Oxford-based Oxis energy launched its latest version of its lithium sulphur rechargeable battery range, on the market this week. “It is a huge generational step on its rivals,” says Huw Hampson-Jones CEO Oxis. Its product range is suitable for a wide range of markets including providing independent power solutions for military, construction, shipping, transportation, disaster relief, industrial, aerospace etc. Therefore, it is ideal for powering cherry pickers in museums or warehouses where there are significant health and safety issues, as well as in the explosive conditions of a deep South African mine or an offshore oil rig in the South Atlantic.
A collaborative effort
“What its customers will appreciate most is that it gives more bang for its buck, in terms of performance and cost,” says Huw Hampson-Jones. It is aiming to be very competitive with the batteries Tesla aims to produce in China. The new battery range is the fruit of a global research effort by universities, research institutes, battery makers and component part manufactures including Bayer in Germany, Sasol in South Africa and Cranfield University in England. In addition, OXIS is leading a new project – just awarded €7 million in European Union funding – for technology and materials development for the Li-S batteries, working with Spanish automaker SEAT and German battery manufacturer Varta. While Worcestershire based Steatite are involved in the design and production of the batteries for OXIS.
For the military, OXIS is developing an ‘ultralight’ version of its Li-S technology for military applications such as soldier-worn portable power and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which demand higher specific energy density (i.e. more energy for less weight) while accepting fewer charge-discharge cycles during its lifetime. For the military, using such technology helps save soldiers’ lives, cuts costs and reduces logistics issues at the front. According to the Department of Defence’s website March 2014, one in every 24 fuel convoys in Iraq and Afghanistan suffered a casualty during 2007, the last year for which the Army kept such statistics. With battlefield requirements of about 20 gallons of fuel per soldier per day, the cost of delivering fuel safely to remote outposts can reach a prohibitive $56 per gallon, making energy efficiencies a priority.
In the home or office
For the home user, OXIS is working with leading solar power installer PROINSOL to deliver an integrated package suitable for both the home and the office, ready in 2017. This will make it ideal for developed markets such as in the UK, for customers seeking to keep tight control on rising power bills. Whilst in developing countries with unreliable power supplies such as South Africa, there is growing demand from customers for backup and even independent power for such power packages produced by OXIS and PROINSOL. ‘The realisation of the OXIS storage solution is perfectly timed, as we continue to move into emerging markets that have a high demand for safe, reliable, and cost-effective energy storage solutions,’ adds Stuart Macfarlane, Head of Asia Pacific and Storage for PROINSO. ‘Importantly, the technology is robust and easily scalable, which is crucial for use across a wide range of applications and frequently tough environments.’
At its research centre in Culham Oxfordshire, Oxis has set up Project Helios, designed to test the technology in real conditions. The test bed consists of a 3.8 kWp solar photovoltaic power generation system integrated with a three kWh OXIS lithium-sulphur battery. It has 16 PV panels connected in series to produce 600 Vdc, which is fed to an SMA Sunny Boy Inverter to generate a 240 V, 50 Hz mains-type AC output. The inverter includes maximum power point tracking (MPPT) to ensure that the PV panels operate at maximum efficiency under all sunlight and temperature conditions. The mains output from the Sunny Boy inverter is used to power the charger for a Meridian Navya driverless vehicle at the centre, which is powered by OXIS Li-S batteries. It is also connected to an SMA Sunny Island battery inverter, which in turn charges the OXIS Li-S battery, storing the unused excess energy generated during daylight for use after dark.
For large domestic users, and office complexes, OXIS 48 V, three kWh Li-S battery can be stacked in units of up to four units, resulting in a total storage capacity of 12 kWh, suitable for domestic installations in Europe.
Whilst for larger systems such as factories, shopping centres and areas needing additional grid power at peak time, a more complex arrangement is needed, and the 19-inch rack-mount battery is recommended. This will be available later this year.
As for the electric car user due to improvements in energy density, it means that the distance needed for recharging should increase by at least three times.
It is great to see such pioneering work is going on at one the world’s oldest seats of learning. Hopefully, we will see in the future OXIS become a world leader in this technology not only in Europe but worldwide.