Wirtz Manufacturing, a global provider of equipment design and technology for the lead-acid battery market, has made a strategic investment in ZAF Energy Systems, a manufacturer of nickel-zinc (NiZn) batteries.
The investment will expand ZAF’s manufacturing capacity from hundreds of batteries per month to thousands of batteries per month in the ZAF Joplin, Missouri facility. This added capacity will allow ZAF to rapidly seed the market and meet the growing customer demand for its rechargeable nickel-zinc (NiZn) batteries globally.
This investment in a full production line will allow licensing and joint venture (JV) partners to validate the quality and throughput of the technology for commercially-scaled factories that are expected to begin buildouts in 2019.
We’re seeing our technology perform well in rigorous battery performance testing by major commercial trucking, telecommunications, and large-scale data storage companies. Customers are ready to place orders as soon as our manufacturing capacity is available, and this investment will help us do that.—ZAF Energy Systems President and CEO Randy Moore
The investment by Wirtz follows a $600,000 investment commitment ZAF received last year from Missouri’s Department of Economic Development Fund. These investments are being used by the company to hire employees, expand production, and forge strategic partnerships. This additional production capability will further enable ZAF to accelerate licensing and joint venture negotiations and commercialize its NiZn batteries on a global scale.
ZAF says that its NiZn batteries are poised to disrupt the $50-billion conventional lead-acid battery market with their ability to provide twice the storage capacity and three times the power of legacy lead-acid batteries in a smaller, lighter package.
Ni-Zn batteries theoretically have excellent intrinsic properties, including high performance, long cycle life, low life-cycle cost, and low environmental impact. The breakthroughs achieved by ZAF include a proprietary electrolyte and zinc electrode formulation that greatly reduces zinc electrode solubility. These improvements permit long cycle life, high specific energy and specific power, along with maintenance-free operation.
In the Ni-Zn battery system zinc is partially soluble in the alkaline electrolyte and dissolves to form zincate anions. This process can lead to shape change, loss in capacity, and dendritic growth.
ZAF’s engineered negative electrode contains nucleation and migration stabilization additives that work symbiotically with a novel electrolyte to stabilize the zincate ion. This mitigation strategy increases the cycle life of the Ni-Zn battery, while maintaining a greater amount of the initial capacity.
ZAF’s negative electrode is primarily composed of zinc oxide that is doped with nucleation, migration stabilization, and hydrogen suppressant additives. The zincate nucleation additives are engineered to maintain a stable zinc structure throughout the life of the electrode. The migration stabilization additives work symbiotically with ZAF’s electrolyte to stabilize the zincate ion and the hydrogen suppressant additives minimize gassing, which reduces dry out in the battery.
ZAF’s electrolyte is composed mostly of water, potassium hydroxide, and zinc stabilization additives. This novel electrolyte acts as the strands in a net encapsulating the zinc electrode. For the net to be effective, anchors must be engineered into the negative zinc electrode by way of the migration stabilization additives.
ZAF’s positive electrode is primarily composed of nickel hydroxide and conductive aids. Historically carbon has been used in large quantities in the positive electrode as a conductive aid; however, ZAF has been able to eliminate carbon from the electrode, thereby mitigating failure modes associated with carbon corrosion. The ZAF positive electrode is a very robust electrode with high utilization over a broad range of current densities.