Nickel Hydrogen Battery Ready for Commercialization

UFTO first reported on this technology almost 6 years ago, and issued updates in Oct ’96 and Jan ’98.
UFTO Bulletin #16 December 18, 1995

Nickel Hydrogen Batteries have been used in space for decades, and are known for extreme reliability. Ergenics Inc. has basic patents for a “segmented Ni H battery” concept that should make it practical for terrestial uses. They’re building a prototype for ARPA for a military hybrid vehicle, and can make them as small as a laptop computer battery.

It uses metal hydride to store the hydrogen outside the battery cell, thus eliminating self-discharge, most if not all safety concerns, and heat transfer issues. Most important, it’s low pressure, unlike usual Ni H batteries, which require a high pressure tank. A key advantage over Ni metal-hydride batteries is long life because the hydride is isolated from corrosion producing chemicals of the battery cell. …. The company … [hasn’t] yet focused on applications in UPS and utility storage systems. This may turn out to be quite competitive with the other forms of storage that everyone is working so hard on, and it could be an opportunity for a strategic technology edge. Call me for more info.

Now at long last, a new company, ElectraStor, has licensed the Ergenics technology, made substantial improvements, and is positioned to manufacture it, initially in their own pilot production facility. The plan is then expand manufacturing, and/or to sublicense the technology and manufacturing know-how worldwide. Originally focused on hybrid vehicle batteries, ElectraStor is also now addressing applications in stationary electric power storage, where a convincing case is made for major cost and performance advantages, particularly in applications requiring high power and quick response.

Here is a portion of ElectraStor’s Executive Summary:

ElectraStor LLC owns a breakthough rechargable low pressure Nickel-Hydrogen “fuel cell battery” technology. This technology has been extensively validated and is ready for commercial production. Serious discussions are ongoing with substantial corporations and government agencies worldwide, including the FTA, Siemens, Fiat, MAN, the Italian government, DaimlerChrysler, Altra, Mercedes EvoBus and others. The Company is raising US$12M to fund a profitable pilot plant, bring the company to profitability, and perform R&D on new products.

Advantages of ElectraStor NiH Batteries: Phenomenal “life of the vehicle” cycle life, zero self-discharge, extraordinary tolerance to overcharge and over-discharge, 100% depth of discharge capability, low cost, low-pressure, high specific power, no maintenance, all-weather operation and a high degree of safety compared to competition. ElectraStor batteries have two to five times the specific power of NiMH and lead acid products and have specific energy comparable to Li-ion and Li-polymer products, while offering far greater tolerance to high mechanical, thermal and electrical stresses.

The Technology: ElectraStor NiH batteries combine a bipolar fuel cell stack with a closed loop supply of low pressure hydrogen stored in a segmented hydride with a limited supply of oxygen stored in a nickel hydroxide, which is regenerated using electricity during recharge. Because it separates hydrogen storage from the wet aspect of the battery, the chemical reaction is only a catalyst and no longer causes degradation of the battery parts, as remains the case in the NiMH design. This enables the ElectraStor battery to be cycled almost indefinitely without degradation or failure.

Intellectual Property: ElectraStor holds an exclusive, worldwide, sub-licensable license to technology developed by Ergenics, together with any and all improvements and extensions to this technology. The patent portfolio is extensive, broad and deep. R&D is ongoing, both by Ergenics and ElectraStor, and further patents are in the immediate pipeline.

Time to Market: The NiH battery is ready for production. ElectraStor has teamed with the FTA and the Belcan Corporation (the largest engineering and technology services organization in Ohio, with revenues over $400M) to construct the pilot plant. The plant will be up and running at full capacity within seven months of funding. The plant’s flexible manufacturing line will produce batteries both for electric and hybrid vehicles as well as a variety of further mobile and stationary applications.

Validation of ElectraStor Technology: Testing is ongoing, both by independent third parties and by our Corporate and Government partners, including the City of Pittsburgh, Mass., the Federal Transit Authority (FTA), the Italian Government, Siemens, Fiat, MAN, DaimlerChrysler and others.
(this website will be updated by mid December)

Please contact me for more information and appropriate introductions.

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