Indian deal signals massive boost for Ecoult in Asia

In early February, India’s Exide Industries announced an agreement with Ecoult, owned by East Penn, to manufacture UltraBattery for the Asian market. It’s a landmark agreement. BESB spoke to John Wood, Ecoult chief executive, to get the details.

John, what sort of production capacity are we looking at?

Production of UltraBattery entails a very high overlap of process with manufacture of standard lead acid batteries with some additional processes. As such, the good news is that production capacity can be scaled very quickly.

East Penn Manufacturing will be transferring know how around the manufacturing process and collaborating with Exide Industries to get initial production capability established and then Exide Industries will be able to grow their capacity with the market.

What are the technical differences between this UltraBattery and the original one?

Since the earliest UltraBattery, devices were implemented we have enhanced the capabilities of the product both in terms of lifetime throughput and power handling capabilities.

Our newest formats also utilize the active material more effectively, supporting effective power and energy density when running higher rate applications.

For example our first generation UltraBattery devices were used for continuous variability management at around 0.8C1 against the PJM regulation services signal, whereas our latest version is used at up to 1.4C1.

As well as the battery technology a lot of work has been done by Ecoult around the monitoring, management and control framework to support UltraBattery.  This work makes the product easily adaptable to use for the provision of grid ancillary services, micro grid applications, renewable integration, and applications that reduce diesel emissions by increasing efficiency of use.

A key capability of UltraBattery is its ability to operate in partial state of charge with very limited rates of sulphation. Operation in partial state of charge also has a number of advantages in reducing secondary degradation factors which are typically accelerated with higher temperature.  Most recently we have been enhancing the capability for UltraBattery to operate partial state of charge in higher ambient temperature conditions.  Lead acid technology generally has an advantage over many alternative technologies in its ability to handle temperature variation and variations in power requests readily with the only effect being marginal change in the rate of background degradation.  Operating in partial state of charge, UltraBattery takes this to the next level.

How easy will it be to integrate it into the Exide Industries’ production lines — will part of the lines have to be changed, or the whole line overhauled?

The primary change entails the addition of equipment for the new processes connected with the UltraBattery technology.  The rest of the production can be done utilizing existing production lines.

When is the production going to start?

It is everyone’s intention to get going quickly but it will take a number of months to transfer the capability into the Exide Industries factory.  In the intervening period we will be implementing a limited number of sites using UltraBattery, produced by East Penn Manufacturing, to build the level of UltraBattery solution and system experience at Exide Industries and its subsidiary Chloride Power Systems and Solutions Limited.

Where is the greatest demand in India, and wider, Asia?

UltraBattery contributes most readily wherever there is a need to support variability in power needs matching supply to utilization.  In particular, in India and Asia this is needed in systems which utilize diesel generation with or without integration of renewable energy generation and where there are unreliable grid services.  Applications such as local power, microgrid, power for remote cell towers and ancillary services.  Geographically the demand is widespread.