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CSIRO Invests in Hybrid Energy Storage System Start-Up

Depiction of hybrid energy storage system (UltraBattery) applied in renewable power generation. Click to enlarge.

Australia’s CSIRO and Cleantech Ventures have invested in technology start-up Smart Storage Pty Ltd to develop and commercialize energy storage systems based on a hybrid battery which combines an asymmetric supercapacitor and a lead-acid battery in a single unit cell. Advanced materials used for the electrodes and current management absorb and release charge rapidly and at efficiencies well above conventional battery types.

Director of the CSIRO Energy Transformed National Research Flagship Dr John Wright said the Smart Storage battery technology aims to deliver a low cost, high performance, high power stationary energy storage solution suitable for grid-connected and remote applications.

The Smart Storage technology is based on CSIRO’s Ultrabattery which has been successfully trialed in hybrid vehicles, according to Dr Wright: the series hybrid aXcessaustralia concept from CSIRO in 2000, and Holden’s ECOmmodore parallel hybrid (earlier post).

In the hybrids, CSIRO combined a 60-volt battery pack with a 150-volt supercapacitor pack. This provided enough energy to operate in electric only mode for around 30 minutes and enough power for good acceleration. Subsequently, CSIRO combined the two into a single battery unit—the Ultrabattery. A production quantity has been made in Japan and the batteries are under test in Toyota, Honda and Suzuki, according to CSIRO.

As envisioned for the stationary power market, the UltraBattery would be based on 2V, 1000 Ah cells. Each string will have 12 cells (24V, 1000Ah) with four strings in each system (48 cells).

It is expected that the discharge and charge power of the Smart Storage battery will be 50% higher and its cycle-life at least three times longer than that of the conventional lead-acid counterpart.

Most importantly, our technology development path is directed towards manufacturing in existing lead-acid battery plants. Too often new technologies simply aren’t affordable and that significantly retards market uptake.

—Andrew Pickering, a Principal at Cleantech Ventures




Energy storage is critical for renewables like solar, wind and water to take a large percentage of the electricity market. Storage options need to be cheap and efficient, both of which hydrogen does not have compared to other energy storage options.


It depends what you are trying to store energy for.
If you are trying to bridge solar across the night, it has a chance - ditto night time base load across the day.

However, bridging wind is a much larger problem as you can have weeks and weeks with very little wind (like summer).

You still have to back the wind with a variable fossil source, like gas.

Nonetheless, if anyone cracks electricity storage with any reasonable efficiently and cost, they will make a lot of money and deserve a Nobel prize for it (even night time levels).


The gravimetric energy density is still going to be limited by the lead battery, so probably to heavy for a BEV. And flow batteries (eg Vanadium) appear to be the better choice for load balancing for utilities.

I'd be surprised if the cycle life improvement is enough to make it suitable for a full HEV, but maybe for a mild HEV like BMWs. And I guess in trucks, expecially for their hotel load battery.

Jim G.

Should energy efficiency be the primary consideration for a system to store intermittent sources of power today? Even if you used the cheapest, lowest technology (I mean, H2 storage and electrolyzers have been around for a century or more, no?), and you lost 80% of the power trying to save it, wouldn't the extra power that's stored add some black to the bottom line of a big wind farm? Is it that uneconomical right now or is it that the folks with the funding won't put their money in it because there are other ways they can make better money?


Interesting that it is suitable for both vehicles and stationary applications so it might suit V2G or H2G. Maybe users could rent the batteries with quick change mountings so they could be refurbished locally. Think of it as food in a Tupperware container, the food undergoes chemical deterioration but the container can be re-used.


When I first moved to this regional centre,25y ago, there was a small shop doing a brisk trade in custom built lead acid batteries using the old bitumised rubber cases one could specify the no of plates.
As the cases were resealable, one could and did return for investigation,plate replacement or full refurbishment.
As a side benifit, while waiting or just in conversation, I certainly got a wonderful introduction to the practicle application of battery technology and application and maintainance and mounting isues etc,and a pleasant exchange to boot.
I wonder if the import regulation, cheap imports or Occupational Health and safety or did he gent move onto other things.
thanks for the memory


Jim G,

Storage batteries can do above 80% efficiency full cycle, hydrogen including electrolysis, compression, fuel cell can at best do 45%, so that makes batteries nearly twice as efficient, twice the profit, oh and batteries have been around longer, are simpler and cost less then fuel cells(plus electrolysis and tanks)

Jim G.


I wasn't arguing that batteries were bad, more that storing intermittent power is quite possible using today's technology. It doesn't have to be a "let's wait till tomorrow" issue or a "let's wait till it's more efficient" issue. If you're right and batteries are more economical for this use, that only supports my point.

I'm skeptical that batteries are closer than hydrogen today. As exotic or expensive as fuel cells might be, storage of gases, obtaining water, putting electrodes into water-- none of that is exotic. Using the same technology that's used for natural gas today, I don't understand why one guy with the same money couldn't scale up a hydrogen system more massively per dollar than the next guy who limited himself to manufactured batteries with lead, nickel or lithium technology.



There has yet to be a hydrogen grid energy storage pilot plant, there has been several for batteries, specifically Sodium-sulfur and vanadium batteries. These batteries are scalable and the sodium sulfur batteries use very cheap materials. The inefficiencies dictate why hydrogen is not considered, you would simply loss to much energy, that despite the simplicity and cheapness of water and air as the battery storage fuels you would still end up spending several times more in electricity profit lost.


Thanks ciro I like that word "ASYMETRIC",
Wonder If will be possible to refurbish the capacitor side of future models refurbish able.
Standardisation, Greener insulation films and reusable cases for next gen capacitors please.


I am still a fan of pumped hydro for energy storage. You can have distributed in V2G and other methods, but it requires LOTS of people to participate to make a difference.

I wonder

Lasts 3 times longer than lead acid, but I wonder how much more it costs...

Advanced batteries might make this whole idea obsolete... or maybe this makes advanced batteries obsolete...?

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