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ReVolt Technology and BASF in Joint Development Agreement for Zinc-Air Battery System

9 July 2009

RevoltA
Energy densities of different battery technologies. Source: ReVolt. Click to enlarge.

ReVolt Technology Ltd, a technology company which has developed a rechargeable zinc-air battery (earlier post), and BASF have entered a joint-development agreement to speed the development and commercialization of ReVolt’s rechargeable zinc-air battery system. Revolt’s zinc-air technology offers up to three times the energy density on a volumetric basis and twice on a gravimetric basis of lithium-ion, according to the company.

Under the agreement, BASF will use its expertise in material science as well as electrochemistry to further advance the technology. BASF will supply key component materials and jointly developed subsystem elements necessary for the continued development and commercialization of ReVolt’s rechargeable zinc-air batteries.

In January 2009, RWE Innogy, the renewable power generation arm of Germany-based RWE Group, invested €5.5 million in ReVolt. The RWE investment was part of a €10 million Series B round that included current investors NorthZone Ventures (Sweden), SINTEF (Norway), Sofinnova Partners (France), TVM Capital (Germany), Verdane Capital (Norway) and Viking Venture (Norway).

ReVolt’s battery technology is a result of six years of research and development at SINTEF (the largest independent research institute in Scandinavia). Research on material combinations has addressed issues historically related to the metal-air technology; power, lifetime and rechargeability.

Metal-air electrochemical cells use an anode made from metals such as zinc (Zn) and a cathode made from a porous structure with catalytic properties for the oxygen reaction. An alkaline electrolyte maintains high ionic conductivity between the two electrodes. A separator between the anode and cathode prevents short circuits.

Discharging the metal-air cells entails the conversion of oxygen from the atmosphere to hydroxyl ions in the air electrode. The hydroxyl ions then migrate to the metal electrode, where they cause the metal contained in the electrode to oxidize. Charging of metal-air cells converts hydroxyl ions to oxygen in the air electrode, releasing electrons. On the metal electrode the metal oxides or ions are reduced to form the metal while electrons are consumed.

Rechargeability of zinc-air systems has been problematic, due to issues such as zinc dendrite formation, the battery drying out, and oxygen formation/reduction reversibility. ReVolt’s technology developments include placement of the zinc (microscopic localization) on the anode; humidity management in the cell; and a bi-functional air-electrode. In a bi-functional air electrode, both the oxygen reduction and oxygen evolution reactions occur.

A 100 percent-owned subsidiary of BASF SE, BASF Future Business was founded in April 2001 and focuses on chemistry-based new materials, technologies and system solutions. In June, BASF signed a world-wide licensing agreement with the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory to mass produce and market Argonne’s patented composite cathode materials to manufacturers of advanced lithium-ion batteries. BASF will conduct further lithium-ion battery material application development in its current Beachwood, Ohio facility. (Earlier post.)

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July 9, 2009 in Batteries | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

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Comments

This sounds major if a viable production schedule and cost were stated.

The fact that BASF enters the business is a good sign, and this technology has been developped by very serious people and organization so maybe there is something going on there. The main problem of Zn-Air battery are the poor life-time due to formation of dendrites at the electrode. They claimed that they improved that, will see, but if they can show that Zn-air is a viable solution for automotive battery, gosh that's uge because Zn is plentiful and cheap and fully recyclable

These guys are taking a high profile position by using BASF's name.

"BASF will use its expertise in material science as well as electrochemistry to further advance the technology. BASF will supply key component materials and jointly developed subsystem elements necessary for the continued development and commercialization of ReVolt’s rechargeable zinc-air batteries".

They have a material contract with BASF and are hoping that investors come to bear and help finance their venture.

The fact is, it will take years of work and many millions of dollars to get this chemistry to go much above a 100 cycles.

Would you spend $10-$20K on an EV Battery that lasts ~1-2 years knowing that you will have to spend it again every couple of years afterward?

This announcement and the other recent announcement by BASF that they invested in Sionpower show that the world largest chemical corporation is now serious about playing a role in the global battery industry. I think SionPower’s LiS battery is more promising than this Zink air battery. Sion has been able to deliver a 350Wh/kg battery with 300 cycle capability since 2004 and it is used in a prototype UAV since 2006. They even claim they will ready a 600Wh/kg battery is the ‘near’ future and that the production of LiS batteries can use the same equipment that is used to produce other traditional batteries. See http://www.sionpower.com/product.html

Revolt’s battery prototype appears to be the size of a fingernail and many more years from an actual product. See http://www.revolttechnology.com/res/presentation/White%20paper%20ReVolt%20Technology_280307.pdf

In any case it is very positive that BASF is going into this industry with its 100k large workforce and over 50B EUR in annual turnover. I have no doubt BASF will soon become a very large global player in this area. Not in cell manufacturing but in anode and cathode materials for multiple chemistries. BASF already deliver Lithium Nickel Cobalt Oxide catode material (see http://www.basf-futurebusiness.com/fileadmin/user_upload/Projekte/Li-Ionen-Batterien/LNCO-1_Spec_Sheet_10072007.pdf) and hopefully they will soon also deliver materials for LiS batteries. Sionpower is a research company so they need a partner like BASF to get their materials in actual large scale production.

Politically one must question why U.S. taxpayer money supported IP is licensed to German BASF? Are there no chemical companies (Dow) in he U.S. that can develop these resources?

On the other hand, IF BASF builds manufacturing facilities inside the U.S. to exploit their license - this may be a good move for the taxpayer. Unfortunately with the virtual world-wide recession, nationalism plays a bigger role.

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