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Furukawa Battery and East Penn Sign Sub-License Agreement for UltraBattery

The UltraBattery concept. Click to enlarge.

Japan’s Furukawa Battery Company and US manufacturer East Penn signed an international commercialization and distribution agreement for the UltraBattery technology developed by Australia’s CSIRO. (Earlier post.) CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, is Australia’s national science agency.

CSIRO’s UltraBattery combines an asymmetric supercapacitor (an enhanced-power negative electrode) and a lead acid battery in a single unit, creating a hybrid car battery that lasts longer, costs less and is more powerful than current technologies used in hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs).

In January, a hybrid electric test vehicle equipped with a CSIRO UltraBattery system passed 100,000 miles (161,000 km) on the test track.

The exclusive sub-license agreement will see the UltraBattery distributed by East Penn to the automotive and motive power sector throughout North America, Mexico and Canada while Furukawa Battery Company will release the technology in Japan and Thailand.

Previous tests show the UltraBattery has a life cycle that is at least four times longer and produces 50% more power than conventional lead-acid energy storage systems. The technology is approximately 70% less expensive than the NiMH batteries currently used in hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs).

The UltraBattery’s PSOC (partial state of charge) and rapid charge/discharge cycle life is four times that of a conventional lead-acid battery. The ability to deal with PSOC pulse charge/discharge cycles overcomes a major difficulty for application in hybrid electric vehicles.

The technology is scheduled to be commercially available in the automotive market and for motive power applications throughout Japan, Thailand, North America, Mexico and Canada within two years.

The UltraBattery is not yet licensed in Australia for automotive applications. CSIRO is accepting expressions of interest for manufacture and distribution of the technology in this region.

UltraBattery technology also has applications for renewable energy storage from wind and solar. CSIRO is part of a technology start-up—Smart Storage Pty Ltd.—that will develop and commercialize battery-based storage solutions for these energy sources.



No info on the weight, cost and volume of a 20 kwh pack. I have several applications running on lead acid batteries and they are sort of OK but clunky. They seem to last a long time if you keep the discharge periods short and the exterior dry. Also easily recycled. Imagine if you had a 20 kwh uninterruptible power supply (battery + inverter) for the whole house. When possible charge it from solar panels or microturbines or else top up from the grid. You could use normal appliances during a 24 hour blackout and if necessary help out the grid. Unlike a car battery it could always be grid connected.


This is important progress,
If they (CSIRO) say its tested and 'refined' etc you can believe it.
While R&D in the "Others has been focused on similar issues of charge rate, cycle rating power density, CSIRO see to have approached the matter directly using existing technology.
The advantage with this approach is that there is a preexisting well defined tech to which some predictable solutions have been added. Then send Murphy on a short holiday and no surprise they have a winner.

One would expect that the principle will (and has) find application in various forms and have potential in other battery chemistries.


Combine this with the tech from FireFly and...winner, winner, chicken dinner. A cheap battery that has a decent life cycle and has a good specific power.


I hope no one minds this cut and paste,(see others in Wind Turbine applications) it most clearly expresses how the concept works for me.
You may need to add a little imagination to see it in its hybrid car application.
DC-DC buck/boost converter • electric double-layer capacitor (EDLC) • energy capacitor system (ECS) • exponential moving average (EMA) • pitch controller • voltage source converter (VSC) • wind energy

In this paper, it is reported that energy capacitor system (ECS), which combines power electronic devices and electric double-layer capacitor, can significantly decrease voltage and power fluctuations of grid-connected fixed-speed wind generator. The proper selection of wind farm output power reference is still a problem for smoothing the wind farm output power. This paper proposes exponential moving average to generate the reference output power of a grid-connected wind farm. The objective of the control system is to follow the line power reference by absorbing or providing real power to or from the ECS. Moreover, the necessary reactive power can also be supplied to keep the wind farm terminal voltage at the desired reference level. Real wind speed data were used in the simulation analyses, which validate the effectiveness of the proposed control strategy. Simulation results clearly show that our proposed ECS can be suitable for wind power application. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


or this (etc)

Rafael Seidl

This type of battery should be well suited to micro- and mild hybrid applications, which IMHO will represent the bulk of the global hybrid market segment in 5-10 years. Not everyone shares US consumers' apparent preference for a risky and expensive quantum leap in drivetrain technology. There's nothing wrong with improving fuel economy by e.g. 5% across many product lines, rather than shoot for massive improvements in just a select few.

I'd characterize this as a step up from the absorbent glass mat (AGM) lead-acid batteries that e.g. BMW use in their vehicles and, as a potential competitor for Firefly's technology.


Good news for future HEV abd PHEV batteries etc.

It shouldn't be too difficult to use improved lead batteries (Firefly? etc) + improved ultra-caps to arrive at a lower cost solution for HEVs and PHEV-40 to 80 KM in the near future.

It would also put pressure on Lithium batteries manufacturers to lower their cost in order to compete.

Will S

I saw figures relative to other non-specified batteries, but what is the energy density and where can we see a DoD cycle chart? Temperature and other aspects would be helpful too.


I agree that combined with a Firfly techno it should give a pretty decent battery for a reasonable cost. But Firefly doesn't make much noise recently, I heard they faced some technical issues.

what kind of issue treehugger?


I have no idea, just read rumors on the web


I dont know of any full range 'product spec sheets'. There must be any no of possible configurations depending on application.
As they dont yet have commercial production,(CSIRO stands for Commonwealth Scientific Industry Research Organisation) Their forte is not marketing or production.They partner with industry on a commercial basis rather like Universities would (in the US)
This report has at least one reference in the form you require.


Could a car be designed around a battery like this, then when a new mixture/type of battery comes out that is better, be upgraded and maybe update the firmware in the car? Voila... even better power/mileage?

Like putting lithium batteries in your camera.


Better than existing lead acid batteries for hybrid cars, but many important questions remain unanswered, like:

1. Cost difference per kWh compared with standard lead acid (might be cheaper to add a supercap to achieve the same power/cycle performance).
2. calendar life, compared with NiMH
3. Energy density compared with standard lead acid
4. Low temp performance (-20 to -30 oC) - ultracaps are very good in those conditions, lead acid batts usually lose capacity

If it was available 5 years ago, could have made commercial success, in two years LiIon are likely to dominate.


The big advantage of PbA is of course very low cost (and material availability), as well as safety of an aqueous electrolyte. Against this is still limited cycle life. The RhoLAB project has shown very promising improvements in PbA cycle life for hybrid use in two Insight testbeds but still not up to NiMH standards. Cost, reliability, abuse tolerance and volume manufacturing applicability are key. With low cost, then replacing the battery every two or three years becomes financially feasible and offers the benefits of the reduced fuel consumption to a mass market vehicle, which is the top priority.

At well over $500/kWh for the battery the Volt can only be a limited proposition. Minimising battery cost so millions of affordable PHEVs can be produced to reduce consumption on that critical first 30 miles driven per day is the priority.


I polished my crystal ball and saw a huge market for battery power trucks in Asia. In some cities it feels like every other vehicle is a small ladder frame truck. It's hard for them to drive more than 100 miles a day.

Someone at Furukawa battery has Yen dancing before his eyes.

Henry Gibson

The best is the enemy of the good. Always planning for the best never gets anything done. Lead is cheap; the chemistry is well known. How many years has it been since the ZEV mandate was overtured in favor of fuel cells that were right ready to take over. If the battery has to be replaced every few years but costs one fifth as much as one that lasts the life of the car there is no loss. It is well known how to make starting batteries that will last the life of a car, but there is little demand for them and no car manufacturer even advertises them. AC propulsion with its prototypes and first TZERO demonstrated that lead acid batteries work for both a battery vehicle and a plug in hybrid. ..HG..

Ken Milan

Might this ULTRA BATTERY be in the new 2010 Honda Insight Hybrid? Pls email answer:



I would appreciate having any info about Ultra Battery applications on BEVs.


Henry Gibson

Sell or give away single cells of these batteries. Firefly is dead without a single garden tool battery sold. Where did all the money go. ..HG..

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