Brussels, 06 Feb 2003
In response to the growing demand for powerful and portable sources of energy, a two-partner consortium from France and Luxembourg has developed a rechargeable battery based on innovative new components.
The 3D Structures project has examined new ways of making electrodes, the charge collecting component of computer and car batteries. The six million euro project has been funded by EUREKA, the pan-European network for market oriented industrial research and development.
When traditional batteries discharge their energy, the zinc elements of the electrode form soluble zincates in the battery fluid, which are then turned back into solid zinc during recharging. Such batteries, however, only have a limited rechargeable life span.
The new method developed by the consortium involves a foam substance being coated with a conductive zinc oxide and titanium nitride solution, after which the foam is burned out to leave the three dimensional metallic structure. This structure retains its zinc while discharging, and in tests has performed more than 2000 recharges without any problems, giving it a life span around twice that of normal batteries.
Robert Rouget is a director of SCPS, the French partner in the project, and describes the new process as 'cheaper, faster and more efficient. The cost is much lower because it uses simple equipment such as plastic containers, at room temperature, under normal pressure.'
Other advantages of the new technique include a twofold improvement in the power-to-weight ratio when compared with traditional methods, and compared to different types of rechargeable batteries such as lead and cadmium. Zinc is more environmentally friendly as it is plentiful and less polluting.
Since demonstrating the effectiveness and viability of the three dimensional method, the consortium have received interest from a venture capital company that specialises in electrochemistry. They have joined other investors in financing the next stage of product development, which ultimately seeks to target the lucrative European car and hybrid electric vehicle markets.
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