Australian flow battery firm Redflow Limited has started installing equipment for a battery production line at its new factory in Thailand— putting the firm on track to launch initial operations in the country by the end of the year.
The announcement follows Redflow’s formation of a new entity— Redflow (Thailand) Limited— to create a base in the country to serve its Southeast Asia business.
The UK government has launched the “first phase” of £246 million ($320.8m) worth of investment in battery technology – with competitions “to boost both the research and development of expertise” in the sector.
Business secretary Greg Clark (pictured) said the four-year investment round – dubbed the Faraday Challenge – aims to support innovation and the “scale-up of battery technology" as part of the government’s wider industrial strategy in the run-up to Brexit.
Clark said the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) will spearhead a £45m ($58.7m) competition “to bring the best minds and facilities together to create a Battery Institute”. The EPSRC aims to select a consortium of universities that will be responsible for undertaking research “looking to address the key industrial challenges in this area”, he said.
Meanwhile, Clark said the national Advanced Propulsion Centre will work with the automotive sector “to identify the best proposition for a new state-of-the-art open access National Battery Manufacturing Development facility”.
EPSRC chief executive Professor Philip Nelson said: “Batteries will form a cornerstone of a low carbon economy, whether in cars, aircraft, consumer electronics, district or grid storage. To deliver the UK’s low carbon economy we must consolidate and grow our capabilities in novel battery technology.”
“The Faraday Challenge is a new way of working,” Nelson said. “It will bring together the best minds in the field, draw on others from different disciplines, and link intimately with industry, innovators and other funders, such as Innovate UK, to ensure we maintain that our world leading position and keep the pipeline of fundamental science to innovation flowing.”
The government’s announcement follows a review, commissioned as part of an industrial strategy consultative paper, by Sir Mark Walport – in which he identified areas where the UK had strengths in battery technology and could benefit from funding.
Full story in next week’s BEST Battery Briefing.
Confidence in the battery/storage sector more than doubled in the second quarter of the year with venture capitalists plowing $125million into ten deals.
Twenty investors put cash into companies focused on lithium-ion, sodium, energy storage systems, lead-based technology, energy storage management software and thermal energy storage.
Energy storage firm S&C Electric Company has completed a 7MW lithium-ion system that combines solar energy and storage in Ohio, US.
The system was built in conjunction with Half Moon Ventures (HMV) and the local municipal utility, the Village of Minster.
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.