ZincFive has published the results of the Boundless Impact Research and Analytics’ (Boundless) NiZn battery Climate Impact Profile with interesting considerations. ZincFive is supporting the market with nickel-zinc (NiZn) battery-based uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) and megawatt-class battery cabinets for mission-critical applications in data centers and intelligent transportation and offers batteries for stationary and start-stop applications.
Originally patented by Thomas Edison in 1901, the commercialization of the NiZn battery was delayed due to technical problems with the use of the zinc electrode. ZincFive has overcome this challenge with patented electrode solutions to offer a functional and safe battery. NiZn technology is chemically similar to nickel-metal hydride, and NiZn batteries are manufactured in volume using well-known equipment and processes, helping to ensure a reliable supply chain.
Underwriters Laboratories (UL), which announced the launch of a free online database recognizing manufacturers who have completed tests according to ANSI/CAN/UL 9540A Standard for Test Method for Evaluating Thermal Runaway Fire Propagation in Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS). ZincFive has presented its summary table in the UL database according to the UL 9540A test.
Boundless analyzed the climate impact of NiZn ZincFive battery technology, taking into account key performance indicators such as greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, water, and energy factors, and hazardous material requirements. In an interview with EE Times, Steve Jennings, SVP at ZincFive, highlighted how Boundless’s results put ZincFive NiZn batteries at 9.4/10.
Boundless also analyzed the carbon payback time (CPT), which measures the time it takes for a battery to offset its GHG footprint by supporting more renewable resources to supply the electricity grid. Jennings has highlighted how the CPT was estimated to be between 0.16 and 0.21 years, four times faster than lithium-ion and lead-acid batteries and up to six times faster than sodium-sulfur batteries.
The UL 9540A Test Method is intended to bring clarity about the fire safety performance of a BESS if thermal runaway were to occur in the life of the system. “In the last three years, many types of batteries including lithium, nickel, including nickel-zinc, lead-acid, and sodium-ion batteries have been tested. All have undergone the same test method. The summary document in Table 1 can be found in the UL 9540A database and contains an overview of the results of the UL9540A tests for the ZincFive NiZn battery which was tested at the cell level. The UL 9540A test method allows batteries to be tested at levels above the cell level if the battery requires battery management systems to control thermal runaway. It is important to understand that no thermal runaway at the cell level is the best indicator of battery safety,” said Jennings.
Testing a battery
The database offered by UL allows manufacturers who have had their cell, module, unit or installation level test for fire propagation evaluated to share data in three ways: the model number with contact information for more test details, the summary of the UL 9540A report or the full test report.
Using UL’s web-based Product iQ platform, the UL 9540A test database allows engineers to verify that a manufacturer’s product addresses key issues identified by building and fire codes, such as BESS installation, ventilation requirements, fire protection, and fire service strategy and tactics.
“The UL 9540A test method provides critical battery information by measuring a variety of parameters during the abusive and destructive tests. Temperature is a critical parameter in these tests since thermal runaway is the concern. So they’re monitoring temperatures all around the battery, at the terminals and on all sides of the battery. If there is outgassing they measure at what temperature the gas was released, as well as performing a gas composition test that measures the amount and types of gases emitted from the battery during the destructive test,” said Jennings.
The new UL 9540A standard aims to ensure responsibility throughout the storage sector. Through collaboration, standards can be established to define the safety of battery energy storage systems.
Green profile of batteries
The climate impact assessment of batteries provides a scientific and independent comparison of the environmental impact. ZincFive batteries in Boundless’s report indicate the absence of toxic substances and are composed of highly recyclable materials that are not harmful to the environment and not flammable. “ZincFive’s nickel-zinc battery offers a significant environmental improvement over lead-acid and lithium-ion batteries,” said Jennings.
With e-mobility becoming increasingly important, environmentally friendly battery technology is no longer an option but a necessity. In addition to high performance, batteries must also meet stringent safety requirements. Furthermore, as Jennings pointed out, we have to take care of the climate, and therefore the green profile of the technology implemented to make the batteries is important. According to analysts, the total energy storage market is expected to grow to $500 billion in annual revenue by 2035. Countries that are the main producers of raw materials needed for battery production have been severely restricted to control the spread of the virus.
“We are seeing companies building smarter battery management systems, especially for larger installations. We are beginning to see artificial intelligence being applied, which is fantastic. It will improve the performance of the whole BESS,” said Jennings.
Today, batteries have achieved a very high degree of efficiency, but more can be done. Technology can drive new and improved benchmarks in terms of power, stored energy, dimensions, and weight. Batteries will certainly become better and less expensive in the future if the recycling and disposal of waste product sectors improve in time. This is because batteries are made of precious and expensive elements, so with a good recovery service, the “new” material to create a battery would be minimal.
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