September 9, 2022: Batteries produced using pioneering carbon fibre technology from New Zealand-based ArcActive will be on the market in two years, company CEO Stuart McKenzie told BESB on September 6.
Speaking on the sidelines of ELBC in Lyon, McKenzie (pictured) acknowledged it’s a bold prediction, but in a world increasingly focused on performance as well as burnishing environment credentials, he believes his electrode architecture will help shape the future of batteries not just for the automotive sector but energy storage systems too.
ArcActive is already working with around half-a-dozen battery makers producing prototypes around the world. He says it’s a “pretty tight set up” in terms of confidentiality and who is doing what, but East Penn has been named as one of the development partners.
All the companies involved receive the electrodes for the batteries from ArcActive’s headquarters in Christchurch, where he formed the company in 2007. “I knew it would be a tough job and we’ve run into some problems of course, but we now have consistently high data.”
McKenzie revealed that the company has now produced a business case for the US market — where its current focus lies — which shows cash savings in the realms of $50 per car for those using ArcActive batteries.
“We’re working with an adviser who used to be the CEO of one of the large US/China OEM JVs but we also have an eye on the European and Chinese markets.”
The company has spent the past several years developing its architecture to improve DCA, which McKenzie said had been a challenge without causing issues in other areas, such as water consumption, but those challenges had been overcome.
Instead of manufacturing electrodes with traditional processes, ArcActive has developed its own method. Rather than use a lead grid with a lead paste, the company has substituted the grid for a carbon fibre fabric, with the lead paste put inside the fabric, which McKenzie says is a “really key element” of the technology.
“I think others have tried to restructure electrodes but you need to also strive for good performance, high speed manufacturing high tolerances, a low cost proposition and a configured supply chain that works. That’s what we’ve done.”
ArcActive has now gone from making cells in New Zealand to working with partners making batteries on production lines in the US, Europe and China and Japan.
McKenzie said: “At conferences such as ELBC, people used to talk about DCA for micro hybrids and the question I’ve been hearing again in the last few days again has been: ‘Is DCA still important?’ “It’s a good question. But in turn, I would ask whether micro hybrids are still relevant when everyone is going for EVs?”
The answer, he says, is that there is plenty of business to go around. “There are an estimated 100 million cars produced worldwide every year. Even if you accept that about 20-40 million EVs a year will be being made globally in 2040, that still leaves a lot of other vehicles left over.”