Enzinc Wins World Materials Forum Coup de Coeur Start Up Award for Its Revolutionary Zinc Battery Technology

Enzinc Wins World Materials Forum Coup de Coeur Start Up Award for Its Revolutionary Zinc Battery Technology

Advanced technology repurposes existing lead acid manufacturing infrastructure to expedite the deployment of better batteries

RICHMOND, Calif.:  Enzinc, a pioneering developer of advanced rechargeable zinc battery technology, was awarded the prestigious Coup de Coeur prize in the World Materials Forum (WMF) Start Up Challenge for its innovative way of using a common material to create powerful batteries. A platform for entrepreneurs to showcase their groundbreaking solutions that use materials smarter, more efficiently or longer, the ninth WMF is taking place in Nancy, France, this week. The event brings together industry leaders, experts and innovators from around the world.

The demand for high-power batteries is substantial, but the industry’s growth is hindered by materials shortages. Enzinc is revolutionizing the energy sector by redefining what’s achievable, offering breakthrough zinc battery technology to overcome obstacles and drive progress in the energy storage sector. Its cutting-edge technology surpasses traditional lead-acid batteries by delivering three times the energy output and cycle life and offers twice the energy density of any other zinc battery. Its high-performance solution excels in both mobility and stationary applications.

“We are incredibly honored to receive the Coup de Coeur Start Up Award, a resounding validation of our groundbreaking technology and the unwavering dedication of our team towards fostering innovation,” said Michael Burz, Enzinc founder and CEO. “Enzinc is at the forefront of material innovation, and our drop-in zinc microsponge anode is transforming the battery industry. With Enzinc inside, users can sustainably power anything from short and mid-range electric vehicles to stationary storage systems. Our proprietary zinc battery technology eliminates traditional failure points and supply chain risks, offering superior batteries with higher margins, increased power and enhanced safety.”

The company is positioned to meet the growing demand for battery storage in areas where existing solutions face significant challenges. Considering the limitations associated with lithium, a market valued at $70 billion, and the power delivery shortcomings of lead-acid batteries worth $40 billion, Enzinc’s cutting-edge technology fills the gap and provides a solution for modern applications.

Enzinc has secured four out of five Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) Program grants from the California Energy Commission and, in 2022, closed a $4.5 million seed round led by Portland-based 3×5 Partners.

Getting Specific About Effective Energy: The Truth About Comparing Batteries

Getting Specific About Effective Energy: The Truth About Comparing Batteries

Don't be mislead: apples-to-apples battery measurement

In the race for dominance in the energy storage market, battery manufacturers like to brag about a battery’s specific energy: how many watt-hours are delivered by each kilogram. But is it the right way to compare battery technologies? In short: no. It glosses over some critical real-world issues and results in misleading comparisons.

To use a very simple analogy, imagine you want to ship a gift to a friend. You have the choice between a selection of cheeses or a book. They both weigh the same and are about the same volume, and they should cost the same to ship, right? Wrong. While the weight and volume of the gift is the same, the effective weight and volume of the shipped package won’t be, and neither will the cost. One requires icepacks and a cooler to arrive fresh while the other can simply be put in a box. To make a meaningful comparison, you need to compare the whole package.

And it’s the same with battery systems. Comparing the innermost component of the system—a cell—does not result in an accurate comparison.

Cells make up modules which make up packs. And that’s not all; we must consider the whole battery system. For electric cars for example, the lithium-ion battery system also needs the Battery Management System (BMS), the active cooling system or Thermal Protection System (TPS), and protective armor. Each system adds weight, volume, and cost.

Why are these three measures important? The two most looked at numbers are specific energy in Wh/kg (watt-hours per kilogram) and energy cost in $/kWh (dollars per kilowatt-hour). The first tells you how much energy you can store for a given weight. The second tells you how much this energy costs you. In applications where space is limited, a third measure, energy density measured in Wh/l (watt-hours per liter) can also be essential. They are a way to compare battery chemistries and battery system designs.

Specific energy vs. effective specific energy

Typically, articles about batteries focus on the specific energy of just the cell, the innermost component of the battery system. The numbers can look good: after all, it is light without its supporting systems and relatively inexpensive. But what’s more revealing is the effective specific energy: how the whole system measures up.

It is fair for cell manufacturers to simply compare the cell, the smallest component in the battery, because they do not know how the cell will be used. But as soon as you know how a battery will be used, there’s other important information to consider. For example, the battery for an electric bike is small in capacity (Wh), does not need a sophisticated BMS, just uses air to cool it, and doesn’t need much armor to protect it.

Next time you hear an analyst predict an aggressive target price for lithium-ion batteries or an entrepreneur pitch a new battery chemistry, raise the discussion up to the whole system level.

However, a passenger electric vehicle, which weighs more than an e-bike, carries more people, and travels much faster and further. So it requires a much higher capacity battery pack, an active cooling system moving a cooling fluid through channels to cool the cells (since it gets hot moving and accelerating), a sophisticated BMS with computer, sensors, and cabling, and armor to protect the installation in case of a crash which could penetrate the pack and set the pack on fire. These three main subsystems add weight, volume, and cost.

For specific energy, increasing the weight (kg) decreases specific energy. For energy cost, increasing the dollars obviously makes it go up. And for energy density, increasing the volume lowers the energy density. In other words, while the cells still supply the same Watt hours, the battery system installed in an EV is effectively heavier, more expensive, and bulkier per unit of energy than the battery system installed in an e-bike.

When comparing different battery chemistries, the comparison should be at the system level. The discussion needs to be about the effective (or installed) specific energy, energy cost and energy density so it’s an apples-to-apples comparison.

One car, two ways to look at its battery

Let’s take a real-world example. The Chevy Bolt uses LG NMC cells with a specific energy of around 220 Wh/kg and a cell cost of $145/kWh. After all the pack level hardware and protective subsystems are accounted for the installed specific energy drops to 135Wh/kg and the installed cost rises to $225/kWh.

The numbers look even worse when the current recall of all Chevy Bolts due to fire risk is taken into account. Because every battery pack is being changed out, one could say the effective energy cost is really $370/kWh.

Changing the size and the chemistry of the battery pack can make a significant difference. For example, if the Bolt had a lower range vehicle for use in an urban setting, say 40kWh pack with a 200 mile range (after all, 95 percent of trips are under 30 miles), it could use a different type of lithium battery, lithium ferrous phosphate (LFP), or a nickel zinc (NiZn) battery. Both have a cell specific energy of 130Wh/kg and a cell cost of $100/kWh. And because they are both less prone to fires, they do not need a sophisticated BMS, no TPS and no armor.

This means that the installed specific energy would be 115 Wh/kg and a cost of $160/kWh. Why only 200 miles? That’s where energy density comes in: both of those chemistries have a lower energy density than lithium ion, so only a lower range battery pack will fit in the space in the Bolt and not change the weight significantly.

Looking beyond battery marketing

It’s popular to think that lithium-ion batteries have already won the race to dominate most energy storage markets, and much of the argument is centered on its competitive specific energy and cost. But with a true comparison of the effective or installed specific energy and cost, it’s clear that it’s not the natural winner for many use cases.

Next time you hear an analyst predict an aggressive target price for lithium-ion batteries or an entrepreneur pitch a new battery chemistry, raise the discussion up to the whole system level. How do the numbers look once you have accounted for the full system for the energy use case, whether it’s an e-bike, EV or grid storage? The first answer might not be the most relevant answer for the economics. Or for the environment which is the subject of another article.


Image: Photo by Waldemar Brandt on Unsplash 

Advanced Battery Developer Enzinc Wins Global Automotive and Mobility Innovation Challenge

Advanced Battery Developer Enzinc Wins Global Automotive and Mobility Innovation Challenge

Advanced technology repurposes existing lead acid manufacturing infrastructure to expedite the deployment of better batteries

RICHMOND, Calif.:  Enzinc Inc., an advanced rechargeable zinc battery developer, was selected for a competitive $1.8 million California Energy Commission (CEC) BRIDGE award to further develop its zinc batteries for stationary and mobility uses. After approval, the proceeds, along with $1.0 million of matching funds, will be used to design and test a long duration stationary battery and build out a pilot anode manufacturing line.

“If we are to electrify everything, we need batteries that use easily-sourced materials and can be scaled rapidly. Being selected for BRIDGE shows the rising awareness that we can’t place all of our energy storage bets on lithium technologies,” said Michael Burz, founder and CEO of Enzinc. “Today’s $60 billion lead-acid battery market can play a larger role in the energy transition by converting existing factories to use Enzinc’s drop-in technology and make more powerful, higher margin and longer lasting batteries.”

Batteries with Enzinc’s zinc microsponge anode’s safe, non-flammable materials will make it ideal for stationary energy storage inside homes and commercial buildings and adjacent to critical energy infrastructure. Additionally, it will be ideal for mobility including e-bikes, e-scooters, electric delivery vehicles and other electric vehicles with moderate ranges, as well as be able to replace the lead acid battery that all vehicles use for starter motors and other systems.

“The EPIC programs available at each stage of a clean energy company’s development and commercialization are creating a vibrant and innovative industry in California,” Burz said. “We are honored to have been a recipient of these vital awards at key points in our company’s growth and to be selected for BRIDGE.”

The Bringing Rapid Innovation Development to Green Energy, or BRIDGE, awards are funded by the Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) program, which will grant up to a total of $57.3 million over four rounds. Enzinc and four other companies were selected for the proposed final round of funding, contingent on final approval at a CEC business meeting.

Previously, Enzinc has received CalSEED Phase I and II awards, together worth $600,000, and a $292,000 CalTestBed voucher for product testing. The selection follows Enzinc’s announcements that it has formed an Industry Advisory Group with global leaders in battery production, use and recycling, and that it won the Global Automotive and Mobility Innovation Challenge, GAMIC, at the SAE International World Congress Experience.

Leading Clean Energy Companies Team with Advanced Energy Storage Innovator Enzinc

Leading Clean Energy Companies Team with Advanced Energy Storage Innovator Enzinc

Enzinc names key teaming partners for advanced zinc battery testing through the CalTestBed program

RICHMOND, Calif.: Enzinc Inc., an advanced battery technology developer bringing rechargeable zinc batteries to market, announced today that it has teaming agreements in place with leading energy companies for its third-party product testing. The testing is being done at University of California Riverside’s facilities through a CalTestBed award valued at $292,000.

The teaming partners include power backup provider to the global telecom industry BASE Technologies, EV charging SaaS company ChargeNet Stations, as well as a global battery manufacturer, a leading electric bike brand, and an international waste and recycling provider, which are teaming with Enzinc confidentially.

“It’s a vote of confidence in this technology’s potential that a number of companies are teaming with Enzinc during its testing phase,” said Danny Kennedy, chief energy officer of New Energy Nexus. “We’re thrilled that our programs are giving startups like Enzinc a leg up to innovate the way batteries are manufactured and deployed. We need to see more of this if we’re to accelerate the clean energy transition and electrify our economy.”

“Our teaming partners will ensure that our battery’s testing protocols reflect many of the use cases expected for advanced batteries with ‘Enzinc Inside’,” said Michael Burz, Enzinc founder and CEO. “The CalTestBed award will enable us to test how batteries with our exclusive zinc microsponge anode perform in key applications including e-bikes and other electric mobility, stationary power back up, and grid-tied and microgrid energy storage.”

Enzinc has been awarded a voucher near the maximum $300,000 value, which enables Enzinc to work with the expert team at U.C. Riverside’s battery testing facility. The third-party testing program both ensures Enzinc’s advanced battery design will be shaped by real world needs and demonstrates each partner’s commitment to innovation.

Rebecca Wolkoff, CTO at ChargeNet, looks forward to testing their software with the Enzinc hardware, “We are both committed to creating safe, affordable and sustainable energy storage. We appreciate that our ChargeNet team can provide guidance and feedback on the application of Enzinc’s technology.”

The competitive CalTestBed initiative is funded through California Energy Commission’s Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) program to speed the commercialization of clean energy technologies. It funds third-party testing at world-class facilities at nine University of California campuses and one national laboratory. The program is led by New Energy Nexus in partnership with the University of California Office of the President (UCOP) and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Enzinc’s zinc micro sponge anode will power a family of high-performance rechargeable batteries. The anode’s structure allows the battery to provide more than three times the energy and have three times the lifespan of lead acid batteries while costing about the same, and it operates through a wider temperature range than lithium-based batteries. The battery is totally recyclable, much safer to use than either lead- or lithium-based batteries and uses zinc, a common material with no supply chain constraints.

This comes after the recent announcement that former president of Robert Bosch GmbH’s Powertrain Solutions Division and chief of its Progressive Mobility Players team, Stefan Seiberth, joined Enzinc’s senior advisory team.

Enzinc: ‘Zinc batteries go where lithium-ion cannot’

Enzinc: ‘Zinc batteries go where lithium-ion cannot’

By Robert Malthouse, Energy Storage Report

Could zinc batteries usurp lithium-ion’s strong market position and become the storage technology of choice?

Could zinc batteries usurp lithium-ion’s strong market position and become the storage technology of choice?

The potential certainly exists and Enzinc CEO Michael Burz is on a mission to make it happen.

Headquartered at the University of California in Berkeley’s Richmond Field Station in the San Francisco Bay area, Enzinc’s engineering team has developed a sponge-type anode technology made from zinc, and says it will be the first company offering a rechargeable zinc-based battery that can compete with lithium-ion.

Who’s backing Enzinc?

Enzinc created the anode using technology developed by the US Naval Research Laboratory. So far, Enzinc has raised north of $1.3m, mainly in the form of grants from the US Department of Energy and the California Energy Commission, as well as investments made by founders, senior advisors and angel investors.

The company recently completed 1,000 cycles of its test anode and is beginning to scale the technology into a small battery for commercial testing, which is scheduled to take place in the second quarter of next year