and discharge of a supercapacitor. On charge, the voltage increases linearly and the current drops by default when the capacitor is full without the need of a full-charge detection circuit. On discharge, the voltage drops linearly. To maintain a steady wattage level as the voltage drops, the DC-DC converter begins drawing more and more current. The end of discharge is reached when the load requirements can no longer be met. The charge time of a supercapacitor is one to 10 seconds. The charge characteristic is similar to an electrochemical battery and the charge current is, to a large extent, limited by the charger’s current handling capability.
BACK TO BASICS The initial charge can be made very fast, and the topping charge will take extra time. Provision must be made to limit the inrush current when charging an empty supercapacitor as it will suck up all it can. The supercapacitor is not subject to overcharge and does not require full-charge detection; the current simply stops flowing when full. The supercapacitor can be charged and discharged a virtually unlimited number of times. Unlike the electrochemical battery, which has a defined cycle life, there is little wear and tear by cycling a supercapacitor. Age is also kinder to the supercapacitor than a battery. Under normal conditions, a supercapacitor fades from the original 100% capacity to 80% in 10 years. Applying higher voltages than specified shortens the life. The supercapacitor is forgiving in hot and cold temperatures, an advantage that batteries cannot meet equally well. The self-discharge of a supercapacitor is substantially higher than that of an electrostatic capacitor and somewhat higher than an electrochemical battery; the organic electrolyte contributes to this. The supercapacitor discharges from 100% to 50% in 30 to 40 days. Lead and lithium-based batteries, in comparison, self-discharge about 5% per month.
The supercapacitor is often misunderstood; it is not a battery replacement to store long-term energy. If, for example, the charge and discharge times are more than 60 seconds, use a battery; if shorter, then the supercapacitor becomes economical. Supercapacitors are ideal when a quick charge is needed to fill a shortterm power need; whereas batteries are chosen to provide long-term energy. Combining the two into a hybrid battery satisfies both needs and reduces battery stress, which reflects in
Lithium ion (general)
1 million or 30,000h
500 and higher
2.3 to 2.75V
Specific energy (Wh/kg)
Specific power (W/kg)
Up to 10,000
Cost per kWh
$250–$1,000 (large system)
Service life (industrial)
5 to 10 years
–40 to 65°C (–40 to 149°F)
0 to 45°C (32°to 113°F)
–40 to 65°C (–40 to 149°F)
–20 to 60°C (–4 to 140°F)
Figure 3: Performance comparison between supercapacitor and Li ion. Source: Maxwell Technologies, Inc.
The supercapacitor has evolved and crosses into battery technology by using special electrodes and electrolyte. a longer service life. Such batteries are being made available today in the lead acid family. Supercapacitors are most effective to bridge power gaps lasting from a few seconds to a few minutes and can be recharged quickly. A flywheel offers similar qualities, and an application where the supercapacitor competes against the flywheel is the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) trial in New York. LIRR is one of the busiest railroads in North America. To prevent voltage sag during acceleration of a train and to reduce peak power usage, a 2MW supercapacitor bank is being tested in New York against flywheels that deliver 2.5MW of power. Both systems must provide continuous power for 30 seconds at their respective megawatt capacity and fully recharge in the same time. The goal is to achieve a regulation that is within 10% of the nominal voltage; both systems must have low maintenance and last for 20 years. (Authorities believe that flywheels are
more rugged and energy efficient for this application than batteries. Time will tell.) Japan also employs large supercapacitors. The 4MW systems are installed in commercial buildings to reduce grid consumption at peak demand times and ease loading. Other applications are to start backup generators during power outages and provide power until the switch-over is stabilized. Supercapacitors have also made critical inroads into electric powertrains. The virtue of ultra-rapid charging during regenerative braking and delivery of high current on acceleration makes the supercapacitor ideal as a peak-load enhancer for hybrid vehicles as well as for fuel cell applications. Its broad temperature range and long life offers an advantage over the battery. Supercapacitors have low specific energy and are expensive in terms of cost per watt. Some design engineers argue that the money for the supercapacitor would be spent better on a larger battery.
Virtually unlimited cycle life; can be cycled millions of time
Low specific energy; holds a fraction of a regular battery
High specific power; low resistance enables high load currents
Linear discharge voltage prevents using the full energy spectrum
Charges in seconds; no end-of-charge termination required
High self-discharge; higher than most batteries
Simple charging; draws only what it needs; not subject to overcharge
Low cell voltage; requires series connections with voltage balancing
Safe; forgiving if abused
High cost per watt
Excellent low-temperature charge and discharge performance Figure 4: Advantages and limitations of supercapacitors.
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FORTHCOMING EVENTS LI-SM3 2018 Conference London, UK April 25-26 The 3rd Li-SM3 conference will bring together the world’s leading academics, scientists and engineers to discuss the priority areas of Lithium Sulfur battery chemistry research. It will begin with an introduction to the chemistry for newcomers and highlights of the key challenges, followed by dedicated sessions on each key topic, a poster session and a dinner. Contact Jacqueline Edge Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.lism3.org
BCI Convention + Power Mart Expo Tucson, Arizona, USA April 29-May 1
Midwest Solar Expo & Smart Energy Symposium Minneapolis, USA April 30-May 2 The 2018 Midwest Solar Expo returns to Minneapolis for its 5th annual conference, exhibition and Smart Energy Symposium. Join us as we continue to drive the conversation on the Midwest solar market — gain insights from industry experts, receive hands-on product training, enjoy the ‘happy hour’ and entertainment while networking with 400+ solar professionals from across the value chain. Once again, the 2018 Midwest Solar Expo will be co-located with the Smart Energy Symposium, a one-day speaker series dedicated to the smart, connected grid ecosystem, exploring how emerging smart energy technologies will interact with city infrastructure as it relates to communications, transportation, emergency resiliency and beyond. Contact www.midwestsolarexpo.com
All Energy 2018 Glasgow, UK May 2-3
Battery Council International (BCI) is a not-for-profit trade association formed to promote the interests of the international battery industry. BCI has more than 200 member companies worldwide engaged in every facet of the industry: lead battery manufacturers and recyclers, marketers and retailers, suppliers of raw materials and equipment, and expert consultants. As the industry’s principle association, BCI’s member services have a global impact. The most complete display of new technology, products and services awaits you in the Power Mart Expo! View product demonstrations, pose questions to exhibiting experts and learn about what is new in the lead battery industry. Contact Tel: +1 312 245 1074 Email: email@example.com www.batterycouncil.org
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All-Energy, the UK’s largest renewable energy event allows the entire spectrum of the renewables industry to showcase their energy solutions. The free-to-attend annual conference and exhibition brings together the UK’s largest group of buyers from the bioenergy, solar, offshore and onshore wind, hydropower and wave & tidal sectors, as well as those involved in energy storage, heat, low carbon transport and sustainable cities solutions. Since its launch in 2001, All-Energy has provided the industry suppliers, experts and thought-leaders from the renewable energy supply chain the opportunity to connect with new customers, increase their sales opportunities and expand business networks in this fast-changing marketplace. Contact www.all-energy.co.uk Tel: +44 208 439 5560 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
ICCI — 24th International Energy and Environment Fair & Conference Istanbul, Turkey May 2-4 The ICCI 2018 Fair and Conference will present a general outlook on the global energy sector, worldwide and in Turkey. Accordingly, it will address issues such as energy and geopolitical balances, energy dialogue EU — Turkey, energy strategy of Turkey in today’s conditions,
energy policies legislations and practices, as well as technical matters such as energy efficiency, renewable energy technologies, developments in the renewable energy market, conventional energy technologies, operation and maintenance of power plants, cogeneration, mini-micro cogeneration and tri-generation systems, environment and recycling systems, new technologies and applications, energy trade, energy software, nuclear power, natural gas and petroleum, financing of energy projects and energy law will be dealt with both in national and international scale. Contact Tel: +90 212 334 69 00 Email: email@example.com www.icci.com.tr/en
Microgrid 2018 Chicago, USA May 7-9 Microgrid Knowledge invites you to be among those shaping and directing its growth by participating in the third annual conference, Microgrid 2018: Markets and Models for the Greater Good. Bringing the conference to Chicago, it will explore the essential need for microgrids in today’s electricity-dependent world. The three-day event will feature expert speakers, lively panel discussions, in-depth workshops, technology forums, tours of active microgrids, vendor booths, and extensive networking opportunity. Contact Dawn Walton Email: Dawn@tesevents.com Tel: +1 516 277 1108 www.microgridknowledge.com/microgrid2018-conference
11th Energy Storage World Forum (Large Scale Applications) + 5th Residential Energy Storage Forum Berlin, Germany May 14-18 The two separate forums will feature brand new researched topics addressed by renowned industry leaders and practitioners from top utilities, EPCs and international regulators representing 22+ countries. We bring together the change makers from around the globe to share their business insights, lessons learnt and data driven analysis to help you discover which technology is best suited to your business model and application, allowing you to achieve the highest return on investment. Contact Dufresne Event Management www.energystorageforum.com
Europeâ€˜s Largest Exhibition for Batteries and Energy Storage Systems MESSE MĂœNCHEN, GERMANY
450+ exhibitors and 50,000 trade visitors from 165 countries Market-ready and innovative solutions for batteries and energy storage systems: Here is the place to find the business contacts that matter From energy generation to storage and intelligent use: Four international energy exhibitions under the umbrella of The smarter E
FORTHCOMING EVENTS The Battery Show Europe Hanover, Germany • May 15-17 The Battery Show (Hanover, Germany) is Europe’s largest trade fair for advanced battery and H/ EV technology, displaying the latest solutions from 300+ exhibitors including Bosch, BMZ, Valeo and Continental. Running parallel to the exhibition, the three-track conference provides insight into commercial opportunities and technical challenges from 170+ expert speakers. Contact Smarter Shows Ltd www.thebatteryshow.eu
China International Battery Fair Guangdong, China May 22-24 China International Battery Fair is organized by CIAPS and is held every two years. CIBF has been regarded as the preferred meeting venue for battery manufacturers and users to exchange ideas on new technology, expand their markets and promote their products and services to customers in the worldwide marketplace. Contact Ms Zhou Weiting Tel: +86 21 32 516618 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.cibf2016.com/siteengine.php?do=en/ index
Power & Electricity World Philippines Manila, Philippines May 23-24
As the largest energy show taking place in the Philippines, Power & Electricity World, offers unequalled opportunities to forge business relationships and access new potential partners. There is simply no better place in which to connect with the industry. Helmed by over 100 speakers representing senior–level policy circles, government and regulatory bodies, industry heavyweights and financiers from across the region, our content shares the views that really matter. Across two days and five tracks we conduct deep dives on many of the most challenging questions currently facing the market. With 8,000+ industry players in attendance, this is your best opportunity to meet, network and develop partnerships with the government, leading utilities, power producers, project developers, investors and more in a single
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platform. Over 250 sponsors & exhibitors will be showcasing their industry leading products, ideas and innovations. Following unprecedented growth over the last three years, our 2018 exhibition will be our biggest ever, taking place over two floors. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to reach out to over 8,000 industry players who will be sourcing for the latest products and services at the show. Contact Email email@example.com Tel: +65 6322 2760 www.terrapinn.com/exhibition/power-electricity-world-philippines/index.stm
Battery Raw Materials 2018 Hong Kong, China May 24-25 Network with leading players in the battery raw materials supply chain by taking part in the first Roskill Battery Raw Materials Conference. Roskill, the market leaders in providing market information on materials and minerals, including key battery raw materials such as lithium, cobalt, graphite, nickel sulphate, are ideally placed to bring you the Battery Raw Materials Conference to address the key issues in this market. Contact Tel: +44 20 9417 1308 www.roskill.com/event/battery-raw-materials-2018/#overview
ITEC 2018 Long Beach, California, USA June 13-15 ITEC is aimed at helping the industry in the transition from conventional vehicles to advanced electrified vehicles. The conference is focused on components, systems, standards, and grid interface technologies, related to efficient
power conversion for all types of electrified transportation, including electric vehicles, hybrid electric vehicles, and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (EVs, HEVs, and PHEVs) as well as heavyduty, rail, and off-road vehicles and airplanes and ships. Contact www.itec-conf.com
Advanced Automotive Battery Conference 2018 (AABC) San Diego USA June 4-7 The 17th annual AABC event brought together 600 delegates from 20 vehicle OEMs, more than 30 battery manufacturers, and other key representatives of the battery supply chain for stimulating discussions and candid conversations on the future of automotive energy storage and vehicle electrification. AABC will continue to attract international thought leaders and chief battery technologists from major automobile makers and their suppliers to discuss key issues impacting the technology and market of advanced vehicles and the batteries that will power them. As the electric vehicle market expands amid increasing pressure from looming regulatory deadlines, the need to develop batteries with better performance and lower cost has never been stronger. AABC is committed to providing an invaluable opportunity to delve into these challenges, discuss breakthroughs and best practices, and learn from the researchers and engineers who are bringing these technologies forward to consumers. Contact Tel: +1 781 972 5400 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.advancedautobat.com/us
The largest global gathering of lead battery experts in 2018 Messe Wien Exhibition & Congress Centre, Vienna
16th European Lead Battery Conference & Exhibition Vienna, 4-7 September 2018
800+ 100+ 50+ 50+ delegates
Registration is now open! Pre-Conference Workshop
Do Current Standards and Test Methods for Lead–Acid Batteries Properly Reﬂect Micro-Hybrid Automotive Duty? Tuesday 4 September 2018, 14.00 – 17.00
OUR GOLD SPONSOR
OUR SILVER SPONSORS
OUR BRONZE SPONSORS
Maura McDermott, International Lead Association, Bravington House, 2 Bravingtons Walk, London N1 9AF United Kingdom
+44 (0) 20 7833 8090 +44 (0) 20 7833 1611 email@example.com www.ila-lead.org/16elbc
FORTHCOMING EVENTS SHMUEL DE-LEON ENERGY STORAGE SEMINARS, 2018 DATE LOCATION
Battery safety seminar as part of AABC USA 2018 Conference San Diego, California, USA
Tutorial as part of EES Europe 2018 Conference Messe-Munich, Germany
TBD. EES Europe
Karlstein on Main, Germany
Le Bourget Du Lac, France
Global Automotive Components and Suppliers Expo 2018 Stuttgart, Germany • June 5-7 The Global Automotive Components and Suppliers Expo is the only show in Europe dedicated to showcasing automotive components and component suppliers, making it the must-attend event for all automotive OEM and Tier 1 procurement managers, component specifiers and engineers. Alongside independent Tier 2 and 3 suppliers showcasing their latest products and technologies, you’ll find national pavilions from countries such as Morocco, Korea and India, with numerous domestic companies offering bespoke components solutions. Contact Simon Willard Tel: +44 1306 743744 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.globalautomotivecomponentsandsuppliersexpo.com/english/index.php
48th Power Sources Conference Denver, Colorado, USA • June 11-14 This year’s technical program reflects continued strong interest in high-energy batteries, fuel cells, and other portable and mobile power sources. We are sure that you will also enjoy the exhibit, hospitality suites, and social functions. This is the best possible conference for obtaining information and meeting with key influencers in the military power sources arena. Get updates on new military and government needs and requirements, and learn about the latest power sources technology from both government and industry spokespeople. Contact www.powersourcesconference.com
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FORTHCOMING EVENTS EUROBAT
Brussels, Belgium June 14-15
Munich, Germany June 19-22
EUROBAT is the association for the European manufacturers of automotive, industrial and energy storage batteries. EUROBAT has 52 members from across the continent comprising more than 90% of the automotive and industrial battery industry in Europe. The members and staff work with all stakeholders, such as battery users, governmental organisations and media, to develop new battery solutions in areas of hybrid and electro-mobility as well as grid flexibility and renewable energy storage.
Power2Drive showcases charging solutions and technologies for electric vehicles and reflects the interaction between electric vehicles and a sustainable, environmentally friendly energy supply. It is an industry hotspot for suppliers, manufacturers, distributors and start-ups in the emerging field of electric mobility and transportation. Our goal is to help companies to develop and distribute technologies and business in the field of traction batteries, charging infrastructure and electric vehicles and to push forward a sustainable future mobility.
European Electric Vehicle Batteries Summit Munich, Germany June 20-21 ACI’s Electric Vehicle Batteries Summit is a two day event that will bring together key industry stakeholders from the battery manufacturers, car manufacturers, energy storage component material developers, technology providers, grid operators, policy makers, environmental bodies, consultants. Contact Mohammad Ahsan Tel: +44 (0) 203 141 0606 Email: email@example.com www.wplgroup.com/aci/event/europeanelectric-vehicle-batteries-summit
ees Europe 2018
ees North America
June 20-22 • Munich, Germany
July 10-12 • San Francisco, USA
Discover future-ready solutions for renewable energy storage and e-mobility at Europe’s largest exhibition for batteries and energy storage systems and the industry hotspot for suppliers, manufacturers, distributors and users of stationary and mobile electrical energy storage solutions. Key players of the industry present battery innovations along the whole value chain and smart renewable energy solutions like energy storage communities or electric cars on the grid. The exhibition and conference both focus on renewable energy storage, from residential and commercial applications to largescale storage systems for stabilizing the grid. The spotlight is also shined on topics like energy management, electric transportation and intelligent systems integration. Charging the Future!
Covering the entire value chain of innovative battery and energy storage technologies, Ees North America is the ideal platform for all stakeholders in the rapidly growing energy storage market. It takes place in the epicenter of the U.S. storage market: California. Co-located with Intersolar North America, Ees North America provides the best opportunity to explore energy storage systems in combination with PV and beyond. In 2017, 130 energy storage exhibitors and more than 15,000 visitors participated in the co-located events. Ees North America is part of the Ees global exhibition series. Together with Ees Europe in Munich, Ees South America in São Paulo and Ees India in Mumbai, Ees events are represented on four continents.
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FORTHCOMING EVENTS Grid Edge Innovation Summit 2018 San Francisco, USA June 20-21 The summit will examine the energy customer of tomorrow and how new innovative business models are quickly emerging. Join GTM as they bring together the most forward thinking and prominent members of the energy ecosystem and explore the future of the market. This year GTM will explore how frontier technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Edge Computing and Blockchain will impact the sector and how market leaders are innovating core systems at the edge of the grid. Contact Tel: +1 415.704.8811 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.greentechmedia.com/events/live/gridedge-innovation-summit
13th European SOFC & SOE Forum Lucerne, Switzerland July 3-6 The 13th European SOFC & SOE Forum 2018 addresses issues of science, engineering, materials, systems, applications and markets for all types of solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC), solid oxide electrolysers (SOE) and solid oxide membrane reactors (SOMR).
The forum is the largest international meeting on solid oxide technologies building the bridge from science to application and a leading international meeting place providing an excellent opportunity to present recent technical progress, establish new contacts by networking, and to exchange technical, industrial and business information. Business opportunities will be identified for manufacturers, industry, operators and investors. About 500 participants and 30 exhibitors are expected.
Michigan: July 2018 Battery Seminar
July 2018 Battery Seminar Plymouth, Michigan, USA July 17-19 PlugVolt is involved in the business of promoting and fostering joint development efforts in advancing battery and alternative energy storage technologies. PlugVolt will be hosting its next Battery Seminar in Plymouth, Michigan (USA). This event will feature an entire day of in-depth training and presentations by EnerDel on lithium ion battery chemistry, its manufacturing, BMS design, thermal management, testing and validation methodologies and safety processes. The next two days will include complementary industry updates provided by subject matter experts from automotive and grid storage OEMs, major
battery manufacturers and global Tier 1 system developers. Attendees will also have an exclusive opportunity to tour Intertek’s 100,000+ square-foot Battery Testing Center of Excellence, along with an evening reception for industry networking. Contact Michelle Boyer Tel: +1 877 758 4865 www.batteryseminars.com
International Flow Battery Forum July 10-12 • Lausanne, Switzerland The meeting is aimed at all those interested in the deployment, commercialisation, demonstration, manufacturing, financing, component and material supply, and the sector of academic and industrial research of flow batteries. The IFBF has a unique combination of key note addresses, oral and poster presentations, seminars, and panel discussions to inform and educate delegates of the benefits of flow battery systems and for all to learn and share in the development of this exciting technology. The programme will cover recent progress, scientific, engineering and manufacturing issues, study of financial, marketing and commercial issues and will be relevant to renewable generation developers, smart grid operators, and all companies and businesses active in electricity supply. There will be an educational introductory seminar, which will be held on July 9, immediately before the main conference. This is suitable for those new to the industry. There will also be opportunities to visit the research and demonstration facilities operated by EPFL near to Lausanne . Contact Aud Heyden on +44 1666 840948. Email: email@example.com www.swanbarton.com
Batteries International • Spring 2018 • 111
FORTHCOMING EVENTS The 3rd Asia (Guangzhou) Battery Sourcing Fair 2018
Guangzhou, China hosts the 3rd Asia Battery Sourcing Fair 2018
Guangzhou, China August 16-18 GBF Asia engages in battery and associated applications in the field of power and energy storage. It also focuses on displaying the whole production chain of battery materials, and equipment. Contact Aileen Chen Tel: +86 20 29806525 Email: Aileen2017@yeah.net www.battery-expo.com/index.php?lang=en
Advanced Batteries, Accumulators and Fuel Cells Conference (ABAF) Brno, Czech Republic August 26-29 The conference will be co-sponsored by the International Society of Electrochemistry (ISE-competition for the best poster among young scientists) and the Electrochemical Society (ECSpublication in the ECS Transactions magazine). The conference language is English. Main field of interest of this year’s conference is the research and development of materials designated for modern electrochemical power sources, new investigations in the fields of mate-
rials research, applied electrochemistry, corrosion, preparation and properties of nanomaterial structures, non-conventional sources of electrical energy including photovoltaic systems, ionic liquids for power sources and their properties, replacement of lithium by sodium in batteries and practical use of electrochemical power sources includ-
ing their application. As a new topic, electrochromism and its application will be added. Contact Marie Sedlarikova Tel: +42 0541146143 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.aba-brno.cz
ees South America August 28-30 • São Paulo, Brazil
Intersolar South America will be hosting and highlighting the special exhibition “ees South America” to extend and round up electrical energy storage innovations and programs. ees South America is the industry hotspot for suppliers, manufacturers, distributors and users of stationary and mobile electrical energy storage solutions.
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Covering the entire value chain of innovative battery and energy storage technologies-from components and production to specific user application-it is the ideal platform for all stakeholders in the rapidly growing energy storage market. The focus at ees is on energy storage solutions suited to energy systems with increasing amounts of
renewable energy sources attracting investors, utilities, installers, manufacturers and project developers from all over the world. Contact Olivia Hsu Tel: +49 7231 58598 16 Email: email@example.com www.intersolar.net.br
FORTHCOMING EVENTS 16th European Lead Battery Conference and Exhibition (ELBC) September 4-7 • Vienna, Austria This is your chance to hear from and meet the technical champions and industry experts who are setting the pace for the next generation of lead batteries, at an event with the industry’s most comprehensive technical conference programme. The 16ELBC is the largest global gathering of lead battery experts in 2018, bringing together all those involved in the development, production and use of lead batteries. Up to 800 delegates are expected to attend from sectors including: • battery manufactures • researchers • equipment and materials suppliers • end users from automotive, industrial and energy storage sectors. Topics will include: • Consumer requirements for current and future automotive, industrial, utility, smart-grid and renewable energy storage applications. • Achievements in using carbons in lead batteries, and future research directions. • Development of full
electrochemical models to simulate processes in carbon enhanced lead batteries. • Additives to the negative or positive active mass or electrolyte. • Gas evolution and water loss in relation to Dynamic Charge Acceptance (DCA) improvements. • Improving lifetimes and deep cycle life of lead batteries for industrial, utility, smart-grid and renewable energy storage applications. • Harmonization of testing standards. • Battery testing method improvements. • Development and use of advanced analytical techniques, basic science methods and materials engineering for lead battery research. • Future production requirements in terms of quality control, impurities, raw materials, manufacturing and next generation equipment. Contact Maura McDermott Tel: +44 20 7833 8090 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.ila-lead.org/16elbc
The Battery Show North America Novi, Michigan, USA • September 11-13 The Battery Show is the largest showcase of advanced battery technology in North America, displaying thousands of design, production and manufacturing solutions including battery systems, materials, components, testing and recycling. With more than 600 manufacturers and service providers from across the battery supply chain, this free-to-attend exhibition is your opportunity to source the latest energy storage solutions, helping you to reduce costs and improve the performance of your applications. Contact Tel: +1 310 445 4200 Email: Tshowreg@ubm.com www.thebatteryshow.com
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Europeâ€™s largest trade fair for advanced battery and H/EV technology Exhibitors include:
Register for your free trade fair pass online Event sponsors:
15 – 17 May 2018
3 300+ 5,000+
Why attend? • Source cutting-edge technologies from 300+ suppliers • Access 20+ live product demos highlighting the latest innovations • Take away new ideas for increased efficiency and reduced manufacturing costs • Get together with the entire battery supply chain at the networking receptions
FREETO-ATTEND TRADE FAIR!
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FORTHCOMING EVENTS Energy Storage Canada Toronto, Canada September 19-20
Energy Storage Canada (ESC) is the voice of leadership for energy storage and the only industry association in Canada that focuses on advancing opportunities and building the market for energy storage. ESC leverages the strength of our diverse membership to drive market development in Canada. ESC has made energy storage a key focus for policy makers. We educate stakeholders and drive awareness about the value that energy storage delivers. We work to create new competitive markets and ensure regulatory fairness. Our mission is to advance the energy storage industry in Canada through policy advocacy, collaboration, education, and research. Energy Storage Canada works closely with sector allies and with other energy storage stakeholders to push the industry forward. Contact Tel: +1 416-977-3095 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.energy-storage-ontario.squarespace.com
Solar Power International Anaheim, California, USA September 24-27 Solar Power International is powered by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA). SPI held its inaugural show in 2004 and was designed to serve and advance the solar energy industry by bringing together the people, products, and professional development opportunities that drive the solar industry and are forging its bright future. This event focuses solely on creating an environment that fosters the exchange of ideas, knowledge and expertise for furthering solar energy development in the US. Designed and produced by Solar Energy Trade Shows, our events supply your company with solutions that further your success. Offering superior networking, visibility and value, Solar Energy Trade Shows events are important to any company active in the solar market. Unlike other solar conferences, all proceeds from SPI support the ex-
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pansion of the solar energy industry through SEIA and SEPA’s year-round research and education activities, and SEIA’s extensive advocacy efforts. SPI’s primary mission is to deliver on the missions of both SEIA and SEPA in a way that strengthens the solar energy industry domestically and globally, through networking and education, and by creating an energetic and engaging marketplace to connect buyers and suppliers. Contact Tel: +1 703-738 9460 Email: email@example.com www.solarpowerinternational
23rd International Congress for Battery Recycling — ICBR 2018 Berlin, Germany September 26-28 ICBR is the international platform for presenting the latest developments and discussing the challenges faced by the battery recycling industry. The 23rd edition of ICBR will bring together many experts and decision makers of the battery recycling value chain such as battery manufacturers, battery recyclers, OEMs from the electronic and e-mobility industry, collection schemes operators, service and transport companies, policy makers and many more. Contact Tel: +41 62 785 10 00 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.icm.ch
Interbattery 2018 Seoul, Korea October 10-12
Battery Technology Show October 23-24 • ExCel London The Battery Technology Show will showcase the incredible developments happening across the battery and energy storage markets. If you are looking to keep up with the latest news in breakthrough technologies, gain invaluable insight from key players in the market, and discover the emerging technologies which are at the frontier of the energy revolution, this is the event for you. This show will feature a select lineup of world-leading manufacturers in the battery and energy storage space on our Expo floor, alongside a first-class conference programme featuring three thought-leading symposiums: The Future of Battery Technology, The Future of Hybrid & Electric Vehicles, and The Global Battery Market. Come and experience the power of the future. Contact Sarah O’Connell Tel: +44 117 932 3586
European Utility Week 2018
InterBattery, sponsored by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, and directed by Korea Battery Industry Association and Coex, is Korea’s biggest secondary-cell battery convention that was first launched in 2013. InterBattery is Korea’s only battery industry exhibition that simultaneously accommodates the fast-growing mobile market, automobile industry, as well as ESS and EV markets, and allows for the buyers and manufacturers to naturally and most efficiently interact while learning about the newest products and trends. Furthermore, the global conference ‘The Battery Conference’ will be in session at the same time, allowing for the opportunity to listen to international opinion leaders, exchange influential ideas, and estimate the future of the industry.
Vienna, Austria November 6-8
Contact Tel: +82 6000 1393/1065/1104 Email. email@example.com www.interbattery.or.kr
Contact Tel: +31 346 590 901 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.european-utility-week.com
European Utility Week is your premier business, innovation and information platform helping you to connect with the smart utility community. The three day event will offer you access to executives, regulators, policymakers and other professionals from leading European utilities and grid operators. The event offers a platform to showcase solutions coherent with European strategy to achieve a smooth transition towards a low carbon energy supply. It also offers expert knowledge and foresight from hundreds of industry leaders who address trends helping the advancement of energy provision. We have solutions for every forward thinking company and person looking to participate during European Utility Week 2018.
FORTHCOMING EVENTS Energy Storage North America Pasadena, California, USA • November 6-8 Energy Storage North America (ESNA) is the largest conference and expo for grid-connected energy storage in North America. ESNA 2018 will include energy storage site tours, networking, workshops, and learning sessions featuring the leading policymakers, utilities, and commercial and industrial customers focused on building the grid of the future. Network with over 1,900 energy storage stakeholders through one on one meetings, roundtable discussions, workshops with interactive discussions, intimate receptions for international attendees, utilities and women in the storage industry, and an evening of dining and dancing in Pasadena. Contact Daniela Knoll Email: email@example.com Tel: +1 312 621 5838 www.esnaexpo.com
Intersolar India Bangalore, India • December 11-13 This is India’s most pioneering exhibition and conference for the solar industry Solar developments in India grew exponentially in 2017. Further announcements and new market opportunities in the energy storage and electric mobility sector strengthen India to become an interesting and very promising market in the future. The state of Karnataka is one of the most flourishing Indian solar markets and the first Indian state to launch a specific EV policy. Intersolar India, the most pioneering exhibition and conference for the solar industry is celebrating its 10th edition in Bangalore, the capital city of the top solar market. The event will focus on the solar, energy storage and electric mobility industries and will welcome more than 17,000 industry professionals and 300 exhibitors. In addition, Intersolar India will continue to connect solar businesses in Mumbai at the Bombay Exhibition Centre (BEC) on April 4-5, 2019 with a focus on financing and India’s western solar markets. Contact Brijesh Nair Tel: +91 22 4255-4707 www.intersolar.in
Batteries International • Spring 2018 • 117
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d r o w t s a l e Th More congrats to Bob! They say you can’t keep a good man down. Because no sooner did Bob Galyen — better known as the Big Red for obvious reasons — disappear to work in China a few years back, than he resurfaced again. So one moment he’s being honoured as one of the People’s Republic’s top scientists (and more), the next as a keynote speaker opening up yet another international conference. Latest iteration of the Big Red was receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award at the NAATBatt International Annual Meeting this March. And then (pictured) filling in for US secretary of energy Rick Perry and awarding John Goodenough — effectively the inventor of the lithium battery — NAATBatt’s Pioneer Medal.
Cellusuede bids farewell to Ruth
Birthday celebrations for Rolf and friends
We first heard of Ruth Swain’s retirement from Cellusuede when trying to obtain details (actually the photos) of the farewell party. We couldn’t afford the photos but what a story she had with the firm! She came in on a three-week assignment in 1981 and the hardhearted taskmasters at Cellusuede wouldn’t let her leave till this spring. En route she worked her way up through the company, ultimately handling everything from HR to accounting. “Ruth will forever be remembered as not only a key person in the company, but a great friend to so many who have worked for Cellusuede over the years. We’ll all miss her dreadfully,” says Andy Honkamp, the firm’s CEO. Ruth says it’s tough saying goodbye: “But I’m going to put on a brave face and try not to feel too sad as my husband and I sit on the golden beaches near our condo in St Maarten.”
Is it a bird? A plane? No, it’s a flying battery! Vienna, Austria says it’s braced for the birthday celebrations of Digatron’s Rolf Beckers — he hits 70 this year— and the TBS & Digatron festivities at reaching their 50th year. Venue for the exclusive celebrations — which happens during the 16th ELBC — will be the Liechtenstein Garden Palace, where an evening of entertainment and fine dining is promised.
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And something more from our resident battery historian, Kevin Desmond. It’s called Electric Airplanes and Drones, A History, a book charting the development of battery-powered flight up to the present day. It’s published by McFarland and come out this summer. This is only one of a string of books our Kevin is writing. He has recently finished Electric Boats and Ships: A History, a book on electric bicycles is on its way and further down the pipeline, perhaps even one on electric trucking!
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