How aluminium is helping to power the Azores
Swiss battery producer to use new aluminium battery foil for electrical power network in the Azores.
November 12, 2015
Swiss battery producer Leclanché, partnering with Norsk Hydro, is working to establish aluminium foil as an important component of ultra-modern, power-storing lithium-ion-titanate batteries.
This new battery foil is now being used in the electrical power network for the Azores.
On the island of Graciosa, the second-smallest of the Azore Islands (located in the Atlantic Ocean), a micro-power network is being installed, employing a novel combination of solar and wind power, that then uses batteries to store the generated electricity. This network will increase the contribution of renewable energy to the island's annual energy needs from 15 to 65 per cent. Leclanché has so far supplied battery cells totalling 3.2 Megawatt hours.
Thanks to the new system, the residents of Graciosa will significantly reduce their dependence on heavy oil imports.
Aluminium foil is one of the layers in every Li-Ion battery. Although the aluminium being used looks and feels like the typical aluminium foil that one might find in a kitchen, it is in fact a product of ultimate cleanliness and high-precision manufacturing – which is why it is being used in the production of these special lithium-ion-titanate battery cells at Leclanché plant in Willstätt, Germany.
The Leclanché process, using Hydro's aluminium foil, begins with applying a thin layer and then cutting this to size. The same happens to a corresponding foil of copper – which is then used as a major component in the lithium-ion-titanate battery.
The lithium–ion-titanate battery cell is actually a modified lithium-ion battery that uses lithium-titanate nanocrystals on the surface of its anode instead of carbon. This gives the anode a surface area of about 100 square meters per gram, compared with 3 square meters per gram for carbon. This "super-high" surface area allows electrons to enter and leave the anode quickly which means that the lithium-ion-titanate battery is faster to recharge and provides high currents when needed, than more traditional lithium-ion batteries.
Until recently, this type of battery mainly came from Asia. "So we are quite pleased that our customer, Leclanché, has succeeding in expanding their own production," said Hydro's sales manager for rolled products, Willi Schenkel.
The Li-Ion battery energy storage solution by Solarpraxis AG/Andreas Schlegel
Furthermore, it is anticipated that this current project on the island of Graciosa will lead to similar business opportunities for Leclanché power accumulators.
This project gives yet more credibility to Leclanché's storage technology in fast developing markets and to deploy advanced grid-scale storage systems for increased integration and management of renewable energies.
This storage system (for renewable energy) will no doubt serve as an example for other islands and remote communities.