These batteries, developed from scratch, are better than lithium batteries and much cheaper to manufacture
Michael Burz, CEO of Enzinc, explains why the chemistry of these batteries offers better specifications than lithium batteries and why they are more economically viable.
Enzinc is a company specializing in zinc-based batteries that has been gaining recognition for its innovative nature in addressing the challenges of the battery industry. In an interview with Battery Technology, its CEO, Michael Burz, presents an exhaustive analysis of the characteristics and possibilities of this technology, destined to become a protagonist in electric mobility and sustainable energy storage.
Enzinc was awarded the Coup de Coeur Start-Up award during the World Materials Forum. Burz noted that this recognition significantly impacts Enzinc’s visibility and potential to generate new opportunities in the field of energy storage. This recognition reflects the industry’s growing demand for safer and more powerful batteries while recognizing Enzinc’s innovative approach.
The impact of zinc batteries on the mobility and storage industry
Instead of improving current battery technologies, Enzinc has adopted a different strategy, eliminating lithium and harnessing the potential of zinc, a widely available and low-cost mineral. Burz explains this by saying they are not making “marginal improvements to existing batteries but rather building a superior battery from scratch.” Now, the company is prepared to meet the growing demand for storage in the battery sector, especially in areas where solutions today face significant challenges.
A fundamental handicap for the battery industry is the reliance on the limited availability of materials. In this sense, Burz points out that while lithium-ion batteries have dominated the market, their dependence on this material, with restricted global reserves and processing controlled mainly by China, poses risks to the security of supply globally. On the other hand, zinc is a promising alternative due to its abundance, wide geographical distribution, and profitability.
Until now, zinc was mainly used in primary (non-rechargeable) batteries due to the formation of dendrites, “stalactite-like” needles, explains Burz, which reduce the useful life when successive recharges are carried out. However, Enzinc has managed to solve this problem by including a microsponge structure that considerably increases the surface area of the zinc anode. This innovation solves this problem and leads to greater energy density, making zinc batteries a practical solution for current applications.
Safety is also a key priority in the battery industry, especially in densely populated urban areas. Lithium-ion batteries have proven to be prone to fires, raising significant safety concerns. Burz highlighted that zinc-based batteries offer inherent advantages in this field. They use a non-flammable, water-based electrolyte, meaning there is no risk of fire or toxic outgassing, and they have excellent durability.
Burz explained: “This means no fires or toxic outgassing, making them an obvious choice not only in densely populated urban areas like New York City but also in any application where fire prevention is critical.”
Due to their versatility, Burz is convinced of the future of zinc-based batteries. He highlights that Enzinc’s zinc anode is independent of the cathode, combining it with various cathodes to meet market needs, either with manganese cathodes for an economical option or with carbon cathodes for high performance.
Production: taking advantage of the infrastructure of old batteries
To market this type of battery, Enzinc has adapted existing lead-acid battery factories to produce batteries with its technology. This strategy contributes significantly to scalability and accessibility by taking advantage of these manufacturing capacities, which currently exceed 400 GWh.
Burz emphasizes that his goal is to “awaken the latent potential of lead-acid battery factories and transform them into production centers for clean energy storage.” By adapting them, he claims to triple their capacity to more than one terawatt (TW).
Manufacturers could partially or wholly transform their facilities, taking advantage of the same space and assembly equipment to speed up the transition process. “Battery producers could modify part or all of their factories to make nickel-zinc batteries, replacing their electrodes with our zinc anode and a nickel cathode, and using a potassium hydroxide electrolyte (a base) instead. of sulfuric acid.”
Burz concludes by stating, “With the ability to bridge the gap between existing technologies, zinc batteries are set to revolutionize how we harness and store energy, paving the way to a more sustainable and efficient future.”