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Rechargeable Zinc-Air Battery Company Approved to Receive $6.8M in Loans and Tax Credits from the State of Oregon and City of Portland

ReVolt Technology, LLC, a company that is developing rechargeable zinc-air batteries (earlier post), has been approved to receive a package of loans and tax credits from Oregon and Portland authorities totaling approximately $6.8 million, including support from the Oregon Department of Energy’s Small Scale Energy Loan Program (SELP), which is intended to promote energy conservation and renewable energy resource development.

Upon final closing, the SELP funding and incentives will further enhance ReVolt’s research and development work in a public-private partnership producing advanced battery systems for electric vehicles.

ReVolt has selected a site in Portland’s Airport Way Urban Renewal Area to serve as its headquarters and expects to begin battery development and HQ operations there in October, supporting approximately 150 jobs between 2010 and 2015.

ReVolt says that the $6.8 million in funding support from Oregon, combined with the $5 million in federal funding from the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) (earlier post), will support its North American business development efforts. Under ARPA-E’s “Batteries for Electrical Energy Storage in Transportation” (BEEST) program, ReVolt will develop a powerful, safe and environmentally-sustainable rechargeable zinc-air battery system for electric vehicle applications.

Using zinc, a globally-abundant industrial mineral, ReVolt’s rechargeable batteries offer superior energy performance—up to triple the energy density of lithium-ion, according to the company—at a significantly lower price. ReVolt’s durable zinc-air batteries pose zero heat and volatility risks during operation, making them well-suited for many vehicle applications prioritizing safety and performance. When fully depleted, the batteries degrade into environmentally-benign compounds.

Metal-air electrochemical cells use an anode made from metals such as zinc (Zn), aluminium (Al), magnesium (Mg), iron (Fe), lithium (Li) or vanadium (V) 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.

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.

Revolt is backed by financial and strategic investors including Northzone Ventures, RWE Innogy, SINTEF, Sofinnova Partners, TVM Capital, Verdane Capital and Viking Venture.

Comments

SJC

Metal air batteries hold great promise. It is smart for Oregon to invest in this and have the business in their state. The real trick is recharging, so if they can overcome that barrier there is plenty of potential market for the product.

HarveyD

An interesting higher energy density technology if and when it can be quickly recharge. Hope that they will do it.

ejj

I'm not seeing recharging issues mentioned in the story anywhere...is there another post where there discuss drawbacks associated with recharging zinc air batteries?

Mannstein

Recharging zinc batteries generates dendrites on the zinc anode which can potentially cause a short.

SJC

"ReVolt is focusing on the areas of power, battery life, rechargeability and compact size. Some issues remain to be addressed prior to successful market introduction, the company says."

http://www.greencarcongress.com/2009/01/rwe-innogy-inve.html

With further reading, it seems they need to get to 100s of recharges, let alone 1000s.

HarveyD

So far, all rechargeable zinc-air batteries had two major drawbacks:

1) they become inoperative after 300 to 500 cycles

2) cannot take very quick discharges and recharges and have to be coupled with another quick charge storage device such as super caps for acceleration and breaking energy recoup.

No. 1) is a real problem that ReVolt may have addressed.

No. 2) can always be (partly) solved with a combo set-up for quick discharges but full quick recharges remain problematic.

Let's see what really comes out in the next few months.

Alain

Maybe, a large-capacity zinc-air battery could be used as a kind of 'range extender' in addition of a small Li-ion battery ?

SJC

That is the idea, but first they have to make them last a long time with many recharge cycles. They are slow to charge and slow to discharge, but they are light, compact and could cost a lot less. Lithium air is a possibility, but stories on here have said they are 10-20 years away, which I find hard to believe.

HarveyD

Panasonic says that EV batteries price will drop 25% in 2010 and that worldwide competition will force similar price drops in future years. If that comes true, by 2015 the average wholesale price may be below $250/Kwh.

Nissan says that second generation EV batteries (used in their Leaf EV) will have twice the energy density by 2014/2015.

With 2x energy density and 1/2 price per Kwh, 2015 BEVs will have twice the e-range without additional cost or weight.

That is good news for future BEVs and more good news will come in the lowing 5 years (2015 to 2020). By 2020, third generation BEVs should have 4x e-range and batteries price could be as low as 1/4 current wholesale. In other words, PHEVs (and most ICE vehicles) may have to be phased out soon thereafter.

Henry Gibson

Ancient, but improved, lead batery technology is perfectly adequate and cheap enough for most automobile trips. This was proved by ACpropulsion many years ago in their TZERO and confirmed by CALCARS a few tears ago. ACPropulsion invented a high power range extender trailer for full speed operation on all freeways on a crosscountry trip. OPOC can provide a smaller cheaper unit that can be built in.

There is no need for a new battery for electric cars only the "new" idea expounded by TATA of making them cheap. Perhaps Ford and a few other companies had a similar idea in the past. TESLA did not. Prius did not. GM did not.

The ZEBRA battery has now been available for cars for about 20 years and its capacity can also be improved to equal or exceed most lithium batteries at lower cost and complexity. GE now has its proposed DURON version after having tested the ZEBRA version in mining trucks and locomotives in hot climates.

ZEBRA batteries allow the elimination of catenaries for electric light rail vehicles by allowing the third rail system to have very wide gaps. Single car trains could replace the required multicar trains on third rail systems and during power failures, the train could reach its next station or even a few beyond that. A battery slug could allow a train to travel hundreds of miles beyond electrification. Of course there would be tiny range extender generators for emergency power. ..HG..

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