Lockheed Martin, considered as an aerospace giant, announced that it ought to join the enormous energy storage market by introducing a new chemistry for battery products. The Lockheed Martin is to compete with big international conglomerates and equipment providers which includes General Electric, LG Chem, ABB, Panasonic, and more.
Lockheed Martin is planning to focus its financial resources on two particular issues in the energy storage market. First is the integration of lithium-ion system and, second, to bring in a new chemistry for flow batteries.
Lithium-ion battery is not a new chemistry in the market thus prices have gone down over the past couple of years. But, Richard Brody, Lockheed Martin’s Director of Sales and Marketing for Energy Storage, said that “We have seen precious little innovation and cost reduction in the balance of system.”
The Balance-of-system is composed of all the components in a photovoltaic cell, which includes photovoltaic panels, wiring, switches, mounting switches, solar inverters, a battery bank, and the charger. Most industry experts believe that in order to attain reduction of cost, a targeted balance-of system is important.
Quoting Brody, “We designed a complete, integrated AC lithium-ion system. Everything is in there: batteries, battery management, thermal management, and the AC interconnections – all engineered for single-side access.”
Another focus of the energy department of the company is to bring a new chemistry to market for flow batteries. The aerospace giant has acquired Sun Catalytix in 2014, and is to use the technology that this company has developed.
Back in 2010, an investor and board member, Bob Metcalfe, has conveyed that Sun Catalytix aimed to commercialize a new, affordable catalyst that could split water into oxygen and hydrogen. This is said to mimic the photosynthesis with inorganic chemistry. Moreover, the materials used in this technology were nontoxic, “dirt cheap”, and earth-abundant as said by Metcalfe.
This is what the aerospace giant is to use in developing a new chemistry for flow batteries.
Brad Fiebig, Project Manager at Lockheed Martin, said that flow battery vendors usually use expensive materials thus considered as a fundamental limit for cost production for those particular chemistries. Some materials like zinc-bromide or vanadium and their solutes are able to corrode organic tissues or simply termed as caustic which is harmful for anyone.
Moreover, if batteries contain such type of material it would require expensive materials just to transport and contain them. As well as electrodes needs to be replaced often in harsh environments.
Sun Catalytix technology relies on engineered molecule. This extends its platform to combinations of transition metal ions and ligands. Lockheed Martin would use an aqueous electrolyte with a basic pH that would allow the use of conventional materials in the balance-of-system.
To develop a new energy storage technology requires time- and capital-intensive effort, making the Lockheed Martin an industry with the resources to do so.