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Zinc-air 'shows energy storage coming of age'

US billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong's zinc-air battery trial success shows the "energy storage space coming of age", says Benchmark Mineral Intelligence founder Simon Moores.
Zinc-air 'shows energy storage coming of age' Zinc-air 'shows energy storage coming of age' Zinc-air 'shows energy storage coming of age' Zinc-air 'shows energy storage coming of age' Zinc-air 'shows energy storage coming of age'

Nant messing around: NantEnergy, under billionaire chairman Patrick Soon-Shiong, wants to take over energy storage market space held by lithium-ion batteries

Staff reporter

This week, Soon-Shiong said his company NantEnergy had developed a mid-scale rechargeable battery with a zinc-air cathode. 

While the technology has been around for years and NantEnergy (under former name Fluidic Energy) has had units in remote areas since 2011, Soon-Shiong recieved global attention by claiming to have made it below the US$100 per kWh mark at a sustainability conference in New York. 

Moores said the announcement was part of a broader trend. 

"The whole sector is blossoming," he said. 

"The energy storage market this year will be 4GWh of the lithium ion market. It was 1GWh only 2 years ago, so it really has come of age. 

 "The growth potential is huge. We expect this to be 120GWh by 2028 for lithium ion but other technologies such as vanadium flow and more exotic chemistries such as zinc-based tech can also play a significant part in this growth." 

NantEnergy made a big point of its technology not needing lithium or cobalt, and claimed its cells did not lose capacity over thousands of cycles, as happens with Li-ion batteries. 

Soon-Shiong told the New York Times the zinc-air technology could go into electric cars and scooters, but it has only been tested long-term in microgrid systems so far.