Queensland-based battery materials start-up Nano-Nouvelle has forged deals with two US battery makers to road-test the company’s innovative battery boosting 3D nanotechnology, while providing an entry point to the key global market.
Nano-Nouvelle’s “Nanode” – which is working towards commercialisation from being purely conceptual in 2011 – is a three-dimensional nano-structured, porous electrode that can boost the energy storage capacity of lithium ion batteries by as much as 50 per cent.
Last June, the promise of the Australian-made technology attracted the interest of several high profile cleantech investors in a funding round that successfully raised $3.7 million.
The US deal will see the two battery manufacturers – both of which produce high performance batteries used in specialised industries like aerospace – test how Nano-Nouvelle’s Nanodes work with their technologies.
Nano-Nouvelle CEO Stephanie Moroz, who met with executives from the two un-named companies at the 18th International Meeting on Lithium Batteries, said they were ideal partners for the Sunshine Coast-based company at this stage of its development.
“It’s hard to go from zero to high volume production, however Nano-Nouvelle is in a good position to support field trials by specialist companies, which work at smaller volumes, are less cost sensitive and are incredibly focussed on improving the performance of their batteries,” she said.
“As Tesla proved with its Roadster EV sportscar, this sort of low-volume, high-margin starting point can provide a high visibility platform to demonstrate the benefits of innovative technology, which can accelerate its adoption by mass market manufacturers.”
The company says an important part of its strategy involves working out how to work its nanotechnology into current manufacturing processes.
“We’re looking to make it plug and play for battery manufacturers,” Moroz said.
“Our goal is for them to take our electrode, match it with their other components and run it through their standard assembly processes. While they end up making higher performance batteries, the actual production deployment will require minimal effort on their part.”
Moroz says that a strong focus of the Chicago battery storage conference was how to maximise energy capacity and performance lifetime for batteries that power electric vehicles.
“The good news for us from this conference is that the battery industry has stopped chasing blue sky technologies to focus on improving lithium ion performance, which is where our products can deliver real value,” she said.
Moroz noted that Nano-Nouvelle was already working with battery companies globally, from specialist manufacturers to mass market companies, to demonstrate that its technology both improved battery performance significantly and could be deployed easily into existing production systems.
In Australia, the company is collaborating on a $10.6 million ARENA-funded project with the University of Woollongong, the Institue for Superconducting Electronic Materials (ISEM) and Sydney Water to develop new sodium-ion battery architecture that is optimised for renewable energy storage.
To do this, the team will develop and apply two different systems at two separate locations: a 5kWh battery at Illawarra Flame House, an award-winning net-zero energy home; and a 30kWh integrated battery and energy management system at Sydney Water’s Bondi Sewage Pumping Station.