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KiWi Power appoints former UK Department of Energy advisor Miriam Maes to board

Tue, 02/12/2013 - 17:36 -- Ruth Williams

UK demand response provider KiWi Power has appointed former UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) advisor Miriam Maes as a new non-executive director.

Maes was appointed delivery advisor to the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) from 2010 to 2011 and as advisor to the new Energy Efficiency Deployment Office (EEDO) within DECC from 2011 until March 2012, providing expert advice on energy efficiency issues.

Maes has worked in the energy sector since 2002, initially as a member of Texas Utilities’ (TXU) European Executive and subsequently as COO of EDF Energy’s non-regulated distribution networks business. In 2007, Miriam became CEO of climate change consultants Foresee.

Yoav Zingher, KiWi Power’s director and co-founder said: "I am delighted to welcome Miriam to the Board as non-executive director. Her experience and track record within the energy space will be of immense value to KiWi Power.” Maes added: “I am delighted to join such a forward looking company with such a great team. The demand response concept is essential to the optimisation of the energy resources in the transition to an affordable low carbon economy and has enormous potential in the UK and internationally.”

Maes is also non-executive director of the Euronext listed and BELPEX company ELIA Group (Belgium), the Belgian and part German transmission and distribution system operator, and of Assystem (France) an international energy, automotive and aerospace engineering company, listed on NYSE Euronext. Since November 2012, Miriam has been appointed as chairman of the AIM-listed Sabien Technology Group, a manufacturer and seller of a patented boiler optimisation system.

Free UPS and battery seminar in Manchester

Mon, 02/11/2013 - 17:36 -- Ruth Williams

Uninterruptible Power Supplies Ltd and Yuasa Battery are hosting a free seminar in Manchester relating to UPS and Batteries.

On 19th March at Manchester City FC Stadium there will be a free seminar discussing the history and evolution of modern UPS systems; UPS system topology; key factors and drivers for UPS development; battery size considerations; effects of temperature on battery life and performance; batteries suitability for UPS systems.

 

The free event includes an optional tour of the stadium.

To register visit http://www.upspower.co.uk/manchester.aspx

 

Progress for Italian smart grid system

Mon, 02/11/2013 - 17:36 -- Ruth Williams

NEC Italia SpA has announced an agreement with Italian utility service provider Acea Spa to develop lithium-ion energy storage systems (ESS) for Acea’s substations.

NEC will provide one 180kW/ 100kWh substation and one 100kW/ 50kWh substation to Acea in Rome, due to be operational in September 2013. The ESS, which will greatly advance Rome’s smart grid system, will provide improved quality of utility services, reduce energy losses and improve the management of energy from distributed sources such as wind and PV.

The larger of the two systems will be connected to Acea’s low-voltage electricity grid to provide backup power in the event of a power outage. The smaller system will be connected to the mid-voltage grid to regulate and even out energy from distributed generators by compensating for power fluctuations.

“NEC is proud to partner with a visionary company like Acea, who understands the importance of Smart Grids for successfully meeting the demands of utility companies as well as reducing environmental burdens,” said Ugo Govigli, Vice President, Smart Grid Solutions, NEC Europe. “These ESS were designed entirely by the NEC EMEA Energy competence centre which was established in Italy in 2011. We expect these developments to pave the way into new energy market segments throughout EMEA.”?

Origin, but not cause, of Dreamliner battery fire announced

Fri, 02/08/2013 - 17:36 -- Ruth Williams

The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has announced the origin of the fire on the Japan AirLines Boeing Dreamliner, January 7th. The battery was believed to have had an “initiating event” in one of its eight cells; this was assessed using the flight data recorder and evidence form the thermal and mechanical damage.

The cell identified as the starting point “showed multiple signs of short-circuiting, leading to thermal runaway condition, which then cascaded to other cells.” The evidence suggests the cells reached 260oC.

Chairman of NTSB, Deborah Hersman, said potential causes of the initiating short circuit being evaluated include battery charging, the design and construction of the battery, and the possibility of defects introduced during the manufacturing process.

The cause of the short circuit remains unknown and further investigations will focus upon design and certification requirements of the battery system.

During its certification process Boeing considered the types of failures that might affect the battery, following tests it found no evidence that cell-to-cell spread or fire would be a problem and that smoke emitting from the cell would not occur during more than one in ten million flight hours.

Scrap lead prices creep up in US

Fri, 02/08/2013 - 17:36 -- Ruth Williams

The price of scrap lead in the US is slowly creeping up. This is attributed to slightly higher demand, meaning the price of scrap is up by one cent per pound.

According to the American Metal Market the value of used lead-acid batteries is expected to continue to increase throughout February as smelters pay more for the scrap.

The closing price of lead on the London Metal Exchange at the end of January was $2386 per tonne, this is a continuation of the slowly rising price. Until now the scrap price has not risen but with demand growing the price is able to follow the primary trend.

Solid electrolyte for lithium-ion

Wed, 02/06/2013 - 17:36 -- Ruth Williams

Scientists as Oak Ridge National Laboratory have developed a solid electrolyte for lithium-ion batteries that will provide greater energy density. The substance is made by manipulating lithium-thiophosphate so that it could conduct ions 1000 times faster than in its natural bulk form. The researchers used nanostructuring to alter the structure of the crystals that make up the material.

By altering it in this way, the solid electrolyte was not flammable as a liquid electrolyte would be. Chengdu Liang, who led the study, said: "Cycling highly reactive lithium metal in flammable organic electrolytes causes serious safety concerns," Liang said. "A solid electrolyte enables the lithium metal to cycle well, with highly enhanced safety."

The team developed the solid electrolyte by refining lithium-thiophosphate until it could conduct ions at a faster rate than in its natural state.

"We started with a conventional material that is highly stable in a battery system - in particular one that is compatible with a lithium metal anode," said Liang.

One of the research paper’s coauthors, Adam Rondinone, said the method can be scaled up to create large amounts of the material based on the same nanostructuring.

Polymer lithium-sulphur battery for commercialisation by OXIS and GP Batteries

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 17:36 -- Ruth Williams

OXIS Energy, UK, and GP Batteries, of Singapore, are embarking on a joint manufacturing project to make lithium-sulphur (Li-S) battery systems on a commercial scale for use in defence, automotive and solar panel markets.

The joint venture is expected to accelerate the Li-S cells and battery system to a commercial scale, as made by OXIS and mass produced by GP Batteries. OXIS has been developing the Li-S batteries since 2004 for the broad electric vehicle market as well as aviation and defence applications.

"Lithium-sulphur polymer batteries could well be the long sought after technology which will correct many of the deficiencies and shortcomings of the present generation of lithium-ion batteries, such as safety", said GP Batteries Chairman and Chief Executive Andrew Ng.

OXIS and GP Batteries are establishing a joint board to review the developments and improvements in the emerging technology for presentation to customers.

Japan losing out in the supply chain game

Thu, 07/19/2012 - 18:02 -- Ruth Williams

Japan is losing out to Chinese and South Korean competitors in supplying lithium-ion battery components around the world. In the 2011 financial year Japan supplied less than half of these key parts.

Global shipments of cathode and anode materials, separators and electrolytes are estimated to have grown 11.2% to US$70.2 million last fiscal year. Japanese firms' share fell 5.7% points to 46.6%, dipping below the 50% mark for the first time since 2008.

The Japanese Yano Research Institute believes Japan’s dominance was weakened following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that halted the supply of some essential parts around the country. This, combined with the strong yen cutting into Japan’s competitiveness, meant a demand for cheaper materials grew.  Another factor is the shift in South Korean battery manufacturers to use domestically made parts over imports.

 

Lithium-ion without the rare earth metals

Thu, 07/19/2012 - 18:02 -- Ruth Williams

A Tohoku University researcher last month announced the development of a lithium-ion battery whose positive electrode does not use any rare earth metals.

Conventional lithium-ion batteries do use rare metals, such as cobalt and nickel, in the positive electrode. Due to their geochemical properties rare earth elements can be dispersed and often not found in concentrated or economically exploitable forms.  This makes these metals costly, and supplies not always stable. Eliminating them will likely make the batteries cheaper to manufacture.

China announced plans in 2009 to reduce its export quota of rare earth minerals to around 350,000 tons per year to conserve scarce resources and protect the environment.  This has led to other countries stock-piling their reserves.  The EU, US and Japan have brought a complaint to the World Trade Organisation alleging China is restricting the exports to maximize domestic use and thus distort the global economy.

Professor Itaru Honma of Tohoku University's Institute of Multidisciplinary Research for Advanced Materials has succeeded in replacing these metals with organic substances. As a result, costs of materials for the positive electrode have been slashed to less than one-fifth what they were before.

Professor Honma made a button-sized lithium-ion battery for testing. This prototype achieved an energy density of 200 watt-hours per kilogram -- roughly double that of current lithium-ion batteries. Tests confirmed that the button-sized battery could withstand at least 100 charge-discharge cycles.

The next step will be to look further for organic materials that more efficiently store power and boost the battery's capacity, with a goal of developing a secondary battery for electric vehicles.

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