Professor Thomas Maschmeyer is turning foundational science into commercial solutions to meet the challenges of the renewable energy transition. And it means high-tech, green jobs in Western Sydney.
The global renewable-energy storage company, Gelion , spun-out of the University of Sydney, has joined forces with Battery Energy Power Solutions to make and distribute the Gelion Endure zinc-bromide battery for the Australian market.
The batteries, invented by Professor Thomas Maschmeyer, will be produced at Battery Energy’s Fairfield factory in Western Sydney.
"There is a revolution coming in energy production and distribution worldwide," said Professor Maschmeyer, the incumbent holder of the Australian Prime Minister’s Prize for Innovation.
"Across the globe governments and companies are setting ambitious net-zero-carbon emission targets. To achieve these goals, renewable energy will need to be stored everywhere - and that means batteries."
Professor Maschmeyer from Sydney Nano and the School of Chemistry reimagined zinc-bromide chemistry to produce a revolutionary new battery, replacing a flowing electrolyte with a stable gel.
"Gelion batteries are safe, robust and recyclable," Professor Maschmeyer said. "For stationary energy storage, zinc-bromide batteries do away with the need for expensive cooling and maintenance systems. And they can’t catch fire."
The battery operates at temperatures up to 50 degrees and can be completely discharged of energy with no loss of function.
"We recently tested the battery by heating it on a barbeque plate at about 700 degrees for half an hour," Professor Maschmeyer said. "Not only did the battery not catch fire, it continued to operate, keeping a light on through the whole test."
Heat stress testing Gelion’s batteryThe battery did not catch fire and remained functional and safe despite hotplate temperatures above 600 degrees.
Gelion’s partnership with Battery Energy represents the next stage of commercialisation for Gelion and Battery Energy, demonstrating their commitment to supplying competitive Australian-designed and manufactured energy storage products to the local market.
The Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Sydney, Professor Mark Scott, said: "We are enormously proud of our association with Gelion as it takes Professor Thomas Maschmeyer’s innovative application of foundational science to commercialisation.
"It’s fantastic that as a first step this will mean high-tech jobs in Western Sydney, matching our ambitions for sustainable economic development. It’s a brilliant outcome for Thomas and his colleagues."
Producing Gelion’s batteries domestically will provide local jobs in a green, innovative industry and shorten supply chains for the Australian market. The batteries will be deployed in production trials in 2022 ahead of anticipated commercial availability.
- Gelion’s breakthrough non-flow zinc-bromide battery is an affordable, safe, recyclable alternative to lithium-ion, making it a reliable energy source for a range of applications.
- Gelion’s Endure energy storage platform is suitable for irrigation, water purification and desalination systems, remote communities, mining facilities and agriculture.
- Gelion’s stationary energy storage solutions have been optimised for a wide temperature range making them ideal for Australia’s tough conditions.
- Endure batteries can be completely discharged and recharged with no loss of function. The battery’s electrolytic gel is a fire retardant, making the batteries safe and robust.
Gelion CEO Andrew Grimes welcomed the opportunity to manufacture the Gelion Endure battery locally for the Australian market.
He said: "We are excited to work with Battery Energy. Its 30 years’ experience delivering customer-focused power solutions in tough environments will be invaluable helping us deploy our technology in our own backyard.
"Gelion’s vision is to play a leading role in the transition to clean energy across the globe. The partnership is both an environmental and business breakthrough - and a win for local manufacturing."
"In the coming months, we will be focused on demonstrating our next-generation battery systems in-field in Australia, commencing later this year."
DeclarationThe University of Sydney is an investor in Gelion Technologies.
Safe, inexpensive and scalable: Gelion’s new battery technology has been tested and installed on campus and is now ready for the commercial market in industry, agriculture and residential.
Leading experts caution climate change projections require urgent planning and more investment in research to reduce the risks of heat-related disease and death.
The Prime Minister has recognised Thomas Maschmeyer for his work taking fundamental science to commercialisation in fields that address environmental problems: plastic-waste recycling and safe, scalable storage for renewable energy.