The Rise of Zinc-Air Batteries in Sustainable Energy Storage

Demand for sustainable batteries is rising as the world shifts to renewables and electrification. Zinc-air batteries are environmentally friendly, low-cost, and have a large energy density, making them an important competitor to the world’s battery market. This article by Research Nester will look at their advantages, market trends, and possible implications for different industries and stakeholders.

Why is a zinc-air battery ideal for energy storage?

Energy storage poses a fundamental challenge of converting electrical energy into a different form, which can be converted back into electrical power. Currently, there are several energy storage methods, but the most common one is using large lithium-ion batteries. Lithium-ion batteries have some distinct advantages; they are relatively efficient in charging and discharging and can be easily scaled and deployed in various environments. However, they are still expensive, have safety concerns, and perform poorly in different temperatures. Consequently, researchers have been exploring new ways of developing batteries.

Even though zinc-air batteries come with challenges, they stand out due to their unique energy production process. Zinc oxidizes with airborne oxygen, generating energy. This unique feature, coupled with their potential for extremely high energy density, positions them as a promising option for next-generation energy storage. Additionally, they offer the advantage of being replenishable with fresh zinc, recyclable, and easily disposable. The commercially available primary zinc-air batteries are renowned for their exceptional performance, boasting a specific energy ranging from 400 to 450 Wh/kg and an energy density ranging from 1200 to 1400 Wh/L. These values are five and two times higher than those of alkaline and primary lithium batteries, respectively.

Related:Revolutionizing Implantable Devices: Introducing the Oxygen-Powered Battery

Zinc-air battery applications

The applications for Zinc-air batteries are diverse and expanding due to their high energy density, low cost, and environmental friendliness. Here are some of the key applications listed below:

  1. Portable electronic: Zinc-air batteries are ideal for powering portable electronics due to their lightweight and high energy density. They offer longer runtimes than traditional lithium-ion batteries.

  2. Medical devices: Zinc-air batteries are ideal for medical devices like hearing aids, pacemakers, and insulin pumps. They provide long-lasting and reliable power for extended periods without frequent replacements.

  3. Grid energy storage: Zinc-air batteries can be used for grid energy storage to store excess energy generated from renewable sources such as solar and wind power. They can help stabilize the grid by providing backup power during peak demand periods or when renewable energy sources are unavailable.

  4. Military applications: Zinc-air batteries are used in military applications such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), remote sensors, and communication devices. Their high energy density and ability to operate in extreme temperatures make them suitable for military use.

Related:Zinc-Air Battery Has Potential for Eco-Friendly Energy Storage

Zinc-air battery applications

Zinc-air battery market segmentation

The Zinc-air battery market is expected to reach $3B by 2036. In 2023, the zinc-air battery crossed the $1B mark. The main driver behind the significant market growth is the recent increase in the usage of electric vehicles (EVs) worldwide. Moreover, 2022 was a remarkable year, with EV sales surpassing 10M, accounting for 14% of all new cars sold, representing a significant increase from 9% in 2021 to 5% in 2020. This resulted in over 26M EVs plying the international roads in 2022, showcasing a 60% increase from 2021. EVs are becoming increasingly popular among travelers, with an estimated 18% of new cars sold in 2023 expected to be electric.

Industry driving factors

Related:Zinc-Air Batteries Still a Contender

  1. Increased focus on sustainable and eco-friendly solutions: The growing environmental concerns have increased the demand for sustainable and eco-friendly energy storage solutions. Zinc-air batteries are a promising alternative because they are non-toxic and use zinc as their main component, making them more environmentally friendly than other battery technologies that rely on hazardous materials.

  2. Government support and incentives: Governments worldwide provide incentives and subsidies to promote clean energy technologies, including Zinc-air batteries. These measures, such as tax credits and grants for research and development, encourage manufacturers and individuals to invest in Zinc-air battery solutions. For instance, Zinc8 Energy Solutions, a long-duration energy storage company, is relocating to Kingston, NY. The $68M manufacturing facility will create up to 500 jobs, support New York State’s green economy leadership, and combat climate change. The move aligns with Governor Hochul’s plan to achieve six gigawatts of energy storage by 2030.

  3. Rising Investments in Research and Development: The zinc-air battery market is experiencing a surge in research and development activities. Companies and research institutions are dedicating resources to innovate and develop the next generation of zinc batteries with improved performance and durability.

Zinc-air battery regional segmentation

According to Research Nester, the zinc-air battery is segmented as follows:

  • Asia Pacific: Rapid urbanization, industrialization, and growing demand for electric vehicles in countries like China and India present significant opportunities for zinc-air batteries in automotive and grid storage applications, fueling the zinc-air industry’s growth in the region.

  • Europe: Countries like Germany, the UK, and France are investing in renewable energy infrastructure and EV charging networks, creating opportunities for zinc-air batteries in grid storage and EV applications.

  • North America: The region’s robust manufacturing base for battery technology drives its adoption in various applications such as EVs, grid energy storage, and portable electronics. Government policies and incentives also promote clean energy and reduce dependence on fossil fuels, further boosting the zinc-air battery market in the region.

Latest innovations in zinc-air battery technology

The consulting company believes that Zinc8 Energy Solutions Inc., RAYOVAC, Thunderzee Inc., NantEnergy, and VARTA AG dominate the zinc-air market. Here are some of their innovations by dates:

BULLETS

  • January 2018: Rayovac, a provider of hearing aid batteries and a division of Spectrum Brands, Inc., has developed its most advanced battery system based on input from both Hearing Aid Users and Hearing Care Experts. The new Rayovac PRO LINE Advanced combines long-lasting power with an easy-to-use package.

  • September 2018: NantEnergy announced a breakthrough in its mission to develop the world’s first scalable air-breathing zinc rechargeable battery system below $100 kWh. The green rechargeable battery uses zinc and air with digitally controlled intelligence and has been deployed in nine countries, supporting 110 villages and 1,000 installations across cell tower sites. Over 100 patents cover this breakthrough zinc-air technology, and it represents an important alternative to lithium-ion batteries.

  • January 2021: Thunderzee developed a revolutionary zinc-air battery that doesn’t just eliminate the risk of fire, as common in lithium-ion batteries, but also makes them more energy efficient, lightens their load, and has an environmental advantage. Three patents are pending, and more are in the pipeline.

  • September 2022: Zinc8 Energy Solutions Inc. declared in September 2022 that it would start producing batteries in the United States. The Advanced Manufacturing Tax Credit, a component of the IRA that benefits battery manufacturers and essential mineral processing industries, is why the company intends to relocate to the United States.

Zinc-air batteries have exceptional energy density and are affordable and environmentally sustainable, making them a promising solution for meeting the world’s growing energy needs while reducing environmental impact. As technology and manufacturing processes continue to improve, zinc-air batteries will become more efficient and scalable, leading to widespread adoption in global markets.

To learn more about the zinc-air battery market, download Research Nester’s report here.