Ultracapacitors support port operations

Shanghai ISSON Power Quality has installed 126 125V Heavy Transportation Modules from Maxwell Technologies at the Yangshan Deep-Water Port, the developer and manufacturer of ultracapacitor-based energy storage products said this week. The modules are used in a power system that operates 26 ship-to-shore cranes for loading and unloading container ships within the national-grade super harbor.

The ultracapacitor installation, one of the largest in the world and the biggest in Asia, stabilises voltage and smoothes the fluctuation of the power output for the electric cranes, allowing for uninterrupted operations.

Graphene advance for Li-ion batteries

Graphene has been cited as the saviour of lithium-ion rechargeable batteries for a while now. As an incredibly thin substance, it can massively increase the surface area of an electrode and thus increase the energy density of a battery. The big snag, however, is what researchers call pulverisation: the damage that these very flimsy nanostructured electrodes incur during recharging cycles.

Now, though, a team at the University of Science and Technology in China has managed to prevent the issue of pulverisation by using atom-thick cobalt oxide.

New energy storage alliance launched

Officially launched with 70 founding members, the International Battery and Energy Storage Alliance (IBESA) states its mission is to “promote a path of cooperation and mutual support in achieving proactive solutions between all sectors within the photovoltaic (PV) power generation, battery storage and the smart grid technology value chain.”

The two men behind the new association are Bryan Ekus, managing director of the International PV Equipment Association, and Markus Hoehner, head of the Hoehner Research & Consulting Group.

Aimed at promoting networking and professional resources for “all those who produce and support solar, battery and energy services,” the IBESA costs €3,000 per year to join. We wish them every success and hope they will add to the development and adoption of energy storage.

China leads lead-acid battery growth

A new report from Huidan Research says Chinese manufacturers are gaining ground in the race to supply a planet hungry for lead-acid batteries. As a result, China has become one of the world’s largest exporters of lead-acid batteries and the country’s export volume and export amount are increasing at the annual rates of 40% and 35% respectively.

Production capacity was up to 250 million kilovolt-ampere-hours (KVAH) in 2012, increasing 25% compared to 200 million KVAH in 2011. The report gives restrictions on lead-acid manufacture in the USA and Europe, due to environmental considerations, as a reason for China’s increasing domination of the global market.

It also notes that recent improvements in the technology, such as specific energy, cycle life and high and low temperature adaptability, are being mirrored by Chinese products to increasingly make them a match for anything produced in the West.

BYD hopes for electric vehicle boom

Shenzhen, China-based BYD is hoping to triple sales of electric vehicles in 2013, reports The Wall Street Journal. The battery-to-cars conglomerate is looking to sell 8,000 vehicles, including 2,000 buses, with a focus on the global taxi market.

“We feel that the use of electric vehicles in public transport is the first step and a more realistic way to promote and popularise the products,” Liu Xueliang, general manager for Asia-Pacific auto sales at BYD, is quoted as saying.

Wanxiang in wrangles over A123 purchase

Now officially the longest running soap-opera in energy storage, the A123 saga is now attracting controversy from senior US politicians and even the military, says The Chicago Tribune. As regular readers will know, after a lot of near-disasters and false dawns, the advanced lithium-ion battery manufacturer finally went bankrupt a few weeks ago.

Since then, US-based Johnson Controls and the Chinese auto giant Wanxiang have been in the running to take over what is left of A123, including its intellectual property. And here is where the controversy starts. As A123 had been dealing with the US military, there is some fear that strategic information might be shared with a company from what might be called a competitor nation.

What is more, the technology that A123 was developing was done so with the aid of US taxpayers’ dollars; up to 250 million of them. Wanxiang has been making its case for purchase, saying that it would not buy anything that was militarily sensitive, but some senior figures are still concerned. The auction for the company is today. It will be interesting to see the outcome.

US battery companies heading East

In the wake of the A123 Systems saga and the controversy surrounding the company’s possible sale to the US arm of Chinese giant Wanxiang Group comes the news that fellow advanced battery manufacturer Altair Nanotechnologies has sold the majority of its shares to China-based Canon Investment Holdings.

According to a report in AlterEnergyStocks, the company made the sale to avoid bankruptcy, and that all its operation will eventually move to China.