ZAF Energy Systems, Inc. (ZAF), a developer of next-generation battery technology, has been awarded a $1.4-million contract for a nickel-zinc (NiZn) battery system to support the US Air Force intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) ground facility.
The project, which will run for 24 months, is expected to result in a prototype stationary energy storage system capable of powering the silo’s systems in the event of a power outage, and until standby generators can be started.
We’re seeing our technology perform well in rigorous battery performance testing by major commercial trucking, telecommunications, and large-scale data storage companies. Unlike lithium-ion batteries, which cannot operate without a battery management system (BMS), ZAF’s nickel-zinc batteries can perform well in commercial applications without a BMS. However, we are using a BMS developed by Aerojet Rocketdyne for this critical application to both provide cell balancing and monitor the battery’s state of health.—Randy Moore, President and CEO,ZAF Energy Systems
Ni-Zn batteries 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.
Anode. ZAF’s anode 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.
Electrolyte. 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.
Cathode. ZAF’s cathode 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.
These improvements permit long cycle life, high specific energy and specific power, along with maintenance-free operation. Improved safety is one of the most significant advantages of the Ni-Zn battery.
ZAF’s NiZn batteries have potential uses in a wide range of applications including automotive, heavy trucking, remote telecom, renewable energy, marine and military.