A little known company based in Pennsylvania called East Penn Mfg. Co. Inc. was awarded $32.5 million in federal grants to increase their development and commercialization of a breakthrough Australian UltraBattery technology for use in micro and mild hybrid vehicles.

The grant awarded came from the $2.4 billion in funds from the federal government announced weeks ago as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The UltraBattery was developed by Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO).  It utilizes a super capacitor combined with a lead acid battery in a single unit.  This new battery technology allows the battery to accept and deliver high levels of power with low levels of electrical resistance.

Traditionally, super capacitors and lead acid batteries had been separate units that had to rely upon complex elelctronic controllers and a set of confusing algorithms to switch power between the two units.  By combining both into one unit, the complexity is greatly diminished.

According to East Penn, the UltraBattery is ideally suited for hybrids which rely on battery operated electric motors and regenerative braking.  In terms of lifespan, the UltraBattery has exceeded the ability of NiMH batteries in certain hybrid applications.

The company does note that this technology is not as advanced as lithium-ion technology, but can exceed current NiMH batteries in both longevity and costs.

So how does East Penn become involved with an Australian manufacturer?  The breakdown is a bit confusing but here it is, CSIRO licensed the UltraBattery technology to Furakawa Battery Co. in Japan and Thailand.  Furakawa sublicensed the technology to East Penn for commercialization and distribution throughout North America.

According to East Penn, this new battery increases cycle life, reduces costs, is easier to recycle than NiMH and Li-ion, and could significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions during production compared to other battery types. 

The batteries should start appearing in hybrid vehicles shortly after production and commercialization goes full swing.

Source:  Wards Auto (Login required)