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Lead-acid battery developer Ecoult to expand into India

Sydney-based battery developer Ecoult is eyeing the huge Indian market after winning Australian government funding to help it cut the cost of its new-generation lead-acid storage device and take the technology global.

While lithium-ion batteries are grabbing the limelight in the public debate around energy storage, lead-acid remains the dominant technology globally, by a factor of about seven, pointed out Ecoult chief executive John Wood.

That provides an existing supply chain and maintenance expertise that Ecoult is taking advantage of with its UltraBattery and smaller scale UltraFlex batteries.

Ecoult's technology, originally developed by the CSIRO, involves using proprietary software and a "secret source" electrolyte to transform traditional lead-acid technology to make it work for the modern power system, said Ivor Frischknecht, head of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, which is providing the $4.1 million funding.

The devices then can last longer, and can be charged and discharged more often with greater depth of discharge, before needing to be replaced, he said.

Ecoult, now owned by US-based East Penn Manufacturing, has signed a deal with Exide Industries, India's largest battery manufacturer, which will see its UltraBattery manufactured and distributed across South Asia. Ecoult batteries can range between 1 kilowatt for use in homes to several megawatts for grid-scale applications.

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