With lithium-ion products exploding loudly (in press terms at least) two nickel metal hydride manufacturers staged something of a fight back on the battery stage in Nice offering improved across-the-board temperature performance, new electrode alloys and the all important deal closer— reliability.
ARTS Energy, the former SAFT small cell NiMH subsidiary sold off in the last decade, claimed a wide temperature performance (up to 70ºC) and a longer life.
It is aiming its cells at the telecom and energy storage market globally, who won’t take the risk with cheaper lithium.
While ARTS is still a small operator, Stephane Blanchin told the meeting the company had an R&D progamme and alliance with BASF Ovonics— the global NiMH Leader.
When Blanchin was asked if they would develop a pack for the micro-hybrid market, he said “we have the know how but we won’t do it.”
Blanchin’s jab to the lithium-ion jaw was followed by an impressive left hook from the phoenix-out-of the-ashes of once mighty Sanyo— now know as FDK.
Hirohito Teraoka’s selling points for extreme temperature performance were a ‘super lattice nickel alloy’ and catalyst, which not only offered extreme temperature performance but high charge acceptance.
Further, the new NIMH cells showed better performance in shelf life terms compared to lithium-ion when stored for equal amounts of time— “this is a big consideration”, said Gatson Cunningham, FDK general manager Europe.
“The issues concerning mobile phones are a big reminder to industrial customers that not all the issues, particularly safety with lithium-ion, are solved.”
But NiMH will have to go a long way to restore its fortunes to those of the 1990s.
At more than US$500/kwh, it’s close on three times the prices of the cheapest lithium offerings.