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Porous Power separator reduces risk of thermal runaway

Wed, 02/27/2013 - 17:36 -- Ruth Williams

Porous Power Technologies (PPT) has launched a line of ceramic-filled battery separators designed to improve the thermal stability and safety of the large-format lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles, flat-cell consumer electronics, and high-power applications.

Under heat, the ceramic-filled polymer separators fuse together, leaving a thin film of ceramic particles between the electrodes and reduce the likelihood of hard shorts that can lead to thermal runaway and cell failure.

The ceramic particles are evenly distributed throughout the PPT chemically inert PVDF polymer. The particles reside primarily in the pore walls, leaving a large and uniform open pore structure that enable ions to pass through with less resistance and less heat generation.

The separators will provide greater power in high-current applications as well as having increased thermal stability with less cell degradation. The design offers reduced separator shrinkage, extended cycle life, higher bake-out and operating temperatures, and improved puncture and abuse resistance.

Smart heating system could cut bills and increase use of renewables

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 17:36 -- Ruth Williams

An energy efficient heating system offering efficiency savings of up to 20% could be key in the transition to low-carbon energy systems in Europe. This is according to a report commissioned by SSE (UK energy generators and distributors) and Dimplex (a global heating solutions firm).

The smart electric thermal storage (SETS) system works by storing up renewably produced energy when production is high but demand is low. The report indicated SETS could provide up to 54GW of additional flexible storage capacity across Europe by 2050, enabling renewable electricity to be stored when demand is low and used to heat homes when needed.

The system, first brought to the market by SEE and Dimplex in a product called Quantum, is intended to replace out-dated night storage heaters with something more efficient and with better room temperature control as well as being designed for smart grid integration.

The report found that if all 27 EU countries replaced storage heaters with SETS, savings of 7.4TWh of electricity and three mega-tons of CO2 could be made each year. If used in all electrically heated homes as much as 148GW could be provided by 2050.

Stuart Mackenzie, Managing Director of Dimplex, added: “Quantum offers consumers with electric storage heaters the opportunity to reduce their running costs by up to 27%. It’s also a Green Deal approved measure, so the capital cost outlay can be substantially reduced.”

Advances in charging for smart devices mean longer run times

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 17:36 -- Ruth Williams

Chinese portable power company Powerocks has an ever growing range of mobile phone power boosting accessories. The high capacity portable batteries provide additional power for mobile and tablet devices that are compatible with USB ports.

The lithium-ion batteries can be charged form a mains power supply and then provide several re-charges for smart phones and tablet devices. The slim-line design of iPhones and the like mean the battery cannot be swapped with a spare, it must be recharged, resulting in companies coming up with novel ways to help users re-charge when travelling or away from mains charging.

The range includes the Stone series of portable batteries that offer between 5800mAh and 7800mAh capacity, which provide an additional three times power for devices; The Magicstick is the size of an AA cell and offers 2600mAH power on the go for phone devices. 

The MagicstickThe ultimate in portable battery is built into the phone cover. The interestingly named Cheese Crystal is a protective case for the iPhone4 that has an 1800mAH lithium-ion battery incorporated in it to double potential battery life.

When charged, Powerocks range can power up to two devices, dependant on model, two or three times. The designs are complimentary to Apple style and show these chargers can be sleek and elegant but still pack a lot of power.

BASF 2012 figures show growth in all sectors

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 17:36 -- Ruth Williams

German chemical giant BASF has released its sales figures for 2012 showing growth across the company. The chemical segment overall sales figures grew 7% on 2011, the 2012 sales increased to €13.8billion. There was however a decline in EBIT (earnings before interest and tax) due to plant shut downs and lower margins.


The tables below show the full figures for 2012 compared to the previous year across the range of the company (bottom) as well as the fourth quarter sales figures (top).

Supply deal worth $2.4 million for military experts

Mon, 02/25/2013 - 17:36 -- Ruth Williams

Arotech Corporation is to supply the US Army with over 1500 Soldier Wearable Integrated Power Equipment System, or SWIPES, from its battery and power systems division.

SWIPES integrates force protection electronics and communication equipment, with a zinc-air battery into an army issue load-carrying vest. The system uses a modular power distribution system powered by BA-8180/U, BA-8140/U zinc-air batteries or LI-145, BB2590 rechargeable batteries for providing direct power to equipment.

The high energy density means soldiers can work for longer in the field without recharging or swapping battery packs. This enables longer missions as well as reducing the pack weight by 30%. The batteries continuously charge the secondary batteries inside various devices, such as two-way radios, GPS units and shot detection systems. SWIPES can be adapted to individual’s needs, to allow soldiers to accept new applications when they become available.

"Reducing the load on a soldier and simplifying the supply logistics promoted SWIPES to be awarded the accolade of a Top-Ten Best Army Inventions in 2011," declared Arotech's Chairman and CEO, Robert Ehrlich. "This follow-on order from the US army is testament to the effectiveness of our product and reflects its increasing acceptance among US Ground Forces."

Aggreko appoints director for Europe, Middle East and Africa

Mon, 02/25/2013 - 17:36 -- Ruth Williams

Aggreko has announced the appointment of David Taylor-Smith as its new director for Europe, Middle East and Africa, with effect from 11 March 2013.

Former British Army officer Taylor-Smith has spent most of his career in the security industry. The 51 year-old worked for G4S between 1998 and 2012, most recently in the role of Chief Operating Officer and Regional Chief Executive of UK, Ireland and Africa.

Taylor-Smith resigned from G4S last September after the company failed to provide an adequate number of security staff for the London Olympic Games, forcing British police and the British Army to intervene. The company eventually booked a loss of $108m on the project.

The appointment follows the management reorganisation announced by Aggreko last September, with the group being split into three regional units for the Americas; Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA); and Asia, Pacific and Australia (APAC), each managed by a main board director.

The Americas and APAC posts were filled by internal candidates - Asterios Satrazemis and Debajit Das, respectively.

Battery University in Silicon Valley

Fri, 02/22/2013 - 17:36 -- Ruth Williams

San Jose State University will be offering courses specifically designed for students who want to work with battery technology.

The University is partnering with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and CalCharge to offer the professional programme of education at the University’s Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering, which feeds more graduate engineers into the Silicon Valley workforce than any other university.

California has over 40 battery-related companies working on energy storage solutions for electric vehicles, consumer electronics and the renewable energy storage sector.

The courses are offered in response to changing workplace demands in the high tech battery industry.

European Commission takes UK to court over VAT on energy-saving products

Fri, 02/22/2013 - 17:36 -- Ruth Williams

The European Commission is taking the UK to court over its reduced VAT rate on energy-saving products.

The UK charges 5% instead of the standard 20%. Under EU VAT rules, discounts are only allowed for social policy reasons, not environmental reasons.

In a statement, the European Commission said: "Member States themselves unanimously decided on the list of goods and services that could benefit from a reduced VAT rate, and they also insisted that this list be strictly applied, with no room for manoeuvre or interpretation. This is important to prevent competitive distortions in the Single Market and to ensure a fair and level playing field between all Member States."

The Commissions added economic studies showed reduced VAT rates "are often not the best way to achieve policy objectives" and direct subsidies could be more efficient.

Stationary fuel cell developer ACAL Energy appoints new CEO

Fri, 02/22/2013 - 17:36 -- Ruth Williams

UK hydrogen fuel cell developer ACAL Energy has appointed Greg McCray as CEO, the company said in a statement.

McCray was previously CEO of Antenova Limited, a wireless components company. While at Antenova, Greg transformed the organisation into the world's fastest-growing innovative antenna business, backed by global venture capitalists and major institutional funds.

ACAL Energy claims it has a “revolutionary approach” to hydrogen fuel cell technology buy using 80% less platinum on average. This results in a significant cost and footprint reduction.

After eight years of R&D investment, ACAL Energy is now ready to license its FlowCath fuel cell technology to major automotive manufacturers and companies in the stationary power industry, it said.

Samsung and Xtreme Power team up for smart grid project

Fri, 02/22/2013 - 17:36 -- Ruth Williams

Samsung SDI and Xtreme Power are installing a 1MW/1MWh lithium-manganese oxide energy storage system for a demonstrative smart grid project in Texas. The system, to be installed at the Reese Technology Centre in Lubbock, is partly funded by the Department of Energy.

The project aims to promote utility scale energy storage with wind energy. The battery system will be utilised to regulate power generated from local wind turbines that suffer from intermittent loss of generation.

Samsung’s lithium-ion battery technology together with Xtreme Power’s Xtreme Active Control Technology (XACT), which gives millisecond response time, will enable the wind generated power to be fed into the national grid.

This is the first project Samsung SDI and Xtreme Power have worked on together to provide energy storage solutions for renewable integration and grid support. The companies have formed the alliance to reach renewable energy goals and promote a cleaner electric grid.

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