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Frost & Sullivan Award for Technology Innovation Of The Year

Frost & Sullivan Award for Technology Innovation Of The Year

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Frost & Sullivan's 2005 Technology Innovation Of The Year Award in the field of battery technologies goes to Ab Europositron Oy of Finland in recognition of the company's development of an innovative nanoscale electrochemistry technology that allows the production of rechargeable aluminum batteries. Significantly, this technology provides up to 20x higher capacity than existing batteries.

Founded in 1989, Europositron has pursued cutting-edge materials research to overcome battery problems such as recharging, energy density and environmental profile, and developed the "europositron" nanoscale electrochemistry technology to meet precisely such challenges. Europositron's technology draws inspiration from Feynman's principle, which was propounded by Nobel physicist Richard P. Feynman in 1959. The company has progressed to the point of now having detailed specifications on cell construction and electrochemistry, and has several pending patents in Finland with many others under filing across the globe. Once prototype development is successful, Europositron plans to license its technology to automotive and auto component companies globally.

In the Europositron technology, electropositive metal ions are reduced to metal through analytic and catalytic reactions at normal temperature. The flow resistance of the solution and the required excess voltage are accommodated intrinsically. Notably, this technology does not result in the production of aluminum hydroxide while providing recharging facility for a greater number of cycles. Another notable feature of this technology is that it does not have a "memory effect" as is prevalent in many of today's batteries.

Europositron's technology is already finding use in a variety of applications- from tiny button batteries to high capacity standby power supplies. This technology uses the most abundant metal aluminum. Moreover, Europositron-based batteries could be manufactured without any major changes in existing manufacturing processes. The Europositron technology has a theoretical energy density of 2100 Wh/litre and 3000+ cycles. Operating temperatures are in the range minus 40 and 70 degrees centigrade and life expectancy is 10 to 30 years.

The earliest large-scale applications of Europositron's technology could be for electric vehicles. The data overwhelmingly supports use of this technology. For instance, a top-notch electric vehicle weighs around 800 kg (without batteries). The weight can go up to 1550 kg with the installation of 26 lead acid batteries of 53 Ah each. Without recharging, such batteries provide power to operate the vehicle for 145 km on highway and 115 km in city traffic conditions. However, while Europositron's battery weighs only 60 kg, it would allow cars to run for 870 km on highways and 690 km in city traffic conditions. Therefore, this technology could offer both a significant reduction in weight while providing for greater mileage.

In conclusion, Frost & Sullivan's Award for Technology Innovation recognizes Europositron's overall excellence in technology development, and in particular, its design and development of an innovative nanoscale electrochemistry technology using aluminum rechargeable batteries, which could potentially revolutionize the global battery sector.

Award Description

Frost & Sullivan's Technology Innovation Award is bestowed upon a company (or individual) that has carried out new research; which has resulted in innovation(s) that have or are expected to bring significant contributions to the industry in terms of adoption, change, and competitive posture. This award recognizes the quality and depth of a company's research and development program as well as the vision and risk-taking that enabled it to undertake such an endeavor.

Research Methodology

To choose the award recipient, Frost & Sullivan's analyst team tracks innovation in key hi-tech markets. The selection process includes primary participant interviews and extensive primary and secondary research via the bottom-up approach. The analyst team shortlists candidates won the basis of a set of qualitative and quantitative measurements. The analyst also considers the pace of research and technology innovation and the significance or potential relevance of the innovation to the overall industry. The ultimate award recipient is chosen after a thorough evaluation of this research.

Measurement Criteria

In addition of the methodology described above, there are specific criteria used to determine the final rankings. The recipient of this award has excelled based on one or more of the following criteria:

- Significance of the innovation(s) in the industry, and across industries (if applicable)

- Potential of the products of innovation(s) to become industry standard(s)

- Competitive advantage of innovation vis-a-vis other related ones

- Impact (or potential impact) of innovation(s) on company or industry mindshare and/or company bottom line

- Breadth of intellectual property related to the innovation(s), i.e. patents, scientific publications, papers in peer reviewed journals.

Offers and application proposals

Cheap electricity from Iceland. A proposal project by Pieter van Pelt


Iceland has abundant renewable energy sources such as hydropower and geothermal power. According to a paper published by the Icelandic Ministry of Energy and Commerce the useable potential for hydropower in Iceland is about 35-40 TWh per year and for geothermal power it is about 15 TWh per year. At present, 25% of potential hydropower is harnessed and about 8% of geothermal power. This 8.5 TWh per year energy is used in Iceland in various ways. Domestically, 99% of the Icelandic population has connection to the public electrical network, most houses are heated by geothermal power, and a large part of electricity is used in heavy industry such as Aluminum processing, Ferro-silicon production and a large diatomite processing plant at Myvatn. Today, the Aluminum industry in Iceland produces some 270.000 tons of primary Aluminum from bauxite that is being transported from places as far away as New Zealand. New plants and plant expansions will in the near future bring the Aluminum production in Iceland to over one million tons per year. Even then, the potential renewable energy resources will no be completely used for this industry. The reasons for the success and growth of this power-hungry industry in Iceland are simple: the costs of generating large amounts of electricity in Iceland are low and the end-user markets (where the Aluminum is used for end-products) are fairly near: the USA and Europe.

Transport of electricity from Iceland to Europe.

The transport of bauxite ore to Iceland from far away places such as South America, Australia, New Zealand and other places, the production of Aluminum ingots from this ore by way of an electrochemical process using large amounts of electricity and the transport of these Aluminum ingots to the end-user markets is obviously a profitable business, thanks to the low price of electricity in Iceland. The transportation of electricity from Iceland to end-user markets such as the USA and Europe is quite another matter. Electricity, unlike Aluminum ingots, cannot be stored in large quantities and is not easily transported over large distances. The investment for electrical power-lines connecting Iceland with Europe are very large, and the power-losses would be huge, making direct transport of electricity from Iceland to Europe economically unfeasible. Electricity can be transported in different ways, however. One way that is being investigated is by making Hydrogen from water by electrolysis, transporting the Hydrogen in some way (liquefied, under pressure as a gas or stored in metal hydrides) and converting the Hydrogen back to electricity by means of giant Fuel Cells. At present, there are large unsolved problems connected to this way of transporting electricity. The efficiency of electrolysis is about 70% (so 30% of electricity is being lost), the costs of liquefaction of Hydrogen are high and the safety of transporting large amounts of this type of fuel is not guaranteed, Fuel Cells are still very expensive and have efficiencies of 60% at best, so a large amount of electricity will be lost if we were to transport electricity in this way. And the investment costs would be huge. There may be another way to transport electricity, using the Aluminum battery as a medium. Each kilogram of Aluminum produced represents about 14 KWh of electricity, used to produce the ingots. This means that if we ship 20,000 Tons of Aluminum to Europe, we would be transporting the equivalent of 20,000,000 * 14 KWh of electricity. This is 280 GWh of electricity, enough to power 500,000 households in Europe for a year. The question, of course, is how can we free this electricity from the Aluminum transported. Here comes the Aluminum battery. Using Aluminum electrodes in a simple electrochemical cell, filled with seawater or Sodium Hydroxide solution and using a Nickel-Manganese counter electrode, the Aluminum will be oxidized to Aluminum Hydroxide and give off 3 electrons per Al atom used up in the reaction. A large part of the electricity stored in the above 20,000 tons of Aluminum can in this way be released, generating about 280 GWh of electricity and about 60,000 tons of Al(OH)3 sludge. This sludge could be recycled back to Iceland to generate again 20,000 tons of Aluminum to start the process of electricity generation anew. Technically, this should all be very possible to do, but there is a snag. The average price for Aluminum is 1350 Euro/ton (March 2004), so the electricity generated in this way would be minimal 10 Eurocent/KWh. But probably twice as much as cost for Aluminum transport and costs for the batteries, upkeep, personnel etc. are not included. So, simply "burning" Aluminum is an economically unfeasible option.

However, instead of "burning" the Aluminum in simple electrochemical cells, a rechargeable Al-battery can be used. Such batteries are being developed by Europositron in Finland. They claim the following specifications for their technology:

Energy density : 2100 W.h/litre or 1330 W.h/kgr

Cycle times : 3000+ cycles

Working temperatures : -40 C to +70 C

Lifetime battery : 10 to 30 years

Let's assume, we equip a large ship with 200 giant batteries, each the size of a 40 foot shipping container. Each battery will weigh about 220 tons, so a 50,000 BRT ship can carry these. The batteries are charged fully in Iceland, making use of cheap electricity from hydropower or geothermal power. The 200 batteries will contain about 50 GW.h electricity when fully loaded. The ship (electrically powered of course) sails to the west coast of Denmark or England, or to the East coast of the USA. There it delivers its electrical charge into the national grid, but it keeps some batteries charged for the return trip to Iceland. It sails back and charges again. It can do so 3000 times before the batteries are worn out and must be replaced. A simple calculation shows that the electricity can be delivered at the end market for a very low price, roughly 20 to 25 Euro per MW.h (substantially below residential rates of 45 to 50 Euro per MW.h). The trick is, of course, that large quantities of hydropower or geothermal power in Iceland are very cheap (roughly 12 to 15 Euro per MW.h), that transportation of bulk goods over sea is very cheap (hence the economy of processing bauxite ore from New Zealand in Iceland to make Aluminum ingots), and the large investment in Al-batteries has an extended lifetime (3000 or more cycles).