ArcActive targets Australia with ‘re-engineered’ lead-acid battery tech

New Zealand battery technology company ArcActive is planning to establish a manufacturing plant in Australia within 18 months that will be capable of producing 30,000 lead acid-based residential energy storage systems per year.

ArcActive claims to have delivered one of the biggest leaps forward in lead-acid battery engineering in more than 140 years and it is now targeting Australia for its first major manufacturing facility as it looks to take advantage of the surging residential solar[2] and battery energy storage market.

“This is where the market is, where plenty of the supply chain is, and where the capital is likely to come from – so it makes sense to put production there,” ArcActive founder and Chief Executive Stuart McKenzie said.

Christchurch-headquartered ArcActive said it has developed technology that has allowed it to re-engineer the negative electrode of the lead-acid battery to remove the lead grid and replace it with a non-woven carbon fibre fabric into which the lead active material is inserted.

McKenzie said the carbon fibre plate design gives the firm’s 20 kWh EnergyBank battery energy storage system – which includes an array of eight separate ArcStore batteries – 15 kWh of usable energy with more than 4,000 cycles for half the price of lithium-ion based chemistries. The base system has an inverter rated at 5 kW but McKenzie said this could run up to 10 kW.

ArcActive said its “new product is set to dramatically disrupt the sector and make energy storage more accessible … with the potential for widespread adoption across residential, commercial and industrial settings,” adding that the EnergyStore battery system, including inverter, battery management system, and cabling is priced at $4,900 (USD 3,140), or $6,995 installed.

“This is approximately half of an equivalent sized system, so allows for a five-year payback which should allow wide-scale adoption,” McKenzie said.

ArcActive plans to launch a $65 million institutional capital raise in the coming weeks with the funds to be used to build a production[3] facility in either Queensland or Victoria, which McKenzie said has the recycling facilities and raw materials for lead battery manufacturing.

Once the funding round is closed, ArcActive  expects it will take about 18 months to get the first production line operational with the facility to generate about 70 jobs.

Lithium-ion batteries currently dominate the energy storage market but ArcActive said its lead-based technology has shown to have “excellent performance at partial state-of-charge, a key technical requirement for both automotive and energy storage applications.”

McKenzie said lead-acid battery technology also has the advantage of zero fire risk, and a sustainability advantage in that the batteries are “fully recyclable today because the economic cost of recycled lead is known. “

The company said the ArcStore battery that is used in the EnergyBank system, will be a general battery system, but storing energy generated by residential solar is seen as its primary market.

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