Oxis to roll out Li-S energy storage batteries next year

At the start of June, Oxis Energy Ltd announced, along with PV company, Proinso, the launch of Project Helios, a demonstration center set up to test the Oxis Solar Centre for Autonomous Research’s (OSCAR) Li-S solar storage technology in a "real world" environment.

"The Lithium Sulfur batteries are working very well in the OSCAR facility, with batteries charging through the solar panels and powering equipment in the OSCAR building," spokeswoman, Gaenor Howells told pv magazine. "The testing continues and allows us to make further refinements to the battery design."

Based in Oxford, England, at the Culham Science Centre, the Project Helios demonstration combines a 3.8 kWp solar PV power generation system with a 48V 3 kWh Oxis Li-S battery. The 16 PV panels feed into an SMA Sunny Boy inverter. The energy generated is used to power a charger for a driverless vehicle and an SMA Sunny Island battery inverter.

Howells told pv magazine the company’s Li-S energy storage batteries should available for purchase by the end of next March. "We are now testing the batteries, making refinements, ramping up production, ready for sale of the batteries next year," she said.

In terms of cost, Oxis is targeting a Li-S battery price of US$250/kWh in 2020 for high volumes, based on the fact less, and cheaper, material is required for the battery in comparison to lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries.

"The overall cost of the materials is less – an example of this is sulfur, key to the technology, which cost under $200 per tonne," said Howells, adding that the "predicted costs of lithium sulfur when production is ramped up is lower than competing lithium ion technologies."

Oxis, established in 2005, claims its batteries are nearly five times as powerful as its Li-ion counterparts, in addition to being lighter weight, safer and maintenance free. Oxis’ Dr Mark Crittenden told pv magazine the company is aiming to capture 10% of the Li-ion market in the next five to 10 years. "To put this into context," he said, "Lithium Ion has grown from zero in 1990 to an estimated $80 billion in 2020."

In 2014, Oxis was awarded Frost & Sullivan’s Technology Innovation Award, "Because this battery technology offers energy density greater than 300Wh/kg, it is lightweight and has enhanced safety chemistry that prevents fires and retains functionality, even after accidents." An energy density of 400 Wh/kg is forecast for 2016.

The consulting firm added that Oxis’ Li-S batteries also have long lifecycles, with the company’s premium product – scheduled to be launched in the next couple of years – expected to achieve 2,000 cycles before capacity reduces to 80% of its beginning of life (BoL).

For European residential installations, said Oxis, four batteries can be combined to create a storage capacity of 12 kWh. "In the continent of Africa for example this is a breakthrough as profound as the introduction of the mobile phone and allows for the rapid commercialisation of their economies using solar energy storage systems," added CEO, Huw Hampson-Jones.

Howells concluded by saying that Oxis is working on several energy storage projects, but they are not unveiling any details at this stage.

In addition to energy storage, Oxis also develops applications for the electric vehicle, aviation, defense and marine markets.