(EnergyAsia, September 1, Tuesday) — The US government has awarded a US$32.5 million contract to a company to manufacture an advanced battery invented by Australian science agency CSIRO.
The “UltraBattery”, to be produced by US manufacturer East Penn, is part of the US$2.4 billion funding programme for 48 advanced battery and electric-drive projects announced by President Barack Obama under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).
President Obama’s commitment is the largest ever single investment in advanced battery technology for hybrid and electric-drive vehicles and aims to accelerate the manufacturing and deployment of batteries and electric vehicles in the US.
CSIRO said UltraBattery won the ARRA funding in a competitive selection process conducted by the US Department of Energy.
East Penn will use the grant to increase production of the UltraBattery for micro and mild hybrid applications.
Developed by CSIRO, the battery combines a supercapacitor and a lead acid battery in a single unit, creating a hybrid car battery that provides comparable performance but costs considerably less than current technologies used in hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs).
CSIRO licensed its technology to Furukawa Battery Company to commercialise the technology in Japan and Thailand, and further granted permission for Furukawa to sub-license the technology to East Penn for commercialisation and distribution to the automotive and motive power sector throughout North America, Mexico and Canada.
CSIRO Energy Transformed Flagship Director Alex Wonhas said the Department of Energy grant marks a significant endorsement of the battery by the US government.
He said: “UltraBattery is an exciting product that could significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the transport sector and CSIRO is thrilled to be working closely with East Penn to develop the technology in North America.
“The collaboration and UltraBattery’s ongoing success reinforces the valuable link between quality research and commercial development.”
The battery’s technology is not yet licensed in Australia for automotive applications and CSIRO is accepting expressions of interest for manufacture and distribution of the technology in this region.
UltraBattery technology also has applications for renewable energy storage from wind and solar. CSIRO is part of a technology start-up that will develop and commercialise battery-based storage solutions for these energy sources.