It all started with Thomas Edison who dabbled with many battery chemistries, including nickel-zinc (NiZn). The great inventor seemed obsessed with creating storage batteries for the transportation darling of its day—the electric automobile. Edison was intrigued by the potential of NiZn electrochemistry because of its high energy density, high efficiency rating and temperature tolerance advantages compared to other battery chemistries. In 1901, Thomas Edison was awarded US patent 684,201 for NiZn chemistry, but was never able to commercialize NiZn based products.
Almost one hundred years later an exciting breakthrough occurred in 1993. Stanford lecturer and chemist, Morris Eisenberg created a new electrolyte that solved the problems that bedeviled Edison and enables a significant increase in the NiZn battery cycle life. Eisenberg’s company, Next Century Power, failed but his electrolyte became the core technology for a new startup company called PowerGenix.
PowerGenix Founder Jeff Phillips advanced Eisenberg’s work and become the first company to commercialize NiZn batteries. Phillips used Eisenberg’s concepts to develop a NiZn technology with improved energy and power density that can be manufactured on modern high-speed manufacturing equipment. By leveraging the positive electrode technology from nickel-metal hydride batteries and the separator advances made for lithium-ion batteries, the Edison technology could finally compete with the performance of any battery technology, including the latest lithium-ion batteries.
Today, NiZn offers big advantages in energy and power density, maintenance cost, environmental safety and recyclability. PowerGenix, now ZincFive has more than 100 issued and pending NiZn related patents. Key innovations include; Electrolyte and Electrode Composition, Charging Algorithms, Cell Design and Manufacturing Technology. ZincFive is now taking Thomas Edison's dream battery and bringing it to the world in the form of NiZn batteries and solutions that deliver breakthrough performance for safety, power, fast charging, temperature tolerance, long life, recyclability, application simplicity and overall energy storage efficiency.