A New Initiative Celebrates Performance, Safety and Sustainability of Zinc Batteries
It’s not often an industry throws a party, but the Zinc Battery Initiative (ZBI) sure feels like one to us.
The fun started last year when the International Zinc Association formed ZBI to promote rechargeable zinc batteries’ remarkable story and promote their advantages across many applications. While each participating member has its own proprietary technology, all share zinc as a common ingredient in delivering high-performance, safe, and environmentally sustainable batteries.
We’re excited to mix our NiZn chemistry in the festivities and spread the word about zinc.
Let’s take a spin through the three key topics organized in the ZBI website (zincbatteryinitiative.com):
- Unrivaled Performance: Zinc batteries offer flexible designs with the broadest operating temperatures, highest power discharge in seconds to one hour, and long-duration storage.
- Safest Battery Technology: Zinc batteries are non-flammable and offer a safer alternative to non-zinc battery chemistries.
- Sustainable: Zinc batteries are non-toxic, recyclable, and made from abundant and inexpensive materials.
“Zinc batteries offer a wider operating temperature range, longer calendar life, and a lower cost per kilowatt hour than today’s leading batteries, including lithium. They can also support long-duration storage, are environmentally friendly and sustainable.” – ZBI
Batteries are essentially just so much dead weight if they can’t compete on performance. The Zinc Battery Initiative starts here, pointing out the superior energy and power density of the technology. Zinc batteries also provide maintenance-free operation over a long cycle life, do not sulfate as lead-acid ones do, and operate over a wider temperature range. That’s why zinc batteries are competitive in a wide range of demanding commercial and industrial applications.
The Initiative lists long-duration renewable energy storage as a promising market, such as scaling up the hundreds of megawatt hours that an electrical utility or large plant needs. For more common energy storage applications, nickel-zinc batteries already achieve the highest power density of mainstream rechargeable battery chemistries. In data center and transportation market uninterruptible power supply (UPS) applications, for example, our NiZn batteries have twice the power density of equivalent lead-acid batteries at one-half the weight.
That’s hardly a fair rivalry.
Safest Battery Technology
The second category the initiative touts is Zinc’s proven safety record. To begin with, Zinc batteries are not flammable and do not run the risk of thermal runaway or off-gassing. As a result, they do not require excessive thermal management or high capacity fire suppression systems, as lithium-ion energy storage systems do.
We’ve got the proof. Our NiZn batteries have been tested according to UL 9540A (UL’s Test Method for Evaluating Thermal Runaway Fire Propagation in Battery Energy Storage Systems) all the way down to the cell level, and do not exhibit thermal runaway. When putting battery backup into valuable compute racks in a data center or a transportation cabinet near the public, you want assurance that no accidental fire will put the public, your employees or equipment at risk.
Unlike lithium-ion products, Zinc batteries are non-toxic, and can be shipped, installed and maintained with no hazard worries or special requirements. These safety advantages can make Zinc batteries more affordable in many applications as well as safer.
As industries electrify and battery backup becomes widespread, sustainability has become one of the top criteria for global corporations. Zinc batteries check this box too, being made from abundant and inexpensive materials, and made available through well-established supply chains in every region of the world.
The ZBI’s website is clear on this advantage: “Zinc is the fourth-most used metal worldwide, behind iron, aluminum, and copper. Further, the world is naturally abundant in zinc, and resources are available to meet future demand for many generations. By contrast, lithium batteries depend on raw materials that are too scarce to enable the widespread and rapid transition that the realities of global warming demand.”
Consider the recent Climate Impact Profile on NiZn batteries issued by Boundless Impact Research and Analytics. Boundless analyzed the climate impact of the ZincFive NiZn battery technology, taking into account key performance indicators such as greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, water footprint, energy footprint, and hazardous material requirements, scoring ZincFive’s NiZn batteries at 9.4 with 10, which represents the highest positive environmental impact score.
The report touches on another sustainability advantage: Zinc technologies are more recyclable too. According to the ZBI, “Zinc recovered from batteries can be recycled through well-established channels and, unlike lithium, reused in new batteries.”
With ZincFive’s NiZn technology, both nickel and zinc can be recycled while maintaining their physical and chemical properties, making NiZn one of the most recyclable battery chemistries. In fact, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has defined a Green Technology Battery Backup System (GT-BBS) standard that utilizes NiZn battery-based backup systems as a green alternative to lead-acid battery backup systems.
See the zinc advantage at ZincFive
Well, the party has started, and you are invited. Learn more about the advantages of our Zinc battery technology by reading more of our articles and blog posts , or watch a webinar. Feel free to contact ZincFive today if you’d like to discuss your application. See you there!