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University of Glamorgan and Atraverda to Partner on Bi-Polar Lead-Acid Batteries; Potential Application in Hybrid and Electric Vehicles

The University of Glamorgan (Wales) and Atraverda, an advanced material company that owns the intellectual property rights to a conductive ceramic known as Ebonex, are collaborating to produce a commercially viable bi-polar lead-acid battery. They made the announcement at the opening of the UK’s first Advanced Bi-polar Battery Development research facility.

The partners say their work could lead to lead-acid batteries that are up to 40% lighter, 20% smaller, have 40% more energy capacity and twice the lifespan of traditional lead acid batteries. The batteries also use up to 50% less lead and produce 80% less CO2 during the manufacturing process. Bi-polar batteries are 100% recyclable and will be significantly cheaper than other battery types under development such as lithium technologies.

Atraverda
Bi-polar lead-acid batteries approach the storage densities of NiMH, but at lower cost. Source: Atraverda. Click to enlarge.

The technology has the potential for use in a wide range of applications including the automotive industry and particularly the development of hybrid and electric vehicles. But bi-polar battery packs also have the potential for use in telecommunications, providing uninterrupted power supplies, stationary power and renewable energy power storage, both solar and wind applications.

Under the collaboration Atraverda will provide their bipolar substrates containing their proprietary Ebonex conductive ceramic material, which will be packaged into a unique battery system developed and tested using the expertise of the University. Ebonex is the registered trade name of a range of titanium suboxide ceramic materials, typically Ti4O7 and Ti5O9, which combine electrical conductivity with high corrosion and oxidation resistance.

A “significant number” of prototype batteries will be developed in the first year which will then be commercially tested by Atraverda and associated partners.

Atraverda2
Conventional mono-polar lead-acid battery (left) and bi-polar (right). Source: Atraverda. Click to enlarge.

Bi-polar lead-acid batteries. A bi-polar lead-acid battery is made up of a stack of bi-polar electrodes connected in series. Each electrode, except the monopoles at each end, has one side of a conducting partitioning wall covered with porous lead (the anode); the other side (the cathode) is covered with porous lead dioxide.

Since current can pass only through the end electrodes, it flows perpendicular to all electrode surfaces at uniform current density and the active materials will be efficiently utilized with a minimum of internal resistance.

The size of plate, paste material, paste thickness and loading utilization determines capacity of the bi-polar cells, which can be connected in parallel to increase capacity.

Resources

  • Keith Ellis, Andrew Hill, John Hill, Andrew Loyns and Tom Partington (2004) The performance of Ebonex electrodes in bipolar lead-acid batteries. Journal of Power Sources Volume 136, Issue 2, Pages 366-371 doi: 10.1016/j.jpowsour.2004.03.025

  • A.C. Loyns, A. Hill, K.G. Ellis, T.J. Partington and J.M. Hill (2005) Bipolar batteries based on Ebonex technology. Journal of Power Sources Volume 144, Issue 2, Pages 329-337 doi: 10.1016/j.jpowsour.2004.11.048

Comments

HarveyD

With an energy density limited at about 50 Wh/Kg, a rather heavy (400 + Kg) battery back would be required for a PHEV-40.

May be better suited for buses and similar heavy vehicles where a 2-tonne battery pack would not be a major handicap.

Would also be suited as a replacement for starter batteries.

SJC

An HEV-20 with Zebra batteries and an SOFC might be nice. They both run hot and can do Vehicle to Grid, because the run all the time.

HarveyD

SJC:

How do these two operate in cold (-35C) weather areas?

Could the surplus heat be used to keep the cab themperature at a comfortable level?

What would be the combined cost vs about 10Kwh of lithum batteries and a small genset?

SJC

Oh I don't know, I have envisioned an SOFC and the batteries for that matter in a vacuum chamber insulating them from the outside. I just remembered seeing this combination in another story and thought I would mention it. Whatever warmth comes through the vacuum case might warm the cab if ducted in. I have not thought of a design that would run at the south pole :)

Henry Gibson

The ZEBRA battery will run at the South pole but if the battery is not in use, power must be supplied to keep it hot inside. In cold climates the heat of the battery can be blown into the cab for instant heat. Electric powered heat pumps are a good choice for electric vehicles.

I have been watching the Atraverda material for a number of years, but there has been little reported progress. EFFPOWER has operating prototypes of bipolar batteries suitable for a Prius. A slow single piston diesel engine with a large piston is probably the most efficient and cheap way to generate power in range extending operation. Such an engine could even reach %40 efficiency, but I like the OPOC for its symetry. ..HG..

Henry Gibson

The atraverda material can be used in a number of different ways, and I am glad that the university will also do research on it. Lead batteries have been around so long that people were not even thinking of innovative modifications, but much money was spent in Europe to develop bipolar lead batteries which eliminate much of the lead used only to conduct electricity inside the battery. ..HG..

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