MGX subsidiary ZincNyx advances reliability of mass storage zinc-air flow batteries

Vancouver-based MGX Minerals Inc. said its wholly owned subsidiary ZincNyx Energy Solutions, Inc. has solved the long standing reliability issue caused by the growth of zinc dendrites in zinc-air flow batteries.

MGX announced the acquisition of ZincNyx in December. The Vancouver-based company that has developed a modular energy storage system (ESS) designed for energy storage in the five kW to one MW range for extended periods of time. ZincNyx has secured over 20 patents to date and received nearly $15 million in financial support from its shareholders and Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) to develop the technology.

The regenerative zinc-air flow battery can be readily scaled from kilowatt to megawatt range to provide low cost energy storage. The patented regenerative zinc-air flow battery efficiently stores energy in the form of zinc particles and contains none of the traditional high cost battery commodities such as lithium, vanadium, or cobalt. The technology allows for low cost mass storage of energy and can be deployed into a wide range of applications.

The growth of zinc dendrites in zinc-air flow batteries occurs when filaments of zinc (dendrites) grow in unintended areas and may cause membrane ruptures or short circuits to occur.

MGX said the ZincNyx system is immune to this effect since it uses zinc dendrites as fuel and consumes them as part of its normal operation. Avoidance of dendrite damage is the single most significant hurdle in development and commercialization of zinc-air flow battery systems.

Phase II design and testing has been completed and final commercial design is now underway for mass production of its scalable 20kWh capacity zinc-air mass storage battery, MGX said in a statement.

Unlike conventional batteries, which have a fixed energy/power ratio, ZincNyx’s technology uses a fuel tank system that offers flexible energy/power ratios and scalability. The storage capacity is directly tied to the size of the fuel tank and quantity of charged zinc fuel making scalability a major advantage of the flow battery system, noted MGX.

The zinc-air flow battery also has the ability to charge and discharge simultaneously and at different maximum charge or discharge rates as each of the charge and discharge circuits is separate and independent. Other types of standard and flow batteries are limited to a maximum charge and discharge by the total number of cells as there is no separation of the charge, discharge and size of the fuel storage system.

Development of modular beta units is complete with manufacturing plan of scale-up units underway. ZincNyx expects to deploy demonstration units in early to mid-2019.