Avestor begins production of lithium-metal-polymer batteries

20 September 2002 – Avestor started production of the world’s first fully commercial lithium-metal-polymer (LMP) battery at its new manufacturing plant in Boucherville, Quebec Thursday, which it claims is the first commercial alternate energy storage battery for the telecommunications, automotive and public utility industries.

Avestor is a joint venture of Hydro-Quebec and Kerr-McGee Chemical LLC. The later is wholly owned by Kerr-McGee Corp. The two partners each hold a 50 per cent stake in Avestor.

“This is an important day for Avestor. Our first batteries are designed to answer the needs of the worldwide telecommunications industry, where we have been testing our product in real applications since 1999. The test results have surpassed customers’ expectations and demonstrated the batteries’ high performance and reliability,” said Tadek Borys, president and chief executive officer of Avestor.

Avestor sold prototype batteries during the past three years. With the start-up of the manufacturing plant, commercial sales will begin. The company currently is negotiating supply agreements with major telecommunications providers. In addition, the company has plans to develop units for the automotive and utilities sectors.

Avestor employs approximately 100 people at its headquarters and research centre, and an additional 125 people in the 130 000-square-foot plant.

This new LMP battery, branded SE 48S70, provides superior performance and longer life than traditional valve-regulated lead-acid (VRLA) batteries, at one-third the size and one-fifth the weight, Borys said.

The first model is designed to provide a power back-up for telecommunications relay equipment, which ensures that wired and wireless networks remain operational even when the regular power grid fails.

Given its small size and weight, and large storage capacity, the battery could be a key element in the successful development of hybrid (HEV) and fully electric-powered (EV) vehicles. It also could be a solution for electrical utilities during times of power overload.

The heart of the Avestor LMP battery is a series of ultra-thin layers of four materials that are laminated together. Each layer is less than 100 microns (1 millionth of a meter) in thickness. The LMP battery is far more stable under extreme heat and cold than the VRLA battery and has a guaranteed life of 10 years. The battery, which is solid-state and has no acid or liquid that can leak, spill or lose potency, is an environmentally- preferred alternative to existing technology.

The Avestor plant, which includes leading manufacturing technology, features specially designed dry rooms that are equipped with state-of-the-art production systems engineered to ensure the highest standards of production and quality control. The facility’s initial battery production rating is 120 MWh The plant is expandable to 600 MWh as demand increases.

Since 2001, Avestor has been co-owned by Hydro-Quebec and Kerr-McGee Chemical LLC. Together, the two companies have invested more than CDN$200m ($126.9m) in research, development and plant construction to bring this new technology to market.

“The new Avestor plant allows us to bring to market a technology developed by Hydro-Quebec’s research Center (IREQ) division and then transferred to Avestor, while maximizing its utilization possibilities in various industrial sectors,” said Andre Caille, president and chief executive officer of Hydro-Quebec.

“Kerr-McGee has years of experience in the battery and electrochemical technologies, and has contributed its expertise, marketing capabilities and financial resources, to this venture,” said W. Pete Woodward, Kerr-McGee senior vice president of chemicals. “Together, we have created a product that we feel is poised to change the marketplace, and we have a team of the best and the brightest who are committed to delivering quality products and services.”

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