PowerGenix, a San Diego-based high tech company and leading developer of high-performance, sealed rechargeable nickel-zinc (NiZn) batteries for power tools and other high performance applications, has brought Dr. Franz Kruger on board as Senior Vice President, Product Development.
Dr. Kruger, the former CEO of Lithium Technology Corporation, a lithium-ion battery developer, will focus on the development of nickel-zinc technology as an energy storage system for the hybrid electric vehicle market.
Dr. Kruger has more than 30 years of experience in the battery industry and has more than 80 patents to his credit. He did his undergraduate work and earned his PhD in chemistry from the University of Stuttgart. Prior to his position as CEO of Lithium Technology Corporation, Dr. Kruger served as Managing Director of R&D at Varta, a leading European battery company headquartered in Germany. His experience includes the development and launch of battery systems for electric vehicles.
PowerGenix’ nickel-zinc technologies offer many compelling benefits for use in hybrid electric vehicles and other mobility applications. Nickel-zinc offers the high-power, high-cycle life and required energy density to meet the high torque and discharge demands of these vehicles at cost effective performance levels. Nickel-zinc also performs very well at both high and low temperatures, a key performance requirement for HEVs. Just as importantly, nickel-zinc is extremely safe, environmentally clean, and recyclable without any special handling needs.—Dan Squiller, CEO
Nickel-zinc batteries are chemically very similar to nickel-cadmium. Both use an alkaline electrolyte and a nickel electrode but differ significantly in their voltage. The nickel-zinc cell delivers more than 0.4V of additional voltage both at open circuit and under load, according to PowerGenix.
Nickel-Zinc Charge-Discharge Reaction
H2O + Zn + 2NiOOH = ZnO +2Ni(OH)2
Nickel-Cadmium Charge-Discharge Reaction
H2O + Cd + 2NiOOH = CdO + 2Ni(OH)2
Early NiZn batteries (first developed in the 1920s) suffered from short cycle life due to dendrite growth leading to short circuiting, caused by the high solubility of zinc oxide—a discharge product of the zinc anode in the alkaline electrolyte. In addition to dendrite formation, zinc oxide solubility can result in shape change and densification of the anode on repeated charge/discharge cycles.
The basis of PowerGenix’s approach to making its NiZn battery commercially viable is a patented electrolyte formulation that reduces zinc solubility and prevents the dendrite shorting and shape changing problems. Further enhancement of cell capability is due to cathode and anode materials that are free of any heavy metal elements.
The resulting extension of the cycling capability of the PowerGenix NiZn battery maintains the performance properties of the chemistry. The PowerGenix cells offer up to a third more the energy density of a traditional nickel-cadmium (NiCd) battery when measured by either weight (Watt hours per kilogram) or by volume (Watt hours per liter).
|PowerGenix NiZn Comparative Attributes|
|Battery type||Energy density
|Cycle life||Internal resistance
|High-rate Operating Temp|
|PowerGenix NiZn||60||170||>900||30-50||100-500||<4.5||-20 to +60|
|NiCd||40||135||600||35-60||100-800||>5||-30 to +60|
|NiMH||38||135||600||40-60||100-800||>5||0 to 50|
PowerGenix was founded in 2000.