Who are the direct competitors of NGK for NAS batteries ?

Here they are

          

Nagoya, this is the battery community, do you copy ?

Today, May 19th, 2012, exactly five months have gone since the last communication of NGK Insulators Ltd. about the NAS battery fire incident that occurred on September 21, 2011. We all get impatient to get more information and to know what they plan now.

I would like to address an open letter to NGK:

“Dear Mister President,
(or anybody else working for NGK and ready to share information),

Please, say something, please…

Best regards,

A worried member of the battery community”

Robinson Crusoe is never long alone on Technology Island

NGK is the only company which manufactures high-temperature molten salt batteries (also called molten metal). But some others companies are massively investing to fill the gap. Their “out-of-the-box” products would appear on the market within a few years, but I think that some are ready for pilot projects.

It takes time to restore customer confidence. When nobody will anymore talk about the fire incident, allowing NGK to completely recover, they will probably face stronger competition.

Basically, high-temperature molten salt batteries are characterized by:

  • A liquid anode (sodium)
  • A liquid cathode (Na2Sx for NAS batteries and a molten salt chloride for others, the metal being generally nickel, hence the name sodium-nickel-chloride batteries)
  • A sodium ion-conducting beta-alumina ceramic acting as solid electrolyte in NAS batteries or, in sodium-nickel-chloride batteries, as a membrane between liquid electrolyte (molten sodium aluminumchloride NaAlCl4) and the liquid electrodes
  • A high operating temperature (around 300-350°C).

NGK is the only company which manufactures and sells NAS batteries. Others invest in Sodium-Nickel-Chloride batteries (often called Zebra batteries), because the technology is slightly more promising:

  • Higher cell voltage (2.59 V instead of 2.076 V)
  • Wider operating temperature (270 to 350°C instead of 310 to 350°C)
  • Less component corrosion at the positive electrode
  • Slightly safer (lower exothermic heats and lower vapour pressure)
  • Tolerant to overcharge and short-circuit
  • Recovery of the nickel during recycling.

Let me introduce the key players

Actually, the most advanced NGK’s competitor is a swiss-italian consortium developing FIAMM Sonick’s Zebra batteries. But GE would also play a major role within a few years. They are investing hundreds of millions of dollars to develop similar technology, they call Durathon. GE maintains a continued relationship with FIAMM Sonick and bought BETA R&D in UK, to acquire the technical expertise, in particular the ceramic issues.

An eye can also be kept on the company Ceramatec, because they control the key issue of molten salt batteries: the ceramic and the ceramic to metal bounding technology. They have strategic partners, as mentioned on their website, but their name is kept secret. GE again?

Here below, you’ll find website links and documents that briefly present these companies and their strategy. If you have more information, I would be pleased to add them to the list.

GE, USA
GE Enters the Grid-based Energy Storage Business | Alternative Energy Stocks
GE Energy Storage Technologies – Durathon
GE and FIAMM Target Molten Salt Batteries. But Can They Compete with NGK?

FIAMM, Italy & FZSonick, Switzerland
FZ SoNick – Sodium Nickel Batteries
Balderrie Energie GmbH – ZEBRA batteries
Sodium Nickel Chloride “Zebra” Battery (Book)

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About Dupont
Dupont Energy Consulting GmbH Owner & Director http://www.dupontconsulting.de

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