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Issue 98

Winter 2015/2016

West African Black Rhinoceros

Diceros Bicornis Longipes Officially extinct 2011

Corporate extinction Adapt to survive: the changing US model Solar battery challenge Rugged endurance trials in Australia’s Outback Smelting’s death knell Aqua Metals’ technology offers viable alternative

Dreamweaver research How separators can beat the nail penetration test BCI Innovation Award MAC/EnerSys, Zesar/LTE reveal latest entries

Bringing the industry together










More improvements to Bitrode’s new high-powered solution to your pack testing needs: FTF-HP • Drive simulations for standard electric vehicle tests: FUDS, SFUDS, GSFUDS, DST, & ECE-15L

Complete Control Software for Bitrode Laboratory Testing Equipment • Control in a familiar interface • Customize your test program • Monitor your progress • Analyze your results

• Single or dual circuit models available

New 500kW

• New over-current, undercurrent, over-voltage and under-voltage protection standard on all models • Up to 500kW with available option for parallel operation up to 2MW • Infinite number of program steps when used in conjunction with VisuaLCN software • Remote Binary Protocol available for control via 3rd party software • Discharge power recycled to AC line for cooler, more energy efficient operation

© 2015 Sovema Power Electronics

• Transition time for current to ramp from 10% to 90% of full scale now decreased from approximately 15ms to less than 4ms!


are operating units of

Power Electronics.



HOW TO SURVIVE IN ‘THE MOST RESTLESS INDUSTRY ON EARTH’ The US battery industry may appear slow moving but the undercurrents of the business sector run deep — and fast. As we enter the fourth generation of the battery business, what have been the defining characteristics of the survivors? And how come some of the industry’s biggest US firms have survived so long, why some are just old brand names and what can they all do to stay ahead? Is ruthlessness and agility the key to survival? Or do family relationships and an entrepreneurial culture count for more?



The Gospel According to Blah, why the good news in the market is too often based on speculation, hypothesis and endless extrapolation



Werner Schmidt, founder of Abertax dies aged 81 • Lead industry bodies join forces to kick start global pro-lead battery campaign • Beckley joins Hammond as new CTO as Lulsdorf moves to Exide Industries • Aqua Metals appoints two to new management team • Romeo joins Wirtz as VP new product development • Grupe new VP for sales at Digatron • Sonnenbatterie recruits four from Tesla • Flow batteries and artificial leaf batteries awarded to Nocera • Kalter promoted to EVP at Exide • Hoppecke appoints five for UK operations



New look for BCI • Transfer of Panasonic lead acid battery business to Yuasa to start in April • Sion Power pick Solith’s advanced cell winder for its high-energy Li-S battery • Leo Motors files patent for extreme cold weather battery pack • Stadtwerke München adopts flywheels for back-up • Doe Run cuts mine production • Lithium again centre stage as danger over battery transportation continues • Leclanché wins 13MW/53MWh contract with IESO in Canada • Possible ‘huge leap forward’ for energy+storage as Sonnenbatterie offers trading platform to residential users • SNCF switches from lead to Saft’s nickel MRX batteries • Researchers develop sodium-ion battery in 18650 format • Shipments of advanced batteries in 2014 amounted to 53.3 GWh • Japan’s Yuasa batteries to make Bangladesh debut in Jan • KIC InnoEnergy invests €4m in Skeleton Technologies




How a composite scrim laminate can reduce degradation of PAM and so extend EFB cycle life. The use of scrim is known to increase cycle life in flooded batteries. But as these results — validated by the world-famous IEES — show, getting the composite mix right is the key to success


Abertax founder Werner Schmidt passes away

A farewell to smelting? Aqua Metals provides clean — and viable — alternative 44

Noble endeavour: getting the lead out of the workplace 54


Smelting is energy-intensive, expensive and, worldwide, frequently a dirty and polluting process. US start-up Aqua Metals has come up with an hydrometallurgical alternative



A recent initiative by EnerSys and MAC Engineering looks set to mark a significant step in reducing the levels of lead in the air in the battery workplace

ONE TO WATCH — ZESAR/LTT Vertical continuous formation to improve productivity, efficiency. Zesar and LT Engineering are pioneering a new three dimensional way of battery formation


Who said battery making should be so flat? Let’s move it into three dimensions! 58

Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016 • 1



The race is on for ever-better lead acid batteries and that also means ever-better separators and ... ever better research

THE BRIDGESTONE SOLAR CHALLENGE  The greatest EV battery storage challenge on earth. Welcome to Australia! 67


The challenge. To drive a PV powered vehicle from the north of Australia to the south. It’s a gruelling test of battery efficiency, EV design and the BMS. Perhaps the greatest and best race on earth for energy storage and EV pioneers to follow



Clever ways to prolong your batteries



Riders in the swarm: the new generators of household integration

THE APPETISER Riders in the swarm: novel internet ways to integrate storage as a distributor 82


BMS controls — the brains of the working in the lithium ion battery pack. An extract from John Warner’s Handbook of Lithium Ion Battery Pack Design



Comparing shutdown separators to thermally stable separators— independet research for Dreamweaver suggests a victory over the nail penetration tes



Our comprehensive listing of the must-attend conferences and exhibitions of 2016

Victors all: This year’s BCI innovation award, looks at some of the newest and best in lead acid 127





Maltese hoteliers race for the barricades • And BCI’s winner is… • The party to end all UK parties • An intern too far • What’s in a name?

Publisher Karen Hampton,, +44 7792 852 337

Editor: Michael Halls,, +44 1 243 782 275

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Staff reporters: Anna Cole-Bailey, Philip Moorcroft Production/design: Antony Parselle, +44 1727 899 360 International advertising representation: The contents of this publication are protected by copyright. No unauthorised translation or reproduction is permitted. ISSN 1462-6322 (c) 2016 Mustard Seed Publishing, UK company no: 5976361. Printed in the UK via ThisismethodUK

Disclaimer: Although we believe in the accuracy and completeness of the information contained in this magazine, Mustard Seed Publishing makes no warranties or representation about this. Nor should anything contained within it should be construed as constituting an offer to buy or sell securities, or constitute advice in relation to the buying or selling of investments.

2 • Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016

EDITORIAL Mike Halls •

The Gospel According to Blah Another day, another market research prediction. Another press announcement, another keynote speech. It’s the Law of Blah, maybe even the Gospel according to Blah, the good news of endless market chatter. And often relentlessly optimistically Blah. But unlike the good news of the Gospel from the Bible — where God loves and interacts with man — this is another kind of news. But here the good news is based on speculation, hypothesis and endless extrapolation. Not forgetting the fluff that surrounds this all. In this world of yak we hear persistent talk of next generation lithium batteries in our electric vehicles — neatly sidestepping the fact that first generation lithium EVs haven’t even arrived. Or not in scale and certainly not in affordability. Every other week we hear of so-called disruptive technologies. Science that will change the world of energy and batteries forever as a New World Order arises. As this magazine went to press the University of Maryland sent us a press release about using carbonized oak leaves as a possible research line for putting a battery together using sodium in the negative terminal. Quoted verbatim. “Leaves are so abundant. All we had to do was pick one up off the ground here on campus … other studies have shown that melon skin, banana peels and peat moss can be used in this way, but a leaf needs less preparation.” And the calendar doesn’t even show it’s the start of April. So what are the six principles behind this Gospel according to Blah? First, it’s one of endless speculation. And to make it worse, it’s unremittingly optimistic. It’s a reworking the observations from Moore’s Law — which is actually specific to the number of transistors in an integrated circuit — and imagining that the same doubling in performance is going to apply to the world of batteries, electric vehicles and solar storage. In this la-la land we can expect everything to be different in 20 years’ time. Problems of world poverty, global conflict and the common cold will doubtless have all been solved by then too. Second it’s one of endless extrapolation. Here we’re 4 • Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016

not talking so much about the strange love that green visionaries have for Moore’s law but the way, for example, that interesting results in the lab are extrapolated almost immediately to the manufacturing line. Or at least in the popular imagination — those that work in production know that from lab to manufacturing line is more likely to take a decade. Part of this is a fault in the way that the world of startups and the world surrounding their finance go together. The start-up needs the oxygen of publicity to survive and get further funding. Getting anything in print is an endorsement of credibility. So let’s also blame the journalist covering the story. The use of extrapolation for journalists is a perverse way of legitimising a story — even creating one that’s not there — as it makes a point. (Even if this point is hypothetical to the point of ridiculousness.) Third it’s one of denial. In the battery world, the uncomfortable truths of price and performance are glossed over by both sides of the lead/lithium fence. Denial typically takes the form of forgetting inconvenient truths. One example here. One of the big set-backs to the use of lead acid batteries at the grid level for energy storage happened when the Notrees 36MW wind power project in Texas decided to shift from lead acid to lithium batteries (most of the move takes place this year). Quite simply lead acid batteries weren’t up to the job of fast-response frequency regulation. And it’s counterpart as any knowledgeable lead battery engineer will tell you — how can lithium be so green and friendly when we still have no environmentally or economically feasible way of recycling it? Fourth, it’s one where everything is fuzzy. Spotting lies in corporate life isn’t easy but one of the infallible rules is that if you can’t quite understand something and the details are sketchy you’re being misled somewhere. We still remember the interview with a top sales engineer from A123 proudly showing us what he was happy to call “the new SLI battery of the future”. With the form of the standard car battery, but with lithium ion inside instead of lead, it looked impressive. (And shiny too!) But if it were going to be the SLI battery of the future, people would have to buy it. So when asked the price he stone-walled. Not even the merest indication of a price point. The reason it later transpired — or so we

EDITORIAL Mike Halls • understood — was that estimates for manufacturing in scale couldn’t be made as there was no idea of the amount of demand that could be generated. Moreover, a four figure dollar price tag was far more likely than that for a lead acid one coming in under three figures. Fifth, Blah is a concept where the language gets confused. At its simplest Blah requires marketing speak for press announcements to be obtuse to the point of ridiculousness. This is frequently mixed with Words That Have To Be Capitalized to show that very important things are going on. But why do some terms being bandied around make no sense? What after all is an advanced battery? Why should a lithium battery be called advanced when it’s still only a battery? What is advanced lead? Is it something that just means a lead battery that’s been fiddled with? Moreover, the language is purposefullly prolix, pompous and full of periphrastic perissology — occlusively pleonastic in other words. Or to put that into English. Talks too much to hide meaning. And most of the time this verbosity is just to hide the vacuity of what’s being said and give the sense of importance to something unsubstantial. Last to add to the mix, Blah inevitably means a concentration on image rather than substance. Hype is not based on lies as such but on the plausibility of the lie. And plausibility is mostly concerned with the image of the story, Part of the spin around EVs is the notion that by driving them “we’re doing our bit for the environment” (quite whatever that means). So the sales pitch is rarely about the quality of the ride, which is frequently superb, but more on that driving is no longer sending clouds of super-deadly carbon dioxide out of the tail pipe. Of course this ignores the fact that the dirty coal-fired power station out of sight is belching clouds of ash and some of that killer gas CO2. Of course the problem is that when these lies get magnified, they enter the popular culture. Silicon Valley giants such as a Apple and Google

make a point of choosing to emphasise their credentials as being environmentally friendly. They perpetuate the myth that lead batteries are harmful to the environment while lithium ones aren’t. One of the more fascinating theories to watch is the relationship between the Gospel of Blah and the First Law of Conferences — where two or three are gathered together with a fashionable idea, expert speakers can be located, delegates found and most importantly lots of money can be charged. Just think of the EV revolution that never happened. It’s 2009 and, with start-up firms awash with money from governments and investors, the Gospel of Blah gets widely preached around the world. Must-attend conferences for a while became the norm. But here’s the unlikely benefit of Blah. It creates opportunities that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. Amid all the hot air that’s generated, there is frequently a kernel of something valuable which is picked up elsewhere and can be taken further. Oddly enough we’re living with some of the fruits of them to this day. Yes, a lot of the speculation was ill-founded. True, the extrapolation was broadly unrealistic. Inconvenient truths were indeed blurred and denied. Yet the huge advances in lithium ion battery technology we see nowadays are also a fruit of these gatherings. The lead battery industry is far too timid when compared to its lithium counterpart. Which is a shame. Perhaps we should forget those magic carbon additives and see what a dose of hot air could do? Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016 • 5

WIRTZ AWARDED PATENT FOR THE KEY PROCESS STEP IN PRODUCING PUNCHED POSITIVE GRIDS. From the world of Wirtz comes a new process that is so innovative, it’s been awarded a patent. This patented process will make longer lasting batteries. PowerBond Grid Technology Our patented PowerBond process changes the shape of each grid wire and adds a texture to all of the wire surfaces. This improves the bond between the grid and active material which extends plate and battery life, giving you an edge on the competition. TM

Wirtz PowerBond Grid TM

Our patented PowerBond TM reforming process applies a textured surface to all areas of the grid, which improves the bond between the grid and active material that extends plate and battery life.

Controlled Processes Our patented new PowerBond process does not change the weight of the grids so the tolerance control is still + or – 1 gram per grid. And we can process the PowerBond grids through our pasting systems and produce plates with tolerances of + or – 2 grams of paste weight and + or – 0.002 inch or 0.05 mm of plate thickness. Fully Automatic Systems With our Continuous Plate Making Processes, every step of the grid and plate making processes is controlled automatically through robotic plate stacking. You get the highest technology and the closest tolerance control for the longest life batteries at the lowest material and labor cost. To learn how our patented PowerBond process can help you make longer lasting batteries, call us at +1 810 987 7600 or email



Werner Schmidt 1934-2015 Werner Schmidt, the founder of Abertax, the Maltese research and battery accessory firm, died on October 23 last year. He was 81 years old. “Werner will be missed by all, especially those who were close to him and who knew him well. He gave his very best competence and continuous efforts to build up the Abertax companies. To a large extent Abertax is his achievement,” said the firm in a statement. Werner, who was born in February 1934, led a full and varied life. As a child he lived through the Second World War and then saw first-hand the enormous reconstruction that followed. One of his first adult jobs was as a sculptor/stonemason working on the design of tombstones. In one of the many, seemingly improbable, shifts in his life he left that behind to enter the world of property development, first following the boom in Germany. He later moved to Spain as a property designer and realtor based in Mallorca. He had a love of sailing and this was to prove his next adventure. A series of disappointments caused him to up-sticks — he quit Spain and went to sea. A chance accident just south of Sicily sealed the future of Malta’s Abertax. Limping in to Valetta, the capital of the island, he asked for a berth in the port for a week. “It’s only for a few days,” he said. “It’s just to fix the boat.” The Maltese authorities were not impressed. Schmidt, they said, could stay for a week or two if he wanted but, in any event, the minimum payment to stay at the port was always going to be a month. It was 1985 and the rest became history. He liked Malta. Very much. And he stayed. Work opportunities came and Werner, who had been renovating local old houses to German eco-standards expanded into the hi-tech and high quality production. More importantly than his business, it was in Malta that he was to finally

8 • Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016

Werner relaxed and happy celebrating his 77th birthday

meet the love of his life and devoted companion to the end. In the mid-1990s he won a contract to provide quality control services for BFS, a German company producing the water filling system for lead acid batteries. Around this time, working from a tiny — 350m2 — factory on the outskirts of Valletta, he bought the first injection moulding machines as Werner took the step up from testing for quality to manufacturing that quality. Werner decided that there was more that could be done with the battery business. The big leap forward from being a small sub-contractor came when the R&D expertise Werner had been developing with Martin Florin and Joseph Cilia from the University of Malta, started to bear fruit The first product, a capacitive sensor, was patented and entered into production in 2005. Werner deliberately chose to set Abertax up as a foundation — a structure similar to German firms such as Mercedes or Siemens. Here a council, rather than an individual, guides the future of the firm. Around 2007, research into the gassing valves used in VRLA batter-

ies combined with the firm’s injection moulding experience led it into its most successful product range — a valve referred to as a gas release system for all types of VRLA-regulated batteries. Since then Abertax has hardly looked back extending the range of its valves and testing equipment. In 2012 it took over a local electronics firm Kemtronics. “It’s the final piece of the jigsaw,” Werner said later. “For the first time we had complete control of all the manufacturing.” His life-long interest was in ‘wellness’ creating a healthy and fulfilled life through making conscious decisions about diet, emotions, fitness and work. “He was a gregarious, sociable and well liked man who lived life to the full,” said a friend. “He liked nothing better than being in a crowd and regaling them with stories.” He is survived by his wife Elke, two daughters, Trudi Murray and Waltraud Schier, two step daughters, Anna Oschmann and Berta Rieder and 12 grandchildren. Sadly what would have been his first great-grandchild was born a couple of months after his death.


Beckley joins Hammond as new CTO as Lulsdorf moves to Exide Industries Gordon Beckley has been appointed vice-president and chief technical officer of the Hammond Group, the global producer of lead oxides, expanders, and specialty chemicals for lead-acid batteries, He succeeds Achim Lulsdorf who left Hammond in December and has moved to Exide Industries, the Indian battery group. Beckley’s appointment comes at an exciting time for Hammond. “We have made revolutionary breakthroughs in lead acid battery charge acceptance with our K2 Expanders and have committed significant investments to serve the current and emerging requirements of our battery customers,” said Terry Murphy, president and CEO of the Hammond Group. Beckley has a long career in the lead acid business. He spent the last 11 years as senior vice president for engineering and quality at deep cycle battery manufacturer Trojan. He developed Trojan’s T2 Technology line which introduced a T2 metal agent into the paste mix. He was also behind the development of the Traveler, Ranger and Reliant product lines. Previous to that he spent two years as director for engineering and strategic planning for GS Battery, the US subsidiary of Japan Storage Battery Company. From 1989 to 2002 he worked for GNB Technologies in a series of rising senior positions being in charge of its operations in New Zealand and later Australia. He became a vice president of engineering with Exide when GNB was taken over in 1999 and was responsible for integrating the two firms’ engineering department. Beckley also spent two years with legendary AGM firm Gates. He also participates in research and development programmes with the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and is chairman of the Deep Cycle and Electric Vehicle Battery Committee for Battery Council International. “Gordon brings a wealth of techni-

cal and practical experience — along with a personal passion — to Hammond’s strategy of enabling lead-acid chemistry for advanced energy storage”, said Murphy. “His first-hand knowledge and experience in tailoring customer-specific solutions will allow us to better serve our industry in competition with Lithium-Ion for micro-hybrid vehicle and energy storage markets.” As Hammond’s CTO, Beckley will report directly to Murphy and be responsible for all R&D efforts headquartered at Hammond’s new leadacid battery laboratory.

“Gordon brings a wealth of technical and practical experience — along with a personal passion — to Hammond’s strategy of enabling lead-acid chemistry for advanced energy storage” – Terry Murphy, president and CEO of the Hammond Group

Aqua Metals appoints two to new management team Aqua Metals, the lead recycling firm that offers an alternative to smelting announced in November new hires to its management team with the appointment of Alex Laleh as special projects manager and the hire of Thomas Akright  in October as a corporate controller. Laleh’s primary responsibility is setting up the AquaRefining module production line in the company’s Alameda headquarters. Laleh joined  from Siemens, where he was responsible for oversight of production planning and production configuration management. Akright is responsible for building the company’s financial systems, internal controls, performance metrics and reporting capabilities.

Aqua Metals raised $36 million in a share raising called an IPO last summer. It has used the proceeds to acquire more staff in the run-up to the commercialization of its operations this summer. (A profile of the firm is found in the latter part of this issue.)

Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016 • 9


Romeo joins Wirtz as VP new product development Mike Romeo, former research and development manager at Axion Power, joined Wirtz Manufacturing as vice president of new product development in January. Romeo has been directly involved with the development, design, manufacture, and testing of most lead acid based battery chemistries. He is a technical committee member of Battery Council International and the Advanced Lead Acid Battery Consortium. Romeo has a diverse background that includes experience with lead acid batteries, lead carbon batteries, and cutting edge battery energy storage systems. He was recruited out of college in 2009 by Axion Power International to

advance its unique lead-carbon battery technology. During his tenure at Axion he held a variety of positions rising to senior research scientist, and director of research and development. “His knowledge of industrial processes has resulted in the development of novel battery manufacturing techniques and equipment and he has played an instrumental role in research funded by the US Department of Energy, the US military, and the Advanced Lead-Acid Battery Consortium,” said John O Wirtz, president of Wirtz. “Mike’s battery technology knowledge and his process and equipment knowledge combines with his high energy level are a perfect fit for our organization and will allow Wirtz to

Kalter promoted to EVP at Exide

Grupe new VP for sales at Digatron

For the record, Exide Technologies has promoted Brad Kalter to executive vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary at the end of October. Kalter will work on the company’s executive leadership team and report to Vic Koelsch, president and CEO. of Exide Kalter has more than 20 years of experience as a practicing attorney, the last 12 working at Exide in its global battery manufacturing and energy storage business. He has been Exide’s vice president and deputy general counsel and corporate secretary since 2009 and deputy general counsel and corporate secretary since 2006. Here he had global responsibilities for corporate governance, mergers and acquisitions, corporate financing transactions, SEC compliance, subsidiary management, contract management and the intellectual property portfolio.

For the record Friedrich Grupe was appointed vice president of sales and marketing at Digatron Power Electronics on October 1. In addition to heading up the sales team in Aachen he also became an integral member of the Aachen Executive Management Team.

Sonnebatterie recruits four from Tesla

Press reports say that four Tesla employees moved to Sonnenbatterie, the residential energy storage company, in October and November. These are Philipp Schroder, the new managing director, Alan Atzberger, the new vp for direct sales and marketing, Jonas Rabe, as marketing managers and Marcel Meub as head of sales for Germany. Sonnenbatterie has not officially confirmed the appointments. 10 • Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016

Grupe has already had six years’ experience within Digatron as a project manager within Aachen dealing with domestic and international contracts. He has also acted as quality manager for most of this time. Before Digatron he worked as service manager for T-Systems Enterprise Services. “Friedrich, a keen enthusiast of fast cars, shall also take to the road with a direct role in getting our products’ sales information in front of clients by assuming the responsibility of direct sales within the territory of Germany,” said the company.

continue to improve our products and technology and expand our product line.”

Flow batteries and artificial leaf batteries awarded to Nocera Daniel Nocera, the Patterson Rookwood Professor of Energy at Harvard University, has won the 2015 Leigh Ann Conn Prize for Renewable Energy from the University of Louisville, which recognizes outstanding renewable energy ideas and achievements with proven global impact. Nocera is recognized for two energy storage creations. The first is his “Artificial Leaf,” a renewable energy device that synthetically duplicates the direct solar-to-fuel steps of photosynthesis, the process by which plants use sunlight to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. The Artificial Leaf was named Innovation of the Year for 2011 by Time magazine. The second is a low cost, rechargeable flow battery for scalable centralized (grid) and distributed (microgrid) energy storage at the megawatt-hour scale. Nocera’s innovations address the storage of energy until needed, the most critical challenge of widespread implementation of renewables. In August 2014, Lockheed Martin bought the assets of his company, Sun Catalytix, including the associated flow battery invention, and is fasttracking this technology at the MWh scale under the new venture Lockheed Martin Advanced Energy Storage. The energy storage cost using Nocera’s flow battery is half that of traditionally used vanadium-based flow batteries, the firm says.


Lead industry bodies join forces to kick start global pro-lead battery campaign The International Lead Association, EUROBAT, Battery Council International, and Association of Battery Recyclers announced in January the formation of a new strategic alliance. Its goal: advancing the cause of lead batteries in the face of the challenge of competing chemistries and associated technologies. Although the four organizations have been working informally together for some time, the alliance — which had to be approved by the leadership of each association — has created a common action plan for the year, centred around lead batteries, with duties assigned between the members. Batteries International understands that a widespread schedule of tasks has been identified and action plans and responsibilities have been agreed between the organizations. Last October the four organizations met in London to agree on a joint strategy that would be focused on three objectives — ensuring that lead batteries are regarded as the future product of choice, that the benefits of lead-based products and in particular lead batteries are recognised more widely outside the industry, and that regulation on batteries is proportionate to the risks that lead poses to health and the environment. The first targets of the programme are Europe and North America, which is where the associations are most strongly represented. (The research work of the US-based Advanced Lead Acid Battery Consortium, now part of the ILA, is also included in the remit.) Dick Amistadi, chairman of ABR, said: “This alliance is good news for ABR and will means there will be a greater co-ordinated effort to support the lead recycling industry in North America.” Mark Thorsby, executive vicepresident of BCI said: “This alliance ensures a more rapid response to industry challenges around the world and, at the same time, presents opportunities for greater efficiency and

Westgeest: “decisions taken in Europe are affecting the global battery market”

Bush: “fits perfectly into ILA’s wider strategic goals”

Thorsby: “alliance ensures a more rapid response to industry challenges”

Amistadi: “greater co-ordinated effort to support lead recycling”

effectiveness among the four associations, including the lead and lead battery industries communication programmes aimed at stakeholders in North America.” Alfons Westgeest, executive director of EUROBAT, said: “We are glad to be part of this strategic alliance. For many years EUROBAT and its members have been deeply involved in government affairs and more and more proposals made and decisions taken in Europe are affecting the global battery market. 

“This drives the need to exchange policy topics with our global partners. We want the EU to recognize lead-based batteries are very viable solutions that offer services for industrial, energy storage and automotive applications.” Andy Bush, managing director of ILA, said: “We are delighted to be part of this alliance which fits perfectly into ILA’s wider strategic goals to support the lead industry and ensure lead batteries are the future product of choice.”

Batteries International understands that a widespread schedule of tasks has been identified and action plans and responsibilities have been agreed between the organizations. Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016 • 11


• Our FREEDOM expander line enables batteries to meet the demanding needs of the future • You have unique energy storage needs & we have the right expander for the job • Our expander formulations are uniquely engineered to meet ever increasing energy storage performance requirements



Hoppecke appoints senior staff in UK

Hoppecke’s new senior management team. Left to right: Dave Summerfield, Stuart Browne, Sarah Wheat, Andy Neville and Gus Whyte



14 • Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016

Hoppecke Industrial Batteries, the UK arm of Germany’s Hoppecke Batterien, appointed five managers in January as part of its restructuring programme. The new staff — a combination of internal and external appointments — follow the appointment of Jason Howlett as the new UK managing director last September. Stuart Browne becomes service director. He has 20 years’ experience in field operations management and has worked for companies such as De La Rue and Jungheinrich. Andy Neville joins as operations and supply chain manager. He has held senior operational management positions for more than 20 years. He will also drive Hoppecke’s ‘lean’ performance drive and ensure a safe, efficient working environment for the company’s workers. Gus Whyte — a veteran of some 38 years spent in the motive power business — joins as a sales director. “With a genuinely global pedigree, he has vast experience in the technology and sales of motive power batteries, chargers, battery changing systems, and electronic management systems,” said Hoppecke. Dave Summerfield becomes director of business development for the UK and international key accounts for Germany. Summerfield has been in the battery business since 2005. Hoppecke has previously never had a human resources manager dedicated to, and located in, the UK but that has changed with the appointment of Sarah Wheat. Hoppecke’s CEO, Marc Zoellner, said: “We are in the process of a substantial investment programme in the infrastructure of Hoppecke in the UK and these senior appointments are an essential part of that policy.”


New look for BCI Battery Council International unveiled a new brand identity at the end of December and also introduced a new logo celebrating the recyclability of lead batteries and the global nature of the industry. “This new logo represents the dynamic, innovative nature of the lead battery industry, commonly assumed to be stagnant and mature,” said a BCI official. “Our members are proud of lead batteries’ image as a solid, steadfast product, and BCI’s new brand showcases their clean, sturdy makeup and cradle to cradle design. “The new brand is evident in the

launch of our new website, which is designed to serve the needs of members, general industry constituents and consumers. The reorganization of the members-only side of the site allows BCI members to easily access BCI’s member directory, white papers, committee minutes, regulatory and legislative updates, an archive of The Energy Beacon, statistical reports and other useful industry materials. “Industry members can quickly obtain information on environmental regulations, state recycling laws and the most recent recycling rate study.”

Transfer of Panasonic lead acid battery business to Yuasa to start in April

“We are pioneering the EV market in the cold regions such as the northeastern parts of China and Russia and we expect to establish LEOM as the EV leader in such markets.”

The transfer of ownership of Panasonic’s lead acid battery business to GS Yuasa should be finalized by June 30, the end of the first quarter of its new financial year. At the end of October Yuasa agreed to buy Panasonic Corp’s lead acid battery business for about ¥30 billion ($250 million). Panasonic aims to focus on lithium-ion batteries. Panasonic’s lead acid battery business comprises about 1,500 workers and had revenue of roughly ¥50 billion in the year ended March, GS Yuasa said.

Leo Motors files patent for extreme cold weather battery pack For the record, Leo Motors filed a patent application for its battery power pack in October. The patent applies to battery cells that deliver full capacity and power in extreme cold temperatures. Traditional batteries fail in extreme cold temperatures, making electric vehicles ineffective in extreme cold. Even though China has regulations requiring 30% of new government vehicles to be electric, there are few EVs in the north of China. Russia has the same problem in its cold regions. Leo says it has solved the problem with its new Nano Carbon Technology electric vehicle battery power pack that functions and supplies full power in temperatures up to -49°F, without capacity or power loss. Shi Chul Kang, CEO of Leo, said,

Stadtwerke München adopts flywheels for back-up Stadtwerke München, the utility that serves the Munich region in southern Germany, has approved its first kinetic energy storage unit within its virtual power plant for use in commercial operation. The unit consists of a flywheel-based ‘DuraStor’ accumulator from the Stornetic technology firm based in Jülich, Germany. Stadtwerke München said: “The Stornetic energy storage unit is part of our virtual power plant, where it is used, among other things, to balance energy requirements and equalize forecast deviations arising during renewable energy generation.” The virtual power plant accepts renewable energy before sending it on or storing it for later use.

Mark Thorsby, executive vice president for BCI said: “The newest addition to the website is a link to a consumer microsite catering to the needs of your customers. The site serves as a one stop shop for consumers and answers questions such as “what is a lead battery?” and “are lead batteries safe?” within an easy to navigate site. I encourage you to link back to BCI’s new website and consumer microsite from your company’s page. The DuraStor storage unit used generates up to 600kVA at approximately 100kWh. The unit consists of 28 flywheels which can be accelerated to velocities of up to 45,000 rpm. Energy storage is purely kinetic. “This approach combines the advantages of mechanical energy storage units, such as sturdiness and endurance, with the advantages of container solutions such as modularity, rapid installation and mobility,” said a company official.

Saft signs telecoms supply contract with Lockheed Martin Saft, the battery manufacturing company, has won a multi-million dollar five year supply agreement with Lockheed Martin in October for the company’s telecom satellites. Saft will supply high-energy VL48E Li-ion cells with a 3.6V, 48Ah package to power the satellites with lightweight technology capable of withstanding a demanding space lifecycle.

Sion Power pick Solith’s advanced cell winder for its high-energy Li-S battery US firm Sion Power Corporation, announced in January that Solith/Sovema is to supply cell winding technology for the manufacturing capacity of its proprietary Licerion battery technology. “At over 350 Watt-hours per kilogram, our Licerion technology is at the leading edge of bat-

tery energy density, and building these cells requires specialized material handling,” said John Kopera, Sion’s vice president for commercial operations. Solith customized winder offers us flexibility in cell design while maintaining the production rates we need to meet a rapidly growing demand”.

Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016 • 15

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Possible ‘huge leap forward’ for energy+storage as Sonnenbatterie offers trading platform to residential users Sonnenbatterie, the German residential energy storage firm, has launched a community energy trading platform, called sonnenCommunity, aimed at enabling trading of surplus power from solar PV coupled with its battery systems. In addition, the company has rebranded its business platform. “This could represent a huge leap forward for the energy+storage community,” says one industry figure. “And, for the first time clearly shows that the existing utility model of energy provision is under threat,” Surplus electricity that can’t be consumed or stored is shared online with the  sonnenCommunity and thereby made available to members who cur-

rently need power. “In addition to the favourable purchase price of a battery storage device, members with Sonnenbatterie also have additional advantages: they can direct-market their surplus electricity with an additional profit to the feed-in-tariff and pay a price significantly below the average of traditional suppliers for electricity they don’t produce themselves,” says Sonnenbatterie. “The sonnenCommunity combines three technologies: decentralized power generation, advanced battery storage technology and digital networking. Control is assumed by a powerful, self-learning software platform that connects the individual members of the community.”

Interestingly — and in another possible blow to the utility distribution model of electricity — households without the ability to generate their own power or without their own battery storage device can obtain power from the community. “By monitoring the production and consumption data of the members in real time the platform balances supply and demand. Combining weather and member consumption data creates the basis for a precise prognosis for the expected production and demand within the sonnenCommunity,” says Sonnenbatterie. “The cyclical energy input from renewable sources thus becomes calculable and can be flexibly integrated.”

Lithium again centre stage as danger over battery transportation continues

Organization’s air navigation commission recommended that the agency’s top policy-making body should endorse such a ban. A decision on this could be made as early as this February. PHMSA investigators said they had intercepted 32 cargo containers filled with hoverboards containing lithium batteries that were improperly prepared for shipment as a hazardous material. “Of particular concern was the fact PHMSA’s investigation determined that more than 80% of the shippers were unable to produce valid test reports as required by the United Nations Manual of Tests and Criteria. Testing of lithium batteries under this standard is required by US regulation for transportation,” said the agency. “As international regulatory authorities like the ICAO Dangerous

Goods Panel strengthen lithium battery transport regulations, this safety alert on hoverboards has exposed a well known fact regarding low-priced lithium batteries: transport, safety and customs agencies in certain regions of the world are not taking the necessary steps to enforce national and international lithium battery regulations,” said PRBA executive director George Kerchner.

PHMSA — the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration which is part of the US Department of Transportation — issued at the end of December a series of warnings over illegal cargoes of devices that contain lithium batteries. The news is just part of a larger debate that continues to fuel further examinations of the rules for conveying batteries in aircraft. At the end of January a panel of international safety experts took a major step toward persuading the aviation arm of the United Nations to ban all shipments of rechargeable lithium batteries from cargo holds of passenger airliners. The International Civil Aviation

Shipments of advanced batteries in 2014 amounted to 53.3 GWh According to a new report from Navigant Research, in 2014, the advanced batteries industry shipped 53.3 GWh of batteries, representing more than seven billion individual battery cells and more than $14 billion in sales. “While the consumer electronics segment saw tepid growth in 2014, the vehicle electrification and

18 • Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016

grid-energy storage sectors experienced significant increases in energy capacity and associated revenue,” says William Tokash, senior research analyst with Navigant Research. “The advanced batteries industry remains in growth mode, and the majority of its products are manufactured in China and shipped around the world.”

Doe Run cuts mine production The Doe Run Company announced mid-January that it would reduce mine production at its Missouri lead mining district for 2016, effective immediately. This represents an annual reduction of approximately 20,000 tonnes of lead-contained in concentrates and lesser amounts of zinc and copper. Doe Run owns and operates the world’s second largest lead mining district, which is located in the southeast of the US state of Missouri.  Joe Hansen, vice president of sales and marketing for Doe Run, said: “Our reduced production represents about 10% of the lead-contained output we normally produce in a year. We will work with our customers over the next several days to make necessary adjustments in our product delivery.” The firm said it had made the move because of depressed metal prices and increased operational and regulatory costs.


Leclanché wins 13MW/53MWh contract with IESO in Canada Swiss battery firm Leclanché has won a contract for an unconfirmed amount to provide 13MW/53MWh through six ESS (energy storage systems) being built near Toronto, Canada. Hecate Canada Storage II, an emerging Canadian project development and electrical systems integrator, announced the project award in January. IESO, the system operator in Ontario, awarded the contracts through a competitive solicita-

tion process in 2014 as part of its Energy Storage Procurement Phase 1 project Construction should start around April and the project should go live by the end of the year. Leclanché will work with Deltro Energy which will procure, design and construct the site facilities balance of plant scope and high voltage connections to the grid. Deltro will also be the operator of the facilities. IESO plans to use the energy

storage systems to meet its needs for fast-reacting ancillary services. Greensmith Energy will provide the energy management system. The principal service provided under these contracts is voltage control and reactive power support, an application that’s becoming increasingly important for Ontario and other regions with significant amounts of intermittent wind and solar power now on the high voltage transmission networks.

Japan’s Yuasa batteries made Bangladesh debut in January

The on-board batteries play a critical role for SNCF by providing the backup power to support control, safety and communications functions should the main power supply be interrupted. As part of a general upgrading programme SNCF is replacing the existing time-expired leadacid batteries with Saft’s specialized MRX batteries. The switch to nickel-based technology can deliver a number of performance and reliability advantages for SNCF, says Saft. Primarily, unlike lead-acid batteries, the MRX design does not suffer from ‘sudden death’. Instead, it has been developed specifically for the intensive usage typical of rail backup operations, where it offers predictable and reliable performance over a long service life of up to 15 years that contributes to an optimized Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). MRX batteries also offer a higher energy capability at extreme temper-

atures, ranging from -30°C to +70°C, to ensure continuity of train services in difficult weather locations.

GS Yuasa, the third largest manufacturer of automobile and motorcycle batteries in the world, started production in January at a plant of Japan SolarTech, a joint venture based in in Bangladesh. Japan SolarTech has invested $15 million to set up the plant with a monthly production capacity of 30,000 pieces of automotive batteries. GS Yuasa will provide technical assistance. Yuasa will produce the first Japanese batteries to be made in Bangladesh, where the car market is growing. There is an annual demand for 1.8 million batteries in Bangladesh, according to a press report. Eastern Lubricants Blenders, a subsidiary of state-owned Padma Oil Company, will distribute the batteries through its point-of-sales network. Syed Samiul Huq, director of Japan SolarTech, also said in a press report, the firm was in talks with other local automobile companies as well for the marketing and distribution of their batteries.

SNCF switches from lead to Saft’s nickel MRX batteries Saft signed an on-board battery system replacement contract in November valued at around €4 million with SNCF, France’s national state-owned railway operator. Saft is enabling SNCF to migrate its entire fleet of over 200 TER 2N NG (doubledecker new generation) trainsets to nickel-based batteries that offer, it says, improved performance and reliability over a long service life.

Ceres signs JDA with Honda to develop fuel cell stacks Ceres Power Holdings has signed a new joint development agreement to jointly develop solid oxide fuel cell stacks using Ceres Power’s so-called ‘steel cell’ technology for a range of potential power equipment applications. The agreement includes a third party that will consider the future mass production scale up of the steel cell technology based on Ceres Power’s manufacturing processes. This two year contract will allow the parties to build upon the successful previous JDA announced in October 2014 and represents a deepening of the relationship between Honda and Ceres Power,” said a Ceres statement.

Researchers develop sodium-ion battery in 18650 format RS2E, a French research network, announced in November that it had managed to produce the first sodium-ion battery in the 18650 format (the industry-grade standard). Sodium batteries are complementary to lithium batteries but also a potential replacement for some specific uses. Sodium is also cheaper than lithium to source. RS2E is a French collaborative effort between national laboratories and industries aimed at improving current generations of

batteries and supercaps. The researchers say the energy density performance (90Wh/kg) is “above our expectations especially considering the excellent cycle life (at least 2,000 charge/discharge cycles).” Jean-Marie Tarascon, director of RS2E and professor at Collège de France said: “the first application, the most obvious, would be grid storage: storing renewable energy, we are talking about a market as big as the EV market.”

Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016 • 21

RESEARCH STATEMENT The use of scrim is known to increase cycle life in flooded batteries. But as these results — validated by the world-famous IEES — show, getting the composite mix right is the key to success. Glatfelter’s Brendan Naughton reports the results.

How a composite scrim laminate can reduce degradation of PAM and so extend EFB cycle life The development and use of enhanced flooded batteries (EFB) in stop-start systems is progressing at rapid pace. One of the key improvements required to make EFB viable is increased cycle life, particularly of the positive plate. Any claim to improve such a property must first pass the litmus test of cost-effectiveness. Seen in that light

one of the promising routes is to apply a scrim material to the surface of the plate in order to reduce the degradation rate of the positive active material during cycling. This particular approach to enhancing battery cycle life is, from a cost point of view, especially attractive. It makes it possible for one product to

play two crucial roles: as pasting paper during the production on the pasting line, and then as a retainer scrim significantly increasing battery cycle life once in operation. Glatfelter has developed a unique composite scrim Dynagrid® NG328 which performs both these functions exceptionally well. The product is a composite laminate made up of two layers, one layer of cellulose fibres adjacent to a layer of polyester (PET) fibres. The unique Glatfelter inclined-wire paper making technology ensures a laminated product with a perfect interface between the two layers of the above mentioned cellulose and PET.

The IEES study

Figure 1: Schematic overview of the manner in which the Dynagrid® NG328 extends battery cycle life

Figure 2: Micrograph of Dynagrid® NG328 in position of lead plate

22 • Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016

In order to evaluate the ability of Dynagrid® NG328 to increase the discharge-charge cycle life a study was performed at the Institute of Electrochemistry and Energy Systems (IEES), a department of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. The investigation was carried out under supervision of Dr Stefan Ruevski with Professor Detchko Pavlov as project adviser. In this article a brief overview is given of the results.

Dynagrid® NG328 scrim (PET based) increased the DOD 50% cycle life at 40°C by more than 40%. This increase is comparable with glass scrim: Dynagrid® NG328 gave an increase of 43%, glass scrim 44%.

RESEARCH STATEMENT PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER Four major conclusions can be reached from this study. • Dynagrid® NG328 scrim (PET based) increased the DOD 50% cycle life at 40°C by more than 40%. This increase is comparable with glass scrim: Dynagrid® NG328 gave an increase of 43%, glass scrim 44%. • Neither scrim is the cause of ultimate battery failure. Both were still functional at the end of the battery cycle life and capable of functioning to a greater number of cycles. The evaluation was carried out using batteries made under carefully controlled conditions at IEES. Four battery configurations were tested; these were: 1) a reference without pasting paper applied; 2) standard pasting paper Dynagrid® 313; 3) composite scrim Dynagrid® NG328; and, 4) a glass-fiber based scrim. Two batteries were produced per configuration, giving a total of eight. A 12V, 44Ah battery, L1 container was chosen for the evaluation program. To evaluate unambiguously the impact of the various pasting papers on the cycle life it is important to ensure that failure of the positive plate is the determining factor. (After all, premature failure of the negative plate would obviously invalidate the experiment.) To achieve the desired designed redundancy of the negative plate, each cell was made using a five negative/ four positive plate cell configuration. Additionally, a conservative utilization factor of 40% was used when calculating the quantity of dry active material needed for the negative plate. IEES performed the manufacture of; lead paste, positive and negative plates and their dry-curing. Produc-

• Visual and SEM analysis of scrim materials show: In the case of Dynagrid® NG 328 the individual fibres are in good condition as evidenced by unchanged fibre diameter. Also fibre to fibre adhesion is still clearly evident at the thermally bonded fibre intersections. This despite the highly oxidative test charging at 16V, 40°C. In the case of glass scrim, the individual fibres are likewise in good condition; however the binder dependent fibre-to-fibre

adhesion is no longer present as the binder dissolves during the course of cycle testing. • The Dynagrid® NG328 scrim reduces the rate of deterioration of electrical properties during discharge-charge cycling. This results in: better C20 capacity retention, improved cold start properties and lower increase of internal resistance during cycling. In all of these properties the effect of Dynagrid® NG 328 was moderately superior to glass scrim.

Neither scrim is the cause of ultimate battery failure. Both were still functional at the end of the battery cycle life and capable of functioning to a greater number of cycles. tion of lead-oxide, the cast lead grids and battery assembly were carried out externally by a commercial battery producer. Battery filling with electrolyte, formation and final concentration adjustment of the electrolyte were performed by IEES.

Some results from the IEES study

The test used to evaluate battery performance was based on the 50% DOD at 40°C as specified in the Volkswagen VE 75073 test protocol. This is a popular test used by many battery producers for doing a first screening of candidate materials prior to performing a full-scale qualification test program when evaluating new battery

designs. In addition to the cycle-life determination, C20 capacity, internal resistance and cold start properties were measured initially, (after battery formation), and at the end of each unit of 120 cycles. Here we report the cycle life data, the C20 capacities and some cold start properties. Table 1 illustrates cycle life as measured using the specified DOD 50% at 40°C test. Both Dynagrid® NG328 and the glass scrim evaluated give comparable improvements in cycle life, 43% and 44% respectively. Hence, it is seems reasonable to speculate that both PET scrim of Dynagrid® NG328 and the glass scrim functioned well in containing the

The Dynagrid® NG328 scrim reduces the rate of deterioration of electrical properties during dischargecharge cycling. This results in: better C20 capacity retention, improved cold start properties and lower increase of internal resistance during cycling.

Reference Dynagrid® 313

Max. no. of cycles

229 218 224 268 324 313 307 336

Ave. no. of cycles


Change per battery -


Change ave.

246 0%

Dynagrid® NG 328 318.5

Glass-scrim 321.5

20% 45% 40% 37% 50%


43% 44%

Table 1: DOD 50% tests at 40°C and schedule of electrical properties tested during cycling test.

Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016 • 23

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On completion of the cycling tests, the condition of plates was examined, here we limit ourselves to reporting the findings concerning the positive plate. As a first step the separator was carefully slit open along each side and folded back to reveal the grid and Initial

C20 Capacity / Ah

48 41 34 27 20 REF-1












Figure 3: The development of the C20 capacity as cycling progresses. Notes: • Prior to cycling indicated by DCHRG IN1, DCHRG IN2 and DCHRG IN3 • After first unit of 120 cycles indicated by DCHRG1 • After second unit of 120 cycles indicated by DCHRG2


8.3 Voltage / V

positive active mass and that ultimate battery failure is due to a progressive degradation of active material. The C20 capacity numbers as in figure 3 exhibit a number of striking features. Firstly, the initial capacities of the eight batteries are very close, which argues for a high uniformity in the manufacture of the battery achieved by IEES. This is an important result for the evaluation as we need to avoid production issues determining the outcome of the investigation. Secondly, the impact of applying a composite scrim such as Dynagrid® NG328 on capacity is immediately visible, the C20 capacity of the reference batteries quickly drops off while the rate of reduction in C20 of the “328” batteries is the lowest. Cold start performance is summarized graphically in figure 4. Clearly cold start performance at -18°C is dependent on the number of cycles. Also, the rate in which the CCA values decrease is dependent on whether or not a scrim was applied. Consequently, the ranking of CCA values changes as the DOD 50% cycle test progresses. The reference batteries show the best initial cold start properties. However, after 120 and 240 cycles it is the batteries with Dynagrid® NG328 which show the best CCA values, this applies both for CCA at EN current of 300A and at CCA DIN current 180A (not reported here). Table 3 illustrates the change in ranking as DOD 50% cycling progresses.



6.0 REF-1



CCA IN1, V t = 10s, 300 A



CCA1, V t = 10s, 300 A




CCA2, V t = 10s, 300 A

Figure 4: Cold cranking ability, EN current Notes: CCA at -18°C • Prior to cycling indicated by CCA IN1 • After first unit of 120 cycles indicated by CCA1 • After second unit of 120 cycles indicated by CCA2

The reference batteries show the best initial cold start properties. However, after 120 and 240 cycles it is the batteries with Dynagrid® NG328 which show the best CCA values

C20 (Ref)


C20 (313)


C20 (NG328)


C20 (GS)

After 120 cycles C20 (NG328)


C20 (GS)


C20 (313)


C20 (Ref)

After 240 cycles C20 (NG328)


C20 (GS)


C20 (313)

Table 2: Changes in the ranking of C20 capacity values as cycling test progresses.


CCA (Ref)




CCA (NG328)


CCA (313)

After 120 cycles

CCA (NG328)




CCA (313)


CCA (Ref)

After 240 cycles

CCA (NG328)




CCA (313)

Table 3: Changes in the ranking of CCA as cycling test progresses

Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016 • 25


Figure 5: (a) Positive plate from the reference battery after removing the separator, shedding is clearly visible (b) Positive plate from Dynagrid® NG328 battery after removing separator, active mass is held in place with material loss through shedding being prevented.

Figure 6: (a) the PET scrim after removal from the positive plate with its structure intact. (b) shows part of the glass scrim, removal was problematic as the fibres have lost their mutual cohesion

positive active mass. From the visual inspection the following observations could be made: • The positive plate of the batteries manufactured without scrim shows extensive disintegration. The PAM has lost its adhesion with the grid, is loose and tends to fall out of the grid on handling. • Positive plate of batteries manufactured with either PET or glass scrim are visually intact. The scrim is in place and supports the PAM in the grid. • On removing the scrim from the surface of the plate the PAM comes loose. These observations are further illustrated in the two images in figure 5. As a second step the scrim itself was examined. On removal of the scrim the following was observed: • The PET scrim is intact; individual fibres appear sound and bonded to each other. This meant that removal of the scrim from the plate surface was easy to do. • Glass scrim is also intact on the plate; however the fibre to fibre adhesion was significantly reduced. Removal of the glass scrim from the plate surface was problematic with the scrim disintegrating once subjected to gentle pulling force. These two observations are illustrated in the pictures in figure 6. Figure 7 shows show the PET fibres to be intact with their diameters unchanged. Also thermal bonding between fibres at their intersection points is clearly evident. Dynagrid® is a registered trademark of Glatfelter

Figure 7 (a) SEM image of the PET fibre side of Dynagrid® NG328 before use, (b) image of PET fibres’ after discharge-charge cycling to end of battery life, magnification 500x

Figure 8: SEM image of the glass fibre scrim before (a) and after (b) testing, magnification 1000x

26 • Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016

Brendan Naughton has been business development manager for the past three years at Glatfelter for electrical markets where his primary focus is on energy storage and transmission. He says: “I delight in the opportunity to explore the many battery chemistries out there and find novel ways to improve performance which we can exploit together with our customers.”



© 2014 Ecobat Technologies Ltd. Supersoft and Supersoft Ultra are registered trademarks of Ecobat Technologies Ltd. All rights reserved.

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PARC offers new BMS sensing system using fibre-optic testing PARC, in collaboration with LG Chem Power,has launhed the successful initial module-level testing of SENSOR, a fibre-optic sensing battery management system, with initial focus on hybrid and electric vehicles (xEVs). SENSOR

is an acronym: it stands for Smart Embedded Network of Sensors with an Optical Readout. The project is funded under the US Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) within the

An early prototype of the SENSOR

Advanced Management and Protection of Energy Storage Devices (AMPED) programme. The SENSOR system uses PARC’s wavelengthshift detection technology with its machine learning and sensor network for real-time performance management and optimized battery design to enable cheaper, lighter, and more reliable battery packs. Capabilities range from accurately inferring cell state and health information to predicting remaining life. The resulting commercial xEV-grade battery module with embedded optical sensors and readout unit has undergone industry-standard initial validation.

Electro Standards Laboratories releases supercap UPS model Electro Standards Laboratories, a US research consultancy, announced mid-October that it had expanded its range of super capacitors to include the Model 1026 Uninterruptable Power Supply (SCups). The Model 1026 SCUPS consists of supercaps designed to

provide backup DC power to a nominal 12V DC system in the event that the primary power supply is interrupted. The Model 1026 automatically detects loss of primary power and DC power is then supplied from the SCups. Once the primary power is restored, it is routed to

28 • Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016

the load and used to recharge the supercaps in the SCups. The use of supercaps for energy storage provides a very low maintenance solution with extremely high cycle life and without the shelf life concerns of typical battery backup systems. “The SCups is perfect for low power remote systems where primary power can be interrupted,” the firm says. “Typical applications include remote locations with intermittent grid power or renewable energy systems such as solar powered systems. The SCups is easily integrated into user equipment or can be supplied in a standalone package.”

“Over the last three years our multi-disciplinary team, has brought together ideas from different fields to pioneer a new sensing option using fibre optics, low-cost readouts, and smart algorithms for next-generation battery management systems,” says Ajay Raghavan, PARC research area manager and principal investigator leading the effort. “We’ve demonstrated promising proof-of-concept results in the lab with lithium-ion batteries at the celland module-level, demonstrating 2.5% or better cell state and health information accuracy across various xEV use-cases. “We’re eager to take the SENSOR technology to the next level partnering with OEMs for further hardening, validation, and transitioning this to fielded xEVs, as well as to explore its applicability for other energy and structural systems.” PARC says it will initiate independent testing and further validation in larger xEV modules and packs in partnership with major OEMs, partly supported by follow-on funding from ARPA-E. In parallel, PARC continues its work on hardening its SENSOR technology for field deployment and efficient scaling for battery and other energy systems. The demonstration of a complete battery sensor prototype includes new fibre optic sensing elements, a design to cost-effectively integrate hair-thin optical fibres into battery cells and packs, a compact optical read-out unit to measure the signals, and the intelligent algorithms that can make sense of the measurements to effectively control the battery.

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How to survive in ‘the most restless industry on earth’

The battery industry may appear slow moving but the undercurrents of the business sector run deep — and fast. Philip Moorcroft examines why some of the industry’s biggest US firms have survived so long, why some are just old brand names and what can we all do to stay ahead.

30 • Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016

COVER STORY: CORPORATE LONGEVITY The rumours of take-over talks last September between Johnson Controls and EnerSys were yet another sign that more changes in the battery business were ahead. If it happens that is. The unblinking silence from both players tells one story. But insider talk in January — which Batteries International has been privy too — suggests that a very different account is going on. And, whether this is JCI’s interest in EnerSys’s stationery power divisions or parts of its European business, it means sudden change is just around the corner, And while the rumour mill was busy turning, JCI quietly announced that it was buying Tyco, a fire security firm, for $16.5 billion — effectively using a huge chunk of its warchest for expansion, But as some analysts told this magazine — a much larger point remains. And that’s this. For the last two generations the pace of change within the lead acid battery industry has been rapid — and, if anything, the pace could well be increasing. Oddly enough to the industry outsider, the lead-acid battery sector appears traditional and unchanging. Stodgy and boring, even. It’s an image problem that dates back to 1859, Gaston Planté and the oldest rechargeable

battery, and a chemistry that — on the surface anyway — has largely remained unchanged. But as one industry commentator told Batteries International, “the fact is the opposite — this is one of the most restless industries on earth. Not even the airline business can compare with the changes we see year-on-year in this part of the energy sector.” That may seem like hyperbole but compare the solid images of the industry leaders and the actuality. Take three US battery giants as an example. Johnson Controls has a history that spans just over 130 years. Founded in 1885 by inventor Warren Seymour Johnson and businessman William Plankinton, the company operates in

The brand Exide — EXcellent oxIDE — here advertised in a 1918 motoring magazine, Horseless Age

It’s staggering to think that in 1930 Americans owned more than 78% of the world’s automobiles. And, of course, every car in the world needed a battery.

The Model T Ford assembly line, the first affordable mass produced car — but also the vehicle that sparked the birth of the battery industry

Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016 • 31

COVER STORY: CORPORATE LONGEVITY 150 countries and has developed a wide range of technologies and energy solutions. Today it is probably the most important automotive battery firm on the planet. Its hold on the stop-start battery market is huge and appears to be growing. But the surprise fact to those that entered the business recently, all that happened just over a generation ago — 1978 to be exact — when it merged with Globe-Union, then the largest battery maker in the US. It then seemed unstoppable. By the late 1980s onwards this conglomerate played overseas in a huge way. Varta’s operations in Canada, its plant in Mexico, its operations in China, a joint venture in South America all date from this time. Then there’s East Penn, not quite as old but its history is no less distinguished. Started in 1946 as the brainchild of the Breidegam family, DeLight Jr, a young US Air Force veteran, founded the business with his father. It now has more than 8,000 employees, 450 product designs, and hundreds

“It is like sending grandma into the woods. Making radical cuts to staff is very personal. We know the staff and the customers and their families — they’re your friends. It is a very difficult decision to make and then execute swiftly.” of awards for manufacturing and environmental excellence. Perhaps less well known is the way that it created a series of battery fits to expand its US distribution. Think of the acquisitions of Federal Battery, Batteries Unlimited, Taylor Battery, Holderfield Battery and you see the famous Deka branding and logo marching across North America. Again it’s just a generation ago. And of course in recent years it’s bought the automotive arm of Douglas Battery Manufacturing and its bold move into advanced lead with the partnership, and eventual acquisition of Ecoult. And even Exide Technologies — despite its troubled times over the last

decade — is also a giant and boasts a rich history spanning more than 120 years in the battery business. Exide’s predecessor corporation was the Electric Storage Battery Company, founded in 1888. For the next century Exide’s growth was both organic — its products were used by the US military due to their quality — but also by its acquisitions. For most of the time — the exception being its venture into nickel-iron batteries when it took over the Edison Storage Battery Company — it had an uncanny ability to buy the right companies to make the right fits. In 1938 it acquired the Giant Storage Battery Company, and moved into the battery charging and testing


A bunch of smaller lead acid pioneers are already snapping at the heels of the already established major players. They’re fleet of foot —typically in size they have under 40 employees — but are already creating waves. • Energy Power Systems. Using what it calls Planar Layered Matrix technology the firm says its AGM battery offers 2000 cycles with 80% DOD, 300,000 cycles for start/stop applications and 5,000 cycles with 40% SOC swing at partial SOC. •  Advanced Battery Concepts is producing a bipolar advanced lead

acid battery with a brand called GreenSeal which it says reduces the lead content of a traditional lead acid battery by 46%.

supercapacitor technology with the concentrated energy of a lead-acid battery in its UltraBattery and offers huge numbers of PSOC cycles.

• Gridtential has introduced its • Axion Power, with over a decade Silicon Joule Battery. The firm say of history behind it, this firm is still the advanced architecture and struggling to commercialise its PbC materials will provide up to 2x faster battery which offers extended rapid discharge at the same efficiency, 2x PSOC cycling greater available energy at the same • Another one to watch should weight, and 2x life improvement at include High Water Innovations, 80% depth-of-charge compared where battery veterans George with traditional lead-acid batteries. Brilmyer and Mike Gilchrist will • Ecoult, a more established firm shortly be revealing more about than the others and owned by their new-design battery which is lead acid manufacturer East Penn, close to doubling the power of a combines the fast charge from standard lead acid battery.

Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016 • 33


Commoditization — where a product is rarely differentiated on its brand name and product capabilities but on its price — has been a recurrent theme of at least two generations of the battery business. Despite huge efforts to maintain brand names, the general public continue to see most of them as a commodity. “The problem was a simple one,” says one commentator. “While brands of products such as toothpaste could differentiate themselves by what they had to offer, whiteness, hygiene and the like, the automotive battery was soon accepted as simply the thing that started the car. “Battery firms at the time tried to resist this by promoting the excellence of their brands but they could never make much headway with the general public. The result was that the key

The US context

differentiator was price and economies of scale combined with efficient distribution were some of the first to go to the wall or be snapped up by other firms.” Perhaps the only firms that could differentiate themselves were ones away from the core market — think Trojan and the way it created and scooped up the entire golf cart market. Think Gates with its sealed batteries. The odd thing is that this conservative market was well ahead of the game of many other business sectors.

“In the past, the business case for sustainability centred around ‘business as usual’ factors such as cost saving, reputation, hiring the best people, risk management, and resource efficiency. But it is now clear that business as usual is not enough to meet the sustainability challenges the world faces? business. In 1957 it bought the RayO-Vac Company, the then second largest producer of dry-cell batteries in the US. Not long after it took over the Wisconsin Battery Company, allowing it to produce motorcycle and specialty batteries. In a confusion of names — but showing how tempestuous and quick changing the industry is — in 1987 it took over General Battery Corporation which had been in a joint venture with Yuasa Battery Japan for the previous decade. The joint venture continued — Exide Battery Corporation/Yuasa then bought Exide’s industrial division to form Yuasa Inc four years later. (And which got sold off in a management

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But this long genealogical story has two points. First, Exide went into Chapter 11 because it couldn’t service some $2.5 billion of debt, most of which had come about from its acquisitions. The second is that, images of aged respectability aside, the battery business has been at the cusp of change for at least a generation. (And probably the one before too.)

buy-out to form EnerSys nine years later!) Further acquisitions giving Exide access to world famous brands such as Sonnenschein were to follow but, it bit off more than it could chew when it bought GNB Technologies in 2000. GNB though based in the US and originally founded in Minnesota — was part of an Australian group Pacific Dunlop. It was its both inability to digest GNB and service its debts that sent it into its first period of Chapter 11 bankruptcy. GNB which had extensive operations in Japan and China also provided Exide with the motive power division it needed when it had sold it off to form Yuasa.

The US has always had a different business culture from almost everywhere else in the globe, in that businesses can compete — and more importantly grow — without some of the major handicaps other regions have. Typically these are such things as language differences, cross-border distribution difficulties and uncertain financial and fiscal rules. US regional accents may be pronounced even to outsiders but they are no match to the relative homogeneity of the US against, say, the similar economic bulk of the European Union with its 23 official languages — and 60 others spoken regionally — within its 28 member countries. The business culture, moreover, has always been fiercely competitive. The American dream may be based on good ideas, strong marketing and hard work but it’s also battling to make one’s idea a success. The American dream was associated with a deep respect, even love, for technology — the way of leaping over others to reach new markets. According to the academic Robert Gordon the 1930s in the US were the most productive decade in terms of the number of inventions and patents granted relative to the size of the economy. Car ownership changed from 2% of the population in 1912 to 90% of families by 1930. It’s staggering to think that in 1930 Americans owned more than 78% of the world’s automobiles. And, of course, every car in the world needed a battery. The battery industry rose to that challenge and, at its peak, there were some 300 firms making automotive batteries.

The four generations of battery business

The first iteration of the automobile and battery boom was a simple one. The business — and many of these early businesses were very small indeed — would need to prove success-

COVER STORY: CORPORATE LONGEVITY But the surprise fact to those that entered the business recently is that JCI only became a battery market player — 1978 to be exact — when it merged with Globe-Union, then the largest battery maker in the US. ful in its local area. For some firms, this needed to be only its major city, such as Detroit, for others it would be at a state level. Broadly speaking — and it has to be broad given the range of battery firms that came and went as well as not all battery firms fit so neatly into this — this covers the 1910s to the early 1940s. The second generation of the business, to be successful, would seek to expand its sales area across the US: the marketing and distribution network grew with the industry. The logic for its expansion was as basic as its transport links. The first paved roads that could be called a highway in California, for example, didn’t exist until the 1910s when finance was raised to construct a road linking San Francisco down to San Diego. (Interestingly enough the Good Roads Movement in the 1880s1920s onwards was promoted by cyclists!) The construction of the Lincoln Highway in 1913 (now US Route 30), and the first transcontinental highway in the world, opened up a larger America just as the battery business started to boom with the arrival of the car. In theory this meant that the theme of a common language and common legal system (nuances of state law aside) underpinned the ability of firms to transplant one successful business model from, say, the Atlantic seaboard to the Pacific. But in practice this large migration of sales and business hardly happened before the second world war. Again it’s hard to find anyone wanting to commit to dates for this second generation as battery firms. The dates for this stretch overlap from the early 1930s to the late 1970s. The basis for the third generation of battery business was mostly the same for the second — better transport links and better distribution. If there was an overlay to this there were the leaps and bounds of better telecommunications, internally to be sure but more importantly internationally. Specifically, however, it was the astonishing growth of aviation in the 1960s onwards. The free international movement of trade — the phenome-

non later termed as “globalization” — was starting to open up new markets, mostly for the first time, in developing countries as well as developed ones. At the same time the arrival of containerization for shipping goods — including heavy lead acid batteries — opened up distribution networks with increasing ease. But they took a long time coming. The first commercial container ship carried 58 containers between Newark in New Jersey to Houston, Texas in 1955. But it took a further decade before legal wrangling within the US — mostly because of union concerns over potential job losses — allowed international trade to happen. The first commercial service between the US and Rotterdam in the Netherlands only happened in 1966. Nowadays, roughly 90% of non-bulk cargo is carried internationally in container ships. This present international battery business is poised roughly at the cusp of this third iteration and the next one. Cross-border deals between battery firms have never been new but this third generation seemed to kick off in the 1970s and is mostly with us to this day.

Next generation battery business

As with every leap from battery generation to generation, survival is a question of adaption — finding out what are the new drivers for business success. What is clear too is such corporate longevity is feasible in an industry that is now changing more rapidly than ever before. The new marketing platform — the internet — has already challenged existing marketing and distribution thinking. It would also be fair to say that although some aspects of the internet age have arrived for the battery Rival chemistries and technological advancements and emerging all the time driven by a range of factors including an urgent need for more environmentally friendly products and better energy storage. Unfortunately for the lead players all under the aegis of successive administrations that believe that lead is old-fashioned and yesterday’s chemistry.

US CORPORATES — NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK The lifespan of companies globally is diminishing rapidly. Statistics from the US, compiled by Vicki TenHaken, a professor of management at Hope College in Holland, in the US state of Missouri, illustrate this in stark terms. Her research shows that the average age of companies on the S&P 500 share index — one of the most used US stockmarket gauges of corporate worth — dropped by nearly 50 years since the 1950s: the average age of a company in the S&P 500 in 1958 was 61 years; this decreased to 25 years in 1980, was just 18 years in 2012 and 15 years in 2013. Today, less than 1% of all companies operating in the US are over 100 years old.

Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016 • 35

COVER STORY: CORPORATE LONGEVITY “The fact is that the battery business is one of the most restless industries on earth — not even the airline business can compare with the changes we see year-on-year in this sector”

The Douglas DC-3 had a range of 1,500 miles (2,400 km) and revolutionized air transport in the 1930s and 1940s. In two hops it could take passengers from the Pacific to the Atlantic seaboards

Richard Foster, executive in residence at Yale Entrepreneurial Institute and a specialist in the subject of corporate longevity, says the principle of corporate longevity is particularly interesting for industries going through periods of rapid change. Indeed, this stems from the fact that one of the secret ingredients of corporate longevity is having the luck to be operating in a sector that changes little. “There are certain industries that have developed to become critical parts of society,” Foster says. “In turn, in some of these sectors, a small number of large corporations come to dominate, that ultimately grow old. The oil industry and many areas of consumer goods, such as soap, for instance, are both good examples of this model. “These are products that have been around for a very long time and they will tend to be dominated by the incumbent players until they are disrupted in some way. The other thing favouring corporate longevity is where these are industries that also benefit from economies of scale.” Foster’s comment about “until they are disrupted” will strike a chord with many in the industry given current market dynamics, however. The batteries industry is going through a period of change and an acceleration of the development of technologies. But the question is does this represent a critical point in the market

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and a test for its established incumbent players? It is perhaps an obvious statement to say that companies that last for a long time also succeed because they are able to adapt. This is not always easy, however, Foster says. Truly shifting a business model is much easier said than done, thus partly explaining the much shorter lifespan of companies in the S&P 500 these days. “The fact is that any company can keep going with no change to its business model, but there are fewer cases where companies have been able to adjust and adapt to something new,” he says. He cites the example of Exxon Mobil, a company that can trace its roots to 1859 and which dominates parts of the petrochemical industry, but which has failed to become a leader in renewable energy technologies, despite several attempts. Such instances are not necessarily the fault of management, he says. One of the challenges of running a big and successful company is that they are perceived as being important is that they also attract high levels of interest from governments, regulators, which can hinder their ability to innovate, while also funding it difficult to attract new and innovative new talent, which will be attracted to newer companies and sectors elsewhere. This may ring true with many executives in the batteries industry. “As these industries get older and

more influential, they attract increasing interest from the public sector and sometimes have to endure large battles, in the courts and otherwise, that can be costly and slow them down,” Foster says. “They will likely be big employers and also seen as being of strategic importance to the country’s economy. So they become both more heavily regulated and less able to attract top talent — a combination that clearly hinders innovation.” Even without such external distractions, however, it is still not easy for large companies to change strategic direction and innovate. Foster says that the first reason for this is simply that most companies are simply too focused on managing and controlling their existing operations. Innovation often sits at odds with this. The second reason is that in order for true innovation to occur, companies must also close, reduce or walk away from some of their existing activities. “It is very important for companies to constantly eliminate parts of their operations — otherwise they constantly spend too much time trying to save parts of the business that are diminishing,” he says. “But this is something that is very hard to do. It is not something you see on the curriculum in business school, for instance. It is something that very few companies do well. “There are many reasons for this. Sentiment is a big issue. There is an

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COVER STORY: CORPORATE LONGEVITY PREDICTING LONG LIFE — THE ACADEMIC VIEW In one of the most extended studies of its kind, Vicki TenHaken, a professor of management at Hope College, has done comprehensive research into the issue of corporate longevity. In a paper called ‘Building Endurance: Common Practices of Companies in Business for Over One Hundred Years’, which she produced with Makoto Kanda of Meiji Gakuin University, Japan, she sought out the qualities that help companies last longer. In an attempt to find out what is it that allows some companies defy the odds and endure through the decades, TenHaken conducted a two pronged study. Her starting point was a country renowned for its corporate longevity: Japan. Several of the oldest known continuously operating companies in the world are Japanese, with seven having been founded prior to AD1000. (The oldest is Japanese construction firm Kongo Gumi which dates back to AD578.) She then tested the same theoretical model on companies in the US that have been in operation for over 100 years. Her starting point was a previous study done in Japan (Iwasaki & Kanda, 1996), which developed a theoretical longevity model consisting of five factors old companies believed gave them a unique position

leading to their longevity. These factors were: the management of corporate identity and culture; the management of core strengths; the management of business relationships; the management of employee relationships; and the management of community relationships. Based on this theoretical longevity model, a survey containing 125 questions was developed using a Likert-type scale to find out attitudes. This questionnaire was sent to the 7,000 privately owned, small to medium-sized companies in the Chuo ward of Tokyo, Japan, to see if the older companies did, indeed, engage in the practices described in the model. To test the framework for its cultural relevance outside Japan, the same survey was also sent to 282 US companies over 100 years old. TenHaken says the research confirmed that the common practices identified among old companies in

One of the secret ingredients of corporate longevity is having the luck to be operating in a sector that changes little.

Kongo Gumi employees a century ago. The Japanese construction company is still the world’s oldest trading company, operating from AD578 to date but since 2006 has become a subsidiary of Takamatsu.

38 • Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016

Japan are very different from those engaged in by younger companies and that such values and practices are not culturally specific to Japan. TenHaken says, US firms were significantly more likely to employ many of the practices than were their Japanese counterparts. “Many of the significant behaviours exhibited by the old companies have to do with building long-term relationships with their constituents — with employees, with business partners, and with their communities,” she says. She says that such values and the idea that a company has obligations beyond making a financial return for owners or investors, is reflective of developments in stakeholder theory, described as “obtaining a competitive advantage through the development of close-knit ties with a broad range of internal and external constituencies. “The old companies practise a mutual learning form of stakeholder theory in which a company utilizes the interdependency of the firm and its stakeholders to understand each other’s needs, combine resources, and find solutions to create value for all parties involved. This concept of shared value has recently been described as the next evolution of capitalism “Companies that have thrived for over 100 years have been successfully practicing this form of capitalism that creates shared value. In addition to having a clear sense of purpose for the firm and a way of building on core competencies in a way that carefully balances tradition and change, this ability to involve a wide group of constituents in caring about the success of the firm seems to have a very real effect on the firm’s ability to survive.”

COVER STORY: CORPORATE LONGEVITY The construction of the Lincoln Highway in 1913 (now US Route 30), and the first transcontinental highway in the world, opened up a larger America just as the battery business started to boom with the arrival of the car.

The Lincoln Highway — the so-called ‘Main Street’ for the US from the 1920s onwards

emotional component to it. Closing a business unit, making people redundant, is hard. People enjoy falling in love, but they find it hard to break up. It is the same with starting businesses and innovating versus closing businesses. “It is like sending grandma into the woods. Making radical cuts to staff is very personal. We know the staff and the customers and their families — they’re your friends. It is a very difficult decision to make and then execute swiftly.” Yet innovation cannot easily thrive without this ruthless willingness to cut dead wood, Foster says. “The fact is, while the older, more established companies are grappling with all this, newer companies and start-ups have no such concerns. “They are completely focused on whatever new innovation or technological breakthrough is about to change an industry. It is much easier to change from outside a large company than from within it. They are able to move swiftly and decisively and that is

why older and more established firms will often get left behind.” In what is clearly a rapidly changing industry, some of the stalwarts of the sector might do well to pay heed to this warning, says Foster. Not that some of the biggest lead acid battery companies are not innovative — the question could be, can they adapt quickly enough and let go of the past? For established firms this has become ever more important given that making batteries has become a more

commoditized business than ever before. Although there are clear differences between the quality of say certain battery products, overall the standardization of batteries has meant that price — and margin — have become the key indicator for sales. Brand reputation has become less of a factor. The result has been that Asia, principally China but also India, has been able to use cheaper labour to bring products down in price. Asia, as a region, produces around two-thirds of

Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016 • 39

Dross Engineering

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COVER STORY: CORPORATE LONGEVITY The odds are stacked against the older incumbent players in industries undergoing rapid change. They simply cannot react swiftly enough no matter how hard they try compared with smaller, younger companies with fewer commitments and distractions.

“Many of the significant behaviours exhibited by the old companies have to do with building longterm relationships with their constituents — with employees, with business partners, and with their communities” — Vicki TenHaken, Hope College

the world’s automotive batteries. Certainly some firms have already bitten the bullet and opted for change. A classic example is Trojan Batteries, a family firm established by George Godber in 1925 that enjoyed a rapid but steady growth from its Californian roots to become a household US brand and later an international presence for its deep cycle batteries. But one thing the firm lacked was the deep pockets to adapt its business model to the rapid changes in energy provision worldwide. Investment was needed in research and marketing to keep ahead. For Trojan the only way to do this meant changing from being a family owned business to letting outside investment in. In July 2013 the Godber family sold off some of its shareholdings to private equity firm Charlesbank. Jeff Elder, Trojan’s CEO, later told Batteries International that the future business development of the firm is set to change following the decision. “By 2025 I expect that Trojan will clearly be identified as a global energy storage solutions company, not just a battery company,” he says.

“The recent partnership with Charlesbank through its majority share investment in Trojan is opening up even more opportunities for us to expand globally into new markets such as renewable energy, remote telecom and transportation, as well as into new geographies including India, Southeast Asia and Africa. “It is exciting to see a business that started as a battery repair shop turn into a global energy storage solutions provider.”

Leading the way

Good leadership can make a difference, Foster says, though this is often only enough to see a company through one disruptive period of rapid change. Companies that last to around the hundred year mark will have many people at their reins over their lifespan — only favourable market dynamics can ensure their long term survival rather than being lucky enough to have a visionary as a leader every time the landscape shifts. A fresh approach can help a company, however, as they are less prone to emotional attachment to parts of a

Distribution and marketing were the key drivers of growth for the first three iterations of the US battery industry. Exploiting the internet to the full will be key to survival of the next generation of business

Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016 • 41


“By 2025 I expect that Trojan will clearly be identified as a global energy storage solutions company, not just a battery company” — Jeff Elder, Trojan Battery Company business that may need closing down, paving the way for innovation. “An outsider can be impartial unsentimental and act without remorse,” Foster says. “They can often also make tough decisions quickly and decisively when needed.” Oddly enough this has its converse. Family-owned firms such as East Penn and Wirtz Manufacturing, for example, tend to prove the opposite. Loyalty to employees is matched by loyalty to the management and the result is better labour relations, a willingness to help out in more difficult times, and greater flexibility. In the case of Wirtz, which makes the machinery for battery manufacturers, the senior staff, aside from the family, have been with the firm on average around 30 years. The VP of product development has even worked with three generations of the family and is still helping push out new patented processes. Two of its latest innovations include a patented procedure for texturizing while cutting , robotic plate stacking via suction cups

“The lesson to be learnt from firms that are still growing strongly such as Trojan, East Penn and Wirtz — where senior management has been in place for some time — is that decisionmaking doesn’t have to become fossilized over time,” said one industry commentator. “If the corporate culture is innately entrepreneurial, then other factors such as experience kick in too.” Foster argues that the odds are stacked against the older incumbent players in industries undergoing rapid change. They simply cannot react swiftly enough no matter how hard they try compared with smaller, younger companies with fewer commitments and distractions. A classic example of this is Exide Technologies which has gone through Chapter 11, a US form of bankruptcy that effectively allows it to trade while insolvent, twice since 2002. Part of the problem has been the sheer size of its operations. Craig Irwin, a senior vice president and analyst at Wedbush speaking to Batteries International at the time of Exide’s previous descent into Chapter 11 in 2013 said a turnaround was possible. The key, he believed, lay in separating out the distinct parts of the business and ensuring that each was run on its own merit and to performance indicators relevant to its function. Another analyst took a similar tack saying that its size was the problem and that the business focus needed to be directed to selling off anything ancillary to the core product. Another problem associated with size has historically been one of finding the right competence of senior management. “The fact is there are not a huge number of senior executives capable of running a company of this complexity,” said an analyst. “They need to be innovative and constantly predict what effect decisions they make now will have on future earnings while also moving with markets trends and technologies. There are simply not a huge number of individuals capable of that. “Moreover the approach has to be

It was Exide Technologies’ inability to digest GNB and service its debts that sent it into its first period of Chapter 11 bankruptcy — the acquisition was strategically clever in terms of a fit but cash flow dumb in that it was not sustainable 42 • Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016

collaborative. Famous tales such as Hollywood movie mogul Jack Warner used to win arguments by pointing out of his window at the studio sign that read Warner Brothers and saying, ‘whose name is that?’ have little place in corporate culture any longer.” The conclusion is certainly not brain blowing but important all the same: corporate longevity is inextricably tied to the relationship between company size and diversity and the ability of the highest management to juggle the pieces in play.


Perhaps the industry’s older players shouldn’t be despondent. Or not just yet. First, the extent of change in the markets can be debated and many have moved to capitalise on new trends in technology. But, more importantly perhaps, some experts believe companies open to change can adapt. Vicki TenHaken, a professor of management at Hope College in the US state of Michigan, has done comprehensive research into the issue of corporate longevity. In a paper called ‘Building Endurance: Common Practices of Companies in Business for Over One Hundred Years’, she uses the human lifespan, which has increased by 80% in the past century, as an analogy to argue that companies can adjust too. “Humans have learned what behaviours increase longevity: a balanced diet, regular exercise, monitoring blood pressure and cholesterol, etc. If the life expectancy of a person can increase through the identification of longevity factors, perhaps a company’s can as well,” she says. “A necessary first step is for companies to decide they want to be in business for a long time. If young companies today decide this is a desirable goal, they should consider the longevity practices described in this paper. “Though these practices correlate with longevity, they are not proven to be causal. Companies still need good strategies and leaders need to make good decisions if a company is to survive for the long run. The practices described in the longevity model are, nevertheless, behaviours that can enhance the work life of people in the firm and gain loyalty to a company from employees, customers, suppliers, and their local communities — as well as increase the probability of a firm’s long term success.”

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PROFILE: AQUA METALS Lead — as we’ve been told countless times — is the most recycled metal on the planet. But reclaiming it by smelting is energy-intensive, expensive and, worldwide, frequently a dirty and polluting process. An alternative may soon be on offer. Batteries International reports.

The next step forward for lead recycling Lead smelting recycling without the smelting? That’s what Aqua Metals, a Californian start-up, promises to provide later this year. If achievable then there could be huge benefits — and a huge shake-up — for the entire lead battery industry. The idea, as such, isn’t new; this hydrometallurgical chemistry dates back to the very earliest days of electrolysis. But so far this has never been commercially practical. And many have believed that this will always be the case. However, independent analysts and equally cynical investors, now say the opposite is true. Maggie Teliska, the head of independent testing firm, RyanTel, conducted a review for the US

Department of Agriculture — one of the guarantors of a project loan from Green Bank to build the first commercial plant — and confirmed the validity of Aqua Metals’ technology and business. “Initially I was not just sceptical but deeply sceptical about this,” she told Batteries International. “But as I conducted the technical feasibility study and saw the hydrometallurgical process in action, I saw that this was not just viable but real and even had a genius quality to it.” Teliska whose doctorate in physical chemistry is particularly relevant, has signed a non-disclosure document barring her from revealing the details. That said she told the magazine that

she had gone through the paperwork to validate areas such as the finances and the business and distribution model. “I can vouch that the costs, sales and revenue projections add up,” she said. Perhaps, most importantly she validated the fact that the refining process was scalable. On the basis of her recommendations, the USDA Rural Development Agency is guaranteeing 90% of a $10 million commercial loan from Green Bank. Aqua Metals has also been endorsed by investors who though hampered by the NDA could legitimise to Batteries International what Aqua Metals is doing. “We’ve seen the technology in ac-

Breaking ground — Tahoe, Nevada: (left to right), Cary Richardson, EVP, Miles Construction; Brad Streelman, CEO, Battery Systems; Dan Landry, partner; Liquid Venture Partners; Bob Clifford, partner, Liquid Venture Partners; Ankur Desai, partner; Liquid Venture Partners; Thomas Murphy, CFO, Aqua Metals; Stephen Clarke, CEO, Aqua Metals; Herb Shedd, USDA; Steve Cotton, CCO, Aqua Metals; Eric Johnson, North Avenue Investments; Sarah Adler, USDA; Michael King, head of engineering, Aqua Metals; Unidentified; Marshall McBride, chairman, Storey County Board of Commissioners; and Selwyn Mould, COO, Aqua Metals

44 • Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016

PROFILE: AQUA METALS “Aqua Metals’ technology has the capability to change the global lead acid battery recycling industry. It offers a lower operating cost structure, and a lower recycling volume requirement, allowing all battery manufacturers to control the availability and cost of their lead. Every battery manufacturer should consider the Aqua Metals technology in their long term strategy” tion, have validated it with industry experts and believe that it is immediately scalable,” said Michael Cahill, founder of investment firm Crispin Capital Management, which has taken a long position in Aqua Metals. “Aqua Metals may currently have a small market capitalization [the total value of all the issued shares], but we could see it being worth $1 billion in the not-so-distant future. “The ability to build an Aqua Metals modular facility next to a battery collection centre — removing the need for moving spent batteries to distant, expensive smelting centres — is a compelling business case that could witness mass adoption worldwide. Given the large market opportunity, it also would not surprise me to see a larger battery company try to acquire Aqua Metals” Aqua Metals was formed in 2013

by Stephen Clarke, Selwyn Mould and Thomas Murphy, three figures who had already been working together for many years on energy storage technology including flow and bipolar lead acid batteries. What they’ve brought to the market is a recycling process which they’ve trademarked as AquaRefining. AquaRefining is a variant of electrorefining or electrowinning — the two are not interchangeable processes — but at their very simplest they are a kind of electroplating. The idea, as such isn’t new this hydrometallurgical chemistry dates back to the very earliest days of electrolysis. However, applying it to extracting lead on a commercial basis — and proving it viable — is new. In the late 2000s — Doe Run Company, the international lead and mining giant, working with Italian firm

“But as I conducted the technical feasibility study and saw the hydrometallurgical process in action, I saw that this was not just viable but real and even had a genius quality to it”

Engitec, looked at a similar process and announced in 2010 with great fanfare that it was going to be a gamechanger for the industry. Doe Run’s technology used a wet chemical process to selectively dissolve lead concentrates into solution, then it extracted lead from the solution using an electric current. (The electrowinning process is similar to the technology used to extract zinc from concentrates, but had never been used in primary lead production.) As a self-contained process, the activating solution is recycled back into the process indefinitely. However, Doe Run’s plans never materialized — the $150 million the company initially sought to take the process commercial was never raised. The figure was dropped to $100 million but the firm decided in 2012 that the investment was too risky. At the end of 2013 Doe Run shut its main smelting operation in Herculaneum, in the US state of Missouri following pressure from the Environmental Protection Agency and a $65 million fine for previous violations. If Aqua Metals’ product is commercially viable, then AquaRefining has the potential to be a game changer for the industry. Aqua Metals will not release further details of its intellectual property — see box — but it is more than likely that a pulp of crushed batteries would be introduced into the electrolytic process. This might be in spongy form to provide the surface area need for precipitation of lead to occur.

A bank consists of 3 electrolyzer units and is a skid mountable, shippable building block — two banks = one module

Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016 • 45


The successful IPO of Aqua Metals last summer

The firm said it believes too much detail would give commercial advantage to potential competitors (see boxed item below). Aqua Metals’ chief commercial officer, Steve Cotton, told Batteries International that in all there are a host of related patents pending. However, it is certain that the solvent is different from the tetrafluoroboric acid used by Doe Run. Fluoroboric acid is as corrosive as nitric acid. Cotton says AquaRefining uses harmless chemicals in the refining process. There are four immediate business positives to Aqua Metals’ refining process. The first is that AquaRefining appears to be far more efficient than smelting. The amount of energy needed to be input into the system is smaller —

RECYCLING LEAD BATTERIES: A SMELTING OVERVIEW Smelting is the only commercial process for recycling lead. It is an old and inefficient thermal reduction process technically difficult and expensive to bring into compliance with increasingly stringent environmental standards. Smelters produce virtually all the world’s mined and recycled lead. Smelting is an inefficient, energy intensive and often highly polluting process. At its core, smelting is a high temperature (typically above 750°C/1400°F) chemical reduction process where lead compounds are heated and then reacted with reducing agents to remove the oxygen and sulfur, leaving behind lead. The chemical reactions are endothermic, which means that heat must be continually supplied to replace the energy consumed by the reduction processes. In smelting, 5% to 15% of the lead is lost as slag and the lead produced typically contains 2% or more of impurities. Smelting is only cost effective at large scale, typically for more than 200 tonnes of lead per day. In addition to the high costs and inefficiencies associated with smelting, it generates large volumes of toxic solid, liquid, particulate and gaseous waste. In developed countries, there is both increased environmental regulation and enforcement of such, including

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monitoring of permissible blood lead levels in employees and local populations. In the US, in particular, many smelters have been forced to close because of environmental compliance. While some more modern smelters seek to comply with environmental and safety standards, they face elevated capital and operating costs as a result. Meanwhile there has been a drift of recycling capacity and operations into countries and regions with lower environmental and labour standards and weaker levels of enforcement. Lead smelting is consistently ranked as the third highest polluting industry in the world. Historically, lead acid battery recycling required: • Breaking and separation equipment • Effluent treatment systems • Bunkers with loose lead paste and materials dried before charging the furnaces • Rotary or blast furnaces for smelting • Lead refining and ingoting equipment • Air filtration systems, and • Paste desulfurization systems. As a brief overview of the recycling process, a battery is broken and separated into four product streams (lead, lead oxide paste, plastics, and electrolyte) within the breaking and separation system.

Historically lead oxide paste is charged in a rotary furnace, with a number of other materials and additives, which produces toxic off gas emissions, dross, and a number of other waste products. Because of these negative byproducts of smelting, the industry is highly environmentally regulated. Environmental regulations and labour safety standards are going to get tougher in developed nations and will be introduced in developing countries as well. These changes will favour clean technologies, such as electrorefining, in preference to smelters and other technologies that produce airborne emissions. High temperature rotary or blast furnaces are the main piece of equipment that has not been advanced by technology over the years. The principle goes back hundreds of years, and this is the dirtiest, and worst part of a recycling operation. There are various shortcomings of rotary furnaces most obviously in that they can produce negative emissions and burn at over 1800°F. Strict environment regulations make it nearly impossible to build a new smelter-base recycling centre in the US. They are also energy intensive and have to stay heated up, even when not smelting as well as requiring a large capital investment along with

PROFILE: AQUA METALS making it cheaper by around a third — and because the process is modular it can be tuned to demand. (As opposed to smelters which typically have to be operated with a high-output to make economic sense.) Lead is also not lost in the slag of smelting, improving the economics as well as vastly reducing the environmental impact of hazardous disposal of the slag. Second, AquaRefining is modular — making this a scalable product. The basic unit (see pictures of the 2013 version and its upgrade in 2014) means that the business model offers a different approach to market. Typically smelting requires the smelter to be built on site and in large size. However, AquaRefining can be located at the hub of any distribution network or battery manufacturing location at a scale that suits the amount of lead bat-

state of the art air filtration systems. They make economic sense when only a large throughput is desired, around 100 tonnes a day is probably around a minimum, but 400 tonnes provides a workable cushion for fluctuations in price Across the globe, lead acid battery recycling facilities have been getting shut down, restricted, and denied permitting to build new or expand operations due to strict environmental regulations, and it will continue to get more strict in the future. The transport of hazardous waste is also an element in the fluctuating market. The Basel Convention on the Control of Trans-boundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal came into force in 1992 with 172 countries signing on to it. It is the most comprehensive global environmental agreement on hazardous and other wastes that strongly influences the market for lead, lead acid batteries and used lead acid batteries. The Basel Convention also establishes limitations on which countries may be recipients of hazardous materials such as used lead acid batteries). However, trade in battery paste is unrestricted and is considered a so-called “product of commerce” undifferentiated from other products. To add to the confusion, while the

2013 prototype and 2014 prototype: Modifications to the 2013 prototype (left) resulted in the commercially replicable prototype used to demonstrate AquaRefining. Source:

“If this technology has been successfully scaled up, then this truly is a game-changer for the industry”

Lead smelting is ranked as the third highest polluting industry in the world

EU and many developing nations have ratified it, the US has not, choosing to regulate lead acid batteries through similar but different EPA regulations. Furthermore some countries that have ratified it don’t enforce it in any meaningful way. One consequence of this situation has been a significant distortion and under-reporting of the official international trade in used lead acid batteries and battery paste. As a result, thriving, unregulated and under-reported secondary markets have developed in which pricing can be much higher than the London Metal Exchange’s price. For example, as of August 2014,

the unofficial price in Pakistan was $3,400/tonne for secondary lead and $3,800/tonne for primary lead. India has had similar prices in its unregulated markets. This situation has created a thriving sub-set of the used lead acid battery recycling industry where the batteries are broken down and the paste is shipped overseas for smelting, often in unregulated and highly polluting facilities. This complex situation compounds pollution issues and hurts the lead battery industry which lobbies hard to reinforce for its leadership in recycling and efficient resource reuse.

Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016 • 49


Big is beautiful too: aerial view of the new plant being built in Tahoe. For a sense of scale the green dot in the middle of the concrete is Steve Cotton, chief commercial officer. In the background to the left is the warehouse of Battery Systems which (also inset) the partner, supplier of the used lead acid batteries to the future plant

teries coming in for recycling. Third, its securities filing last year shows that Aqua Metals’ business model opens up two different revenue streams. The first recycling plant will serve as a base for expansion and further plants will be owner operated, or run on a contract basis as a joint venture. It also offers the possibility of a franchise operation, which Cotton says might work well for international expansion. The turnkey aspect to the product is almost certainly vital to the way that Aqua Metals could expand if it decides to develop with a franchise business model. Lastly — and probably the most important in the longer term — the process itself is environmentally friendly and sustainable. The present legislative climate in Europe and the US is one where emissions and environmental regulations are becoming ever tighter. (As well as frequently irrational to boot.) Moreover, the recent closures of smelters in the US show that the lack of compliance had been routine. Since its establishment in 2013, Aqua Metals’ pace of development has been impressive. That first year the firm displayed a working prototype and then built a complete full scale production unit in 2014. Within a year of that: it demon-

strated a product that could be manufactured on an assembly line; bought a plot of land in Nevada for the proposed factory site; and launched an IPO — a share offering which took the company public — in July, raising some $36 million. Within days of raising the new working capital, the firm announced that it had sufficient funding for the next year’s build of the factory and broke land in the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center (TRIC) close to Reno in the US state of Nevada. The 107,000 acre complex encompasses a developable 30,000 acre industrial site with pre-approved industrial and manufacturing uses. “It’s a logistics hub for the western US, positioned to serve the area’s 11 states with one day shipping,” is one description of the location. TRIC is now home to the likes of Tesla’s Gigafactory, very large Wal-Mart, Amazon and Tire Rack distribution centres and new energy innovators. The facility — the company dubs it the AquaRefinery — should be up-andrunning by the middle of 2016 and be able to produce 80 tonnes of lead a day from early 2017, says the firm. The process, says Cotton, will produce ultrapure lead. Steve Clarke, the chief executive, said he anticipated reaching 160 tonnes a day by 2018. The daily output of each AquaRefining module, which consists of six

AquaRefining is environmentally friendly and sustainable. — an important factor given present legislative climate in Europe and the US is one where emissions and environmental regulations are becoming ever tighter 50 • Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016

electrolyzer units is, 2.5 tonnes of ultrapure lead which the company says has been independently verified by credible technical third party reviews. Aqua Metals also believes it will be making higher purity lead than primary lead which could redefine the definition of primary (mined) lead to include high(er) purity recycled lead. Typically, primary lead commands up to 50% premium over secondary lead LME pricing. There is ever growing demand for ultra high purity lead for advanced lead acid battery initiatives and Aqua Metals seems poised to also fulfill that market demand over time by building it’s brand and reap the economic rewards while disrupting the lead mining industry in addition to the lead recycling industry.. “If this technology has been successfully scaled up, then this truly is a game-changer for the industry,” one analyst told Batteries International. “If it hasn’t been proven as yet then we have to maintain a certain scepticism. “In a recent conference speech their chief executive told us that they planned to do with what Henry Bessemer had done for steel. Within 15 years of the Bessemer process being patented, a revolution had been made with cheap steel flooding the foundries of Europe and the US. “If they can achieve anything quite like that, this is undoubtedly impressive — a true game-changer for the lead recycling industry.” The analyst said, if this worked out as per CEO Clarke’s Bessemer prediction, a similar revolution would happen. “There would be a huge range of

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PROFILE: AQUA METALS INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY: THE KEY TO AQUA METALS Scepticism. For most in the battery industry that’s the default position when new technology claims to be disruptive or game-changing. And all the more so if the technology on offer isn’t completely transparent. Although Aqua Metals has filed various patents — details below — the value of the patent very rapidly becomes worthless in third world countries where intellectual property is disrespected. And all the more so when a published patent can be reverse-engineered to produce an equivalent product or process or where the secret can be easily duplicated. Aqua Metals has been notoriously reluctant to discuss the actual process but it has allowed prospective investors to see demonstrations of the commercial pod in action. Rob Romero, the founder of investment firm, Connective Capital described his visit saying he was sceptical of breakthrough new processing technologies, “especially when it comes to a chemical process that is over 100 years old. He later related: “So I hired the best independent electrochemical expert I could find: Ralph Brodd, who has served in technical committees for the Department of Energy, NASA, and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and is past-president of the Electrochemical Society. Needless to say, he was sceptical too, having seen lots of inventions come and go, trying to purify lead without smelting. “To allow us to see the commercialscale production pod, the company required both of us to sign a Nondisclosure Agreement (NDA), so I’m limited on what I can say. We went to Oakland, and got a demonstration of the commercial-size pod operating at full tilt. “We were surprised,” says Romero. “One look at Ralph told me what we needed to know. We were not only impressed by the ease by which the machine pulled out highly purified lead from the aqueous solution, also how knowledgeable and forthright the CEO Steve Clarke was with us in explaining details about their process.” Romero said that typically he looked at three criteria when assessing new technology start-ups as potential

52 • Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016

investments. “The first,” he told Batteries International, “is the simple one of looking at the technology — does it work and can that be demonstrated as such? Then of course is it scalable? Technology that works in the lab or in a batch process doesn’t necessarily translate into something that will work on the production line. So you look at the product engineering. As part of this you look at the financial side of things — what are the gross margins on the technology, for example? “Second, you look at the business model. What are the market opportunities out there? Where will the supply channels come from and where will the products be sold — and how. “Last is the more intangible; what’s the market sentiment for the product. Even if it works in terms of the technology and business model, if it doesn’t fit the mood of investors it may well not fly. And sometimes, of course, even when the technology and the business model aren’t up to scratch investors will nevertheless support them.” Issues of intellectual property are working their way through the system. In November 2013, Aqua Metals filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office, a provisional patent covering multiple aspects of the AquaRefining process, including all aspects of its proprietary water-based solvent and its novel electrolyzer. In November 2014, the provisional patent application was converted into a non-provisional patent application which was filed in accordance with the Patent Cooperation Treaty and contained 35 claims. The claims seek patent protection

for the entirety of the novel aspects of the Aqua Metals process, starting with the dissolution of the lead compounds recovered from a used LAB, the solvents used and the range of chemical compositions under which they are effective. The claims also extend to novel aspects of the electrochemical apparatus and the range of electrochemical parameters, such as electrical current, voltage and solution pH. The claims seek patent protection for the type and composition of the electrodes used, the form and quality of the lead produced and methods of removing the lead from the electrodes. In May 2015, the firm filed an additional non-provisional patent application with the USPTO in accordance with Patent Cooperation Treaty which contained 39 claims. These claims seek to provide additional, complementary and alternative aspects of the November 2014 filing. It also filed an additional six provisional patent applications with the USPTO containing a total of 54 claims. “These filings seek to extend our patent protection in our core process technology and seek patent coverage for areas including ancillary processes, electrolyte and water recovery, the form and uses of the lead produced and applications of our process to materials other than lead,” says Steve Clarke. “We regard the protection of our technologies and intellectual property rights as an important element of our business operations and crucial to our success. We rely primarily on a combination of patent laws, trade secrets, confidentiality procedures and contractual provisions to protect our proprietary technology.”

PROFILE: AQUA METALS expected and unexpected outcomes,” he said. “Distribution networks around the world would reform in different fashions, controversial practices such as expensive shipping of lead to less environmentally strict countries would cease. This could also encourage indirectly a better media perception of lead — and who knows where that would fly?” He was uncertain, however, that a cheaper recycling cost would translate into cheaper prices for the metal. “Theoretically this could happen but there’s too many other variables to consider.” Other business aspects, particularly the most basic issue of supply and demand — the supply of old batteries to be recycled and demand for the refined product — have been tackled. Cotton says Aqua Metals has already established an agreement with Battery Systems, a distribution specialist in the western US with a 200,000 square foot battery storage facility literally next door to Aqua Metals’ new Nevada plant. This agreement will provide up to 100% of the used acid lead acid batteries for feedstock as well as offtake of recycled product for a conversion fee with a provision to convert to a merchant model in the future. The company says it is also actively working with a diverse supply chain of used lead acid batteries including from large enterprises who are increasingly conscious of where and how their batteries are recycled. Aqua Metals says it has identified further potential locations across the US. In the company’s securities filing document known as S1, the firm said: “we have the potential to locate multiple smaller facilities closer to the source of used lead acid batteries. If this ‘distributed recycling’ approach proves to be possible, we believe it will further enhance the economics of AquaRefining over smelting by reducing transport costs and supply chain bottlenecks.” Wirtz Manufacturing, an early minority shareholder in Aqua Metals, is providing all of the equipment for the Aqua Metals turnkey factory with the exception of the Aqua Metals proprietary equipment. John O. Wirtz, president of Wirtz Manufacturing Company, said; “The Aqua Metals technology has the capability to change the global lead acid battery recycling industry. It offers a green solution for recycling lead acid batteries which is a game changer by itself.

“Distribution networks around the world would reform in different fashions, controversial practices such as expensive shipping of lead to less environmentally strict countries would cease”

“But it also offers a lower operating cost structure, and a lower recycling volume requirement allowing all battery manufacturers to control the availability and cost of their lead. Every battery manufacturer should consider the Aqua Metals technology in their long term strategy.” The turnkey aspect to the product is vital to the way that Aqua Metals could expand if it decides to develop with a franchise business model. Although the final product is modular — meaning that large recyclers of used lead batteries simply have to buy extra modules to accommodate demand — the likelihood is that smaller battery makers, especially in the developing world, will be early buyers of the system. “Consolidation in the lead supply market will make it increasingly attractive for small and medium sized lead acid battery manufacturers to buy their own battery recycling plant to preserve their supply of lead. This will require equipment that can be provided at a small scale (20 tonnes to 40 tonnes per day) and with low to minimal environmental impact,” said one analyst. Aqua Metals says it is also hoping to qualify the AquaRefining modules and facility for future ISO14000 environmental management standards certification.

Comparative recycling costs Lead Recovery Waste Transport Overhead Breaking Used LABs



Aqua Metals has not released the amount of savings that the process will generate but a presentation slide gives a possible approximation Source:

Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016 • 53

ONE TO WATCH: MAC/ENERSYS A recent initiative by EnerSys and MAC Engineering looks set to mark a significant step in reducing the levels of lead in the air in the battery workplace

Better pasting machinery to cut lead air levels on the factory floor The reduction of blood lead levels from battery manufacturing is becoming an increasingly important issue for the industry. Two firms, MAC Engineering and EnerSys, are working together to find ways to reduce lead in air ahead of a possible new, and more restrictive, business climate facing the lead acid battery industry. The challenge is coming from two fronts. The first is the need to ensure that lead acid battery technology can compete commercially with other chemistries. But the more serious threat — and that’s because it could soon be upon us — is that of tighter environmental and health regulation on lead levels. (Irrespective of whether the ever-more stringent rules being introduced are fair or not, more regulations look set

to be the new order of the day.) These were two of the major themes of the BCI conference in Savannah last May. But these meetings were more strident than normal — “it’s time for the industry to speak with a single voice,” said Mark Thorsby, BCI executive vice president at the time. Implicit with this was a call to arms.

A time for action. One BCI conference panel session in particular stood out. It was called “Let’s Get the Lead Out: Designing Lead Emission Out of the Manufacturing Process” and was chaired by EnerSys’s Steve Weik, VP for technology and engineering. The purpose behind this presentation

Inset: Fixed orifice paster with full contained cleaning option. Hopper fully enclosed (see top of hopper on next page) with stainless steel tank that funnels all clean off water into drain pump and directly into reclaim pit. Water spraying system for inside of hopper as well as for transfer belts and rolls. Main: FlowMAC parter/brusher, high speed stacker with enclosed robotic off bearing area, fully ventilated area where dust particles will be transported via conveyors to a 55 gallon drum (see picture on top of next page)

54 • Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016

ONE TO WATCH: MAC/ENERSYS “Perhaps the most important underlying idea was that if we could come up with good ideas for taking this forward the knowledge would not belong to us, as a machinery manufacturer or EnerSys as a battery maker but it would be open to the whole industry.” was to alert the industry to the growing trend of tighter and tighter rule-making on lead levels in both blood and air. The panellists — a mix of battery manufacturers and machine suppliers — consisted of representatives from Johnson Controls, East Penn, MAC Engineering, BM Rosendahl and Sovema. They talked about the challenges faced by manufacturers and the potential problems manufacturers, suppliers, and producers would have to overcome if these restrictions become more and more stringent and therefore more and more unmanageable. EnerSys asked several key suppliers to join this discussion about the direction the industry is taking in terms of environmental regulations and what suppliers can do to assist in compliance. Through this panel, EnerSys challenged all machine suppliers to get off their standard equipment platform and join them to help make the working atmosphere cleaner. Doug Bornas and Dan Duffield, two VPs at MAC Engineering, this went beyond mere sloganizing. “We sat down with Steve and talked about what we could do together,” says Bornas. “EnerSys was fired up and ready to do something, so were we! “Perhaps the most important underlying idea was that if we could come up with good ideas for taking this forward the knowledge would not belong to us, as a machinery manufacturer or EnerSys as a battery maker but it would be open to the whole industry.” Following the meetings there was a flurry of ideas and meetings between the two firms. The initial proposal aimed at improving the pasting line— possibly the hardest point to contain lead in the manufacturing process — which immediately looked an early winner. This involved looking at pasting, flash drying, stacking, and the palletizing of plates. If lead and dust could be kept cleaner in this area, both companies believed it would greatly reduce lead in air in the rest of the plant.

“Keep the paste where it belongs and nowhere else was the idea,” said MAC’s Dan Duffield who was in charge of getting the firm’s design team up to the point of making technical drawings of the proposed features. “Our target, in the pasting area, is to eliminate as much lead in air as possible.” Sadly Steve Weik, the initial inspiration for getting the project going, was never able to see the fruits of his work. He died in late June. However, his work was picked up by Kevin Jones, director of operations engineering at EnerSys. Part of the process was a disassembling of the existing health and safety precautions such as cages and guards to protect the employee before assembling them again with the changes. This involved designing modifications, closing off any unnecessary openings, using sealed conveyors to transport flaked off paste to sealed drums, extending guards, eliminating places where lead dust can gather, creating more efficient ventilation ports, and leaving as little space as possible for any lead to collect. Because manufacturing lines vary from plant to plant, the thinking was

Conveyor to move any collected dust particles to 55 gallon drum

Ventilated area where transfer conveyors meet from the stacker and FlowMAC

Inset: Top cover with water spray atomizers that fits on top of the pasting hopper for controlled cleaning Main picture: Inlet of high speed stacker, blocked off for safety as well as particle removal, most flat areas removed to help eliminate places where dust particles can collect, conveyor system to aforementioned 55 gallon drum

Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016 • 55

ONE TO WATCH: MAC/ENERSYS “We have developed numerous pragmatic and effective measures to reduce lead emissions to the environment, and therefore a genuine hope that the entire battery industry can be a more productive and environmentally safer place in the future.” that generic solutions needed to be found — approaches that could be transferred across the industry. The design process and related engineering has been a collaborative one with, as each side admits, imaginative and extensive design work coming from both parties. Around the turn of the year, the new manufacturing line will be installed in EnerSys’ factory in Tijuana, Mexico. It will then be extensively tested. “We’re almost certain that we’ll have achieved a huge leap in reducing levels of lead in the workspace with

this initiative alone,” says Duffield. “And that the whole industry can benefit from this. Both EnerSys and MAC say they are excited for the future and for what these changes can help bring to the industry. In a joint statement they said: “We have developed numerous pragmatic and effective measures to reduce lead emissions to the environment, and therefore a genuine hope that the entire battery industry can be a more productive and environmentally safer place in the future.”


The lead-acid battery industry has already travelled a long way down the road of reducing blood lead levels in its workers. The extent of the achievement is clear when you compare the average blood lead levels of people working in battery

56 • Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016

manufacturing today against the average blood lead levels of the general American population 40 years ago. In 1975, the average American had a blood lead level of approximately 15 micrograms

Both firms also say that this is just part of a longer journey envisaged where all aspects of the battery manufacturing process will be dissected. Thorsby, at the BCI, is positive about the move. “This is a great example of the industry as a whole working together to forge a way ahead. What’s particularly impressive is that it started with a couple of individuals being fired up at BCI and taking it from there — this wasn’t about a series of high level meetings to decide to get things done nor was it about making someone richer on the basis of this, It was quite simply working out ways for the industry to get lead out of the air.” “The great thing about it is that through the initiative hopefully others will see what MAC and EnerSys have achieved and be inspired to continue their leadership into the future.”

per decilitre of blood (15 μg/ dL) — today that number is close to 1 μg/dL. This reduction is due primarily to the removal of lead from gasoline and paint. Today, the blood lead levels of the average worker in a battery manufacturing or recycling facility is approximately 15 μg/dL — and that level is decreasing every year. How has this been achieved? Improved worker hygiene — showers, frequent hand washing, personal protective equipment, locker rooms and improved air quality have all played their part. “In both the lead manufacturing and lead battery sector, companies have grasped the nettle and put in place programmes that enhance the existing procedures to limit employee exposure, such as engineering controls like dust/ fume extraction, hoods and containment systems; the use of personal protective equipment such as respirators; and frequent and thorough housekeeping, but have also introduced sophisticated employee education and behavioural initiatives,” says International Lead Association regulatory affairs director, Steve Binks. Mark Thorsby, executive vicepresident of Battery Council International says that the industry has, if anything, a surfeit of


Douglas Bornas, Kevin Jones, Daniel Duffield during inspection of equipment at MAC Engineering in December.

regulations around lead exposure. “If there is one metal in the world that enjoys over-regulation, it is lead,” he says. “In the US it is regulated at the federal level through the Environmental Protection Agency, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, and the Department of Transportation as well as related agencies at the state level. The regulations are designed to limit lead exposure to the general public as well as people who work in battery manufacturing and battery recycling facilities. “The Occupational Health and Safety Administration also regulates the amount of lead that can be in the air inside a battery manufacturing or recycling facility,” says Thorsby. “These regulations require battery manufacturing and recycling companies to invest heavily in engineering controls in their facilities such as local exhaust ventilation that removes lead from the air that workers may breathe. “This, in addition with use of personal protective equipment such as respirators, ensures that workers are protected from lead exposure. This is demonstrated by the low levels of lead that are typically measured in employees’ blood.” On top of this, the US Environmental Protection Agency

regulates the amount of lead that can be contained in the ambient air outside battery manufacturing and recycling plants. The EPA requires that air monitoring devices be placed outside plants and records kept. “The battery manufacturing industry in North America subscribes to voluntary efforts to reduce exposure,” says Thorsby. “For example, OSHA has established a standard for blood lead levels of 50 μg/dL — if lead exposure exceeds 50 μg/dL, the worker must be removed from the work environment until a blood lead level of 40 μg/dL is reached. “The battery manufacturing industry, through BCI, had voluntarily established a standard of 40 μg/dL for removal with a return to work at 35 μg/dL and last year, in conjunction with EUROBAT, established a new 2017 target of 30 μg/dL for removal and 25 μg/ dL for return — both standards well below the federal standard established by OSHA.” EUROBAT’s voluntary blood lead mitigation programme has been in existence since 2000 and is binding for members that produce lead-based batteries. It has been subject to several revisions — the latest in 2013. In Europe there is a binding blood lead limit in the Chemical Agents

Directive of 70μg/dL. This means that member states must not establish national limits that exceed this, but they can set lower limits. The consequence is that blood lead limits in member states range from 20μg/dL to 70μg/dL and some, but not all, set lower limits for women of reproductive age. Sector-wide reporting shows that there has been a significant improvement in company employee lead exposure management over the last decade — and this is illustrated by EUROBAT statistics indicating that 40% of employees in European battery manufacturers had a blood lead in excess of 30 μg/dL in 2001, which had fallen to 8.5% by 2013. Rene Schroeder, EU affairs manager for EUROBAT expects legislation to soon fall in line with the more aspirational targets established by EUROBAT and others, bringing the European binding blood lead limit down from 70 μg/ dL. “The scientific committee on occupational exposure limit (SCOEL) is reviewing the adequacy of the current European OEL for lead. “We hope this will soon be concluded so that a more appropriate European binding limit can be established that is more in line with current Industry practices.”

Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016 • 57

ONE TO WATCH: ZESAR/LTE Zesar and LT Engineering are pioneering a new three dimensional way of battery formation. They call it the AcidForm Process. It’s not just clever but offers a new set of economic benefits too.

Vertical continuous formation to improve productivity, efficiency

Schematic representation of the new formation system

“Our new Acid Form Vertical Formation system allows for continuous formation by loading and unloading only one string of batteries at a time with a turnaround time of 15 minutes” — Mohsin Ali, Zesar 58 • Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016

Turkish battery machine manufacturer Zesar, and Ireland’s LT Engineering have developed a new kind of battery formation machinery combining a different take on vertical stacking with the latest, state-of-the-art formation procedures. “Continuous production was just one of several goals that we’ve achieved,” says Mohsin Ali, managing director of Zesar. “Historically, continuous production was the process that unblocked the bottle-necks found in pasting lines and the whole process of grid and plate production. “Now we’ve unblocked the other bottle-neck in battery manufacture — their formation.” The first full machine using the design was tested in December and will be installed and trialled with one of Zesar’s clients this January. “We should know by the spring how well this has worked,” says Philip Larkin, the head of LT Engineering. “But every indication we’ve had with using the machine and the process so far has been very positive. “We’re looking at substantial savings in the formation component of lead acid battery manufacturing — almost certainly around 40%. And there’s ancillary advantages too.” Research for the project began early last year when Zesar approached LTE — an additional relationship had been in place between Ali and Larkin — to look at studying and providing a better and more compact formation system. “Based on our studies we developed a new system which brings continuous production to the acid recirculation formation process or as we call it, the ‘AcidForm’ process,” says Larkin. “But it was more than just an engineering redesign. Going vertical is nothing new — think hydroponics and

ONE TO WATCH: ZESAR/LTE vertical farming for example — for the formation area. But it is the first time it is applied to a continuous and complicated process where each string of batteries, and there’s 20 per string, is independent.” A patent for the system was applied for in October. Ali says the new machine is designed for ease of access for maintenance, redundancy — an important aspect in terms of the economics of the rectifier— flexibility as well as floor space and worker density. “Our new Acid Form Vertical Formation system allows for continuous formation by loading and unloading only one string of batteries at a time with a turnaround time of 15 minutes. The means that a rectifier is allowed only a break of 45 minutes per day. For the other 23 hours and 15 minutes, that rectifier circuit is forming batteries.” Put simply, the overcapacity needed for the rectifier to charge all the batteries at the same moment is reduced by a substantial proportion. Larkin says, as part of this, one of the first challenges was to reduce the loading time for the batteries to be put on the benches. “The problem is that irrespective of whether there is an automatic loading system or not, at least half of the bench must be loaded for any cycle to start,” says Larkin, head of LTE. “So if a 160 battery bench is being loaded, nothing can start till the first 80 are in place. “This is a time-consuming operation and while loading and unloading are taking place, at least half of the bench is idle. Taken on a shift basis the time lost isn’t much but taken over the production season, then there is a considerable extra number that in theory could have been produced.” Larkin, who has spent most of his working life in the battery industry and its related software side, has spent the last decade as a senior developer of acid recirculation technology for battery formation. Having started in Italy nearly 20 years ago developing oxide mills and curing systems, he progressed into assembly and then onto formation and has worked for some of the well renowned machinery producers in Italy and had previously developed a similar recirculating acid process for one of them. Ali says the two firms had previously studied various bench systems from those that need an auxiliary acid plant to those that are all-in-one type benches. “The underlying problem was the difficulty in increasing the capacity of

these benches that are already considerably wide and long occupying a large footprint on the floor. Some of the benches are 2.5 metres wide and some 16 metres long, for example,” he says. There was also an ergonomics problem that needed to be addressed: not all of the benches are the same size meaning it can be difficult and danger-

ous allowing workers to have to reach out to replace nozzles or connections to vent plugs. The added inconvenience of having also the automation components tightly placed in compact areas also makes maintenance problematic. Something that could be addressed with the vertical system. “The basic idea is to use a vertical

Based on our studies we developed a new system which brings continuous production to the acid recirculation formation process or as we call it the ‘AcidForm’ process — Philip Larkin, LTE ZESAR, LTE PARTNER ON TURNKEY SLI BATTERY PROJECT Zesar, LT Engineering are coming close to completing the construction of a SLI battery plant north of Cairo in Egypt. The work started at the beginning of 2015 and should be completed by the summer. “It’s a turn-key project on effectively a greenfield site,” says Mohsin Ali, chief executive of Zesar, the lead firm on the project. “We’re providing and installing the equipment for the entire process — from mixing up the oxide through pasting and formation to despatch — as well as ensuring that the training and technology transfer is in place.” Chloride Technical is providing factory engineering and the formation process know-how is furnished by LTE. Some other products are being bought in from outside such as the rectifiers used in the formation, acid dilution and plate formation system (by Chloride Technical). The project is costing around €10 million ($11 million) and the client is the Egyptian government.

When running at capacity the factory should be able to produce around 400,000 batteries a year. Of these around 70% are destined for the Egyptian domestic market and the balance is destined for export. Of the domestic sales some narrow plate and AGM batteries are destined for the country’s military. The project contains a two-year guarantee. “This is a fine example of international cooperation between Zesar based in Turkey, LTE based in Ireland but sourcing product made in Italy and work from the UK’s Chloride,” says Phil Larkin, chief executive of LT Engineering. “We’ve also benefited from some assistance from the Egyptian government. “The only fly in the ointment has been the copious, puzzling and often unexplainable workings of bureaucrats in the EU who’ve made the business of exporting goods to Egypt difficult.”

“The only fly in the ointment has been the copious, puzzling and often unexplainable workings of bureaucrats in the EU who’ve made the business of exporting goods to Egypt difficult.”

Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016 • 59

ONE TO WATCH: ZESAR/LTE “This allowed us to maximize all three dimensions available to us in the formation area and creates a multi-planar formation system. Factory space should now be reckoned in terms of per cubic meter instead of per square meter!” Mohsin Ali, Zesar formation system with a dynamic storage location,” says Larkin. “To achieve a continuous formation module, we have an area for loading and unloading the batteries on to shuttles (one string of 20 batteries at a time), which are predisposed for all the connections that the operator must carry out before the cycle starts in a safe and ergonomically manner. “Before the shuttle is loaded in the vertical formation unit, the system carries out a pre-check to make sure all the connections are proper and it signals to the operator if there are any problems that need to be corrected. “Once the shuttle is ready, it is automatically transported to its location in the formation unit where it will remain until cycle end.” Vertical formation also allows easy maintenance and replacement of all parts due to the ease of access to them for the maintenance personnel. All

components are placed at the rear of the unit allowing maintenance personnel to access directly the components for replacing or testing purposes even when the system is in production. All circuits are individual and can be maintained in the same way that a RAID system is maintained in a IT department, effectively the system is hot swappable. To achieve more constant and fluid production rates redundancy has been built into the vertical formation unit. Should a circuit suffer a critical fault, which would require a prolonged downtime, the shuttle can be programmed to occupy another area on the unit thereby greatly decreasing problems which a long pause in formation may create in the active mass or string of batteries. When the circuit has been reset/repaired it becomes available for the next shuttle being prepared.

Probably the most advantageous part of the system is its small footprint. Considering that most formation rooms have roofs over eight meters high, this space allows the battery maker to place up-to 14 vertical circuits in the same floor area as two circuits. “This allowed us also to maximize all three dimensions available to us in the formation area and creates a multi-planar formation system. Factory space should now be reckoned in terms of per cubic meter instead of per square meter!” says Ali. The final advantage is that only one operator is required to run the unit, his work is focused to making the connections to the cells and cabling the string together along with the inverse situation during unloading. The typical turnaround for one string of 20 batteries is just under 15 minutes. In effect this halves the need for workers to just one person per shift.

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60 • Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016

SEPARATORS The race is on for ever-better lead acid batteries and that also means ever-better separators and ever better research. Sara Verbruggen reports, in the first of a two part look at the world of separators, that some of the research is paying off.

Facing up to the technology challenge Business competition typically takes forms — price or quality. And it’s quality of the product that has been the main focus of separator manufacturers. Close attention is being paid to enhancing separators for automotive enhanced flooded batteries. EFBs are built for higher performance and reliability than conventional flooded batteries. EFB technology typically provides double the cyclic stability of standard lead acid batteries, which allows for a longer lifespan of recovering from deep discharges. In a start-stop vehicle, when the engine is ‘off’, EFB allows the vehicle’s electrical devices to stay powered on, while ensuring the engine will consistently restart in a fraction of a second. Nowadays the focus of research continues to be aimed at addressing areas that impact performance: charge acceptance, power output and cycling in PSoC (partial state of charge). To enable some of these characteristics, the addition of carbon to the negative plate paste provides higher performance in terms of charge acceptance and extend the battery’s ability to

operate in PSoC mode in micro-hybrid vehicles. Charge acceptance can be improved in two ways, by preventing or reducing acid stratification and by carbon doping. However, the addition of carbon increases water loss, which adversely impacts gassing and corrosion rates also shortens the lifetime. Reducing water loss minimizes, for example, parasitic currents and the concentration of acid. The benefits include a slowing down of grid corrosion, which extends life of the battery. Minimizing acid stratification is addressed by the shape and the structure of the separator while water loss is reduced through advances in the separator’s chemistry. “During the battery’s cycling, separators should be designed to change, to shrink when the battery is charging and to hold everything in place and provide mechanical support,” says Kevin Whear, vice president technology, Daramic. To increase power output, while the battery is in PSoC, requires separators to not only insulate but to also have the highest ionic conductivity, in order to reduce electrical resistance. EFB separators that minimize water loss, which can allow higher concentration of carbon that, are already commercially available, while separators that minimize acid stratification are in testing with OEMs and will be

commercialized in 2016 and products that lower electrical resistance to increase power output, are in testing and will be commercialized next year also, says Dawn Heng, Daramic’s marketing director. One of the key challenges is developing separators that can combine some or all of these various functions into a single product. For instance, batteries for tier one micro-hybrid car are more likely to need a separator that does all these things. “It is harder for a large premium model car such as an S-class Mercedes to meet emissions regulations than it is for a small car like a Mini Cooper,” says Whear. R&D at Daramic — as are efforts of its market rivals Entek and Microporous, efforts are focused on designing more tailored offerings as SLI batteries gradually bridge the market between ICE cars with increased electrification, hybrid and full EV drivetrains. “The market is moving towards more customized separator products for different types of vehicle battery customers,” says Heng. “Enhanced separators have an increasingly important role in helping batteries address various issues and ensuring good operational lifetimes, as a result of more complex battery usage and challenging operational conditions, like PSoC mode.” Manufacturers are looking to their separator technologies, for other types of lead acid batteries, such as deep-

“The market is moving towards more customized separator products for different types of vehicle battery customers. Enhanced separators have an increasingly important role in help batteries address various issues and ensuring good operational lifetimes”— Dawn Heng, Daramic 62 • Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016

SEPARATORS THE FREE FLOW OF IONS Quite often batteries are seen as little more than a component within a system. This seems especially true when we think of the 12 volt SLI car battery, the best example of how commoditized technology can become. Costs of lead acid batteries for the car market range between $50-$150/kWh — against multiples of this price for lithium ion batteries. So when one talks about separators it is easy to dismiss them as a component within a component. There are four major requirements for a separator in a flooded lead-acid battery, they should: • prevent shorting between electrodes • be stable in sulfuric acid • allow ionic conduction without dendrite growth • provide mechanical spacing between electrodes Historically, lead acid battery separators have included cellulose, polyvinyl chloride, organic rubber, and polyolefins. Today, most flooded lead acid batteries utilize “polyethylene separators” — a misnomer because these microporous separators require large amounts of precipitated silica to be acid-wettable. Silica is responsible for the separator’s electrical properties; polyethylene is responsible for the separator’s mechanical properties. The porosity range for polyethylene separators is 50-65%. Inside the battery, the pasted positive and negative plates must be separated to prevent short circuits. Separators are thin sheets of porous, insulating material used as spacers between them with fine pores that allow electrical current to flow between the plates. The separator is moistened with an electrolyte — a mix of sulphuric acid and water — to form a catalyst that promotes the movement of ions from the positive to the negative plate, during charging and in reverse during discharging; the battery cycling. Depending on different types of batteries and applications for batteries the size and thickness of separator membranes are adjusted accordingly. Different types of batteries also perform better with separators made of different materials. Separators for a product as

ubiquitous and cost-sensitive as flooded batteries, are typically made from polyethylene treated with silica. Introduced by Daramic in the 1980s, at the time polyethylene was a revolutionary, albeit expensive material, by today’s costs. But the plastic had enough performance benefits to ensure it became the material of choice for most SLI batteries over the next three decades. Polyethylene provides the mechanical properties. Silica creates the separator’s electrical properties. The manufacture of the separator, according to Entek, follows this process. Precipitated silica is combined with ultrahigh molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE), process

oil and various minor ingredients (for example, antioxidant,s carbon black) to form a mixture that is extruded at elevated temperature through a die to form an oil-filled sheet. The oil-filled sheet is calendered to a controlled thickness with the desired rib pattern. After this, the majority of the process oil is extracted with an organic solvent. The sheet is then passed through a dryer and hot air oven to remove the solvent and leave behind a porous structure. Finally, the sheet is slit at multiple positions to form rolls of microporous polyethylene separators that have the appropriate profile — width, backweb thickness, rib height, and shoulder design of the separator — for customers’ battery designs.

When we talk about separators it is easy to dismiss them as a component within a component. BASIC LITHIUM ION SEPARATOR MANUFACTURING Separators for the lithium battery market are usually manufactured via a wet or dry process, according to Entek. In the dry process, polypropylene (or polyethylene (PE) is extruded into a thin sheet and subjected to rapid drawdown. The sheet is then annealed at 10°C-25°C below the polymer melting point such that crystallite size and orientation are controlled. Next, the sheet is rapidly stretched in the machine direction to achieve slit-like pores or voids at 35%-45% porosity. A PP/PE/PP trilayer separator can also be produced in this fashion. Polyolefin separators based upon UHMWPE are usually produced in a wet or gel process involving extrusion of a plasticizer/polymer

mixture at elevated temperature, followed by phase separation, biaxial stretching, and extraction of the pore former (that is a plasticizer). The resultant separators have elliptical or spherical pores and porosity in the 40%-50% range. Because of the biaxial orientation, good

mechanical properties are achieved in both the machine and transverse directions. The separators also have strong chemical resistance, abrasion resistance, and good wettability with organic solvents. As such, UHMWPE separators have found wide use in lithium batteries.

Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016 • 63

SEPARATORS “There are certainly challenges involved in melding the physical properties of the PE separator with the chemical properties of the rubber separator. We have expertise in combining these two types of materials together”— Jean-Luc Koch, Microporous cycle and sealed battery technologies, to feed into the development of EFB separators. “Our work on lead acid battery separators can also benefit from developments in lithium ion battery separators,” says Whear. Separators for both battery technologies are made the same way, by wet processing, even though the shape and the formula is different, the equipment is the same. “They have different challenges but LEAD ACID COMPARISON IN START-STOP: EFB VERSUS AGM BATTERIES

Technical / Commercial Needs

Source: Daramic


Definitions: SoC – State of Charge SoH – State of Health BMS – Battery Management System Source: Daramic

64 • Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016

Enhanced Flooded Battery


some also overlap. We know that the trend in lithium ion battery separators is to go thinner and this will happen in lead acid also. So the Daramic business can learn from the practice and experience of the Celgard business,” says Whear. Daramic also benefits from the Asahi Kasei acquisition, with its expertise in raw materials science, such as fibre and resins and additives, but also in terms of providing access to advanced computer modelling, enabling new formulations to be experimentally simulated before the prototyping stage. Meanwhile Microporous is looking to motive applications, where hybrid polyethylene-rubber separators are used. Jean-Luc Koch, head of Microporous won’t talk too much about what this entails, except to say: “There are certainly challenges involved in melding the physical properties of the PE separator with the chemical properties of the rubber separator. We have expertise in combining these two types of materials together.” Compared with the lithium ion industry developments in the lead acid industry are more incremental. Potentially, enhancements to separators might ultimately allow for improved use of lead or a reduction, reducing weight and size, even if only comparably slightly, as lead acid batteries do not have the densities of lithium ion. “The demands placed on the battery are more complex. Automotive battery manufacturers must meet multiple requirements in their product at the same time, some require more plate surface area, which a very low resistance separator will help, while others require a certain amount of active material, which a very low resistance separator will not have an impact on,” says John Timmons, vice president of technology at Microporous. A big challenge is the automotive industry itself, where the pressure on OEMs’ supply chain partners is to deliver products that meet demand for increased electrification of vehicles, where projections for trends over the next decade see lead acid and advanced lead acid batteries dominating, but be-

SEPARATORS “The trend in lithium ion battery separators is to go thinner and this will happen in lead acid also. So Daramic can learn from the practice and experience of the Celgard business”— Kevin Whear, Daramic yond that it is anyone’s guess which technology will come to dominate. For deep-cycle and stationary battery end user markets, Microporous produces rubber separators and for its motive power applications, the company supplies mostly hybrid membranes using polyethylene and rubber, though the same product can also be used in the stationary storage markets depending on requirements of the customers for these batteries. A key characteristic of rubber material separators is their ability to bind to antimony molecules, which slows down or prevents the reduction in the charge efficiency of the negative plate, which, in turn, requires increased charging and results in water loss, which also benefits automotive EFBs. Work is also focused on reducing

acid stratification, which is exacerbated by the current demands placed on lead acid batteries to work in PSoC mode. By failing to charge the battery fully, and not going into overcharge, the battery plates will not achieve voltages high enough to hydrolyze water. The gas generated from hydrolysis helps to mix the acid within the battery and minimize stratification. “Some of these innovations are currently in testing with customers and it will be likely that they find their way into mass production from the end of 2016 onwards,” says Koch. Timmons says: “There are so-called optimized separators out in the market already. They tend to lay claim to reducing internal resistance of the battery. But that for us is only one of the

targets. We are also working on materials to modify porosity, and also reducing the impact of contaminants in the battery.” Koch says: “We are already supplying the first generation of EFB-optimized separators, but we are also working on the second and looking down the line at third and fourth generation products. In many instances, a one-fit-forall solution does not exist; depending on given battery designs, specific optimized solutions shall be available.”

Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016 • 65


Next generation

Pushing battery chemistries

66 • Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016


automotive: to the EV limit

The challenge. To drive a PV powered vehicle from the north of Australia to the south. It’s a gruelling test of battery efficiency, EV design and the BMS. David Rand, CSIRO scientist and co-founder of the competition, reports on the latest event.


anuary 7, 1983. A strange-shaped vehicle — more like a bathtubon-wheels — trundles to a stop outside the Sydney Opera House. This is the Quiet Achiever. And it’s just crossed Australia some 4,052km (2,518 miles) from Perth without burning a single litre of petrol. More importantly than the distance: it’s the world’s first solar-powered car. The speed wasn’t impressive — the car averaged 23kph over the 20 day trip — but the concept was revolutionary. The phantasmagorical technology was conceived by the Australian adventurer Hans Tholstrup and then developed and hand-built by co-driver Larry Perkins and his brother Garry.

The design consisted of a tubular steel frame, four bicycle wheels, two lead-acid batteries, two power switches, and an electric motor. Across the roof were 20 photovoltaic panels. Tholstrup saw his invention as a deus ex machina to heighten international concern over the environmental consequences of the profligate consumption of petroleum. His vision was rewarded — the success of the epic, energysaving expedition ignited interest worldwide and gave rise to the sport of solar car racing. The first event was the Tour de Sol in Switzerland in 1985. This was followed by similar competitions in Europe, Japan, Taiwan, the US and, more recently, in Abu Dhabi, South Africa and Turkey.

2015 BRIDGESTONE WORLD SOLAR CHALLENGE Through designing their vehicle with the every-day driver in mind, Eindhoven had clearly produced a wonderful solar car in a field of exceptional cars and teams Rather than circling a racetrack, Tholstrup argued that a gruelling, long-distance contest was a more realistic showcase for solar-powered technology. The aim was not to promote solar cars as universally practical transport, but rather that the lessons from such a live laboratory would move the automobile industry towards more efficient vehicles that would place lesser demands on the environment. The dream became reality in 1987 with the first staging of the World Solar Challenge. Since then it has enjoyed the status of being the preeminent international Green Prix for solar cars. The WSC is conducted biennially along the Stuart Highway from Darwin in the north to Adelaide some 3020km in the south. The highway is named after John McDouall Stuart who, in 1862, was the first to cross

the continent from sea to sea. His expedition lasted exactly nine months. Today, solar cars can reach Adelaide in just four days! This is truly amazing given that drivers in flimsy, cramped and stifling vehicles have to negotiate some of the most inhospitable, albeit spectacular, terrain on Earth but also cope with the dual hazards of fickle Australian wildlife and thundering, triple-trailored, road trains. Over the years, the WSC has attracted 465 teams drawn globally — some 40 countries have participated — and competitors are encouraged to develop a synergy between solar energy, battery power, lightweight materials and structures, elegant aerodynamics, high-performance motors, and advanced power electronics. Solar cars’ performance has increased markedly over the years. For instance, whereas the General Motors Sunraycer won the first WSC in 1987 at an average speed of




Ozzie rock star Toby Rand (pictured) — best known as lead vocalist of RAND and Juke Kartel — composed (with Grammy winner Alex Geringas) and performed a special anthem for the race. Type this into your browser to see the video of Embrace the Sun. Embrace%20The%20Sun%20v2.m4v And for a video of the highlights of the 2015 race go to:

68 • Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016

66.9kph, Nuna 3 claimed victory in 2005 at an average speed of 102.7kph under similar weather conditions. The WSC Science Faculty decided to encourage the technology to go the extra kilometre through successive tightening of the regulations for each event. In particular, the permitted area of the array and the maximum amount of energy storage (as represented by battery weight) continue to be reduced. Solar cars store energy in cells/ batteries to provide supplementary power to climb hills, accelerate, and keep moving in adverse conditions. The cells/batteries must be rechargeable and the vehicle must travel the entire course with the same make and number as were fitted at the start. For practical reasons, the cars begin the event with battery packs that have been charged from the mains. Good battery management involves running at the highest average speed without consuming too much amperehour capacity, because recharging soaks up precious sunlight which can be collected only on the approved size of solar array. The greater the reserve in the batteries, the greater is the power that can be summoned during unfavourable weather or road conditions. Put simply, success depends on conducting well orchestrated shifts from solar power, to battery power, to solarand-battery combinations. For the first WSC, there was no restriction on battery size. As a consequence, teams opted for anywhere between 2kWh and 11kWh of storage. Remarkably, however, the victorious Sunraycer was equipped with only 2.9kWh of silver-zinc cells. For the 1990 and 1993 competitions, the rule was changed to limit battery packs to 5kWh, which is equivalent to the energy that a solar panel can produce from about half-a-day’s sunlight, or 300km to 400km of solar driving by premier solar cars, ie 10% of the estimated energy to complete the course. CSIRO has devised a range of weight limits for different battery technologies, as determined by their


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The regulations of the WSC are strictly defined. The principal requirement is both daring and simple — namely solar cars must be powered only by direct sunlight. It is not even specified how the solar energy should be used to drive a car. This way teams are given the freedom to solve technical issues in innovative ways. The most practical approach is to equip the car with electric motors powered by photovoltaic cells with assistance from batteries. The regulations stipulate the allowable area of the solar array and the maximum energy that may be stored in the battery pack. Under favourable conditions, a state-of-the-art array can propel a solar car 8.5km in the four minutes it takes to toast separately two slices of bread and, remarkably, with the same power consumption! The official start time is 8am and the finish is 5pm. Additional solar charging of the battery is permitted up to sunset and from sunrise the following morning. The teams camp alongside their cars. Each car is monitored by an official observer. During the journey, there are mandatory control stops where observers are changed and teams can find about the weather ahead and their positions in the field. During this time, no repair or maintenance tasks of any kind are permitted. The control stop is also used by the teams to perform static charging and refuel their escort vehicles.

70 • Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016

Tholstrup argued that a gruelling, long-distance contest was a more realistic showcase for solarpowered technology. Lessons from it would move the automobile industry towards more efficient vehicles respective specific energies, so that a maximum of about 5kWh was available to each competitor regardless of the battery type selected. For example, a weight limit of 40kg was set for silver–zinc given the manufacturer’s rating of 125Wh/kg. With the steady improvement in battery technology, the forecasting of battery weights is challenging, especially as all the technical regulations have to be set well in advance to allow sufficient time for the teams to build their cars. Nevertheless, the aim has always been to keep the upper energy limit at 5kWh, so that the performance of the cars in successive competitions will provide a true indication of energysaving advances — not only in batteries, but in all other components of the vehicle. (The success of this good intention is subject, of course, to any major variation in the weather conditions from event to event.)

Battery evolution — and survival

nology was the only option for lowbudget entries drawn from high schools and private individuals. Despite the poor specific energy (~35Wh/kg), however, cars powered by lead-acid were among the top six place-getters in the first four events. Such success didn’t last after the entry into the market of two new rechargeable batteries — nickel metal-hydride (Ni-MH) and lithium-ion systems. Although the car that came a close second in the 1999 WSC stored its energy in Ni-MH cells, interest in this technology soon waned. Large-capacity, prismatic designs required careful thermal management and therefore had only a moderate specific energy (65Wh/kg), that is, not much better than that of either nickel-zinc or nickel-cadmium. Whereas smaller-capacity, cylindrical Ni-MH cells were more energetic (86Wh/kg), as well as easier to manage and price competitive with emerging lithiumion counterparts, an exceptionally large number was required to form a 5kWh pack.

At the time of the 1987 WSC, only five types of rechargeable battery were available, namely: lead-acid, silverzinc, nickel-cadmium, nickel-zinc, and nickel-iron. It was not surprising that the highbudget teams selected the silver-zinc system on account of its superior specific energy. Indeed, this preference continued up until 1999 and indeed the winners of the first five competitions had employed the technology. Little interest was shown in nickelcadmium and none at all for nickeliron. Nickel-zinc proved to be particularly popular in 1993, presumably because of the large number of Japanese entrants and the fact that the Yuasa Yuni-Z range had recently appeared on the market. Clearly, low-cost lead-acid tech-

A raw egg was wedged behind the rear wheel and the driver was instructed to move off up the slope without rolling backwards, not even by a millimetre. An intact egg indicated success!

2015 BRIDGESTONE WORLD SOLAR CHALLENGE CHALLENGER, CRUISER AND ADVENTURE CLASSES The World Solar Challenge is primarily a design competition to find the world’s most efficient electric car. There are three classes — Challenger, Cruiser and Adventure — designed for different types of entrant and each with specifications that look for efficiency in different fashions.

The acce pt Gwen Ran able face of scru d tineering!

For example, the 1999 runner-up used a complicated arrangement of 1260 cells. Rapid advances were being made in lithium-ion technology. By 1999, lithium batteries had become less expensive than silver-zinc and were demonstrating greater specific energy (140Wh/kg). Longer cycle-life was a further benefit in that the power pack could still be useful at the end of an event. Remarkably, one WSC team subsequently competed successfully with the same lithium-ion pack in Japan and the US. The 2001 WSC witnessed the ar-

rival of a variant of standard lithiumion technology, in which the liquid organic electrolyte is immobilized in a polymer matrix — a so-called ‘gelionic’ electrolyte. These cells are marketed as lithium-polymer types. (This terminology is, however, quite misleading as the gel electrolyte is not a genuine polymer. A more accurate description is ‘plastic lithium-ion’.) The designs of plastic cell could provide up to 190Wh/kg — a performance superior to that of standard lithium-ion. This advantage was sustained and plastic cells became the preferred choice of energy storage.

r Kogakuin solar ca

The two D u of each oth tch entrants are w ithin secon er ds

her road train... Passing yet anot

Tokai crossing th e South Australia border into

72 • Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016

Nuna 8: t he win

2015 BRIDGESTONE WORLD SOLAR CHALLENGE The technology powered the winning car in 2003, 2005 and 2009. During the ensuing years, the steady improvement in the specific energy of both variants of lithium battery technology necessitated repeated reductions in the permitted weight of the battery pack. For example, the maximum pack weight for lithiumion was 20kg in 2013 compared with 40kg in 1996. Before the 2009 event, four teams declared their intention to use a further form of lithium chemistry, namely, the lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) cell. The LiFePO4 positive

electrode offers lower cost, a practical cycle-life, and greater safety on account of its intrinsically superior thermal and chemical stability. In the event of mishandling, unlike lithium-ion, phosphate-based material will not burn or release oxygen at full charge even at an elevated temperature, and is not prone to thermal runaway. The battery, however, the battery has a moderate operating voltage (typically, 3.2V versus 3.7V for lithium-ion). Moreover, due to the low bulk electronic conductivity of LiFePO4, the capacity is not sufficiently

high to compensate for the low cell voltage so that the specific energy (90Wh/kg-120Wh/kg) is inferior to that of either lithium-ion or plastic lithium-ion. Clearly, given the moderate price of the technology, these four competitors set aside this energy disadvantage in 2009. Such batteries have continued to feature in the WSC, but to a somewhat limited extent. Solar cars are clearly playing a valuable role in charting the progress of rechargeable battery systems, and in providing both a showcase and a test bed for the latest advances.

Getting the last drop of the evening sun


x, dhoven’s Stella Lu Progress of Ein er Class is winner of the Cru

nner in th e outback

As usual, there were thrills and spills when competitors were preparing their cars for 2015 BWSC. This year during dynamic testing on the Hidden Valley Raceway, the motor wheel of University of Cambridge’s Evolution locked up and the car began to swerve. After dismantling the motor, it was found that the stator had short-circuited across all three phases, thereby causing the motor to act as a brake, After unsuccessfully exploring every avenue for repairing or replacing the stator, Cambridge received the welcome news that the Nuon Solar

Team from the Netherlands had a spare motor and were prepared to offer it as a gift. This act of generosity epitomizes the true spirit of the WSC — no team wants to see another withdraw given the dedication and determination that it takes to reach the starting line. And on the following day, Cambridge was able to continue this collegiate tradition by providing the University of Western Sydney with a replacement for their motor board which had suffered irreversible damage.

This act of generosity epitomizes the true spirit of the WSC — no team wants to see another withdraw given the dedication and determination that it takes to reach the starting line.

Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016 • 73


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2015 BRIDGESTONE WORLD SOLAR CHALLENGE Solar cars’ performance has increased markedly over the years. GM’s Sunraycer won in 1987 at an average speed of 66.9km/hr but Nuna 3 won in 2005 with 102.7km/hr under similar weather conditions The 2015 challenge

The latest WSC was held last October with Bridgestone Australia as the title sponsor. The company’s Ecopia tyres had been tested in the 2013 WSC and are fitted as original equipment on the 2015 BMW i3 electric car.

The three major changes were made to the 2013 WSC regulations. • Array size limits apply to charging while stationary as well as during driving. Teams may not reconfigure solar collectors outside the dimensions of the car, or employ


Teams help to reconstruct Stingray from MARA University of Technology, Malaysia, after battery fire

76 • Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016

charging stands or cables carried by support vehicles • Cruiser class charging from the grid was allowed only at one locality (Alice Springs). • New electrical isolation equipment was introduced to facilitate the supply of low voltage to the solar car when the high-voltage system is isolated and, at the same time, to define a ‘safe state’ as the vehicle system default. The battery weight limits for the two classes of vehicle classes were: lithium-ion and lithium-polymer 20kg (Challenger), 60kg (Cruiser); LiFePO4 40kg (Challenger), 120kg (Cruiser); Ni-MH 70kg (Challenger); lead-acid 125kg (Challenger). The last two types of battery were considered too heavy for the Cruiser Class. Compared with the 2013 regulations, the weight of lithium-ion was reduced by 1kg (Challenger) and 3kg (Cruiser), and that for lithiumpolymer by 2kg (Challenger) and 6kg (Cruiser). The weights of Ni-MH and LiFePO4 remained unchanged for the respective classes. The 2015 BWSC attracted a strong field of 42 cars from 22 countries. There were 28 entrants in the Challenger class, 11 in the Cruiser class and three in the Adventurer. As in 2013, lithium-ion was overwhelmingly the popular choice of battery. The most recent model of cell has a nominal specific energy of 256Wh/ kg, that is, only an improvement of some 3% compared with that of the best cells employed two years earlier of 249Wh/kg. Does this suggest that lithium-ion has reached its limit in terms of specific energy and thereby encourages enhanced research on lithium-sulfur and even lithium-oxygen alternatives? Clearly, lithium-polymer had fallen out of favour following the 2011 WSC in which two teams using this technology had succumbed to battery fires. Unfortunately, yet another lithiumpolymer fire caused the team from India to withdraw before the start of 2015 event. It should also be noted that, with nominal specific energy of 255Wh/kg, lithium-polymer had also lost its long-held advantage over lithium-ion. Apart from user abuse, the greater susceptibility of lithium-polymer to thermal runaway may lie in some aspect of the cell design or battery construction. Whereas lithium-ion

2015 BRIDGESTONE WORLD SOLAR CHALLENGE There were 28 entrants in the Challenger class, 11 in the Cruiser class and three in the Adventurer. As in 2013, lithium-ion was overwhelmingly the popular choice of battery. is housed in a cylindrical metallic case, lithium-polymer comes in a soft pouch, which thereby both decreases the weight (and thus augments the specific energy) and increases the packaging efficiency. That said, elimination of the metal container necessitates the provision of an alternative support for cells when assembled into a battery. There is no clear consensus on whether cells should be stacked vertically or horizontally. Swelling due to gas generation during charge/discharge is also a concern as it may lead to rupture of the pouch and ignition of the escaping gases. The interconnection of lithiumpolymer cells is less rugged than that of lithium-ion, but the current tabs do not take well to heat that may quickly melt the pouch material and, in turn, cause chemical seepage and conflagration. It is therefore vital that the battery container must be adequately cooled by either passive or active ventilation, free of sharp edges, and designed to protect the cells from mechanical stress — especially when located in a flimsy solar car that is travelling along a hot and windy Outback road.


Fierce competition

The 2015 Challenger Class proved to be the most closely fought contest in the annals of the World Solar Challenge. By the end of the first day, Team Twente from the Netherlands in Red One had taken the lead with their compatriots the Nuon Solar Team in Nuna 8 only two minutes behind. Michigan (USA)remained in contention in third place. Earlier, and only 96km from Darwin, disaster struck the Malaysian team from the Mara University of Technology. Stingray’s battery caught fire which could only be controlled by shovelling large quantities of sand into their car. Surprisingly, the battery was composed of Li-ion cells, not lithium-polymer. The team later blamed the fire on faulty electrical wiring. After two days of travelling 1786km through the Northern Territory with favourable winds and clear skies, a mere 11 minutes separated the top three Challengers as they crossed into South Australia. Only seconds separated the top two leads. For most of the fourth day, the two Dutch teams were just seconds apart. Finally, after 2560km of chasing,

Cruiser class Li-ion battery

Challenger class Li-polymer battery

Challenger class Li-on battery

Battery technologies used in the World Solar Challenge (1987−2015) Year

Number of teams Number of cars using given battery type


a b

Pb-acid Ag-Zn Ni-Cd Ni-Zn Ni-MH Li-ion Li-polymera LiFePO4


11 10 1 - - -



1990 36b

17 14 - 4 - -





23 17 - 12 - -





25 13 2 5 - 1



1999 40

20 5 - 2 4 9



2001 35

17 - - 1 - 15



2003 22

7 - - - - 9



2005 21

1 - - - 2 6



2007 38

7 - - - 1 7



2009 32

3 - - - - 7



2011 37

2 - - - - 15 15


2013 42

- - - - - 33



2015 43

2 - - - - 34



These batteries are marketed as lithium-polymer, but a more accurate term is ‘plastic lithium-ion’. One brave competitor ran without batteries!

Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016 • 77

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2015 BRIDGESTONE WORLD SOLAR CHALLENGE Tholstrup argued that a gruelling, long-distance contest was a more realistic showcase for solarpowered technology. Lessons from it would move the automobile industry towards more efficient vehicles Nuon seized its chance to overtake Twente. This was well timed as the roads were becoming more congested and less straight. By the end of the day, Nuna 8 had established a lead of some 15km. Michigan was still in third position, but 45 minutes adrift and with Tokai (Japan) gaining ground. Meanwhile, Punch (Belgium) slipped out of contention. The rough surface of the carbon-fibre body of Nuna 8 was covered with a specialized Sikkens coating to create a super-smooth, lightweight finish. The process took almost two weeks to complete and the body was polished until its aerodynamic resistance was as low as that of a car wing mirror. Given the 32kmh headwinds on the fifth day, this treatment gave the car the edge it required to withstand a strong challenge by Twente. Thus, the Nuon Solar Team defended the title they had won when the biennial event was last staged in 2013. It was the university’s sixth victory since they first competed in 2001. This time it averaged a speed of 91.75kmh. Twente crossed the finish line 3-1/2 minutes later — a fraction slower at 91.63km//hr but showing a dramatic improvement over 2013’s 79.10kmh. Tokai claimed third place some 45 minutes later but only four minutes ahead of the Michigan team. Only five of the entrants completed the 3022km on full solar power. The cars of the top teams were designed to appeal to different consumer markets. Kogakuin were fastest to the finish line, Eindhoven in second place easily accounted for the most passengerkilometres (6044km), and third-home Bochum were the leaders in style. Judging of vehicle practicality was held as a public event in Adelaide’s Victoria Square. Various pieces of luggage were provided and teams were asked to load as many items as possible into their respective cars. Cars and their drivers were also put through their paces to assess their parking skill, three-point manœuvrability, and handbrake starts. The lastmentioned test proved to be crowdpleaser and was conducted as follows. The vehicle was parked on a slope,

with the handbrake on. A raw egg was wedged behind the rear wheel and the driver was instructed to move off up the slope without rolling backwards, not even by a millimetre. An intact egg indicated success! Tests like this were commonplace in the heroic age of motoring, when careful driving was considered an important skill. After hours of deliberation by the judges (who included a representative from Tesla), the final scores were ready for announcement on the following night at the Awards Ceremony. With Stella Lux achieving a score of 97.3%, Eindhoven cruised into backto-back honours. The runner-up was Kogakuin in Owl (93.6%), followed Bochum in SunRiser (82.9%), the University of New South Wales (Australia) in Sunswift (72.9%), and the University of Minnesota (US) in Eos (68.2%). Through

The World Solar Challenge is incredible not because it is easy, but because it is hard. Participants are unlikely to forget what may prove to be one of the most important and thrilling adventures in their lifetimes.

designing their vehicle with the everyday driver in mind, Eindhoven had clearly produced a wonderful solar car in a field of exceptional cars and teams.

Putting it all together

The impact of the WSC extends well beyond raising awareness of solar technology and a number of its automotive sub-sets. Most importantly the students, scientists, engineers and enthusiasts who design, build and operate solar cars gain a deep understanding of the importance of energy efficiency. And in doing so, they are taught how to lead, how to follow, and how to communicate. These are among the people who will shape our future. The event is not all about the hightech, high-performance teams that win. It’s also about the teams that catch fire and still keep going. It’s about the teams that from the start realize that they will never finish, but nonetheless refuse to give up and nibble away slowly but surely at each kilometre. It’s about teams who freely assist other competitors who are experiencing technical problems with their cars. The World Solar Challenge is incredible not because it is easy, but because it is hard. Participants are unlikely to forget what may prove to be one of the most important and thrilling adventures in their lifetimes.

David Rand with Nuna 8, 2015 BWSC winner

Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016 • 79

BACK TO BASICS How and when to charge a secondary battery follows rules that are just as important in prolonging useful life as buying top-quality product, writes Isidor Buchmann, CEO of Cadex Electronics and founder of the Battery University.

Clever ways to prolong your batteries Early batteries were earmarked for commercial use such as telecommunications, signaling, portable lighting and waging war. Today, batteries have spread across all walks of life and are effectively ubiquitous in everything we see, say or do. Battery users want to learn more about this wonderful gadget and one of the most common questions asked is: “What can I do to prolong the life of my battery?” The table addresses how to care for various types of batteries to meet their needs. Because of similarities within the different battery families, the table only lists the most common systems, but all have something in common that include:

• Keep a battery at a moderate temperature. As food stays fresher when refrigerated, so also does cool temperature protect the battery by reducing internal corrosion. • Avoid deep cycling. Each cycle wears the battery down by a fraction and a partial discharge is better than a full discharge. When possible, only apply a full discharge to calibrate a smart battery and to prevent “memory” on nickel-based batteries. Li-ion is maintenancefree and the battery lasts longest when operating between 30% and 80% SoC. • Avoid abuse. Like a machine that wears down quicker under strenuous work, so is also a bat-

tery stressed on harsh discharges and rapid charges. A battery pack should be made large enough to minimize load-related stresses. Use cells that are optimized for power and energy. • Avoid ultra-fast charge. Charge Li-ion energy cells at less than 1C (below rated Ah); power cells are more rugged and can be charged and discharged at a higher rate. NiCd is the only battery that can be fast-charged up to 70% SoC without adverse side-effects. • Store Li-ion at partial charge in a cool place. The worst combination is high voltage and elevated temperature. Store Li-ion at approximately 50% SoC.

Frequently asked question

Lead acid (sealed, flooded)

Nickel-based (NiCd and NiMH)

Lithium-ion (Li-ion, polymer)

How should I prepare a new battery?

Battery comes fully charged. Apply topping charge every 6 months

Charge 14–16hrs. Priming may be needed to format

Apply a topping before use. No priming needed

Can I damage a battery with incorrect use?

Yes, do not store partially charged, keep fully charged

Battery is robust and the performance will improve with use

Keep some charge. Low charge can turn off protection circuit

Do I need to apply a full charge?

Yes, partial charge causes sulfation

Partial charge is fine

Partial charge better than a full charge

Can I disrupt the charge cycle?

Yes, partial charge causes no harm

Repeat charges can cause heat build-up

Partial charge causes no harm

Should I use up all battery energy before charging?

No, deep discharge wears battery down. Charge more often

Apply scheduled discharges only to prevent memory

Deep discharge wears the battery down

Do I have to worry about the ‘memory’ effect?

No memory

Discharge every 1–3 months

No memory

How do I calibrate a smart battery?

Not applicable

Apply discharge/charge when the fuel gauge gets inaccurate. Repeat every 1–3 months

Can I charge with the device on?

Avoid load if possible

Parasitic load can alter full-charge detection and overcharge battery or induce mini-cycles

Do I remove the battery when full?

Charger switches to float charge

Remove after a few days in charger

Not necessary; charger turns off

How do I store my battery?

Keep cells above 2.10V, charge every 6 months

Store in cool place; can be stored fully discharged

Store in cool place partially charged

Does battery heat during charge?

Lukewarm towards end of charge

Warm but must cool down when ready

Must stay cool or slightly warm

How do I charge when cold?

Slow charge (0.1): 0–45°C (32–113°F) Fast charge (0.5–1C): 5–45°C (41–113°F)

Do not charge below freezing

Can I charge at hot temperatures?

Lower threshold by 3mV/°C above 25°C

Battery will not fully charge when hot

Do not charge above 50°C (122°F)

What should I know about chargers?

Float charging at 2.25–2.30V/ cell when ready

Should include temp sensor

Battery must stay cool; no trickle charge

80 • Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016

ANALYSIS Solar-connected batteries enable self-consumption for individual households. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. What happens when these individual users are connected by software, join forces and then acting together as a virtual swarm become a valuable grid resource? Sara Verbruggen reports

Riders in the swarm: the new generators of household integration Before Elon Musk whipped back the curtain to reveal the PowerWall, German company Lichtblick was best known for having had some success at installing microgeneration boilers, based on a partnership with Volkswagen. But it is the company’s clever software that is the reason for the rising market interest in partnering with it. What many in the German solar industry describe as a fierce determination among the country’s citizens to have as much autonomy where energy is concerned — without actually going off-grid — this may be the latest chapter in the country’s Energiewende (energy transition). And it is one where batteries need to be included.

Despite the tapering off of subsidies, Germany’s solar electricity selfconsumption market has grown. The number of lithium battery storage units sold in 2016 could potentially double the amount sold since 2012. But the ability for consumers to use more electricity generated from their own solar panels, fails to exploit the technology’s full potential. If there is such a thing as a holy grail of the industry then it could be in the ability to take PV batteries installed within thousands of basements and garages, connect them all up, into one virtual power plant, to create a powerful grid resource. The aggregated batteries maintain the balance in the electricity grid while allowing individual asset own-

“Our project is different because we are charging and discharging. The cars being used are being driven by real users, commercial and individual; we qualify for and are actually participating in a real market and are being paid for providing service, subject to all of the restrictions of that market” — Willett Kempton, University of Delaware 82 • Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016

ers to be more proactive in how they use energy, including trading it. That’s something that Lichtblick — which translates into English as “ray of hope” — has been doing since 2010 with Volkswagen-made mini-combined heat and power plants installed in Hamburg.

Swarm leader

The software platform — Schwarmdirigent (translated roughly as Swarm Leader) — the company has developed to harness them, interacts with the grid to anticipate demand on the network, allowing the utility to generate power when the price for gas is low, compared with electricity. Lichtblick’s software, which monitors energy usage patterns of individual combined heat and power owners in its network, knows the nearest boiler to switch on to sell power to its neighbour, earning Lichtblick a profit in the process. Virtual power plant technology and software, which is necessary for transactive energy undertakings, could be a $5.3 billion market by 2023 according to Navigant Research. And it is drawing global players, such as Toshiba, which in 2013 bought Cybergrid, an Austrian developer of energy management software designed to match electricity consumption with a variety of distributed generation sources. Siemens and German utility RWE have been working together since 2012 to rollout a virtual power plant, following a pilot project that went live in 2008. There are efforts also underway to

ANALYSIS apply such platforms to electric car charging, enabling EV batteries to act as sinks or reserves of power to stabilize the grid, and earning owners some revenues while their cars are parked up. Following 2012 changes to the EEG (Renewable Energy Sources Act), in Germany, virtual power plants are emerging as an important tool to enable direct marketing of energy from solar, wind, biomass and other renewables. But they can also perform important grid support functions, such as the provision of controlling power in the minute reserve range, through combining electric power from a large number of generating plants and making this capacity available to the grid operator.

Prosumer power

However, while many of these are focused on networking up large utility-scale renewable energy assets Lichtblick’s attention is on bringing onboard small-scale prosumers, working with providers of residential energy storage systems, including Sonnenbatterie, Varta and now, Tesla. Lichtblick began exploring the compatibility of battery storage technology with its VPP platform, Schwarmdirigent recently. The company was set up in 1998, following deregulation of Germany’s energy market, as the first green energy utility in Europe. It soon made waves, offering private customers in Germany environmentally friendly gas, containing biogas, and by campaigning for more competition in the energy market and winning a court case in favour of greater transparency in fees for the national grid. In 2009, Lichtblick struck a partnership with Volkswagen, giving it the rights to sell the carmaker’s CHP microgeneration boilers. By 2014 the company had installed over 1,000 of the plants, all controlled by its Schwarmdirigent software. But last year, Volkswagen cancelled the agreement. According to speculation in the German press the carmaker most likely broke off the deal due to Lichtblick’s failure to shift large enough volumes, as the original agreement had pencilled in 100,000 units. Lichtblick’s official line is that it would have liked the agreement with Volkswagen to continue. Nevertheless since late 2014, Lichtblick has

been showing how PV storage systems and even electric vehicle charging, are compatible with its platform.

Solar-storage synergies

By working with Lichtblick energy storage, providers can sell systems with enhanced functionality. “We see the future in providing several layers of monetization or several layers of benefits that we want to and will offer to our customers,” says Boris von Bormann, chief executive of Sonnenbatterie’s North American division. “This is the key or base feature such as self-consumption or backup power. However, then the goal is to layer on-top different applications that the customer can benefit from, such as grid-services, energy trading, balance energy, intra-trading between Sonnenbatterie customers, making our system future-proofed.” To do this the company’s battery systems have several key software-driven functions, including compatibil-

ity with Lichtblick’s Schwarmdirigent software. All of Sonnenbatterie’s 8000 installed units can be retroactively connected up with Lichtblick’s swarm platform. This autumn, Lichtblick will start selling its partners’ storage systems (though not installing them) and has already taken several hundred preorders of Tesla’s PowerWalls. According to Lichtblick in May the two companies will initially start their collaboration in Germany and plan to expand their relationship into new markets including other parts of Europe, the US as well as Australia and New Zealand. The company says it is too early to go into details about this intensifying collaboration with Tesla, but Musk’s magic touch is opening doors. So far Lichtblick has had meetings in New York City. “There are a few deregulated regional power markets in the US, that are interesting for us, such as California and Texas as well as some


This infographic by Lichtblick shows the different types of resources, including renewables, CHP boilers, solar and EV batteries, all of which are compatible with the company’s virtual power plant platform. It is one of the only companies to show how such a wide variety of different microgeneration resources can be linked up together to deliver lowcost, on-site generated electricity and heating to consumers, while also performing services for the grid.

Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016 • 83

ANALYSIS Projects demonstrating how EV charging can be used as a grid buffering tool have been occurring worldwide. But in most of these no electricity is discharged from the cars’ batteries to the grid. of the east coast,” says Anke Blacha, a Lichtblick official.

Baby, you can charge my car

In Germany the company has had a couple of important pilots underway to demonstrate the versatility of its platform. In partnership with Volkswagen, Lichtblick has just finished a year-long field test of 20 electric cars in Berlin. The R&D project shows it is possible to integrate the cars’ batteries into the grid, aggregating them together. A key part of the project is to show that even though the priority of each battery is to have enough electricity for the car to be driven, it can also be called upon to inject electricity into the grid. Forty test drivers put their cars through different use cases and the batteries have been monitored for performance. The results will be made available by the end of 2015. The project also looked at how participants can be incentivized to take part. Projects demonstrating how EV charging can be used as a grid buffering tool have been occurring worldwide. But in most of these no electricity is discharged from the cars’ batteries to the grid. Only one other project, at the University of Delaware, has come close to showing how EVs in future might participate directly in trading electricity in their batteries with the grid, as an aggregated resource. “Our project is different because we are charging and discharging. The cars being used are being driven by real users, commercial and individual; we qualify for and are actually participating in a real market and are being paid for providing service, subject to all of the restrictions of that market,” says professor Willett Kempton, research director, at the University of Delaware’s Center for Carbon-free Power Integration. The project began running experimentally in 2007, leading to a joint venture in 2011 between the university and US power company NRG, called EV2G, which began generating revenues from the PJM Interconnec-

tion in early 2013. Monthly, each of the 20 cars in the initiative are paid in the region of $150 for supplying short bursts of power needed for frequency regulation services. The individual car owner might get somewhere between a half to two thirds of this amount. The driver can schedule in advance and input a minimum level of charge that they want left in the battery. EV2G collects the payments from the grid operator and pays the owners based on the availability of their vehicles. Projects like Lichtblick’s and the University of Delaware’s also suggest how it might be possible in future for EV owners to reduce the cost of their investment in their car, by earning revenues from providing grid services when it is parked up.

Two way chargers

A unique aspect of the EV2G project is the two way chargers allow PJM In-

terconnection to draw off power and also give it back to the vehicle’s battery, to help balance the grid. In other projects, for example, EV batteries, aggregated, are modulated in terms of how much they charge up depending on the power needs of the grid. Typically, the EV’s load can be reduced following a demand response request or pricing signal. The fleet, together, supports grid balancing while never discharging energy from the vehicle to the grid. To do this, the project, which is really a microgrid, is using chargers, integrated with energy storage and also connected up to solar PV systems. In addition to Volkswagen, Lichtblick’s partners on its EV project included SMA, which provided a smart charging station that ensures that electricity can flow back and forth between the grid and the battery in the garage. Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology have been examining the effects of the interaction between the swarm battery and the electrical grid during the trial. The 40 drivers in the project used a special smartphone app developed by Lichtblick to schedule when they needed the car and how


In a project with partners SMA and Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology, using Volkswagen’s e-up! electric cars, green utility and IT business Lichtblick has demonstrated how its swarm platform can network EV batteries to be used as a grid resource.The 40 drivers in the project used a special smartphone app developed by Lichtblick to

schedule when they needed the car and how much battery capacity was required. If there is such a thing as a holy grail of the industry then it could be in the ability to take PV batteries installed within thousands of basements and garages, connect them all up, into one virtual power plant, to create a powerful grid resource.

Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016 • 85

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Meet us at interbat 2016

It handles stationary, small and mid-sized traction as well as automotive battery plates.

ANALYSIS much battery capacity was required. Some participants used the car as their main vehicle while others used it as their second car. The different use cases will provide important data on how batteries perform under various amounts of use. Both Lichtblick’s project and the University of Delaware’s work are generating information on how EV batteries withstand over their deployment as a grid resource, about which there is little data, though it is dependent on how the batteries are managed and the interplay with the chemistry. This June the EV2G initiative secured a share of a $6.5 million Department of Energy (DoE) grant to take part in NREL’s Integrated Network Testbed for Energy Grid Research and Technology Experimentation (INTEGRATE) project. The initiative’s aim is to enable clean energy technologies to increase the hosting capacity of the grid by providing grid services in a holistic way, via a platform that is open source and interoperable. In this way the work of Kempton and his colleagues, which has already demonstrated on a small-scale the potential for electric cars to act as an aggregated grid battery, is going to be

A unique aspect of the EV2G project is the two way chargers allow PJM Interconnection to draw off power and also give it back to the vehicle’s battery, to help balance the grid. part of a much broader initiative that is demonstrating a more expansive VPP concept. Other technologies in the project include solar inverters, thermostats, pool pumps, community battery storage as well as bi-directional electric car chargers.


The platform will allow renewable energy systems and other clean energy technologies to be connected to a smart power grid in a plug-and-play way, just like computers allow users to plug in new devices and connect automatically to the device. Although this sounds simple, it will require the integration and coordination of a broad mix of technologies, including different types of hardware, advanced software, monitoring, control and communication technologies. The open platform will need to enable the grid to support large-scale com-

plex operations, interacting with distribution systems at electric utilities. Mastering Big Data is essential to such projects becoming more mainstream. No wonder big blue chips are circling and Silicon Valley is pumping money into start-ups that are focused on wrangling distributed generation into a grid-friendly resource. In Lichtblick’s favour is the company’s ability to show how a variety of different types of distribution generation and storage technologies can interplay within its VPP platform, because in reality consumers need electricity and they need heat. As a utility, Lichtblick is unique in that is has made considerable investment in its own software. “Many utilities made the decision to outsource the IT aspects of their businesses. From the outset Lichtblick decided it had to keep this in-house,” says Blacha. It’s a move that may give the company an edge as the swarm gathers.


Hamburg from above: a new destination for the swarm

Lichtblick’s EV project is not the only way the company is demonstrating its VPP platform. The company is running this until 2016 and showing how a variety of generation sources in a building — rooftop PV, battery storage, CHP generators, electric cars, can all be combined

together in a mini-swarm through its Schwarmdirigent platform. Two apartment blocks in Hamburg are participating. The electric car can be charged using electricity from the PV panels or the CHP unit, while appliances also run off locally produced electricity.

By orchestrating all the different power or storage components together the building is almost entirely reliant on locally produced cheap power — thermal as well as electrical — though any rare shortfalls can be bridged by green power, provided by Lichtblick.

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TECHNOLOGY: UNDERSTANDING THE BMS John Warner, perhaps best known as an articulate speaker on the development of lithium ion batteries has recently released a book The Handbook of Lithium Ion Battery Pack Design, where we extract a chapter, The book is a useful tool for understanding the power, potential and pitfalls of the chemistry as an energy storage medium.

BMS controls — the brains of the working in the lithium ion battery pack The Battery Management System, while it may have many other names, is the central control unit of the battery pack. It is essentially (and quite literally) the brains of the operation. The BMS is a combination of several component systems, including a host or master controller (a printed circuit board, a PCB), a series of slave control boards (depending on system typography), sensors, and software that makes everything work together. Some people also expand the definition of a BMS to include the control electronics such as the switches, fuses, high-voltage front end, high-voltage interlock loop, and disconnects. What, then, does a BMS do in a lithium-ion battery system? In short, the BMS provides protection against overcharging, over-discharging, high temperatures, low temperatures, short circuiting, and other failure modes. In addition to protection, the BMS offers monitoring functionality; in fact the protection would be useless without the ability to monitor the state of the battery and cells. The BMS also communicates both internally within the pack as well as to the outside controllers and systems. Finally, the BMS provides optimization and maximization of the batteries performance, ensuring that the user can get the best performance out of the battery at any time. Overlaid on top of all of these are the software calculations that estimate the various factors within the battery such as the state of health (SOH), the state of charge (SOC), maximum voltage, etc. That describes the ‘what’ of the

BMS; the ‘why’ then is relatively simple. Why does a lithium-ion battery pack need a BMS? In short, the BMS ensures the safety and life of the battery pack. The BMS manages the amount of power and energy in the pack to achieve the desired lifetime of the pack. Most portable power batteries for laptops and similar devices only need to provide energy and power over a year or two and are generally operated in a narrow temperature range. How often do you leave your laptop outside in the middle of winter? On the other hand, the automotive and industrial batteries must last from eight to 10 or even 15 years or longer and will need to survive in a very wide range of temperatures from the Arizona desert summers to the extremely cold winters of the northern regions. Can a lithium-ion battery be used without a BMS? I have heard of some racing type EV applications where they claim to have no BMS in the system. But these are typically one- or two-use applications; the life of the battery may only need to last for one racing season and will be stressed to the extreme so warranty and longevity are not concerns. But overall, no production application will be designed without a BMS. Compared to other cell chemistries, lithium-ion needs to be managed in order to ensure its safety. A lead–acid battery, for instance, easily operates with no form of electronic controls as it is more easily able to accept abusive conditions without going into thermal

runaway-type events. Lithium-ion, on the other hand, must be managed to ensure that the cells stay below their maximum and minimum voltage, temperature, and current limits. This chapter/article will provide the reader with a very brief overview of the BMS, its functionality, and its hardware. For a more detailed review of the BMS and its operation, I recommend Davide Andrea’s well written book Battery Management Systems for Large Lithium-Ion Packs Andrea covers all topics in great detail from general descriptions to how to design and build your own BMS.

BMS typologies

There are two basic types of BMS system topologies, a centralized BMS and a distributed BMS. The main difference between the two is where the hardware is mounted. This is of course a major simplification but is relatively accurate. The host, or master, control unit usually encompasses the majority of the functionality of the ESS: • opening and closing the contactors, monitoring the temperature of the pack, and communicating with the cell control boards to monitor the cell temperatures; • monitors the voltage of the pack and cell control boards; • manages the heating and/or cooling (turning it on and off) based on the temperature readings; • manages the safety (opening and closing the contactors based on the voltage and temperature and SOx);

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TECHNOLOGY: UNDERSTANDING THE BMS • calculates, manages, and tracks the SOx functions, and communicates with the vehicle (or other master system). The controller is made up of two main components: a hardware controller board and a large amount of software algorithms that ensure the performance and safety of the complete system. In a centralized BMS system, the main control board as well as the cellmonitoring control boards are all colocated in one unit with wiring harnesses spanning throughout the pack connecting to all of the cells (Figure 1). This minimises the amount of hardware but increases the amount of wiring needed in the pack. In the distributed BMS structure (Figure 2), there is a host or master controller that is centrally located and there are multiple separate boards to monitor the cells that are usually mounted directly to the cells or modules. This reduces the wiring needed as the slave boards tend to be connected in a daisy chain manner. But it also tends to drive up the cost as it increases the amount of PCB type hardware that is required. However, the distributed BMS design is often used to offer greater functionality and control within the system as each slave board controls only a limited number of cells. There is some variability in the BMS architecture as the types of typologies actually vary across a continuum with the distributed at one end and the centralised at the other end. There are several variations of these BMS system architecture and the final design will be determined by how the system is going to be used.

BMS hardware

The BMS hardware board(s) are a critical part of the design process. It typically includes one or more PCBs that integrates all of the components that make up the controller board, including CAN, LIN, or other communications components, capacitors, resistors, current sensors (Figure 3), and most importantly the applicationspecific integrated circuit (ASIC) (Figure 4), all mounted on to a nonconductive substrate and connected with embedded conductive copper that is etched from copper sheets and then laminated on to the boards. The slave boards may go by one of many different names, in fact depending on the designer. There are a wide variation in naming conventions, in-

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cluding voltage–temperature monitoring (VTM) board, cell supervision circuit (CSC), and many others. But in any case, similar design focus should be made in the slave boards. Especially important in the slave

and the cabling that connects them. Another option for the PCB slave board is the use of a flexible circuit board or flex circuit. This solution is essentially the same as the hard PCB board but instead of using a hard

Figure 1. Centralized battery management system (BMS)

Figure 2. Distributed BMS

board design is the balancing circuit and the waste-heat management of the boards. With a passive-type balancing system, these boards will convert energy into waste heat. The boards must be designed in such a way as to minimize the impact of the heat on either the cells or the board components itself. Another important aspect of the electronic hardware design is taking into account the electromagnetic interference (EMI) and electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) of the components in the system. This is especially important when the control board is in close proximity with a charger, inverter, converter, or other high-voltage equipment. In these cases, it is important to provide adequate shielding of the hardware

Figure 3. Top Figure 4. Below


Figure 5. Imbalanced cells at beginning of discharge

substrate, it uses a flexible plastic substrate, or a combination of the two. This is most often used in the CSC boards that mount directly to the cell modules.


One of the other features of most BMS systems is their ability to maintain the cells in a pack at the same SOC, this is referred to as balancing the cells. The reason for balancing is that lithium-ion cells, just like any manufactured component, are manufactured to within a specification range but are not all exactly identical in their SOC or voltage when they are shipped from the factory. Additionally, lithium-ion, like almost all batteries, suffers from leakage or self-discharge over time. In other words, if a cell is shipped at 3.7 V and 100% SOC, by the time it reaches the pack manufacturer it may be down to 99.5% SOC (purely for explanation purposes).

Figure 6. Imbalanced cells at end of discharge

So for a large lithium-ion pack that is made up of hundreds or thousands of cells, the cells may all arrive at the pack integrator at very slightly different states of charge. While that may not seem to be a major concern because the variations are so small, it can create some major problems as the system begins operating. This is because the ability to charge and discharge is limited by the cell with the lowest (on discharge) cell SOC. A simple example may help to clarify this. In the example below (Figure 5), we see three cells with two at about the same SOC and the third at slightly lower capacity. This is an unbalanced group of cells. When the cells are fully discharged, cell #1 will be fully discharged before the other two and the pack will stop discharging as any further discharge will damage cell #1. This means that there will always be some remaining charge that is essentially unusable in the other cells as it will never be able

A large lithium-ion pack is made up of hundreds or thousands of cells. The cells may all arrive at the pack integrator at very slightly different states of charge. While that may not seem to be a major concern because the variations are so small, it can create some major problems as the system begins operating. DESIGN GUIDELINES AND BEST PRACTICES There are two major types of BMS typologies: centralized and distributed • A centralized BMS has all of the hardware located in one spot in the battery pack • A distributed BMS has a single master controller and then a series of slave boards attached to the cell modules Two major types of cell balancing are passive and active balancing • Passive balancing uses resistors to convert excess energy into waste heat • Active balancing transfers energy from a cell at a higher SOC to a cell at a lower SOC.

to be fully discharged (Figure 6). Over time, this variation in the cell SOC will grow as the battery is cycled and eventually will lead to premature failure or end of life of the system. Additionally, the cell that is the weakest in this example will get more use than the others, resulting in it premature aging. In other words, this first cell will work harder than the others, which will lead to an early death for both the cell as well as the complete battery system. It is vital to ensure that the cells are as closely matched as possible. However, this is exactly what BMS balancing is intended to resolve. Cell balancing is essentially the act of making all of the cells the same SOC. As Davide Andrea describes it, balancing is the term used for the process of bringing the SOC levels of cells in a battery closer to each other, in order to maximize the battery’s capacity, One additional thing to note here is that when cells are assembled into parallel configurations, they will automatically balance to each other. Each of the groups of parallel cells will still need to be balanced, but the cells within the parallel group will self-balance. The other question that comes about when talking about balancing is when to do it. Most of the current BMS systems on the market today balance the cells while the ESS system is charging. This is done for a couple of reasons. First, balancing usually takes a significant amount of time and the battery must essentially be out of use when it occurs in order to accurately measure the capacity and voltage of the cells in the energy storage system. Alternatively, for an HEV application, balancing could be done during a long freeway drive when the battery is essentially unused. However, this may generate some challenges while the BMS decides that you are on the freeway and can balance. This may be done by monitoring the speed of the vehicle and the duration that it re-

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TECHNOLOGY: UNDERSTANDING THE BMS The unsung hero of the BMS system is the software that controls it all. Most manufacturers will guard the core software very closely as this is the core IP of the entire BMS design. mains at high speeds. Of course, this also assumes that you are on the road long enough to complete the balancing. Alternative definition: another way to look at cell balancing is to imagine that you are at a party and a new game is being played. In this game, there is a table with three glasses on it. We need to fill and then eventually empty all of the glasses. But there are some rules we must follow. The first rule is that you have to use the special funnel device that allows all three glasses to be filled at the same time and with the same amount of water. The second rule is that you must stop filling the glasses once one of them is completely full, regardless of how full the others are. The third rule is that you must drain all the glasses at the same time using another funnel tool. Finally, the fourth rule is that you must stop emptying the glasses once one of them is completely empty. Ok, now that we have the rules. Let’s take a look at what it might look like…(Figure 7). In this game, we see that the water levels have been exaggerated greatly to facilitate the game. However, the result is clear. When you begin filling the glasses through the funnel (rule 1), the last glass will get filled compared to the top first (rule 2). Now you can see that the other two glasses still have plenty of room in them and in fact the first glass is not even close to being full (Figure 8). So using this example, we see that cell balancing can be done in one of two different manners. Either the water is removed from the fuller glasses or the water is transferred from the fuller to the less full glasses. The next section will describe these two actions, passive and active balancing.

Active versus passive balancing

There are two main methods for achieving cell balancing within a large lithium-ion battery pack, either active or passive balancing. The simplest explanation of the difference is based on what is done with the energy in the cell.

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In passive balancing, the excess energy of the highest SOC cells is converted into heat energy and dissipated, essentially wasting the excess energy of the highest SOC cells. This can be done through several methods but the most common is to use a resistor to convert the energy into heat. Of course, this means that appropriate-sized resistors must be integrated into the slave boards that monitor the cells. This also means that you can use one resistor to balance multiple cells, although not at the exact same time. The main benefit of passive balancing is that it is less expensive than an active balancing system, which makes it the preferred system for automotive applications. However, the detriment of this system is that energy is wasted as it is converted into heat energy. This creates a secondary problem as this heat generation must now be managed within the battery pack system. Another potential challenge to passive balancing is that it can be more time consuming than in an active balancing system (Figure 9). In an active balancing system (Figure 10), the excess energy of the higher SOC cells is moved to the lower SOC cells until all of the cells are at the same SOC. This may actually be done through a repetitive process whereby as more capacity is freed up, the charging will resume until the lowest cell again hits its maximum limit, then the balancing again resumes until all cells are at the same SOC. The benefit of the active balancing system is that the excess energy is not wasted, instead moved into the other cells. However, the detriment of this is that the hardware required for active

Figure 7. Imbalanced cells

Figure 8. Effect of imbalanced cells at full charge

balancing is more expensive and can require more space within the pack. The electronics necessary to do this must also be attached to each cell, or integrated in the slave boards for a group of cells. There have been a lot of evaluations of both systems over the past few years; however, current studies do not show the long-term benefits of using an active balancing system. In short with the current level of technology, there does not appear to be any major system benefits that can be achieved and those minimal ben-

Another important aspect of the electronic hardware design is taking into account the electromagnetic interference and electromagnetic compatibility of the components in the system. ... this is especially important when the control board is in close proximity with a charger, inverter, converter, or other high-voltage equipment.

TECHNOLOGY: UNDERSTANDING THE BMS JOHN WARNER John Warner has more than 25 years’ experience in the automotive and battery industries. He is vice president of sales and marketing for XALT Energy and a member of the SAE Battery Size Standardization Committee. Warner, who has a doctorate from Phoenix University and MBA from Baker College, has previously worked as a director for Magna Steyr Battery Systems and Boston-Power. Before that he spent over 12 years at General Motors in various management roles.

The benefit of the active balancing system is that the excess energy is not wasted, instead moved into the other cells. However, the detriment of this is that the hardware required for active balancing is more expensive and can require more space within the pack. efits do not outweigh the added cost for an active balancing system.

Additional BMS functionality

The other functionality of the BMS is no less important than balancing. In fact while it will significantly affect the life of a pack, the energy storage system could operate without any form of balancing. On the other hand, monitoring the temperature of both the cells and the pack, as well as the voltage of the cells and the pack is

Figure 9 Passive cell balancing

critical for maintaining the safety of the system. The core job of the BMS is to ensure that the battery system does not allow the cells to operate outside of their safe operating range. This includes monitoring the pack current, cell and pack voltage, and the cell and pack temperatures. Monitoring the pack current enables the system to determine how much power is instantaneously available for both discharge and charge

(regeneration). Since driving the cells either over or under their maximum and minimum voltages can result in catastrophic failure, it is vital that the BMS has capability to monitor every cell in series within the pack (cells in parallel will be treated as a single cell in most BMS systems). These data can then direct the system as when to begin or stop a charge or discharge event. Finally, monitoring and managing the temperature of the cells and the overall pack is another vital piece of data as continued operation outside of these limits can not only reduce the life, but drive the cells into thermal runaway. The BMS is responsible for telling the system to send more cooling or heating to the cells. The other important aspect of the BMS is its ability to communicate with the external system. Most ad-

Figure 10 Active cell balancing

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TECHNOLOGY: UNDERSTANDING THE BMS vanced BMS systems will have the capability to both send and receive messages from the vehicle and or motor controller. Typically, the BMS will send requests to reduce or stop the battery current (discharge) entirely and will send data on the status of the pack itself such as remaining capacity and energy, which can be converted into range and life for the end user. Finally, the BMS will decide when to open and close the contactors in the system thereby allowing current to flow from the pack to the electric motors or to flow from the charging system into the battery.

Software and controls

The unsung hero of the BMS system is the software that controls it all. Most manufacturers will guard the core software very closely as this is the core IP of the entire BMS design. Most of the hardware is based on off-the-shelf components, but the software is custom designed and may consist of tens of thousands of lines of code. The code may also be referred to as a series of algorithms. Essentially it is

The main benefit of passive balancing is that it is less expensive than an active balancing system, which makes it the preferred system for automotive applications. However, the detriment of this system is that energy is wasted as it is converted into heat energy. a series of mathematical formulas and calculations to understand all of the SOx states of the battery, how much energy and power is available for instantaneous use, what the current SOC is, how much SOC is left, and how much life is left. The algorithms are a very complex set of models that are usually based on a specific cell. Most often the BMS designers will operate the chosen cell in a controlled laboratory environment in order to understand how it operates under different conditions and then overlay this on to the code. Through a series of repetitive steps, it is possible for the software designers to end up with a set of algorithms that can accurately predict the perfor-

mance of a cell under most conditions. This is also the reason that it is generally not possible to take a BMS designed for a chemistry and integrate it into a system designed with a different chemistry. For instance, NMC cells operate at a nominal voltage of 3.7V, while LFP type cells operate at a nominal voltage of 3.3V and LTO cells operate at about 2.2V. So the algorithm must be designed such that it understands the maximum and minimum ranges that it can operate within. Now there are several BMS manufacturers out there who have developed multiple sets of software for their single set of hardware thereby making them usable with multiple chemistries.

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26.01.16 11:47


Welcome to a special section of our magazine, called Conference in Print. Our aim is a simple one. We want to offer you the readers a section where you can highlight your products, technology and skills to our broader audience — rather like going to a conference or an exhibition without the inconvenience of all the travel! We’re putting no restrictions on what you’d like to showcase — this is your section not ours — but hope that this will prove an invaluable and cost-effective way to reach our audience of subscribers and readers.

CONFERENCE IN PRINT The issue of lithium ion battery safety refuses to go away. Experimenting with the nail penetration and hot box tests continue to show dangerous and unstable rises in heat. Perhaps a better separator is in order. Dreamweaver’s Brian Morin, shares his latest test results.

Dreamweaver non-woven nanofiber separators

Comparing shutdown separators to thermally stable separators As lithium ion batteries proliferate into larger and more diverse applications, safety becomes one of the key concerns with battery design. In particular, the ability to survive abuse testing is increasingly difficult with higher energy density electrodes, and with cells that have higher energy per cell. Many approaches are being taken, some of which will take years, or decades, to mature until they can be widely disseminated. Among these are nonflammable ionic liquid electrolytes, which remove the most flammable component of a cell. Others include solid state batteries, which are commercial today with a requirement for an 80°C operating temperature, and which are being designed for lower temperature usage but have not yet reached commercial scale.

A key component for safety design is the battery separator, which separates the electrodes but holds electrolyte and allows ions to flow freely between electrodes through the electrolyte. However, cell failure under abuse testing today is often due to failure of the separators. Current technology separators are made from olefin polymers with low melting points between 135°C for polyethylene (PE) and 165°C for polypropylene (PP). To cover for the thermal failures that are experienced when cells approach these temperatures, manufacturers have coated the separators with a variety of materials, including primarily ceramic particles held together with polymer binders. Much has been made about the shutdown function in polyolefin lithium ion separators, which is said to shut off the ionic conductivity of the

Cell preparation Cell cycle Dry separator 3 hrs under vacuum at 120°C (DWI) or 100°C (PP and PE/ceramic) Assemble cells Dry cells overnight at 100°C Fill cells with electrolyte, wait >2 hrs Tap charge to 2.00V CV @ 2.00V 24 hrs Sit 24 hours (rest) Formation charge at C/6 rate to 3.6V then CV to C/60 Discharge at C/6 to 2.50V Charge at C/6 rate to 3.6V then CV to C/60 Discharge at C/6 to 2.50V Charge at C/6 rate to 3.6V then CV to C/60 Discharge at C/6 to 2.50V Charge cells at C/6 to 30% SoC Record voltage (24 hour rest period) Table 1. Cell build and formation procedure for cells included in this study 98 • Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016

separator as the cell temperature is raised, eliminating the source of heat and “shutting down” the function of the cell prior to full thermal runaway. In the experiments presented here, lithium iron phosphate pouch cells have been prepared that are otherwise identical except for the substitution of four different separators: a PP separator, a ceramic coated PE separator, and Dreamweaver’s nanofiber based Silver and Gold separators. The first two separators are “shutdown separators,” while the latter two are not, but have higher melting and thermal degradation points. The cells were tested for electrical performance and very little difference was seen between the cells. They were also tested for safety using hard short, overcharge, hot box and nail penetration tests. As will be discussed in detail later, there was no evidence of a shutdown function in the polyolefin separators, but significant evidence of higher thermal stability in the separators made from more thermally stable materials. Pouch cells were made 55mm x 115mm and nominal capacity 3Ah. The electrodes were lithium iron phosphate (LFP) cathodes and graphite anodes, commercially produced by a Chinese battery producer. The cells were filled, sealed formed and tested according to the procedure in Table 1. Formation was done on a Maccor battery tester. All of the separators tested were 25 microns thick. The separators tested were: • 25 micron polypropylene, dry processed • 25 micron ceramic coated polyethylene, wet processed • 25 micron Dreamweaver Silver nanofiber nonwoven

CONFERENCE IN PRINT For all of the tests except nail penetration, the cells were clamped between two pieces of cardboard to limit expansion due to outgassing prior to the pouch venting.

the highest discharge capacity was measured for Silver, then PE/Ceramic, then Gold and the PP separator which performed nearly the same at 3C, with Gold outperforming at 2C.

Electrical tests

Safety testing — hard short

Cells were characterized for rate capability by charging at C/6, and then performing three consecutive discharges at each of C/12, C/6, C/4, C/2, C, 2C and 3C. For discharge times longer than C (1 hour), the cells performed similarly. At discharge times from 2C and 3C,

Hard short tests were conducted by connecting the positive and negative electrodes with 14 gauge wire through a switch rated for 30 A. The cells were wired to record voltage across the electrodes and temperature on the surface of the cell for the duration of the test. During the test, the most immediate

effect after the switch was switched was that the negative electrode tab heated and began to glow. These tabs, at 4 mm, were not sufficient to carry the load of the current. All of the cells performed similarly, rising within 3 minutes to above 100 C, reaching a peak temperature at 5 minutes, with the electrolyte outgassing and venting after about 15 minutes. There was a small difference in the rate of rise of the cells during the first three minutes as shown in Figure 2, which could be evidence of internal shorting around the negative electrode tab, as the rate of rise

THE RESULTS Abuse tests have been performed on 2.7Ah lithium iron phosphate pouch cells made with four different separators: a standard polypropylene separator, a ceramic coated polyethylene separator, Dreamweaver’s nanofiber based Silver separator, and Dreamweaver’s nanofiber based Gold separator that is reinforced with para-aramid. The cells were all tested for hard short, overcharge, 170°C hot box and nail penetration. A summary of the results is as follows: Hard short: The cells all performed the same, with the anode tab (4mm tab) getting red hot, and the cells slowly heating and the electrolyte expanding until the seal broke. Overcharge: All cells failed at 5.5V by outgassing. There were no flames, and the temperature rise was uniform between cells made with different separators. Hot box: Cells made with PP and PE/ceramic separators both had faster temperature rises than either the DWI Silver or Gold cells. They also both experienced a catastrophic short after around 20 minutes, compared to the DWI Silver and Gold cells, which maintained voltage for one hour and never experienced a short.

(Left) Dreamweaver Silver separator after test, with no change in shape or color and clean puncture. (Right) PP separator after test, with splitting and shrinkage near penetration and significant heat shrinkage at end of electrode

Nail penetration: The nail penetration cells experienced likewise a significantly improved behavior in the Dreamweaver cells. Cells made with both olefin separators dropped immediately to zero voltage, which persisted throughout the test. The temperature rise was also faster and to higher temperatures (up to 115°C) than the cells made with Gold (40°C) and Silver (60°C). The Dreamweaver cells, on the contrary, experienced only a small voltage drop of approximately 100 mV, with a slow rise thereafter as Nail Penetration Voltage vs Time

the cell discharged. The DWI cells continued to function and retained two-thirds of their charge and capacity after completion of the test. These results show a dramatic improvement in the safety performance of these cells when using separators that are more thermally stable, as compared with separators that have a shutdown function. Follow on experiments will need to be performed on cells with a larger capacity as well as cells with different cathode materials. 170 C Hot Box Voltage vs Time

The short for the PE/ceramic cell occurred with onset at around 140°C, and for the PP cell at around 145°C. Both of the DWI cells rose to nearly the oven temperature without experiencing a short, and did not undergo thermal runaway.

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Figure 1 Discharge capacity for cells tested at different rates from C/12 to 3C. Figure 3 (Left) Initial temperature rise during the 170°C hot box test, showing some internal heating from polyolefin separators (PP and PE/ceramic) compared to nanofiber based separators (Silver, Gold). (Right) Voltage drop during 170°C hot box test, showing stable voltage for the duration of the test for nanofiber based separators, and hard shorts occurring for polyolefin separators around 30 minutes into the test.

for the different cells is faster for those made with less thermally stable materials (PE/ceramic, PP) and slower for those made with more thermally stable materials (DWI Silver, Gold). However, all of the cells failed within the same time period and reached approximately the same temperatures, so no strong conclusions can be reached. Figure 2 Temperature rise during the first three minutes of the hard short test, showing slightly higher rates for less thermally stable separators.

One remarkable feature is the voltage behaviour, in which the PP and PE/ ceramic cells voltage immediately dropped to zero, indicating a hard short between the current collectors from the anode and the cathode, while the voltage for the Silver and Gold separators each dropped by approximately 100mV, indicating that the short was likely between electrodes and did not short the current collectors themselves 100 • Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016

Safety testing — overcharge

The overcharge test was performed by starting with cells at 30% state of charge (SOC) and then charging at 2C until failure. Each cell was again wired to measure temperature and voltage over time. The voltage at the onset of failure was measured by observing the voltage rise and determining the first dip in voltage. The uncoated separators all failed at the same voltage: 5.55V, while the ceramic coated PE separator failed at 5.9V, significantly higher than the other three.

Safety testing — hot box

Hot box tests were performed in an oven at 170°C, with the cells similarly wired to measure voltage and temperature over the course of the test. All cells were tested for one hour or until failure. The PP and PE/ceramic cells both vented when the thermocouple read 125°C, and shorted when the thermocouple read 145°C. As with the hard short tests, the initial temperature rise was faster with the less thermally stable materials than with the more thermally stable materials, as is shown in the left side of Figure 3.

Notice there is some slight perturbation in the temperature rise for the PP and PE/ceramic separator cells occurring around a cell temperature of 125°C-130°C. It is possible that this could be attributed to the shutdown function temporarily slowing the internal heating of the cells. However, the cells quickly recover and begin again their internal heating. The voltage over the course of the test is shown on the right side of Figure 3, where the shorts exhibited by the PP and PE/ceramic cells can easily be seen. It is interesting that the short for PP appears to be clean and complete with a relatively broad onset, while the short with PE/ceramic is initially sharper, but then oscillates significantly, as if the ceramic coating is playing a role, but is ineffective in blocking the short. Neither of the nanofiber based separators exhibited any venting or shorting, and the voltage remained stable over the course of the test within ±7mV.

Safety testing — nail penetration

Nail penetration tests were performed by placing a polished and cleaned iron nail into a holder over the cell, and then driving it through the cell with a hammer. The holder ensured a straight and clean penetration, which was in general achieved with a single stroke of the hammer. The cells were wired for temperature measurement above and below the cell near the area of nail penetration, and also for recording voltage.

CONFERENCE IN PRINT Dry process PP separator autopsy

Figure 4 Voltage and temperature for cells undergoing a nail penetration test. The polyolefin separators voltage dropped immediately to zero and had the fastest temperature rise to the highest temperatures, compared to the thermally stable nanofiber based cells, which showed a voltage drop of only 100 mV and a slow temperature rise to much lower temperatures.

The results of the test are striking. First, the voltage of both of the polyolefin separators dropped immediately to zero and persisted there for the duration of the test. This is shown below in Figure 4. The voltage for the thermally stable separators dropped approximately 100mV, and then underwent a slow rise in voltage over the next 20 minutes. The thermal results also reflect the difference in the character of the shorts generated by the nail penetration, and this is also shown in Figure 4, using the scale on the right. The PE/ceramic cell underwent the fastest temperature rise, rising within 90 seconds to a peak of 115°C, and then slowly dropping. This cell smoked from the penetration hole but did not catch fire. The PP cell had the next highest temperature rise, taking approximately nine minutes to reach a peak of 74°C. The Silver cell fared only a little better, reaching a peak of 63°C in about the same time period. The Gold cell showed the slowest and least temperature rise, peaking at 41°C after 12 minutes and then slowly dropping. One remarkable feature of these cells is the voltage behaviour, in which the PP and PE/ceramic cells voltage immediately dropped to zero, indicating a hard short between the current collectors from the anode and the cathode, while the voltage for the Silver and Gold separators each dropped by approximately 100mV, indicating that the short was likely between electrodes and did not short the current

collectors themselves. In this case, as the portion of the cell around the nail began to be depleted of energy, the voltage at the tabs would rise slowly, which is what was observed, with a total voltage rise of ~50mV over the test, as measured from the lowest voltage after the nail penetrated until the final voltage. The cells that underwent nail penetration were then taken to a dry box and disassembled with photographs taken of every layer. It is worth examining these on a separator-by-separator basis.

Figure 5 shows pictures of the disassembled cells using PP separator, and also close up images of the holes created by the nail penetration. Two features are immediately evident. The first is the shrinkage indicated by both the exposed electrodes in the top two pictures and also the ripples in the separator. This exposed electrode and rippling was present in nearly every layer of the disassembled cell. It is surprising to see such prevalent shrinkage in a cell that only exhibited a maximum surface temperature of 73°C, and indicates that the temperature inside the cell likely reached much higher temperatures. The second feature is the eye-shaped holes created by the nail, as shown most clearly in the bottom two pictures. In both of these pictures, the separator shows splitting in addition to a round penetration. This can be understood when a piece dry processed PP separator is handled — it is “splitty,” or extremely easy to split and tear in the machine direction. Whether this occurred when the nail penetrated, or after when the material heated and began to shrink is unknown. However it is certain to have caused additional shorting around the hole, allowing electrodes to come into contact. A third feature is present in the upper right picture, in which it can be

Figure 5 Photos taken during the autopsy of the cells made with dry processed PP separator that had undergone the nail penetration test. The top two photos show electrode exposed when the separator shrank. The bottom two show a splitting of the separator around the hole where the nail penetrated. Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016 • 101

CONFERENCE IN PRINT seen that the separator near the right edge of the electrode is clearer than a few centimeters into the cell. This is likely the “shutdown” feature that is often discussed in these cells. In this feature, as they shrink, the pores close up and disallow ions from

transferring from one electrode to another in the region where the separator has shut down. About halfway between the edge of the electrode and the nail penetration hole is a white line, where this separator, still damp with electrolyte, likely

still has full porosity. However, it is clear there is a morphological change in the separator at this point in the cell, delimiting two regions with likely different electrical properties. In any case, any shut down that occurred did not prevent internal heating and shorting, which is evident both near the nail hole and at the right edge of the cell.

Wet process ceramic coated PE separator autopsy

Figure 6. Photos taken during the autopsy of the cells made with wet processed ceramic coated PE separator that had undergone the nail penetration test. The top two photos show little macroscopic shrinkage in the separator. The bottom two show significant shrinkage, splitting and melting of the separator around the hole where the nail penetrated.

The disassembled cells using the wet process ceramic coated PE separator after having undergone the nail penetration test are shown in Figure 6. In contrast to the PP separator, it appears there is no macroscopic shrinkage of the film. There is also little or no evidence of any shutdown feature, with the film retaining its milky white appearance that would be normal as it is still saturated with electrolyte. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine that a film that has been stretched in two dimensions would somehow collapse in the other without shrinking in the first two, and there is no evidence of this occurring, despite the external temperature of the cell reaching ~115°C, near the melting point of PE at 135°C. However, the size and shape of the holes has changed dramatically. Near where the nail penetrated, there is significant melting and shrinkage. The splitting appears to be random in orientation compared to the orientation seen in the dry processed PP separator in Figure 5. There is significant cracking and charring of the separator around the holes, and significant exposed electrode and also exposed metal evident in both of the lower photos. These features, as well as the size of the hole in comparison to the PP separator, correlate well with the very fast thermal rise to a very high temperature compared to the cells made with other separators.

Dreamweaver nanofiber Silver separator autopsy

Figure 7. Photos taken during the autopsy of the cells made with Dreamweaver Silver separator that had undergone the nail penetration test. The top two photos show no macroscopic shrinkage in the separator. The bottom two show some tearing and a little charring of the separator around the hole where the nail penetrated. However, there was little evidence in any of the photos of exposed electrode, and no exposed metal. 102 • Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016

The autopsy photos from the cell made with Dreamweaver Silver nanofiber separator are shown in Figure 7. Very different from the other two separators, the top two pictures show that the separator has maintained its shape and morphology throughout the test, even continuing to show excellent wettability with electrolyte. There is in the pictures, very little evidence that a thermal event of any kind has occurred except just near

CONFERENCE IN PRINT where the nail penetrated. The nail penetration holes, shown in the bottom two pictures, both show some evidence of tearing of the separator as the nail drove through the layers. It appears that the separator did not pull back, though, as there is little evidence in either picture of exposed electrode or metal current collector. In the bottom right photo, the separator has charred to some extent, turning a dark brown in the area just on top of the nail penetration hole, evidencing significant heating of the nail as the cell was discharged. In other tests, charring of this separator occurs over 250°C, and occurs first in the polyacrylonitrile nanofibers. Other than the slight browning of the fibers around the nail penetration hole, the only evidence of damage to the separator is physical tearing where the nail penetrated, as compared to the significant melting, charring, shrinking and splitting present in the PP separator and the PE/ceramic separators. The photos showing no exposed metal and no exposed electrodes correlates well with the slow rise in temperature and also the ability of the cell to maintain its voltage (measured at the tabs) even after the nail had penetrated the cell.

Dreamweaver nanofiber Gold separator autopsy

The photos from the autopsy of the cells made with Dreamweaver Gold para-aramid reinforced separator are shown in Figure 8. These photos show the least damage due to the test, and indeed exhibit no evidence of a thermal event, although some small level of charring has been observed around the nail penetration hole in a few photos when the cell was first heated to 50°C prior to performing the test. The stark truth is that the cells made with the Gold separator exhibited only physical damage on autopsy, with no evidence of a thermal event of any kind. This is completely different from the behaviour of the cells made with polyolefin separators, which showed thermal damage in many different facets, including melting, shrinkage, charring and splitting. Again, for the Gold separator holes, there was no evidence in any of the pictures of exposed metal or electrode, which again correlates well with the slow rise in temperature and also the ability of the cell to maintain its voltage (measured at the tabs) even after the nail had penetrated the cell.

Residual charge and post-test capacity

Prior to disassembly but after the removal of the nails, the cells were CC discharged at C/6 to 2.5V, then CCCV charged at C/6 to 3.6V, and then CC discharged at C/6 to 2.5V. The results are shown in Figure 9. The cells made with the PE/ceramic separator continued to be shorted, and showed no residual charge and no ability to hold a charge. This cor-

relates well with the large holes present in the autopsy, and the significant exposed surface area of both electrode and metallic current collectors. The PP cell, on the other hand, showed a residual charge of 270mAh, indicating a 90% discharge during the test. When charged, the cell was able to charge to 1370mAh, or about 50% total capacity. The Silver and Gold cells, however, held 1913mAh and 2043mAh respec-

Figure 8 Photos taken during the autopsy of the cells made with Dreamweaver Gold separator that had undergone the nail penetration test. The top two photos show no macroscopic shrinkage in the separator. The bottom two show some tearing of the separator around the hole where the nail penetrated. However, there was no evidence in any of the photos of exposed electrode, and no exposed metal.

Figure 9 The residual charge and after-test capacity of the cells after the nail penetration test. The Silver and Gold cells retained about 70% of the charge after the test, and were able to give a discharge of 90% and 80% of their initial capacity after a full charge after the test. Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016 • 103

CONFERENCE IN PRINT tively, with about 30% discharge dur-

Bühler bead ing the test. They mill were solutions able to chargeforOther than the slight browning of the fibers around up to 2450mAh and 2180mAh, about LIB precursors and active materials 90% and 80% of their initial capacity, the nail penetration hole, the only evidence of damage processing. respectively.

to the separator is physical tearing where the nail

This is further evidence of the cells as compared to the significant melting, Your benefits a of Bühler processthermal technologypenetrated, are: undergoing much lighter –event Efficient size reduction, stabilization and during the test, and exhibiting charring, shrinking and splitting present in the PP homogenization at the nano scale much less damage due to the test than – Slurries with high solid content and low the cells made with PP separator and separator and the PE/ceramic separators viscosity at the same time PE/ceramic separators. – Effective grinding with 10 –15% less energy consumption thermally stable separators (Silver and limits the usefulness of shutdown in – Beneficial effects on downstream processing Evidence of shutdown function Gold) did not undergo a test even af- PP separators. There has been much industry dis- ter one hour at 170°C. These two indications of a shutdown cussion of the shutdown function of feature did not affect the outcome of polyolefin cells, and how it improves Nail penetration autopsy for PP: In the tests, and in fact the cells made the safety of lithium ion cells. Cenomic In these TM the top right photo in Figure with polyolefin outperTM 5 there full-volume and MicroMedia high performance bead mills.separators Bühler tests, there were only two indications appears to be a change opaque andformed the cells made with thermally offers decades of experience in the from wet grinding dispersing technology. of a potential shutdown, andThe the reliable, ef- toscalable transparent between stable in only and about provenhalfway equipment is suitable for separators the preparation of one test, that fects were limited. the edge of the cell and the nail penof the overcharge test, and only for the LIB active and separator materials. Our know-how and skills include: etration site. This would correspond ceramic coated separator. – Selection of appropriate Bühler grinding equipment The two indications were: – Process parameter to a shutdown occurring in the region Likely the ceramic coating helped to optimization high shrinkage, porosity main-modifier prevent the formation of, or limit the – Choice ofof appropriate small and molecule surface Hot box: a slight deflection of the tained in the region where the shrink- size of dendrites formed in the final thermal trajectory in the hot box age is& less evident. stages of 955 overcharging. In all of the Bühler AG, Grinding Dispersion, CH-9240 Uzwil, T +41 71 955 34 91, F +41 71 31 49,, test, as shown in Figure 4, at, around Note that the separator has shrunk other tests, the cells made with poly125°C-130°C. This deflection did not along the edge of the shutdown area olefin separators performed worse endure and both cells failed in the and is allowing direct electrode to than those made with the thermally test, while those made with the electrode shorting to occur. This effect stable separators. Innovations forcells a better world.

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104 • Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016

FORTHCOMING EVENTS 2016 SAE 2016 Government Industry meeting

Paris, Home to Energy Storage 2016

Washington DC, USA January 20-22 Understanding how technology, regulations and legislation will affect the design of light and heavy duty vehicles in terms of safety, environment and energy conservation is essential to vehicle development. This forum will provide opportunities for technical authorities from government, industry and academia who are leading advanced automotive technology, regulations and pending legislation to address issues that will influence future decision making for those within the industry. Contact

9th Annual Storage Week San Diego January 25-27 Meet the utility, renewable energy and storage executives leading development of the energy storage market in the first major storage event of the year. Get the latest update on California procurements! Assess the future of PJM and other ISO markets for storage as well as optimize storage project structures and finance, and explore emerging international markets for storage.

opments, and an application-focused symposia with two parallel tracks focusing on high-volume and industrial/ specialty automotive. The programme will also feature three tutorials on the, such as battery stimulation, Beyond lithium iron and battery market. An array of guest speakers will also be at the event. Contact Tel: +1 781 972-5400 Fax: +1 781 972-5425 Email:

Electric Drive Congress Washington DC, USA February 3

Contact Email: Tel: +1 818 888 4444 Fax: +1 818 888 4440

AABC Europe 2016 Mainz, Germany January 25-28 Join AABC at the leading European forum, taking place at the Congress Centrum Mainz, located on the Rhine. Car and energy storage system developers will discuss their recent progress in EC capacitor and advanced battery technology implementation in car, industrial and speciality applications. AABC Europe will feature three technology-focused symposia discussing lithium ion chemistry, lithium ion engineering and EC capacitor devel-

Join the 2016 Electric Drive Congress (EDC2016), presented by the  Electric Drive Transportation Association,  as executives from EDTA member companies convene in Washington, DC on February 3 to deliver the message of electric drive to Capitol Hill.  Highlights of the event include: • Organizational Breakfast: Meet with lobbying day organizers and other attendees to receive materials and participate in an event briefing. • Capitol Hill Lobbying Day: Executives from EDTA member companies will meet directly with members of the House, Senate and Congressional staff to present the electric drive in-

Mainz: Host city for AABC Europe 2016

dustry’s top policy priorities and discuss what role policymakers can play in speeding access to next generation transportation options. • Networking Reception: Connect with colleagues at an informal evening gathering to socialize and exchange notes from the day’s event. Policies that encourage support for electric drive alternatives to oil are key components of a 21st century transportation sector providing benefit to taxpayers, communities and the US. EDTA is hard at work in Washington on behalf of the electric drive industry with proven results. This February, join us in delivering our electric drive message to Washington and help to advance our industry with your support. Contact

Energy Storage 2016 Paris, France February 3-4 One of the themes of the event will be analysing business models for successful developments in energy storage The conference will bring together key industry stakeholders to address the current challenges of the energy storage market and discuss the latest developments. The two day event will give you insights on business cases, regulatory environment, financial aspects and technological advancements for the energy storage industry. The Energy Storage 2016 Conference will allow you to learn and understand successful case studies, as well as explore the latest R&D projects. Join us in Paris to meet senior representatives from leading companies for excellent networking opportunities. Contact Mayur Methi Phone: +91 20 6527 2806 Email:

Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016 • 105

FORTHCOMING EVENTS 2016 EUEC 2016 San Diego, California, USA February 3-5 EUEC2016: The19th Annual Energy, Utility & Environment Conference, is USA’s largest professional networking and educational event of its kind, with 2,000 delegates, 400 speakers and 200 exhibits. The first EUEC conference was held in 1995 in Tempe, Arizona and 17 annual EUEC conferences were held in Arizona until 2014, before moving to San Diego last year. There will be 11 tracks within the conference. Track A: Air policy and regulations Track B: CEMS and Air quality Track C: Mercury control Track D: Energy policy and security Track E: Control technologies Track F: Renewable energy Track G: Operations and management Track H: Climate and CCS Track I: Water 316(b) Track J: Fleet, EVs and hybrids Track K: Battery and energy storage Contact

SAE 2016 Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Technologies Symposium Anaheim, California, USA February 9-11, 2016 SAE 2016 Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Technologies Symposium addresses critical information on both the technical developments in electronic vehicle technologies as well as the business decisions around technology development and implementation. Additionally, it allows for attendees to meet with those industry experts and technology specialists from the entire supply chain of EV, HEV and EREV to engage in dialogue about the topics of greatest interest. Here, attendees will learn about technology applications of the manufacturers’ hybrid and electric vehicles, powertrain technologies and components, and about supporting technologies — such as advanced energy storage and charging systems. Join the Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Technologies industry at this increasingly popular, must-attend event in 2016.

Route 66 leads to four events in February

Lithium Sulfur Batteries: Mechanisms, Modelling and Materials — LiSM3 London, UK February 12 The LiSM3  conference aims to bring together leading researchers to identify and discuss areas of priority research in lithium sulfur battery research. It will cover all aspects, from understanding how the fundamental chemistry operates, to simulating it to help speed up development, using novel materials to boost performance and hearing from system designers about what they need and how they will use the batteries in the real world. This one day conference will use the Gordon format, with invited speakers only and panels of international experts. No papers will result from the conference and presentations will not be recorded, so as to encourage open dialogue and discussion. Comments and questions from the audience will be encouraged throughout to stimulate scientific discussion Contact

Building Better Batteries: Materials, Interfaces and Devices Ventura, California, US February 20-21 The Gordon Research Seminar on Batteries is a unique forum for graduate students, post-docs, and other scientists with comparable levels of experience and education to present and exchange

new data and cutting edge ideas. Advancing electrochemical energy storage presents numerous challenges. Battery systems involve complex interactions between many different states of matter; high energy density and cycle life demand that materials operate at the edge of stability for hundreds to thousands of cycles over many years; and the chemical and physical processes involved span multiple length and time scales.  The 2016 seminar will bring together a diverse group of young researchers from across disciplines to discuss new approaches to address these challenges. We anticipate this seminar will be highly interactive and provide ample opportunity to network and socialize with peers. Participants should leave with a fresh perspective on their own work and better prepared to participate more fully in the associated Gordon Research Conference. Topics include (but are not limited to): new energy storage materials and systems; theory, modelling, and simulation; and advanced characterization techniques. Any battery chemistry is eligible, including lithium-ion, lithiumair, lithium-sulfur, magnesium- and sodium-based chemistries, and redox flow batteries. The meeting will feature approximately 10 talks and two poster sessions. All attendees are expected to actively participate in the GRS either by giving an oral presentation or presenting a poster. Therefore, all applications must include an abstract. Contact

LiSM3 in London on February 12 106 • Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016


15th European Lead Battery Conference and Exhibition Valletta I Malta I September 2016

The International Lead Association is pleased to announce that the 15th European Lead Battery Conference (15ELBC) and Exhibition will be held in Valletta, the captial city of Malta on 13-16 September 2016. 15ELBC will provide an ideal opportunity for those involved with the lead battery industry worldwide to review and discuss the most recent technical advances associated with lead-based batteries, especially for automotive and renewable energy storage applications. Technical presentations will bring delegates fully up-to-date with the latest research and development information from around the globe. An extensive Exhibition – expected to involve over 100 stands –

by suppliers to the industry of equipment, materials and technology, will also take place. Since the first meeting in Paris in 1988, the European Lead Battery Conferences have developed a reputation for high quality presentations on the design, manufacture, performance and use of lead-acid batteries. Over 700 delegates and 100 exhibitors attended 14ELBC in Edinburgh 2014 and similar numbers are confidently expected in Malta.

15ELBC Conference Secretariat: Maura McDermott International Lead Association, Bravington House, 2 Bravingtons Walk, London N1 9AF United Kingdom Tel: +44 (0) 20 7833 8090 | Fax : +44 (0) 20 7833 1611 | E-mail:

FORTHCOMING EVENTS 2016 2016 NAATBatt Annual Meeting & Conference

ARPA Energy Innovative Summit 2016

Indian Wells, California • February 29-March 3

Washington DC, USA February 29-March 2

The 2016 NAATBatt Annual Meeting & Conference will be held at the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells, a four star resort in one of the most attractive communities in the Palm Springs, California area. You will not want to miss this program. The 2016 Annual Meeting will build on the great success of the 2015 Annual Meeting recently concluded in Phoenix, Arizona. Like the 2015 Meeting, the 2016 Meeting will include a summit on emerging battery technologies, giving industry participants a first look at new technology coming on to the market.  The meeting will also include talks about emerging trends in the advanced battery business and presentations about emerging applications for battery technology that will create new opportunities for advanced battery manufacturers. The 2016 Annual Meeting will also mark a new direction in NAATBatt’s approach to industry meetings.  NAATBatt has decided that it has no interest in running just another one of many large trade shows in the battery industry.  NAATBatt cannot compete, and has no desire to compete, with the professional conference companies that, directly or indirectly, run major trade shows such as The Battery Show, AABC, ESNA or ESA.  The industry does not need NAATBatt to produce another trade show. What the industry does need is a meeting each year where the real decision makers in the industry get together, talk about emerging trends, get a good look at interesting busi-

108 • Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016

ness opportunities for electrochemical energy storage technology, and build high quality personal relationships in the industry that will be the basis for business growth in the year ahead. That is what the NAATBatt Annual Meeting will be, because that is the kind of meeting that the industry needs. Consistent with this new approach to its annual meeting, NAATBatt has decided to limit registration for the 2016 Annual Meeting to 300 persons. Employees of NAATBatt member firms will be given priority.  But our goal is to limit attendee numbers and increase the quality of the attendee experience.  This will not be another trade show.  But those who attend will get real value, as that is NAATBatt’s mission in the industry. Also, don’t forget the Advanced Battery Golf & Tennis Tournament, which will be held on Monday, February 29, at the  Indian Wells Golf Resort next door to the Hyatt Regency.  The Indian Wells Golf Resort, which recently underwent an $80 million renovation, is one of the top golf venues in the United States, playing host, among other things, to the PGA TOUR’s Skins Game.  The Advanced Battery Tournament will, like the 2016 Annual Meeting, aim to help our members build new and better business relationships in the industry in a setting which, in late February in the California desert, should be close to perfect. Contact Jim Greenberger  Tel.: +1 312 588-0477

The ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit is an annual conference and technology showcase that brings together specialists from a variety of technical disciplines and professional communities to think about America’s energy challenges in new and innovative ways. Now in its seventh year, the summit offers a three-day, unique programme designed to relocate transformational energy technologies from the lab and into the market. Those wishing to attend the conference will have the opportunity to: Get first hand-experience of the latest technological advancements across a variety of energy sectors Attend practical seminars about transforming cutting-edge technologies into successful commercial products Network with breakthrough technology companies, federal government leaders, entrepreneurs and researchers who are keen to collaborate Meet influential government leaders, private-sector leaders and researchers, and learn about partnerships and funding opportunities Listen to insightful keynotes from industry leaders and luminaries on the future of energy technology Apply to have your breakthrough technology featured in the highly regarded technology showcase Contact Amy Sites Tel: +1 703 740 1953 Email:

Smart Materials Singapore March 4-6 Further details to be announced shortly. Contact Amy Guo Tel: +86 411 8479 9609 Ext 829 Fax: +86-411 8479 9629 Email: Smart Materials, Singapore

FORTHCOMING EVENTS 2016 Metal Air Batteries International Congress Santander, Spain March 8-10

This congress organized by Albufera Energy Storage is aimed to create a meeting point between students, researchers and companies that are immersed in the world of the batteries, and more specifically in metal-air systems. All aspects from the electrochemical level to technological applications will be presented and discussed. Metal-air batteries are one of the most promising energy accumulators since they exhibit very high energy densities, volume and weight reduction and low cost. The main advantage over classic batteries is the not energy limitation in the cathode of the battery, being the metallic anode the limiting factor, contrary to other accumulators. This is because the use of oxygen in the positive electrode, coming free from the air, and so the specific energy of the battery can be as high as that of the anode. Metals like lithium (11140 Wh/ kg), aluminium (8140 Wh/kg), magnesium (6460 Wh/kg), calcium (4180 Wh/kg), etc. present theoretical energy densities that could be able to compete against the nowadays most used energy source for propulsion, gasoline (12200 Wh/kg theoretical; 2080 Wh/ kg practical). In this sense, metal-air batteries are named to be the future traction energy sources, but also, for large and small scale applications, such as Grid support, laptops/smartphones, The development of new materials, electrolytes, designs, and the like are the keys for the development of this type of batteries. Analysis and simulation of the processes happening during the electrochemical reactions, corrosion,… are also quite important pieces for better understanding and ability to predict this new batteries. MaBIC16 is going to be an excellent opportunity to gather experts in energy storage, materials, and of course metal-air batteries.

Energy Storage Europe Dusseldorf, Germany • March 15-17 The Energy Storage Europe is an expo and conference event which takes place in Düsseldorf in March annually. The goal of Messe Düsseldorf is to further develop this young format of Energy Storage into a worldwide leading platform for the energy storage industry. In order to reach this goal, Messe Düsseldorf does not only invest financial funds but also uses its worldwide distribution network of 134 countries. Good business is done where top decision makers gather at one place — in Düsseldorf! The 2015 Dusseldorf meeting signalled a coming of age for the event which almost doubled in size from

the year before. “The last time I came here this was a fraction of the size, this event seems to be growing exponentially,” one delegate told Batteries International in its review of the event. The conference organizer’s figures said the conference and trade fair attracted some 1,800 specialists from 48 nations. There were over 80 speakers and almost 100 exhibitors. Contact Bastian Mingers, head of renewable energy fairs Tel.: +49 211 4560 273 Fax: +49 211 4560 87273 E-mail:

Contact Maja Jousif Gavovic Email: maja.jousif@albufera-energystorage. com

Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016 • 109

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FORTHCOMING EVENTS 2016 33rd International Battery Seminar & Exhibit

IBA 2016

Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA March 21-24

Nantes, France • March 20-25

Since its debut in 1983, the International Battery Seminar & Exhibit  has established itself as the premier event showcasing the state of the art of worldwide energy storage technology developments for consumer, automotive, military, and industrial applications. Key thought leaders will assemble to not only provide broad perspectives, but also informed insights into significant advances in materials, product development, manufacturing, and application for all battery systems and enabling technologies. As the longest-running annual battery industry event in the world, this meeting has always been the preferred venue to announce significant new developments, announce new product announcements, and showcase the most advanced battery technology. The 2016 program plans to unite 500+ battery industry professionals from around the world with particularly strong representation from China, Japan, and Korea. The audience profile includes presidents, CEOs, COOs, CTOs, EVPs, directors, managers, researchers, and Scientists from battery manufacturers, users, OEMs, equipment/material/component suppliers working in R&D, business development, chemical and materials, energy systems/storage, product design & development, emerging products, regulatory affairs, safety & compliance, systems and cell engineering, technology, marketing, law, sales, and investments. Spanning four days, this expanded meeting agenda now includes seven preconference workshops, three parallel conference tracks, two post-conference symposia, 75+ technical presentations, an exhibit hall of 55 companies, breakout discussion groups, and dedicated poster viewing and networking sessions. Thought leaders will present best practice case studies and joint partner presentations relevant to the technologies, research, and regulatory issues of battery technology advancements. The agenda will feature compelling talks, significant new developments, and important announcements. Attendance increased more than 30% in 2015 and we expect this number to grow even more in 2016 and beyond. The 33rd International Battery Seminar & Exhibit provides the perfect venue to share information and discuss enabling technologies that are driving the new era of battery technology.

Recent successful IBA Meetings were held in Hawaii (2010), Cape Town (2011), Hawaii (2012), Barcelona (2013), Brisbane (2014), and Hawaii (2015). The series of IBA meetings has a great tradition and unique style of blending fundamental research with practical applications in the field of advanced battery materials and systems. Leading scientists come from around the world to share their recent progress and stimulate discussions on interdisciplinary battery research and development. The organizing committee invites you to present your recent work in this coming event. In this meeting will be highlighted the crucial thematic of interfaces and inter-phases, including metal (Li, Na, Mg) interfaces. Of course, communications on all present issues of batteries are welcome and will include: • New electrode and electrolyte materials, new electrode designs, new concepts and new chemistries for improved energy, safety and eco compatibility. • In-situ and  operando  characterization of transport and degradation mechanisms of materials, interfaces and devices. • Hierarchical multiscale experiments and modeling. • System design for micro-devices, electronic devices, electrified transportation as well as stationary applications for renewable energies.

A special session will be dedicated to Michel Armand to honour his contribution sto the field. The event features plenary conferences, keynote lectures and invited talks, all corresponding speakers being invited by the International Advisory Committee. For efficient discussions around posters, poster sessions will be scheduled every day and all posters will stay displayed all week long. IBA 2016 will gather about 200 world-class researchers, technologists and industrial participants, representing the best laboratories in the field, who will communicate on their latest advances and breakthroughs. It is a great opportunity to enjoy successful exchanges, to set up new collaborative projects and for students to make contacts for further job opportunities. The meetings are supported by the US Argonne National Laboratory, the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR), the Argonne Center for Collaborative Energy Storage Science (ACCESS) and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory Contact Email:

Contact Sherry Johnson Tel: +1 781-972-1359 Email:

Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016 • 111




Co-located with


FORTHCOMING EVENTS 2016 2016 MRS Spring Meeting & Exhibit Phoenix, Arizona March 28-April 1 Symposia include the following topic areas: • Characterization and modelling of materials • Energy and the environment • Electronics and photonics • Materials design • Nanotechnology • Soft materials and biomaterials  • Frontiers of materials research Contact Email: Tel: +1 724 779 3003 Fax: +1 724-779 8313

3rd Lithium Battery International Summit (LBIS) Shenzhen, China April 9-12 Leaders representing the world’s foremost academic institutions, lithium battery producers, battery materials producers, EV manufacturers (Nissan, BYD, ATL, Toyota, Daimler, Ford, GM), as well as CE and ESS manufacturers, will present their most recent R&D challenges and progress at this 3rd LBIS. The conference will be a great opportunity for science and technology exchanges between academic leaders and industrial leaders from around the world. Together we can discover and discuss new breakthroughs, opportunities, and possible cooperations that could advance the future of energy storage systems and contribute to a better world. Contact

Renewable Distributed Generation Forum Miami’s Art Deco area is worth a visit while at ICLB 2016

INTERBAT Moscow, Russia March 22-24 The long-established, well known and well liked exhibition that opens the doors to Russia and its vast energy storage, battery and power markets. Contact Tel: + 49 9 248 4653 Email:

ICLB 2016: 18th International Conference on Lithium Batteries March 24-25 Miami, Florida, USA The ICLB 2016: 18th International Conference on Lithium Batteries aims to bring together leading academic sci-

Lausanne, Switzerland April 13-15

entists, researchers and research scholars to exchange and share their experiences and research results about all aspects of lithium batteries. It also provides the premier interdisciplinary forum for researchers, practitioners and educators to present and discuss the most recent innovations, trends, and concerns, practical challenges encountered and the solutions adopted in the field of Lithium Batteries. ICLB 2016 has teamed up with the Special Journal Issue on Advances in Lithium Batteries. A number of selected high-impact full text papers will also be considered for the special journal issues. Selected full text papers will be published free of charge.

The Renewable Distributed Generation Forum will examine the very latest technology advances and business models for increasing the penetration of renewable energy while optimizing the business model for stakeholders across the energy ecosystem. Co-organized by the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) Energy Center and the Smart Grid Observer, the programme will help attendees meet growing requirements for renewable energy penetration, connect with top financial professionals and project investors, and envision a new ecosystem that is market-based and which enables secure, sustainable energy with a high percentage of renewables. Both grid-connected and off-grid (microgrid) scenarios will be examined.

Contact miami/ICLB


Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016 • 113

FORTHCOMING EVENTS 2016 HITS) is to bring together engineers, researchers and practitioners interested in the advances and applications in the field of vehicle technology and intelligent transport systems. This conference focuses on innovative applications, tools and platforms in all technology areas such as signal processing, wireless communications, informatics and electronics, related to different kinds of vehicles, including cars, EVs, off-road vehicles, trains, ships, underwater vehicles, or flying machines, and the intelligent transportation systems that connect and manage large numbers of vehicles, not only in the context of smart cities but in many other application domains. VEHITS 2016 will be held in conjunction with CSEDU 2016,  SMARTGREENS 2016, WEBIST 2016, CLOSER 2016 and IoTBD 2016.  Registration to VEHITS allows free access to the CSEDU, SMARTGREENS, WEBIST, CLOSER and IoTBD conferences. 34th Space Power Workshop, Manhattan Beach, California

Next Generation Energy Storage 2016 San Diego California, USA April 18-20 What’s next for battery power? Breakthroughs in new battery chemistries, novel electrode and electrolyte materials, system integration for mobile, and portable and stationary applications have paved the road toward an emerging market with unlimited potential. Will lithium-ion and alternativechemistry batteries deliver on the promise of power, energy, cost and safety in commercially available energy storage systems? The Knowledge Foundation’s 6th Annual Next-Generation Energy Storage 2016 convenes leading experts in the fields of battery materials, systems design and integration, manufacturing and commercial applications who address emerging issues driving this pivotal time in the battery industry. Contact, Tel: +1:617 232 7400 Fax: +1 617 232 9171

34th Space Power Workshop Manhattan Beach, California, USA April 18-21 Welcome to the 34th annual Space Power Workshop! This workshop provides an informal, unclassified, international forum for the exchange of ideas and information on space power. Space power workshop sessions include program experience, power systems architecture,

114 • Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016

power management and distribution (PMAD), energy generation, energy storage, and advanced concepts. The Space Power Workshop covers topics of interest to professionals with all levels of expertise. The workshop also provides many industry networking opportunities with both domestic and international attendees, including a hosted welcome reception on April 18 in the evening and a hosted luncheon on April 20. University students are welcome. All activities are informal and unclassified. Contact Nathalie Fujino, workshop administrator  Tel: +1 310 336 1202

2nd International Conference on Vehicle Technology and Intelligent Transport Systems Rome, Italy April 23-24 The purpose of the 2nd International Conference on Vehicle Technology and Intelligent Transport Systems (VE-

Contact Tel: +351 265 520 184

ESA 28th Annual Conference and Expo Charlotte, North Carolina USA April 25-27 Contact

2016 Energy Harvesting & Storage Berlin, Germany April 27-28, 2016 The seventh annual IDTechEx event provides insight into energy harvesting technologies and their applications. Hear end user insights, see the latest products and learn about the emerging technologies. Attendees to this event will learn: • Who needs energy harvesting, the ROI and sectors close to adoption. • End user and integrators from a diverse range of markets present their needs and experiences. • All the technology options — from energy harvester choices, energy storage options, through to the latest in low power electronics and wireless sensors. • The current state of the technology at the event tradeshow... And all with an analytical, commercial outlook, taking into account market requirements, competitive technologies and development roadmaps. Contact Corinne Jennings +44 (0)1223 812300

CHARGING THE FUTURE A powerful combination: Europe’s largest exhibition for batteries and energy storage systems and the world’s leading exhibition for the solar industry 380 energy storage companies, a special exhibition on e-Mobility & Renewable Energy, three days of expertise in exhibition forums, plus a program conference The efficient generation, intelligent storage and decentralized distribution of renewable energy: discover future-ready solutions for energy supply and mobility Register online to benefit from the early bird special!


FORTHCOMING EVENTS 2016 BCI 128th Convention & Power Mart

EDTA Conference and Exposition 2016+ Act

San Antonio, Texas, USA • May 1 May- 3

Long Beach, California May 2-5

Members of the battery industry will meet at the Battery Council International’s 128th Convention and Power Mart Expo. The convention will take place at Marriot Rivercentre Hotel in San Antonio. Discussion topics include the foreground of energy storage today. Contact Tel: +1 312 644 6610 Fax: +1 312 527 6640

BATTCON 2016 Boca Raton, Florida, USA • May 10-12 BATTCON 2016 will be held at the Boca Raton Resort in Florida. The event will feature leading stationary battery experts, papers by users and manufacturers that relate to everyday battery applications, technical advances, and the diverse concerns of the battery industry. Those who attend will learn about manufacturing, maintenance trends, testing issues, and safety. Each group of papers is followed by direct audience interaction with the presenters. Panel discussions at the event will consist of experts discussing specific concerns or areas of interest. After the panel discussion, you will have the opportunity to share relevant knowledge and experiences, offer comments, and ask questions. Throughout the conference you are encouraged to ask questions, exchange ideas, and interact with the authors of the papers, members of top-specialized panels, and other attendees. Contact Tel: +1 312 644 6610 Fax: +1 312 527 6640

Africa Utility Week — Clean Power, Africa Cape Town, South Africa • May 17-19 African Utility Week, co-located with Clean Power Africa, has enabled global suppliers and investors to build long-lasting partnerships within the African utility sector and has also played a significant role in providing the industry with valuable knowledge and case studies to help develop the sector and close the funding gap to support Africa’s economic growth. Contact Spintelligent (Pty) Ltd Tel: +27 21 700 3500 Fax: +27 21 700 3501

116 • Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016

As the world’s largest display of alternative fuels and clean vehicle technologies, ACT Expo’s show floor provides a one-stop shop for attendees to learn about the wide-range of clean transportation solutions available. This is the perfect environment to have in-depth discussions with the industry’s leading technology, fuel, infrastructure, and funding providers. All alternative fuel types are represented—electric, hybrid, hydrogen, natural gas, propane autogas, and renewable fuels. Contact Tel: +1 888 993 0302 E-mail:

Shmuel De-Leon Batteries and Fuel Cells Seminar Le Bourget du Lac, France May 17-18 The seminar programme is centred on present and future needs of portable and stationary electrochemical energy sources, and highlights the latest technological developments designed to satisfy application requirements. The programme reviews primary, rechargeable, reserve batteries, fuel cells, ultra-capacitors systems and their accessories. Special focus is given to battery design and testing aspects which are vital tools for battery solution. The programme trains attendees on safety issues along the energy source solution cycle life. The program focuses on electric vehicle and batteries, supercapacitors, fuel cells and metal air systems for EVs. • Training on cells selection, design, testing and transportation and disposal aspects of energy sources. • Basic knowledge for new industry members entering the field. • Expands the knowledge of industry members already working in the field. • Training on Energy Sources Database Software.

Battery Congress of the Global Automotive Management Council Troy, Michigan, USA May 17-18 The aim is to provide a forum for, engineers, managers, scientists, academic researchers, and industry executives to exchange advances in battery technology and applications and management systems. This forum will address key topics and issues related to OEMs, suppliers (all tiers), component manufacturers,

+ BCI Convention + Power Mart Expo May 1-3, 2016 BCI Convention Marriott Rivercenter Hotel + Power Expo San Antonio, Mart TX May 1-3, 2016 Marriott Rivercenter Hotel San Antonio, TX

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FORTHCOMING EVENTS 2016 Australian Energy Storage Conference and Exhibition

12th China International Battery Fair Shenzhen, China • May 24-26

Sydney, Australia June 1-2

Energy Storage is emerging as an essential element in driving the change to a cleaner energy future. It is key to areas such as on-grid and off-grid energy management, micro grids for remote and mining communities, as well as electric vehicles and advanced systems for managing the energy of buildings. Contact Australian Energy Storage Tel:: +61 2 9556 8847 Fax: +61 2 9556 7979 Email: info@australianenergystorage. governmental and non-governmental agencies. It also will provide a network to support educational research and publish technical findings in conference proceedings and technical magazines. This forum will provide a conference, exposition, and publication dedicated to the research integration of new battery technologies in vehicular and other energy system applications. Contact Tel: +1 734 997 9249 Fax: +1 734 786 2242 Email:

118 • Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016

The technical conference of CIBF 2016 will be call “China International Conference on the Frontier Technology of Advanced Batteries, CIBF2016” and will mainly focus on the latest progress on R&D and applications of advanced batteries for electric vehicle and energy storage, in particularly advanced materials for next generation xEV battery and energy storage. Among those, main contents cover incentive policies and new development plans from different countries to promote and support R&D and applications of advanced batteries for EV & BESS; the current and future markets of advanced batteries for EV and BESS; R&D progress of advanced batteries and key materials; advancement of battery manufacturing and evaluation as well as battery safety and battery management systems. There will be six sessions. Session 1: Comprehensive session: Government supported policies and R&D plans as well as market/application evaluation of xEV & BESS batteries; Session 2: xEV advanced battery session: Latest progress on R&D and practical running of various advanced batteries for start/stop system, HEV, PHEV and EVs. Session 3: BESS advanced battery session: Latest progress on R&D and practical running of various advanced batteries for micro and smart grids. Session 4: New generation battery material session: Latest progress on R&D and practical application of various anode, cathode, electrolyte and separator materials. Session 5: New type battery chemistry session: Latest progress on R&D and application evaluation of new

generation Li ion chemistry, sodium ion chemistry, pure lithium and other light metal chemistry, including all solid systems. Session 6: Battery module, pack and life and reliability evaluation session: Safety issues for lithium ion batteries in EV and energy storage applications, R&D on cell, module, system design; evaluation via simulation and road testing; New standards and regulations for cells, modules and system evaluation. CIBF2016 will set parallel sessions for “Energy Storage”, which not only cover battery energy storage (BES-Chemical Energy Storage), but also cover physical energy storage. In this case, such a session will be named as “BESS session of China International Conference on the Frontier Technology of Advanced Batteries, CIBF2016, jointly with the 6th China International Energy Storage Application Congress.” All arrangements will be shown in the Program of CIBF 2016, but this part will be jointly organized by CIAPS and China Energy Storage Network. It is estimated that more than 800 people from 50 countries will attend the conference to share the latest development on batteries, battery materials and integrated power systems for electric vehicles, micro-grids and smart-grids. There will be also more than 20 business seminars held by the national and international suppliers during the conference. Contact CIBF2016 office Tel: +86 22-2395 9049 Tel: +86 22 2395 9269 Lu Hui or Liu Yihan Email: Email:

FORTHCOMING EVENTS 2016 2016 International Flow Battery Forum

229th Meeting of the Electrochemical Society San Diego, California, USA May 29-June 3 2016 Contact

Advanced Automotive & Industrial Battery Conference — AABC Detroit, Michigan, USA June 14-17

Karlsruhe, Germany • June 7-9 We invite you to join us at the seventh International Flow Battery Forum at Karlsruhe, Germany, bringing together all those interested in research, development, commercialisation and deployment of flow batteries. The 2016 meeting will also include an industry day for manufacturers, developers, users and investors to address the specific issues relating to the market opportunities for flow batteries in the increasingly competitive energy storage market place, and an industry visit. There will be an exhibitor area, inside and outside the conference area for suppliers, manufacturers and developers to display their products and services. Our introductory session will be of interest to newcomers to the industry. We welcome exhibitors and sponsors. Working together in partnership not only allows us to achieve a successful conference, but allows us all to achieve greater visibility within market place, and create new busi-

ness opportunities and ventures. We are delighted to announce that our host for 2016 will be Fraunhofer ICT and we will visit their flow battery installation on the hills at the edge of the Black Forest during IFBF. Schedule June 6 (optional introductory seminar on flow battery essentials). June 7: Industry day commercialization, marketing, financing and operational experience for flow battery? evelopment with invited presentations and discussion sessions, with evening reception and visit to the new flow battery installation at Fraunhofer ICT. June 8 and 9: Scientific, technical and commercial papers on flow battery research, development, demonstration and deployment Contact Aud Heyden Email:

Berlin, Germany • June 16, 17

120 • Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016

Contact Tel: +1 781 972 5400 Fax: +1 781 972 5425

18th International meeting on lithium batteries Chicago, USA June 19-24

EUROBAT AGM & Forum 2016

The great and the good of the European battery and energy storage scene meet for the annual general meeting, networking dinner and forum.

Mark your calendar for the 2016 Advanced Automotive Battery Conference, the premier international battery conference, unrivalled in its high standard of presentations and outstanding networking opportunities! Top energy storage technologists from leading car companies from the US, Asia, and Europe, as well as their international suppliers, will convene to discuss the advances in technology and market for the advanced automotive battery industry Our expanded program for 2016 spans five days, offering a dedicated pre-conference workshop day followed by two R&D symposia focused on recent advances in battery chemistries and engineering to support the next generation of commercially viable automotive batteries, as well as three parallel tracks exploring the applications and opportunities for xEVs, lead-based batteries, and fuel cell systems. This year’s event will also provide ample time outside of the session room to have dynamic discussions with technical poster presenters, meet with exhibitors to explore the latest developments, and network with speakers and other attendees.

Contact Rene Schroeder, EU Affairs Manager Tel: +32 2 761 16 53 Email:

IMLB 2016 is the premier international conference on the state of lithium battery science and technology, as well as current and future applications in transportation, commercial, aerospace, biomedical, and other promising sectors. Convening in the heart of downtown Chicago, the conference is expected to draw 2,000 experts, researchers, and company representatives involved in the lithium battery field. On behalf of the International Organizing Committee, we invite you to participate in IMLB 2016. This international meeting will provide an exciting forum to discuss recent progress in advanced lithium batteries for energy storage and conversion. The meeting will focus on both basic and applied


MAY10-12, 2016

Boca Raton Resort Boca Raton, FL

This year, Battcon celebrates 20 years as the leading stationary battery conference and trade show. Designed for the end user, Battcon attracts data center, nuclear, telecom and utility industry professionals.

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Register Early!

± Challenge yourself to a three day, intensive educational and networking experience. ± Learn from and network with top-notch professionals. ± Gain new insight into technologies currently in development. ± Discover eye-opening products at the highly acclaimed trade show, second to none. ± Experience a high energy mix of industry specific presentations, panels and workshops.


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Every year, more end users are discovering Battcon, the conference geared for industry novices and seasoned battery professionals.

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In the latter half of the 19th century, Gustave Pierre Trouvé, a modest but brilliant Parisian electrical engineer, conceived and patented some 75 inventions, including the endoscope, the electric car and the frontal headlamp. He also designed an electric boat— complete with outboard motor, headlight and horn—an electric rifle, an electric piano and luminous fountains, and developed wearable technology and ultraviolet light therapy. Unlike his famous contemporary Nikola Tesla, who worked for Thomas Edison and was patronized by George Westinghouse, Trouvé never came to America. A confirmed bachelor disinterested in industrialization, he was gradually forgotten following his accidental death in 1902. This expanded edition of the 2012 French first-ever biography of Trouvé details the fascinating life of the Chevalier of the Legion of Honor once dubbed “the French Edison.” Kevin Desmond, a freelance technology historian and biographer, lives near Bordeaux in southern France. Since 1976, his 25 published books and 300+ articles have illuminated the men and women innovators, often forgotten, behind the progress of transport and related subjects.


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FORTHCOMING EVENTS 2016 research findings that have led to improved Li battery materials, and to the understanding of the fundamental processes that determine and control electrochemical performance. A major (but not exclusive) theme of the meeting will address recent advances in beyond lithium-ion technologies. The meeting will cover a wide range of topics relating to lithium battery science and technology including, but not limited to: • General and national projects • Anodes and cathodes • Nanostructured materials for lithium batteries • Liquid electrolytes and ionic liquids • Polymer, gel, and solid electrolytes • Issues related to sources and availability of materials for Li batteries • Li battery recycling • Electrode/electrolyte interface phenomena • Safety, reliability, cell design and engineering • Monitoring, control and validation systems • Manufacturing and formation techniques • Primary and rechargeable Li cells • Industrial production and development for HEVs, PHEVs, and EVs • Latest developments in Li battery technology Contact The Electrochemical Society Tel: +1 609 737 1902 ext 121 Email:

6th Annual New Energy Forum Kintex, Goyang-si, South Korea June 30-July 3 With the reduction of traditional fossil fuels and increasingly serious global environmental degradation and health dangers, we are ready to meet a new age of energy production. While human demands for energy will not decrease, the largest shifts are the increase in the renewable energy share and the decline in the traditional energy share. New energy occupies an increasingly important position in the whole energy system. New sources of energy, aided by im-


Montreal, Quebec, Canada • June 19-22 The 29th World Electric Vehicle Symposium and Exhibition (EVS29), the world’s largest international electric vehicle conference, returns to North America this summer. EVS has been assembling global leaders from industry, government and academia to address technical, policy and market topics in the electrification of vehicle fleets since 1969. Key Features of EVS29: • A major trade show with a diverse exhibit floor featuring products, services and organizations. • Cutting-edge presentations on electric mobility products and technologies from experts and industry leaders. • Academic track showcasing world-renowned researchers and breakthrough findings • Frequent networking opportunities, including formal gatherings proved technology and productivity, underpinned by large-scale investments make a significant contribution to supply growth. Entering its 6th year, New Energy Forum has been grown substantially, NEF-2016 will provide a perfect opportunity to researchers from academia and professionals from industry, as well as government regulators to tackle

6th Annual New Energy Forum, South Korea

and customizable meetings • Ride, Drive & Charge • Technical tours Since 1969, the EVS series has been held every 12 to 18 months, rotating between venues in North America, Europe and Asia. With a history spanning five decades, the EV symposium and exhibition has become the premier academic forum for sharing research, best practices, technologies and global networking. A s electric drive has moved from the classroom and laboratory to the mainstream market, EVS has become the leading showcase for the latest innovations in electrified mobility. EVS is the most highly acclaimed symposium in the electric drive industry. Contact Aud Heyden Email: energy challenges, and exchange best practices about improved new energy technology and cooperation. The forum has been successfully held in the past five years. This year we have selected the best programme yet which involves six professional parallel forums. We believe it will set off a new upsurge of cleanness and sustainability energy again. This conference is a perfect opportunity to researchers from academia and professionals from industry, as well as government regulators to tackle energy challenges, and exchange best practices about clean energy utilization and expanding. Most of important and key personnel in the new energy industry have participated at this event; as have most leading companies in this sector. Contact Ms Lynn (BIT Group Global) Tel: +86 411 8479 9609-801 Fax: +86 411-8479 6897 Email:

Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016 • 123


15th European Lead Battery Conference (15ELBC) and Exhibition Valletta, Malta September 13-16

Munich, Germany Exhibition: June 22–24 • Conference: June 21–22 This is the most-attended of all the renewable energy events in Europe. Over 40,000 visitors are expected to see EES Europe and Intersolar Europe. The areas of focus are rechargeable batteries, energy storage systems, charging technologies and battery production equipment and related materials as well as battery production equipment and materials The visitor profile consists of: manufacturers and systems providers of the batteries and energy storage sector; manufacturers and systems providers of the renewable energies sector ; systems integrators for batteries, energy storage systems and E-mobility; utility companies; grid operators; municipalities and pub-

lic Institutions; energy trading firms; RE power plants operators; planners and installers; equipment and materials manufacturers; planners and operators of UPS and back-up power systems; manufacturers of specialpurpose vehicles; OEMs in the automotive industry, and researchers The exhibitor profile consists of manufacturers; suppliers; distributors; service providers; project developers/EPCs; system integrators; research institutes; and, battery production equipment and materials professionals Contact Solar Promotion Tel: +49 7231 58598-0 Fax: +49 7231 58598-28

15ELBC will provide an ideal opportunity for those involved with the lead battery industry worldwide to review and discuss the most recent technical advances associated with lead-based batteries, especially for automotive and renewable energy storage applications. Technical presentations will bring delegates fully up-to-date with the latest research and development information from around the globe. An extensive Exhibition – expected to involve over 100 stands - by suppliers to the industry of equipment, materials and technology, will also take place. Since the first meeting in Paris in 1988, the European Lead Battery Conferences have developed a reputation for high quality presentations on the design, manufacture, performance and use of lead-acid batteries. Over 700 delegates and 100 exhibitors attended 14ELBC in Edinburgh 2014 and similar numbers are confidently expected in Malta. Contact International Lead Association Tel: +44 20 7833 8090 Fax: +44 20 7833 1611 Email:

Valletta, Malta. Home to 15th European Lead Battery Conference (15ELBC) and Exhibition in September

124 • Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016


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WIRTZ TOOLING: 98% ON-TIME COMPLETION AND SHORT LEAD TIMES Over the last five years, Wirtz has installed 10 new CNC tooling machining centers. These new tooling machining centers are not only capable of producing the closest tolerance tooling, but also feature increased capacity. As a result, Wirtz now is meeting on-time delivery commitments on 98% of all tooling orders. Wirtz standard lead time is also the shortest in the industry. We can now produce automotive grid molds, paster tooling, and cutter tooling in only four weeks. Our continuous cast wheels and industrial grid molds can be delivered in just eight weeks. To get the tooling with the closest tolerances and the fastest delivery time visit or call us at 1-810-987-7600.


d r o w t s a l e Th And the winner is… No doubt about it. But this year’s BCI meetings are about to become a complete cracker. Last year’s conference theme of creating the climate for change struck a chord across the industry. The result was an annual special innovation award in memory of East Penn’s Sally Miksiewicz. So far it has attracted a host of entries. As Batteries International went to press we had heard of entries from: • Abertax • Advanced Battery Concepts • Aqua Metals • Daramic • Hammond Expanders • MAC Engineering/EnerSys • Wirtz Manufacturing, and • Zesar.

“It’s less about being the ultimate winner for the award,” says Mark Thorsby, executive vice president of BCI. “It’s showing that lead acid batteries can be at the cutting edge of progress. “Join us deep in the heart of Texas – this is going to be one BCI meeting you’re not going to want to miss! Break out your cowboy gear, put on your boots and get ready for serious cow chip tossing! The speaker lineup is strong, the weather’ll be warm, all the key leaders will be there, and the food’ll be outta this world! Have you ever been to a BCI Convention when the food wasn’t over the top? Oh ya, did I mention the golf?”

An intern too far So farewell Anna Cole-Bailey our much treasured intern for the past six months. Anna is leaving for a publishing job to work in London on an official energy title. Clearly a publishing house of distinction — they even told her that our sister publication Energy Storage Journal as one of the most influential publications in the energy sector. “I taught her all she needed to know,” says Mike Halls, editor of Batteries International. “You know the number of t’s in battery, why led and lead sound the same — but they really are different and I can prove it —how many f’s in a li-ion battery. “She can even do my mystery sceptical look when I’m at conferences and don’t understand something.”

What’s in a name? Belated birthday wishes to Malou Peña Christoffersen — daughter of Accurate Products’ proud father Morton. Born in late August at a healthy 3.75kg, she was welcomed to the family by brothers Philip and Louis.

Our choice of name was an unusual one, says Morton, as my wife’s Mexican and I’m Danish and so Malou’s full name accommodates both languages. Malou can be a shortened version of Maria Louisa, keeping all sides of the family happy. “Not that that matters, she’s lovely.”

Batteries International • Winter 2015/2016 • 127

d r o w t s a l e Th The party to end all UK parties It’s going to be party time later this spring, for what could be the must-go-toevent in the British battery social calendar. UK battery monitoring and testing firm CellCare Technolo-

gies is planning to hold a Grand Opening Party to celebrate moving into their spacious new offices that now come complete with laboratories and training rooms.

“No expense has been spared,” says Dave Smith, CellCare chief executive. “We’ve got both types of wine ready for our guests — red and white — it’ll be a slap-up do to remember!”


s recently Photo illustrate

Maltese hoteliers race for the barricades ELBC party animals beware. Malta, the island that famously won the George Cross for its bravery in the Second World War, is braced to receive you. “When this year’s ELBC conference kicks off in September,” said a high-ranking Valletta dignitary, “ we’ve already introduced a set of emergency curfews. “Our late night clubbing areas will be off bounds from 5am instead of 6am. Our bars will close early, probably around 5am too. And — this’ll scupper these

battery hooligans — won’t open again until 8.30am! “We’re also temporarily upping the price of a beer to e1 ($1), in a bar and a bottle of wine to e5, so that’ll curb the Americans now that the dollar’s so weak.” Asked why these ruthless measures were being introduced he shrugged. “We’ve seen the chaos that’s followed the ELBC in the past — think what’s happened to Edinburgh, Paris and Istanbul. “We’ve also heard about the curse of the BCI, and the desolation that follows their lead battery events. These are simple precautionary steps.”

Phase 2

Andrew Granger

From 2,949

Boxing Day, Australia. as OZZIE CRICKET team thrashes the ‘windies’, THERE ARE Big smiles from David Rand (UltraBattery pioneer and latterday dinkie-di Aussie) and Mark Stevenson (Asia’s renowned lead expert AND MASTER ‘ELECTROLYTE’ CONNOISSEUR).


Geoff Gibson

s Units ty Busines High Quali / MAY LE-T2,144 sq m) FOR SALE 4 (27 - 23,077 sq

Amanda Lawrence


A bigger splash, battery style Time to push the boat out — quite literally — as a British team is looking for a battery manufacturer to cosponsor an attempt to set a new 300km/h Electric Water Speed Record. “Specifically we’re looking for a manufacturer of compact, rapiddischarge lithium batteries to enable a hydroplane to bust the record,” says Kevin Desmond, one of the organizers of the event. “The 16ft 400hp twin-engined hydroplane (pictured at bottom of page, under construction) is to be piloted by Gina Campbell. Her father Donald raised the World Water Speed Record to 420km/h in his turbojet-engined hydroplane Bluebird. Contact Batteries International if you’re ready to help.

Pasting ► Dividing ► Flash Drying ► Stacking ► Curing ► C.O.S. ► Assembly

MAC Engineering and Equipment Company, Inc. 2775 Meadowbrook Road, Benton Harbor, MI 49022 U.S.A. Latin America (Sorfin Yoshimura, Ltd.) Asia (Sorfin Yoshimura Tokyo, Ltd.) Brasil (Sorfin Yoshimura, Ltd.) China (Sorfin Yoshimura Qingdao, Ltd.) Europe (Sorfin Yoshimura Paris, Ltd.) India (Sorfin Yoshimura India, Ltd.) Thailand (Sorfin Yoshimura Thailand, Ltd.)

New York, USA: Tokyo, Japan: São Paulo, Brasil: Qingdao, China: Paris, France: Pune, India: Bangkok, Thailand:

Batteries International magazine - issue 98  
Batteries International magazine - issue 98