If you need to know about batteries; you’ve come to the right place
Chinese flag点击这里访问我们的中文网站Chinese flag

critical power

Award for Accutronics and Aston University

Thu, 08/23/2012 - 18:02 -- Ruth Williams

Battery manufacturers Accutronics, based in Birmingham UK, have been awarded a Knowledge Transfer Partnership award for a joint project with Birmingham’s Aston University Business School.

Accutronics, who design, develop and manufacturer nickel metal hydride and lithium-ion batteries, joined with Aston for the two-year project to demonstrate how academic advancements could be used as a practical business tool.

Prabhjit Singh Chugh of Aston University spent time at Accutronics on the team where he was able to develop a new approach to managing operational improvements in a very customer driven way.  Martin May of Aston University described Prabhjit’s role as to “present a project in partnership with the host business to attract government funding.  The university provides some supervision and mentorship, as, of course, does Accutronics.”

The KTP project aims to build and strengthen relationships between academic establishments, businesses and the community.

Gareth Hancox, KTP project supervisor said: “This project was aimed at developing and implementing an operational strategy, which, together with all necessary processes and facilities would assist to support and grow the increasingly complex product range within Accutronics.”  He hopes it will continue to improve Accutronics reputation and enable the company to meet the challenges of performance requirements.

Key achievements in the first year of the project have included the definition of operations performance targets for existing and new markets and the identification of over one hundred improvement actions in the business process.

H-Train of tomorrow, today

Thu, 08/23/2012 - 18:02 -- Ruth Williams

A hydrogen-powered hybrid train has been designed and built by students at the University of Birmingham, UK.  The prototype narrow gauge locomotive, running on a 5 000-litre hydrogen fuel cell combined with lead-acid batteries, is the first of its kind operating in the UK.

Dr Stuart Hillmansen, from the University of Birmingham's School of Electronic, Electrical and Computer Engineering, said: "Our hydrogen-powered locomotive is a clean and efficient example of how hydrogen power could work for future trains on non-electrified routes.  We hope that our efforts will encourage the rail industry to take a closer look at this exciting technology."

The fuel cell is used both to power the permanent magnet electric motors and to charge the batteries, helping to meet the peak power demands during acceleration.

The advanced cell, which has already been successfully deployed by the university on a canal barge, exceeded expectations when the locomotive was tested on Leicestershire's Stapleford Miniature Railway.

Hydrogen transport also hit the headlines recently during the London 2012 Olympics.  A fleet of five black cabs, powered by hydrogen, shuttled people around the city demonstrating the potential of H-cells as an alternative fuel source.

Breakthrough in lithium-air cell technology

Wed, 08/15/2012 - 18:02 -- Ruth Williams

Advances made in lithium-air battery technology by researchers at the University of St Andrews, Fife, Scotland, could provide ten times more energy density per mass unit than conventional lithium-ion batteries.

Battery chemist Peter Bruce believes the driving range of EV’s can be pushed beyond the 300 mile driving range with the lithium air technology which he believes has the potential to provide a transformational shift in transport.

If successful, lithium-air batteries could decrease the weight of the battery pack because they use oxygen to charge the electrodes. The design would be of a similar design to zinc-air batteries used in hearing aids.

A previous stumbling block to using lithium-air cells has been the unstable chemical reaction causing the battery to fail after a couple of cycles.  This may be overcome with the work done at St Andrews where they were able to run a lithium-air lab cell for 100 charge-discharge cycles.

Clearly there is a long way to go before this could be a commercially practical option, but this step is part of a giant leap in the future of battery technology.

Chinese rare earth exports

Thu, 08/02/2012 - 18:02 -- Ruth Williams

China has published a white paper confirming its position on rare earth elements following a complaint filed to the World Trade Organisation.  The US, EU and Japan protested China are limiting their export of rare earth elements to protect domestic industries. China has rebuked this claim and cites mounting environmental damage by over-mining as the reason for slowing its mining programme.
The country is now being criticised for manipulating its estimation of reserves held. Previously they claimed to have 30% of the global reserves but now state it is closer to 20%. The Chinese government is fearful of the environmental impact of over mining.  The country has already come under much scrutiny for its poor environmental track record so vigilance should be welcomed. However some critics fear the re-estimation and slower mining of reserves could have more to do with keeping prices up than concerns for the land they come from.
Industries rely heavily upon rare earth elements and will have to look elsewhere for resources if China is to stand by its conviction.  Greenland could hold the answer, there is an estimated quarter of the elements required globally hidden beneath its ice.  Alternatively countries could follow suit with South-East Asia and by ‘urban mining’ – reclaiming used materials from landfill sites.

Second Life for lithium-ion

Wed, 07/25/2012 - 18:02 -- Ruth Williams

The ‘second life’ potential of batteries is a hot topic at the moment with the rise in EVs meaning more lithium-ion batteries will be in circulation, including the Nissan Leaf being mass-produced in the UK from 2013.  ABB and Zero Carbon Futures are both researching the potential utilisation of ‘used’ batteries.  When the batteries come out of the cars they would still have around 80% capacity, this would reduce the range of the car but still be sufficient to be put to another application.  Zero Carbon Futures, working alongside Nissan, are researching the energy storage potential of the used batteries for home energy management systems.

A123 sign two deals in as many days

Mon, 07/23/2012 - 18:02 -- Ruth Williams

This July A123 announced they shall be supplying BAE Systems with lithium-ion battery packs for its new HybriDrive Series to be used on municipal buses. The following day A123 signed a deal with Chinese Ray Power Systems to supply a grid energy storage system.  This is great news for shareholders of A123.  Share price has risen for the first time since the company announced in June that it is struggling financially. 

South Korea battery exports reach new high

Mon, 07/23/2012 - 18:02 -- Ruth Williams

South Korea shipped 20% more rechargeable batteries overseas in 2011 finacial year than the previous year.  Of these, 56% were lithium-ion making South Korea the world’s largest exporter of lithium-ion batteries for 2011.  The exports of the batteries were valued at US$3.8 billion according to the Korea Customs Service.

Supercapacitors in BEST

Fri, 07/20/2012 - 18:02 -- Ruth Williams

Supercapacitors are a hot topic, serving so many functions in electric vehicles and as a universal back-up power source. Will they take centre stage in the battery world as their uses expand? And who are the leaders in this growing industry? Dr Peter Harrop gives BEST the full story in the newest issue out July 2012.

Pages

Subscribe to critical power