Australian zinc bromide batteries start rolling off production line in Sydney
A battery manufacturing facility capable of producing two megawatt-hours a year of Australia made “safe and durable” gel-based zinc bromide batteries has been launched in Western Sydney.
Gelion, whose non-flow zinc-bromide technology was spun out of the University of Sydney, makes a lithium-ion battery alternative offering between 6-12 hours of energy storage duration.
Gelion late last year struck a deal with Sydney outfit Battery Energy to establish a manufacturing facility at their lead-acid factory in Fairfield, using 70 per cent of the facility’s existing lead-acid battery processes.
On Friday, the company confirmed the success of this approach, with the launch of industrial production of its gel-based zinc bromide battery, called Endure, at an event attended by federal energy minister Chris Bowen.
New manufacturing opportunities
“This is a great day for Gelion, starting the first industrial production line for their new Endure Battery, right here in Fairfield, the industrial heartland of Sydney,” said Bowen at the launch.
“This is what Australian innovation is all about; cutting-edge technology and new manufacturing opportunities, which means more well-paying local jobs and upskilling in the workforce.”
Gelion says the marriage between established and new technology demonstrates how Australia can scale domestic manufacturing capacity “extremely efficiently,” leveraging existing processes and supply chains.
“We are delighted to be launching production of our breakthrough battery, proving it can be produced at scale with existing lead-acid battery manufacturing processes,” said Gelion CEO Hannah McCaughey.
One of the first destinations of the Sydney-made Endure batteries will be Spain, where they will be trialled at a solar farm in the country’s north by renewables developer Acciona Energy.
Gelion and three other start-ups were earlier this year selected by Acciona to test their technologies over a period of six-12 months at the Montes del Cierzo 1.2MW-peak photovoltaic plant in Tudela, Navarra.
If the trial is a success, Gelion’s Endure battery will form part of Acciona’s supplier portfolio – potentially, a very big deal, considering Acciona is one of Europe’s biggest renewables developers, with projects around the globe.
Safe and durable alternative to li-ion
Gelion battery technology offers a number if important safety advantages over many common battery types, with its electrolytic gel being inherently fire retardant.
The technology also allows the system to be completely discharged of power, without any long term impacts to battery performance.
“Gelion batteries are safe, robust and recyclable,” said USYD professor of chemistry Thomas Maschmeyer in comments late last year.
“For stationary energy storage, zinc-bromide batteries do away with the need for expensive cooling and maintenance systems. And they can’t catch fire.”
Gelion said this week that tests performed on the first batch of Gelion batteries produced at the new plant have shown their performance meets customer requirements.
Global and local growth strategies
Aside from the deal with Acciona, Gelion says it is in advanced discussions with multiple global customers in the energy, resources, mining, and oil and gas sectors for trials and offtakes.
Gelion and Battery Energy say they are also attracted “significant interest” from Australian customers and industry looking to decarbonise and improve energy security.
“This milestone is a significant step forward in Gelion’s growth strategy and also strengthens our position in the rapidly expanding energy storage market,” said McCaughey.