Bi-polar batteries

Glamorgan University’s research-and-development facility will be at the heart of a programme to test and develop bi-polar batteries using unique components manufactured by Atraverda.

The news of a major industrial collaboration to produce the world’s first commercially viable bi-polar lead-acid battery was announced at the opening of the UK’s first Advanced Bi-polar Battery Development research facility.

Glamorgan University’s research-and-development (R&D) facility will be at the heart of a programme to test and develop bi-polar batteries using unique components manufactured by Atraverda, an advanced materials company based in Wales.

Bi-polar batteries are widely regarded as having the best potential to replace the traditional lead-acid battery.

The collaboration between Atraverda and Glamorgan University could result in the production of batteries that are up to 40 per cent lighter and 20 per cent smaller and that have 40 per cent more energy capacity and twice the lifespan of traditional lead-acid batteries.

They are also more environmentally friendly, using up to 50 per cent less lead. They also produce 80 per cent less CO2 during the manufacturing process. Bi-polar batteries are 100 per cent recyclable and will be significantly cheaper than other battery types under development, such as lithium technologies.

The batteries could be used in a range of applications, including the automotive industry and particularly in the development of hybrid and electric vehicles. However, bi-polar battery packs also have the potential for use in telecommunications, providing uninterrupted power supplies, stationary power and renewable-energy power storage – both solar and wind applications.

Under the collaboration, Atraverda will provide its bi-polar substrates containing the proprietary Ebonex conductive ceramic material, which will be packaged into a unique battery system developed and tested using the expertise of the university’s researchers.

A significant number of prototype batteries will be developed in the first year, which will then be commercially tested by Atraverda and associated partners.

Opening the facility, Rhodri Morgan, first minister, welcomed news of the collaboration: ‘This alliance between industry and academia has tremendous potential to develop the next generation of battery technology here in Wales. It opens up exciting possibilities that could have a major impact not just on the global industry but also on our everyday lives.’

The Welsh Assembly Government is already supporting Glamorgan University in its knowledge transfer programmes and has also helped Atraverda to set up its UK headquarters in Wales to develop its bi-polar battery technology.

The Advanced Bi-polar Battery Development centre will have a range of fully automated testing equipment and facilities to carry out R&D into any type of battery system.