FIAMM Bringing Alternative Energy Sodium Batteries to North America

May 04, 2010 by Jeff Shepard

FIAMM, a large battery manufacturer, and Switzerland-based MES-DEA, a global producer of sodium-nickel-chloride batteries, have partnered to create a new company called FZ Sonick that will manufacture and market alternative energy storage solutions throughout the world. This storage technology is available for immediate deployment. FIAMM’s North American headquarters are located in Waynesboro, Georgia.

Currently, MES-DEA sells advanced battery technology under the ZEBRA brand for use in electric vehicles. A version of the ZEBRA batteries is scheduled to power the first electric vehicle fleet of the European postal service. The new company’s SONICK-branded sodium-nickel-chloride product portfolio will improve energy storage in wireless cell sites, telecom data centers, uninterruptible power supplies, wheelchairs, busses, trains, and electric utility SmartGrid applications, among others.

"After more than 10 years of steady testing and growth in the transportation sector, we are now ready to also focus on the stationary applications of this innovative energy storage technology," said Cesare Sinigaglia, former General Manager of MES-DEA and FZ Sonick’s new managing co-director.

The SONICK advanced battery technology delivers numerous benefits versus existing energy storage solutions, such as increased capacity, longer lifecycle, zero emissions, low-cost raw materials, enhanced safety, and high energy density that reduces the battery size and weight compared to lithium ion and lead acid batteries, according to Nicola Cosciani, FIAMM’s Director of Strategic Development and FZ Sonick’s new Managing Co-Director. "A number of battery-dependent industries have been looking for an alternative energy storage solution that is both environmentally friendly and efficient, Through this partnership, FIAMM is now able to offer a unique solution in the form of the SONICK batteries that are a clean and renewable energy. They are durable and reliable, and can be recycled completely because of their composition of salt and nickel."

Further, the SONICK sodium-nickel-chloride technology is said to enable a wider range of applications than sodium sulfur (NaS) technology, which has received notable attention as an emerging alternative energy source.

FZ Sonick plans to increase annual production to 170 MW from the 90 MW level recently achieved by MES-DEA. The company is evaluating additional manufacturing capacity for this advanced battery technology in North America, Cosciani noted.

FZ Sonick will be headquartered in Stabio, Switzerland where MES-DEA currently operates its manufacturing facility with a staff of 190 employees. Research and development efforts will take place at FIAMM’s headquarters in Italy. As part of the financial terms of the partnership, FZ Sonick purchased all patents, intellectual property and manufacturing equipment that were previously owned by MES-DEA.