Tim O'Brien | Sep 23, 2008

CSIRO's breakthrough UltraBattery, news of which surfaced last year, is now set for world automotive markets and international sales. Japan's Furukawa Battery Company has begun production of the UltraBattery, and US manufacturer, East Penn, today signed an international commercialisation and distribution agreement.

With a life-cycle that is at least four times longer and produces 50 percent more power than conventional energy storage systems, CSIRO's UltraBattery may be the breakthrough in battery technology the automotive world is searching for. It is also around 70 percent cheaper to produce than batteries currently used in hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs).

ultrabatt_4_000605_jThe CSIRO-invented technology combines an enhanced-power negative electrode and a lead acid battery in a single unit. In providing a lower-cost battery solution, with breakthrough technology and efficiency, the UltraBattery may remove one of the hindrances to the wider acceptance of hybrid and electric vehicles - that of cost.

The exclusive sub-license agreement will see the UltraBattery distributed by East Penn to the automotive sector throughout North America, Mexico and Canada while Furukawa Battery Company will release the technology in Japan and Thailand.

CSIRO's Dr John Wright is understandably pleased to see an Australian-developed technology on world automotive markets.

"The UltraBattery is an exciting product and CSIRO is delighted to be working closely with two leading manufacturers to introduce the technology to the automotive market on a global scale," he said.

"This technology could significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector by lowering the cost of hybrid electric vehicles and increasing their uptake, meaning that we could be looking at success on both commercial and environmental fronts".

The technology is scheduled to be commercially available in the automotive market and for motive power applications throughout Japan, Thailand, North America, Mexico and Canada within two years.

In the UltraBattery, motorists may finally have the environmental hybrid/electric alternative: one that does not raise as many environmental questions - due to the energy inputs in manufacture - as it answers.