The CSIR is establishing a battery technology centre of competence
The centre’s establishment is specifically aimed at the development of advanced battery technologies for stationary and automobile energy storage applications, the CSIR`s latest newsletter adds.
“Worldwide large investments are being made in research that will enable us to find a realistic alternative to the internal combustion engine. To this effect several hybrid and other electric vehicles have been launched. These vehicles rely on battery power and mostly make use of lithium-ion batteries. However, in some cases the cost of these batteries can account for up to 25% of the cost of the entire vehicle,” says the CSIR’s Dr Mkhulu Mathe.
According to Mathe, South Africa has the rare opportunity to play a meaningful role in the advancement of battery research and innovation. While the largest application opportunity currently lies in the automotive industry, there is also scope for several other applications – including manpack soldier systems.
“Think of solar energy that has to be stored in a battery, to name but one example. BatCoC will aim to find ways of producing batteries that last longer, store more energy, are cheaper to manufacture and environmentally friendly to dispose of. Who knows what our research will deliver?” says Mathe.
Initially the centre will focus its research on high-capacity materials anode and cathode development, thin film/ smart structures batteries, battery characterisation, testing and diagnostics and battery electronics. It will also seek national and international collaborations while striving to develop human capital in this field.
“We want BatCoC to be a leading, world-class characterisation, testing and battery materials development laboratory that provides state-of-the-art research facilities. I believe that the establishment of this centre is just one step closer to the ideal of becoming an energy-efficient country,” concludes Mathe.