US battery manufacturer Zaf Energy Systems, founded when Zinc Air became flow battery firm ViZn Energy, began production of its nickel zinc cells at its new factory in Joplin, Missouri at the start of October.
The 34,000 square foot plant will produce 50 MWh of NiZn cells a year as Zaf targets the lead-acid replacement market, with an eye to competing head-to-head with lithium in future industrial battery and marine applications.
The company’s initial target market will include industrial motive, marine and UPS systems (data centres/telecommunications), with future markets including stop/start, aviation and military.
Zaf has completed third party testing and validation of its technology with Fortune 500 industry customers and battery manufacturers.
Craig Wilkins, vice president of sales and marketing (chairman of the board and founder of ViZn Energy), told ESJB: “We are focused on industries where our battery has an unfair advantage with regards to cost, safety and performance. While we are a direct replacement for lead acid, we will be able to compete head-to-head with lithium’s entry into the industrial battery sector and marine applications where safety and cost outweighs the desire for reduced weight.
“Our battery testing has shown our batteries to hold twice the capacity in the same form factor which allows us to replace two lead-acid batteries for a single NiZn battery. This reduces CapEx and footprint required. Our 2x the lifecycle (currently 600+ cycles at 100% depth of discharge versus 300 for lead-acid) reduces OpEx.”
Wilkins believes his company’s technology will be able to compete directly against lithium-ion on cost, capacity and safety in current industrial, stationary, marine and UPS markets.
He said: “Lithium is looking to make inroads into these markets, but lead-acid still dominates them. Existing forklifts and golf carts looking to convert to lithium require an overhaul of suspension systems (carts) and counter-balancing (forklifts), which increases costs and has restricted market adoption. In addition, the capacity (Ahs delivered) is higher in our NiZn battery in the same format.”
The Joplin facility is scheduled to be running at full capacity in Q3 2018.
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