Zinc8 scopes US zinc battery plant sites
Federal support jump starts zinc-air energy storage systems Metal Tech News - September 1, 2022
Last updated 4/16/2023 at 7:01am
Encouraged by the support it has received from U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, along with the clean energy battery tax credits offered up in the Inflation Reduction Act, Zinc8 Energy Solutions Inc. has decided to move forward with building its first commercial zinc-air battery production facility in New York.
"It is abundantly clear that with the introduction of the IRA, US policymakers, led by Senator Schumer, are taking real action by introducing incentives that benefit both the climate and the economy," said Zinc8 Energy Solutions President and CEO Ron MacDonald. "We have received tremendous support both at the federal and state level as we continue to analyze possible sites for our first manufacturing facility."
The newly refurbished iPark 87 near the town of Ulster, New York, is high on Zinc8's list of potential sites to set up a facility to manufacture zinc-air energy storage systems, which uses two abundant ingredients to store electricity from clean but intermittent solar and wind generation.
In fact, Sen. Schumer picked up the phone and called MacDonald earlier this year to urge the Zinc8 executive to set up shop at a 200-acre site in New York's Hudson Valley that was the home of IBM's TechCity for 30 years.
"Zinc8's interest in expanding hundreds of new jobs into the Hudson Valley at Ulster County's former TechCity site, now called iPark87, would be a win-win-win," Schumer penned in a press release following the call. "A once-contaminated asbestos dumping ground can be revitalized and once again be the beating heart of Ulster County's economy, all while powering a cleaner, brighter future, fighting climate change, and creating hundreds of good-paying jobs."
Further details on iPark87 and Sen. Schumer's call to MacDonald can be read at NY Sen. Schumer calls Zinc8 with an offer in the July 11, 2022 edition of Metal Tech News.
Federal battery incentives
Now, with the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, Zinc8 is incentivized by tax credits and has 16 billion other reasons to move forward with the development of the first commercial zinc-air battery production facility in the U.S.
The Advanced Manufacturing Tax Credit provision in the IRA provides battery manufacturers with a $35 credit for every eligible battery cell produced, which is scaled by a multiple that is dependent on the capacity of the battery. These incentives will phase out from 2030 through 2032.
In addition, U.S. taxpaying companies are eligible for a tax credit equal to 10% of the costs to produce electrode active materials, battery cells, and battery modules.
There is also $10 billion in support available for construction of clean energy tech factories or for retrofitting existing factories with tools and production lines to make clean energy equipment and components.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed earlier this year offers another $6 billion in incentives to support the research and development, and production of batteries in the U.S., as well as supporting the creation of a domestic battery materials supply chain.
"This represents some direct and beneficial credit opportunities for Zinc8," said MacDonald.
Zinc-air storage systems
With the support of Sen. Schumer, along with the federal incentives to bolster U.S. battery production, Zinc8 now has the opportunity to commercialize its novel zinc-air storage solutions for grid-scale clean energy.
When being charged with grid power, the Zinc8 system transforms zinc oxide into zinc and oxygen – the zinc particles are stored in a potassium hydroxide electrolyte, and the oxygen is released into the atmosphere.
Whenever power is needed, the zinc particles are recombined with oxygen to generate electricity and the zinc oxide is stored for the next charging cycle.
These batteries can store and discharge energy for durations ranging from four to 100 hours. The company says scalability and higher capacity are achieved by increasing the size of storage tanks that hold zinc particles.
This storage technology will be trialed alongside a combined heat and energy generation system by the New York State Energy Research and Development Agency at a housing complex in New York City.
Scaling new technology
While zinc-air energy storage boasts several advantages over lithium-ion batteries, especially when it comes to safety and scalability, it is a new technology that lacks the manufacturing horsepower of the lithium batteries used in personal electronics, cordless tools, electric vehicles, and renewable energy storage.
The tax credits and other incentives included in the Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law are expected to help Zinc8 get its energy storage solution off the ground, which would also alleviate some of the enormous strains being put on the supply chains for the lithium, nickel, cobalt, graphite, and other materials that go into lithium-ion batteries.
"As a CEO of an energy storage company, which is developing and commercializing long-duration, low-cost zinc energy storage systems, and who recently received support from the U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) for my company to establish a manufacturing facility in Ulster, New York's former TechCity site location, I can attest that my company, and the overall energy storage sector that I'm proud to be part of, is more readily embraced and supported by United States political leaders, its government and private and public enterprises, than any other country in the world," MacDonald inked in an editorial published in the August 3, 2022 edition of Metal Tech News.