Product Review

Zinc Batteries without Lead or Lithium Ion

NantEnergy’s Zinc–Air battery is made from common materials and does not use lithium or lead, yet can provide energy storage for large renewable energy projects.

To make renewable energy viable on a large scale, we need a way to store energy for when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing. While there are various ways to store electrical energy, batteries offer the greatest applicability. Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries, such as those found in Tesla’s Powerwall system (a BuildingGreen Top 10 product), have replaced toxic lead–acid batteries and transformed the energy-storage market. But lithium is relatively rare, difficult to refine, and reactive; Li-ion batteries are also pricey and have to have cooling systems, and the cells can’t be exposed to air or they can explode.

NantEnergy, formerly Fluidic Energy, is now offering batteries made primarily from zinc, without heavy metals or lithium. These zinc–air batteries, called Smart Energy Storage Systems (or Smart ESS), have been used in microgrids and other energy-storage applications for more than six years and are now available in North America. They are most appropriate for larger energy storage applications, such as commercial buildings, campuses, remote locations, utility-scale, and community solar projects.

Published November 5, 2018