Firefly Energy Tapped for R&D Funding in U.S.

January 24, 2006 by Jeff Shepard

The fiscal year 2006 defense bill recently signed by President Bush contains an appropriation of $2.5 million for Firefly Energy to further develop 3D advanced battery technology for military applications. The Peoria, IL-based company, which recently received a patent for its next generation graphite lead acid battery technology based on a material sciences innovation discovered by Caterpillar Inc., said in a statement that the measure was contained in a bill which will send more than $280 million in defense funding to Illinois this year.

The funds ultimately will enable Firefly Energy to develop prototypes of its 3D advance battery to power a variety of military equipment, giving U.S. troops the technological advantage they need to accomplish their missions while minimizing casualties.

Firefly Energy's CEO Edward F. Williams said the company believes its graphite foam lead acid battery "will ultimately have a dual use in both commercial and military applications. Electrolux was our first customer and provides a strong commercial volume base. Now we can set a course for more stringent military applications of our battery."

Mil Ovan, senior vice president and the other co-founder, said a graphite foam lead acid battery, unlike conventional lead acid batteries, lasts longer, is smaller, weighs significantly less because of the reduction of lead, sheds heat more effectively and can be re-charged faster. "This funding should produce a jump start for our researchers in more quickly developing vital military battery applications benefiting our troops in the field," he said.

To help guide the company's defense industry initiatives, Firefly Energy has developed a strong board of advisors group, including retired four-star Gen. Wayne Downing and retired three-star Lt. Gen. Charles Mahan.

Downing said that using Firefly's technology would help the military's passive technology overwatch initiatives because sensors could be switched on and used without turning on the tank's main engine power. "You can very silently watch the enemy, providing a great advantage on the battlefield."