Axion Power Announces New Advanced Battery, Energy Storage Device Technology

July 15, 2007 by Jeff Shepard

Axion Power International Inc. announced its new patented lead-carbon (PbC) advanced batteries and energy storage product technology, which the company claims is the first major breakthrough in battery technology in more than 30 years. The batteries are intended to expand the markets for hybrid vehicles and alternative energy systems, such as those fueled by wind or solar power.

Axion’s new lead-carbon technology is claimed to represent a major advance in lead-acid battery technology. According to the company, among the product advantages are: less lead; higher power delivery rates; faster recharge rates; and longer life cycles than those achieved from current conventional lead acid batteries. The technology is intended to expand the markets for hybrid vehicles and solar and wind energy systems. Each of these markets is seeking the very advantages Axion offers. In addition, the technology will service the more traditional deep-cycle markets, which refer to applications, such as solar, that use a high percentage of a battery’s stored energy; uninterruptible power supply, or UPS, markets; and telecommunications markets.

A standard lead-acid battery takes up to eight hours to be fully charged, while the lead-carbon battery can be charged in 20% of that time. Axion’s lab prototypes have withstood more than 1,000 cycle charges and deep discharge cycles. According to the company, in comparison, most lead-acid batteries can only survive 300 to 500 deep discharge cycles.

Axion began small-scale production of niche market lead-acid batteries, including 16V race car and various collector car batteries, in May 2006 after making some minor site modifications and equipment upgrades. Axion produced its first batch of PbC batteries in January 2007 and immediately put them into test protocols. More automated continuous-run equipment will help to dramatically increase production of the proprietary carbon electrodes, which are an integral part of PbC batteries and currently are being produced by hand at their plant.

Axion’s PbC technology is said to offer key performance advantages (both environmentally and economically) over conventional lead-acid batteries, which currently use negative electrodes made of sponge lead pasted on a lead grid current collector. Axion’s PbC batteries use negative electrodes made of microporous activated carbon with a very high surface area. The result is said to be a battery-supercapacitor hybrid that uses less lead and creates more power, while lasting longer and recharging faster, than conventional lead acid batteries. The PbC technology is a "platform technology." Energy storage devices based on the technology can be configured to accommodate a wide range of energy storage and power delivery requirements by changing the number, geometry and arrangement of the electrodes.