ALABASTER is a project for validating a new electrochemistry for primary batteries: Aluminium-air. Total primary battery market expected in 2020 is near 17,000 M€ where new technologies (basically Zn-air) will represent between 20% and 30%, while Lithium based products will still dominate it.
Technical drivers in this market are energy density and price. This is related to the operative range of the devices powered by these batteries and the deployment of more autonomous equipment in applications like Smart Cities. While Lithium presents values below 1,000 Wh/l and Zn-air below 2,000 Wh/l, Al-air is over 4,000 Wh/l, offering to the users an extension of battery operation in the same space. Concerning price, Zn-air is quickly replacing Li batteries in many applications, where hearing aids sector is a clear example. Today, for these devices, Zn-air represents more than 80% of the market (around 1,500 M€ in 2015) and this is just because of price.
Aluminium-air, double the volumetric capacity of Zn-air, at the same price, that means, double autonomy of the device without cost increase. Furthermore, Al-air primary batteries have two more competitive advantages in front of its concurrence: a slightly higher voltage (1.40 V) during discharge compared to Zn-air (1.26 V) which gives better efficiency to the electronics existing into the device and manufactured with fully recyclable and non-human damaging materials as Aluminium, Carbon and a kind of sea water electrolyte.
Albufera Energy Storage, www.albufera-energystorage.com, is a Spanish company which has been running for 3 years R&D projects for developing Al-air technology supported by experienced Technological Centres in Spain. With this project, Albufera wants to put in the market Al-air, initially for hearing aids application, through an established consortium called CHIARA, with one device manufacturer for product validation