Axion sees future in lead-acid-carbon hybrid battery

Jan 11, 2012 by Nancy Owano report
Axion sees future in lead-acid-carbon hybrid battery

(PhysOrg.com) -- Energy storage continues to be the number one question mark in discussions about the grid. We can gather enough energy from sun and wind systems but engineers still scratch their heads over the best materials and processes in which to store the energy. Lead batteries have figured low on the wish list for smartest solutions. One energy watching web site has put it politely, describing lead batteries as a temperamental child having “dubious merit.”

But Axion Power, a New Castle, Pennsylvania, company, is talking up a storm about their unique way of putting lead at the top of the list, especially regarding discussions about energy storage for the grid.

Axion is aggressively telling customers, customer prospects and the grid-erati at large that their lead-carbon batteries and energy storage systems represent the best value/performance fit for energy storage applications.

Axion is the developer of lead-carbon (PbC) batteries, which are giving new respectability to the utterance of the word “lead.” Its product incorporates the lead acid battery structure--same case, cover, separator, electrolyte and positive plate—but with something proprietary. The PbC battery is a combination of conventional lead-acid battery lead-dioxide positive electrode with a proprietary activated-carbon supercapacitor-like negative electrode.

According to reports, Axion has been able to improve the durability and charge rate while reducing weight over the typical lead battery by 30 percent. One advantage that Axion points to is the battery’s fast rate of charge--minutes or even seconds depending on the application. Another advantage the company points to is that its PbC batteries are fully recyclable and a fraction of the cost of non-recyclable chemistries.

Axion CEO Tom Granville, summing up the strengths of his business, said that companies have always been talking about storage as an important component but the problem “has been that the storage is either too expensive or that it requires too much maintenance. Our battery fits in the middle of that.”

Latest reports are that Axion Power is making the right impressions. A press release was sent out earlier this month reporting that Axion was awarded a purchase order from SilTek Inc. confirming participation in a Zero Energy Building in the Washington DC Naval Yard. Axion will provide an array of its batteries, electronics and battery management system that represents its "mini-Cube" concept based on scalability of its primary PowerCube. (The PowerCube is essentially a shipping container packed with electronics and Axion’s batteries. The PowerCube integrates the batteries, power electronics, safety systems and computer controls into a complete module.) The mini-Cube will provide demand response that will be grid network tied, will be linked to a 32kW solar panel array and will supply standby power service for this Zero Energy Administration Building.

The project is underwritten by the US Navy. The purchase order calls for Axion's work to begin in January with the full 36 PbC battery mini-PowerCube system to be completed in the first quarter of 2012. The principal contractor for the project is SilTek.

CEO Granville said it was a significant step forward; it comes on the heels of November's integration of his company’s PbC PowerCube onto the PJM network, a transmission organization to ensure the reliability of the high-voltage electric power system serving people in 13 states and the District of Columbia.

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ShotmanMaslo
1.8 / 5 (4) Jan 11, 2012
Conventional lead-acid battery storage would not be able to economically store the amount of energy needed to make fully renewable grid stable. It would require enourmous amount of such batteries just for the US grid:
http://physics.uc...battery/

While this research indicates promising improvement, I remain skeptical of large scale battery energy storage.
Lord_jag
2.3 / 5 (6) Jan 11, 2012
Why on earth would you want to store energy in a fully renewable grid?

Solar is for daytime, wind/hydro/tidal/solar-salt-towers are for night.

Sure you might want some storage capacity, but why would you ever want to power the entire grid off storage?
kochevnik
1 / 5 (1) Jan 11, 2012
You just ruined his manifesto
Eikka
4.3 / 5 (6) Jan 11, 2012
Why on earth would you want to store energy in a fully renewable grid?


To be able to use it at all.

In order for there to be production of electricity, there must be consumption of electricity and these two must match, so in a fully renewable grid without batteries, most of the available energy is simply left unproduced because there is no-one to use it when it becomes available.

You can't simply build more solar panels, because at some point there's no need for more electricity at noon when the solar output is highest. If you build more to get more in the afternoon, then you'll simply have to waste the excess at noon.

You have a choice of either building huge banks of batteries, or building the energy infrastructure 10-50 times over and then simply not using most of it most of the time to ensure that you're always getting energy.
Eikka
4 / 5 (4) Jan 11, 2012

Sure you might want some storage capacity, but why would you ever want to power the entire grid off storage?


It's a matter of scale. In order to cover a deficit of 10% in production for ten days, you must have enough storage capacity to essentially run the entire grid for a day.

So we might as well say that we need enough batteries to run the entire grid for some lenght of time. For example, there's a 30% difference in wind power production between summer and winter, which gives you an idea for how massive the batteries really must be.
Xbw
1.3 / 5 (14) Jan 11, 2012
Why on earth would you want to store energy in a fully renewable grid?

Solar is for daytime, wind/hydro/tidal/solar-salt-towers are for night.

Why do some people keep generators at their house even though they have "constant" electricity from the power company? Storage ensures a supply of power during events that prevent normal power flow. The same goes for computers. Random UPS - http://www.walmar...03142050
(haha it's sold at walmart)
eric96
1 / 5 (5) Jan 11, 2012
Sad that they are scratching their heads, the obvious is mind bogglingly simple: hydrogen. H2O aka water, is hydrogen and oxygen held together by intramolecular bonds. Electrolysis uses electricity ( a force ) to break these bonds apart, and you are left with hydrogen and oxygen in separate containers. The efficiency of electrolysis is 85% given recently created materials. You then introduce these two containers to a hydrogen fuel cell, which recombines the hydrogen and oxygen atoms ( they naturally want to recombine ) and the fuel cell absorbs the work done to accomplish this into electricity (electrons). The efficiency of fuel cells is about 60-65%. In other words, you need only improve fuel cell efficiency. It really is a no-brainer. I realize this solution is 2 steps such that a more efficient 1 step solution (better batteries) might exist, but while your waiting for the magic bullet, do what can be done; don't bust your brain over a no-brainer. Water is free.
kochevnik
not rated yet Jan 11, 2012
Why on earth would you want to store energy in a fully renewable grid?
To be able to use it at all.
Many areas have hydro or are near water. The solution is simple. Simply reverse-pump water at night and let it fall past low-flow turbines during the day. A simple 3-phase motor can do both functions for under $15K including the well. Spinning forwards it's a motor. On backspin the same falling water is a generator. All you need is a hole to store the water temporarily. Portraying this as a dealbreaker is silly.

Areas without surface water can simply pump up water from aquifers and let it drop back in the day. Problem solved.

Areas with no water whatsoever are uninhabited anyway.
Parsec
5 / 5 (2) Jan 11, 2012
@eric96 what you say is absolutely true and systems based on this principle have been developed. They have the following issues:

1) Hydrogen storage is expensive. Lots of techniques are being developed to store H2 more effectively than just compressing it, but even the best are relatively dilute in terms of energy storage.

2) Fuel cells are expensive - some of this is intrinsic to their composition, ultra-thin membranes and expensive catalysts (Palladium, Platinum, etc.). Lots of people are working very hard to bring these costs down.

3) Fuel cells wear out pretty quickly - relative to battery technologies, these systems are pretty fragile. The membranes puncture from local overcharges and defects, catalyst migration, etc. Batteries of course also wear out, but oftentimes a lower tech solution is better than a high tech one because its more commercially viable.

Having said all of the above, most if not all of these issues are ultimately resolvable (probably). Just not now.
Crazy_council
not rated yet Jan 12, 2012
i am interested in building my own lead acid batterys, for home energy,

Does anyone know were i can find some of the detaisl, i havew the basics but can not find any sites that deal with the thickness of the lead, patterns on the lead, fixing the lead oxide to the plates, or what type of fiberglass to use as a seporator.

any ideas ? sugestions.
sanbusel
not rated yet Jan 13, 2012
We have devised a special natural electrolyte solution without the use of Acid which increases the charging efficiency of a normal lead acid battery by 3 times. Also, electrode life increases multi-fold, thereby making a normal lead acid battery, a super powered green Lead Natural battery. The special electrolyte can be used on any lead acid battery to increase performance and life. Connected to solar panels, these batteries charge super fast, making value for money for home solar systems.

Sunblaze Solar Systems
R&D
rawa1
1 / 5 (1) Jan 13, 2012
Wouldn't be easier simply to invest into cold fusion, which would remove most of problems with energy transport and storage? The existing technologies are very material hungry even at their advanced state and the lead is definitely not a vitamin. The density of civilization doesn't enable to use the lead batteries without serious impact to life environment. It just requires to change the priorities, which we are judging energetic solutions. Contemporary research serves as a job and salary generator for researchers, not as the real solution of energetic crisis. I'm missing a little bit more responsible approach from scientists involved in this matter.
Crazy_council
not rated yet Jan 13, 2012
sanbusel ------ you seem to know a bit about batterys, any tips you could proved to somene who wants to build there own
topkill
not rated yet Jan 14, 2012
I pay no attention to anything Axion says. They are a scamming company always with some disinformation about any competitive solution, always claiming they've done something wonderful, yet never with any results.
They have people like John Petersen running around trashing every other technology in the market and pretending to be unbiased analyst.
It's so stupid it's hilarious. They seem to think they can make the laws of physics AND all their competitors go away by spreading disinformation. ROFLMAO
DaveMart
not rated yet Jan 15, 2012
The writing is on the wall for toxic lead batteries. Huge efforts have been made to eliminate the comparatively trivial amounts of lead in electronics, and now it is possible to build far longer lasting batteries using non-toxic materials the notion that lead carbon is going to catch on is antediluvian.
China is leading the charge away from lead:
http://www.lowcar...es/15748
Crazy_council
not rated yet Jan 15, 2012
Davemart ---

I have looked at different battery types, led acid seems more easly doable, and will take te load i need. But if i can find the correct tech to build another type, i will give it a go. I use lipos to RC fly.
Eikka
3 / 5 (2) Jan 17, 2012
The solution is simple. Simply reverse-pump water at night and let it fall past low-flow turbines during the day.


Please calculate how much water is needed to contain an amount of energy, when the energy contained within it is E=mgh (Joules, or watt-seconds equals mass times gravity times height)

Most places don't have the height difference necessary to make a pumped lake even though they'd have the water, and unless you can find a suitable mountain, you need a whole lake worth of water to store just 1-2 MWh of energy.
kaasinees
1.8 / 5 (5) Jan 17, 2012
Its simple, they dont know what else to do with their lead waste.
GSwift7
2 / 5 (4) Jan 18, 2012
Couple of things: The system described above isn't meant for base load supply. It's more like a UPS system to fill in gaps, dips, spikes, etc. such as when you switch between a wind turbine and a generator or turn on a large piece of equipment.

Secondly, Eos Energy Storage is claiming to have an even better system based on Zinc-Air which also is produced in a 40 foot shipping container package. They claim to have overcome the recharging limit of Zinc-Air, and their system is non-toxic, affordable (zinc is CHEAP), and way more energy dense than lead-acid.

http://news.cnet....er-grid/

There's a lake power storage system in Blairstown New Jersey. It's really cool.

To the guy building his own battery: Don't do it. You obviously don't know enough to do this safely. Do you even know how much surface area you need to get a given voltage? The size and arrangement of the components determine the amps and volts.
Deathclock
2.3 / 5 (3) Jan 18, 2012
Sad that they are scratching their heads, the obvious is mind bogglingly simple: hydrogen. H2O aka water, is hydrogen and oxygen held together by intramolecular bonds. Electrolysis uses electricity ( a force ) to break these bonds apart, and you are left with hydrogen and oxygen in separate containers. The efficiency of electrolysis is 85% given recently created materials. You then introduce these two containers to a hydrogen fuel cell, which recombines the hydrogen and oxygen atoms ( they naturally want to recombine ) and the fuel cell absorbs the work done to accomplish this into electricity (electrons). The efficiency of fuel cells is about 60-65%. In other words, you need only improve fuel cell efficiency.


WTF, you want to split H and O from water with electricity, then generate electricity by recombining them? Are you for real? This will, at best, produce the same amount of energy as you use... giving you 0 extra. Realistically you will never even get that.
Crazy_council
not rated yet Jan 20, 2012
To the guy building his own battery: Don't do it. You obviously don't know enough to do this safely. Do you even know how much surface area you need to get a given voltage? The size and arrangement of the components determine the amps and volts.


Errm, do i come across like that, I do understand how to do this safley, yes i understand most of the basics of batterys, I have on paper designed the systems and process i need to build these from rycicled batterys, recovering the lead and acid.

I was actualy thinking of building a macheen with stepper motors to do most of this. And i can easly seal and air filter an arrea to do any smelting i need.

I apreachate your saftey concerns,

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