What does ZPower, Inc. develop?
ZPower, Inc. develops silver-zinc rechargeable battery technology for mobile applications such as notebook computers, cell phones and consumer electronics. ZPower batteries offer up to 40% more run time than traditional lithium-ion batteries. Over 95% of the primary battery elements can be recycled and reused. Also, ZPower batteries do not contain lithium and are inherently safe.
What is the current marketplace situation for mobile power?
Today’s consumer has the ability to watch an entire movie on a palm-sized device—but the ability to power that portable device has not kept up. While mobile technology has advanced exponentially, power technology has lagged behind. The market is actively seeking a next generation battery.
What is the problem with this situation that ZPower is seeking to address?
Engineers admit that they are “hitting the wall” on lithium-ion and lithium-polymer performance. In addition to performance challenges, lithium-ion batteries cannot be recycled and reused. Additionally, unstable lithium-ion batteries causing notebook computer fires has resulted in high product recalls of notebook computers in recent years.
How do ZPower batteries address this situation?
ZPower uses the latest in advanced polymers, nano-technology, power electronics and processing methods to create a highly marketable silver-zinc, rechargeable battery that offers high performance, clean technology and safety.
What is particularly novel or noteworthy about your innovation?
ZPower has partnered with one of the top global manufacturers of notebook computers to roll out a laptop with a silver-zinc battery option. The notebook will have the capability to work with either silver-zinc or lithium-ion batteries (i.e. it will be dual chemistry enabled). ZPower will be the first company to launch a rechargeable, silver-zinc battery in the mobile electronics market.
Is silver-zinc battery technology new?
Rechargeable silver-zinc battery chemistry has a long, successful history of use in very demanding military, space and underwater applications. ZPower is now moving this advanced battery chemistry to the commercial marketplace for use in consumer electronics.
Additionally, ZPower has greatly improved upon the technology to create a commercially-viable battery that has an extremely high ratio of energy to volume (Wh/I) for mobile applications. ZPower has also significantly improved the cycle life of silver-zinc batteries, making it an ideal power source for real-world mobile consumers who need long battery life and quick charge time.
Can you describe the technical make-up of your battery?
The dynamic success of ZPower’s technology can be found in three important technical areas:
1) Composite Polymer Zinc (Zn) Anode
- The zinc anode in ZPower batteries is a composite polymer electrode which inhibits shape change and dendrite growth. In the past, shape change and dendrite growth in traditional silver-zinc cells was frequently an issue. These issues have been solved with ZPower’s silver-zinc technology.
2) Multi-Functional, Layered Separator
- ZPower has created a highly-effective separator stack that resists dendrite growth from the zinc anode, while simultaneously resisting degradation from the silver cathode. At the same time, it allows ions to move freely from the cathode to the anode to minimize the cell’s internal resistance. This results in a superior silver-zinc battery cell which offers long life.
3) Nano-Particle Silver Oxide (AgO) Cathode
- The silver oxide cathode in ZPower batteries is coated with an advanced nano particle material. This nano-technology enhances conductivity for lower internal resistance and allows for a quick recharge time and excellent transient load performance.
These technical improvements listed above make silver-zinc a front-runner in battery chemistry for mobile power.
What kind of industry recognition has ZPower received?
- 2009: ZPower is named a 2009 Tech Pioneer from the World Economic Forum.
- 2008: ZPower wins the "Innova Award" from Battery Power Products and Technology magazine.
- 2007: ZPower wins the AlwaysOn "GoingGreen 100" award for battery materials recycling and reuse.
- 2006: ZPower wins the Intel Developer Forum "Technology Innovation Accelerated" (TIA) award for mobility.
Is your technology patented?
ZPower possesses an impressive U.S. and worldwide intellectual property portfolio with 28 granted patents and 33 pending.
What customers have chosen your technology?
ZPower batteries have been chosen by several major Tier 1 consumer electronics manufacturers for developmental testing in the notebook computer, cell phone, and smartphone arenas.
Do you have any competitors in rechargeable, silver-zinc battery technology for consumer applications?
Currently, there are no other competitors with a commercially-viable rechargeable, silver-zinc battery for consumer applications.
How does your silver-zinc technology compare to past developers of silver-zinc battery technology?
For the most part, silver-zinc technology used in military, space and underwater applications, is 40-years old and has not benefited from advancements in materials science. In contrast, ZPower applies the latest in:
- Advanced Polymers
- Power electronic
- Processing methodologies
ZPower is unique because it has successfully tackled the traditional challenges of silver-zinc technology, resulting in a battery with extremely high-energy density and commercially-viable cycle life for mobile electronics.
What are the core applications for ZPower batteries?
- Notebook computers
- Cell phones
- Consumer electronics
Why are manufacturers of mobile electronics interested in ZPower batteries?
- High Performance – Up to 40% more run-time than traditional lithium-ion batteries
- 7 to 8-hours of run-time per charge for standard usage of a notebook computer
- Clean Technology – Over 95% of key battery elements can be recycled and reused
- ZPower was awarded the AlwaysOn GoingGreen 100 award for battery material recycling
- ZPower is the first battery company in the mobile electronics sector to offer financial incentives to consumers who recycle
- Safe – ZPower batteries contain no lithium or mercury and are inherently safe
- ZPower batteries are not subject to recent FAA air travel restrictions now placed on lithium-ion batteries
Has ZPower solved the cycle life challenge that silver-zinc batteries had in the past?
- ZPower batteries can now achieve 200+ cycles at 100% discharge and thousands of cycles at intermediate discharge.
- The company is ahead of schedule to achieve 300+ cycles at 100% discharge by late 2009.
Why are ZPower batteries safer?
- ZPower batteries offer an intrinsically safe, lithium-free, water-based chemistry.
- ZPower batteries have no thermal runaway and are not flammable
- ZPower batteries have passed wide range of safety tests including:
- Temperature Cycling
- Short Circuit
- Abnormal Charge (overcharge)
- Forced Discharge (reverse charge)
- Nail Penetration
- ZPower batteries are not restricted by lithium-ion battery regulations for in-flight use.
Will a silver-zinc battery malfunction? What will typically result when it happens?
- Under certain conditions such as overcharge misuse, overdischarge misuse, or battery puncture, the ZPower battery will short circuit like any other battery. In such cases, the ZPower cell will safely vent as expected with no fire or any other hazardous events occurring.
What makes ZPower batteries “earth friendly?”
- The primary materials of ZPower batteries (silver and zinc) are fully recyclable. That means that the materials derived from recycling process are of the same quality as the materials that went into the initial creation of the battery. This reduces the need to mine for new materials and minimizes the removal of silver and zinc from the earth’s crust.
- In contrast, the primary elements of traditional lithium-ion batteries are downcycled and cannot be reused. The downcycling process reduces the original battery into raw materials of lower quality which can’t be reused for battery production. Additional lithium must be obtained before another battery can be produced.
- The silver recycling process already exists. Refiners perfected the processes over centuries for jewelry, tableware, photographic film, and electronics. Additionally, silver obtained from scrap makes up over 30% of the silver that is needed each year to satisfy world demand.
- ZPower is the first rechargeable battery company in the portable electronic segment to offer financial incentives to consumers who recycle. ZPower will make it easy for consumers to return their used batteries to ZPower in exchange for a credit towards the purchase of a new silver-zinc battery.
What is the shelf life of ZPower batteries?
- ZPower batteries are designed for consumer devices that typically have a useful shelf life of 24 months or less.
Do ZPower batteries offer a smaller footprint compared to Lithium-ion batteries?
- Depending on the OEM’s requirements, ZPower can offer a battery at the same size as a lithium-ion battery while offering up to twice the run-time. Or ZPower can offer a battery with half the footprint and the same run-time. This feature allows mobile application designers to decrease battery size or increase work time, depending on the requirements of their application.
What form factor can you offer?
- At the present time, ZPower is developing both prismatic and button-shaped batteries.
- In the future, ZPower will also offer cylindrical cells.
How is ZPower funded?
- ZPower has raised more than $54 million in funding from several venture investment partners which include Intel Corporation, OnPoint Technologies (a venture capital fund of the United States Army) and PowerVentures (a large private equity group).
Who will manufacture ZPower batteries?
- ZPower has teamed with Tyco Electronics as a worldwide manufacturing partner. ZPower batteries will be manufactured at an existing Tyco production facility in Asia.
Do you have any development partners?
- ZPower has chosen Texas Instruments as a development partner for its battery gas gauge solution for silver-zinc batteries.
How fast can ZPower batteries be charged?
- A laptop computer battery using ZPower cells can charge in 5 hours. The ZPower battery charges at a constant rate throughout the complete charge cycle. In contrast, lithium-ion batteries decelerate to a slower rate towards the last 20-30% of a charge cycle. As a result, ZPower batteries charge faster than lithium-ion batteries from 70% to 100% --which is where most consumers focus their charging activity.
How will ZPower batteries be priced?
- ZPower batteries will be priced at a modest premium to lithium-ion batteries.
What are some of the obstacles to bringing silver-zinc batteries to market?
- At the present time in the development of silver-zinc rechargeable battery chemistry, there are no serious obstacles to bringing the technology into the market. Many of the fundamental chemical and technology challenges that were experienced in the earlier phases have been overcome. Right now, the focus is on scaling manufacturing processes to meet high anticipated demand. The ZPower manufacturing process is unique in many respects relative to that of alternative battery technologies. The current work is focused on achieving and maintaining world class quality.
|Total number of employees:||50 people|
|Previous equity investment:||$54 million|