Zinc batteries in view with plans for plant

Zinc batteries in view with plans for plant

Pilot facility to be established in EECi

Thailand looks set to construct a zinc-ion battery plant to support electric vehicles (EVs) and utilise its own domestic resources.

According to Janekrishna Kanatharana, executive director of the Eastern Economic Corridor of Innovation (EECi) and vice-president of the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), Thailand intends to develop its own technology for a zinc-ion battery.

"Thailand has a rich reserve of zinc," said Mr Janekrishna. "It is considered more appropriate for Thailand to manufacture and promote zinc-ion battery production than lithium, which we have to import."

According to Mr Janekrishna, the government has agreed to this development plan and offered a 192-million-baht budget this year. NSTDA will use the funding to build the infrastructure for a pilot battery plant at EECi with a capacity of one megawatt per hour.

The pilot plant is in the process of original design manufacturing.

According to the NSTDA, the new zinc-ion battery's raw materials include zinc, manganese oxide and graphene.

In comparison with lithium-ion batteries, the zinc-ion battery contains superior advantages in safety and stability due to an environmentally friendly, 90%-recyclable, non-flammable, non-explosive quality.

Zinc-ion batteries are suitable for energy storage systems and equipment which requires high safety, such as vehicles, residences, backup power systems, electric grid systems and military and security purposes, according to the NSTDA.

Mr Janekrishna said private companies are also keen to invest in such batteries, while many state-owned enterprises have supported a budget to conduct research and development and build an alternative battery plant with a capacity of 500-1,000 megawatts per year in 2023.

He said alternative batteries being developed at the EECi can be used in EVs and serve as energy storage for solar farms, factories, households, electricity-generating plants as well as onshore and offshore oil and gas rigs.

The energy storage system plays a key component in the future of renewable resources, especially wind and solar. Energy storage can improve grid reliability and stability, and enhance the value of renewable energy.

The most common type of energy storage technology is the lithium-ion battery, which has a good capacity. However, the lithium-ion battery also has some disadvantages such as liquid electrolyte flammability, plus an environmental impact and limited raw material resources. In addition, lithium in various applications has triggered safety concerns.

Kanit Sangsubhan, secretary-general of the Eastern Economic Corridor Office, said he expected the alternative battery development project to help boost EV production in Thailand.

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